The 2nd annual Beacon Awards are honoring TV personality Ripa, 70. This marks Ripa’s third time as host of the gala, where she wowed audiences before a big crowd in 2012 by belting out a rousing rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”
She joins a roster of first-timers, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, R, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, and another former governor, Roy Cooper of North Carolina.
Ripa has told donors that the Glamour event — held at the Bellagio Hotel, where she and her husband, actor John Michael Higgins, once hosted a weekly night club show — will be her favorite of the summer. The show has been held under a tent and will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Saturday on Glamour.
The Beacon Awards aim to highlight businesspeople, community leaders and those who are championing equality, jobs and education. But the bigger draw is invariably the lineup of headliners, which each year draws a field so packed that festival organizers limit ticket sales and open several hundred spots to the public.
About 8,000 ticket holders turned out for the inaugural awards dinner in 2014, but nearly 7,000 fans have taken in these past two years, organizers said.
The 2016 ceremony will feature Sofia Vergara, queen of ABC’s “Modern Family” as Woman of the Year, and Connie Britton, star of “American Horror Story” as Man of the Year.
Three of the past six recipients of the Woman of the Year award — Martha Stewart, Diane von Furstenberg and Brooke Shields — also are on this year’s roster.
Furstenberg has appeared in advertisements for Dove soap, Estée Lauder and the fashionable beauty products of French perfume house Givaudan, a sponsor of the awards ceremony.
“Our speakers are the real deal,” said Kelly Frey, the former editor of People who returned this year to spearhead the event as president of its parent company, Meredith Corporation.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, best known as Buffy Summers in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, will be the emcee.
The inaugural concert will include a performance by Ellie Goulding, the British singer who won the best-new-artist trophy at the Grammy Awards in 2015.
Helder Versalay, one of the show’s three executive producers, said this year’s Beacon Awards will be more intimate and thoughtful than in the past. He expected the Sept. 8 tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, led by Justin Timberlake, to be the show’s most popular event.
“What I want people to walk away with is the feeling that this event has it all,” he said.
Musically, “it’s easy to ignore these people because they’re boring,” Versalay said. “But they are engaging. I want people to say, ‘I really want to be in that room’ and then come back and support these causes.”
Lacoste, one of the event’s other executive producers, said that he and the other board members — Kathy Goldstein, Tina Craig, Alexis van Lelangen and Pam Shaw — decided to put this year’s gala on hold during the recent unrest in Las Vegas, following the massacre at a nearby country music festival. The festival lineup had been canceled, and the producers also were looking for sponsors for the event.
“It would have been an impossible event,” he said. “Especially when these protesters are blocking down this road and this hotel.”