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Friday, 18 November 2011 18:01

Director-choreographer Kenny Ortega thanks mentors at Big Bash!

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   The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization had their annual Big Bash at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last month. The BBBS celebrates making a big difference and changing young lives for the better through mentoring, and there are always extraordinary honorees. Last year it was Anne Sweeny, the head of Disney ABC Media Networks, and the honor was presented by her good friend, former Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing, who is a driving force with BBBS. Both have become mentors and Big Sisters to some very lucky Little Sisters who have seen the entertainment industry from a POV that few get to experience. Both Anne and Sherry have said that they have been luck enough to have extraordinary mentors in their lives, so it is important that they now become mentors to others.
   This year's worthy honoree was Kenny Ortega, the award-winning producer-director-choreographer. Most recently he was behind the Michael Jackson documentary film "This Is It," and now he is getting ready to bring the musical "In The Heights" to the big screen. He has a remake of "Dirty Dancing" on his slate, too. It's a familiar territory for Ortega since he choreographed the original.
   From chatting with Kenny for more than two decades, visiting him on the sets when he was directing the TV series "Hull High" and the movie "Hocus Pocus," I personally know what a dynamo guy he is. He made the "High School Musical" franchise into an inspiring success for Disney Studios. So it was a joy to see him accept the 2011 Walt Disney Man of the Year Award.
   Ortega accepted thanking the Walt Disney company for their creative association with the films and TV productions they've done together. He gave a nod to the mentors and teachers in his life saying "the men and women who took time out of their lives to nourish mine, to guide and steer and enlighten me along my way. Mentors like Gene Kelly, Raul Julia, Michael Jackson, Dawn Steele, and my father."
   The honor was so perfect for the inspiring filmmaker who believes and acts on the words of Walt Disney, who said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Ortega said, "I believe that is what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about."
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