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KOCE-TV gets big fundraising boost

The Crowd

Nearly $800,000 raised for the public television station in a gala benefit.

June 25, 2010|By B.W. Cook

An extravagant evening in Newport Beach unfolded last Saturday at The Island Hotel on behalf of KOCE-TV Public Television. The grand gala, co-chaired by Peggy Goldwater Clay and Ardelle St. George, was themed "That's Entertainment." The party certainly lived up to its title.

Super-generous underwriter John Tu, chairman of Kingston Technology Corp., and his 28-member band, known as "California Dreamin'" (with Tu on the drums ), absolutely blew away the 250 black tie-clad guests who had gathered to support KOCE-TV.

The John Tu band was the tip of the iceberg. Orange County High School of the Arts founder Ralph Opacic sang a rendition of "Don't Get Around Much Any More." KOCE board member Heidi Cortese joined dance partner Eddie Alba doing the foxtrot to "The Business of Love." South Coast Plaza executive Sarah Corrigan joined KOCE president Mel Rogers in singing a duet that was a takeoff on the famous Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash rendition of "Jackson."

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The affair attracted a who's-who crowd of Orange County givers. Total proceeds from the gala are estimated at nearly $800,000, a phenomenal success in tough economic times. The largesse is due in great part to the support and participation of this years honored couple, Bette and Wylie Aitken, who shared the spotlight with the Orange County High School of the Arts as the honorees of the evening.

In recent years Wylie Aitken, a mega-successful Orange County-based attorney, and his wife Bette have become major players on the social scene, underwriting and supporting a diverse portfolio of causes, most prominent among them arts and culture-related endeavors. In his youth, Wylie pursued an acting career, which at some point translated into the legal profession. Certainly the skills he learned as a performer no doubt propelled his legal career into the stratosphere. As a tremendous community asset, the Aitkens have, in turn, generously shared their success with the Orange County family and make a big difference in the arts scene for thousands of people who have no idea who they are.

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