The 2011 Gridiron West Dinner is coming!

We’re pleased to announce the details of our 13th Annual Gridiron West Dinner

A “roast/toast” to the one and only DALE CHIHULY

The Gridiron Dinner is our signature fundraising event, which allows all our vital programs to continue, and is seriously a romping good time.

Last year we had the mayors in stitches, and this year we’ll be shattering a little glass, so come join us!

THURSDAY, DEC. 15, 2011
FREMONT STUDIOS, 155 North 35th Street, Seattle

RECEPTION: 5:30 p.m.
DINNER & ENTERTAINMENT: 6:30-9:30 p.m.
VIP CHAMPAGNE & CHOCOLATE AFTER PARTY: 9:30 to ???

In the Gridiron West Dinner tradition, the evening will feature songs, comedy, video, photos and “toasts/roasts” of our honoree, Dale Chihuly.

Master of Ceremonies: Mike Egan
Musical Tribute: The Nowhere Men
Plus a Host of Celebrity Toasters/Roasters including Sally Bagshaw, Jim Bianco, Jeff & Susan Brotman, John Buchanan, Leslie Chihuly, Mimi Gardner Gates, Allen Shoup, & Tom Skerritt

Festive Attire: Chihuly Colors Encouraged!

This event will sell out, so reserve your tickets and tables now!

PAST GRIDIRON WEST DINNER HONOREES:

2010 – Greg Nickels, Norm Rice, Charles Royer, Paul Schell, Wes Uhlman (see the review from Seattle Met)
2009 – Suzie Burke
2008 – Kemper Freeman Jr.
2007 – Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus
2006 – Tom Foley & Slade Gorton
2005 – Bill Gates Sr. & Mimi Gardner Gates
2004 – Jennifer Dunn & Gary Locke
2003 – Jim Ellis & John Ellis
2002 – Dan Evans, Booth Gardner, Mike Lowry, Al Rosellini, John Spellman
2001 – Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen, Susan Hutchison
2000 – Emmett Watson
1999 – Adele Ferguson, Dick Larsen, Mike Layton, Shelby Scates

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WNC’s Gridiron West Dinners Held in Seattle & Spokane

SPECIAL OFFER: “Bobbleheads” of Slade Gorton & Tom Foley, which were sold at this year’s dinners, are still available: Join the Washington News Council at the $50 level, and get your choice of either. Join at the $100 level or above, and get one of each. Join “100 Friends of the WNC” and get SIGNED versions of both Bobbleheads. Call 206.262.9793 to join or use the “Click&Pledge” box at the top of this page.

Tom Foley & Slade Gorton “Toasted” at Gridiron West Dinners in Seattle and Spokane; Foley ill but said, “Go ahead and roast me!”

The Washington News Council honored former House Speaker Tom Foley and former Senator Slade Gorton at TWO gala Gridiron West Dinners this year. A total of nearly 500 people attended the two events, which are getting rave reviews from those who were at one or both dinners.

The Seattle dinner was held on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. (It will be broadcast on TVW on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. and repeated subsequently. See www.tvw.org for viewing schedule.) The Spokane dinner was held on Saturday, Nov. 11 at The Davenport Hotel. The WNC’s annual events are billed as “toasts,” but some call them “roasts.”

Slade Gorton and his wife Sally attended both events. However, Tom Foley was honored “in absentia” because he was recently diagnosed with a heart problem and was unable to travel. Foley sent a letter expressing his regrets, and the full text was read aloud in Seattle by Honorary Dinner Co-Chair Bill Gates Sr. and in Spokane by Honorary Dinner Co-Chair Jennifer Dunn.

After receiving the letter on Nov. 1, the WNC decided to turn the “toast” of Foley into a “Get Well” tribute. A life-sized photograph of Foley was onstage next to Gorton at both events. All guests were invited to sign an oversized “Get Well, Tom” poster card that will be delivered to him soon. Foley sent “responses” to his toasters that were read aloud. Both dinners were videotaped and copies will be sent to Foley.

The WNC’s annual Gridiron West Dinner has become one of the most popular events of the fall. Always held in the week after Election Day, it is a bipartisan gala with songs, comedy, video tributes and affectionate “toasts” by and of prominent political, business, civic and media figures.

“Toasters” in each city took the stage in pairs to aim their remarks at the two honorees.

“Toasting” Foley in Seattle:

Phyllis Campbell & George Nethercutt, Norm Dicks & Jack Lein

“Toasting” Gorton in Seattle:

Jim Ellis & John Ellis (with Patti Payne), Mike McGavick & Rob McKenna

“Toasting” Foley in Spokane:

Father Bernard Couglin & Janet Gilpatrick, Jack Geraghty & George Nethercutt

“Toasting” Gorton in Spokane:

Jennifer Dunn & Mike McGavick, Jim McDevitt & Cathy McMorris

Table sponsors (in one or both cities) included: Avista, Boeing, Microsoft, Gates Foundation, King County Journal, PEMCO, Preston Gates Ellis, Puget Sound Energy, Premera Blue Cross, Paine Hamblen, The Gallatin Group, Fremont Dock Company, Gonzaga University, Building Industry Association of Washington, Frank Russell Company, Lynden Company, KPLU-FM, TVW, Seattle Mariners and the Gorton Legacy Group.

Mike Egan, Master of Ceremonies at the last several Gridiron West Dinners, emceed at both events and presented his hilarious “slide show” of Foley and Gorton photographs (starting with their baby pictures). A moving video tribute to the two honorees (including old home movies) was once again produced for the events by Ken Jones and Larry Cali.

Exclusive to both 2006 Gridiron West Dinners were fabulous “Bobbleheads” of Foley and Gorton. These were the table centerpieces and many were auctioned off at the two events. However, some are still available for purchase (see caption above for details). The Bobbleheads are limited-edition collectors’ items, designed by David Horsey, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, exclusively for this year’s WNC Gridiron West Dinners. (Special thanks to David for designing them and to the Seattle Mariners for underwriting the costs.)

Music and songs (this year’s song parodies were from “West Side Story”) were provided by Cabaret Productions, under the leadership of Jim Anderson. And the Washington News Council’s Board Members sang their traditional group song — always a highlight of the evening! (Sample lyrics: “There’s a case for us, somewhere a case for us….”)

Incredible travel packages donated by Noble House Hotels were raffled off at the dinners.

They included multi-night stays (plus airfare) at the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, California; and the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego, California; also, overnight stays at the Edgewater Hotel on Seattle’s waterfront and the new Hotel Deca in Seattle’s University District.

Both evenings ended with a song by the Cabaret Productions singers to the tune of “America”:

“I like to be in America,

OK by me in America,

Our press is free in America,

And that’s the key to America!”

Previous Gridiron West events have honored:

2005 – Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates

2004 – Jennifer Dunn and Gary Locke

2003 – Jim Ellis and John Ellis

2002 – Al Rosellini, Dan Evans, John Spellman, Booth Gardner and Mike Lowry

2001 – Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen and Susan Hutchison

2000 – Emmett Watson

1999 – Adele Ferguson, Dick Larsen, Mike Layton and Shelby Scates

If you missed previous Gridiron West Dinners, you don’t want to miss this year’s, when we will “toast” Bill and Jill Ruckelshaus on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. SAVE THE DATE!

To guarantee two seats, join “100 Friends of the WNC” (see Click&Pledge box above).

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“100 Friends of the WNC” — Distinguished Group Growing Fast!

The Washington News Council has formed100 Friends of the WNC. Members pledge to donate $1,000 a year for three consecutive years to help support the News Council’smission. Friends also receive two tickets to our annual Gridiron West Dinners.

Members so far include: Nancy Alvord, Minoru & Yoko Arakawa, Tom Barwick, Richard & Edwina Baxter, James Bianco, Steve Boyer, Herb & Shirley Bridge, Suzie Burke, Doris Cassan, Pedro & Laura Celis, Tom Cock Jr., Jane & David Davis, Tom Downey, Jennifer Dunn, Jim Ellis, Bill Gates Sr., Margo & Andy Gordon, Martha Kongsgaard & Peter Goldman, Austin & Ina Hamer, Ken & Cathi Hatch, Tom & Peggy Hayward, Richard & Elizabeth Hedreen, Bob & Pat Herbold, Sandeep Kaushik & Elizabeth Goodwin, Betsy Lieberman & Richard Groomer, Grant & Marci Larsen, Bruce & Jolene McCaw, Chuck & Tracy Nordhoff, Chuck & Cathy Novak, Mary Odermat, Vic Odermat, Mary Pigott, Joe & Jaynie Putnam, Harry & Ann Pryde, Skip Rowley, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Karen Seinfeld, Helen Silha, Stephen Silha, Gary Smith, John Stanton & Theresa Gillespie, Sid Snyder, Craig & Joan Watjen.

If you’d like to join this distinguished group, please call our office at 206.262.9793 or go to the “Click & Pledge” box at the top of this page.

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WNC “toasts” Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates at 7th Gridiron West Dinner!

The Washington News Council “toasted” Bill Gates Sr. and Mimi Gardner Gates at our 7th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

More than 600 people attended this fun-filled gala evening of comedy, song, gentle “toasts” and affectionate tributes. Mike Egan of Microsoft emceed again this year, with music by Cabaret Productions.

“Toasters” included Susan Brotman, Peter Donnelly, Jim Ellis, Dan Evans, and the Gates siblings: Bill Gates, Kristi Blake and Libby Armintrout.

Bill Gates Sr. was an original member of the WNC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation generously helped fund the council during its first six years. Mimi Gardner Gates is the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director of the Seattle Art Museum.

The Honorary Host Committee for the event included: Libby & Doug Armintrout, Kristi & John Blake, Jeff & Susan Brotman, Jane & David Davis, Peter Donnelly, Jim Ellis, Dan & Nancy Evans, Bill & Melinda Gates, Bill & Ruth Gerberding, Gerry & Lyn Grinstein, Andy & Susan Hutchison, Janet Ketcham, Kerry & Linda Killinger, Joe & Susan Knight, Bill & Sally Neukom, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Herman & Faye Sarkowsky, Stan & Ingrid Savage, Jon & Mary Shirley, Patty Stonesifer & Michael Kinsley, and Bagley & Virginia Wright.

Table hosts for the event were:

Philanthropic ($7,500) Level — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, King County Journal, Microsoft, Bill & Sally Neukom, Symetra Financial, Washington Mutual, Virginia Wright & Ann Wyckoff.

Artistic ($5,000) Level — Boeing, Costco, Jane & David Davis, Bruce & Jolene McCaw, PEMCO, Hunter Simpson, University of Washington.

Cultural ($3,500) Level — The Gallatin Group, “Just the Neighbors,” Premera Blue Cross, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Weyerhaeuser.

Civic ($1,500 Level) — ArtsFund, Dr. Richard & Edwina Baxter, Chris & Cynthia Bayley, The Benaroya Company, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Fremont Dock Company, Gorton Legacy Group, The Keller Group, Grant Larsen, Lynden, Inc., Noble House Hotels, Port of Seattle, Preston Gates & Ellis, Rockey Hill & Knowlton, Herman & Faye Sarkowsky, Seattle Parks Foundation, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stephen Silha, Jim & Fawn Spady, Technology Alliance, TVW, U.W. Law School, Robert & Betty Utter, Vulcan, Washington State Farm Bureau, YWCA.

The following companies and individuals provided special help or in-kind services: Alaska Airlines, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Larry Cali & Ken Jones, David Horsey, Microsoft, Noble House Hotels, Preston Gates & Ellis, and Symetra Financial.

Jonathan Borofsky, the artist who created the “Hammering Man” statue in front of the Seattle Art Museum, generously approved the manufacture of 70 limited-edition miniatures of “Hammering Man” to use as centerpieces. All were sold either before or during the event, nearly half at the guaranteed bid price of $500 each.

“This was our most successful event ever,” said WNC Executive Director John Hamer. “Now the only question is: Who should we ‘toast’ next year? Suggestions welcome!”

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WNC “toasts” Locke and Dunn at 2004 Gridiron West Dinner

The Washington News Council “toasted” Governor Gary Locke, Democrat, and U.S. Representative
Jennifer Dunn, Republican, on Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at our 6th annual Gridiron West Dinner, at the Washington
State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle.

This gala bipartisan event came just three days after Election Day. Nearly 550 people attended, from politics, government, media, business, academia, law, and other sectors. They were treated to a fun-filled evening of comedy, song, video tributes and affectionate “toasts” of our honorees.

To read comments on the event, please click HERE.

Both Locke and Dunn had “family tables” with their spouses, children and other relatives and close friends.

(NEWS FLASH: Just a few hours after the dinner ended, Mona Lee Locke gave birth to their new baby daughter at Swedish Medical Center. Some speculated that the evening’s laughter might have induced labor.)

Both Locke and Dunn had announced that they would not seek reelection this year and will be retiring from office in January 2005. The Gridiron West Dinner is modeled after the Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington, D.C., where political and media leaders poke fun at each other in good-natured comedy, skits and songs.

Highlights of this year’s Gridiron West Dinner included: Emcee Mike Egan’s photographic history of Gary and Jennifer’s changing hairstyles over the past 40-plus years; Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey’s retrospective of his best cartoons of Gary and Jennifer over the past 20 years; and a video tribute to Gary and Jennifer produced by Larry Cali and Ken Jones of KING-TV.

“Toasters,” who took the stage in pairs, included Martha Choe & Slade Gorton; John Carlson & Mary Charles; and Dick Thompson & Patti Payne. Payne did a musical tribute, accompanied on the piano by John Ellis and joined onstage by Jennifer Dunn’s husband, Keith Thompson, and her two sons, Reagan and Bryant.

After the “toasts,” Gary and Jennifer each took the stage to respond to their “toasters.” Jennifer recited a list of the “Top 10 Reasons I Will Miss Being in Congress.” Gary replied specifically to each of his “toasters,” and gave as good as he got.

The audience was entertained by song parodies sung by “The Beetles” of Cabaret Productions. Another highlight was the entire Washington News Council singing a song to the tune of “Sgt. Pepper”s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (“Washington News Council”s Watch Dog Board”). To read parody lyrics, click HERE.

Past Gridiron West Dinners have “toasted” Jim Ellis and John Ellis (2003); the five living former Governors of Washington (2002); television anchors Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen and Susan Hutchison (2001); former Seattle P-I columnist Emmett Watson (2000); and former political reporters Adele Ferguson, Dick Larsen,
Mike Layton and Shelby Scates (1999).

Nearly 50 tables of 10 were sponsored by corporations, foundations, or individuals. “Baby Kissers” ($5,000) table sponsors included Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kemper Development Company, King County Journal, Microsoft, Pemco Financial Services, and Starbucks. “Back Slappers” ($2,500) table sponsors were The Gallatin Group, Premera Blue Cross, Puget Sound Energy, Safeco, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, and Weyerhaeuser. “Glad Handers” ($1,000) table sponsors included Apex Foundation, The Benaroya Company, Evans School of Public Affairs, Gorton Legacy Group, Merriman Capital Management, Port of Seattle, Regal Financial Bank, Rockey Hill & Knowlton, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Wes Uhlman & Associates, Washington Dairy Products Commission, Weyerhaeuser, and the Wingood Foundation. Many individuals also sponsored tables, including WNC members Richard Baxter, Suzie Burke, Carolyn Duncan, Cyrus Krohn, Barry Mitzman, Chuck Nordhoff, Stephen Silha, and Robert Utter.

The event was filmed by TVW and broadcast statewide. It will be repeated (see www.tvw.org for schedule.)

Videotapes and/or DVDs of the event will be available soon. Please call 206-262-9793 to reserve a copy.

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WNC’s 5th Annual Gridiron Dinner “toasts” Jim Ellis and John Ellis

The Washington News Council “toasted” Jim Ellis and John Ellis at our 5th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on Friday, Nov. 7, 2003, in the Skybridge at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Nearly 400 people attended the gala event to honor the Ellis brothers, who have been civic leaders in the Puget Sound region for decades.

The event was a fun-filled evening of comedy, song parodies and affectionate toasts. This year’s “toasters” were (for Jim) Charley Bingham, Slade Gorton, Ken Hatch, Sally Jewell, Gerry Johnson, and Phyllis Lamphere and (for John) Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers and Patti Payne.

In response to their “toasters,” Jim and John and Patti Payne teamed up for a surprise musical song-and-dance routine. The audience was delighted by seeing Jim and Patti singing and dancing, accompanied by John on the piano. The evening also featured comedy by Master of Ceremonies Mike Egan, and Frank Sinatra song parodies sung by David Koch and David Scully of Cabaret Productions, with Scott Warrender on the piano. A video tribute done by Larry Cali and Ken Jones was another highlight.

News Council Chairman Bob Utter and Past President Eddie Reed welcomed the crowd. WNC Treasurer Carver Gayton and Executive Director John Hamer thanked table sponsors. For the fifth year in a row, members of the Washington News Council took the stage to sing a song: “High Hopes.”

Guests were encouraged to fill out membership envelopes and two were drawn at the end of the evening for prizes: 1) lunch for 10 with Jim Ellis at the Convention Center and 2) dinner for 4 with John Ellis in the owner’s suite at Safeco Field during a Mariners’ game next season. The two prizes were won by Bob Carlile of KPMG and Jim Warjone of Port Blakely Tree Farms. The winning envelopes were drawn by Kerri and Daniel Ellis, John’s grandchildren.

Table sponsors at the “Visionaries” ($5,000) level were: Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, King County Journal, Seattle Mariners, and PEMCO. Tables sponsors at the “Movers” ($2,500) level were: The Gallatin Group, Premera Blue Cross, Preston Gates & Ellis, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Washington State Convention & Trade Center, and Weyerhaeuser. Table sponsors at the “Shakers” ($1,000) level were Dr. Richard Baxter, The Benaroya Company, Carolyn Duncan, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Fremont Dock Company, Gorton Legacy Group, Merriman Capital Management, Barry Mitzman, Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, Chuck Nordhoff, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Patti Payne, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Wes Uhlman & Associates, Robert Utter, William Van Valkenberg, and the Washington Farm Bureau.

Chateau Ste. Michelle provided wines and Creative Ice Sculptures did the spectacular centerpieces, which featured a Seattle Mariners baseball and an evergreen branch inside each ice globe. One lucky person at each table won the ice globe and got to take it home.

The King County Journal provided reprints of a front-page article on the Ellis brothers that ran on Sunday, Nov. 2. David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did the drawing that appeared on the invitations and the programs, and presented framed copies to Jim and John at the end of the evening.

Jim Ellis is founding partner of Preston Gates and Ellis, founder of Metro and the Lake Washington clean-up campaign, father of the Forward Thrust public-works program, chairman of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, and past president of the state Convention and Trade Center. He is also a Founding Board member of the Washington News Council.

John Ellis is chairman emeritus and a member of the board of directors of the Seattle Mariners, former top executive of what is now Puget Sound Energy, a partner in the Seattle-based law firm of Perkins Coie, and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations, including Seattle University.

The Honorary Advisory Committee for the event included: Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Dan Evans, Bob Flennaugh, Bill Gates Sr., Slade Gorton, Peter Horvitz, Sally Jewell, Phyllis Lamphere, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers, Patti Payne, Norm Rice, Charles Royer, Bill Ruckelshaus, Frank Shrontz, and John Spellman.

Videotapes of the event are available. Call our office for details.

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