Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Valenti Joined Celebrities at Gala Salute To the Academy Awards Valenti Presented Scholarship to USC Student
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(LOS ANGELES, CA – March 4, 2006) Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine and dinner co-chair, Jack Valenti toasted the Academy Awards with some Hollywood celebrities at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) Salute to the Academy Awards on March 3, 2006. Actors Robert Loggia; “Magnum PI’s” Larry Manetti; Doris Roberts; and entertainer Dom DeLuise joined the celebration to honor prominent Italian Americans in conjunction with the 78th Annual Academy Awards. Tom Dreesen was the evening’s emcee. Fred Travalenaentertained the guests at the black-tie gala, which was held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), presented a scholarship in his name to Mario Bucca, a junior at the University of Southern California (USC) who is majoring in cinema and television. Valenti expressed his pride in establishing a NIAF scholarship tohelp fund the education of such an outstanding student.

NIAF Vice Chairman Joseph R. Cerrell introduced Mayor Villaraigosa to the 356 guests. Villaraigosa spoke about the value of educating tomorrow’s leaders and the importance of NIAF’s educational programs.

The gala proceeds support the Foundation’s scholarship and education programs. The Baglioni Hotels, Fiera Milano, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Provincia di Pistoria and Spadafora Jewelry joined NIAF in sponsoring the evening.

The NIAF is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to preserving the heritage of an estimated 25 million Americans of Italian descent. Visit our website