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Celebrity pair helps Assets raise big bucks


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POSTED: Friday, March 06, 2009

Actor Tony Shalhoub might play an obsessive-compulsive detective on television, but he's adorable, considerate and grounded in real life. Together with his wife, actress Brooke Adams, they made a dynamic team, brilliantly easing the 580 guests and 100 volunteers from the serious and personal topic of their parenting experiences into a routine that left the crowd roaring, with Shalhoub often playing straight man to his sharp-witted partner.

Shalhoub and Adams headlined the successful Assets School annual gala fundraiser — which netted $183,000 — last Friday. Before the program began, they signed autographs on DVD covers and books (there is a mystery series based on Shalhoub's television show “;Monk”;) and graciously posed for photos with fans.

After dinner and the silent auction, their old friend and Assets' Head of School Paul Singer introduced them. Adams and Shalhoub bantered that her involvement with the Country School in Los Angeles — where Singer worked and got to know Shalhoub and Adams before coming to Hawaii last year — was more about the long lunches and overnight meetings than about helping their daughter's school.

“;They seemed to get a lot accomplished,”; Shalhoub deadpanned, “;and I wrote checks regularly.”; Brilliantly and subtly delivered, their straight-faced sarcasm infused a jolt of energy into the ballroom full of people, who obviously came ready to spend money.

During the live auction, Shalhoub offered a visit to the set of “;Monk,”; preparing to shoot its eighth and final season this summer. Two different families bid $3,000 each for the chance to watch him in action.

The final live-auction item concerned a two-year, $66,000 shortfall in the Schools of the Future grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation. Assets parents Larry Eron and his wife, Donna Cheng, volunteered to cover the first $33,000 if the school's supporters would match their commitment. They did. And they made short order of it, securing the second $33,000 in about 10 minutes. A huge accomplishment no matter what the circumstances, but the celeb element sure didn't hurt ...

Another long, luscious advertisement-as-reality-show will air when “;Bridget's Sexiest Beaches”; features a whole lot of the Big Island. Judging from the trailers, there's also a whole lotta Bridget Marquardt, the host who dines at Huggo's on the Rocks, hikes with Rob Pacheco of Hawaii Forest and Trail and night-dives with giant manta rays. It looks like pure entertainment, but then again most people (men?) won't care whether they're learning anything when they see bubbly Bridget spilling out of her minimalist wardrobe. By all accounts, the scenery (locations, too) is stunning.

“;Bridget's Sexiest Beaches”; shot on the Big Island last week, and that episode is slated to air in mid-April. However, catch other sexy beaches (are there any outside Hawaii?) when the series premieres Thursday on the Travel Channel. Visit http://www.travelchannel.com.