Give Back

There are some pretty talented people who entertain us, in front of and behind the camera. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of them and understand more about the impact they’re making in the lives of others. I’ve also learned about a few of the organizations that are doing some big things with their help. Check out some of the links below to learn more about each organization. The point of this section is to bring a little attention to the positive, and help you out with a conversation starter in case you bump in to one of these people.

Big Slick KC This is 40 World Premiere, donated by Paul Rudd

Now entering its sixth year, the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend raises money for Cancer Center at Children’s Mercy, a leading Children’s hospital in the US. Paul has been there from the beginning of the Big Slick and often donates a day on the set and/or tickets to a movie premiere and after party. Here’s a few pics from our trip to the World Premiere of This is 40 staring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann and Directed by Judd Apatow.  Others who were there included Seth Rogan, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd and Albert Brooks. I stood next to Aziz and said nothing as I didn’t watch Parks and had not seen his stand up. I’m an idiot. He kinda blew up, yes; of course I’ve seen everything now.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
A day on the set of Horrible Bosses 2, donated by Jason Sudeikis

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.  Last January we spent about seven hours on the set of Horrible Bosses 2 as they filmed outside of the Staples Center.  Jason was the only principle shooting that day and fortunately he didn’t have a lot of lines so his time off camera was spent with us discussing KU basketball, acting, Kansas City and running around to different comedy clubs trying out jokes in preparation of hosting the 2011 MTV Movie Awards. The reason I point out the seven hours is to note we didn’t show up as this thing and Jason stops by, signs something, takes a pic and says great to meet you. This is a good dude and donates a considerable amount of items and his personal time to a number of charities. It makes a difference when someone seems happy to offer his time and goes out of their way to ensure it’s a time you’ll always remember.

Kenny Gordon Foundation
LA Premier of American Hustle, donated by Jon Gordon

The Kenny Gordon Foundation was established in 1999 after the sudden and tragic passing of John’s brother, Kenny Gordon, due to heart failure at age 26. The foundation contributes to research and prevention to improve the understanding of what triggers cardiac arrhythmias and how we can prevent arrhythmia deaths. In addition, in Kenny’s honor, it is the Foundation’s mission to provide opportunities for minority students who may not otherwise have the opportunity of a higher education.  Because the World Premiere was scheduled a few days later in NYC, this LA Premiere was large scale, but more laid back which provided the opportunity to have extended conversations with the producers, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and some guy named David O’Russell. Amy is as kind as you’d think, possibly even more impressive. As many of the talented are, she has a way of making you feel like you’re the only person in the room when she converses. Totally going to work on my listening skills, sometime soon. The picture of me with John Gordon, his wife Catherine McCord, David O’Russell and my wife was taken by Matthew Budman, the Executive Producer of American Hustle. For any other aspiring actors, I hope you can appreciate the moment when Matthew shows me the phone and asks me if the pictures look OK. How about an audition didn’t come up.. Plus, I would have bombed the audition…A month after the Premiere, we received signed cookbooks for our daughters from Catherine McCord who runs a family recipe company called Weelicious, a nice touch by a really nice person.

One more from the Big Slick KC

Two tickets to Saturday Night Live, a tour of the studio and an autographed cue card, courtesy of Jason Sudeikis.
This is the first of these we ever did and it didn’t disappoint. Seeing SNL was unreal. We sat right behind Spike Lee and his family and just a few chairs away from Cameron Diaz and a number of other celebs. The show has so much energy and the set changes are even faster than you’d imagine. Josh Brolin hosted and the musical guest was Gotye. It helped that this was one of the better episodes of 2011/2012. Jay Pharoah was strong and Jason was Mitt Romney in the opening skit wearing a suit jacket and tie and KU basketball shorts since the camera showed from the waist up. After the show, we had to wait a few minutes for Jason because he was helping out the Make a Wish Foundation and then gave us our tour for over 30 minutes. Jason introduced us to Kristin Wig, Andy Sandberg, Josh Brolin and anyone else who came by. We left with our autographed cue card and I made sure it made it home in mint condition. Jason also signed something for us to donate to the JDRF auction as our daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. Yes, I took a pic so people would know it wasn’t a fake.

And another one from Big Slick KC

Sit Behind the Bench at a KU Game and Dinner with Rob Riggle
In another auction for Children’s Mercy Hospital, we received the opportunity to sit behind the bench at a University of Kansas basketball game, meet the team including Coach Bill Self and a few future NBA lottery pics named Wiggins and Embiid.   A few months later, we also enjoyed dinner and drinks with the founding member of the Big Slick, Rob Riggle. As with a few of the other experiences, this one exceeded expectations. Sitting right behind the team during a game was a unique experience and a reminder of how short I am. It was terrific, and dinner with Rob was even better. Rob is the person responsible for getting the now team of five together for BigSlickKC: Rob, Jason Sudeikis, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner. Rob is passionate about raising money and bringing the best doctors to Children’s Mercy. It’s a family endeavor and in addition to hearing more about how this all got started, we talked a lot about the movie industry, how he got his start on SNL, living in LA and about anything else we wanted to talk about. On a busy night for him, we had dinner for over two hours – we even met his parents who were in town for the Big Slick and many celebrities began checking in and coming up to meet up, like Jason at SNL, we never felt rushed, just welcomed.