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Don LaFontaine Lab Fundraiser Fills Hearts and Building Plans

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

September 8, 2009

Comments (7)


Find more photos like this on VU

The voice over industry paid tribute to the legacy of Don LaFontaine at the home of Ann and Joe Cipriano in Los Angeles on September 2, 2009.

I'd like to share a bit about the event with you here at VOX Daily.

The Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab Fundraiser

The Screen Actors Guild Foundation is building the Don LaFontaine Voice Over Lab in the Actors Center in Los Angeles. Last week I attended a gala fundraiser, helping to contribute in a small way to the building project, mingle, and show support for the Lab on behalf of Voices.com.

Based upon the numbers of contracts signed, Don LaFontaine was probably the busiest actor in the history of the Screen Actors Guild, with a career that spanned over 40 years, recording over 5,000 movie trailers and hundreds of thousands of commercial and promo spots. He was then, and is now, legendary.

Friends, relatives, and colleagues were present at this extraordinary gathering of promo, trailer, and commercial talent, representing the majority of primetime voices. All of those voices under one roof was an experience of its own.

Upon arrival at Ann and Joe Cipriano's home, my friend Nancy Wolfson and I were greeted by a wonderful valet and were escorted to the front door to join the party, checking in with Nurit of the SAG Foundation. We were then encouraged to sign a beautifully enlarged photograph of Don. It was then that I met my first Canadian outside of Canada in the VO world on this trip, Rino Romano (pictured with me in the slide show above). There's something about us Canadians... we find each other everywhere!

I made some new friends and got to meet, in person for the first time, some very special friends who you may know through our Voice Over Experts podcast, including Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins, Marc Graue, Nancy Wolfson, David Alden, George Whittam, and several others.

Through generous contributions from benefactors and those present, I'm pleased to share that The Don LaFontaine Lab is now more than two-thirds of the way to meeting its financial goal!

We are not just building a physical place, but a "nerve center" for the voice over community.

In Nita Whitaker LaFontaine's words, the Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab will be a place of "Generosity, teaching, and love," noting that Don's legacy would live on through the lab for generations to come. The lab will also be a physical place where Don can be remembered, something that is rare in a digital world but welcomed for this great man who meant so much to so many.

The lab will feature a fully equipped sound studio and classroom. The hope is that this lab becomes a center for the voice over community where all facets of voice-over can meet, study, and inspire.

The sound studio will comprise of two state-of-the-art recording booths, allowing aspiring voice actors to work on their craft, record auditions, or work on demos, at no cost.

According to the leaflet, the classroom will host some of the most talented voice over artists teaching today and in the future, many of whom have donated to the Lab and serve on its Advisory Board.

During the event, there was also a silent auction where people could place bids on various items (a guitar signed by musician Rob Thomas) and exciting prize packages, including some Don LaFontaine memorabilia such as pieces of copy Don read and famously doodled on (referred to as "Don Doodles"), photographs, and more.

All of these items were on display in and around Joe Cipriano's home recording studio, a treat to behold for a number of guests.

Toward the end of the night, Nita sang a beautiful song from the movie Alfie, "What's it all about, Alfie?" that reminds her of Don. There were very few dry eyes I must tell you.

The outpouring of love to Don's family has been so great and I can tell you that they are all touched by your support. Meeting Nita was memorable for me and I hope the memories I've shared with you here serve as memories for you too.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Photostream courtesy of Voiceover Universe (VU)

Related Topics: booth, Don LaFontaine, industry, Joe Cipriano, Lab, Los Angeles, SAG, Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Voice Acting, Voice-Over


Comments


    Great photos and recap Stephanie! I'm sorry I couldn't make it to this one. Glad you had a great trip to L.A.!

    Jeff

    Posted by:
    • Jeff Gelder
    • September 8, 2009 5:04 PM

      Stephanie,

      It was so great to finally meet the face and pesonality behind the pen. You've regularly written so many wonderful aspects to voiceover and this blog is no exception. Thank you
      It was joy to meet at such a profoundly moving tribute!

      All my best,

      Joan

      Posted by:

        Lovely story Stephanie. How glad I was to finally meet you! Trust me, my eyes were anything but dry after Nita's performance.
        It's a lot of work designing a studio of this scale in a commercial building, but the end result will be completely worth the effort. We'll be sure to have another huge party celebrating it's grand opening!

        Posted by:

          Thanks for this wonderful review. Blessings go out to Joe, Ann, and SAG--for hosting such an event! The Voice Over community continues give...and makes me proud to be a part of it!
          (I only wish I could've been there!)

          Posted by:
          • JC Haze
          • September 9, 2009 11:04 AM

            Stephanie,
            It was wonderful to see you again and to spend a little time catching up. I feel so humbled by Don's talent and persona. It was truly a wonderful tribute and cause so befitting.
            All The Best,

            Posted by:

              "...in a world..."where Don LaFontaine continues to inspire us--this was the perfect event and project!
              Sorry I was unable to attend, but the love and enthusiasm for this man shines right through the faces in the photos.

              Posted by:

                Thanks so much for attending this inspiring fund-raiser and sharing your experiences and photos. It all gets me thinking about what kinds of service-work I may be able to do for the Detroit talent community and giving back.

                Posted by:

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