World AIDS DAY: The Ribbon of Hope Celebration

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Inside Social
Hollywood Joe
by Greg Hernandez
Dec 2, 2007

I’m not sure when awards season begins and ends anymore with some kind of kudofest happening somewhere just about every week! But one event that I think stands out among many of the others is the Ribbon of Hope Celebration that was presented by the Television Academy Saturday night in North Hollywood.

The 11th annual edition of the show – which honors personal and professional commitment that continues to keep HIV/AIDS awareness in the forefront – drew some really cool celebrities including Judith Light of “Ugly Betty,” Jack Coleman of “Heroes,” Gina Ravera of “ER,” Andrea Bowen of “Desperate Housewives” as well as funnyman Bruce Vilanch, Jasmine Guy, Dee Wallace, Thea Gill, Julie Newmar, Wilson Cruz and “Star Trek” legend Nichelle Nichols, among others.

It was no coincidence that the ceremony was held on World AIDS Day. Many of those in attendance chatted to me about the importance of talking about this horrible disease for which there are certainly better treatments, but still no cure.

“It gets off the front page for awhile and people forget about it,” Coleman said. “People think it’s a disease that’s been conquered and that’s very far from the truth. In this country alone, there’s 300,000 undiagnosed cases so it’s scary and it’s still out there and people really do have to be aware of it.”

Light, who was honored at the event last year for her decades of work for HIV/AIDS, presented the pioneering PBS series “In the Life” with a special achievement award. The Emmy-winning actress was one of the first celebrities, way back in the early 80s, to step-up and help to raise money and awareness.

She’s never stepped down.

“I’ve been part of the really dark days,” Judith said. “How it feels now is it feels mildly better but it’s not enough. I know that people are working really hard to make it be different and that’s what we have to keep doing and that’s why this is an important program for people to see so we do see that it’s out there and it’s not over.”

Televising the ceremony in North America and throughout Europe sometime next year by the here! Networks which was honored Saturday for its program spotlighting AIDS organizations around the country.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to realize what the face of AIDS is in 2008,” said here! founder and CEO Paul Colichman who produced “Gods & Monsters” among other films. “The face has changed but it is probably more important than ever that people realize all of us have to play our art whether it’s a dollar that you give, or an hour of time that you give, all of us together each doing our small part creates a mighty army of warriors.”

Despite the serious nature of the topic, the event had its lighter moments, many of them provided by Vilanch who can adlib better than just about anyone in town and is the first to poke fun at his less-than-svelt physique.

“Well, I used to be a writer,” he told the audience during the show. “Now I’m a striking writer…and a stripper.”