Children Uniting Nations and Billboard Team up for an Evening of Oscar Excitement

 The Children Uniting Nations group held its 8th annual Academy Awards viewing celebration and after party at a new venue this year, the beautiful Jewel Box at the Fonda in Hollywood. 

Exterior of the Fonda Theater, site of this year's fabous Children Uniting Nations Oscars event

Their partner was Billboard, the world's most trusted source of music, video and digital entertainment news, charts, reviews and analysis.  It was an association that netted many celebrity appearances/performances by our friends from the music biz, including Lil' Kim, Ray J, Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, DMX, Tommy Davidson, Tyler Hilton, Blu Cantrell, AD/HD and others.

Hosts Daphna Ziman of Children Uniting Nations and Gail Mitchell of Billboard flank recording artist DMC

It was a weekend of events really, with a private press conference on the Friday before the awards hosted by rap goddess Lil'Kim and CUN founder Daphna Ziman.

Lil' Kim posed with J.C. Chasez before running inside to perform

Ziman was her usual welcoming self, meeting celebrity and other guests on the red carpet and glowing in a gown of pale gold.  Celebrity guests making the scene included the lovely Jane Seymour and her husband, Fran Drescher, Mickey Rooney, MoZella, JC Chasez, Farnsworth Bentley, Eric Palladino, Bruce Davison, Lunelle, Nicey Nash, Sally Kirkland, Lili Haydn, Tiffany and others

Gorgeous Jane Seymour vamped on the red carpet

The evening included a formal dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions, and fabulous musical performances.  The CUN Oscar night 'do' is considered one of 'the' big parties, in ranking ordering following the Governor's party.   Special awards are given to a select few who have changed the lives of children in the past year, and all proceeds from this spectacular event will support CUN's cause of helping foster children succeed against the odds.

The incomparable Ruben Studdard paused before going inside to take the stage

Ruben Studdard- who performed- had much to say about doing good works and why he was there that evening.  '(CUN) is about children; this is something that's really important to me.  I do as much as I can in my hometown to work with the kids.  I have a foundation of my own, so I know that (CUN works) tirelessly, all year long, to raise money to help the children.'  He did not hesitate for a moment to say 'yes' when he received the call from Ziman.  'This is my passion,' he said.

Jane Seymour, host Daphna Ziman, and Fran Drescher were enchanted with young actor Joseph Castanon

Daniel Ben-Simon made the scene for the after party, on top of the world from his production of 'West Bank Story' having just won an Oscar.  'We did a musical comedy about Israelis and Palestinians,' he told me, 'and it's been a couple year ride.  We went to Dubai, we went to Sundance, we went all over the place with it.  It's been long ride and you never know what the outcome is going to be.  Here we are, three years later.'

Effervescent Fran Drescher tore up the red carpet at this year's Children Uniting Nations Oscars event

Fran Drescher (remember the first- and original- 'The Nanny'?) was elegant in a satin black satin fitted cocktail dress by Dolce & Gabbana.  Faune Chambers, of "White Chicks" fame and now "Show Stoppers," wore a wonderful, billowy sea foam green Sue Wong gown.  Tom Hallick and his wife, Nadine- both radiant as ever- were there.

Mickey Rooney, with his wife, Jan, worked the red carpet with his usual good form.  He is just so lovely and so gracious; he refused to allow photographers to shoot him alone.  It was lovely to see the strong bond the couple have.

Malcolm Danare of "The Sopranos" is dapper in Hugo Boss with vintage accessories


Malcolm Danare (from the Sopranos and the LA Apprentice) made the scene looking dapper in a charcoal Hugo Boss suit with a silk scarf thrown over it.  'Let's see,' he said as we inventoried each of the fabulous items on his body.  'The scarf is from Melrose Zulu, shoes from Berlin (a great latticed black suede), tie clasp original vintage from the sixties- I collect vintage- and a trademark, it's a hologram.'  He pulled the pin away from the previous fabric of his suit.  'I'm a child of the sixties' '

Adorable Joseph Castonan, was decked out for the evening in a suit complete with a distinctive pendant.  He got the cool necklace he was wearing from one of his favorite television shows, about a magician.  'He's really good, and I love his show so I got the necklace!' he beamed.  We talked for a bit, and he told me his next movie project is 'Rodeo Girl.'  He'll be working with Rachel Hunter.  His eyes were wide as could be as he told me about it, obviously thrilled at the prospect to be working with such a talented- and beautiful- woman.  Sweet thing that he is, he's still thrilled from having worked with Adam Sandler on 'Click.'  'It was amazing to meet (Sandler),' he told me, ''cause I've always been a fan.'

Blu Cantrell before taking the stage

DMC delighted the photographers on the red carpet when he strutted on, pulled up his shirt to point out his Harley Davison belt buckle, and displayed a good amount of his (designer named) gray briefs.  It was a wonderful moment.

Ever gracious Mickey Rooney and beautiful (inside and out) wife

Lilly Haydn stole the carpet with an original design that showed a good deal of her very trim mid-section.  A number in pale gold, it was just remarkable on her.  'I decided to make (the dress) in sort of an Indian style, and I found some designer fabrics and put it together and found a wonderful seamstress who helped me make it real.  I love the textures, I love the different things applied, it's just great.'  Her new CD will be out at the end of the year.  'It's on Network Records, and, hopefully I'll get a little fashion line to go with it,' she quipped.  Thrilling!

Mentor and mentee, CUN mentor and mentee, Joyce Ray and Desmond Graham (matched through the organization’s mentoring program), mug for the cameras

In the spirit of the evening, CUN mentor and mentee, Joyce Ray and Desmond Graham (matched through the organization's mentoring program) strolled the red carpet, laughing and mugging it up for the cameras

Some of the terrific items available through the silent auction

 About Children Uniting Nations
Children Uniting Nations has the largest and most far-reaching mentoring program for Los Angeles foster children. Their Oscar® night celebration serves as the primary media awareness and fundraising event for the program. CUN has made tremendous strides by encouraging legislation to improve foster care and adoption laws; introducing legislation to forgive student loans in exchange for mentoring, and expanding their mentoring training. The CUN mentoring program is proving to bring down teen drug use and pregnancy in foster children, to improve self-esteem and to significantly increase the number of foster children who complete high school and college. Many well-known actors and performers are involved with CUN and serve as Goodwill Ambassadors for the cause. This list includes Chaka Khan, Wilmer Valderamma, Tracey Edmonds, Lil' Kim, Stephen Dorff among many others.
 
About Billboard
Now in its 112th year, Billboard is the world's premier weekly music publication and a diverse digital, events and brand, content and data licensing platform. Billboard publishes the most trusted charts and offers unrivaled reporting about the latest music, video, gaming, media, digital and mobile entertainment issues and trends. Billboard is the flagship property for the Billboard Information Group, which also consists of Billboard.biz, Billboard.com, Billboard Chart Alert, Billboard Information Network (BIN), Billboard Directories, Billboard Books, Billboard Licensing & Events and Radio & Records. Billboard's many strategic partners include Microsoft, Reuters, Sirius Satellite Radio, Telemundo, Univision Radio, ABC Radio Networks, Azteca America and Billboard sister companies Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. These partnerships leverage Billboard's proprietary data, charts and information resources to develop broadcast entertainment, digital and mobile platforms and contextual commerce applications that expand Billboard's franchise and consumer reach.

J. C. Chasez and a new friend


Text and photos copyright M. D. Caprario

M. D. Caprario is a free lance writer and editor working in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco- and wherever there is good news to know.  Reach her at [email protected]

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