2017 Junior Cattle Barons Ball Celebrants Created Pillow Artwork Before Attending Disney On Ice At American Airlines Center

As the princesses and princes lined up at American Airlines Center for the Disney on Ice performance on Sunday, March 19, there was a VIP gathering already underway at AAC’s Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club for the ultimate royals. They were the kids from Children’s Health and Children’s Medical Center who had locked horns with the ultimate dragon — cancer.

But they weren’t just there to see the show and get on a sugar high with jelly beans, M&Ms and malt balls as part of the Junior Cattle Baron’s Ball. They were put to work, but it was fun work.  Immediately upon arrival, they picked up the pillow cases provided by Luke’s Fastbreak and were directed to tables to decorate ‘em.

Finished pillow case

Hello? Pillow cases? Instead of past years, when the kiddos got their faces temporarily painted, they got to decorate the pillows for keeps. After all, who wants to sleep on a ho-hum pillow? It was a brilliant addition to the annual pre-show extravaganza at the center. The children and their siblings didn’t hesitate to start decorating. Why, shoot! Some of them were dreamy works with art/heart that couldn’t help but create sweet dreams.

Caroline Corrigan, Rosemary LeBlanc and Sarah Munir

Anne Stodghill and Dash Stodghill

Behind the tables were junior hostesses Caroline Corrigan, Rosemary LeBlanc and Sarah Munir. Despite her tan line, Rosemary reported that she had stayed home for spring break.

CBB Co-Chair Anne Stodghill accompanied by her tousle-hair son Dash Stodghill told how their stay in New Mexico had been spent counting out-of-town license plants for Dash’s third-grade project.

The Williams clan: (from the left) Whitney, Jamie and Craig, Graham, Georgia, Andrew, Derrin, Lanier, Mary and Kate

Merrick Huckin, Debbie Munir, Catherine Jaynes, Juliana LeBlanc and Mary C. Corrigan

Just as the doors opened for the afternoon fun on ice, Moody Foundation Human Resources  Director Jamie Williams arrived with her Williams family (Whitney, Craig, Graham, Georgia, Andrew, Derrin, Lanier, Mary and Kate) in tow. It was thanks to The Moody Foundation that the event took place and also thanks to coordination by CBB-ers Merrick Huckin, Debbie Munir, Catherine Jaynes, Juliana LeBlanc and Mary C. Corrigan.

JUST IN: TACA To Undertake Three Major Initiatives Including The Funding For Both The Performing … And Visual Arts!

Back when TACA started, North Texas’ art community was pretty limited. The arts were largely contained at Fair Park with the opera and musicals taking place in the Music Hall and the visual arts at the Dallas Museum of Arts facility near the lagoon. The Fair Park band shell with its nighttime performances and flying insects created memorable moments for singers. The Dallas Theater Center’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kalita Humphreys Theater along Turtle was considered the new hottie in the world of art.  

But that was way back when. As TACA celebrates its 50th anniversary, changes are definitely underway for TACA’s next 50 years to support the overwhelming wealth of art groups in North Texas.

Donna Wilhelm (File photo)

This morning, TACA Chairman of the Board of Directors Donna Wilhelm sent a note to the stakeholders about three new initiatives for TACA.

Of the trio, the one that pops to the top of the list is “TACA Funding All Of The Arts In Dallas.” In the past, TACA has only provided funding for the performing arts. But in the future it will also support the visual arts. Before it kicks into place, the criteria for submitting grants requests will be developed and published toward the end of 2017. The deadline for the letters of intent will be Friday, February 1, 2018. The grants for both the visual and performing art groups will be presented in January 2019.

According to Donna, “For 50 years, TACA has funded the performing arts.  However our current Board of Directors has expansive vision—we will now add support of the visual arts. And we will foster arts experience that impacts social change in our North Texas community.”

The other two initiatives, are

  • “Social Impact Through The Arts” — TACA will establish “funds to foster the creation of new performing arts works and innovative performing arts residence programs” focusing on cultural and racial equity, cross-sector partnerships, arts education focusing on under-resourced communities, cross-cultural community collaboration and social change capacity building.
  • “Increased Vibrancy Of The Arts” — TACA will “lead a multi-year effort to empower and expand” the number of artists and arts organizations. The intention is two-fold:
    • To make the Dallas area a destination for performers, visual artists, musicians, writers, directors, backstage professionals, etc.
    • To create an environment that encourages the launch and nurturing of new arts organizations.

To achieve these goals, TACA will “develop a blueprint to learn and adapt strategies” that have been undertaken in other cities and “recreate the best of the best in Dallas, and enhance the impact through collaborative partnerships.”

Donna explained, “TACA is deeply committed to an expansive arts vibrancy in North Texas. We assure our donors, prospective donors and arts organizations that, for over half a century, we have established a grants review process that evaluates, selects and supports the very best organizations.  Every contributed dollar invested in TACA will indeed transform lives through the arts.”

JUST IN: Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon To Benefit Junior Players With “Hamilton”‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry As Keynote Speaker

Cancel any and all plans for summer vacation. Well, at least, plan on being in town on Friday, June 23. Attorneys Serving the Community have such a reason for staying put on that Friday for lunch.

They’ve really tied things together for the 31st Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole. First, this year’s beneficiary is the award-winning Junior Players, which is the oldest non-profit children’s theater organization in Dallas. Originally offering “traditional children’s theater productions performed entirely by children and teenagers,” it changed its direction in 1989 by “providing free programming accessible to all the children of North Texas.”

Attorneys Serving the Community beneficiary Junior Players*

According to Dallas Morning News theater expert Nancy Churnin, Junior Players is “not just the play that’s the thing at Junior Players. It’s the way the company puts kids first by making quality lessons and performances free for 4,000 kids a year.”

Great pick, but who would be the on-target speaker for such an event benefiting young theatrical types by legal experts? Hold on to your petticoats and breeches. Luncheon Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price managed to land Tony Award-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church in “Hamilton: The Revolution.” Just this past fall, she took leave of the Linn-Manuel Miranda hit.

Renée Elise Goldsberry*

But don’t think Renee is a one-note actress. This multi-talented and gorgeous gal is a perfect role model for young, aspiring performers. In addition to Broadway successes (“The Lion King,” “The Color Purple” and “Rent”) and numerous flat screen appearances, (“Ally McBeal,” “One Life To Live,” “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Good Wife,” etc.), she’s now headed to the 25th century for Netflix’s 10-episode sci-fi drama “Altered Carbon” as Quellcrist Falconer.  In addition to theatrical and screen productions, she’s even been in the Super Bowl, where she and her Broadway sister updated “America the Beautiful.”

Outside of the theater and studio, Renee has a real life with attorney-husband Alexis Johnson and her two kiddos Benjamin and Brielle.

Trivia: The luncheon will have a tinge of irony. It will be a get-together for onstage Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law (aka Renée) with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr’s descendant Jennifer Burr Altabef. If you skipped American History 101, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Burr nearly 213 years ago.

According to Jennifer, who along with her husband, Peter Altabef, are serving as luncheon honorary co-chairs, “Peter and I are thrilled to be honorary chairs for this event benefiting Junior Players, a vital arts resource for young people and a treasure in our community. We are looking forward to the event featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, whose electrifying performance in ‘Hamilton’ brought to life the incredible story of the birth of our country. Aaron Burr was a part of that story, and in ‘Hamilton,’ the audience learns so much about him and his complex relationship with Alexander Hamilton.”

Mark Friday, June 23, as a “must-stay-in-Dallas” to see and hear from this lady, who “kicked failure’s ass.”

Sponsorships and tables are available here. Individual tickets, if there are any, will be up for grabs in May.

* Graphic and photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

Susan Albritton And Lauren Embrey Join Kitchen Dog Theater’s Capital Campaign As Honorary Co-Chairs

The 10,000-square-foot former Presidio Tile in Dallas’ North Design District is going through a major transformation. By the end of 2018/early 2019, it will be the new “permanent” home of Kitchen Dog Theater complete with a 140-seat performance space, offices and a rehearsal space.

Over the past 26 years, KDT has had a variety of home bases including McKinney Avenue Contemporary aka “The Mac” (1994-2015), The Green Zone (2015-2016) and Trinity River Arts Center (TRAC) for the current season.

According to KDT Co-Artistic Director Tina Parker, “Theater companies like ours around the country are challenged by the whims of the local real estate market, so we are extremely grateful to be able to put down permanent roots in our hometown. This development gives us the financial and emotional security to continue our artist-driven mission — to provide a place where questions of justice, morality and human freedom can be explored — for many more years to come.”

Ah, but such an undertaking takes more than good intentions. In this case, it takes $3M and the KDT group has undertaken a capital campaign to achieve that goal.

Capital Campaign KDT Founding Company Member Sally Nysteun-Vahle, longtime KDT Board Member/former Board Chair Paul Barnes and Board Chair Jerry Neisel have just revealed that the purchase of the property was made thanks to $975,000 from The Real Estate Council Community Fund, The Communities Foundation of Texas, The Harold Simmons Foundation and private donors.

Susan H. Albritton*

Lauren Embrey*

They also announced that they have arranged to have The Embrey Family Foundation President/Philanthropic Visionary Lauren Embrey and philanthropist Susan Albritton to serve as honorary co-chairs.

According to KDT Managing Director Tim Johnson, “We are delighted to have these two wonderful community leaders as honor chairs. They join our campaign chairs and a committee of dedicated supporters, all working to help ensure that Kitchen Dog continues to present theater that provokes, challenges and amazes our audience for another 26 years.”

In the meantime, KDT will hold its 2017-2017 season at The Trinity River Arts Center on Stemmons Freeway.

A Passing: Fred Wiedemann

Dallas is filled with outstanding people. Some are above-the-fold making news frequently. Others are like delicious secrets, whose amazing life stories only come to light after their deaths. Fred Wiedemann was such a man. For those who had the opportunity to know him before his death on Friday, January 20, his 93 years of life were the stuff many just dream of.

Fred Wiedemann (File photo)

Born in New York City in 1923, he was raised on the West Coast in Hollywood. Just six months after Pearl Harbor he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a Japanese interpreter and excelled academically and in sports. Just months before his graduation in 1945, he met a fourth-generation Texan who would be the love of his life — Florence “Flo” Leachman. Following an assignment in Japan in 1947 he resigned his commission, moved to Dallas, married Flo at Highland Park United Methodist Church and undertook a 50-year career in the life insurance business.

In addition to helping establish the highly successful The Wiedemann and Johnson Companies, he was involved with the up-and-coming arts (the boards of Theater Three and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and chairman of the Dallas Civic Opera Guild) and education (chairman of the St. Marks School executive committee, trustee and chairman of the Southwest Outward Bound School and on the boards of the Colorado Outward Bound School and National Outward Bound) programs.

Fred’s passports were filled with stamps from Canada, Patagonia, Tasmania, Nepal, Chile, New Guinea, Costa Rica and Japan, to name just a few. His wanderlust knew no bounds and he was eager to share the experiences. And, those trips weren’t just bus tours of the local landmarks. No, with family and friends Fred would trek, kayak, camp and take adventures.

According to his family, “the greatest, most wonderful adventure was when Fred planned a 15-month sabbatical in Europe, living in Zurich, Switzerland, to celebrate his and Flo’s 20th wedding anniversary. Their three sons [Frederic, Harden and Jon] went to schools there, and Flo began her Jungian studies at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich. Together there, Fred and Flo continued pursuit of their life-long love of opera, especially Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Fred spent his time in Switzerland on the couch being analyzed, skiing, learning flamenco guitar, and writing, with the latter two endeavors being singularly unsuccessful (according to Fred). Nonetheless the Jungian analytical process provided him with a seismic shift of consciousness and a grounding that he valued very much for the rest of his life.”

And the Wiedemann boys followed their father’s love for living a far-from-the-mundane routine. For instance, after graduating from St. Marks, Jon went to Harvard, became a Calvin Klein model, married actress Isabella Rossellini, producing daughter/model/actress Elletra Wiedemann, and went on to become an executive with Microsoft.

For those lucky enough to have attended a get-together at the Wiedemanns’ Preston Hollow ranch-style home filled with Japanese art, one just never knew what to expect. It might include a visiting best-selling author, a world-renowned educator or an artist, whose fame was just in the incubation stage. Why, D Magazine considered Flo and Fred to be one of Dallas’ “Heavenly Hosts and Best Guests.”

In reviewing his nine decades, Fred “acknowledged that he had made his share of mistakes and had tried to learn from them, but that his life had vastly exceeded any expectations he might have had. He felt it had been one ‘helluva’ ride, and he was so very grateful to have been aboard.”

Fred’s life will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, at Serenity House at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. Just imagine what wonderful stories will be shared.

JUST IN: Multi-Talented Bernadette Peters Will Headline The Dallas Summer Musicals 2017 Gala In November

Bernadette Peters*

She’s the favorite of Stephen Sondheim, best buds with Mary Tyler Moore and has more curls than a bushel of rotini. She’s been in show biz since she was 3½ and got her Actors Equity Card at the ripe old age of 9. She’s appeared on TV, Broadway and the silver screen.  She’s written children’s books, dated Steve Martin and appeared in Playboy Magazine in lingerie designed by Bob Mackie.

She is multi-talented Bernadette Peters and she will be headlining the Dallas Summer Musical fundraiser at Fair Park’s Music Hall on Saturday, November 4.

Since “An Evening With Bernadette Peters” will benefit the Dallas Summer Musicals and its education and community outreach programs, it’s especially poignant to have TI executives Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld co-chairing the event.

Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld**

Each has childhood memories of attending the Dallas Summer Musicals and the long-lasting impressions they took away.

According to Paul, “Going to Dallas Summer Musicals at Fair Park with my grandmother was my first exposure to ‘real’ theatre on the big stage. Learning the stories and hearing the music instilled a love for the stage in me that endures to this day. I am thrilled at the opportunity to help another generation experience that same magic.”

As for Andy, he recalled, “My 16th birthday present was a trip from Tyler to see the DSM production of ‘Camelot.’ We (Paul and Andy) both fell in love with musical theater through DSM, and we’ve also seen how DSM has touched the lives of youth in our community through their outreach and education programs.”

While individual tickets are not available (drat!), sponsorships and underwriting opportunities can be discovered by calling the DSM Development office at 214.426.6333.

* Photo credit: Andrew Eccles 
** Photo provided by Dallas Summer Musicals

MYSweet2017Goals: Wolford McCue

Wolford McCue*

According to TACA President/Executive Director Wolford McCue,

“My goal along with TACA volunteers and staff is to gather an unprecedented amount of support for the unrestricted budgets of TACA-funded arts organizations, and to celebrate the work of each organization whose work is transforming the lives of Dallas area residents.”

* Photo provided by 
TACA

TACA Grant Awards Celebration Distributes $1.3M Again, But Opts Not To Reveal Individual Funding For 49 Performing Art Groups

Transparency. That is the sweet spot of all organizations nowadays, especially nonprofits. Whether it’s ‘fessing up the actual net figure or announcing the distribution of dollars to nonprofits, transparency is the key to over-the-top respect.

Perhaps that why it was surprising that, tonight, TACA shifted gears at its annual Grant Awards Celebration at the Wyly. In years past, the organization used the occasion to announce the exact amounts going to the nonprofits and formally present the thrilled representatives with a check, to the applause of an audience full of fellow nonprofits and TACA board members.

This year, though, there were no individual amounts revealed; nor was there a formal presentation. Instead it was announced that TACA had once again provided $1.3M in grants for area performing art programs. The reason for withholding announcement of the amounts, according to a source, was that they did not want “to hurt feelings.”

Ah, shoot! Feelings, schmeelings.

According to organizers, the determination of funding is made by TACA volunteers spending “many hours during the last 12 months attending performances, as well as evaluating grant applications. The distribution decisions are based on three primary criteria: artistic excellence, administrative and fiscal responsibility and community engagement.”

After being asked about the change of plans, organizers provided the following breakdown of ranges for the 49 organizations:

$5,000-$10,000

  • African-American Repertory Theater
  • Arts District Chorale
  • AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Blue Candlelight Music Series
  • Chamber Music International
  • Chamberlain Ballet
  • Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Dallas Bach Society
  • Dallas Chamber Music Society
  • Dark Circles Contemporary Dance
  • Echo Theatre
  • Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Plano Civic Chorus
  • Soul Rep Theatre Company
  • Teatro Hispano de Dallas
  • Voices of Change

$10,001-$20,000

  • Avant Chamber Ballet
  • Big Thought
  • Bruce Wood Dance Project
  • Cara Mia Theatre
  • Dallas Chamber Symphony
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra
  • Orchestra of New Spain
  • Orpheus Chamber Singers
  • Plano Symphony Orchestra
  • Sammons Center for the Arts
  • Texas Winds Musical Outreach
  • Theatre Three
  • Turtle Creek Chorale
  • WaterTower Theatre

$20,001-$50,000

  • Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas
  • Dallas Winds
  • Fine Arts Chamber Players
  • Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
  • Junior Players Guild
  • Kitchen Dog Theater Company
  • Lyric Stage
  • Second Thought Theatre
  • Shakespeare Dallas
  • The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Undermain Theatre
  • Uptown Players

$50,001-$95,000

  • Dallas Black Dance Theatre
  • Dallas Children’s Theater
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Dallas Theater Center
  • Texas Ballet Theater
  • The Dallas Opera
  • TITAS

An additional $200,00 will be distributed via The TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund and the TACA Bowdon and Embrey Family Foundation’s Artist Residency Fund.

Instead of the usual check presentation, the evening included “a tribute to Becky Young, TACA’s leader retiring after 18 years, as well as students from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts performing a scene from Magnolia, written by special guest artist Regina Taylor.”

Becky Young (File photo)

Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Oak Cliff native Regina then told of how the arts had led her into a career of acting and moderated a panel with Dallas Symphony Orchestra Principal Horn David Cooper, Dallas Black Dance Theatre Encore! Artistic Director Nycole Ray and Bruce Wood Dance Project Artistic Director Kimi Nikaidoh.

The evening also marked the kick-off of TACA’ 50th anniversary year with Wanda Gierhart spearheading the plans. With the former Neiman’s exec/Chef Dean Fearing‘s bride-to-be Wanda at the helm, it’s gonna be a jaw-dropping year.

National Endowment For The Arts Presents Big Thought And Nine Others With Early Christmas Gifts

Big Thought just revealed some big news. Back in late November National Endowment for the Arts Chair Jane Chu visited Dallas for a couple of days touring the Arts District and checking in at Big Thought. The Oklahoma native, who did graduate work at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, just provided Big Thought with a very nice Christmas gift — a $100,000 Arts Works grant for Big Thought’s Dallas City of Learning project.

Art Works, National Endowment for the Arts and Big Thought*

The funds will “help provide in-person and internet-based creative educational experiences for students across Dallas during the summer months.”

Gigi Antoni*

It was just last January at this time that Big Thought hosted a meeting of concerned educational, political and community leaders to address the issue of “the Dallas education system having gone dormant during summer.”

According to Big Thought President/CEO Gigi Antoni, “We are so grateful and appreciative of Chair Chu and the National Endowment for the Arts. We as an organization and as a city have been committed to stemming summer learning loss in our quest to close the opportunity gap and improve the academic and socio-emotional outcomes of our children. This community has come together for our kids, and with the NEA’s generous support we can make an important impact in their lives.”

Other local groups receiving Art Works grants from the National Endowment for the Arts include:

  • Chamberlain Performing Arts — $10,000
  • Dallas Black Dance Theatre — $10,000
  • The Dallas Opera — $45,000
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra — $20,000
  • Kitchen Dog Theater — $10,000
  • Matt Morton — $25,000
  • Nasher Sculpture Center — $40,000
  • Shakespeare Festival of Dallas — $10,000
  • The Cliburn — $10,000
* Graphic and photo provided by Big Thought

Business And Art Community Leadership Turned Out For The Sold-Out 2016 Obelisk Awards Luncheon At Belo Mansion

The Business Council For The Arts was the brainchild of the late Ray Nasher. His hope was for the Dallas business community to get more involved and supportive of the various art organization. At the time the Performing Arts District was just on a wish list. But over the years, the Council evolved, adding a presentation of the Obelisk Awards to those businesses and art organizations that had shown true leadership in building Dallas’ arts. On Monday, November 7, Belo Mansion was filled to the brim for the presentation of the Obelisk Awards and to hear a moving presentation by Dallas Symphony Orchestra principle trumpet Ryan Anthony. Here is a report from the field:

This sold-out event on Monday, November 7, at Belo Mansion has been recognizing individuals and organizations that provide stellar nonprofit and business support for arts and culture for 28 years. As Obelisk Awards Co-Chair, Kevin Hurst said, “Some of the honorees are well-known to us and others are being recognized publicly for the first time.”  Kevin’s partner-in-celebration, Co-Chair Dotti Reeder added, “Their stories give us a unique perspective into mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and the arts.”

Kevin Hurst, Mimi Sterling, Jennifer Lassiter and Jeff Byron

The 2016 Obelisk Awards honorees and those that nominated them were  

  • Arts Partnership Award (Large) — Fossil Group, nominated by Big Thought
  • Arts Partnership Award (Medium) — Taxco Food Produce, nominated by The Mexico Institute
  • Arts Partnership Award (Small) — Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms, nominated by Allen Art Alliance
  • New Initiatives Award (Large) — Cash America, nominated by Junior Players
  • New Initiatives Award (Medium) — UMB Bank, nominated by The Dallas Opera
  • New Initiatives Award (Small) — The Law Offices of Eric Cedillo, nominated by Cara Mia Theater
  • Meghan Hipsher and Lee Papert

    Distinguished Nonprofit Arts Organization — Dallas Film Society, nominated by ABCO Inc.

  • Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus Award — Zenetta Drew, nominated by Leadership Women
  • Business Champion for the Arts — Darrell Rodenbaugh, nominated by Plano Children’s Theatre & North Texas Performing Arts

Capera Ryan, Mark Roglan and Deborah Ryan

This year, Dr. Mark Roglán, Linda Pitts Custard Director of the Meadows Museum at SMU, became the inaugural honoree of the award for Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader. He was nominated by arts patron and professional, Patricia Meadows. The Meadows Museum and the Dallas Film Society were honored with donations from Tolleson Wealth Management and Neiman Marcus Group, in addition to the award.

Dotti Reeder and Larry Glasgow

Presentations by the esteemed co-chairs, BCA Board Chair Larry Glasgow and arts icon Nancy Nasher were followed by Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet and Diane and Hal Brierley Chair of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  If you’ve been reading this column, you know that Ryan is the charismatic world-talent who is battling Multiple Myeloma. He and his wife, Niki Anthony, along with many friends, have founded CancerBlows: the Ryan Anthony Foundation. Ryan’s mesmerizing words and performances – two, in fact – led to a standing ovation. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 10, and get your tickets now to see 30 world-renowned musicians playing together to fund a cure.

Andrea Devaldenebro, David Hamilton and Lona Crabb

Billy Hines and Jack Savage

Gerald Turner, Hal and Diane Brierley, Rhealyn Carter and Brad Cheves

In the crowd were Patricia Porter and Dennis Kratz, NorthPark Center’s Lona Crabb, Billy Hines and Andrea Devaldenebro, as well as Jack Boles’s David Hamilton and Meghan Hipsher, SMU’s Gerald Turner and Brad Cheves and Neiman’s Jeff Byron and Mimi Sterling.

KERA Vice President for Arts/Art & Seek Director Anne Bothwell expertly articulated just why each of the honorees is praiseworthy. Obviously a quick study, Anne stepped in when the traditional Master of Ceremonies, Mary Anne Alhadeff, was hit with a bout of bronchitis.

Blending the perfect mix of artistry with business professionalism, the Obelisk Awards logo, program and invitation were designed by graphics maestro Leon Banowetz and his team. We’re sure the brilliant centerpieces, created by Shirley Richardson of Big Box, Little Box are going to inspire mimicry. Not to be outdone, each of the awards is an original artwork, hand-blown by Jim Bowman of Bowman Studios.

Suffice to say that all of the attendants to the event are subscribers to the importance of business support. Lead sponsors for this year’s Obelisk Awards were: NorthPark Management, Capital One and Diane and Hal Brierley.  Table sponsorship was provided by Andrews Kurth LLP, Artemis Fine Art Services, Baker Botts LLP, Banowetz + Company, Inc.,  The Beck Group, BenefitMall, Big Thought, Bourland Octave Management, LLC, Comerica,  Corgan, City of Richardson, The Dallas Opera, Deloitte, LLP, Eiseman Jewels NorthPark Center, Fisher & Phillips LLP, Fossil Group, Frost Bank, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, Sherry and Kenny Goldberg, Harwood International,  Haynes and Boone LLP, HKS, Jack Boles Parking NPP, Jones Day, Leadership Arts Alumni, The Law Firm of Eric Cedillo, Maintenance of America Inc., Patricia Meadows, Morrison, Dilworth, & Walls, Neiman Marcus, Oncor, Parkland Health & Hospital System,  Powell Coleman & Arnold LLP, PwC, Southern Methodist University, Taxco Produce, Texas Instruments, Thompson & Knight LLP, Tolleson Wealth Management, Tucker David Investments, LP, University of North Texas, The University of Texas at Dallas, Patricia Villareal and Tom Leatherbury, Vinson & Elkins LLP, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Additionally, donations in honor of Ryan and Niki Anthony were made by Diane and Hal Brierley, Anne and Steven Stodghill and D’Andra Simmons.

What does next year hold? You’ll have to ask 2017 Obelisk Co-Chairs Thai and Steve Roth! BTW, nominations for the 2017 awards are due Friday, April 14.

Rita Wilson Showed Spunk, Humor And Courage About Her Breast Cancer At The 17th Annual Celebrating Women Luncheon

North Texas treasure Lindalyn Adams was under the weather on Thursday, October 20. Of all days to be ill, this one was the wrong one. It was also the day when her brainchild fundraiser, the 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon, was scheduled to take place at the Anatole. While it would be the first in its 17-year history for Lindalyn to miss, the show went on to raise funds for Baylor Health Care System Foundation’s efforts to battle breast cancer.

Despite her absence, Baylor Health Care System President Robin Robinson and Baylor Scott And White Health CEO/Luncheon Honorary Co-Chair Joel Allison lauded her from the podium giving her full credit for the $26M that the annual luncheon has provided.

Lynn McBee, Caren Kline and Ros Dawson

Lynn McBee, Caren Kline and Ros Dawson

Virginia Chandler Dykes

Virginia Chandler Dykes

Gail Fischer

Gail Fischer

Julie Turner

Julie Turner

Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven and Nancy Carter

Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven and Nancy Carter

Rita Wilson and Nancy Rogers

Rita Wilson and Nancy Rogers

The program for this year’s VIP reception in the Wedgwood Room was a tadbit different than past years. Robin decided all the speech making at previous pre-luncheon gatherings was unnecessary. So he killed the speeches and just let the crowd (Margo Goodwin, Julie Turner, Anne Nixon, Barbara Stuart, Sara Martineau, Randi Halsell, Angie Kadesky, Tucker Enthoven, Nancy Carter, D’Andra Simmons, Becky Bright, Caren Kline, Ros Dawson, Lynn McBee, Fredye Factor, Sarah Losinger, Gail Fischer, Virginia Chandler Dykes and Debbie Oates) have coffee, juice, pastries and chit chat. Great decision!

Kate Swail and Robin Robinson

Kate Swail and Robin Robinson

One topic was who the gal was in the hot pink embroidered caftan. It turned out to be Robin’s daughter Kate Swail.

Just outside the Wedgwood Room, a unique twosome posed for a photo — Gretchen Minyard Williams of the Minyard Food Store family and Connie Yates of Celebrating Women presenting sponsor Tom Thumbs. The two had a chuckle when Connie recalled upon arriving on the Dallas scene, folks would mistake her for Gretchen.

Connie Yates and Gretchen Minyard Williams

Connie Yates and Gretchen Minyard Williams

Joel and Diane Allison

Joel and Diane Allison

Honorary Co-Chair/Joel’s better half Diane Allison told how the couple had bought a condo in Waco and were looking forward to it. Only problem? Their Dallas digs sold faster than they had planned, so Diane was hustling to get things ready to move out. 

The only hitch was a very slow-mo, greet-and-meet photo session with keynote speaker/multi-talented Rita Wilson. While Rita was delightful, VIP guests were lined up three deep waiting for their photos.  

BTW, you would have loved Rita. Everyone did. Like you, she was gracious and fun. One couldn’t help but suspect she’s on everybody’s Christmas card list.

When the doors to the Chantilly Ballroom opened, you would have been amazed how filled the place was with Toni Brinker, Lana Andrews, Gene Jones, Lee Ann White, Al Hill Jr. with daughters Heather Washburne and Elisa Summers, Nancy Rogers and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

While Event Chair Aileen Pratt visited tables, husband Jack Pratt revealed the secret of youth. With a smile, the spry 90-year-young Pratt attributed it to having young children, Aileen and three points that he had learned from Dr. Kenneth Cooper:

  1. Go to sleep each night at the same time
  2. Sleep for eight hours
  3. Eat healthy.

Once the program got underway, the speakers (Aileen, Underwriting Chair Gloria Eulich Martindale, Robin and Joel) kept their words short and on point — genetic research is the future in the fight against breast cancer. Their words were supported by a video featuring experts like genetic counselor Ann Bunnell and breast cancer survivor Tracie Johnson

Aileen Pratt

Aileen Pratt

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Gloria Eulich Martindale

It was touching to see Joel on stage for his final appearance as CEO of Baylor Scott and White.

Another change in the luncheon’s program was the usual speech from the podium was replaced by a conversation between Rita and Robin. It was as if it was a chat in a living room as the two settled back in white easy chairs. It was the first time that Rita had discussed her having breast cancer in front of group, but her hopes was that one person might get a second opinion and save their life after hearing her story. 

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Ten years earlier, Rita’s doctor told her that she was at high risk for having cancer, but not to worry. Still she went to have yearly mammograms and MRIs. All was fine until one in 2015. She had a needle biopsy with no resounding conclusions. Still Rita wasn’t satisfied and had two lumpectomies to remove tissues. Still there was no proof of cancer. Then she stressed that all should listen, “I just had a gut feeling that that just didn’t feel right.” A breast cancer survivor friend suggested her getting a second opinion and recommended Dr. Ira Bleiweiss.  It just so happened that she was doing a play in NYC and flying home on the weekends for her surgeries. One New York surgeon asked why she was having all these lumpectomies… “Why aren’t you getting a second opinion? The guy we use is Dr. Ira Bleiweiss.” Tissue samples were sent to Ira and after other testing, the results proved that Rita was likely going to have breast cancer. The decision was made to have bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson

Robin asked, “Do you remember that ‘Ah, shoot!’ moment?” To which Rita broke up the seriousness of the situation by saying, “It was really more like ‘Ah, shit!’” It worked. The room was filled with laughter because everyone of the cancer survivors/patients understood Rita’s reaction.

A self-professed doer, Rita added the surgery to her “Must-Do-List.” But four months later when everything was done, it really hit her what she had been through.

Following the surgery, she returned to the play four weeks later and now admits that it was a bit ambitious.

Other highlights of their conversation included:

  • “I love anything that makes me feel happy. I look for project that make people smile.”
  • Life on the road with her band — “I was touring with the band Chicago and the bus broke down right around the Donner Pass. It was about two in the morning. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere.” But they made it to Reno for the performance. Still the bus needed to be replaced and it was in the middle of touring season when availability of buses is limited. They ended giving me Merle Haggard’s bus. He had bought this bus right before he passed away, which I thought was an amazing thing. He was thinking, ‘I’m just gonna keep on going.’ He had a safe in the box. I didn’t have the combo, so I don’t know what was in the safe.”
  • Her parents — “My mom [who died at 93] was a character. She was Greek. My dad, who died when he was 89. They were married 59 years. My mom always said things to me like, ‘You have to be your own best friend;’ ‘I like my own company;’ ‘You know in the beginning when you meet somebody and they say opposites attract? Later it’s opposites attack.’”
  • Her mother’s Alzheimer’s — “It’s (Alzheimer’s) really also a hideous disease. The last full conversation I had with her was really amazing because I went over to her house and I said, ‘Hi, mom, how are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I’m good.’ I asked if she knew who I was. And she said, ‘My daughter.’ I said, ‘That’s right. Which daughter?’ And she couldn’t answer that. So I said, ‘It’s me, Mom. It’s Rita.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘You’re too good looking to be Rita.’ I took it as a compliment.”
  • Her dad — “He escaped from Bulgaria and worked on a freighter ship to the Philadelphia, where he jumped ship. He worked as a bartender all his life and was supporting his family. His name was Hassan Halilov Ibrahimoff but he became Allan Wilson. My Dad’s name was difficult to spell or pronounce, so when he became a naturalized citizen, the judge said, ‘Do you want to change your name to something a little easier?’ He said, ‘Yeah, to Wilson,’ because that was the name of the street we lived on.’
  • Her birth name — “My original name was Margarita Ibrahimoff.” Robin told her that Margarita has special meaning here in Texas.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding — Having attended lots of plays in New York, she felt she had given “short shrift” to productions on the West Coast and decided to see one in LA. “I opened the LA Times and there was a little square for an ad and it was maybe a two-inch square saying Nia Vardalos in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ I thought that title makes me laugh. I’m going to see this. What’s the worst that can happen? I took my mom, my sister and my nieces and I thought, ‘The worst that can happen is we’ll have a bad show, but a great dinner somewhere.’ We went to see the show and it was great.” She told Nia that she thought it would make a great movie. Month or years later, Nia told Rita that they only had enough money to put an ad in the paper one day, one time and that was the day I saw the title.”
  • Her mom’s reaction to the movie — Imitating her mom, Rita said, ‘They are nothing like us!” Rita laughed saying, “Oh, no, they’re nothing like us. My sister lives next to my mom.
  • Meeting Tom Hanks — They met on the show “Bosom Buddies.” About two years later, they were cast in a movie called “Volunteers.” About a year afterward they started dating.
  • Rita Wilson

    Rita Wilson

    “Sleepless in Seattle” — The “That’s A Chick’s Movie” scene where the characters talk about “An Affair To Remember” was largely improvised. After Rita had done her scene recalling the emotional ending of the movie, Tom Hanks and Victor Garber improvised about “The Dirty Dozen.”

  • Her walk-up song — “Grateful”
  • Drug of choice — It used to be chocolate, but “I’ve been trying to give up sugar lately since Tom has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I also cut down on alcohol because my oncologist recommended five glasses or less of any kind of alcohol per week. He did say, ‘You can have it all in one day.’”
  • Bucket list — Not to have a definitive schedule and be more spontaneous.
  • Unknown — “I speak French and a little bit of Greek. I do ski. Don’t come with me if you want to go slow. I water color just for fun. I took lessons for five years and I learned that you can’t get worse at something, if you do it consistently.”
  • Message for those who are facing cancer — “For people who are not there yet, trust your instinct about anything and trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion from your doctor or a second opinion on your pathology. For those who are going through treatment or about to go through treatment, I know it feels like it’s never going to be anything other than what you’re doing and what that life is. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re going to be able to see that light sooner than you think. Keep the faith and do things that make you happy while you’re going through it.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon

Practically everyone added Rita Wilson to their Christmas card list after attending the 17th Annual Baylor Health Care System Foundation‘s Celebrating Women Luncheon on Thursday, October 20, at the Hilton Anatole.

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Rita Wilson and Robin Robinson

Instead of giving a talk from the podium, she simply had a chat with Foundation President Robin Robinson. At times it felt like the Chantilly Ballroom was a living room with 1,200 buds sitting around.

Aileen Pratt

Aileen Pratt

Gloria Eulich Martindale

Gloria Eulich Martindale

While the post is being completed, check out the faces on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. But if you’re looking for Celebrating Women First Lady Lindalyn Adams, you’re gonna come up short. She was home under the weather and had to miss this one. And in turn Lindalyn was missed.

TACA And Business Council For The Arts Celebrated The Art Loving Greats

Thursday, October 13, must have been designated somewhere as Art News Day. In one part of town, the TACA crowd shifted their GPS from Jennifer and John Eagle’s nest for the traditional TACA Silver Cup Announcement reception to Marguerite Hoffman’s home. There it was announced that the 2017 Silver Cup Award would be presented to Nancy Nasher and Walter Elcock on Tuesday, March 7, at the Hilton Anatole.

Over at the Mayfair in the Sky Club, the Business Council for the Art held a thank you for sponsors and recipients of the Obelisk Awards.

Ah, shoot! What a loss that the two events celebrating the art loving supporter couldn’t have been held just 24 hours apart.

Kevin Hurst, Ryan and Niki Anthony and Jeff Byron

Kevin Hurst, Ryan and Niki Anthony and Jeff Byron

Snapshots: Gunnar Rawlings told Neiman Marcus Downtown GM/VP Jeff Byron that his fiancée Gaby Gutierrez had purchased her wedding dress at the NM flagship… Obelisk Co-Chair Kevin Hurst reported the death of his beloved 12-year-old pup Skylar. Luckily, the household is not without a pooch with Ms. Hayden still in residence…Obelisk Award Luncheon keynote speaker Ryan Anthony and his wife Niki Ryan stopped by, but had to leave before the presentation by Board of Directors Chair Larry Glasgow, Kevin and Luncheon Co-Chair/Tolleson Managing Director Dotti Reeder…Others in the crowd included Patricia Meadows with Mark Roglan, Alfredo Duarte, Laura Einspanier, KERA President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff and her husband David Alhadeff, Big Thought’s Gigi Antoni and Business Council for The Arts CEO Katherine Wagner.

Laura Einspanier and Gunnar Rawlings

Laura Einspanier and Gunnar Rawlings

Dotti Reeder

Dotti Reeder

Katherine Wagner and Alfredo Duarte

Katherine Wagner and Alfredo Duarte

Mary Anne Alhadeff

Mary Anne Alhadeff

There are a couple of changes in this year’s presentation. Instead of taking place at the Fairmont, the event will take place on Monday, November 7, at Belo Mansion and Pavilion and tickets are moving briskly. Also, glass artisan Jim Bowman had designed the award that was more of an obelisk than last year’s model that was a transparent purple, kidney-shaped bowl.

This year’s honorees include:

Mark Roglan and Patricia Meadows

Mark Roglan and Patricia Meadows

  • Cash America nominated by Junior Players
  • Dallas Film Society nominated by ABCO Inc.
  • Darrell Rodenbaugh nominated by Plano Children’s Theatre and North Texas Performing Arts
  • Mark Roglan nominated by Patricia Meadows
  • Taxco Food Produce nominated by The Mexico Institute
  • The law offices of Eric Cedillo nominated by Cara Mia Theater
  • UMB Bank nominated by The Dallas Opera
  • Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms nominated by Allen Arts Alliance
  • Zenetta Drew nominated by Leadership Women

Sold-Out Alert!: 28th Annual Obelisk Awards Luncheon

Those favorite words have been sent again — Sold Out! Business Council for the Arts28th Annual Obelisk Awards Luncheon Co-Chairs Kevin Hurst and Dotti Reeder report that the fundraiser on Monday, November 7, at the Belo Mansion is at total capacity.

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Dotti Reeder (File photo)

Dotti Reeder (File photo)

Ryan Anthony (File photo)

Ryan Anthony (File photo)

But come on. A very nice check and a pretty please might just open a seat or two.

In addition to recognizing a load of great supporters of the arts, the event will include a talk by Dallas Symphony Orchestra principal trumpet Ryan Anthony. Perhaps Ryan will bring along his horn for a mini-performance.

24th Annual Cabaret Gala To Take Place In “Refreshed” Venetian Room On Texas-OU Saturday With Songbird Maxine Linehan

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

You’ve got to hand it to the Dallas Children’s Theater team. Over the past 24 years, their Cabaret Gala has collided with Cattle Baron’s on the same night. But this year the stars were literally in alignment for folks to attend both totally different fundraisers. Unlike the boot-wearing guests at Cattle Barons at Gilley’s, the Cabaret folks don their nicest cocktail attire for an intimate evening in The Fairmont’s Venetian Room, which has gone through some major “refreshing.”

 Maxine Linehan*

Maxine Linehan*

But the date this year may still surprise locals. It’s October 8th. Yup, that’s the Saturday of Texas-OU. While it may seem like a busy weekend to be holding a fundraiser, it makes perfect sense. By Saturday night, most of the Longhorns and Sooners have packed their bags and headed home, or they’re too pooped out to party anymore.

Dallas Children’s Theater’s Artie Olaisen and Event Co-Chair Marisa Huckin (this is her fourth one to chair) and Sharon Niebuhr have arranged for Irish transplant Maxine Linehan to be on the Venetian stage. Sure, she’s been described as “versatile, multi-talented and fiercely talented” and performed at NY’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center, 54 Below, The Metropolitan Room and Birdland. But Maxine’s also smart, having graduated from “the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and also just happens to be a Barrister,” having studied at The Inns of Court School of Law in London.

Still another highlight will be the honorary chairs — “steadfast supporters” Jennifer and Peter Altabef and their “son Will, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT.”

In keeping with the annual raffle, Raffle Chair Kerrie Forbes has five trips lined up for such places as Cancun, Costa Rica, New York City, Telluride and St. Martin.

Since tickets are limited and won’t be sold at the door, hop to it now for an evening of champagne, dessert and delightful tunes.

* Photo provided by the Dallas 
Children's Theater

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld Wasn’t The Only Entertainment Legend In The House For CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember”

It seemed like there were a lot of last minute arrivals at the Winspear on Saturday, September 10. And unlike the usual opera lovers and Broadway aficionados, this crowd was a more comfortably dressed type in jeans, sneakers and adorable sundresses. But it was CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember” with a double dose of comedian Jerry Seinfeld on stage. Yes, the first show had been a sell-out before the starting gun was even triggered. But somehow Co-Chairs Cindy and Scott Collier, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Kara and Ross Miller and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Brandon Hawkins managed to get a second show at 9 p.m. and it was a done deal immediately, too!

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchsteon-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

While the Winspear looked as filled as the State Fair’s Midway with photo booths, promos for the Del Frisco’s 5K Walk and Run and lines for the beverage bars, there were two behind-the-scenes activities underway.

One was in Hamon Hall, where in years past there had been a very seated dinner for patrons. Instead it was a filled-to-bulging-capacity cocktail party with curtained off arrangements of couches, open bars and music. It was here that the patrons learned that an incredible $1.3M had been earned so far by the event. Still they were hoping to top that marker by the end of the evening.

The other event was far more limited to the very top supporters. To gain access was harder than getting into a speakeasy next door to the temperance league. Once you passed muster, you were led down a long hallway leading to the bowels of the Winspear. Behind glass doors was a receiving room. Initially, there were just a handful of staffers and a man in a suit and tie. He was small in stature, but unbeknownst to others he was a giant in the entertainment industry. But more about him later.

As 100 people lined up on the other side of the glass door, Seinfeld entered the room. In a beautifully tailored suit and tie he introduced himself to the photographers and discussed the plans. It was obvious that he was an old hand at meet-and-greets and immediately agreed to the POA and set up. The little man stood on the sidelines. This was definitely not his first rodeo at grip-and-grinning, nor working with Seinfeld. But still he took everything in, monitoring the situation like a mother hawk watching her chick.

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Then the doors opened and the crowd including Brenda and CitySquare’s Larry James and Farrai and Steve Smith queued up for a howdy-and-handshake with Seinfeld. The comedian was smooth and gracious. He directed a couple of dozen arrangements, positioning the female guest in the middle between him and her escort. Nick Sowell admitted that he was more than nervous in meeting Seinfeld. But it happened so fast that the jitters didn’t have time to cause a problem.

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

When a gaggle of kids arrived for a group shot, he shook each one’s hand. He advised an adorable blonde tyke to provide a firmer handshake. When an extra photo was taken of the kids, the little man urged the photographers to move on.

When the final photo was taken, Seinfeld bid farewell and disappeared through a door. No muss, no fuss.

Sunie Solomon

Sunie Solomon

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Out in the lobby as notice was alerting the full house to move into the hall, guests like Sunie and Steve Solomon, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Jane Rozelle with her bud Emilie Gioia, and Jane’s folks Kathleen and Bob Rozelle arrived.

As Seinfeld took the stage for the first show of the night, raising the roof with laughter, the behind-the-scenes story was starting to sink in. The diminutive gent was far more than a friend accompanying the legendary comedian. He was George Shapiro, whose life and input in the entertainment industry was the type that others just imagine or dream of experiencing.

George Shapiro*

George Shapiro*

Sure, his uncle is Carl Reiner and his cousin is Rob Reiner, but George was his own man. He was the wizard behind the showbiz curtain.

After graduating from the New York University, he and his childhood best friend Howard West got jobs in the William Morris mailroom. As George told Deadline Hollywood,“We were best friends and partners since we were 8. Old people don’t usually remember things so well, but I still have a vivid memory of him sitting alone in the schoolyard on his first day at P.S. 80 in the Bronx. I asked him to play basketball, and we just stayed as friends. We went to the movies every Saturday, we read comic books together and we chipped in to buy one car, a 1940 Olds called the Cream Puff. It needed a lot of work — that’s why we had to work so hard as busboys and waiters, always together.”

Soon George worked his way up to being an agent. One of his early assignments was to accompany a young singer to the Ed Sullivan Show. The singer was Elvis Presley.

Eventually he and Howard headed to Los Angeles and broke off on their own forming Shapiro/West Productions resulting in Emmys, Peabodys and Golden Globes.

As Jerry Oppenheimer said, “It was in Hollywood that Shapiro made a name for himself, ‘handling deals for Steve Allen; introducing new talent like Bill (Jose Jiminez) Dana, overseeing the creation of ‘That Girl,’ the long-running Marlo Thomas sitcom and discovering a range of talent from Jim Nabors to Andy Kaufman.”

It was in 1980 that George and Howard took in a show at The Comedy Store featuring a young comedian. The two were immediately struck by the youngster’s talent. Yup, you guessed it. The comedian was Jerry Seinfeld. The trio hit it off. So much so, they ended up becoming the executive producers of “The Jerry Seinfeld Show.”

After nine years on air and still growing in popularity, the network approached them with a deal that would result in $5M per episode for 22 episodes. Despite the mindboggling offer, Seinfeld wanted out. According to George, the trio went for a walk in Central Park and Jerry explained, “You know, as a standup comedian, you know, you feel you’re getting a standing ovation. And that’s the time to leave. You don’t want to stay on stage too long. You don’t want to stay on like another fifteen minutes so they say ‘Oh he was good but he was on a little long.’ My deepest gut, you know, is to leave now. Despite the offer and everything else.”

The final show aired on May 14, 1998, with an estimated 76.3M viewers (58% of all viewers that night) making it the fourth most watched regular series finale in U.S. TV history.

That was 18 years ago. But on this night the friendship and loyalty between Jerry and George was still as strong as ever with the 62-year-old comedian dazzling the audience and the 80-something George standing watchfully on the sidelines. The only thing missing was Howard, who had died this past December.

Just sometimes the action behind the curtains is as entertaining as the one onstage.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

From The Pop-Up Stands To The Mega-Events, North Texas Giving Day Is Raising Awareness and Millions For Area Nonprofits

By 3 p.m. today the North Texas Giving Day tote board was busting with more than $18.5 M and over 74,000 gifts. Throughout the region all types of activities are also busting loose thanks to Communities Foundation of Texas!

Celia Weitzel and Lindsay Moreau

Celia Weitzel and Lindsay Moreau

Over at Highland Park Village NTGD flags were waving and at Starbucks, Just Say Yes!’s Celia Weitzel and Lindsay Moreau were womaning a table for coffee-lovers to not only learn about their organization, which helps area students, but to, hopefully, get some donations.

As Celia put it, “We’re appreciative of every donation we can raise to help North Texas students.”

Ashley Wilson, Kevin Hurst and Ros Dawson

Ashley Wilson, Kevin Hurst and Ros Dawson

On the other hand over at NorthPark Center, Nancy Nasher and her team were hosting various nonprofits showing their stuff to all types of donors, beneficiaries and shoppers like Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Ros Dawson, Neiman Marcus’ Kevin Hurst, Business Council for the Arts’ Ashley Wilson, Girls Scouts of Northeast Texas’ Linda Kordek-Milton and Amanda Duquette, SPCA’s Victoria Albrecht and Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center’s Ann Slate Gaspari.

Billie the snake

Billie the snake

The showboaters of the day were, of course, the organizations with critters. From the Dallas Zoo’s Billie the snake fascinating Alcuin School students, Equest’s mini-ambassador posing for photos with folks to Chihuahua Rescue and Transport’s slimmed-down Ariel (she’s down to 12 pounds from 25 when she was in an Arlington ditch in 2013) accepting a Theodore gift card at the noontime drawing, the animals scored in popularity.

Diana Hightower, Ariel, Nancy Nasher and Jennifer Clifford

Diana Hightower, Ariel, Nancy Nasher and Jennifer Clifford

But the humans held their own with all types of entertainment. Whether it was Shakespeare Dallas or the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, NorthPark’s North Court was filled with music, drama and singing.

Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico

Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico

For a small group of donors, Communities Foundation of Texas board members and NTGD best buds, a private luncheon was held at Theodore’s patio. And despite it being one of the hottest days weather-wise and fundraising-wise, the outdoor luncheoners like Jane Pierce, Becky Bright, Lydia Novakov, Karen Shuford and Lydia Novakov were all smiles and cool.

Frank and Helen Risch

Frank and Helen Risch

CFT Board Chair Frank Risch was checking the leaderboard updates on his smartphone and very pleased with the results. He easily reeled off all of the past successes and had hopes of once again breaking another record with more than 2,500 nonprofits participating.

When asked about the search for CFT’s new executive director, Frank said the search was going very smoothly but they’re continuing to vet applicants.

JUST IN: The 2016 Obelisk Awardees Announced

The 2016 Obelisk Awards*

The 2016 Obelisk Awards*

The Business Council for the Arts just released the lineup for The 2016 Obelisk Awards that will be presented on Monday, November 7, at Belo Mansion. As part of the awards program, a new category has been added the list — Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader.

  • Arts Partnership Award (Large) — Fossil Inc., nominated by Big Thought
  • Arts Partnership Award (Medium) — Taxco Food Produce, nominated by The Mexico Institute
  • Arts Partnership Award (Small) — Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms, nominated by Allen Art Alliance
  • New Initiatives Award (Large) — Cash America, nominated by Junior Players
  • New Initiatives Award Medium) — UMB Bank, nominated by The Dallas Opera
  • New Initiatives Award (Small) — The Law Offices of Eric Cedillo, nominated by Cara Mia Theater
  • Distinguished Nonprofit Arts Organization — Dallas Film Society, nominated by ABCO Inc.
  • Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus Award — Zenetta Drew, nominated by Leadership Women
  • Business Champion for the Arts — Darrell Rodenbaugh, nominated by Plano Children’s Theatre and North Texas Performing Arts
  • Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader — Mark Roglán, nominated by Patricia Meadows

According to 2016 Obelisk Awards Luncheon Co-Chair Dotti Reeder, ““Now in its 28th year, The Obelisk Awards reflect a pantheon of businesses large and small that have made this region one of the nation’s most creatively vibrant.”

Dotti Reeder (File photo)

Dotti Reeder (File photo)

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Another highlight of the luncheon will be the keynote speaker — Dallas Symphony Orchestra lead trumpet Ryan Anthony. Obelisk Awards Luncheon Co-Chair Kevin Hurst summed up the choice of speaker by saying, “At the very essence of BCA’s mission is the intersection of business and arts. I think Ryan’s story how he leveraged his professional passion with his personal passion will be most compelling.”

Follow the jump for a detailed description of the awardees. [Read more…]

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas Children’s Theater’s “The Who? Party”

According to Dallas Children’s Theater’s The Who? Party Co-Chair Karen Travis,

Karen Travis*

Karen Travis*

“Autumn is, hopefully, just around the corner and I’m brimming over with excitement not only for cool, crisp temperatures, but also for an annual event that has a special place in my heart, one that really makes a difference for children, Dallas Children’s Theater’s annual Family Party. As president-elect of this incredible organization, I’m honored to be chairing the party with Stephanie Nelson, fellow board member. It is a fitting closure for me as I embark upon a new chapter of service – board president beginning in January 2017.

“DCT’s ’16 – ’17 season starts with a splash, ‘Seussical, The Musical,’ the timeless favorite which has been absent from Dallas theaters with a cast of equity actors for quite a while. On Saturday, September 17, ‘The Who? Party’ guests, following a matinee of the show, will thrill to a fun-ladened afternoon featuring an on stage, interactive song and dance session led by a professional actor; a Seussical chairs contest with prizes for the most agile, and backstage access to learn about the secret sauce that goes into creating the colorful set designs and costumes. These activities will be followed by a scrumptious, Seussical-themed banquet, topped off with a farewell dance party in our spacious lobby.

“Funds raised via the event will ensure the legacy of an essential DCT program, The Student Matinee Performance Series. Because of this important initiative, over 40,000 children annually, primarily from Title 1 schools (free and reduced lunch eligible), are provided the opportunity to attend performances at a very reduced cost — children that otherwise would not be able to come to the theater to see the magic of the live performance.

“In my mind, there is nothing quite as fulfilling as seeing wide-eyed youngsters, ecstatic with anticipation, skip through hallways festooned with scores of brightly colored Truffula trees, hundreds of Hortonian clovers, and bouquets of Mayzie approved feathers. After seeing literature come to life on our stage, students always depart with a rewarding glow.  I’m honored that Dallas Children’s Theater has embraced my penchant for decorations of this sort, and they even let me put my darling husband, Ken Travis, to work for the cause as well. 🙂

Ken and Karen Travis*

Ken and Karen Travis*

“Everyone at Dallas Children’s Theater truly believes in the words of the sweet sage, Horton… ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small.’ These words perfectly reflect our mission — all children truly do deserve to experience the magic of live theater!

“While after three years, I’m proud to say the party is always sold out, right now, sponsorships and tickets are still available for this wonderful and worthwhile event. So, anyone interested should not wait another minute to sign up.  To learn more, go to our Who? Party web page or call DCT at 214-978-0110. Your presence and your contributions help us keep feeding the minds and souls of young people with boundless creativity.”

* Photos provided by Karen Travis

MySweetCharity Opportunity: WaterTower Theatre’s Community Cast Party

According to WaterTower Theatre’s Community Cast Party Co-Chair Stan Graner,

“The ‘Community Cast Party’ at WaterTower Theatre in Addison, scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2016 (7 to 11 PM), is our annual ‘friend’-raiser, now in its third big year. Designed to bring the theater community and the audience members who love them to the same party, all proceeds go to WaterTower Theatre’s artistic and education programs.

“Cuisine from many fine local restaurants is highlighted, with serving areas sprinkled liberally throughout our lobby areas. Specialty entertainment is featured in our Studio Theater, redesigned to become a black box lounge area for the evening. Then on our Main Stage, headliner Denise Lee, local singer/actress/entertainer extraordinaire, will dazzle us with her highly acclaimed cabaret show. She may even have a few of her friends performing as well!

WaterTower Theatre's "Community Cast Party"*

WaterTower Theatre’s “Community Cast Party”*

“Restaurants featured in the past include Table 13, The Egg and I Restaurant, Antonio Ristorante, Dough Bro’s Italian Kitchen and Bar, Polka Dot Bakery, Z Taverna, Whole Foods Addison, and many more. Goody Goody Liquor has also been a proud sponsor. We’re putting together a terrific group again for this year’s party, and it’s all included in your ticket price!

“Besides headliner Denise, specialty entertainment will include musical performers Monique Abry, Whitney Coulter, Olivia De Guzman Emile, Alex Heika, Kyle Montgomery and Mark Mullino. Tiffany Riley, Dick Monday and other members of the clowning community will put on a clown cabaret performance, and the improv comedy group The Victims will bring the house down with their infectious humor.

“We’ll end the evening with our famous raffle. Prizes this year include ‘A Trip To New Orleans’ (with airfare) for two; ‘A Night On The Town In Addison’ for four which begins with dinner at Table 13 and ends with a fabulous show at WaterTower Theatre; and a ‘Luxury Staycation At The Joule Hotel’ for two with dinner, brunch, and spa included. Every raffle ticket has a coupon on the back for $15 off dinner at Kenny’s Italian Grill in Addison, a value larger than the cost of the raffle ticket itself!

“Tickets for ‘Community Cast Party’ are $50 each, which includes all food and of course some drink tickets (additional drink tickets may be purchased separately at the event). Raffle tickets for the above great prizes are $10 each, or 3 for $25. All tickets can be purchased by calling the WaterTower Theatre box office at 972.450.6232. ‘Community Cast Party’ will be held at WaterTower Theatre, located at 15650 Addison Road in Addison TX, on September 10 from 7 to 11 PM. Our CCP Co-Chairs Maureen Anderson, Corky Pledger, Debbie Staggs and I say, ‘See you there!’”

* Photo provided by WaterTower Theatre

JUST IN: Business Council For The Arts’ Obelisk Awards Luncheon Plans Announced With Ryan Anthony As Keynote Speaker

Since arriving in North Texas, Neiman Marcus Director of Charitable Giving and Association Volunteerism Kevin Hurst has rolled up his shirt sleeves and loosened his bow tie to get involved with the local nonprofit community. Yes, just a few days ago, he eloquently wrote about the business sector’s behind-the-scenes networking to support nonprofit projects. But he’s more than an articulate writer, a NM employee and a more-than-should-be-allowed fun dinner partner.

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Dotti Reeder*

Dotti Reeder*

Last year he chaired the Business Council for the ArtsObelisk Awards and Luncheon. He had so much fun taking on the very successful fundraiser, he agreed to co-chair this year’s Obelisk along with Tolleson Wealth Management’s Dotti Reeder.

Already the Hurst-Reeder team reports that the event will take place at the Belo Mansion on Monday, November 7 (aka Election Day eve) with North Texas Public Broadcasting President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff returning as emcee.

Mary Anne Alhadeff**

Mary Anne Alhadeff**

Ryan Anthony**

Ryan Anthony**

While the honorees will be selected in August, the keynote speaker has already been locked down. It will be Dallas Symphony Orchestra Principle trumpet Ryan Anthony.

Yup, it’s the same Ryan Anthony, who has been the driving force of Cancer Blows and has beaten the heck out of multiple myeloma. But he also appreciates the support of the business community in both his professional and personal lives.

According to Ryan, “I am grateful to the businesses that recognize and support the importance of arts in our community. They are the reason the symphony, the museums and the entire Arts District are able to exist and make Dallas such a wonderful place to live and work.”

It is that point of view that impressed Kevin, who said, “What I found to be most intriguing, is the correlation between Ryan’s professional arts passion and how he has leveraged it to become his personal passion…which to me embodies the very essence of the BCA mission.”

Stay tuned (no pun intended). As soon as Dotti and Kevin reveal the honorees, we’ll let you know. Until then, check out sponsorship and ticket opportunities.

* Photo credit: Jan Osborn 
** Photo provided by Business Council For The Arts

Aayyy! Fonzie Will Be The Guest Speaker At Each Moment Matters

When Henry Winkler was in Dallas back in 2010 at St. Philip’s School and Community Center, the Golden Globe Winner/author/philanthropist in the suit addressed the gym filled with students, their parents and others adults. Before he talked to the crowd, the kids were preparing to hear a grownup talk about the importance of reading and education. On the other hand, the adults couldn’t help but think two words — The Fonz.

Henry Winkler with St. Philip's School students (File photo)

Henry Winkler with St. Philip’s School students (File photo)

Henry met the expectations of both groups. He talked with the kids and not at them, as Fonzie would have. He still had the “Happy Days” cool.

But his involvement in making people aware of community involvement didn’t stop there. Few realized that he had been a longtime mentor for Academy Award-winning Marlee Matlin. Why, following a cruel comment by Rex Reed regarding her winning the Oscar, she “fled to Winkler’s home in Los Angeles for solace. An offer to spend the weekend turned into two years while she rebuilt her career.” It was at Winkler’s house that Matlin’s wedding took place 20 years ago.. So, it was no stretch of the imagination that Marlee would be a guest speaker at St. Phillip’s a couple of years later.

Now, Each Moment Matters Luncheon Co-Chairs Barbara Hunt Crow and Lucy Johnson are tapping Henry’s talents by having him be the guest speaker for the Faith Presbyterian Hospice fundraiser on Friday, October 28, at the Hilton Anatole.

In case you’re lucky enough to get a ticket and meet Henry at the luncheon, how about some Winkler trivia? Did you know he:

  • is the cousin of “Law and Order” actor Richard Belzer.
  • is the godfather of Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron “Richie Cunningham” Howard.
  • is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
  • has written more than 18 books.
  • had a rough time in school due to undiagnosed dyslexia.
  • loves fly fishing.
  • will turn 71 two days after appearing at Each Moment Matters. You might want to wish him an early happy birthday.

Dianne And Mark LaRoe Chair First TACA Custom Auction Gala Kick-Off Party With Cool Jazz, Patron Tequila And Big Swan

Dianne and Mark Laroe

Dianne and Mark Laroe

It was a first for TACA. The performing arts organization held a kick-off party for its annual TACA Custom Auction Gala on Thursday, June 2. The location for the KO, attended by about 60 guests, was 2016 Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Dianne and Mark Laroe’s ultra-cool Bluffview home.

With the Eric Willis Trio performing equally cool music, Dianne recalled that when she and Mark hardly had two coins to rub together, they started collecting art. There was only one caveat. If one of the twosome wasn’t thrilled about a piece, it was a deal killer.

Eric Willis

Eric Willis

One piece that was a standout was the huge white inflatable swan floating in the pool. No, it wasn’t one of the Laroes’ pieces of art. It was a gift from the Laroes’ daughter-in-law. Dianne loved it so much, she asked for a black swan for her birthday.

Another eye catcher grabbing attention was the display of Patron in the dining room. Patron State Manager Justin Erickson explained that tequila was expanding its use by being included in Starlight Sangria and Silver Sling. In other words, tequila is no longer just for margaritas and shot glasses. And Patron is going to make its presence known at TACA’s black tie event at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek on Friday, September 23. Makes sense since Patron Spirits Company and Mark’s Deutsche Bank Wealth Management will be the presenting sponsors.

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

Other news revealed that Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing will be the honorary co-chairs and Rachel Michell will be auction chair.

Hal and Diane Brierley (File photo)

Hal and Diane Brierley (File photo)

Lee Cobb and Lucilo Pena (File photo)

Lee Cobb and Lucilo Pena (File photo)

The host committee will be made up Purvi and Bill Albers, Heather and Scott Alexander, Laura and Michael Bashour, Diane and Hal Brierley, Faye C. Briggs, Marsha Cameron and Michael Halloran, Nancy and Clint Carlson, Connie and Denny Carreker, Lee Cobb and Lucilo Peña, Garry Cox and Don McDermett, Barbara and Don Daseke, Barbara and Steven Durham, Gwen and Leldon Echols, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Nicholas Even, Cindy and Charles Feld, Carmaleta and Otis Felton, Tracy Fitz, Andrea Gates, Carol and Don Glendenning, Dawn and Tobin Grove, Gayle and Jim Halperin, Robert Hernandez, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Linda and Steve Ivy, Joe and Louise LaManna, Tara Lewis and John Swords, Holly and Tom Mayer, Lynn and Allan McBee, Rachel and John Michell, Geraldine “Tincy,” Miller, Deborah and Jim Nugent, Leah and Jim Pasant, Carrie and Anthony Scotti, Peggy and Carl Sewell Jr., Marlene and John Sughrue, Courtney and Ed Tauriac, Zannie and Glenn Voss, Karen and Jim Wiley, Donna Wilhelm and Katherine Wynne.

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Nick Even (File photo)

Nick Even (File photo)

Katherine Wynn (File photo)

Katherine Wynne (File photo)

 

Dallas Summer Musical High School Musical Theatre’s John Fredrickson And Kaiden Maines Scored Scholarships At National Competition

Just back from New York City are two very happy teenagers — Guyer High School’s John Fredrickson and Waxahachie High School’s Kaiden Maines. They represented the 5th Annual Dallas Summer Musical High School Musical Theatre Awards (DSM HSMTA) at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (aka the Jimmy™ Awards named after 94-year-old James M. Nederlander) on Monday, June 27.

This year’s national program included 62 students representing 31 regional programs. During the ten days leading up to the awards presentation, “The students auditioned before a panel of judges earlier in the week, singing two prepared songs and participating in a dance call. Based on the audition results, the students were split into two groups: The Medley Group and The Production Group, leading up to when all students performed together throughout the week and received the same amount of coaching. All nominees were eligible for the scholarships and awards.”

And with 5th Annual DSM HSMTA Chair John Clutts, inaugural Leah and Jerome Fullinwider Award recipient Tina Walsh, DSM HSMTA Manager Tracy Jordan, DSM Board VP Community Relations Nancy Natinsky and DSM VP Education Downie Mathis in the wings supporting them, John and Kaiden impressed the judging panel.

John F. was a finalist and received a $2,500 scholarship from the Barry and Fran Weissler Foundation, while Kaiden received a $2,500 Special Recognition Scholarship presented by Tams-Witmark Music Library Inc.

It was a first for the local program with a representative placing as a “Best Actor” finalist and both students receiving scholarships.

According to John, “The experience at the Jimmy Awards was unbelievable. It was such an honor and a privilege to represent the DSM High School Musical Theatre Awards and finish as one of the top four finalists in the nation. The whole experience was surreal as well as life changing. I cannot be more thankful to DSM for their sponsorship and all of those who supported me through this entire process. The past ten days have been the best time of my life and I will miss it all because it was truly wonderful. Hooha!”

Kaiden’s review was in sync with John’s, saying, “I had such an amazing time at the Jimmy Awards. I met so many talented people and was honored to be one of the six selected for a special recognition scholarship. I had so much fun making my Broadway debut on the Minskoff stage, and I can’t thank DSM enough for making this wonderful journey happen for me. I will miss it, but I’m looking forward to whatever is next!”