Presidents’ Day Cometh Monday And Bringeth A Three-Day Holiday Weekend

Presidents’ Day is one of those tricky Monday holidays. It didn’t start out that way. In 1885 it was held on February 22 in recognition of George Washington and officially called “Washington’s Birthday.”  In 1971 it was changed in name and date as part of Uniform Monday Holiday Act to Presidents’ Day and held on the third Monday in February. The idea was to allow for a guaranteed three-day weekend.

However, some states didn’t go with the plan. They celebrated Washington’s, Lincoln’s and other leaders’ on different days.

Texas went with the national program and will celebrate past and present presidents on Monday.

While it is a legal holiday, U.S., state and City of Dallas offices will be shuttered, as will most banks and area schools. But retailers, the zoo, the Arboretum and the Perot Museum will have their doors wide open.

Since the weather guessers are predicting rain Saturday thru Monday, why not do a crash course in movie-watching? After all, the Academy Awards are coming up on Sunday, March 4, and you don’t want to think “The Shape of Water” is an environmental movie about the world’s oceans.

Starting March 6, Nasher Prize Celebration Month Sets In Motion The Excitement For The Presentation To Prize-Winner Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates*

The Nasher Sculpture Center folks really know how to set the wheels in motion for the 2018 Nasher Prize Laureate presentation to Theaster Gates on Saturday, April 7. During the Nasher Prize Celebration Month, organizers have arranged for all types of free activities in celebration of the American artist including free general admission and family activities during spring break (Tuesday, March 13, thru Sunday, March 18)

  • Tuesday, March 6 at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (7 p.m.) — Nasher Prize Dialogues: Sculpture And History panel discussion including panelists Alfredo Jaar, Jill Magid, Paul Ramirez Jonas and Lauren Woods with moderator Ben Davis.
  • Tuesday, March 13-Sunday, March 18 at Nasher Sculpture Center — Free general admission
  • Friday, March 16 at Nasher Sculpture Center (6 p.m. to midnight) — Midnight At The Nasher 
  • Sunday, March 25 at Nasher Sculpture Center (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)— Student-Centered Festival
  • Thursday, April 5 at Nasher Sculpture Center (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) — Nasher Prize Dialogues: Graduate Symposium   with presentation at 3 p.m. by Matthew Jesse Jackson.
  • Friday, April 6 at Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Arts (10 a.m.) — Nasher Prize Dialogues – Jury Conversation with jurors decribing judging process moderated by DMA Director Agustin Arteaga.
  • Friday, April 6 at Wyly Theatre (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) —Nasher Prize Dialogues: Laureate Town Hall with Theaster Gates discusses his sculptural practice with interlocutors and the general public.

In addition to all the activities, private collectors and Theaster have loaned five of his works for viewing at the Nasher through Monday, April 30.

* Photo provided by Nasher Sculpture Center

JUST IN: Jeannette “The Glass Castle” Walls To Keynote Jonathan’s Place’s 7th Annual “A Chance To Soar Luncheon”

After last year’s gangbuster fundraiser featuring Olympian Simone Biles on stage and Dirk Nowitzki in the audience, Jonathan Place’s 7th Annual A Chance To Soar Luncheon organizers decided they needed bigger digs for the event on Tuesday, April 3.

According to Jonathan’s Place CEO Allicia Graham Frye, “We’ve already sold so many tables that we had to move to a larger venue (Hyatt Regency – Downtown Dallas).”

Allicia Graham Frye (File photo)

Jeannette Walls*

There are loads of reasons for the early sales success. First of all, author of best-seller “The Glass Castle”’s Jeannette Walls will be the keynote speaker. Just this past August, Jeannette’s story made it to the big screen starring Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts and Brie Larson.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Robyn Gould and Linda Wimberly chairing the fundraiser. They’ve even managed to have Shannon and Ted Skokos as honorary co-chairs as well as their foundation — The Ted and Shannon Skokos Foundation — as the presenting sponsor.

Other sponsors include:

  • Speaker Sponsor: Rachel and Brad Stephens
  • Hero Sponsors: American Airlines, Marianne and Roger Staubach, Jennifer and John Gates, Propac Agency, Hyatt Regency Dallas and Bob Mohr

Those sponsors and $2,500-table purchasers and above will not only be able to attend the pre-luncheon reception with Jeannette but also an invitation-only patron party on Tuesday, February 6.

Proceeds from the event will support Jonathan’s Place to provide “a safe place, loving home and promising future for abused and neglected children, teens and young adults.”

So, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, get your tickets now.

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place

MySweet2018Goals: Mersina Stubbs

According to Chick Lit Luncheon 2018 Chair Mersina Stubbs,

Mersina Stubbs (File photo)

Lara and Robert Tafel (File photo)

“One of my goals for 2018 is to raise important funds for Community Partners of Dallas, and the abused and neglected children we serve, by having record-breaking support for the 12th annual Chick Lit Luncheon presented by Dr. Robert and Lara Tafel!

“I hope the community will join Honorary Chair Nancy Perot and me for this year’s luncheon, which will be held on Friday, April 13, at the Hilton Anatole. We are most excited that Katie Holmes, known for her work in films and television and on Broadway, will be our featured speaker.  

Nancy Perot (File photo)

Katie Holmes*

“The Chick Lit Luncheon will include a wine reception followed by a seated luncheon and remarks by Ms. Holmes. Tables begin at $2,500 and are on sale now; individual tickets will go on sale in early April if space permits. For more information, visit communitypartnersdallas.org

“We are expecting a sell-out event, so buy your table now!”

* Photo credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

JUST IN: 2018 Dallas Symphony Gala Plans Announced Including A Diminutive Songbird With A “Wickedly” Big Voice

Bob and Lisa Segert*

And the news keeps rolling in! Despite the chilly weather, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra staff has been in overdrive. In addition to getting ready for new Dallas Symphony Association President/CEO Kim Noltemy’s officially taking over next week, preparing for Maestro Jaap van Zweden’s final victory tour season and the 4th Annual Soluna, they’ve already finalized plans for the Dallas Symphony Gala.

Longtime DSO subscribers and supporters Lisa and Bob Segert will co-chair the fall season’s first black tie gala on Saturday, September 15, at the Meyerson. They’re old hands when it comes to the gala, since they’ve been on the host committee since 2015, in addition to Bob’s serving on the DSO Board of Governors.

According to Interim President/CEO Michelle Miller Burns, “Lisa and Bob have been part of the DSO family for over 20 years, and we’re delighted that they have accepted our invitation to lead this year’s gala. We are confident that their leadership will result in a night to remember.” 

Kristin Chenoweth (File photo)

But there’s a bit of a change in the POA this year. Instead of having world-famous musician perform with the DSO, it will be a petite songbird with a huge voice, following and collection of awards — Kristin Chenoweth! She may hail from Oklahoma, but she calls Broadway her second home and TV her third home with roles in “Pushing Daisies,” “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Wicked,” “West Wing,” “On The Twentieth Century,” etc. In her spare time, she’s written a New York Times Best Seller and released CDs/DVDs of her live concert performance, “Kristin Chenoweth: Coming Home.”

If you’ve ever seen Kristin on stage, then you have witnessed a “big bang” experience. As Michelle put it, “Kristin Chenoweth is a consummate performer. Her concerts are always full of energy and spirit. This will be a thrilling start to the 2018/2019 season.”

“Full-Evening Gala” (fashion-show-plate cocktail reception, seated dinner, concert and after-party) tickets are going for $1,250 per person. Check with Tab Boyles for levels of opportunities.

The concert/after-party will be available as a DSO subscription add-on starting Sunday, February 18. Single tickets will go on sale on Thursday, April 12.

* Photo provided by Dallas Symphony Orchestra

JUST IN: 12th Annual Chick Lit Luncheon Details Including “Chick Flick” Keynote Speaker Revealed

Perhaps those Chick Lit-ters should be renamed Tricky Chick Lits. For the past couple of years, they’ve moved their annual Community Partners of Dallas fundraising luncheon from the tried-and-true Brook Hollow to the bigger-than-mansion Hilton Anatole Chantilly Ballroom. They’ve also shifted just slightly from authors to author/TV types.

This year they’ve continued that, adding film/video to their featured speaker. Think Chick Flick! But more about that in a second.

Paige McDaniel (File photo)

Lara and Bob Tafel (File photo

CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel has been holding her breath and just exhaled the news that the luncheon will return to the Anatole on Friday, April 13, with Lara and Dr. Robert Tafel serving as presenting sponsors.

Mersina Stubbs and Lynn McBee (File photo)

Cate Ford (File photo)

Callan Harrison (File photo)

Brooke Hortenstine (File photo)

Nancy Perot (File photo)

Chairing this year’s event will be Mersina Stubbs, who has recruited Cate Ford, Callan Harrison, Brooke Hortenstine and Lynn McBee for her underwriting team. For her honorary chair, Mersina has managed to get Nancy Perot. Talk about a dream team!

Now, for the featured speaker. Here are some clues:

  • She was chosen as one of Teen People Magazine’s “21 Hottest Stars under 21” back in 1999.
  • Her dad specializes in divorces.
  • Is a single mom.
  • Has played everything from Jackie Kennedy to Batman’s girlfriend.

If your IMDb search is on overdrive, then you know who it is. And you just know that she ain’t exactly like last year’s keynoter Bethenny Frankel. She likes to stay under the TMZ radar and that’s pretty hard to do. If you’re still in the dark, follow the jump and get your table locked down: [Read more…]

JUST IN: Double Academy Award Winner/Clothing Designer Hilary Swank To Keynote Genesis Women’s Shelter’s 25th Annual Luncheon

DFW International Airport is going to be celebrity filled this spring thanks to the area nonprofits with a dazzling array of speakers. Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support is celebrating its 25th Annual Luncheon with double Academy Award winner/entrepreneur Hilary Swank at the Hilton Anatole on the Friday, May 11.

Hilary Swank*

According to Genesis CEO Jan Langbein, “We are beyond thrilled to announce Hilary Swank as our 2018 luncheon speaker. Her philanthropic dedication to addressing challenging social issues seamlessly aligns with the mission of Genesis Women’s Shelter – to end violence against women.”

Chairing the event that will take place on the Friday before Mother’s Day will be longtime Genesis supporters, Jane and Michael Hurst. Jan described the Hursts, “Jane and Michael are dear friends of Genesis. Through their philanthropic efforts, as well as their professions as lawyers, the Hursts are both well regarded in our community. We’d also like to extend our congratulations to Michael, who was recently inaugurated as the 109th President of the Dallas Bar Association. Jane has served as the Client Advocate Liaison on the board of the Genesis Alliance, and we are honored to have her and Michael at the helm for our 25th luncheon. Through this event, women will know that there is help and there is hope for those who suffer from abuse.”

Hilary Swank (File photo)

While many folks know Hilary from her incredible performances in 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” 2005’s “Million Dollar Baby” and 2014’s “The Homesman,” they may not know of her being a clothing designer. She created Mission Statement in 2016 to “merge high-performance and high-fashion to allow the wearer to find the perfect balance of movement while they are working out, in the office, resting or playing.”

To prove her stuff when it comes to putting an ensemble together, it was back in 2011 when Hilary flew in to be guest of honor for a Super Bowl party hosted by Phil Romano. Unfortunately, her luggage got lost in transit. Not to worry. She simply stopped by an airport shop and hit just the right look for cameras.

But Hilary’s story isn’t all glittering awards, red carpet appearances and heading up companies. There was a point when at the age of 16 she and her mother arrived in Los Angeles with $75 in cash and lived out of their car. In hindsight, Hilary described it as “no big deal, really. I was embarking on a big adventure and I was very excited. My mum was scared as hell, but I loved it!”

Sponsorships for the lunch start at $1,750 and are available now by checking in with Bianca Jackson. As for the individual tickets, they won’t go on sale until April.

* Photo credit: Carlo Furgeri Gilbert for The Wall Street Journal

Business Council For The Art’s 2017 Obelisk Awards Luncheon Was A Salute To The Arts And Business And A Swan Song For Two

Some of the 2017 Obelisk Awardees were wondering why the pre-luncheon VIP reception at the Belo on Wednesday, November 15, was starting at 10 a.m. After all, the luncheon wasn’t scheduled to start until noon. Still there were group photos to be taken and individual ones with VIP types like Business Council for the Arts Chair Nancy Nasher and mic tests. But this group was well versed into production and found themselves done with all the preparations within a half hour.

Luckily, there were plenty of things to catch up about and check out like the arrangement of the awards that were strategically positioned in front of the ballroom. The beautiful pieces of glass were the artwork by Dallas artisan Jim Bowman. This collection would be Jim’s swan song, since he and his wife Mary Lynn Devereux-Bowman were moving to North Carolina.

2017 Obelisk Awards by Jim Bowman

And speaking of swan songs, little did anyone suspect that this would be one of the awardee’s farewell appearances. But more about that later.

David Haemisegger, Nancy Nasher and Larry Glasgow

Carolyn Brown

James Faust

Niki Anthony

Across the room, the late art scribe Patsy Swank’s son, Sam Swank played his guitar as around 500 guests like  David Haemisegger, Business Council for the Arts Larry Glasgow, NorthPark crew (Billy Hines and Lona Crabb), Neiman’s Kevin Hurst, Nasher Sculpture Center’s Jeremy Strick, Jo Staffelbach Heinz and Andre Staffelbach, James Faust, Dotti Reeder, Carolyn Brown, Patricia Meadows and Dr. Richard Sachson waited for the ballroom doors to open.

At one point the entry of the guests came to a standstill as one Mercedes driver forgot something in her care and searched and searched for it with cars coming to a standstill in the Belo circular drive.

At 11:41 a.m. the doors opened and the room filled, but it took a couple of call-to-chairs by a voice over the PA. Even after taking their places, the crowd was in a talkative mood. Due to the chatter in the room, many didn’t realized that art-loving/real estate kingpin Craig Hall was appearing in a video on the screens at the front of the room. He was introducing the backstory of Jim’s creating the awards. Too bad because the process was both fascinating and a salute to the artist.

Following the videos, Business Council for the Arts Board Chair Larry Glasgow addressed the group and immediately the talk stopped. Perhaps if he had introduced the videos, more folks would have learned about the work that went into the awards that were underwritten by Craig.  

Steven Roth and Thai-Lan Tran

Luncheon Co-Chairs Dr. Thai-Lan Tran and Steven Roth spoked how the arts contribute to the well-being of people and that Keynote Speaker Karen Brooks Hopkins would be addressing the group in a few minutes.

For the next ten minutes, guests were put to the test of Etiquette 101. At many tables, some guests were served their lunches, while others didn’t. As forks stayed in place waiting for the rest of the table to be served, the chicken Provencal with asparagus and crispy potatoes cooled. A floor managed walked the room appearing to be satisfied with the progress, while more than one guest tried to grabbed the attention of a passing server. Eventually, plates made their way to the empty spots and no one starved.

At 12:15, Karen posed the question if the arts and business can help and provide real service? She believed the answer was a definite, “Yes.” Highlights of her talk included

  • Art is the only thing that endures over the years.
  • Too often art is dismissed as frivolous.
  • The arts only receive 5% of corporate philanthropy.
  • Inclusion of arts in low income neighborhoods results in positive ways.
  • The arts can be a powerful force for change.
  • Businesses must be incorporated in supporting the arts to get the job done.

In emphasizing the need for the need to appreciate corporate support, she recalled that during the 2008 recession, she was involved in a gala at which the head of the sponsoring bank was called to the stage and he was boo-ed. “It would be the long time before the bank would sign up again. I learned a hard lesson that night.”

Ryan Anthony

Finishing her talk at 12:28, Karen said that business should be creative in giving.

Next up was Nancy, who like a general taking command said, “We’re going to keep on schedule.” That said, she didn’t mince words and introduce Dallas Symphony Orchestra Lead Trumpet Ryan Anthony, who played three tunes making it seem so effortless. He finished up with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.”

At 12:39 North Texas Public Broadcasting President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff took her place at the podium on the left side of the stage to announce the recipients including

From the left: (front row) : Keith Cerny, Nancy Carlson, Alexa Spears, Gail Sachson, Bill DiGaetano and Eddie Reyes; (back row) : Adam Conway, Kevin Hurst, Julius Pickenpack, Kathy Litinas, Javier Martinez and Jacques Marquis

  • The Arts Partnership Award
    • Large Business — Target
    • Medium Business — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
    • Small Business — Angelika Film Center
  • The New Initiatives Award
    • Large Business — Corgan
    • Medium Business — West Village
    • Small Business — C.C. Communications
  • The Distinguished Cultural Organization Award — The Cliburn
  • The Business Champion for the Arts Award — Nancy Carlson
  • The Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader Award — Keith Cerny
  • The Arts Education Award — Neiman Marcus Group
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award — Ask Me About Art/Gail Sachson
  • The Community Champion Award — Kathy Litinas

All gave touching and revealing acceptance speeches. They ranged from Nancy Carlson’s “It’s my privilege to support the arts” to Gail Sachson’s “Art is good for your eyes and all your other body parts. But it especially good for your heart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Ironically, the last recipient was The Dallas Opera General Director/CEO Keith Cerny who sounded like he was doing a Reader’s Digest version of the State-Of-The-Opera. In addition to achieving financial stability and gaining international recognition, his proudest achievement was the Linda and Mitch Hart program for women conductors.

Exactly one month later to the day, Keith would announce he was leaving The Dallas Opera to head up the Calgary Opera.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Association Of Fundraising Philanthropy Greater Dallas Luncheon

Meagan Burton, Ken and Julie Hersh, Karen Simmons, Pagett Gosslee, Micha, Lynn McBee, Kevin Hurst, Sandra and Henry Estess and Mary Freeman

Once again the Association of Fundraising Philanthropy Greater Dallas Luncheon’s was totally upstaged by the cutest recipient. But this year there was a wrench thrown into the plans. It had to do with the announcement of the Veterans Day Parade schedule.

Doug Murray, Kit Sawers and Carole and Scott Murray

The results were traditional Emcee Scott Murray arriving via a police escort.

Micah Pinson

While the post is trying to reorganize, check out the cute red-haired Micah Pinson and other recipients of the National Philanthropy Day of Greater Dallas Awardees at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Grovel Alert: Dallas Uncorked Holiday Dinner

Just heard from that wine-loving Haley Hamilton Cogill that there were just a mere five tickets left for Dallas Uncorked’s Annual Holiday Dinner on Sunday, December 10, at Salum. To complement the evening’s multi-course feasting will be Domaine Caneros sparkling and still wines with the Eileen “Doyenne of Sparking Wine in California” Crane on hand for table talk.

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill (File photo)

Leave it to Haley and restaurateur Abraham Salum to schedule the dinner on the heels of the Cowboys game against Giants in the Big Apple. If The Boys win, what a way to celebrate. If they lose, the dinner will be a perfect way to wash away the blues.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit Les Dames d’Escoffier and The Edible Schoolyard. Hopefully, tickets are still available here.

BTW, if you aren’t lucky enough to pop the cork on this one. You might want to check out Haley’s appearance with husband/film-meister Gary Cogill at the Dallas Arboretum’s “Wine And Movies: A Perfect Pairing With Gary and Hayley Cogill” on Monday, December 11. The twosome will talk about their favorite movies of 2017 and seamlessly pair the films with wines. For Arboretum members, the price is $70. For non-members, it’s $75. Once again, membership has its perks.

1,300 People Had A “Hinge” Experience By “Connecting” With New BFF Jamie Lee Curtis At The Celebrating Women Luncheon

Editor’s warning: This post is a very long one, but it’s worth the read. So, settle back to find out why the 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon was one of the most memorable get togethers of the year.

It depended on your age when it came to Jamie Lee Curtis. Those with decades on their meters remembered her as the darling daughter of Hollywood’s golden age couple of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. Then there was the generation that immediately thought of her being terrorized in “Halloween” and “Terror Train.”  Others recalled her as the “bod” in “Trading Places” and “Perfect.” And, yes, there’s a current generation who have read her 14 books to their children.

The question at the Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s Celebrating Women Luncheon was, “Who really is Jamie Lee Curtis?” That’s because Jamie (“Just call me Jamie, not Jamie Lee”) was going to be the featured speaker at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, October 26.

Before heading down to the VIP meet-and-greet in the Anatole’s Wedgwood Room that Thursday morning, Jamie showed the first signs of how the day would go. She told an event staffer that she was wearing no makeup and had done her own hair. But if they wanted someone to do her makeup, it was up to them. No need; Jamie was just fine in her own skin. Earlier someone had asked if she wanted to review the questions that would be posed to her in the chat with Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson. Nope. She would just take them as they came.

Vicky Lattner, Nancy Carter, Emilynn Wilson and Di Johnston

Before she entered the room, the crowd including Kristen Hinton, Norm Bagwell, Barbara Stuart, Carol Seay, Jimmie Westcott, Lisa Cooley, Tanya Foster, Aileen Pratt, Kate Swail, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Debbie Robinson, Polly Tadlock, Fredye Factor, Sarah Losinger, Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Julie Ford, Rich Enthoven, Trisha Wilson, Tiffany Divis, Jennie and Stuart Reeves, Caren Kline and Dallas Morning Newsies Deborah Fleck, Selwyn Crawford and Mike Wilson was happily chatting and drinking coffee. Only a handful of people were getting in line for the grip-and-grin. That would quickly change.

Barbara Stuart, Carol Seay and Jimmie Westcott

Like a quarterback preparing for the big game, Jamie checked out the setup and approached the event photographer and suggested a place where she would stand with guests. As another photographer took a photo from the side, Jamie called the second photographer over and gave instructions to shoot directly in front of her. It wasn’t an order. She was advising the team on a game plan that would seamlessly score success. 

Even the guests became part of the team effort. Jamie would talk with each one and make sure that all were picture-perfect. When Gretchen Minyard arrived for her photo, Jamie adjusted the flower on Gretchen’s jacket. One young woman quickly put the finishing touches on her own makeup as she went through the line. She was thrilled for the photo opp. From the big smile in being photographed with Jamie, no one could tell that she had just had her first round of chemo the day before. Linda Custard, who had successfully gone through a year of treatments, had a special glow about her as she and Jamie embraced.

Linda Custard and Jamie Lee Curtis

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

After having her photo taken with Lindalyn Adams, Jamie called time-out and went to the side of the staging area to talk with Lindalyn, who had initiated Celebrating Women 18 years ago.

Now, the guests were starting to take notice and lined up for their picture with Jamie. A handful of guests stood back, saying they weren’t all that interested in a photo with Jamie. That would change. Soon enough the line was winding past the stanchions, and in the line now were those who’d said earlier they weren’t all that interested in a photo with Jamie.

Observers started taking note of how in each shot, Jamie would hit her mark with her legs crossed at the ankle, confidently hold her head high, smile with lips together and have an expression on her face as if she was truly proud to be in the picture. Her arms would adjust a bit with each photo, but they never struck the “sorority girl” pose.

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

Selwyn Crawford, Deborah Fleck, Jamie Lee Curtis and Mike Wilson

When the final photo was taken, one of the photographers approached her and thanked her for her earlier direction, adding that each photo had turned out great. Jamie smiled with a twinkle in her eye and said, “I knew where the lights were.”

Dennis Bassler and Connie Yates

Nancy Dedman and Jill Smith

As the doors opened to the Chantilly Ballroom, the 1,300 guests like Tom Thumb President Dennis Bassler with Tom Thumb First Lady Connie Yates, Sara Martineau, Vicki Chapman, Joan Eleazer with daughter Layne Pitzer, Debbie Raynor, Nancy Dedman, Jill Smith, Gene Jones, Anita Arnold, Al Hill Jr., Linda Perryman Evans, Jan Langbein, Leslie Gosnell and sisters Nancy Marcus and Nelda Cain were taking their places. Before things got underway, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell stood behind Jamie, who had taken her place at the table next to Honorary Co-Chair Leonard Riggs. The Powells had their cellphones ready to snap a photo with her. When Jamie realized the situation, she stood up and took hold of the phone for a selfie with the girls.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

Soon, the program was underway with London Hibbs entering the center aisle singing “Heroes” and joined by dancers en route to the stage.

London Hibbs and dancers

They were followed by Event Chair Tucker Enthoven, who welcomed the guests and told how the monies raised at the luncheon stayed in North Texas. To emphasize the point, she told of 43-year-old attorney/wife/mother Carolyn Brown, who just the year before had been diagnosed with stage III tripe-negative breast cancer.

Carolyn Brown and her team of health care providers

Following a video about Carolyn’s journey, an army of 20 men and women lined up along the back of the stage. Through the group entered Carolyn, who explained that these people had been the ones who had taken her through nine months of surgeries, chemo and radiation, resulting in her being cancer-free. 

Ola Fojtasek and Tucker Enthoven

Following lunch, Tucker returned to the podium with her Underwriting Chair Ola Fojtasek, who acknowledged Lindalyn, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation staff, the committee, presenting sponsor Tom Thumb and the mega donors. Ola then got the activity meter raised, explaining that at each table there was one program that was marked for the holder to receive an $80 gift certificate for Kendra Scott. 

Jim Hinton

Tucker thanked Honorary Co-Chairs Peggy and Leonard Riggs, announced a matching challenge of $25,000 and introduced Baylor Scott And White Health CEO Jim Hinton. Jim told how his life had been influenced by the women in his life, including his daughter, 12-year-old Nora Hinton, who the morning after the recent presidential election announced that she could still be the first female president. He emphasized the importance of the Celebrating Women Luncheon by announcing that, over the past 18 years, it had raised more than $30M, and more than 100,000 women had been screened last year at the Darlene Cass Imaging Center.

Following Jim, Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Robin Robinson introduced Jamie for a chat on stage. It would be a chat to be remembered.

Before getting started, though, Jamie addressed one part of the audience. “I was raised well. Not really, but I was raised semi-well. I actually made them move the chair so my back wasn’t to you. But I apologize that my back is to you, and I will try to pin it like a Rain Bird.”

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

Who is her hero? Robin asked. “I am almost 60, and I have spent a lot of time in ballrooms sitting around tables of 10 with well-heeled, well-dressed people like yourselves advocating for causes in ways to come together to raise money for important causes,” Jamie replied. “And I have seen myriad ways that these are done. I have never in my life seen a more moving example of what this is, the reason we are here, than that team of people coming up on the stage. I’ve done a lot of these and I think that’s why that challenge grant … and I hope we make it … I’d like to see a show of hands of 25 people in this room who will give a thousand dollars with me.* I want it right now. 25 people to give $25,000. [Hands went up throughout the room.] I want to know that $50,000 extra was raised in one minute for the work of those people who stood here for her and work for people you will never know. There is no more important thing for us to do today than to support them. I’m just privileged to be here.” 

Hands raise for the challenge

Did you have a cancer scare? Robin then asked Jamie. “I did, and in coming here I recalled it,” she answered. “My memory of it was the wait in that room for the diagnosis. Either an all-clear, which was my case, or the diagnosis of breast cancer and then the eventual treatment plan and care team stepping in. And what I remember about it, and the reason why I try to stay active, is that moment of feeling alone, even though my sweet husband Christopher [Guest] was sitting with me. It is a profound moment of truth. I was prepared for it. And as I got the ‘All clear’ from it, I was grateful to my doctor who found it. It was not noticed on the mammogram. It was not noticed radiologically. It was done from palpitation, by actually laying on his hands. I’m incredibly luck, but I’ll never forget that moment.”

In receiving the tough news from your doctor, Robin asked next, do you want her to ask how your life is going, or do you want straight talk? “Me? I’m coming up, if I’m lucky enough, on February 3rd of next year, I’ll be coming up on 19 years sober from drugs and alcohol,” Jamie answered. “In my opinion [addiction] is hereditary—my dad, my mom, my brother. And [for me] it was an opiate addiction. It was a small plastic surgery moment that led to an opiate addiction. It is no accident today that we have an epidemic in this country. I’m in recovery, and I want it as straight as you can give it to me. I’m as straight a person as it is. I want no subterfuge. I want it unvarnished. I want you to tell me the truth. I try to live an incredibly truthful life.”

How do you select the causes that you support? Robin asked. “I think like all the rest of us, I get touched by something,” Jamie replied. “As it is with breast cancer, it is a concentric circle in our lives. There is no place that I would go in the world and not come in contact immediately with someone either recovering from breast cancer, undergoing treatment or they have a sister or mother with breast cancer. I was in Los Angeles at a surprise wedding. I was seated at a long table, as we all were.

“I was chatting with three people across the table, and the woman seated directly across from me was from Italy. Lovely. I found her charming. And then another woman introduced herself and said that she and her husband were from Dallas. I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to Dallas in four days.’ She asked why and I said, ‘I’m going to speak at the breast cancer luncheon connected to Baylor.’ And she said, ‘Oh, those are my people! You’ll meet my oncologist.” She’s a 15-year survivor. And then the woman directly across from me, the one from Italy, said to the woman, ‘I just had a double mastectomy.’ Here we were a triangle. Three women connecting about breast cancer at a surprise wedding. To me the reason we’re here is to connect. We are not here to do anything but connect.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

Then Robin asked, “What got you into acting?” “It was an accident,” Jamie said. “There is a book that I love, ‘Special Topics in Calamity Physics,’ by Marisha Pessl. In it there is this great quote. She says you know, most people think life is all about like where you go to school, what degree you get, what college you get into, who you marry, what your first job is, what your starting salary is, blah, blah. She said, and I roughly quote, ‘It’s not. Life hinges on a couple of seconds you never see coming, and what you decide in those seconds determines everything from then on. And you’re not going to know what to do until you’re there.’ That’s my life.

“I was a D+ student, who got into the only college where my mother was the most famous alumnus. I majored in track. I was a non-student. I could barely spell ‘student.’ I came home for Christmas and ran into a guy who was a tennis teacher at my friend’s court and he said, ‘Hey, Jamie, I’m now managing actors, and they’re looking for someone to play Nancy Drew. Why don’t you go up for it?’ I was like ‘Okay.’ I didn’t get it, but then I ended up literally signing a seven-year contract with Universal Pictures (because they used to have contracts then). My point is that I went over to my friend’s house and a tennis teacher said, ‘Hey they’re looking for actors,’ and the next I knew I quit school and I connected in the exact same way the rest of my life.

“I never thought I would write a book in my life. As I mentioned, my SAT scores—I proudly say this for all you underachievers out there, you could be up here with your—excuse my French, your shitty SAT scores! My four-year-old daughter walked into my room one day and said, ‘When I was little, I used a diaper. But now I use the potty.’ And she walked out of the room. I just thought that was hilarious. I wrote down on a piece of paper, ‘When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.’ I wrote the list of things that she couldn’t do and could do and at the end I wrote three things,

  • When I was little, I didn’t know what family was.
  • When I was little, I didn’t know what dreams were.
  • When I was little, I didn’t know who I was, but now I do.

 

“When I was finished writing that, I was sobbing and I realized I could write a book. Though I never dreamed I’d write a book, I sold it that day to a publisher in New York, and it was the first of 14 books I’ve written for children. I say it because the last thing in the world I thought I would do is write a book, and yet a book popped out.

“I’m going to tell you one more thing about life hinging on seconds you never see coming. It was 1984. I was single, sitting my apartment with my friend Debra Hill, who is no longer here, and I was getting ready to do the movie ‘Perfect.’ I opened Rolling Stone magazine. There was a picture of three guys with their arms around each other like guys do with shirt sleeves. There was a guy on the right who had a face like this [she made a funny face]. And I said to Debra, ‘I’m going to marry that guy.’ She said he was Chris Guest. I called his agent the next day, who told me he knew I was calling about Chris Guest. Debra had already called. He never called me.”

Jamie went on to tell how she continued with her life, and was even dating a fellow. After taking him to the airport one day, she drove to West Hollywood for dinner with Melanie Griffin and her husband Steven Bauer. A couple of tables away, Christopher was sitting there. Recalled Jamie: “He looked at me and went like this” [she shrugged her shoulders and made a face]. She responded in a similar fashion. As he got up to leave, he repeated the expression, to which she once again responded in the same way. The next day he called her, and they were married four months later.

Did you have mentors who helped you focus on what is important? Robin asked. “No. I’m not going to lie to you,” Jamie replied. “My mother was a surviving woman. She had a rough life. But she was a very grounded human being, and I credit her with a lot of the way I walk through the world. To be perfectly honest, mostly men hired me. It was because the business that I was in was predominantly male. Over the years I’ve partnered with women. My editor is a woman.”

Then came the moment that would become “the talk” for days to come.

Robin asked how she used her platform to address the issue of people using power over others. Looking at the floor clock, which showed that the time for their conversation was running out, Jamie said, “And that’s the real time we have left?”

Replied Robin: “I’ll tell you when we’re finished.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie said nothing. To the delight of the 1,000+ women in the room, she just held her index finger up and looked out at the audience as if to say, “Did he really just say that?”

And she let that expression and silence sit there for what probably seemed like an eternity for Robin. The oxygen in the room had been replaced with laughter.

With perfect timing, she said, “We need to talk. You’ll tell me when I’m done? I was merely trying to play by the time rule. I saw that the clock was running out. I was just asking … you’re blushing.”

The laughter only grew, and it was suspected that Robin was wishing that he could have taken back his “hinge” moment.

But like a great conductor, Jamie brought the room back to the serious subject that Robin had introduced. “What is happening today has been happening since the beginning of time,” she said. “And it always takes show business to be a catalyst for change. In recovery, I always knew that someone super-famous was going to have to die from an opiate overdose, before we changed the way we thought about opiates. Prince, a brilliant artist, was a fentanyl addict and he died from that. And now we change the rules. Now the president is convening a whole epidemic group to combat this.

“Sexual harassment and abuse have been in play since men in power have been in place. Through every generation, every business, every field, every color—there is no boundary. It’s just the nature of the beast, and it is a beast. And we are taking a look at it through the lens … pardon the pun … of Hollywood.  And it is going to create transformative change. It is going to take a little time. It is going to be a very challenging time for all us to look deep in ourselves and really figure out how we feel about it.”

She predicted that, as a result, more women would be put in positions of leadership.

Robin then said, “With your permission, I have one more.” Laughter.

Jamie answered, “That was flirting.” More laughter. “Yes, dear.”

His final question was, “What was the best moment of your life?”

She replied that it was being an adoptive mother of two children, Annie and Thomas. The moment was when, at 12:58 in the morning, Annie’s birth mother had called to say that she had given birth. Said Jamie: That was the “most transformative moment in my life. It began what has continued to be the greatest thing I will ever do in my life besides being sober. It is to share a life. It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It has made me look in the mirror more often about myself. It has brought us a lot of grief in our family, and a lot of healing. A child wants connection. They don’t want stuff. They want people to lean in and look at them and hear them and cherish them. The modern world makes that very difficult. We all have to work very hard to counteract that. ” 

Thanks to Jamie, 1,300 people experienced hinge moments allowing them to connect with a very special cause and person.

So, who was Jamie Lee Curtis? On Thursday, October 26, she was the BFF for more than 1,300 people—and she’s welcome back anytime she wants.

Check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for more pictures from the luncheon.

* Follow up on the match challenge: Jamie’s invitation for people to join her in meeting the match not only met the goal, it surpassed it resulting in $60,000 from the challenge. And, no, the Celebrating Women organizers had no idea she was going to ask people to join her in donating $1,000.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2017 Celebrating Women Luncheon

Guests at Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 26, at the Hilton Anatole had more to celebrate than raising mega funds for breast cancer. They discovered a new BFF — guest speaker Jamie Lee Curtis.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Abigail Powell and Julie Powell

Lindalyn Adams and Jamie Lee Curtis

While some admitted that they had had no preconceived ideas about the day’s program chaired by Tucker Enthoven, they left the event delighted with Jamie’s honesty, openness, humor and range of subject matter. In fact, one luncheon-attending vet claimed that not since last year’s Hoda Kotb and Tim Gunn appearance had they been so impressed with a presentation.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Robin Robinson

The post is being prepared, so check out the pictures on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Aileen Pratt and Jamie Lee Curtis

Peggy Riggs, Jamie Lee Curtis and Leonard Riggs

Tucker Enthoven, Jamie Lee Curtis, Robin Robinson and Ola Fojtasek

PS — For those who are aficionados of the art of posing for photographers, check out Jamie at the grip-and-grin session. Observers noted how she always stood erect with her head up, looked at the camera straight on, never struck the “sorority-girl pose” and crossed her legs at the ankle in every shot. If you get a chance, just try to strike the “Jamie pose.” It’s a balancing act, but it works.

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: 2017 Obelisk Award Luncheon

Business Council for the Arts Katherine Wagner just sent some good news and some not-so-good news. First, let’s get the not-so-good news over with. If you were waiting until the last minute to get your spot at the Obelisk Award Luncheon, you waited too long and you’re out of luck.

2017 Obelisk Award (File photo)

Now for the good news: The November 15th lunch at Belo Mansion is sold out.  

But you were really hankering to be part of the occasion, you know better than anyone that Katherine could find one more place if the check is written with the right amount. Wink, wink.

Grovel Alert: The Milestones Luncheon

The Milestones Luncheon Co-Chair Nikki Webb was all smiles when she revealed that the annual Junior League of Dallas Luncheon on Friday, November 17, was right on schedule for a sellout. In fact she reported that there are just a couple or three tables left to hear a conversation with Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer.

Octavia Spencer*

Linda Perryman Evans (File photo)

Another factor for the popularity of the event is that it will honor Meadows Foundation President/CEO Linda Perryman Evans as Sustainer of the Year.

This luncheon is one of the last mega-fundraising lunches before Thanksgiving, so round up those buds to reserve one of those last remaining spots.

* Photo credit: Randee St. Nicholas