Change Of Plans: MySweetWishList Rolls Out Ramps Up



MySweetCharity is getting clobbered with wishes, so an executive decision has been made… or in this case, decreed.

Queenie and the elves have canceled the annual holiday soiree. Kate and William were so disappointed. Even little Georgie Porgie made a sad face. He simply loves playing with the mini-Koala bears, but doesn’t everybody?

Instead the MSC team is going to make an all-out push in the days leading up to Christmas, so all the wishes will hopefully find a benefactor.

What’s that? No, the request aren’t going to be for just the usual toys and clothes.

Nope, in the days ahead there will be all types of wishes. In fact, one is for a tattoo machine.

Don’t scoff. There’s a very important reason for this group to have one.

Even if you haven’t got a “tuppence” to spare, you just might want to read about the various organizations that are making a difference for good in North Texas.

MySweetWishList: AT&T Performing Arts Center

According to AT&T Performing Arts Center President/CEO Doug Curtis,

Doug Curtis*

Doug Curtis*

“The nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center’s wish is simple: to enrich the community through the performing arts. For as little as $40 dollars, you can provide an experience that will bring joy to a child or family during the holiday season, and memories to last well beyond that.

“When you donate to the Center, you help fund our Open Stages education program, which allows students to learn from Broadway performers, enjoy professional performances and receive career training in the technical arts.

“We also partner with nonprofits like The Family Place, Jonathan’s Place, Jubilee Park, Lumin Education, Nexus Recovery Center, The Ronald McDonald House, Vickery Meadow and the Wilkinson Center to donate tickets to their constituents.

“This holiday season, we wish that more people could access the arts on the Center’s campus, in the heart of the Dallas Arts District. Please consider making a meaningful contribution:

AT&T Performing Arts Center**

AT&T Performing Arts Center**

  • “$40 buys an individual ticket for one of our Community Partners
  • “$160 gives a family of four a holiday memory at one of our performances.
  • “$250 buys dinner for students on our campus learning about the performing arts.
  • “$500 covers the transportation for 100 students accessing the Center’s education programs this month.
  • “$1,000 will enable one of our partnering Dallas ISD schools to attend a Broadway show!

“The arts are a powerful tool to educate students, enrich families and strengthen the community. Please support them by making a tax deductible donation today!”

-Doug Curtis, AT&T Performing Arts Center President

* Photo credit: Carter Rose 
** Graphic provided by AT&T Performing Arts Center

Dallas Film Society’s 2014 The Art Of Film With Marisa Tomei Came Off Thanks To Flexibility

When it comes to special events, flexibility is the key to success. And it got a pretty healthy test for the Dallas Film Society’s The Art of Film.

After four years of guy-types on stage (Robert Duvall, John Lithgow, Val Kilmer and Lee Daniels), it was about time for a pair of high heels to make the grade.

DFS President/CEO Lee Papert and the crew were so proud that they had signed up Aussie Toni Collette. And instead of fighting traffic to get to the historical Hall of State in Fair Park, the Friday, November 21st event was moved to the Perot Museum with its Hoglund Foundation Theater.

Then less than a month before “the big show” Toni’s people reported that due to her shooting schedule in another country, she was going to have to curtsy out.

In lighting speed a replacement was found — Marisa Tomei.

Some film fans privately confessed that the change was an upgrade. After all, Marisa’s Oscar win for “My Cousin Vinny” trumped Toni’s Academy Award nomination for “The Sixth Sense”.

Everything was falling into place until the night of the event. One of the falling things was drip-drops of rain. That meant moving the red carpet show-and-swell inside. Easy to do. It just might be better in the lowest level of the Perot. That way guests could mosey to the elevators for a quick ride to the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals exhibit on the third floor, where the VIP and cocktail receptions were taking place.

Then word was passed among insiders that Marisa had missed her original flight. But no big deal. She had caught the next flight, was on the ground in Dallas en route.

Julianne Harris and Sam Johnson

Julianne Harris and Sam Johnson

Steve and Anne Stodghill

Steve and Anne Stodghill

In the meantime the red carpet was underway with still photographers and videographers playing nicely across the ropes. Only problem — unlike other red carpets events when VIP guests strutted their stuff, this red carpet only had about 10 couples walk the carpet. The rest just made their way behind the herd of photographers to the check-in and to the elevators.

Word eventually passed that Marisa was stuck in traffic congestion due to the Mavericks’ game down the road. The good news was that the 300 guests weren’t bothered. For some it was a first time to check out the Perot. For others (Kara and Randall Goss, Julianne Harris with Sam Johnson, Tanya and Pete Foster, Jack Bunning and Jeff Sauers, Jennifer and Coley Clark, Tara Lewis, Kit Sawers and Janie and David Condon), it was just fun talking films with plenty of adult beverages and pass-around-food.

Jack Bunning, Veletta Lill and Jeff Sauers

Jack Bunning, Veletta Lill and Jeff Sauers

DFS Artistic Director James Faust recalled having interviewed Marisa when she was at the Angelika for “The Wrestler”. Proving that he knew his Marisa Tomei filmography, he admitted that his fav Tomei movie was “The Paper”…Melina McKinnon and Michael Cain were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. After Art of Film, they were spending the night at The Joule… After just getting back from AFI tribute in L.A., Steve Stodghill said, “I went totally L.A. — black on black on black.”.. Veletta Lill was solo due to husband John’s hand surgery…Gary Cogill reported that he has a Morgan Freeman movie coming out next year, bit wasn’t working on a production currently …Gonzalo Bueno and Michael McCray were planning on take Faisal Halum out the next night to celebrate his belated birthday.

Michael McCray and Gonzalo Bueno

Michael McCray and Gonzalo Bueno

At 8:16 p.m., someone spied Marisa arriving behind the sponsor wall. Within seconds she was out front and inviting folks like Co-Chairs Pam and Mark Denesuk, Honorary Co-Chairs Barbara and Steve Durham, Libby Allred, Sheila and Jody Grant and Myrna and Bob Schlegel to join her.

Mark Denesuk, Marisa Tomei and Pam Denesuk

Mark Denesuk, Marisa Tomei and Pam Denesuk

As the line grew and grew for a photo opp with Marisa, it was decided to put a hold on the grip-and-grin, so the “conversation” could take place in the theater. The rest of the photos would be taken afterwards.

Once in the theater, DFS Board Chair Don Stokes introduced Lee, who thanked the Denesuks and advised guests that Pam’s cookies were in their goody bags. Then DFS Artistic Director James Faust took over the mic telling the 300 guests that in the past four years more than $600K had been raised from Art of Film. He the introduced film-pert Elvis Mitchell, who has each year traveled to Dallas to conduct the interviews.

Egyptian Eye of Ra

Egyptian Eye of Ra

When Marisa was introduced, she appeared to have changed from a dress worn upstairs to red slacks and print blouse with stilettos and her Egyptian eye of Ra tattoo on the top of her right foot.

Elvis kicked off the conversation asking her what it was like working with “titanic” actors. She admitted that she had indeed felt nervous working with Jack Nicholson. However, upon meeting him that first day of shooting, he told her that he was always nervous about filming. That seemed to calm her nerves. Other conversation highlights included:

  • She liked Barbara Stanwyck.
  • Robert Duvall told her to always name her pets after her characters, so her cat is named “Mabel” (for Mabel Normand character in the 1992 Chaplin movie).
  • When Elvis mentioned that “Danika” was a favorite of his, Marisa responded, “I didn’t think it cam together, so glad you said that…I couldn’t follow it myself, personally.”
  • About “My Cousin Vinny”: “I still like Vinny, like everybody else does.”
  • Marisa Tomei

    Marisa Tomei

    Recalling her days growing up in Brooklyn, she said she watched a lot of musical — Gene Kelly, Ann Miller — “I wanted to be musical star.”

  • Marisa emphasized the physicality of acting. She told how in one scene of the “Ides of March,” the director told her to lean back instead of forward. It changed the whole feel of the scene. He also told her “You’re holding the cards!” She laughed adding that she later found out that he said the same to the other actors in the film.
  • Actor/directors are her favorites to work with, more than writer/directors, who keep it all in their heads. “I love language, word play.”
  • One of her email aliases is Sugarpuss O’Shea, a character portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck in “Ball of Fire.”
  • Regarding her appearing in “Seinfeld,” she doesn’t even remember filming the one-day job.
Don Stokes, Steve and Barbara Durham, Marisa Tomei, Pam ad Mark Denesuk and Deborah Stokes

Don Stokes, Steve and Barbara Durham, Marisa Tomei, Pam ad Mark Denesuk and Deborah Stokes

After the conversation, she was presented with the Art of Film Dallas Star Award, more photos were taken and guests headed to the lobby, where the dinosaur with a Christmas stocking cap stood in place.

A couple of ladies in the audience commented, “She’s so cute” and “She’s darling.” Not bad for a gal from Flatbush who was just two weeks shy of turning 50.

MySweetWishList: Homeward Bound Inc.

According to Homeward Bound Inc. Executive Director and Co-Founder Doug Denton,

Doug Denton*

Doug Denton*

Homeward Bound Inc. began in 1980 as a volunteer outreach of First Presbyterian Church of Houston’s Jail Ministry Program to address overcrowding in Texas jails.

“We grew out of a pilot project in Dallas to serve first offenders and probation violators who were judged to need stability and employment rather than a prison sentence. We learned that treatment for substance abuse and/or chemical dependency were primary underlying problems, and we modified the program based on principles of recovery and the peer support groups provided by 12-step programs.

“Today, we operate facilities in Dallas, Waxahachie and El Paso and a transitional housing unit in Old East Dallas. We provide substance abuse treatment to about 6,000 people each year. Our clients need help desperately, and most do not have the ability to pay for it. About 95 percent are indigent, 45 percent are homeless and 60 percent suffer from a mental illness. Because we rely totally on grants and donations, we operate on a shoestring.

“We sincerely believe that substance abuse treatment is the key to solving our homeless problem in Dallas. We are changing lives at Homeward Bound and reuniting people with their families. We need your help to continue our mission.

“We are a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit and the largest provider of counseling and residential treatment for indigent adults with mental health and substance abuse problems in North Texas, and one of the largest in Texas.

“Please consider us when you select recipients of your year-end giving. We need a van to transport people who are too ill to take the bus to their medical appointments. We need scrubs to clothe them while they are here; most clients come to us with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. We need to replace sheets, pillows and blankets that wear out with constant washing.

“To make a donation, visit our website,; our donation page is Thank you.”

-Doug Denton, Homeward Bound Inc. Executive Director and Co-Founder

* Photo provided by Homeward Bound Inc.

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