Jon Lovitz, James Blake Win Night At The Net
Pro/celebrity tennis benefit raises funds for MusiCares
Comedian Jon Lovitz and tennis professional James Blake won the annual Gibson/Baldwin Night at the Net pro/celebrity tennis match benefiting the MusiCares Foundation on Monday night. The pair beat the team of tennis legend Andre Agassi and musician/actor Gavin Rossdale.
The game preceded the first match of the Mercedes-Benz Cup tennis tournament at UCLA and raised funds for MusiCares' Financial Assistance Program, which provides confidential crisis intervention, health care referrals and financial assistance for music people in times of need. Gibson/Baldwin Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz presented MusiCares with a $75,000 check and the Southern California Tennis Association donated $10,000. A silent auction netted an additional $35,000 and an online auction launched at the event will also generate funds benefiting MusiCares.
"This is a great night of tennis and fun and raising funds for MusiCares Foundation, [which] does great work. And luckily you're not going to see me on the tennis court; because that would be truly comical," Recording Academy Vice Chairman Jimmy Jam joked before the game.
Musician, "American Idol" judge and Los Angeles Chapter Governor Randy Jackson served as the host for the evening, and former tennis pro Pam Shriver joined in as chair umpire. Actor Alan Thicke and Debra Wilson from "Mad TV" served as line judges, with Pauly Shore making a brief appearance.
Jackson introduced the players and instigated some friendly competition before the game started.
"I saw Jon Lovitz warming up. And, I'm going to be alright," Agassi said in response to how he thought the match would end.
"I have a message for Andre; I will break you," Lovitz quipped back.
Although the subject of much heckling, Lovitz surprised everyone — including his teammate, who was expecting to work overtime running after balls — by winning the game.
The event drew celebrities and music and sports professionals into the stands as well as on the court. Former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard was in attendance, as was radio personality Rick Dees and comedienne Kathy Griffin.
"I feel very strongly [against how] difficult it is to get affordable health care in this country," Griffin said of her support of MusiCares. "[It] is a great organization because it provides musicians affordable health care, and free health care."
Twenty-five year old Blake noted he personally understands the importance of programs like MusiCares. Last year, he broke his neck during a practice in Rome and suffered from Zoster, a condition that affected his hearing and vision and caused temporary paralysis.
"Unfortunately, I had some rough times last year," he said. "[You] can get sick, get injured, and when these things happen, it's good to know there are people looking out for you."
Tennis stars the Bryan Brothers brought sports and music together by performing with their band, the Bob And Mike Bryan Band. Other musical guests included an energizing performance from Kool And The Gang, and R&B singer Kem, who sang the national anthem.
Previous Gibson/Baldwin Night at the Net participants include such tennis pros as Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick and stars ranging from Matthew Perry and Kelsey Grammer to Dustin Hoffman and Greg Kinnear, and comedians Robin Williams and Dennis Miller.