Jhpiego | Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala 2017

Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala

Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala

Hollywood turns out to support Jhpiego's lifesaving work.

From Vin Diesel to Melina Kanakaredes, Mena Suvari, Al Madrigal and so many more, we couldn't be more grateful to all who came out to honor Ann and Jim Gianopulos and help raise support for women and families across the world!

Highlight Reel

Photos from the Gala

Ann & Jim Gianopulos


Ann and Jim Gianopulos

Jhpiego was proud to honor Ann and Jim Gianopulos with the Elyse Bila Ouedraogo award in recognition of their continuous support and extraordinary volunteer efforts.

Ann Gianopulos began her career in the entertainment industry, working for the European headquarters of Warner Brothers International Licensing and Merchandising in Paris, France. Once in Los Angeles, Ann worked first for Hanna-Barbera International Home Video, and then, when Hanna-Barbera was acquired by Turner Broadcasting, for Turner Pictures Worldwide as Director of Marketing and Distribution. After 5 years at Turner, she went on to spend the next 5 years working for Twentieth Century Fox International, where she was Director and then Vice President of Marketing.

Ann then took a break from the corporate world to focus on being a mom to her and Jim's three children, Mimi, Alexa and Niki. Along with working as a marketing consultant for Amplitude Consulting, specializing in eco-friendly, "green" marketing, Ann now gives her free time to help charities and community organizations whenever possible, including The Archer School for Girls (Trustee and committee chair), The Geffen Theater Advisory Board, Common Sense Media Advisory Council, The Cambodian Children's Fund, and various school committees and groups.

Jim Gianopulos is the newly-appointed Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures with oversight of the firm’s film and television operations worldwide. He previously served as the Chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox for 16 years where he oversaw film production, global marketing, and distribution for the theatrical, television, home entertainment, and digital markets.

He is a Governor and Treasurer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and the American Film Institute, and on the Boards of USC's School of Cinema and XPRIZE Foundation as well as Chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Melina Kanakaredes

Special Guest

Melina Kanakaredes

Melina Kanakaredes has proven herself a force to be reckoned with as a multi-talented actor, writer, director and philanthropist. Her work in TV, film and Broadway has earned her critical acclaim. She is currently expanding her talents to include writing and producing.

Always one to take on a challenge and learn everything she can in this business Melina started directing and writing while working full time as an actor. Ms. Kanakaredes sold her first penned half hour script to CBS in 2004. Since then, Melina has sold several pilot scripts with writing partner Nancy Miller (Creator of Saving Grace). Most recently Melina penned and sold a 13 episode commitment of her new series “Stolen For Good” to the European owned company: Dynamic. She will be writing, starring and executive producing.

Having starred in many television series and most recently making her mark in the recurring role of Dana Hartman on ABC’s Notorious. Melina is best known for her long running starring role of Stella Bonasera in the CBS series CSI: New York. Not only did she play the role of actor on the series but became a writer for the show. Her first penned episode of CSI: New York aired May 15th 2009.

On the Feature film side, Melina co-starred with Dwayne Johnson in the film SNITCH. A few years earlier she went back to her Greek roots playing the mythological icon, Goddess Athena in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. And one of her favorite jobs was co-starring opposite Robert De Niro in the film 15 Minutes. Other film credits include Rounders, Dangerous Beauty and The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Prior to CSI: New York, Ms. Kanakaredes starred for five seasons as Dr. Sydney Hansen on the NBC-TV critically acclaimed series Providence. For her performance, she received the 2000 TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Drama and was nominated for the same award in 2001. While on the show, Melina made her directing debut. She directed her first episode while 6 months pregnant. In 2003, she gave birth to her second child, took to the stage as Sally Bowles in the Broadway musical Cabaret and shot the indie film Into the Fire.

Ms. Kanakaredes graduated Magna Cum Laude from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA with a BFA in Musical Theater. While pursuing her degree she appeared in commercials, industrial films and on stage in the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Pittsburgh Public Theater. In 2002 the college awarded her an honorary doctorate degree. Upon graduation, Ms. Kanakaredes moved to New York City, where she quickly started working professionally in off-Broadway plays, commercials and within six months landed her first starring role on The Guiding Light.

Tom Papa


Tom Papa

With more than 20 years as a stand-up comedian, Tom Papa is one of the top comedic voices in the country finding success in film, television and radio as well as on the live stage.

Last year, Tom shot his third hour-long stand-up special. Tom’s two, critically-acclaimed specials were directed by Rob Zombie: Tom Papa: Freaked Out (2013) is streaming on Amazon and Hulu and is available as a download; and Tom Papa Live in New York City (2011) is streaming on Netflix and is available as a download.

Tom is host of the hit podcast and SiriusXM show, Come to Papa, a weekly, hour-long show featuring Tom exploring the funny side of life, occasionally with guests like Mel Brooks, Ray Romano, Carl Reiner and Jerry Seinfeld.

On the small screen Tom was seen alongside Clive Owen in two episodes of The Knick; he co-starred with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the HBO film, Behind the Candelabra, which won 11 Emmys; and he guest starred on The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Inside Amy Schumer.

Tom was seen in Chris Rock’s film, Top Five, he starred opposite Matt Damon in the Steven Soderbergh film, The Informant, and he appeared in Analyze That opposite Robert DeNiro.

For more on Tom visit his website and follow Tom on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Jamie Denbo

Featured Performers

Jamie Denbo

Jamie Denbo is an actress and writer who has appeared in the films Spy and Daddy’s Home.

She is part of the successful comedy team “Ronna and Beverly,” with Jessica Chaffin. The team also created the roles of Beth and Gina in the movie The Heat, starring Melissa McCarthy.

Al Madrigal

Al Madrigal

Al Madrigal is an actor, writer and comedian best known to television audiences as the “senior Latino correspondent” on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

He was a regular in the NBC television series, About a Boy (2014), appearing as Andy, the main character's best friend. His new special for Showtime, “Al Madrigal: Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy,” debuts May 5. Born in San Francisco, the 45-year-old actor will have a featured role on the upcoming Showtime series, I'm Dying Up Here.

Thank you to this year's sponsors

Global Circle

Kate Capshaw & Steven Spielberg
Paramount Pictures

Continental Circle

Ellen & Tom Hoberman
Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg
Drs. Howie & Susie Mandel
Moët Hennessy USA
Shangri-La Entertainment
Michael Skloff
Ziffren Brittenham LLP

Country Circle

3 Arts Entertainment
Dr. Michele Brennan & Kent Alterman
Chernin Entertainment
Comedy Central
Continental Realty Corp
Di Bonaventura Pictures
Fox Networks Group
GK Films
Kevin Goetz
Eden Hammond
Tom Kartsotis
Molly Luetkemeyer
Jane Mullany
Karen Rosenfelt
Sheela Murthy
Shane Salerno
Skydance Media
Wasserman Foundation

Village Circle

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Cindy & Bob Broder
Jo Champa
Comcast NBCUniversal
Lisa Feintech
Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman, LLP
Iger Bay Foundation
Kaye & Jeremy Kramer
Dr. Murray Lappe
The Rosenthal Foundation: Nancy Stephens & Rick Rosenthal
Pam Schutz
United Talent Agency
Warner Bros. Entertainment

Media Sponsor


2017 Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala Event Co-Chairs

Dr. Michele Brennan & Kent Alterman
Molly Luetkemeyer
Drs. Susie & Howie Mandel