Hosting the 88th Academy Awards Charity Event – Mixture of Fun and Surprises

Hollywood Blvd. Cinema and Variety Charity Viewing Party is a Huge Success and the winners are …”The Kids of Illinois”

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Fashion Police Team, Lindsey Fleischhauer , Dr. Alicia McCareins, Sarah Knight Adamson(Emcee) Emily Danielson and Jessica Aymond.

Weather in the 60s on a Chicago winter day is a sigh of relief; especially so on a day of an important charity event. On Sunday, February 28, 2016, event goers arrived wearing light wraps at the Hollywood Blvd. Cinema in Woodridge, Illinois to attend the 11th Annual Variety of Illinois Oscar Awards Viewing Charity Event. Held in the beautifully themed ‘Red’ Theater along with pre-drinks, red carpet photos and passed hot appetizers in the Movie Museum Memorabilia room; Variety is overjoyed to announce that the donations were more than doubled from the prior year.



Event goers experienced a “party atmosphere” while viewing the live 88th Academy Awards telecast in Hollywood, California. Angelique Barthel, Executive Director of Variety of Illinois, along with Dana Bergan Marketing Director from Hollywood Blvd. Theater coordinated the event. Sarah Knight Adamson, a Variety Board member,  Hollywood 360 Radio Network film critic and a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and Broadcast Film Critics Association served as emcee for the evening. A big round of applause to the event planners Barthel, Bergan, Hollywood Blvd. Managers, Mike Moore and Bob DeMeyers, Marsha Levin and Variety’s Laurie Schwartz. A big thank you to Denise Provenzano of Zano’s Salon, Wendy Richards and Danielle Tufano, 95.9 The River, Morning Radio Show Program Director.

Executive Director of Variety of Illinois, Angelique Barthel.

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Oscar Bucket 2016
A choice of three delectable entrees, along with a selection of giveaways, contests, and professional Red Carpet photos created an elegant and memorable Hollywood experience. Event attendees’ swag consisted of a large shiny movie-themed metal bucket that was overflowing with goodies. So many pre-Oscar show options—you could take a stroll on the Red Carpet, win a fashion trophy if chosen by the Fashion Police team, have your photo snapped − all while sipping Korbel Champagne and enjoying hot appetizers.


A silent auction was ongoing with movie-themed memorabilia, Arbonne and Zanos spa baskets, Chicago sports keepsakes, a Perry Ellis sports watch, Swissôtel Hotel overnight in Chicago, local artwork, Kendra Scott jewelry, and much more. The ‘Build a Bike’ raffle was conducted by Laurie Schwartz and included options for winning a new trail bike, a tailgate BBQ grill and an overnight stay at a hotel. Dana Bergan handed out an Oscar ballot with the winners announced at the end of the Oscar telecast. Janet Carlson and her brother Bob Carlson of Naperville conducted a 50/50 raffle.

Danielle Tufano and Wendy Richards


Emcee for the seventh year, Adamson, a voting member of the Critics Choics Awards in LA and entertainment journalist for® selects a “Fashion Team” to choose event goers that have made an exceptional effort to make the evening special. This years’ Fashion Police team lead by Jessica Aymond, also for the seventh year, a film critic, staff member of Sarah’s Backstage Pass and member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, Dr. Alicia McCareins, Lindsey Fleischhauer and Emily Danielson; mixed up the categories depending upon the audiences’ attire.

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Sarah Knight Adamson, Janet Carlson

Adamson tells the audience to cheer for their favorites, turn ‘on’ your cell phone, text away and especially check-in on Facebook to Hollywood Blvd Cinema, also ‘Like’ the page as Red Carpet and Event photos from Thom Kramer of Tinseltown Photos will be posted later that evening. Guests were directed to Variety-The Children’s Charity of Illinois Facebook page. Live Tweeting by Adamson’s staff was happening during the telecast while audience members were encouraged to use Tweeter accounts @Variety26, @HollywoodBlvd and @SarahsBackstage when tweeting.

Kyle Busse and Jenna Beebe

Though the 88th Oscars themselves were overshadowed by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Variety of Illinois President John Bosca expanded upon the theme to point out that disadvantaged kids sometimes feel the same thing. “All they are asking for is the chance to grow and experience the same opportunities as others,” said Bosca as he addressed the audience. Variety’s grant program provides adapted bikes and other special needs equipment to children. Surprisingly, insurance doesn’t cover the costs of most special needs equipment.

Sonia Grych and John Bosca
Best Sassy Dressed- Cynthia Barnes

This year ‘Best Accessory’ was given to Laura Guzman of Algonquin. She brought a tuxedo clutch purse that was perfect for the theme. Best Dressed Female, Kristi Westendorf of Downers Grove, wore a sequined silver one shoulder gown. Best Dressed Male, Paul Dominick of Chicago, wore a red plaid tuxedo jacket. Best Sassy Dressed, Cynthia Barnes of Wheaton wore a turquoise sequin dress with different hem lengths with silver heels, and Best Group, was Nicky Warner and Ruth from Aurora, and Stephanie, from Villa Park (these ladies have won before but always change up their look).

On the right-Best Dressed Female, Kristi Westendorf.
Best Group, was Nicky Warner and Ruth from Aurora, and Stephanie, from Villa Park.
Best Accessory’ was given to Laura Guzman.
Best Dressed Male, Paul Dominick

Kelly Reynolds, a Variety board member, served on the Southern California Variety board for eight years. She helped relaunch their Young Variety program and is currently involved with making those same changes in Illinois. She said, “Young Variety is a great way for young professionals to get involved with our great charity. We are starting with putting together our Young Variety Board. Any young professional leaders interested in serving on the board can reach out to me at Young Variety of IL will be holding happy hour mixers and other fun events to raise funds for local kids in need. We will have volunteering opportunities to help kids in our communities as well. All young professionals excited about helping local kids while having fun are welcome!”

Variety of Illinois Board of Directors


The mission of Variety Children’s Charities is to provide funding and services for programs that strive to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of life for children who are mentally and physically challenged, abused, sick, homeless or underprivileged.


The Variety Illinois Tent 26 believes every child deserves access to lead a full, active life. Through an array of programs and fundraising endeavors, Variety of Illinois helps to give children with disabilities the freedom and independence to live life and fulfill their roles in society.

Peter DeLong and Jessica Aymond

Variety of Illinois receives no government funding. We currently support some programs through special events, corporate sponsorships, and underwriting as well as private and corporate donations.

John and Alicia McCareins
Pre-show champagne compliments of Korbel.

Did the Academy get the awards right? In the case of Spotlight winning Best Picture, yes, I agree, it’s number one of my Top 20 Movies of 2015. I also agree on all of the other major awards except for Best Supporting Male; I feel Sylvester Stallone’s performance in Creed was stronger and deeper than Mark Rylance’s in Bridge of Spies.

Here’s the link to my top films of 2015. Top 20 Movies of 2015

Looking to get involved with Variety? Looking for photos of the event? Variety of Illinois Website also link to photos on Hollywood Blvd Theater’s Facebook page.

Sarah Knight Adamson© March 2, 2016