August 2, 2016 - Pasadena, California
Producer Scott Fujita, Steve Gleason with his wife Michel Varisco, and Director Clay Tweel at the Los Angeles premiere of the film, “GLEASON."
The ALS Association Golden West Chapter is proud to recognize the filmmakers of the newly-released documentary, “GLEASON,” for their outstanding achievements in the fight against ALS at the 3rd annual ONE STARRY NIGHT: A Special Performance Dedicated to Conquering ALS on Monday, August 15, 2016 at the Pasadena Playhouse. The public is invited to join Honorary Co-Chairs pop superstar Miley Cyrus and Pilates guru Mari Winsor for this one-night-only benefit in support of the ALS community featuring an rich gathering of talent from stage and screen. Director Clay Tweel will accept the Golden West Chapter’s 2016 Spotlight Award, which is presented to those who help to raise ALS awareness by educating the public about the experience of living with ALS and the impact the disease has on loved ones and caregivers, on behalf of the entire production team.
The hit documentary from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of former NFL star Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, in 2011 at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to live as fully as possible. The film highlights his mission that people with ALS can not only live but thrive after this diagnosis, along with many of the extraordinary successes achieved by the Gleason Initiative Foundation (“Team Gleason”), including the creation of the “Team Gleason House for Innovative Living” and the passage of “The Steve Gleason Act” which assures the availability of life sustaining communication devices for people with ALS and other diseases. Distributed by Amazon Studios and Open Road Films, “GLEASON” has received glowing reviews both from audiences and news outlets including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Rolling Stone and Variety, to name a few.
“We wanted to make a movie that is true to the experience of what it is like to have this disease,” shared Director Clay Tweel. “If we had made some sort of football hero piece that was just the rose-colored glasses of Steve’s experience, then it would be a great injustice to the people that have ALS. So far, we’ve been getting great support. We were honored that The ALS Association showed the film at the National ALS Awareness Day and Public Policy in Washington, D.C.”
“Steve’s wife, Michel, still has the best answer I that I have heard to the question, ‘What do you hope that people get out of this?’” shared Scott Fujita, Gleason’s friend and former Saints player who helped to produce the film. “She always says, ‘I hope people get what they need from this movie.’ It’s perfect, because everybody takes away something different. From the nurse who takes the experience and humanizes her patient, the father who lost touch with his son and then picks up the phone to call him, or the parent who decides that they’re going to put their phone down and spend more time with their child- these are all great things that people have shared with us.”
Proceeds from One Starry Night will provide funding for the Chapter’s mission critical priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS. The evening will also include a pre-show reception, silent auction, and post-show dessert with a special “meet-and-greet” with the cast. Grammy Award-nominee Bruce Kimmel will direct the production, with musical direction and orchestrations provided by Richard Allen. This star-studded event is produced by Juliana Hansen, Patty Ramsey, Melissa Verdugo, and Patrick McMinn, and has a growing list of presenters and performers which includes (in alphabetical order) Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”, “Jerome Robbins Broadway”), Carly Bracco (“Grease Live!”), Juliana Hansen (NBC’s “Grease, You're The One That I Want!”), Bill Hayes (“Days of our Lives”), Jean Louisa Kelly (“Into the Woods”), Scott Land (variety performer), Wendy Liebman (Comedian), Hal Linden (“Barney Miller”), Kate Linder (“Young and the Restless”), Reagan Pasternak (Disney Channel's "In A Heartbeat,"), Valarie Pettiford (“Fosse”), Adam Ray (“Ghostbusters,” “Spy”), Richard Sherman (Disney's “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Jungle Book”), Sami Staitman (“House of Lies,” Funny or Die’s “Big”), Danny Stiles, (Broadway and Stage Actor), Mari Winsor (Co-Chair/Presenter), Jo Anne Worley(“Wicked” Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh In”), Robert Yako (Broadway, Film and TV actor), John Lloyd Young (“Jersey Boys”), and more to be announced.