Share Button

if you follow kate walsh, jeremy piven & i on twitter (if not, click here to follow!), you probably have seen us talk about the event above! now I get why private practice’s kate walsh deserves an artistic excellence award, but I was as shocked (as you probably are) to see my name in that title when it was first delivered to me! I mean, I love the arts, theatre and anything cultural, especially when it’s locally grown, and have supported the community & its fundraisers as much as I can, but this is just too much! and to top it all off, you can come to the brunch ceremony w/kate and I if you want, and celebrate with us!

this all came about because my buddy jeremy piven who you probably know from “entourage” comes from a dynamic set of parents well known in the national acting community as outstanding acting teachers at their well known piven theatre workshop in evanston, il. they have taught celebrated actors like jeremy, joan cusack, john cusack, aidan quinn, kate walsh… and many others! I have co-hosted fundraisers w/each of those actors, along with jeremy, soon after we became friends about 12 years ago, and over time we have raised a lot of money for children’s scholarships in art & theatre in chicago- which I am very proud of.

I guess through this contribution, his mom Joyce Piven, and the Piven Theatre Workshop, decided to honor me with the Byrne Piven (Jeremy’s dad who has passed away) Community Leadership Award. I am so incredibly honored! my lovely buddy Kate Walsh btw is being honored with the Joyce Piven Artistic Excellence Award which I know she is thrilled about as well.

I highly recommend you check out to read more about Joyce and Byrne Piven’s rich theatrical experience and history; it’s a great success story that I am thrilled to be a part of. if you would like to join us at the celebratory award ceremony brunch, which is now at sunda on October 17 at 12p, just click here or call (847) 866-8049. there is a $100 donation that will go to benefit Piven Theatre Workshop & help train more children & adults in theatre arts!

For the past 35 years, the Piven Theatre has been a staple not only in the local theatre scene but on the national level as well. They train around 1,000 students a year, ages 9 to adult and more times than not, provide that training on a scholarship basis. The Pivens have always said they wanted to “preserve a process of creative exploration that celebrates each individual’s unique voice through an ensemble-based, community-oriented approach to theatre training and performance.” I think we can all agree that they certainly have achieved that goal… here is a full press release from the piven office for the awards brunch:

Chicago, IL—The Piven Theatre Workshop Board of Directors, together with the Host Committee and Master of Ceremonies ABC7’s Linda Yu, proudly announce Piven Theatre Workshop’s 2010 Annual Awards Brunch to honor Piven Theatre Workshop alumna and “Private Practice” star, Kate Walsh and arts advocate and CEO & Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Billy Dec.  The elegant Awards Brunch will be held Sunday, October 17 at Sunda Restaurant from 12:00PM to 1:45PM. A special VIP Reception will be held prior to the Awards Brunch at a private downtown location. Tickets for both events are limited.  

The Joyce Piven Artistic Excellence Award will be presented to stage, film and television actress Kate Walsh, currently starring in the hit ABC drama “Private Practice” for her continued support of Piven Theatre Workshop and her outstanding contribution to theatre nationwide. The second annual Byrne Piven Community Service Award will be presented to Rockit Ranch Productions CEO & Founder and arts advocate Billy Dec in appreciation of his loyal support for both Piven Theatre Workshop and the Chicago theatre community at large.

All proceeds from the 2010 Annual Awards Brunch will benefit Piven Theatre Workshop, an acclaimed Chicago institution with over 35 years of excellence in training children and adults in theatre arts. Previous Award winners include Chicago director Jessica Thebus and Off the Street Club President Ralph Campagna.

“This event is a spectacular way to celebrate and support Piven Theatre,” says theater Co-Founder Joyce Piven. “This year, we are honored to present our Artistic Excellence Award to Piven alumna, television, film and theatre actress Kate Walsh.  Celebrating this exceptional theatre artist who is a Piven Theatre Workshop alumna, a longtime supporter of our work, and a major contributor to the national acting community is a pleasure beyond description. Our second annual Byrne Piven Community Service Award will be presented to Chicago’s own Billy Dec, CEO and Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, loyal Piven Theatre Workshop supporter, and an untiring arts advocate, whose dedication to sharing theatre art across our city’s diverse communities is immeasurable.”

Tickets to Piven Theatre Workshop’s 2010 Annual Awards Brunch are now available and can be purchased by calling (847) 866-8049 or visiting www.piventheatre.orgVIP Reception tickets, including admission to the Awards Brunch, are $250.  Tickets for the Award’s Brunch only are $100.

Piven Theatre Workshop’s 2010 Annual Awards Brunch is generously sponsored by Sunda Restaurant, Moet & Chandon Champagne, Belvedere Vodka, JonesHouse, Inc., North Shore Printers, Inc. and MJ Catering & Events.

Kate Walsh currently stars as Dr. Addison Montgomery on the ABC drama “Private Practice,” a spin-off of the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy” where Walsh made her first appearance in 2005. The enormous success of her character on “Grey’s” led ABC, along with writer and creator Shonda Rimes, to create a spin-off based solely on her character, Addison. “Private Practice” also stars Tim Daly, Audra McDonald, Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs and Paul Adelstein.

The show premiered in September of 2007 as the highest-rated new series of the season, and debuted as the #1 show on Wednesday evenings. The show has continued its success with its sixth season premiering this September. During her two seasons on “Grey’s Anatomy,” the show received a SAG award for “Best Ensemble” in 2007, and received ensemble nominations from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 2006 and 2008, respectively. “Grey’s” won the Golden Globe for “Best Television Series Drama” in 2007 and was nominated again the following year.  The show also received Emmy nominations for “Outstanding Drama Series” in 2006 as well as in 2007 and received three consecutive NAACP Image Awards for “Outstanding Drama Series” in 2006-2008.

On the big screen, Walsh was last seen in the supernatural thriller “Legion” starring opposite Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid. Walsh recently filmed “Waska,” an Independent thriller centered on a small town dealing with the tragic death of a young boy. Walsh stars opposite Thomas Dekker, Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Piven.

In summer 2010 Walsh returned to her theatre roots and appeared in an off-Broadway production of “Dusk Rings A Bell” alongside Paul Sparks and directed by Sam Gold. The play opened to rave reviews at New York’s Atlantic Stage 2 and ran for approximately 6 weeks.

Walsh began her acting career in Chicago where she studied at the renowned Piven Theatre Workshop. Walsh then starred in multiple theatre productions at the Shakespeare Repertory, including the critically acclaimed “Born Guilty,” “Moon Under Miami” and “Troilus and Cressida.”

Walsh then moved to New York and appeared on various shows, including series regular roles on “The Mike O’Malley Show” (ABC), “Mind of a Married Man” (HBO) and “The Drew Carey Show” (ABC).

In 2005, Walsh co-starred opposite Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall in the feature film “Kicking and Screaming.” Other film credits include “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “After the Sunset,” and “The Family Man.” Walsh currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Billy Dec is CEO and Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago’s premier restaurant and entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city’s top venues including its latest concept, the New Asian restaurant Sunda, as well as the Underground and the ever-popular Rockit Bar & Grill (with locations in River North and Wrigleyville).

The Emmy Award Winning Entrepreneur won the USA Operator of the Year Award in 2008.  He has received numerous awards including the “Asian-American Excellence in Business Award” from the State of Illinois, the Asian American Hall of Fame Award and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Asian Pacific American Community Leadership Award and is actively involved in various committees and boards for non-profit organizations in Chicago including The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Committee, The American Cancer Society, The Lookingglass Theatre Company, After School Matters and served as the Director of Cultural Relation for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee. He is also an Attorney At Law, a student at The Harvard Business School.

Dec writes his own blog on about Chicago and its culturally rich entertainment landscape, where his contact info, press pages and upcoming events calendar are also hosted.

About The Piven Theatre Workshop: Annually, Piven Theatre Workshop trains approximately 1,000 students, provides approximately $30,000 in need-based scholarships, and maintains an Equity subscription theatre, a Performance Lab nurturing emerging artists, and extensive residency and outreach programs throughout Chicago. Alumni of this celebrated training program include Emmy Award winner Jeremy Piven of HBO’s ENTOURAGE, John & Joan Cusack, Aidan Quinn, Kate Walsh, Harry Lennix, Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Garlin, Hope Davis, Lili Taylor, award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, and many more. Stagebill honored the Pivens with the designation “Chicago’s first family of acting.”  The Pivens have received numerous awards for their work in theatre and education including a Joseph Jefferson Lifetime Achievement Award.  Northshore Magazine has named the Piven Theatre Workshop “the nation’s foremost acting school for children.”

Sunda, located in River North (110 West Illinois), is at the vanguard of America’s New Asian cuisine movement.  Sunda showcases contemporary and progressive interpretations of traditional dishes from Japan, China and the Southeast Asian Island region.  The surprising, simple, flavorful dishes are served and shared while a full sushi bar will service an assortment of sushi, sashimi and nigiri options.

Sunda’s beverage program revolves around a progressive list of premium sakes, an assembly of Asian beers, a well-rounded list of Champagnes, sparkling wines, white wines and red wines and an ever-changing seasonal cocktail list.  The chic space, designed by award-winning restaurant and hotel designer Tony Chi, is a spectacular combination of innovative yet comforting design in which delicious authentic New Asian cuisine is served at accommodating prices, where each guest can choose the level of their dining experience from a myriad of menu options. Sunda was given three-star “Excellent” reviews by The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Sunda is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 pm. and for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and on Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Valet parking is available during all hours of operation. For more information or reservations, please call (312) 644-0500 or visit, and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.