“Dancing With The Smiths” Was A Million-Dollar Night For Pat And Emmitt Smith Charities Despite Celebrity No Shows
The May 10th “Dancing with The Smiths” had all the markings of that high school prom — promises of hot babes in tantalizing outfits and quarterback types strutting their stuff. Organizers had impressed with namedropping such folks as “Dancing With The Stars” host Tom Bergeron, former DWTS celebs Mark Cuban and Michael Irvin as co-hosts with DWTS mega-winner Melissa Rycroft Stickland. To add to the ABC-show dancing vet lineup were Olympian Shawn Johnson, Jake “The Bachelor” Pavelka, Sabrina “Cheetah Girl” Bryan and professional dancers Maksim “Max” Chmerkovsky, Cheryl Burke and Tony Dovolani.
It was a bit like a promised reunion of the original “Charlie’s Angels,” “Friends” or “MASH.”
But great expectations were understandable. After all, the Friday night dance-athon was part of the two-day fundraising activities benefiting the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities. Saturday Emmitt and golfers would participate in the Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, if the weather held out.
And that didn’t even include their partnering with the Star Children’s Charity for the Stiletto Strut at Neiman’s Willow Bend earlier Friday, with “a percentage of funds raised from the golf tournament [benefiting] Boys and Girls Club of Collin County.”
But back to Friday night.
All the hoop-la was at the Omni Hotel Dallas’s oversized red carpet. Against a longer-than-long sponsor backdrop, the carpet was divided into two lanes — a slo-mo lane for XVIP’s (Extremely Very Important People) to be interviewed by media, and the HOV lane next to the backdrop where the rest of the 950 guests like Shane Walker with his mom, Joani White and Ron Corning, Barbara and Steve Durham, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, LeeAnne Locken, Daniel Lewis and JB Hayes walked to get to the reception area, where the live auction would take place.
For the media set-up, KDFW was first in the lineup. After all they were doing a live half-hour show starting at 6 with Steve Eagar and Clarice Tinsley leading off, and Calvert Collins doing follow-up. Producer Mark Jones never stopped moving cables, coordinating the next celebrity to be interviewed and talking to prevent civilians from walking into equipment. At one point Clarice was downright giddy over her dancing with Tony, while Steve appeared to attempt an interview with the mirrored ball.
At the opposite end of the carpet were Pat Smith’s The Broadcast buds Courtney Kerr and Lisa Pineiro. Being last in the media lineup worked out perfectly for the twosome, as they ended up creating a traffic jam playing “Truth or Dare” with celebrities.
To the side, Pat’s stylist Jennifer Cloutier was having a friend adjust the back of her Nicole Miller.
But just as the celebs arrived, Emmitt entered with son EJ from one end of the lobby. From the other end of the lobby, Pat in glimmering blue, form-fitting gown led the rest of the Smith brood (daughters Jasmin Lawrence, Rheagen Smith, Skylar Smith and son Elijah Smith). Pat and Emmitt come together in the lobby just before the red carpet like the Central Pacific and Union Pacific at Promontory Summit. Only thing missing was the “golden spike.”
While Steve was interviewing the Smith family, three-year-old Elijah decided to crawl around the legs of the family and more or less act his age. In a pass that would have impressed Roger Staubach, Pat picked up Elijah and handed him off to her sister, the equally gorgeous Pam Southall. Elijah’s moments on the red carpet were done. He wasn’t seen again.
But something was amiss. Sure, there were plenty of super jocks (Marcus Allen, Rolando Blackman, Daryl Johnston, Trent Richards, Charles Haley) that made sportscasters like WFAA’s George Riba and Ted Madden and TackleThis Lauren Barnette (she used to be a “suitcase girl” for “Deal or No Deal”) along the media line happy. But where were the other non-sporty celebrities? Word was being passed. Tom Bergeron was home sick. Cheryl Burke, who had once before been a no-show for a reunion with Emmitt in Dallas, was doing a repeat non-performance. Shawn, Max, Mark and Michael were nowhere in sight.
The Bergeron MIA was a problem. He and his ability to ad-lib would be missed. Who would fill his shoes? Luckily, Melissa and Tony were not only available, but they were right at home working together. So, while others were filing along the red carpet and schmoozing in the reception, the production crew, Melissa and Tony were doing last-minute rehearsals and adjustments to the evening’ program. A sticky situation was the intro. It was to be a video of Deion Sanders introducing Tom. Hmm. How would that be handled? More about that later.
Once the reception area was filled to capacity with people cocktailing and posing for photos with two mirrored ball, auctioneer Mike Jones took over. It almost took on a pep-rally atmosphere as the numbers impressed. Why, one item hit a nosebleed level of $50,000.
At 7:40, inside the ballroom, Tony, Melissa and her husband Tye Strickland, Tiffany and Clay McNutt, Jake and his bud Sabrina Coates and Honorary Co-chairs Carole and Scott Murray were chatting when a voice over the PA announced, “It’s 20 minutes until the doors open.” Scott asked Melissa, who looked like she had been dipped in barbecue sauce, how she got her tan. She confided that it was a spray tan. Scott was worried whether it was healthy. Melissa assured him it was.
The TV crews finished setting up their equipment. Zona Pidgeon entered the ballroom looking for table #18. She’d been at the event since 6:30 and “can’t stand any longer.” Seems there were no chairs in the reception area to be had.
At 8:05 the voice announced “We’re opening the doors.” The Omni staff stood at attention and one set of doors opened and then closed. The voice reported, “False alarm. Evidently they have one more auction item.” The staff didn’t budge. The “DWTS” types, who had been talking near the doors, moved to the tables near the stage.
At 8:16, the auction was over and the doors were opened with people pouring in like a Best Buy’s Thanksgiving midnight sale. A photographer accidently bumped into Krystal Herrera, resulting in wine being splashed on her black cocktail dress. He apologized. She laughed, saying she was now wearing her drink. Tony continued to be a babe magnet. In black coats a Studio 22 couple wandered around the front of the ballroom in front of the mega-stage. Every now and then the coats slipped open to reveal colorful garments.
At 8:27 the voice returned and gave everyone a five-minute countdown to sit and to silence cellphones. Charlotte and Shy Anderson arrived and said “Hi” to former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Melissa. Tall Charlotte and diminutive Melissa were both in stilettos. Luckily Melissa’s were taller than Charlotte’s, so she at least stood as tall as Charlotte’s chin. Didn’t matter. They were both cute and happy to see each other.
The lights dimmed and Deion’s video introduction of Tom rolled. Lights came on and so did Melissa and Tony. They explained that Tom was home sick. Jokes were made about little blue pills. From backstage, Deion entered the stage demanding that he get to introduce the replacement team. He did it after joking with Tony about the dancer’s sharp dressing. Tony reported that his snappy look was due to his wife. To which Deion said, “I can’t say my wife dressed me.” The 950 guests got the joke and laughed.
Dinner was served, but Pat and Emmitt hardly got a nibble. They had people lined up like Baskin Robbins in August just to visit with them.
At 9:25 a video of Pat and Emmitt was shown about their foundation. Honorary Chairs Jan Miller and Jeff Rich and Carole and Scott Murray take over the mic. Now, in fundraising circles it’s well-known that when Jan Miller puts out a request, she’d better get some responses. Otherwise, she’ll start calling out names in the audience, putting them on the spot. So, when the “Ask for Cash” was announced by the honorary chairs, Jan zoned in on familiar faces like an ophthalmologist performing laser cataract surgery. Among those in her scope was Steve Durham, who kicked in $5,000. Jim Keyes, who was sitting table-side with Steve, knew his usual jovial smile had become a bulls-eye for Jan. . . and it worked. Pretty soon, auctioneer Jones joined the foursome on stage for that last push. They were down to the $1,000 ask level. Jones reported that if they could just get three $1,000 contributions, Emmitt would let him share some news. Two folks raised their hands. Just $1,000 was holding the news back. Jones could stand it no longer and gave up. He answered the call for the final $1,000 himself. With that he announced that they had just achieve the evening’s goal of $1M. Emmitt smiled. Everyone smiled.
Now there was real cause for dancing. First on the floor were a barefooted Melissa and Tony, who performed the Samba that had won them the mirrored ball. Despite making it look effortless, it almost hurt to watch them do their moves.
Then Sabrina and Jake came on stage. They didn’t dance. They introduced two sets of Studio 22 dancers, who made Latin dancing even hotter than a jalapeno. The fourth team was made up of Studio 22 owners Sergey Korshunov and Michelle Hafle. They proved why they’ve earned international titles.
Next up were the Broadcast twosome, Courtney and Lisa, joined by Broadcast co-host Suzie Humphreys, who had just flown in for the event. As usual Suzie stole the show, talking to Emmitt one-on-one from the stage. The ladies were there to introduce a surprise performer. Just as the lights dimmed, Emmitt hollered, “Cheryl showed up. . . my bad.”
It was Pat Smith. From the audience, Smith daughter Skylar shouted, “Go, Mom!” And go she did, proving to have more moves than Goldie Hawn in her “Laugh-In” days. She was paired with Sergey, but . . . no offense, Sergey, no one noticed you. Pat’s performance was so wowser that Emmitt jumped on stage and cut in. The two Smiths were a 21st version of Fred and Ginger, only they made it look hot.
The TACA gang just reported the leadership for the September 20 TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Gala. Talk about a doozy! Last year’s black tie dinner and mega-auction chaired by Jacquelin and Phillip Taylor and Nick Even was a delicious taste of bidding perfection. Why, the Grammy Awards package alone went for a whopping $55,000 to TACA’s newest BFF/New Zealander Annette Presley.
So how are they going to push that paddle bidding even higher at the Mansion?
Oh, smart ones that they are, the TACA folks have once again drafted Neiman Marcus Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer Wanda Gierhart to assemble the auction goodies. This gal must have genes from the Stanley Marcus lineage. She knows how to spot the besties of the best.
As for the event chairs, it will be Heather and Bill Esping, who will be joined by Honorary Chairs Barbara and Don Daseke. These two couples should attract a smart crowd with better taste than Nancy Nichols’ Top 10 Restaurants.
The only boo-hoo news is that tickets aren’t online yet. However, if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities and getting your name in for tickets when they’re available, call 214.520.3930.
As you know by now, we’ll let you know when the tickets are online and a breakdown of Wanda’s Wonders.
First they were ahead of schedule. Then they announced that all was paid for when they opened the doors.
While they suggest getting advanced tickets, get the hint and the tickets now.
And, yes, the dinosaurs will be picture perfect even during the extra hours.
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