Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Jennifer Hudson & More Will Celebrate the Legacy of Craig Zadan at ETF Gala

Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Jennifer Hudson & More Will Celebrate the Legacy of Craig Zadan at ETF Gala

The life of late legendary producer Craig Zadan will be celebrated by the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) - the organization dedicated to supporting theatre arts in schools and nurturing students all over the country - at the organization's annual West Coast gala Thespians Go Hollywood - Honoring the Life and Work of Craig Zadan. The celebration will take place on November 11, 2018 at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' headquarters in North Hollywood. The announcement was made by Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment, and Julie Cohen Theobald, President of the Educational Theatre Foundation.

According to Variety, the special event will feature direction/musical direction by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and speakers will include many artists of stage and screen who worked with Zadan and Meron in the past, including: NBC's Bob Greenblatt, Kenny Leon, Sean Hayes, Jennifer Hudson, Debra Messing, Bernadette Peters, Amber Riley, John Stamos, Nia Vardalos, and Renee Zellweger.

Zadan and his producing partner Neil Meron - who have long been under a deal with Universal Television and are the producers of all of NBC's live musicals - were previously scheduled to receive the "Thespian's Go Hollywood" first annual Theatre For Life award. However, due to Zadan's untimely death, this evening will now become the official memorial and celebration of his legacy.

It is the wish of Elwood Hopkins, Zadan's life partner, that anyone wanting to honor Craig's memory should send donations directly to the Educational Theatre Foundation for which the following fund has been established: Craig Zadan Memorial Fund.

"I can't think of a better way to honor Craig since his entire life was devoted to theatre and the performing arts," said Elwood Hopkins. "He also knew the transformative power of the arts especially for young people, and I'm certain Craig would have loved to raise a great deal of money for ETF and their important work. I thank Julie for being so generous and wanting to honor him and Neil in the first place, and I truly hope his legacy for entertainment turns into one for education and advocacy."

"There's no DOUBT in my mind that we will celebrate Craig's life in a way that he, the consummate producer, would have liked," said Greenblatt. "And at the same time I know nothing would give him more satisfaction than raising money for the work of the Educational Theatre Foundation. We already miss Craig terribly, but his spirit and his joy for the theatre lives on in the dozens of movies and television projects we're fortunate to have which will remain with us always."

"We were devastated to hear about Craig's sudden passing just as we were about to announce him and Neil as the honorees of this year's Thespians gala, so we are turning the whole evening into a joyous salute to Craig's memory and body of work," Theobald said. "I had lunch with Craig just a couple of weeks ago to begin planning the event, and his enthusiasm was palpable for our mission. It now only seems fitting that we honor his life, and I'm so pleased that Elwood wants to direct the outpouring of support on his behalf right back to students in need."

"This is a cause that was near and dear to Craig's heart," said Neil Meron, "and we were so honored to be receiving this award from the Foundation because we knew it would bring attention to their work which literally changes the lives of so many young people. We're so pleased this night will now also become a celebration of Craig's legacy as he was devoted to theatre and so believed in the work of this organization. It makes perfect sense, though is sadly ironic, that we can honor Craig and support something that meant so much to him at the same time."

The Educational Theatre Foundation's Theatre For Life award recognizes individuals, groups, or companies who have dedicated their work to promoting and preserving the joy of theatre in a significant manner, leaving a lasting impact on generations to come. As the inaugural recipients, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were PIONEERS in redefining musical theatre for a new generation. Through their productions, Craig and Neil set the standard for musical theatre on television and in films, bringing it to a national audience of young people everywhere.

Thespians Go Hollywood - Honoring the Life and Work of Craig Zadan will support all of the efforts of the Educational Theatre Foundation. The philanthropic arm of the Educational Theatre Association, this Foundation works to build theatre programs in schools across the country by giving students and TEACHERS in underserved communities the resources and support they need. ETF's objective is to strengthen students' abilities to communicate better, work collaboratively, and think creatively, all while giving them an outlet and a built-in community. These life skills are not only critical in forming successful students, but also world citizens. Their newest program, JumpStart Theatre, is now in six states with plans to roll out to several more in the coming years.

The Association also runs the International Thespian Society, which has impacted the lives of more than two million students since its founding in 1929

Zadan passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, several days into recovery after shoulder replacement surgery. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produced film, television, and live theater projects which together have earned a total of six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 17 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, six GLAAD Awards, four NAACP IMAGE AWARDS and two Tony Awards. They were also executive producers of the 85th, 86th, and 87th Academy Awards. As an author Zadan wrote Sondheim & Co., a definitive BIOGRAPHY of Stephen Sondheim.

Broadway productions include revivals of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and "Promises, Promises." Feature films: "Footloose" (2011 and 1984), "Hairspray," "The Bucket List," "Chicago," "My Fellow Americans" and "Sing." Television Specials: "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert," "Hairspray Live!," "The Wiz Live!," "Peter Pan Live!," "The Sound of Music Live!," the restoration of "Liza With A Z" and the re-release of D.A. Pennebaker's documentary that chronicled the recording of "Company: Original Cast Album." Television movies: "Flint," "Bonnie & Clyde," "Steel Magnolias," "Living Proof," "A Raisin in the Sun," "Wedding Wars," "Suburban Madness," "Empire," "The Reagans," "Lucy," "The Music Man," "Martin & Lewis," "Brian's Song," "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," "What Makes a Family," "The Three Stooges," "The Beach Boys: An American Family," "Flowers for Algernon," "Annie," "Forget me Never," "Double Platinum," "Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella," "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" and "Gypsy." Television series: "Better Late Than Never," "Smash," "Drop Dead Diva" and "It's All Relative."

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