HUGH JACKMAN is an Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe- and Tony Award-winning performer who has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-hyphenate career persona, as successful on stage in front of live crowds as he is on film. From his award-winning turn on Broadway as the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to his metal claw-wielding Wolverine in the blockbuster “X-Men” franchise, Jackman has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time.
The Australian native made his first major U.S. film appearance as Wolverine in the first installment of the “X-Men” series, a role he reprised in the enormously successful “X2” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” He then starred as the title character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” a prequel to the popular series which grossed an outstanding $85 million domestically in its first weekend of release. Audiences once again went to see Jackman in the popular role in the next chapter titled “The Wolverine,” which grossed over $400 million worldwide. In 2014, Jackman and the X-Men team reunited for “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
Jackman garnered his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, for his performance in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” based on popular stage show created from Victor’s Hugo famous novel of the same name. Jackman’s standout performance as protagonist Jean Valjean also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, as well as Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations, for both Best Ensemble and Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, and a BAFTA Award nomination.
In 2009, Jackman took on host duties at the 81st Annual Academy Awards, earning an Emmy Award nomination for his work. This wasn’t, however, Jackman’s first foray into awards show hosting. Previously, he served as host of the Tony Awards three years in a row, from 2003 to 2005, earning an Emmy Award for the 2004 ceremony, and an Emmy nomination for his appearance at the 2005 ceremony.
Jackman’s additional film credits include “Prisoners,” Shawn Levy’s “Real Steel,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” “Deception,” “Someone Like You,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing,” and “Kate and Leopold,” for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe nomination. In addition, he lent his voice to the animated features “Happy Feet,” “Flushed Away” and “Rise of the Guardians.”
On Broadway, Jackman most recently received rave reviews for his performance as The Man in the “The River.” In 2011, he made a splash on the Great White Way in his one-man show, “Hugh Jackman – Back on Broadway.” Backed by an 18-piece orchestra, the revue, which previously opened to rave reviews during its limited engagements in San Francisco and Toronto earlier that year, was comprised of both Broadway hits and a selection of some of his personal favorite standards. Jackman’s continued dedication to the Broadway community was fêted at the 2012 Tony Awards, where he received a Special Award from the Tony Awards Administration Committee, recognizing his accomplishments both as a performer as well as a humanitarian.
In 2009, Broadway audiences could see Jackman in the Keith Huff-penned “A Steady Rain,” in which he starred with Daniel Craig. For his portrayal of the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards.
His additional theater credits include “Carousel” at Carnegie Hall; “Oklahoma!” at the National Theater in London, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination; “Sunset Boulevard,” for which he garnered Australia’s prestigious ‘MO’ Award; and “Beauty and the Beast,” for which he received a ‘MO’ Award nomination.
Jackman’s career began in Australia in the independent films “Paperback Hero” and “Erskineville Kings.” His performance in the latter earned him an Australian Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award and The Australian Film Institute Best Actor nomination. In 1999, he was named Australian Star of the Year at the Australian Movie Convention.
Deborra-lee Furness is an internationally acclaimed actress as well as a passionate advocate for vulnerable and abandoned children. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York Deborra-lee has won many awards including Best Actress awards from the highly regarded Film Critics Circle of Australia, the Variety Award and Best Actress at Seattle International Film festival for the movie SHAME. She received a Best Actress Award at the San Sebastian International Film (Spain) Festival for her role in WAITING. Deborra-lee has appeared in many movies and worked extensively in television and on stage. She was nominated by the Australian Film Institute for her Guest Starring role in SEA CHANGE, and for Best Supporting Actress in the Ray Lawrence directed JINDABYNE. She won the FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD OF AUSTRALIA a second time for her portrayal of Jude in JINDABYNE.
Deborra-lee’s humanitarian work for children is a driving force in her life, She is Patron of THE LIGHTHOUSE FOUNDATION for displaced children in Melbourne Australia; Patron of the BONE MARROW DONOR INSTITUTE for children with leukemia; Patron of INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION FAMILIES OF QUEENSLAND. She is also on the boards of ADOPT CHANGE AUSTRALIA. WORLD WIDE ORPHANS AUSTRALIA and is on the advisory committee for THE GLOBAL POVERTY PROJECT.
Deborra-lee founded NATIONAL ADOPTION AWARENESS WEEK and ADOPT CHANGE in Australia, focusing on improving adoption programs, procedures and legislation, raising awareness and understanding of the issues of vulnerable children. In 2014 NAAW achieved the goal of new legislation being passed by the Australian government to greatly approve procedures surrounding adoption.
For her advocacy work she has been honoured by WORLD WIDE ORPHANS in New York, THE JOINT COUNCIL USA and in 2013 was given the prestigious award of ANGEL IN ADOPTION by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington DC. HARLEM VILLAGE ACADEMIES honored Deborra-lee and her husband Hugh for their philanthropy work in 2012.
She was presented with 2014 INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AWARD in Utah by Mentors International. And more recently was named NSW Australian of the year, 2015. Also in 2015, Deborra-lee was honored in Washington as Advocate of the Year by KIDSAVE.
Katie Couric (@katiecouric), Yahoo Global News Anchor, is an award-winning journalist and TV personality, cancer advocate, documentary film producer and New York Times best-selling author of The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives.
Couric joined Yahoo in 2014 as the Global News Anchor, where she reports on live world events, conducts groundbreaking interviews with major newsmakers and cultural figures, and examines the important issues of our time. Couric created an independent production company, Katie Couric Media in the spring of 2015 and is actively involved in a number of scripted and unscripted projects including the cooking web series Full Plate with Katie and John, in partnership with Sur La Table, and the Katie Couric podcast on the Earwolf network featuring candid conversations with some of the biggest names in news, politics and pop culture.
Couric is the executive producer of the documentaries: Fed Up, which looks at the obesity epidemic; Under the Gun, which traces the history of gun violence in America; and Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, which explores our scientific, cultural and historical understanding of gender.
In September 2006, Couric became the first woman at the helm of an evening news cast when she became solo anchor of the CBS Evening News. Couric joined CBS News after a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC’s Today Show.
Couric is a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA), programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF). Over $481 million has been pledged to support SU2C’s research initiatives that tackle a myriad of cancers in collaborative and innovative ways. Couric also spearheaded the establishment of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Born in Arlington, Virginia, Couric graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a focus on American Studies. She has two daughters, Ellie and Carrie, and lives in New York City with her husband, John Molner.
Entertainment icon Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy career took off after his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981. Eight years later he teamed up with fellow comedian Larry David to create what was to become the most successful comedy series in the history of television: Seinfeld. The show ran on NBC for nine seasons, winning numerous Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice awards, and was named the greatest television show of all time in 2009 by TV Guide. In 2012 Seinfeld was alos identified as the best sitcom ever in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll.
Seinfeld has also starred in, written, and produced movies (Comedian, Bee Movie), directed and produced a Broadway hit (Colin Quinn Long Story Short), and wrote a best-selling book (Seinlanguage) and a children’s book (Halloween). Seinfeld directed the off-Broadway production of Colin Quinn: The New York Story and the Netflix stand-up special. His latest project is the Emmy nominated and critically-acclaimed web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which has garnered over 100 million views, and which the New York Times describes as “impressively complex and artful” and Variety calls “a game changer.” Most recently, Seinfeld has been performing at the Beacon Theatre in New York as part of a year-long residency entitled Jerry Seinfeld: The Homestand. Seinfeld resides in New York City with his wife and three children. He remains active as a standup comedy performer, continuously touring both nationally and internationally.
Acclaimed TV late night show host, admired stand-up comedian, best-selling children’s book author, much-in-demand corporate speaker, lovable TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, and philanthropist…it’s no wonder that Jay Leno is widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.”
And all this hard work certainly paid off handsomely: Jay Leno’s late night television ratings domination included two decades as the host of the #1-rated “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” – he never lost a year in which he served as host.
Leno has now taken his considerable talents and married them with his intense passion and unparalleled knowledge of cars as host of the CNBC series “Jay Leno’s Garage” now in its second season. “Jay Leno’s Garage” explores the world of cars, never forgetting that it’s the people behind the wheel who provide the real stories. The series debuted in October 2015 and delivered CNBC’s most-watched first season in network history. New episodes of “Jay Leno’s Garage” return Wednesday, November 9th at 10PM ET/PT on CNBC.
The show is an outgrowth of jaylenosgarage.com, which Leno produces and which has an international following on the Web and which has garnered several Emmy Awards and nominations for Outstanding Special Class–Short-Format Nonfiction Programs.
Leno has been honored by the Television Academy with an Emmy for “Outstanding Comedy, Variety or Music Series.” “The Tonight Show” has also taken home the trophy for “Favorite Late Night Show” in the annual TV Guide Awards determined by voting viewers. Leno is also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award and other honors, including the Harris Poll selection as most popular star on television. Other personal highlights include the Hasty Pudding Award at Harvard University, an honor whose sole prior comedy/talk host recipient was Johnny Carson; receiving a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and being the first person to drive the pace car of all major NASCAR events.
It was in May 1992 when Leno followed in the footsteps of legendary NBC late-night hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson as “Tonight Show” host. Pitted against another television superstar David Letterman in the ll:35 p.m. hour, Leno became the ratings leader of late night within two years and never looked back.
Prior to becoming host, Leno had been the exclusive guest host on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” since September 1987. He first appeared as a guest on the show March 2, 1977, and he made numerous additional appearances on the show, as well as NBC’s former program “Late Night with David Letterman.”
An indefatigable performer, Leno loves to test his humor live on audiences across the nation, performing over 100-150 live appearances in nightclubs, theaters and stadiums each year. He has been touted as one of the nicest people in show business and the hardest-working -- a winning tandem for the man who says, “Anyone can have a life - careers are hard to come by!”
His “everyman”-style and personality have helped him earn millions of fans worldwide, especially in the regions where people relate to his personable style and work ethic. In addition to traversing the U.S., he has entertained in various countries, including performing for military troops associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia. He remains passionate about performing in front of live audiences, including the military, and appears regularly in Las Vegas, on college campuses around the United States and in other venues.
Moreover, he is committed to using his amalgam of talents to help those less fortunate. Each year, he serves as Master of Ceremonies and does numerous benefit performances, including shows for those whose lives were devastated by the 9/11 tragedy, the tsunami in Thailand, hurricanes in the gulf, and the severe economic downturn in Detroit. He leads the annual Love Ride in California to benefit numerous humanitarian organizations serving people with autism, muscular dystrophy, and Special Olympics, among many others.
He has also served as honorary campaign chairman for several years for the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Hollywood’s charitable arm, and he has assisted the Gender Apartheid campaign led by wife Mavis together with the Feminist Majority, to free Afghan women of Taliban tyranny, an effort for which Mavis and The Feminist Majority were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Leno’s children’s book “If Roast Beef Could Fly” (from Simon & Schuster) hit bookstores in April 2004 and immediately was a New York Times Bestseller. His follow-up kids book “How to be the Funniest Kid In Your Class” was similarly successful. His other book, “Leading with My Chin” (from HarperCollins), hit the bookstores in 1998. He also has published four versions of “Headlines,” the compilation of books and desk calendars featuring his favorite funny newspaper headlines, and “Police Blotter,” a book with more humorous newspaper clips involving police stories (book proceeds go to various charities).
When he is not performing, writing, doing charitable work, Leno keeps busy doing voice-over work in such movies as “Cars” and “Igor” and the hit-TV show “The Fairly Oddparents” (Nickelodeon), where the character “The Crimson Chin” – a superhero with a chin with superpowers – was inspired by Leno’s own noted jawline. He also is a much-in-demand corporate speaker for companies including General Motors, and he is a monthly columnist in “Popular Mechanics.” And in his “spare” time (as if he has any), he enjoys working on his collection of classic cars and motorcycles. In fact, he has built a number of cars, including an acclaimed eco-car in his eco-friendly green garage.
Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York, and raised in Andover, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Mavis, live in Los Angeles.
An accomplished performer in all formats, Margaret Cho could be called the “Queen of all Media,” having conquered the worlds of film, television, books, music, and theatre. She has five Grammy Award and one Emmy nomination under her belt and continues her pursuit of all things creative. Never one to shy away from a difficult or even 'taboo' topic, her socially aware brand of comedy has made her both a thought leader and a teacher to those with open minds and open hearts. Equally as important as her art are the causes she is passionate about. Margaret is widely recognized for her charitable work with gay rights, anti-bullying campaigns, and the homeless community, which grew out of a tribute to her dear friend, Robin Williams. In every segment of her life Margaret is honest, forthright, passionate, uproarious, and always entertaining. With her latest Concert Special, psyCHO, which was filmed at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre, Margaret Cho is at her very best.
Ben Folds is widely regarded as one of the major music influencers of our generation. He’s spent over a decade sharing the stage with some of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras – from Sydney, Australia to the Kennedy Center, performing his pop hits and his critically acclaimed concerto for Piano and Orchestra. For five seasons he was a judge on the popular NBC series The Sing Off, which catapulted the art of a cappella into the national spotlight, and helped launch the careers of numerous a cappella groups. Throughout his career Folds has created an enormous body of genre-bending musical art that includes pop albums as the frontman for Ben Folds Five, multiple solo rock albums, and unique collaborative records with artists from Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor to Weird Al and William Shatner. His most recent album is a blend of pop and classical original works, in part recorded with the revered classical sextet yMusic, that soared to #1 on both the Billboard classical and classical crossover charts.
Folds has recently returned to pounding pianos with cross country solo touring reminiscent of his earliest solo tours, where he defied skeptics by delivering a high energy rock performance using the intimacy of just a piano. He also continues performing with symphonies, underscoring at each show a message about the cultural importance and relevance of orchestras to all communities. In addition to his self-described love of performing and making music “for humans,” Folds is also an avid photographer, is a member of the distinguished Sony Artisans of Imagery, and recently completed an assignment as a photo editor for National Geographic. Folds is also an advocate for music education and music therapy as a member of the Artist Committee of the Americans For The Arts, and he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Nashville Symphony.
Kesha has taken the world by storm since the release of her debut album, Animal, in 2010. That year she was declared Billboard’s Hot 100 Artist and her smash debut single, TiK ToK, was named Billboard’s #1 Hot 100 Song. Kesha has had eight consecutive Top 10 hits, including four #1 singles: TiK ToK, Your Love Is My Drug, We R Who We R, and Timber, a multi-platinum award winning collaboration with Pitbull. As a songwriter she pens all of her own music as well as songs for artists including Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, The Veronicas, and Miley Cyrus. She is an animal rights crusader as the Humane Society International’s first Global Ambassador and a passionate advocate for equality, being honored with the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award. Kesha has branched out into TV, film, and fashion, becoming a global cultural icon and winning Billboard Magazine's 2016 Women in Music Trailblazer award.
Three-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today; a creative force with thirteen albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva." The BBC ha included her in its list of the continent's 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their “Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World.” Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the “Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa.” She is the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award, given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. As a performer, her striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. Kidjo has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk, and jazz as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. 2017 brings Angélique’s newest project, her interpretation of The Talking Heads’ classic 1980 album, Remain in Light. She will record her version of the album with superstar producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Jay Z, Drake, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift), taking classic songs such as "Crosseyed and Painless," "Once in a Lifetime," and "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" and reinterpreting them with electrifying rhythms, African guitars, and layered backing vocals. Angélique will bring this musical extravaganza to concert halls and festivals across the globe, including a premier performance at Carnegie Hall and a U.S. festival debut at Bonnaroo in 2017. Her star-studded album DJIN DJIN won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Album in 2008, and her album OYO was nominated for the same award in 2011. In January 2014 Angélique’s first book, a memoir titled Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (Harper Collins) and her twelfth album, EVE (Savoy/429 Records), were released to critical acclaim. EVE later went on to win the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2015 and her historic, orchestral album Sings with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg (Savoy/429 Records) won a Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2016.
Angelique has gone on to perform this genre-bending work with several international orchestras and symphonies including the Bruckner Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Philharmonie de Paris. Her collaboration with Philip Glass, IFÉ: Three Yorùbá Songs, made its US debut in a sold out concert with the San Francisco Symphony in June 2015. In addition to performing this new orchestral concert, Angelique continues to tour globally performing the high-energy concert she’s become famous for with her four-piece band. Her rousing live show was captured at the revered Austin City Limits and made its television debut in January 2016.
Angelique also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM Goodwill Ambassador. She created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to supporting the education of young girls in Africa.
Acclaimed as “the pre-eminent guitarist of our time”, multiple GRAMMY winner Sharon Isbin has been soloist with 170 orchestras, made over 25 recordings, and given sold-out performances in the world’s finest halls. Winner of the Toronto, Madrid and Munich Competitions, and Guitar Player’s Best Classical Guitarist award, she performed in Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed, the White House by invitation of President Obama, and as the only classical artist in the 2010 GRAMMY Awards. Recent PBS performances include the Billy Joel Gershwin Prize, Tavis Smiley, and the documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour seen by millions on over 200 PBS stations across the US, released on DVD/Blu-ray, and winner of the 2015 ASCAP Television Broadcast Award. Visit www.sharonisbin.com to sample her latest recording release.