The Sacramento Press Club’s Dancing with the Capitol Stars scholarship fundraiser was a huge success. Many thanks to all who help make the evening memorable! Below, courtesy of the Capitol Morning Report, is a review of the evening.
CREATING A TRADITION
By Bob Schmidt, Laura-Lynne Powell, Pamela Martineau and Tiffany Yasus, Capitol Morning Report.
Hey! A tradition is being born. For the second consecutive year the Sacramento Press Club has presented a wonderfully entertaining show by and for members of the Capitol community. It happened last night at the Crest Theatre where nearly 600 guests laughed and applauded their way through a dancing with the stars contest and the celebration of two 50th anniversaries: the first of the Press Club itself, and the second marking the years spent covering California government by George Skelton, the crusty, truth-seeking political columnist for the LA Times.
In our story about the club's show last December, its Gridiron Gala, our Laura-Lynne Powell said it was cute and folksy, like watching a high school play where everyone knew folks on the stage. The good news is that part of it is still the same.
Let's start with the dancing, which turned out to be another triumph for the Skelton family. There were 12 Capitol celebrities, each paired with a professional partner from Sacramento's Mirror Ballroom, And the grand winner was Karen Skelton, George's daughter and owner of communications firm Skelton Strategies, who took home the Mirror Ball Trophy.
The contestants, in addition to Skelton, were Asms. Fiona Ma and Alyson Huber, former Asms. Roger Niello and Lloyd Levine, former KCRA reporter Kevin Riggs, KCRA anchor Edie Lambert, CBS 13's anchor/reporter Christina Anderson, Associated Press reporters Juliet Williams and Judy Lin, Sacramento Bee's Ed Fletcher and Orange County Register's Brian Joseph.
They had all been rehearsing for two months with their professional partners and separated themselves into three groups for the competition. One group, consisting of Levine, Williams, Joseph, and Lambert, danced the tango; Riggs, Lin, Ma, and Anderson danced the foxtrot, and Niello, Huber, Fletcher and Skelton danced the waltz. Edie Lambert took the tango competition, Christina Anderson took the fox trot and Skelton won the grand prize with her waltz.
The judges were Ron Cunningham, Artistic Director of the Sacramento Ballet; Cristina Mendonsa, Channnel 10 news anchor, and Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee columnist.
Walters delivered the liveliest comments. To former Asm. Lloyd Levine, who competed in the tango: "That's why he was known as one of the slipperiest legislators." To Associated Press reporter Juliet Williams, who also danced the tango: "Given the state of journalism these days, Juliet, you could always go into dancing." And to tango competitor Brian Joseph, of the Orange County Register (who wore a red shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest and a fedora) "I dare you to wear that to the next governor's press conference." (Emcee former Asm. Dennis Mangers told Joseph: "One more button and we'd have to shut this place down.") To Associated Press reporter Judy Lin, who danced with the same professional dancer as her colleague, Juliet Williams: "Does that mean he (the professional dancer) is joining the AP bureau?" To foxtrot competitor Kevin Riggs, former reporter with KCRA , now with Randle Communications: "I think when you left journalism and went over to the dark side, you got a lot smoother." To foxtrot competitor Christina Anderson, of CBS 13: "I have nothing smart ass to say." To waltz competitor Asm. Alyson Huber: "Probably much more smooth than her re-election campaign next year." And to Sacramento Bee reporter Ed Fletcher, who danced a sexy waltz in silk pajamas: "I think the Citizen Hotel is right down the street."
The press club anniversary was celebrated in the ticket sales, which raised about $50,000 for the club's scholarship fund.
The other 50-year honoree, Skelton, was honored largely through a video program that highlighted his reporting career that began at the Capitol with UPI, the Sacramento Union and finally to the LA Times. His former colleagues recalled how anxious Skelton was when asked to move from reporting to writing a column. "He became a columnist insisting he'd still be a reporter. That of course is the secret of his success," former Times editor Bill Boyarsky said on the video. The video also included compliments from former governor's George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger and current governor Jerry Brown. "You made your beloved California better," Davis said.
Other commentators on the video were former speaker Willie Brown, US Secty. of Defense Leon Panetta, television personalities Tom Brokaw and Judy Woodruff, political consultant Dee Dee Myers, reporter colleague Lou Cannon, and Barbara O'Connor, political communications professor at CSU Sacramento.
Skelton arrived at the podium to a standing ovation, which bothered him enough to growl, "Jesus!"
"I'm overwhelmed and I want to thank every body," he said. "This is nuts. Someone wants me to retire. But I'm not ready for that yet."
In the audience were family members, including his wife, Nerida, brother, daughters and grandchildren, colleagues and former colleagues. (Dan Morain, now a Sacramento Bee columnist; Dave Lesher, now with the Public Policy Institute of CA; and former Times photographer Bob Durrell, among them.) Times "brass," led by Editor Russ Stanton, flew up from LA and Stanton kicked off the program by sharing the paper's pride in Skelton's 1,613 columns, each a "must read." "At the Times we consider him our private label cabernet sauvignon," Stanton said. "He keeps getting better with age."
The evening's entertainments also included a song from Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who, to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "That's Life," sang a remembrance of 1961 events but ended it in the present. His final line: "If I can't fix the budget by July, you'll say pick up my tent and go occ-u-py."
Thanks to our constellation of sponsors: