On September 28th, Bliss Ball returned for a second smash-hit year, with a star-studded evening of entertainment, that set new records for philanthropic giving. Thanks to all of our special quests for their generosity.
Zoomer Magazine - December 2013 / January 2014
Toronto Life - December 2013
McCleans.ca - December 2, 2013
NUVO - Winter 2013
POSTCITY.COM - November 18, 2013
National Post - October 26, 2013
The Globe and Mail - October 12, 2013
Actress and Columbia recording artist Katharine McPhee spent the past two years shooting the highly anticipated Steven Spielberg/NBC TV series SMASH in New York City. Katharine is currently in the studio working on her next solo record, due out later this year. The album will feature McPhee’s collaborations with some of the industry’s top songwriters, including Linda Perry (Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Pink), Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse, Fergie, Nas), Sia (Rihanna, Beyonce), The Dream (Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Rihanna) and Ryan Tedder (Maroon 5, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson).
McPhee's self-titled debut album exploded on the Billboard 200. It was also the best chart debut for a female artist during that period in two years. In addition to her acting and singing career, Katharine is a passionate philanthropist and currently is the celebrity ambassador for Malaria No More. (www.mcpheeoutreach.org)
Katharine has co-starred in the hit Adam Sandler comedy movie House Bunny and co-starred in episodes of CSI-NY, Community and The Family Guy. Katharine was featured on two hit PBS specials - Foster and Friends and Chris Botti in Boston alongside STING, Andrea Bocelli and John Mayer.
You may think you know the real Nicole Scherzinger, but chances are you don't. Not really. Maybe you knew her as the figurehead of one of the biggest-selling girl bands of the last decade, the Pussycat Dolls. Maybe you're one of the millions of people who brought their debut, worldwide smash, Don't Cha, or When I Grow Up, or Buttons, or Jai Ho, or, well, the list goes on. Perhaps you followed her on US X Factor and then became enraptured with her on the UK version last year. Maybe you helped get her heartbreak anthem Don't Hold Your Breath to Number One in the UK, the follow-up to her debut, RedOne-produced solo single Poison (another massive smash) and the second single from her Top Ten album, Killer Love. Maybe this is the Nicole Scherzinger you think you know. Which ever one it is, the reality is far more interesting because Nicole isn't your typical American superstar: she's so much more than that.
Born Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente Scherzinger in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nicole wasn't thrust into showbusiness. “Other than my grandma, who sings on the ukelele, I don't have any stars or anything in my family,” she explains with a giggle. “I came from a very humble beginning. My dad was a welder, my mum had me when she was 18.” Her father was of Filipino descent, while her mother was of half-Hawaiian and half-Russian descent. Add to this blend the fact that the family soon moved to Louisville, Kentucky and you have an incredibly unique concoction. “I wrote a song with my friend Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane,” Nicole remembers, “and it's called American Girl and the lyrics are: “growing up with soul music in my veins and country music in my brain”. So basically being born of Hawaiian, Filipino, Russian descent, I think the soul was always there. I feel like it's made me not only well-rounded, but given me so much dimension, not only in my personality but in how I view life, how I hear music, how I sing – it's in everything. I get the best of both worlds.”
Her first brush with stardom on any level came during a fifth grade performance of her childhood hero Whitney Houston's The Greatest Love Of All. Her passion then lead to her being cast as an understudy in a seventh grade musical production. “I was the understudy for this guy and it wasn't until he didn't show up at the last minute that they made me go on. When I finished everyone was stood up and that was the first time I felt like 'wow, there must be something here for me'.” What that thing was, she assumed, was a nurturing of her love for musical theatre. “Obviously I wanted to be Whitney Houston growing up,” she laughs, “but because I came from a theatrical background I really loved musicals. I always saw myself going to New York and doing Broadway.” Luckily for the world of pop, Nicole's mum had other ideas and she convinced her daughter to audition for a TV show called Popstars, who were looking for the next big girl band. “My mum saw this commercial for a making of a girlband show. She said I had to audition and I was like 'mom, I'm in theatre, this isn't a Spice Girls thing I'm going after'. And she said 'just go, these bigwigs from Hollywood are coming down'. So I found out where the closest audition was, which was Chicago, and I drove for several hours and waited in line at 4am.”
The risk paid off and Nicole was part of Eden's Crush, who went on to tour America with the likes of *NSYNC and Jessica Simpson. It wasn't to last, however, and while for most that would have been the end of that, for Nicole this setback was transformed into a new beginning. “It brought me to Los Angeles at a time when I didn't have the means to get here,” she explains defiantly. “I was so young and that was a platform for the next level.” That next level was to become the lead singer in Pussycat Dolls, one of the most successful acts of the twenty-first century. Once again, this meant earning her place in the band the hard way with an audition in front of record industry titans Ron Fair and Jimmy Iovine. “I turned up, was so nervous and they were pretty much done with auditions,” she remembers. “It was a huge room and they wouldn't even let me take two steps – I was just stood at the door and they were like 'stay right there, just sing the song'. I did a song and then a dance that I'd prepared and the rest was history.”
From there she was in the band and as quickly as they'd been put together they then went on to dominate the charts across the world. Their 2005 debut single Don't Cha was Number One in nine countries, sold over 6 million copies worldwide and finished the year as one of the biggest-selling singles in America. This was followed by a further seven Top Ten singles in the UK alone. Suddenly, the band were everywhere. “It happened so fast and at such a grandiose level,” Nicole remembers, sounding almost out of breath at the thought of it. “We weren't even aware of it because we were so busy being in the bubble working. It just felt like we were - without really knowing it at the time - this invincible girl group. We were the new age of the girl group. We were edgy and we were funky and we were powerful. We were a force to be reckoned with. That was exciting to be a part of.”
After just five whirlwind years, two albums and numerous Top 10 singles the band split in 2010. For Nicole, there was never any doubt about what she would do next. She had to keep performing and making music: “I just love what I do. I just love music. I only know music and performing. It's that itch, it's that hunger, it's that hole that you have to fill. I don't have another choice. I don't have another job and this is what I'm best at. I have a vision for myself and I always have since I was a little girl and anything seems possible.” Her debut album, Killer Love – which saw her working with the likes of producers RedOne, The-Dream and Stargate, as well as collaboraions with 50 Cent, Sting and Enrique Iglesias – was the perfect vehicle for her to get back to her other true passion; performing on stage. “It's just electric. My high. It's what I feel like I was built for. I'm able to connect with people like in no other way.” This last statement may come as a surprise to anyone who witnessed the cavalcade of amazing that was Nicole Scherzinger on the UK version of The X Factor, but she's adamant that it's on stage that she really comes to life: “That's why I act like such a goofball on the show because I hate speaking and I hate hearing my voice, but when I sing that's when I feel it's a real connection.”
“I'm really fortunate that the Brits are just as bonkers as me,” she says of her ridiculously successful debut year as a judge on the show. “If they weren't than it could have gone all wrong. I think people are so used to this stereotype of me so when they see me they see a walking billboard of 'loosen up my buttons'. They don't realise that's the attitude in me. That I take on the life of the song, the attitude of the song. But in normal life, I'm a girl's girl, I'm a guy's girl, I'm a girl next door. I'm a goofball.” Not that she didn't work hard of course, often pulling six day weeks. In fact, all three of her acts made the final five and she had two acts in the final, becoming the first judge ever to achieve that feat.
The show also had an effect on her creativity, specifically on her forthcoming single Boomerang, the first to be taken from her will.i.am-produced second album. “It was a new year and it was fresh,” she says, practically beaming. “It felt energetic and it felt for me like a motivational song. I used to listen to this song whenever I was doubting myself or I had a bad day and the lyrics were everything to me. It's about bouncing back even stronger.” Like a flash of neon across a grey Monday morning sky, Boomerang – all fizzing synths, defiant lyrics and Nicole's effervescent vocals – sticks out like a beacon of empowerment. “I felt like, especially in the UK during that time of year after Christmas, who doesn't need something motivating and energising?” You can't say fairer than that.
A man of many trades, Mario Lopez has the overwhelming desire to always keep active. Mario is the host of FOX's hit program X Factor, and the nationally syndicated daily show EXTRA. Concurrently, Lopez is the host of the nationwide Clear Channel radio show "On with Mario Lopez." Not only does Lopez have a proclivity for the entertainment industry, he is also an avid sports fan. He has taken his love for sports, specifically boxing, to the next level as a recurring commentator on HBO Boxing. And he has recently produced a documentary based on the sport entitle CHAMP.
Lopez became a New York Times bestselling author for his healthy eating guide Extra Lean. In May 2011, he released the follow up to Extra Lean entitled Extra Lean Family. This new book featured recipes and tips that are beneficial to the entire family. Additionally, Lopez penned Mario Lopez's Knockout Fitness a bestselling fitness book that offers readers a look into his impressive workout regime, and Mud Tacos, a vibrant children's' book he co-authored with his sister Marissa. As a follow up to Mud Tacos, Lopez released Mario & Baby Gia, a children’s book he wrote for his daughter, Gia. The book is currently being developed into an animated series.
No stranger to rigorous routines, Lopez danced his way to the finals in the third season of ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars. Shortly after, in summer 2009, Lopez successfully completed his first run on Broadway. He starred in the long running hit musical A Chorus Line as the audience loved character ‘Zach.’
Mario was named the Alumni Ambassador of Fitness by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), while joining the ranks of some 25 other prominent alumni, including Denzel Washington and President Clinton, in the organization's BE GREAT campaign. Mario will help bring to light the major issues affecting today’s young people, including the importance of graduating from high school and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the key role community-based organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs play in the positive development of children.
Even with all his other ventures, Mario is still in love with acting. Lopez reincarnated his guest-starring role as Dr. Mike Hamoui on the final season of F/X network’s popular show Nip/Tuck. Lopez’s run on the series garnished an instant and well-deserved cult following. He previously starred in the highest rated program in ABC Family history, Holiday in Handcuffs. He also starred opposite Mark Consuelos in the made for TV movie Husband for Hire, which was the most watched program ever on the Oxygen Network.
Mario currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Courtney and their daughter, Gia.
Carly Rose Sonenclar
Singing sensation Carly Rose Sonenclar defies generational stereotypes in the most melodic way possible. On the brink of stardom at only 14 years old, Carly unofficially began her singing career at the age of 2, mimicking contestants on American Idol alongside her brother’s Simon Cowell impersonation.
Landing the lead role of Pearl in an off-Broadway production of The Night of the Hunter prepared audiences for her official Broadway debut as young Cosette in Les Miserables. The technical perfection and emotional capacity of her vocal talent was well beyond her at-the-time 7 years, and led to other opportunities such as Carrie of Little House on the Prairie, Gilda Flip of television's The Electric Company, and Chloe of Broadway's Wonderland.
Armed with an established presence in the national musical theatre scene, Sonenclar broadened her fan base with an audition on The X Factor. Her rendition of “Feeling Good” garnered standing ovation from all four judges, including childhood idols Cowell and Britney Spears. (It currently has nearly 40 million views on YouTube.) Her tenure on the The X Factor had her finishing overall in second place, having been the most-voted-for contestant twice.
Carly is now working on original music for her debut album, with the hopes of “bringing the soulful element to the pop industry”. With talent like Autumn Rowe (songwriter and producer for Rhianna, Beyoncé, and Kelis) and Toby Gad (songwriter for Fergie, Alicia Keys, and Kelly Clarkson), we have little doubt in her future success. We’re so delighted to have Carly on board for the Bliss Ball, and hope you’re as excited as we are to see what she has in store!
Chris Noth is an accomplished graduate of the Yale School of Drama that continues to build upon a versatile career in film, television and on stage.
Among his credits are two of the most successful series in television history: “Law & Order” and “Sex and the City.” Noth originated the role of Mike Logan on the first five seasons of “Law & Order” and then reprised the role on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He shared two SAG Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series with his fellow cast members. For his portrayal of Mr. Big in HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Noth earned a Golden Globe nomination. Recently, his performance as Peter Florrick in the CBS drama “The Good Wife” has earned him a Golden Globe nomination as well as two SAG Award nominations for Outstanding Ensemble. In addition to “The Good Wife,” Noth can be seen in the upcoming feature “Lovelace,” a biopic based on Linda Lovelace, opposite Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard, as well as the BBC Series “Titanic: Blood and Steel.”
On television, Noth starred and executive produced the TNT original film “Bad Apple,” and starred in the TNT epic miniseries “Caesar” and the TNT telefilm “Exiled.”
His film credits include “Sex and the City 2,” “Sex and the City,” “My One and Only,” “The Perfect Man,” “Mr. 3000,” “Searching for Paradise,” “Double Whammy,” “Cast Away,” “Texas Funeral,” “Getting to Know You,” “The Broken Giant,” “The Confession,” “Cold Around the Heart” and “Naked in New York.”
On the Broadway stage, Noth starred in “That Championship Season” and Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man.” His other stage credits include “Farragut North” (Atlantic and Geffen Theater), “What Didn’t Happen” (Playwright’s Horizon), “American Buffalo” (Berkshire Theatre Festival) as well as performances at the American Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut; New York’s Manhattan Club, Circle Rep, La Mama and the Roundabout Theater; the Seattle Repertory Theater; and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
World-renowned Magician and Endurance Artist
For more than a decade, David Blaine has been attracting the world’s attention with his high-profile endurance stunts. Starting his career as a magician who appeared to do the impossible with a deck of cards, he was soon following in the footsteps of Houdini, seeking out that which seems physically impossible, and actually doing it. To that end, he’s been buried alive in New York City for a week, barely survived being encased inside a six-ton block of ice for three days and three nights, stood atop a 100-foot-tall pillar in Bryant Park for 36 hours without a safety net, survived inside a transparent box in London on nothing but water for 44 days and spent one week submerged in a sphere-shaped aquarium at Lincoln Center, at the end of which he attempted to break the world record for holding one’s breath. A year later, he succeeded in breaking that record live on the Oprah Winfrey show, holding his breath for 17 minutes and 4 seconds.
Born in Brooklyn, Blaine discovered his passion for magic at the age of four when he saw a magician perform in the subway. His mother encouraged his passion and he began performing professionally at private parties by the age of thirteen. By the age of twenty-three, Blaine had created, directed and produced an original television program titled Street Magic, which garnered rave reviews by critics and revolutionized the way magic is portrayed on television. Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller called Street Magic, “the best TV magic special ever done” and “the biggest breakthrough in our lifetime." The New York Times noted that Blaine has “taken a craft that's been around for hundreds of years and done something unique and fresh with it." The New Yorker claimed that "he saved magic." Since then, Blaine has produced nine additional primetime specials.
Blaine has performed magic privately for U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Mayor Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Muhammad Ali, as well as President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and other international leaders. He also performed alongside Michael Jackson, and during the Super Bowl halftime show.
In 2010, Blaine performed magic for 72 hours straight in Times Square, raising nearly $100,000 for relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti.
This past October, Blaine stood atop a small, 22-foot high platform on New York's Pier 54, in the middle of a massive globe, surrounded by seven Tesla coils. The coils were directed at him for the entirety of the stunt, producing an electrical discharge of at least one million volts continuously for 72 hours. The event was streamed live via Youtube, engaging more than 400 million users with the event on the world's leading social networks.