Nia Vardalos hosted an A-list charity event on November 11 in honor of legendary producer Craig Zadan. The evening was originally intended to honor Zadan in person, but after his sudden death from surgery complications on August 20, the night instead became a tribute.
“The Thespians Go Hollywood” fundraiser night was held at the Television Academy in Los Angeles.
In attendance were Renee Zellweger and Jennifer Hudson, as well as Tony Award-winners Bernadette Peters and Audra McDonald. “Will & Grace”‘s Debra Messing and Sean Hayes were also present at the ceremony, as was John Stamos.
Zadan was instrumental in bringing many musical productions to the big and small screen. His contributions to the cinematic world include “Chicago”, “Hairspray”, “Footloose”, and “Gypsy”. He also produced acclaimed non-musical movies like “Raisin in the Sun”.
Vardalos was a close friend of Zadan’s, and was therefore chosen to host the evening in his honor. The Greek-American actress asked, “How do you say goodbye to a friend? Well, we’re not going to. We’re going to sing some songs and tell some stories and we are going to honor and celebrate the life of our friend”. She then called up Stamos to the stage, who she jokingly referred to as “the only Greek girl I know who is prettier than me”.
In addition to being a moving tribute to the famed producer, the event managed to raise $200,000 for school theater programs and theater education.