4:07pm PT by Chris Gardner
Parkinson's Fundraiser Nets $50,000, Draws Tori Spelling, Jason Priestley and Tiffani Thiessen
Wendi McLendon-Covey has never met Michael J. Fox, but she shows up for him — even when he's not around.
The actress and star of ABC's The Goldbergs stood alongside actors Betsy Brandt, Missi Pyle, Amanda Crew, Dustin Milligan and June Diane Raphael as part of the honorary committee for Wednesday night's Raising the Bar to End Parkinson's fundraiser in partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation. And she told The Hollywood Reporter that her appearance at the Studio City event — held at not-yet-opened restaurant Laurel Point on Ventura Boulevard — was way more than a typical step-and-repeat opportunity. This was personal.
"My dad has Parkinson's and my husband has it, too," said the actress, who has been married to Greg Covey since 1996. "So I'm all about the Michael J. Fox Foundation. My dad has gotten a lot of resources from the foundation. When he was diagnosed two years ago, he went to the website and followed all the leads and it helped him contradict what his doctors were telling him as they weren't being as proactive as they should've been. This foundation has given so much to my family that when they asked me to get involved, I said, 'Hell yes!' I'm happy to be involved in any way I can."
McLendon-Covey wasn't the only one on the red carpet who has been affected by the chronic disorder which affects the central nervous system and counts more than 1 million cases in the U.S. currently. Actor Grant Show told THR that his late father, who passed away three years ago, was afflicted with Parkinson's. "It's a tough disease — there are no answers to it," he said.
Organizers would likely counter Show's statement and say that the solution is raising money to help scientists and researchers find for a cure. And on that note, Wednesday night's exclusive peek inside Laurel Point, a new seafood and sushi concept restaurant from executive chef Phil Kastel (Public School, The Grill on the Alley), proved to be a success with more than $50,000 raised from a raffle and silent auction.
"If you're going to donate to a charity, this is a great charity because the way they put your money to use is so effective," praised Brandt, who starred opposite Fox on his The Michael J. Fox Show playing his wife. "If we're going to cure this disease, it's going to be because of this foundation."
Jason Priestley also had nice words to say about his fellow Canadian pal Fox. "I've had the good fortune of being friends with Mike for some time," said Priestley, who now stars on a popular Canadian series Private Eyes. "And I so admire him as a man for the way in which he dealt with this disease and how he formed this foundation to fight it and try to help other people."
Speaking of other people, Priestley spent part of the party catching up with his onetime Beverly Hills 90210 costar Tori Spelling, who attended the event with husband Dean McDermott. The two posed for photos but skipped interviews on the press line, instead heading straight inside the bash where they caught up with fellow attendees like Tiffani Thiessen, Minka Kelly, Naya Rivera, Ryan Dorsey, Josh Radnor, Steve Howey, Sarah Shahi, Chelsea Kane, Josh Peck, Hunter Parrish and Jake McDorman. Fox's Back to the Future costar Lea Thompson also made the rounds.
Though THR never spotted her drinking one of the night's speciality cocktails, it's possible the actress sipped on one of two exclusive drinks created by mixologist Danny Natali: the Teen Wolf Summer with Corralejo Tequila Blanco, cilantro and lime, and the Save the Clock Tower with Three Olives Vodka, watermelon, mint and lime. Food options included on K-Town crispy chicken sidekicks, seasonal oysters with yuzu kosho mignonette, crab deviled eggs with smoked roe, crab and hamachi rolls, and chocolate tars with maldon sea salt. The general public can sample the menu when the restaurant officially opens on Aug. 1.
The packed room and the attendees' generosity made Veronique Enos Kaefer, director of advancement for The Michael J. Fox Foundation, catch her breath. "The people who are on this committee, they reach out and the whole community comes together and they raise a ton of money and it all goes to research," she said. "We couldn't be more grateful."
Many of those in attendance also said they were feeling grateful, too, but theirs was directed at UTA agent Jacob Fenton, who is married to Kastel. He helped with the heavy lifting for the event, inviting many of his clients and industry friends on behalf of the foundation and its efforts in finding a cure.
And while they do that, McLendon-Covey said that she and her family will continue to lean on the efforts of Fox and friends. "You can't mend this thing, but you can manage it."
Married actors Steve Howey and Sarah Shahi catch up with actor Brady Smith at the Raising The Bar To End Parkinson's fundraiser at Laurel Point in Studio City on July 27, 2016. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Tori Spelling, UTA's Jacob Fenton and Tiffani Thiessen attend the Raising The Bar To End Parkinson's fundraiser at Laurel Point in Studio City on July 27, 2016. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Lea Thompson arrives at the Raising The Bar To End Parkinson's event at Laurel Point in Studio City on July 27, 2016. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)