With a shining marquis high above the Avenue of the Americas in New York City, the countdown to the 2011 Gabby Awards was officially launched in grand style on the evening of November 22 at a private event for donors and supporters of the Greek America Foundation, headlined by Fox Films Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who is also one of the Honorary Co-chairs of the 2011 Gabby Awards, along with his wife Ann.
The event opened with an introduction and welcome by Greek America Foundation founder Gregory Pappas, who spoke about the organization’s goals and projects, including the upcoming Gabby Awards in New York City that are scheduled for June 4, 2011 at Ellis Island.
What followed was a special multi-media lecture called “Hellenism and Hollywood: From Aristotle to Alexander (Payne)” that chronicled the story of how Greek Americans impacted the development of Hollywood over the years.
Gianopulos, well-known for his studio’s many successful films, including Hollywood’s two biggest box office hits Titanic and Avatar, recounted stories from yesteryear and shared clips with the audience that told an amazing legacy of Greek involvement—on many levels—in the development of the entertainment industry in America. The presentation took many emotional turns—especially when clips were shown from films like “America America” by Elia Kazan, “Never on Sunday” and “Zorba the Greek.” The presentation was followed by a swanky after party at the nearby Red Bull Space in Soho with an impressive array of food by Tastings—a top Manhattan caterer, drinks by Metaxa and Tsantali wines and unique desserts. There was also silent auction that was comprised of vintage Hollywood posters and other memorabilia related to the evening, as well as jewelry by acclaimed Greek designer Konstantino. All guests received a swag bag with a DVD of Zorba the Greek, compliments of Twentieth Century Fox Films, beauty products by Korres Natural Products and items from other sponsors.
The guest list was a “Who’s Who” of Greek America with top names from Hollywood and the arts, business, fashion and other fields.
Many luminaries from the performing and fine arts world were present, including menswear designer John Varvatos and his wife Joyce, Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, True Blood star Theo Alexander and acclaimed Sex and the City costume director Patricia Field and Greek actor Manos Gavras.
From the political arena, former Bush Administration National Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend attended, as did the Consuls General from the nations of Greece and Cyprus, Aghi Balta and Koula Sophianou, as well as New York State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. Well-known businessman Dean Metropoulos and his wife Marianne—who are also serving as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Gabby Awards were in attendance, as were John Thomas Financial CEO Thomas Belesis with his wife Tabitha; former Etsy.com CEO Maria Thomas, Trident Capital Managing Director Venetia Kontogouris and Morgan Stanley private wealth manager Fotios Piniros and his wife Dr. Vicky Zouzias.
Other prominent New Yorkers on hand to kick off the countdown included Eleni & Randall Gianopulos (Proprietors of Eleni’s Cookies), Helene Alexopoulos-Warrick (former Prima Ballerina, New York City Ballet), Stephen Antonakos (acclaimed artist), Kalomira Sarantis (winner of ‘Fame Story’ music show & Eurovision finalist), filmmaker Richard Ledes and chocolatier Joan Coukos, who also donated her eccentric chocolates for the after party that included tastings of Kalamata olives, Aegean sea salt and masticha.
From Greece, pop singing sensation Anna Vissi was in attendance with her daughter Sofia Karvelas, as was Greek businessman Chrysanthos Panas who owns several prominent establishments including Island Club in Vouliagmeni, Central and Salon de Bricolage in Athens. Several GAF supporters were on hand from Chicago, including Peter, Paula and Alexis Fasseas, well-known bankers and philanthropists, Michael Marks, Aristotle Kornaros, Steve Livaditis, Tanya Kouris and Tony Taxakis. The Gabby Awards are the nation’s top achievement awards for Greek Americans and are scheduled to take place on June 4, 2011 at Ellis Island. This was the first of many scheduled “launch” events that will take place throughout the nation to excite the nationwide audience that is expected to attend the event.
In addition to Mr. & Mrs. Gianopulos, other Honorary Co-Chairs of the 2011 Gabby Awards include John & Joyce Varvatos, Melina Kanakaredes and Peter Constantinides, Paula & Peter Fasseas and Marianne & Dean Metropoulos.
For information about the Gabby Awards, visit www.gabbyawards.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gabbyawards