HughE Dillon: Philly-filmed TV pilot with Jimmy Smits picked up

Plus the Walnut Street Theatre's first annual gala, and an Eagles birthday party

Citizens Bank and longtime actor/director Charles Abbott were honored with the Edwin Forrest Award at the Walnut Street Theatre’s 1st Annual Gala Concert. Last year, the Walnut celebrated 200 years with a concert and a huge party for alumni. It was such a huge success they decided to do it every year. All proceeds benefit the theater’s education and outreach programming, which reaches more than 110,000 children annually in the Delaware Valley. This year’s theme was “A Few of My Favorite Things.”

The evening began with a 90-minute concert starting with a number from Fiddler on the Roof, which is in previews and will open Wednesday, May 26th, at 7 p.m. I highly recommend this production; I was blown away by just this number. Then some of the Walnut’s (and Philadelphia’s) favorite performers took to the stage, such as Mary Martello, Jennie Eisenhower, Michael Philip O’Brien, Ben Dibble, Joilet Harris and Fran Prisco. It’s nice to go to NYC, but we have our own little Broadway right here in Philly, and the tickets are affordable.  Last night’s prices started at $25 for the balcony, where I sat. I love the view from there, and I think the seats are a little more roomier up there too.

After the concert, it was off to the VIP after-party in the lobby of Jefferson Hospital’s new building at 10th & Locust streets, with food from the hospital’s own catering service. I couldn’t find any info online about this venue, but I thought it was really nice, and the food was exceptional. So Philly has a new event space for parties (and if you have some kind of medical emergency, well, you’re right there, too.)

BELOW: Actor/director Charles Abbott accepting the Edwin Forrest Award , president and artistic director of the Walnut Bernard Havard, and Citizens Bank’s Daniel K. Fitzpatrick accepting on behalf of the bank.

BELOW: Langston Darby, Matt Mancuso and Alyssa Mulligan are acting apprentices who participate in the Walnut Street Theatre’s multicultural Touring Outreach Company.

BELOW: Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ 1st District), with daughter Josie and wife Camille, who was also the gala co-chair. Josie has been in several shows at the Walnut, including Oliver earlier this season, and now Fiddler on the Roof.  Her proud mom tells me that Josie is high-schooled via Skype, and even takes classes at Stanford online.

Emmy Award-winner Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue, West Wing) is returning to NBC to star in a new series, according to the network’s recent announcement. Smits, will play Cyrus Garza, a Supreme Court justice who starts to see the flaws in the system and quits his job to go back to practicing law by representing the little guy. The new show is going to be called Outlaw. When they filmed the pilot here in Philly back in March, the running title was Garza, his last name. Here’s one of the last exterior shots they filmed, at the Franklin Institute on a cold, rainy day in late March. The cast also includes Carly Pope (24, Popular), Jesse Bradford (The West Wing, Bring It On), David Ramsey (Dexter) and Ellen Woglom (Californication).

Here’s a preview clip of the show. I love seeing Philly as a costar; the courtroom was also used in the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.


I missed it, but my friends Jackiem Wright and Reggie Berry of The 400 PTM, also known as “The Cool Kids,” held a birthday celebration for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin at Sumo Lounge on May 13th. Maclin’s party had a great turnout, around 200 guests. Many of his teammates showed support (LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, Moise Fokou, Eldra Buckley, Cornelius Ingram, Stewart Bradley, Antonio Dixon). So did other athletes: Hakim Warrick (Chicago Bulls), Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings), Fabian Washington (Baltimore Ravens), and Dante Cunningham (Portland Trailblazers), to name a few. Many local notables were there, such as Ryan Dorsey and Shang Skipper. The Cool Kids have the hottest party in Philly at Strongbox, and it’s held on what used to be an off-night, Tuesday. Unfortunately, Strongbox only holds about 100 people so you really have to know someone to get into the party.

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