Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Todd Walker talks to Robert Griffith at the Starkey Cares Gala
Lights! Camera! Pre-rehearsed sound bites! There is never a lack of vibrato when the Starkey Hearing Foundation takes over the St. Paul RiverCentre for its annual “So the World May Hear” gala. But the bigtime celebrity sightings on the red carpet were a bit more sparse than usual this year. I’m not sure Verne “Mini Me” Troyer, Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno, or Brad Pitt’s brother Doug (who needed a mint) would top any list of A-listers. But we did have Marlee Matlin, Forest Whitaker, and our regular pack of professional athletes strolling the carpet, with a few of Hollywood’s random unrecognizable up-and-coming B-squad sprinkled in.
What happened onstage was another matter. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu were among those who praised the work of Bill and Tani Austin. And kicking off a star-studded evening of entertainment was Lee Greenwood singing his signature “God Bless the USA,” capped off with the release of a humongous bald eagle flying over the crowd. Holy crap! High. Drama. As for the crowd: It’s tough to stand out when you’re surrounded by so many implants and injections from out of state, but WCCO morning anchor Jamie Yuccas, styled from hair to heels by Grant Whittaker, looked fit to be walking the red carpet at the premier fashion event of the year, New York’s Met Gala. Gorgeous.
Oh, and let’s get back to those pre-rehearsed red-carpet sound bites. It seemed that there was nothing that could get anyone to go off-script. Literally every question—from “So how are you enjoying Minnesota?” to “What is your next movie project?”—elicited the same response: “Nothing is more amazing than to see a child’s face when they hear for the first time.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s why we’re all here. But a big old YAWN!
See you on the scene!
Entertainment reporter Todd Walker covers the gala and social circuit for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Look for him at events and weekly on FOX 9 News.