SAN FRANCISCO – The Elios Charitable Foundation’s Biennial Hellenic Charity Ball honored Debbie Matenopoulos, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and Michael Zagaris as stand-out Hellenic Americans in the creative, artistic, and entertainment worlds, on Saturday, November 4 at the historic Fairmont Hotel San Francisco.
Actress, Marilu Henner served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. The Hellenic Charity Ball is the principal source of funding for the Elios Charitable Foundations’ philanthropic endeavors. The gala benefitted the continuing philanthropic mission of the Foundation to preserve the values of Hellenic culture through its grants, sponsored projects and programs.
Elios Charitable Foundation’s Biennial Hellenic Charity Ball was founded to celebrate and preserve the spirit, values, and ideals of Hellenic culture and heritage. The Elios Charitable Foundation launched the Hellenic Charity Ball in 1997 as a way to continually note the ongoing arts and entertainment contributions of Greek-Americans on American culture.
The esteemed 2017 Honorees joined past honorees including Jim Gianopulos, Sid Ganis, Nia Vardalos, Michael Constantine, Demetri Martin, Yanni, Alexander Payne, Gilles Marini, Stratton Leopold, Tony Orlando, George Chakiris, Marilu Henner, Michael Chiklis, Billy Zane, John Aniston, Constantine Maroulis, Maria Menounos (Mistress of Ceremonies), and many more in the 22 year history.
Guests included: Honorees Debbie Matenopoulos, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and Michael Zagaris; Elios Society President John Gumas; Elios Society Director Kerry Katherine Enright; Event Co-chair Niki Leondakis (CEO of Equinox); Event Co-chair Roberta Economidis; Actress and Mistress of Ceremonies Marilu Henner; Actor Gilles Marini; Judy and George Marcus (Marcus & Milichap, Evvia, Kokkari); Angie and Kenny Frangadakis (Evvia, Kokkari); Maria and Cory Lerios (Pablo Cruz); Alexis Padis (Silent Auction chair and Padis Jewelry); journalist Markos Kounalakis his wife Eleni Kounalakis- California Lieutenant Governor candidate and her father Angelo Tsakopoulos; Jen and Charles Bililies (Souvla); Nick Stavropoulos (VP of PG&E); Judy and Steve Padis (Padis Jewelry); Frosene Phillips; Farah Makras and many more.
Also in attendance were San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Stratton Leopold- past honoree, producer/director of big-budget films like Mission Impossible III, and Mary Leopold, Tina and Gary Vrionis- sponsor, former HCB chairman, and Helene Alexopoulos- past honoree and former Prima Ballerina with New York City Ballet for over 20 years.
The evening’s festivities included a formal seated gourmet dinner, followed by the awards show which consisted of heartfelt speeches, wonderful Hellenic performances, and specially produced videos celebrating the honorees’ Greek heritage and their notable careers.
Debbie Matenopoulos, a three-time Emmy® nominee for her work as a TV host and journalist, began her career in entertainment at age 17 when she was hired by MTV. At age 21, she became youngest person in history to hold a permanent co-host position on daytime network television when Barbara Walters handpicked her to be one of the first five cohosts of ABC’s venerable talk show The View. She is currently the co-host of Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family as well as a special correspondent for CBS Television’s flagship entertainment news show Entertainment Tonight. Matenopoulos’ Greek heritage is of the utmost importance to her. She is the first member of her all-Greek family to have been born in the United States. Matenopoulos’ love of family, tradition, and her Greek culture is essential to her. She is passionate about sharing her experience with food, health, wellness, and family.
FILE – From left, Michael Zagaris, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Evan Spiliotopoulos attend Elios Hellenic Charity Ball at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Photo: Drew Altizer Photography
Evan Spiliotopoulos was born in Greece, then moved to the United States after high school where he graduated from the University of Delaware, and the American University in Washington DC. Since the late 90’s, he has been a non-stop working Hollywood screenwriter. His draft of Snow White and the Huntsman got the green light at Universal Pictures, in addition to procuring the attachment of co-lead Chris Hemsworth. Subsequently, Universal hired him to write The Huntsman: Winter’s War which starred Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, and Jessica Chastain. He also co-wrote the 2014 hit Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson. Spiliotopoulos’ most recent work is the live action Disney release, Beauty and the Beast.
Michael Zagaris grew up in the central valley of California. In 1967, he entered law school and also started working for Robert Kennedy on his presidential campaign. The trauma of witnessing Kennedy’s assassination first-hand propelled Zagaris away from politics and into photography. Taking photos started out as a hobby but soon became a career and Zagaris captured the most influential musicians of that period. Among the musicians he photographed were The Clash, Grateful Dead, Blondie, The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin, and many more. His recent book, Total Excess, is a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of the rock and roll scene. Zagaris began photographing sports in the 1970’s as well. To date he has photographed 34 Super Bowls, 12 World Series, and 14 All-Star games. His photos have graced countless publications including the coveted Sports Illustrated cover and Time magazine.
More information on The Elios Charitable Foundation’s Biennial Hellenic Charity Ball is available online at: www.elios.org/hellenic-charity-ball/about.