Lone Star Park Opened In the Winner’s Circle With “Racing For Sight”

Opening weekend at Lone Star Park, the ponies and the human were raring to go. The Retina Foundation of the Southwest was one of the first fundraisers out of the gate with its 14th annual Racing for Sight on Sunday, April 17.

Eagles guitar

As the general admission folks checked out the horses in the paddock or along the track, the RfS guests were happily ensconced high above in the glass-enclosed grandstand with food, food and more food. Besides lunching, guests checked out the silent and live auction items including a guitar signed by the Eagles.

Faye Briggs, Leesa Alhadef, Cindy Stager

Honorary chair Lisa Blue Baron and race co-chairs Leesa Alhadef and Cindy Stager arranged to have the races names after key sponsors (Faye C. Briggs Dash, Broughton Foundation Turf Dash, DFW Door & Hardware Mile, T. Boone Pickens Turf Classic, Mrs. Thomas L. Anderson Sprint, Lisa Blue Baron Route Classic, Nancy and Herbert Hunt Maiden Turf Mile, Sharif & Munir Luxury Custom Homes Run and Dr. and Mrs. Bill Snyder Turf Mile).

Ralph Gorman and Marsha Sonnenberg

While some guests were old hands at analyzing the racing forms, others like Faye Briggs fell back on the old standby, “I liked the name (of the horse.)” Alas, Faye’s strategy ended up in a minimal loss for the day. At another table, Ralph Gorman and his sister, Marsha Sonnenberg, were feverishly working the sheets and rarely looked up from their plotting.

Ah, but one of the day’s winners was Jack Jacobs, whose wallet was a lot fatter upon departure.

Herbert Hunt

Herbert Hunt in wrap-around sunglasses admitted that the horse expert in the family was his brother Bunker, who had one of the finest collections of race horses in the world.

According to Herbert, who was there to support the Retina Foundation along with wife Nancy and daughter Libby Allred, Bunker had “offered to let me in on it at the beginning, but I said I didn’t want to invest in anything that ate while I slept.”

Caroline Rose Hunt and Del Frnka

Another of member of the Hunt family supporting the sight-saving cause was Caroline Rose Hunt with a rose-wrapped cane in one hand and on the arm of  Del Frnka decked out in a king of spades shirt.

Billie Leigh Rippey

Speaking of lucky fashion, Billie Leigh Rippey brought along her “vintage” purse — the one with the horse-head clasp.

Horse-head clasp

Tis The Season For Crystal Charity Ball Theme Announced

Connie O'Neill and Tricia Besing

Start thinking Christmas. That is if the 2011 Crystal Charity Ball is in future plans. Ball Chair Connie O’Neill and her crew of

Suzanne McGee

merry ladies presented the plans at Suzanne and Patrick McGee‘s David Easton-designed home Wednesday. Too bad they could squeeze the ball into the McGee’s home. It’s one of those rarities that is fabulous to see and an envy to live in. In place of honor was a family favorite, a model of the Perot Museum, of course!

McGee grounds

With the doors facing the back grounds of the house open, it was a gorgeous setting for anything.

Natalie and Brian Bollinger

Back to the announcement. Sorry. Got carried away.

The announcement party was sponsored by Apollo Power & Light L.L.C.

Announcement dessert

After last year’s Japanese theme, the decision was made to return to a Yuletide feel with “Tis the season.” Just as the announcement was made, the pianist started playing “Tis the Season.” How appropriate! Then desserts were served with major snowflakes topping the chocolate concoctions.

The fun will be event designer Tom Addis‘s interpretation of “season.” But you’ll have to wait until Saturday, December 3.

Dallas Arts District Ticket And Information Center To Open At NorthPark In Just A Few Minutes

At 10:45 this morning the Dallas Arts District Ticket and Information Center will be opened at NorthPark Center with ribbon cutting. dignitaries (Dallas Arts District’s Veletta Lill, NorthPark’s Nancy Nasher, Cadillac’s Tom D’Angelo, etc.), special performances by Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and giveaways.

Presented by Cadillac, the Center will be located in the corridor between Barneys New York and Nordstrom and staffed by Arts District Ambassadors to provide information and tickets for performances and exhibitions by such organizations as Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Arts District Chorale, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas Film Society, The Dallas Opera, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Wind Symphony, Fine Arts Chamber Players, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, Metropolitan Winds, Nasher Sculpture Center, Orchestra of New Spain, Texas Ballet Theater, TITAS and Turtle Creek Chorale.

This project should be no surprise to anyone who has been in the area more than an hour. NorthPark has been supporting the Dallas arts community since it opened its doors.

Celebrity Waiters Served Up Shenanigans For Child Abuse Prevention Center

When it comes to eating out, service is half the experience. You remember those memorably great waiters as much as those that you wished you could have skewered with a knife. But, on the other hand, not everyone is cut out to be a waiter. It’s tough to wait hand and off on strangers hoping that the pay off of a tip will be worth the antics that the guests demand.

Celebrity waiter apron

That’s why the 17th Annual Celebrity Waiter Gala on April 16 at the Palomar probably resulted in many “celebs” grateful that they had day jobs and didn’t have to depend on tips.

Ann Hurley

In the prep meeting before dinner, it all seemed so simple according to gala chairs Ann and Joel Hurley, CAPC Exec Director Jessica Trudeau and event organizers. The celebrity waiters weren’t being thrown out there without lifesavers. Nope, there would be trained professionals to make sure that the guests didn’t starve. All the celebr-aiters had to do was entertain and do whatever to earn tips. . . big tips. Goal: $1,000 per waiter with the proceeds going to Child Abuse Prevention Center!

A couple of the veteran waiters knew how to work the tables. KXAS-NBC’s Kim Fischer was an old hand at waiting tables for a cause. Last fall she had rocked at a celebrity waiter luncheon performing “Baby Bump” with the gal waiters backing her up.

Kit and Kemp Sawers

Ah, but this one was going to be different. While the ladies drinking champagne at the Ritz had raised the

Wesley and Jeff Brady

roof, the couples (Kit and Kemp Sawers, Wesley and Jeff Brady, Honorary Chair Donna Lane and Walter Adams) were a little more proper and sedate. . . to a point.

As emcee/retired celebrity waiter Brendan Higgins watched from a safe distance, the waiters worked their magic to achieve their goals.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers

Model maven Rhonda Sargent Chambers had barely recovered from orchestrating the Children’s Cancer Fund fashion show the day before, then she was serving up wine and all types of goodies. That Rhonda looked like a sweet gal, but she was an old pro when it came to getting her tips. For instance, she saw no problem in holding  silverware hostage. And let’s face it — eating a beef tenderloin without utensils can be challenging.

Sonia Acavedo

Actress Sonia Acavedo had her table eating out of her hand without any muss or fuss. She played famous lines from movies. Well, maybe some of them weren’t so famous, but she had the entire table including Cartier store

Nicole Dabbert

manager Nicole Dabbert and attorney Walter Roper playing into her hands. That Walter really knew his stuff!

Singer Brittnee Lee from Rowlett performed “Walkin’ After Midnight” to the whole room courtesy of her table.

Sheryl Guth

Sheryl Guth in her tomato red evening gown, crown and sash reading “Jello Shot Queen” sashayed around the room with a tray of jello shots.

Robert Clover Brown

Robert Clover Brown found his niche in reciting prose from the “old bard” to the delight of guests.

Kim Fischer and Kris Clinton

But leave it to the guests, who got mischievous. From nowhere, someone hollered, “Egg race!” Kim Fischer and Kris Clinton looked at each other and knew they were designated competitors. Someone else suggested that it might be nice if one of the contestants was topless. Being the gentleman and pretty darn hunky, Kris accommodated the request returning to the ballroom with two eggs and sans shirt.

However, that’s where Kris’s chivalry stopped. No sooner had the “flag” dropped, then he picked up his egg and raced to the finish line leaving poor Kim to nose the entire length of the ballroom according to proper rules of egg racing.

Alas, not all the celebs made it. Tooth Fairy and Chef Keith “Buttons” Hicks had to cancel, but NFL veteran/All-Around-Good-Guy Jeff Yarbrough stepped in to save the day.

And honorary chair/Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki was a no show. But he had a good excuse. Something about a play off at American Airlines Center.

Sold Out Alert: Tonight’s LaunchAbility Concert With Willie Nelson

If you had hoped to buy tickets for tonight’s Willie Nelson concert at the Meyerson benefiting LaunchAbility, too late! It’s a sell out.

But groveling still has its possibilities.

Jennifer Grant, Barry Corbin, Malcolm McDowell, David Hyde Pierce, William Fichtner Headline USA Film Festival

Some folks prefer two-seat sports cars. Other demand mammoth SUV’s. So it is with film festivals. Earlier in the month the Dallas International Film Festival’s staff swamped the area with its 10-day film tsunami of 170 films. Now, the USA Film Festival‘s team is ramping up for its five-day 41st Annual Spring Festival at the Angelika film Center – Dallas starting Wednesday.

Barry Corbin

In addition to the 29 films on the schedule, tributes will take place honoring Barry Corbin (Friday), Malcolm McDowell (Friday) and William Fichtner (Saturday).

Another plus is the Wednesday night’s on-stage conversation with Jennifer Grant, daughter of the late Cary Grant.

In addition to Jennifer, David Hyde Pierce of “Frasier” fame will be attending the showing of “The Perfect Host.” Don’t think this is going to be another Niles portrayal. Think more “Deathtrap.”

Tickets are just $10 per film, but don’t wait to buy your tickets at the door. Chances are the very event you want will be sold out . . . especially for the tributes and VIP-attended events.

DIFFA Was “Dramatically DIFFA-rent” This Year

Walkway to Trinity Hall

Like a perfect North Texas storm front when a Rocky Mountain norther collides with a Gulf Coast backlash, two totally different groups fought for parking rights at the Hilton Anatole on Saturday, April 15. Taking over the Chantilly Ballroom and its primo valet drive was the Collin Country Children’s Advocacy Center. At the same time, DIFFA, which was holding “Dramatically Different,” its annual party in Trinity Hall, discovered valet parking was a modified self park. Guests found themselves entering a self-parking area and driving three-quarters way down the aisle, where the valets took over and parked the vehicle in a spot. Might have been just as easy to have self parked period. Had it been a rainy night, it would have been a long sprint to the hotel.

But DIFFA chairman of the board Mark Stafford must have an inside arrangement with Mother Nature. She was smiling on the DIFFA crew, though, so a little walk to the hotel and then on to Trinity Hall through the construction wasn’t a problemo at all.

DIFFA model

Once in the reception area it was the age old DIFFA question, which was more fascinating: the models with the designs up for bid, or the veterans of past DIFFA’s in their prized auction purchases?

Gary Karwacki's jacket

Gary Karwacki admitted that when he bought his Loretta Gonzales-designed jacket — with customized collar and a back of black-and-white photos of movie greats — back in 2008, he was just a bit tipsy. But he didn’t seem to have one regret.

Michael Stephens

That’s the get-out-of-jail card at DIFFA. If you purchase one of the designer pieces of clothing, you can opt to wear it instead of the traditional formal tuxedo attire. That is unless you’re Michael Stephens, who decided to showcase his calves in his kilt attire. “It’s fun to wear something couture and unique,” he said about the Scottish regalia that was designed by Tami Reed. But Tami doesn’t limit

Tami Reed

herself to natty skirts for gents. She proved that by her own self-designed gown.

But then there were the true tuxedo-wearing traditionalists like Billy Bob Harris, who was escorting DIFFA award-winner Holly Forsythe. She picked up the Community Hero award.

Once the doors opened to the grand hall, the 1,200 guests discovered the results of Steve Kemble‘s designs and Jan Strimple‘s and Brian Brothers‘ creativity. Think big slice of a great Super Bowl party. The team had divided the mammoth hall in half. So, unlike in years past, dinner was on one side and then the guests were moved to the other half for the ballroom. Here guests discovered dessert stations,  dazzling staging, VIP Salons designed by local designers, a VIP seating area and a dance floor with music by DJ Brandon Olds. The highlight, of course, was the fashion show incorporating the infamous newly designed jackets on the 150 models.

You know that Jan is a real trooper. Little did anyone suspect that the red-haired fashion show producer’s father-in-law had just died.

Well done, Jan, Brian, Steve, Mark and all those involved in a great night and a successful effort to raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS.

Savor The Symphony Made Beautiful Monday Saturday Night

Natasha Hallam and Carlen Long

Savor the Symphony chairs Carlen Long and Natasha Hallam were in perfect sync about meeting their goal Saturday night at the Adolphus. Yes, they could have had 300 or more at the lavish five-course, wine-paired dinner. But they wanted to keep it very, very special to reach their $100,000 mark and it was a very, very wise move.

Auction items

Not only was the black-tie event benefiting the Dallas Symphony Orchestra more or less a sell out two months before the invitations even dropped, guests never felt jostled around or unpampered by Adolphus staff. Of course, this situation

Jack Daniel's guitar

allowed more time to eyeball the silent auction items during the reception, like the bottles of wine and collectibles.

Oh, you were wondering about the menu that kept this group smiling. Here goes:

  • First course — Adolphus crab cake with Asian jam and lobster ginger sauce (2009 Williamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris)
  • Second Course — Tomato and mozzarella with micro basil and balsamic reduction (Maso Canalo Pinot Grigio, Italy)
  • Intermezzo — Kiwi or orange champagne sorbet
  • Entrée — Duo of peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin and herb crusted sea bass with creamy cous cous, chianti demi and chef’s selection of vegetables (2009 William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Dessert — Traditional crème brûlée with fresh berries and flourless chocolate cake with cherry port sauce (LaMarca Prosecco)

Treat of the night was the money raised to support the DSO and its community outreach programs.

Salvation Army Auxiliary Celebrates Escada’s New Look And “Friendly” Price Tags

Escada interior

Despite Tuesday night’s rain burst the debut of Escada‘s refreshed boutique in HP Village was a home run. While a drenched valet made sure the guests suffered nada a raindrop, the elegant interiors of the couture store were elegant and a perfect backdrop for some pretty stellar clothes.

Barbara Sypult

Checking things out were guests of the Salvation Army Auxiliary, who know their fashions. Barbara Sypult was just back from Mexico and in a bright green Escada jacket. . . that she bought at the annual Salvation Army sale a couple of years ago. Over browsing through the rods of outfits was Joyce Fox who admitted that she was rather taken back by the very pleasing-on-the-eye price tags.

Melinda Rathke and Patti Flowers

Escada store maven Melinda Rathke, sporting a new hairstyle from Frédéric Fekkai,  admitted that prices were very favorable to clientele in celebration of the re-opening. In addition, 10% of sales was being turned over to the Salvation Army.

Paul Buckter and Pam Busbee

Salvation Army luncheon chairs Pam Busbee and Patti Flowers were delighted that only was the sun coming out just as the Escada doors opened, but plans for the 20th annal Fashion Show & Luncheon on Monday, May 2, at Brook Hollow Golf Club were right on schedule.

Children’s Cancer Fund Fashion Show/Luncheon Was A Royal Delight

Photo Gallery Alert: Additional photos are available for viewing MySweetCharity’s “Photo Gallery”

The Children’s Cancer Fund Beyond the Rainbow fashion show/luncheon is always a wonderland of heroic children, celebrities from all walks of life and adulating adults. Before the official event even starts, the pre-event goings-on are worth the price of admission. Friday at the Hilton Anatole was no different except. .  . but more about that later.

In one room VIP’s lined up for visits and autographs with honorary chairs Roger Staubach and Daryl Johnston, who was subbing in for Troy Aikman. It seemed Troy, who has been in attendance for the past 12 years, had a commitment that precluded his being on hand. On the sidelines stood Marianne Staubach, who flawlessly handles her role at Mrs. Roger to a T.

Daryl Johnston, Fred Shapiro, Roger Staubach

Another person whom guests might not have recognized was Fred Shapiro, whose daughter Melinda is a veteran CCF survivor. Having organized the SBB Annual Golf Classic two year ago to benefit CCF, Fred was checking with Roger about his participation in the September 19th tournament.

Summer Simons having makeup applied

In the another room it was a totally different scene. Instead of adults being rather proper, a multitude of children, clowns, stylists and good sports were having a grand times. While the boys preferred to play with balloons and run around, the girls enjoyed the pampering of makeup artists and hair stylists. They had no idea that all these preparations would lead up to an event that would add to the $7 million CCF has raised since 1982 for cancer research in Dallas. But who would blame them with the Tooth Fairy, Chuck E. Cheez and Dallas Cowboys Rowdy hanging with them.

Kaitlin Cooper

But these weren’t just ordinary kiddos. Nope, these children were cancer survivors, who were the heroes of the day. As the time wound down for their walks on the catwalk, 7-year-old Kaitlin Cooper sat at the steps leading up to the runway in the Chantilly Ballroom. Having been diagnosed with cancer at the age of three, she was a real trooper in the world of healthcare. But modeling was another thing. This would be her first time for CCF’s event and she was trying to remember to throw a kiss to the audience — always a crowd pleaser according to reports.

Renee Cooper

Kaitlin’s mother, Rénee Cooper with her long brown hair had learned so much from her daughter’s journey through treatments. It was that experience that inspired Rénee to become part of 46 Momma’s in September. What is 46 Mommas? It’s 46 women across the country, who will shave their heads in an effort to create greater awareness and raise funds for children’s cancer research. How did they get the name? 46 children are diagnosed daily with leukemia cancer.

But then it was nearing show time as the houselights came up, the Anatole staff stood at attention and the Kings and Queen’s backdrop of a castle glowed in lights of green, blue, yellow and red. Within minutes the place was filled and Troy sent his apologies via a video.

Amy Maurer

After Roger and Daryl escorted luncheon co-chairs Amy Maurer and Summer Olmstead to the podium to

Summer Olmstead

thank the audience, Scott Murray took over with auctioneer Matt Blevins in from Fort Worth with his entourage. Stomping his ostrich boots on the runway, Matt was in overdrive as if he were heading up the Fat Stock Show auction for the prized bull.

Anthony Johnson Jr.

In closing the lively cash raising, Dr. Raven Cooksey and Anthony Johnson Jr. put a shout out for contributions from the guests. To help gather the envelopes Daryl, Drew Pearson and Tony Dorsett were on hand from an eager crowd.

Then it was on with the show of youngsters modeling clothes from Dillard’s. No, stylists selected the clothes. The children picked out their own outfits and got to keep them as a gift from Dillard’s. One insider confided that the guys generally went for the surfer duds, while the little ladies headed straight to the dressy outfits.

Miracle Francis and Garry Seith

With KDFW-FOX’s Clarice Tinsley and Steve Eager doing the commentary, the 38 child models included the CCF artists (Kelsey Oudshoorn, Jose Olalde Garcia, Sinoury Lindsey, Lisa Adams, Alianna Gavalya, Reece Hokit, Natalie Burraston, Jack Barker, Maykela Burchfield, Kaitlin Cooper, Anthony Johnson Jr., Jorge Palomo, Shae Henderson, Summer Simons, Madison Sikes, Abraheem Khan, Michael Malone, Da’Coren Littleton, Miracle Francis and Mary Margaret Deering) and the Rainbow models (Destiny Camacho, Bevanna Cardona, Emma Cruz, Roberto Cruz Espinosa, Jordan Flint, Kyle Freeland, Callie Horne, Ian Loven, Jocelyn Lozano, Jannett Maldonado, Brenda Solis, Carolina Suarez, Ivana Vachha, Nivea Verver, Allison Wright, Jameka Woodberry, Carmen Woolard and Shah Zohair).

Averi Moya and Steve Eager

At the close of the show, 11-year old CCF fav Averi Moya helped Clarice and Steve pull the winning raffle tickets from baskets.

Then it was former Dallas Mavericks player/cancer survivor Ray Johnston, who played the closing song as the parade of children made their finale walk.

Remember about how this year’s CCF event was a tad bit different? When asked why the music seemed more classical and slow moving than years in the past, CFF fashion show producer Rhonda Sargent Chambers said it was because the more elegant music seemed to fit with the castle and royalty theme.

Then, hesitating, Rhonda continued that this year’s event was an especially poignant one for the organizers. Longtime CCF volunteer Shelley Shwiff, who had battled breast cancer for nine years, died in January. Through her years with CCF, Shelley had served on the board of directors, advisory board, chaired the luncheon and “was still giving herself to the cause until the very end.” Despite her death, Shelley was represented by the numerous friends who bought tables in her name. As one friend put, “I just know Shelley was there in spirit today.” In the years to come, one couldn’t help but suspect that she’ll still be there for the children.

Cattle Barons’ “Oceans Eleven” Plays The Cards Just Right

Aston Martin

When the Cattle Barons Ball ladies dress up, they take it to the max. Last Thursday they maxxed it out at Bailey’s Prime Plus for “Ocean’s Eleven,” the third annual CCB Casino party presented by BBVA Compass. As guests turned their vehicles over to the valets, there on the sidewalk was the loveliest white Aston Martin just flirting for a look or two. Then a red carpet led them to the front door. However, the trek to the front door did have a teeny bit of a challenge as the wind challenged hairstyles and flirty skirts. But it wasn’t so daunting that one couldn’t have a quick photo taken in front of the sponsor backdrop.

Paige Slates and Alicia Wood

Once inside it was major party time for the 200 players thanks to chairs Paige Slates and Alicia Wood. Making a major entrance was Sharon Jones in a wheelchair due her breaking her knee. Since she arrived early and found a perfect spot in a seating area to park, the two-wheel vehicle was hardly noticed. . . Paul and Melissa Stewart arrived accompanied by a gust of wind.

Jennifer Dix's Louboutin

She was just back from a business trip to Chicago. Maybe that’s where the wind came from. . . CBB chair Jennifer Dix was sporting some new Louboutins that she

Leigh Bailey and balloons

picked up at lastweek’s CBB party at the Highland Park Village boutique thanks to husband Richard. On closer observation,heels featured zippers to go with their red soles. . .  .  Leigh Bailey used black balloons to draw attention to raffle ticket sales for the fall ball at Southfork. She reported that she’s getting closer and closer to meeting her six-figure goal.

Of course, one of the draws was the Ocean’s Eleven made up of “Idea Man” (Key Coker), “Details Man” (Robert Columbo), “High Roller” (Brendan Higgins), “Dealer” (Joe Sinacola), “Basher” (Christian Poppert), “The Muscle” (Bob Tonti), “Smooth Talker” (Mike Jones), “Cardsharp” (Kirby Schlegel), “Bankroll” (Richard Dix), “The Gambler” (Court Westcott) and “The Lookout” (Stephen Summers).

Gina Betts Scores A Touchdown for Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Thanks To Drew Brees

If Drew Brees ever wants to run for anything, he’ll be elected. At least according to the folks who stood in line for a photo or autographs with the New Orleans Saints quarterback Thursday. Appetite for Advocacy luncheon chair Gina Betts knew just what she was doing when she arranged to have the Super Bowl MVP as the guest speaker.

Christopher Cook

Held at the Sheraton Dallas and benefiting the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, the crowd was made up of starry-eyed kids and adults. Don’t tell anybody by Christine and Chris Cook let son Christopher get out of school to meet Drew. That Christopher knew just the right thing to wear, too — a Drew Brees #9- jersey. But it was to be expected. Mom Christine is from Lafayette, so it’s in the blood to be present for a man who led the charge to bring New Orleans back to life.

Gina Betts

While the line grew for photos with Drew, Gina was coordinating her army of youngsters selling raffle tickets. Little did they know that she had also arranged to have lemonade, McNuggets and less-adult-type food for them at the luncheon.

Beecher and Jan Rees-Jones

Finally a halt had to be called to get the speaker to the luncheon. As guests made their way, a couple of therapy dogs (Beecher and Hunter) proved to be the real scene stealers of the day. Like Drew, they were accommodating to one and all.

Speaking of the dogs, Gina told the luncheon crowd of the six-year old who wouldn’t speak, but would lie on the floor and whisper into the Golden Retriever’s ear. When the child saw the dog’s handler at a later date, he asked if the pooch had had bad dreams. No, was the reply, why? Because the child had told the dog about what had happened to him and he was afraid it might have upset the dog.

Bill Walsh, Ruth Altshuler, Carole and Scott Murray

Retired Lt. Bill Walsh presented the award named after him to Sgt. James Sears of the Irving Police Dept., who told the guests, “You’re all on my team.”

Then it was time for Ruth Altshuler to present the Ruth Sharp Altshuler Award to Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones. To say she stole the show was an understatement. First telling the crowd that she was told that she had one minute to speak, she responded, “That won’t do at all.” The she described the couple as the Melinda and Bill Gates of Dallas.

“Trevor’s mother and I were friends at Woodrow Wilson High School. She was the valedictorian. I didn’t know what that was.”

She then recalled the day that Caren Prothro called her that a Lt. Bill Walsh wanted to come and see her. In typical Ruth fashion, she raised her eyebrow and said, “What about?” as if she were going to be carted off to jail.

But Bill’s visit ended up in Ruth’s helping to buy DCAC’s present facility on Swiss that cost $600,000. But eventually DCAC outgrew that building and was in desperate need of a much larger one. That’s where Jan and Trevor stepped in. Last fall it was announced that the Trevor Rees-Foundation was providing a gift of $5 million to the $11 million needed for the new building.

Trevor Rees-Jones

On accepting the award, Trevor told the crowd that he was especially happy because the award was given by Ruth. He then let it be known of his and Jan’s concern about this cause that is “hard to fathom” and how the work done by DCAC is of “paramount importance.”

Then it was time for Drew to speak. He told of attending Armstrong Elementary School in Dallas and eventually going the San Diego Chargers, where his mentor was Doug Flutie. His life was set. He was doing great and wanted a long-term contract, when an accident not only took him out of the game, it nearly ruined his football career. Needless to say, he didn’t get the contract and ended up joining the New Orleans Saints in 2001.

Drew Brees

“To be perfectly frank, in 2001, the Saints were ateam you didn’t want to play for. 95% of the guys said New Orleans was known as a dysfunctional place,” said Drew. But they were the only ones who wanted him. On arriving in New Orleans to check things out, coach Sean Payton drove him around and got lost in bad neighborhoods. But what he saw was a city with strength and resolve. “They needed somebody to believe in them. I needed someone to believe in me.”

Drew admitted that the greatest thing of all was being a father. Upon reading the card at his place about a child who had been helped through DCAC, he said, “I thought, ‘What if my boys had had to go through that?’ As I told Lynn (Davis, President/CEO of DCAC) at breakfast: ‘It makes you so mad. It makes you want to string all these people up and do bad things to them! But we’ll let the police take care of them.'”

As lunch broke up, emcee Scott Murray reminded everybody that this was still Cowboys country. From the back of the room was heard, “Who Dat?”

Woman Of The Year, Lisa Garza Aprons And Mad Hatter’s Status Were Subjects Of Interest At Les Femmes Du Monde

Tincy Miller

Just back from the Les Femmes du Monde announcement party at Bailey’s Prime Plus where the gals were sipping champagne and sampling chocolates. LFdM President Michelle Mew confirmed that the 2011 Woman of the Year will be Tincy Miller. Plans are already in place for a sponsors’ party at Dee and Charles Wylys‘ home and the big gala at Brook Hollow Golf Club.

But it wasn’t all champagne, chocolates and Tincy. These gals have a reputation for being fashion savvy, so naturally they had some items available for purchase, but not your typical ones.

As you probably know, Yvonne Crum’s dotter-in-law Bri Crum is pr-ing hotter-than-hot chef Lisa Garza, who just came out with a line of aprons. No, not your hearty, warm-up-the-grill type with pockets for the grill mitts. Rather the hostess type that your mother put on to greet guests. Think evening gown instead of overalls.

Jill Rowlett and Yvonne Crum

And speaking of Yvonne, she and her running buddy Jill Rowlett reported that the unpredictable April weather was not going to interfere with Thursday’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Arboretum. “The show’s inside and the lunch table are covered with a tent,” said Yvonne, who added that there were still tickets available. Thanks to the tent, they can always “expand to accommodate.”

The Ladies Who Shop Raised Money For The Clayton Dabney Foundation’s “Kissed By An Angel”

When the call goes out for “Kissed by an Angel,” the gals scramble to get their RSVP’s in. Not only is it restricted to female guests, they all know what the program is — shop to raise funds for The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer.

Niven Morgan

Thursday with the ladies were in stellar form for spending event chair Tracey Shuey just knew she had her work cut out, but she also knew the right place to have the party. Held at Kelly and Mark Bunting‘s home, it was just a question of whether the home would be big enough to accommodate the expected 270. Ah, veterans of past Bunting parties know that there are multiple levels underground for dining, sipping fine wine and partying. And with the evening weather being just so perfect, the patio doors were opened allowing the breeze to carry the marvelous scents of honorary chair Niven Morgan‘s products through the air.

Jill Salinaro, Paige McDaniel, Francie Mancillas

With his products from Stanley Korshak (bath, body and scented home products) filling the dining room, guests like Communities Partners of Dallas’ Paige McDaniel had a hard time deciding on purchases.

BTW, Niven has been part of the annual event for nine years and sees no stopping. He recently orchestrated a seated dinner for 108 at Dee and Charles Wyly‘s home and raised more than $100,000 for the Dabney Foundation. Niven even managed to get sponsors like Belvedere Vodka, Dom Perignon, Central Market, Grane Hall and Pogo’s.

Another male at the party was former Dallas Mavericks/leukemia survivor Ray Johnston with his band. Ray, like many of the guests, had a busy schedule. The next day he was scheduled to model in the Children’s Cancer Fund fashion show.

Bunting kitchen

In the kitchen Cassandra’s staff was assisted by male-volunteer-servers (i.e. husbands and boyfriends of guests) in blue jeans and whiter-than-white shirts.

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer was created in 1995 when Shelby and Scott Dabney lost their son, Clayton, to cancer. Realizing the emotional and financial stresses of other families going through similar ordeals, the established the “nonprofit with a desire to provide the financial and emotional support that many parents need when faced with the terminal cancer diagnosis of a child. These gifts allow families to spend precious time together and simply be there with their children at the end of life. The Foundation has helped more than 1,600 families throughout the country and has distributed more than $3 million gifts, wishes and financial assistance.”

“A Celebration of Reading” Update

As noted earlier, the annual Celebration of Reading is booked at the Meyerson for Monday, November 7 with former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush joining forces with up-and-coming Bushes, Amanda and George P.

Benefiting The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and The Barbara Bush Texas Fund for Family Literacy, authors Helen Simonson and Wes Moore have already been confirmed for the event that is always a grand way to spend a Monday evening.

 

Changes Are In Store For KidneyTexas And Tootsies

Pat McDonough and Marianne Wilshusen

News was bulging at Tootsies Wednesday night for the KidneyTexas kick-off party. Many of the fashionable types already knew that plans called for a major change of directions for “Stepping Out in Style,” the fundraising fashion show/luncheon on Thursday, September 15.

Mother-daughter co-chairs Pat McDonough and Marianne Wilshusen confirmed that the event was indeed moving to Brook Hollow Golf Club and Tootsies, instead of Stanley Korshak, would be providing the fashions. The reason for the move? “To save money.” The gals are trying to spend less money on the event, so they can give more to the charity.

But some things were staying right in place — like Jan Strimple will once again be in charge of the show and the proceeds will benefit Children’s Medical Center, the PKB Foundation and Camp Reynal.

Kerry Salatino, Megan Meyercord, Anna Bland Aston

For the kick-off Tootsies had jewelry design by Claudia Lobao, cocktails and a mini-fashion show with KidneyTexas members including KidneyTexas President Megan Meyercord wearing the styles.

Alison Volk

On the Tootsies’ front, Director of Business Development Alison Volk arranged for 15% of the evening’s sales to be donated to KidneyTexas.

Alison added that she was rolling up her sleeves and orchestrating a “re-launching” of the Dallas store (i.e. new flooring, walls being removed, etc.) and Tootsies’ involvement in the community.

Dallas International Film Festival’s Final Red Carpets Have Jerry Jeff, J.R., Captain America And One Stubborn Lump

Ah, the final installment of the Dallas International Film Festival coverage is presented for your consideration.

Sunday, April 3 at NorthPark

The showing of “More to Live For” was not the typical festival gathering. It was half Dallas International Film Festival and half an awareness/fund raiser for the bone marrow registry. A tall young man in a cowboy hat was seated with others in the audience including another fella with a boyish face and a middle-aged woman. Over in another row was an older man, who seemed to stand out a bit among the young hip audience.

As the lights dimmed, the audience discovered the lives of three men who had nothing in common except for leukemia and the desperate search for bone marrow. They were internationally-known musician Michael Brecker, Olympian hopeful/Nigerian Seun Adebiyi and top-of-the-world entrepreneur James Chippendale of Dallas.

Seun Adebiyi

When the lights came up, there was a Q&A with the middle-aged woman (Brecker’s widow, Susan), the boyish-faced fellow (director Noah Hutton, the 23-year-old son of Debra Winger and Timothy Hutton), the tall young man in a cowboy hat (Seun) and Chippendale. In the audience they recognized Dallas oncologist Dr. James Fay, the older man among the hip youngsters.

It was an exchange mixed with humor (“I’ll never get another date in Dallas, Texas, after they see the film’s kaleidoscope of women” and the deathbed close-up, according to James) and sincere dedication to their mission (after each showing of the film, 100% of the audience has signed up to be swabbed for the registry).

Susan Brecker and Noah Hutton

  • Susan about Noah: “I really think we have the right guy to do the documentary.”
  • James: “We didn’t do it for accolades — though accolades are nice!”
  • Seun on his mother, who appears in the film: “She watched her son get this cancer, only to watch him go down a hill at 80 mph. So I guess she’s doing well under the circumstances.”

Jody Dean and Tara Harper

Once again it proved true to form as the audience immediately left the theater to waiting tables with forms and swabs. Then it was on to Post-Op studies for a celebration of the movie and its heroes. In the crowd were cast members including Paws in the City’s Tara Harper from “Most Eligible: Dallas” with their entourage of cameras, personnel and cables.

James Chippendale

When asked why no stories about women were included in the film, the exuberant Chippendale admitted that they tried to find a woman but it didn’t work out. He went on to admit, “I enjoy life. I was a taker (before leukemia). . . I need to enjoy it even more.

Tuesday, April 5 at Magnolia

The red carpet was located on South Alley in West Village wedged between the Magnolia and Mi Cocina. Some of the media referred to it as the Windy Tunnel as a breeze continued. The big event of the night was “OK Buckaroos,” showcasing Jerry Jeff Walker with himself in attendance.

Rug Rats

Having gathered at 4:30-ish to wait for the walkers to do their thing, media veterans (aka “The Rug Rats”) of past DIFF red carpets compared notes on the past few days. Pegasus News’ John Meyer was proving to be the leading authority on the carpets and movies. He scored “Wild Horse, Wild Ride” highly.

Rob and Conor Allyn

Wrangler John Wildman has returned to NYC and pr/Brit Emily Hargrove has taken on the role of coordinating the press and the pressed upon. While white Escalades can be seen dropping celebs off at the Lemmon, someone spots Rob Allyn and his son Conor, who represented “Blood of Eagles.” Looking like they just left Mi Cocina in HP Village, they chatted with media and friends.

Bob Fanucchi

At 5:30 p.m. a fellow strolls up in a cowboy hat and newcomers wondered if he was Jerry Jeff Walker. Oldtimers reported that it wasn’t. Looked more like a version of Woodrow F. Call. It was Bob Fanucci, who claimed to be talent as well as a journalist. Nope, he didn’t have a film in DIFF, but he was putting together one. Shoot! He looked western, so he was served up to the media.

Jerry Jeff and Susan Walker

Finally at 5:50 p.m., a couple of the white Cadillacs pulled up and out came a herd of folks of all ages. In the center of the group was a older gent, who looked like he had come in from the ranch. Wearing a white cowboy hat, open blue shirt hanging over his jeans and a windbreaker, he herded his passel of folks toward Emily. A standout in this herd was a stylish brunette in a tan leather duster, white jeans and a belt highlighted with a turquoise embedded buckle. No surprises here. It was Jerry Jeff and his wife Susan, who was rumored to be the brains of the JJW operation.

Jerry Jeff Walker

As Jerry Jeff entered the red zone, nothing fazed him. Photos with the whole group; solo photos and photos with Susan. He handled it all with ease. Then he broke from the backdrop and approached the photographers to discuss the pros and cons of diffused light. Whoa! Photographers were taken back a bit. Nobody actually talked with them, let alone about their equipment. Somebody corralled Jerry Jeff back to get to the interviews. There was a schedule to be kept.

Susan said, “I haven’t seen him so talkative in years.”

“OK Buckaroos” director Patrick Tourville said jokingly that “divine intervention” led JJW to pick him to make the film. He has always loved music and admires what the Walkers did in the mid-80’s to independently market and sell Jerry Jeff  — “a precursor to everything happening with independents today.”

Eventually media, guests and the Walker entourage headed to the theater. It was easy to spot JJW in the crowd until he took off his cowboy hat. Then he just melted into the audience.

After the screening, a Q&A took place where JJW and Patrick explained them that the project started out as a concert film, but evolved into a broader documentary on the singer. Other questions included —

  • One person asked how Jerry Jeff got into the music business, to which he responded, “I have no idea. You have to want to do it badly enough to do it, then you do it.”
  • What was his favorite moment? Marrying Susan in Luckenbach. Hondo Crouch was best man. When the preacher said to Susan on JJ’s behalf, “I give you all my worldly possessions, and you give me your soul,” Susan said, “No! I give you my soul, and I get your crap?”
  • Favorite version of his “Mr. Bojangles”? Nina Simone.
  • Where is the Green Frog Cafe mentioned in “Desperados Waiting for a Train“? JJW was stumped by that one but suspected that it was in the West Texas town of Monahans. He didn’t stop there. Just pulled out his cellphone, put it on speaker and called Guy Clark who wrote the song. Sounding a little bewildered by the call, Clark said he “thought” it was his hometown of Monahans.

Then the crowd adjourned to Gilley’s, where JJW got on stage for a few tunes while Susan kicked up her heels dancing.

Friday, April 8 at Union Station

The big gala with presentation of awards was no different than any of the other red carpets except

  • No film was to be shown.
  • There were a whole lot more people.
  • Larry Hagman and Peter Fonda were the headliners in the truest sense of the word.

While not as dressy as the opening night at the Winspear, guests have gussied up for the occasion.  It was soon apparent that everyone was considered top drawer requiring a forever-lineup of red carpet walkers. There were now oh-so-familiar faces from past red carpets of the week and new ones who treated the walk a bit like a midway looking at the various media types. One would have not been surprised if one of the walkers had pulled out a camera to shoot the media.

Emily Hargrove on the rug

Speaking of the red carpet, it was having a bad night. The first section was giving organizers a fit. There was this buckling that refused to be straightened out despite numerous attempts to smooth it out, relocate stanchions and stomping on it. But nope! The carpet was done. Luckily, despite the high heels and heads held high, no one let the lumping trip them up.

Sundays Hunt and Arthur Benjamin

Presenting sponsor Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation’s Arthur Benjamin and his lady Sundays Hunt took the whole exercise liked seasoned troopers. . . Greg Ingram arrived with all his tattoos, muscle shirt, sunglasses and long hair in place. His date for the evening is his daughter. . . Director Anne Buford of “Elevate” was followed by the husband/wife documentarians Greg Gricus and Alex Dawson of “Wild Horse Wild Ride”. . . New arrivals Nicole and Jackie Stewart were a bit confused on whether they were supposed to red carpet or not. Organizers quickly rectified this situation and presented them to the media.

Larry Hagman and Peter Fonda

Minutes later the “big boys” arrived almost together and rightly so. Not only had Larry “J.R. Ewing” Hagman and Peter “Captain America” Fonda flown in on the same flight (they didn’t know that they were both headed to the DIFF), but it was revealed that the twosome are in a way related. Larry is the godfather of Peter’s daughter, Bridget.

Parky DeVogelaere and Peter Fonda

Fort Worth native son Larry, with his startling blue eyes and cowboy hat, was happily playing the J.R. role on the red carpet. On the other hand, Peter in shades and looking cooler than cool brought along an accessory of sorts — Parky DeVogelaere, his gal pal. There was no shooting Peter without her, except at one point when it was requested for solo shots of Fonda and doubles with Hagman. At that point, Parky notified the media how to spell her name because “it’s always being misspelled.” The photography crew looked a bit confused but nodded politely. They hadn’t planned on including her or her name in the photos.

In the meantime, Fonda and Hagman looked appreciative to have had this type of reunion with scores of camera phones and professional photographers recording the meeting. Someone pointed out that Peter was wearing some pretty cool alligator cowboy boots, to which he laughs, “You can’t come to Texas without boots.”

While the red carpet continued to flow, guests started to fill the main room for the dinner and awards. Peter and Larry were led to meet folks, who turned positively giddy and had friends snap their photos on their cellphones.

When Larry finally got a chance to settle to dinner, someone asked for a photo. . . not a posed one, a natural one. He opened his mouth displaying the chewed up contents of his previous serving of food.

AT 8:15 p.m. master of ceremonies Gary Cogill started things off by telling Larry Hagman, seated at a front table, to “quiet down.” Gary then recalled his waiting in line decades ago at NorthPark to see “Blade Runner” and meeting a man whom he one day wanted to become — former Dallas Morning News‘ movie critic Philip Wuntch. He pointed him out in the filled-to-capacity-crowd.

Then the lineup of speakers (DIFF President/CEO Tanya Foster, Arthur Benjamin, etc.) came to the podium and talked about the film festival.

Artistic Director James “Mr. Cool” Faust then described the room as, “Not the biggest but the prettiest audience.”

Finally, the awards were handed out to the festival’s audience favorites, including both “Elevate” and “Wild Horse, Wild Ride.”

Larry Hagman

For the student awards, Larry Hagman was called to the podium. In his typical “chairman of the board” demeanor, he told the crowd that, “You have great taste.” But he also admitted that he hadn’t heard a thing said so far because of the room’s acoustics.  (Editor’s note: Depending on where you were sitting, you were either blasted or heard nothing despite 10 huge speakers placed in the room.)

Hagman continued telling the crowd, “Free meal. Actors never turn down a free meal.” Guests started shushing talkers. They wanted to hear the words of Hagman.

Like a principal handing out diplomas, he announced and presented the awards to the student contestants. He never shook anyone’s hand, just did a simple knuckle bump. The kids loved him.

When he finally ran out of script, he looked out at the audience and said, “Let me talk about Texas. It’s good to be home.” The crowd agreed — it was great to have him back.

At 8:55, Gary was back and introduced a video about Rolando Diaz’s painting a key live auction item. Immediately following the video, the painting went up for bid. With two eventually being sold for $7,000 each: one was purchased by Arthur Benjamin, who announced that he was giving his to Michael Cain and his wife Melina McKinnon. Startled by the generous gift, Michael hugged Arthur.

Then it was on with more awards and Peter’s pronouncing Target with a twist as he presented the “Tar-jay” award. Not to worry. Larry had had his fun pronouncing TXU when presenting the “TXU Energy Light Up the Red Carpet” student awards.

(Speaking of TXU, those smart folks live-streamed the red carpet and award presentation including Larry’s and Peter’s comments.)

But the biggest winner of the festival was not one of the filmmakers nor the actors who got free meals. It was the Dallas Film Society that offered a dose of glitz, a lot of films and a step closer to becoming an even greater player in the independent film world.

Pass the popcorn and dim the lights. The show has just begun.

“Desperate Housewives” Ricardo Chavira Charmed And Inspired Guests At Celebrating Women 2011 Kick Off

There’s nothing better in this world than a good tease. No, wait! What’s even better is when the tease turns out to be the real thing. And that’s what happened this morning at Betsy Sowell‘s home for the Celebrating Women 2011 kick-off coffee.

Sarah Losinger

Guests had been invited to the coffee to get their engines racing for the October 28th luncheon at the Hilton Anatole being chaired this year by Fredye Factor and Sarah Losinger. Just having the coffee at Betsy’s would have been enough to entice the ladies, but, oh, no! With the Baylor Health Care System Foundation folks helping to make it extra special, guests were told of the appearance of a “mystery man” — one from Hollywood.

Never have so many women been on time for an event. Minding their P’s and Q’s, they were perfectly charming and behaved themselves, while dying with anticipation on whom the gent was.

In the meantime, Mr. Mystery was being kept under wraps in the Sowell sitting room with Joel Allison, Robin Robinson, Lindalyn Adams, Fredye and Debbie Oates.

Ricardo Chavira

Who was the fellow? None other than Ricardo “Carlos” Chavira of “Desperate Housewives” fame.

Now, what the heck does this hunky dude have to do with breast cancer?  A heck of a lot.

Ricardo is a longtime veteran in the war on breast cancer. No, he hasn’t had the dreaded disease, but he has been a victim of it all the same. You see, Ricardo was just 8 years old when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since his parents had just divorced the year before, it was just Ricardo and his two sisters helping his mother through the treatments and ordeal for about seven years until her death in 1986.

“The divorce did not bring them (his parents) back together. My father always stayed very committed to the family, but, no, there were several irreconcilable differences.

“It started as breast cancer and then it was breast and ovarian cancer. She went through two remissions. One I remember. . . it was when I was in eighth grade because I graduated and I saw a graduation picture where she had a full head of hair and she had gained her weight back and she looked great,” he said recalling that happy moment.

Then Ricardo’s voice took on a somber tone, “After that is when, I think, it became ovarian and it was both.”

At that time there were few if any support groups and, in fact, the words “breast cancer” were verboten in even private conversations. The disease was stealth. That is, until women and healthcare organizations like Baylor started bringing it to the forefront.

Fast forward to 2004 when “Desperate Housewives” hit television screens and became a mega-hit.

“With the success of ‘Housewives’ when it first came out that first season, one of the biggest things I wanted to do was something from a charitable perspective. My friend David Reyes, who is my pr person, came up with the idea of breast cancer (advocacy). He said, ‘Do you think you can do it?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’

“The first couple of times I did stuff, it was painful, but of my three siblings, I’m the one who can probably talk about it the most. And it’s gotten easier with every time.”

But despite his efforts, the disease has once again returned to his family.

“It’s taken a turn for the worse again recently because those two siblings (an older and young sister) in the past two-and-a-half years have both been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Ricardo has also become an advocate within the Hispanic community for breast cancer awareness. “My mother was Anglo and my father Mexican. My father’s side there was the cultural stigma. . . (Ricardo hesitates trying to find just the right words). . .I just. . . life is too short. You know, life is just too short and I turn 40 this year. My mom was 43 when she died.”

Changing directions Ricardo was asked if he does self examinations himself for breast cancer due to his family history.

“No. I’ve been chastised for that by some of the people I work with in the cancer organizations. ‘Look at the genetic disposition that is going on in your family.’  Believe me, I know. But I’m still that guy that . . . It’s that old adage of ‘What I don’t know won’t hurt me.’ The focus has always been on the women.”

He then makes fun of his own thinking saying, “Ah, it’s not going to happen to me.” Then he gets serious again, “The thing is it’s not just self examination. It’s also going in and being properly tested. I’ve got a good friend of mine who is an actor, Richard Roundtree, who was diagnosed. Richard and I have had this conversation.”

Joel T. Allison

As he prepared to talk to the room full of women, he listened in a nearby room as Joel and Robin told of the numerous

Robin Robinson

accomplishments made at Baylor regarding breast cancer including the creation of the Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, the Patient Navigator Program and so many other accomplishments supported by the $16 million raised through the annual Celebrating Women luncheons.

This year’s luncheon will take place with breast cancer survivor/actress/singer Diahann Carroll as the headliner. Better get your tickets now!

Dallas International Film Festival’s Red Carpets Hosted Ann-Margret, Dennis Quaid And Vacuous NEAL

Dallas International Film Festival red carpet playground continues:

Friday, April 1 at Victory Park

The very first thing that struck folks for the red carpet walk in Victory Park was — “Where’s the theater?” There was none, but television sponsor WFAA-ABC called in some chips and suggested it would be quite grand if the walk took place in front of its studio and timed between the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts. Voila! It was a done deal.

Unlike the Thursday night arrangements, the sponsors backdrop was much more substantial this time with piped framing. Only problem was its positioning. As the sun was setting in the west as usual, the shadows cascading on the red carpet and its walkers were apparent. But no problem. Stars shine all the time.

Before check-in took place, the white sheets of paper were tightly and nicely in place. Despite being suited and tied, wrangler John Wildman was energized, as were all the DIFF elves. An official clipboard appeared with notes. Hanging tags were being compared with the approved list of media. Full-body-cavity searches might soon be undertaken.

At 4:42 p.m. the sun’s shadow was proving a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t a big bother, though, because Ann-Margret was not on the red carpet. But it did challenge the photographers in shooting “Boy Wonder” director Michael Morrissey and star Caleb Steinmeyer, “Five Time champion” director Berndt Mader and “Rainbows End” director Eric Hueber wearing a Nacogdoches T-shirt. Mader admitted that getting your film into a festival was important for trying to get your foot in the door of the business.

Ari Graynor

At 4:50 p.m. the “Lucky” crew appeared being led by co-star Ari Graynor. All eyes turned toward her. Not because of her position within the group, but because of her ultra-blonde page boy haircut, milky-white skin, red-and-black silk tank top and black suspenders.  Guess it was the suspenders that drew all the attention.

Ann-Margret

At 4:52 p.m. the red-haired

Ann-Margret, Gil Cates Jr., Ari Graynor

Ann-Margret in black with a lime green jacket and a cross necklace, appeared, greeted by director Gil Cates Jr. Arm-in-arm they approached the rest of the “Lucky” cast. Trying to see through her transparent sunglasses, it was obvious that A-M was holding up extremely well for her nearly 70 years and accidents.

Immediately A-M and Ari embraced each other like old war veterans. After comparing notes, A-M was pulled aside to do her “thang” on the red carpet. With guys who obviously had major crushes on her when she was a kitten with a whip and filming “State Fair” in Dallas, she is advised by Wrangler John on the POA. She is so teeny standing against the backdrop and facing the photographers. Mugging just a bit and striking some flirty poses, she is a photographer’s dream. She knows exactly how to hit the right cues and what will fulfill every lens’s wishes. Then she was joined by the rest of the cast, but everyone honestly knew where the cameras were aimed.

As she headed to the television and print interviews, she stayed neatly in the right arm of Cates, of whom she said, “This person here is very, very strange.” Behind the media mob, there stood a man in a suit and tie. Appearing quite stretched, he seemed unable to smile even when approached by a member of the media. Evidently he was A-M’s manager Alan Margolis, and he was taking care of business.

As A-M continued her visit with the media, others were gathering in the waiting area including Ellen and Don Winspear, who seemed a bit gussied up for a red carpet. Not to worry. They were headed to an after-red-carpet meet-and-greet with A-M, and then on to the opera. Over to the side, Gary Coghill, in jacket with his shirt pulled out and no tie, was taking everything in as an experienced war veteran.

By the time A-M had held her last red carpet interview, she was arm-in-arm with Gates. As she made her way to the private meet-and-greet, she said, “I need direction!” With a smile she patiently signed photos and memorabilia for people who had been waiting in the sun for over an hour while Alan looked impatient.

Saturday, April 2 at NorthPark lower level

John Wildman

The media was relieved that instead of the sun shining brightly and warmly, the red carpet tonight was indoors. The drill was getting to be a routine — red carpet, sponsor backdrop, white sheets and Wrangler John. The big draw of the night was to be Dennis Quaid, in town to promote “Soul Surfer.” But there were surprises in-store.

“Norman Mailer” director Joseph Mantegna looked more like a member of the board in his suit and tie. He was excited about introducing Mailer to a whole new generation of young people, Mantegna said. In his mind, Mailer did “reality TV” with films he made and let his life unravel in front of the camera.

Greg Ingram

Greg Ingram in black tank top, long hair, tattoos and dude shades couldn’t keep in character too long and let a smile break out.

NEAL

Another eye catcher was director Geoff McGee, who carried a swimming pool cleaner/vacuum with him. The Polaris device was the star of “NEAL,” a movie about a couple’s anniversary being made very interesting by NEAL. The vacuous star was most agreeable to every request and never blinked.

Over to the side, DIFF President/CEO Tanya Foster was on her cell phone.

Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock really was a photographer’s dream in his label-covered jacket and horse-shoe mustache. He knew just how far to ham it up with the poster for “Greatest Movie Ever Sold” before moving on to the interviews.

Once again the media was jammed together. The still photographers came to an agreement — those on the front row like Pegasus News’ John Meyers would duck down after they had gotten their shots allowing those in the back to get theirs. Amazingly it worked beautifully.

Unlike the Friday crowd of largely older guys, Saturday’s group was made up of younger gals. Taking a break from the demands of the red carpet, the media noticed people hanging over the railing of the second floor of NorthPark. They also noticed a high degree of security.

Dennis Quaid

These distractions perhaps explained Quaid’s nonchalantly walking up to the red carpet check-in. The holding pen erupted. Tanya got off the phone and John gave the marching order to Dennis. As DIFF artistic director James Faust pointed out the red carpet to Quaid, the Texas actor took his place like a seasoned pro. Smiling with mouth closed. Smiling with a full set of teeth. Smiling with a flirty look. Smiling while laughing. He was a natural.

James Faust, David Tice, Dennis Quaid, Tanya Foster

Then he was joined by Faust, Tanya and “Soul Surfer” executive producer/Dallasite David Tice for a foursome. Everybody smiled as the flashes came from all directions. Quaid then made the lonely stroll from interview to interview.

He was pulled back for one more shot with DIFF Chairman of the Board Michael Cain, who had suddenly appeared.

By the time Quaid hit the final homerun interview, there was a passel of security ready to escort him to the upper level theater. It was a wise move. Word had spread throughout the shopping center that Dennis Quaid was there, and the Saturday night shoppers had become eager fans.

Dennis Quaid departing

Alas, some of the security could not shake off their duties even after Quaid had passed out of sight. For some reason one of them continued to sternly “advise” folks to keep their distance. Customers looked a little confused — distance from what?

 

NEXT: Debra Winger’s and Timothy Hutton’s kiddo and Jerry Jeff Walker

Blake Shelton Just Might Have More In Store For 2011 Curtain Call According To Mary And John Gill

Mary and John Gill

If you didn’t know better, you would swear that Mary and John Gill would be perfectly cast as Laurey Williams and Curly McLain. Last night they proved that to a crowd of Dallas summer Musical supporters at Kathy Klingaman‘s Highland Park mansion.

Julie and Amy Turner

Just at 7, DSM impressario Michael Jenkins gather the guests together on the patio overlooking the pool and introduced the subject of the 2011 Curtain Call. Then he let the effervescent couple take over. Instead of bursting out in song, they told of plans for the May 7th gala with Honorary Chair Amy Turner and her mom Julie looking on.

The really big news wasn’t that Blake Shelton would be the main attraction. No, that had already been established ages ago.

In the meantime, John had been connecting the dots and revealed what he had discovered in stages. First stage was to let the non-Blake followers realize what a prize the organizers had landed. Just before Blake had really gotten hot, they had signed him up. Then he skyrocketed and most recently hosted the CMT Awards, where a little lady by the name of Miranda Lambert walked away with top honors (Top Female Vocalist, Single Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year).

Then John cranked up the info-load by telling them that he had learned that Miranda was not only getting married but to Blake. Better than the National Enquirer.

But John wasn’t finished. In his research, he discovered the twosome were saying the vows the week following Curtain Call on May 14 in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, just up the road from Dallas. The best part was that Blake had requested 30 tickets for Curtain Call implying that a lot of current and future relatives might be in attendance. . . maybe even a bride-to-be?

Even better is the fact that Curtain Call benefits the Dallas Summer Musical’s Education and Outreach Programs (Seats for Kids, Discover Theatre, Stage Right, DSM Academy of Performing Arts and Kids Club).

Karaoke Lounge Crowd Putters Up At Danya And Mike Anderson’s 19th Hole With Sam

Golf bag attendants

When the Karaoke Lounge Foundation hosted an evening of pizza, partying and putting at Danya and Mike Anderson‘s, it was a must-attend occasion. If there was ever any doubt, Tuesday night’s event put doubters to shame.

Upon entering the estate in Preston Hollow, guests in natty golf attire were greeted by both valet parkers and attendants who schlepped golf bags around to the back of the mansion.

Just 18 months ago it had been the scene of Danya’s and Mike’s wedding and now it was just a 19th-hole spot to have fun.

Hunter Sullivan

Upon entering the mansion, guests were welcomed with servers bearing drinks. Escorted through the

Kurt Johnson

house, guests then discovered a grownup wonderland with its pool and marvelously subtle water features and a perfectly manicured golf course. OK, so it wasn’t 18 holes but the two holes with water trap were enough to challenge the best duffers including crooner/band leader Hunter Sullivan and CBS VP of Programming for CBS Kurt Johnson.

Outdoor entertainment center

Before practicing on the putting green, most guests enjoyed the entertainment center. Looking more like a charming cottage with open walls, it had a full-service gourmet kitchen complete with a pizza oven.

Mike Anderson

Ah, Tuesday night Mike was too busy on the golf course and marshaling the Anderson pooches to be cooking, so Fireside pies did the honors.

Sam

Speaking of pooches, it’s a well-known fact within the Anderson circle that the three labs are great, but Sam rules. Who or what is Sam? He’s a 12+ year-old Chihuahua that Danya discovered 10 years ago. Looking at the little guy in the golf shirt, who greets one and all as a friend, it’s clear he has come a long way. It seems that Danya in her single days approached the SPCA about adopting a “small dog” because she was living in a small apartment. There were none at that point. Well, yes, there was a small dog, but the SPCA folks said that he wasn’t a likely candidate because he had

Danya Anderson

been the victim of abuse. . . tied to a tree. That only intrigued Danya more. It was a love match. Since that day Sam has ruled the roost and his digs have grown from small to major acreage. Even Mike admits that Sam runs the place with Anderson assistant Sara carrying him when he tires.

Maggie Kipp

But 2011 Event Chairs Maggie Kipp and Nancy Gopez didn’t assemble the golfers to raise funds for Sam’s fav organizations. The purpose was to support the Turtle Creek Recovery Center and even Sam would have approved of that one.

 

Dallas International Film Festival Opens With Red Carpet Obstacle Course At The Winspear

Peter Simek

While  rehab units for popcorn overdosing are in overdrive following the Dallas International Film Festival, it’s time to review what just hit Dallas. Film experts like the Morning News’ Chris Vognar, FrontRow’s Peter Simek and Pegasus News’ John Meyers have provided the lowdown on the screenings, but MySweetCharity is going to tackle the before- and after-activities during the 10-day celluloid celebration.

DIFF red carpet

Before getting started, let’s set up the red carpet logistics. Wherever there is a red carpet event, there is the sponsor backdrop. It serves as a wall against which the “stars” are lined up for photo ops by the photographers. In front of the backdrop is the infamous red carpet. Opposite the backdrop are stanchions to keep the media at bay. Lining the red carpet just beneath the stanchions are white sheets of papers with names of various media outlets. The challenge is to fit within the space allotted. Unless Tom Thumb and Tinkerbell are handling the interviews, it’s literally impossible to fit in a foot-long space. That may explain why the press folks are on top of each other. It’s easy to tell the television reporters.

DIFF red carpet

They dress better and have no split ends. There is  a tendency for the female TV reporters to wear very, very tight and short outfits. Perhaps their budgets don’t allow for more material. The print reporters and photographers are much less showy. Nobody cares how they look. When a “star” appears on the carpet, they are assigned an escort. Actually they should be called herder because their main job is to keep their assignment going in the right direction. There is a chief wrangler, who starts the whole process going. S/he announces the subject’s name and the movie they represent and then scoots them on their way. The first team of media that “attacks” the subject: the still photographers. As the subject is positioned firmly against the backdrop, the paparazzi shout their names encouraging them to smile, talk or do something other than look stuffed. Once the photographers’ cravings are filled, the subject is taken to the stanchions where the video and online types with microphones in hand are ready to chat. The final group is made up of print reporters. By this time, the subject is a bit worn out and luckily doesn’t have to worry if his/her hair is windblown or if their perspiration is showing. The print reporters just want to talk and take notes.  Then, depending upon their stature, the subjects either wander off on their own, or they are escorted by security, managers and “friends” to their next appointment.

Now that you have the red carpet scene set in your mind, let’s review what happened during the 10-day run.

Thursday, March 31 at the Winspear Opera House

Supporting DIFF backdrops

The opening night of the Dallas International Film Festival had perfect weather with a slight breeze forcing organizers to have staffers support the sponsors’ backdrops for the red carpet dignitaries.

While the crowd of print, electronic and Internet media clambered on top of each other to shoot the well-known and the unknown, Texas actor Barry Corbin settled back on a bench observing the mayhem.  When asked why he was there, he said, “I guess they couldn’t find anybody else.” ­

He’s probably the busiest actor at the festival with nine or 10 films in the can and not one a western. He just recently did two films in Wisconsin and is scheduled to do another movie with Hal Holbrook and Ed Asner. “I’m just plugging along, trying to keep my head out of the swamp,” the Texas Tech graduate said.

DIFF drummers

From nowhere was heard African drums playing. A group of African-attired musicians appeared near the entry of the Winspear. Their playing in the shade of the Winspear made some media types wish the red carpet were in the shade. The setting sun was starting to get a little warm.

Burton Gilliam

In the meantime, festival juror Burton Gilliam took to the red carpet in very Texas gala attire — tuxedo jacket and shirt with blue jeans and boots. With his bigger-than-life smile, he was just perfect for the out-of-town media looking for a typical cowboy actor. He even started mugging with the bottle of Smart water.

Lauren Hardaway and Ross Perot

Promot.TV’s Lauren Hardaway, a blonde reporter in a tight red sweater and black leggings, spotted Ross Perot in a tuxedo and started interviewing him. He didn’t seem to mind at all.

The African drums were getting louder.

G.W. Bailey and Barry Corbin

While the red carpet was hustling, the action seemed to turn to the curb as Barry spotted fellow Texas Tech alum G.W. “Police Academy” Bailey. Barry advised G.W. that he’s gotta walk through the obstacle course of media before finding a grownup beverage. When one media type asks G.W. about his film history, he answered, “IMBD me.”

Another curb celebrity was L.M. Kit Carson, who was going pretty much under the radar. It was back in the 70’s that Kit was one of the driving forces of Dallas’ first film festivals. He reported that he had just recently completed the docu-series, “Africa Diary,” a personal journal about his journey through Africa. Kit, who has always been known for being a step ahead of the rest, reported that “Africa Diary” had been taped on Nokia N93 and N95 cell phone cameras. One of the reasons for using such a small device was that it was less intimidating to the various people he encountered. Only selected segments were to be shown at the festival. The rest will air in their  entirety on The Sundance Channel later in the year.

Angus Wynne and Rocky Powell

Back on the red carpet, artist-in-residence Rolando Diaz in his trademark hat made the walk with musician Seth Simmons, who was to accompany him when he created a painting later during the week. . . . Lynn and Allan McBee were comparing notes about his picking up Steve James Thursday night to receive his Dallas Star Award at the Friday night awards presentation. . . LeeAnne Locken created major whiplashes in her skin-tight sheer black gown. She is

Richard Freling

the only local in the cast of “GCB” playing a Neiman’s personal shopper. . . Nick Nolte look-alike Rocky Powell smiled his way through the media promoting “Language of a Broken Heart,” 90% of which he shot in Dallas. He’s right at home in the Dallas crowd including Angus Wynne and Dallas Film Society President/CEO  Tanya Foster. Rocky, like a few others, made a mistake by walking up to a stately gentleman and addressing him as “Liener” as in Temerlin. Wrong! It was Richard Freling, who is on the Performing Arts Center board and has known Liener for decades.

Liener and Karla Temerlin

Speaking of Liener, when his limousine arrived, who was johnny-on-the-spot to welcome him — Ross! Looking like the proudest fella in showbiz, Ross welcomed Liener, his bride of 61 years Karla and the entire Temerlin family.

Ann-Margret

Then the signal was given and the interviews end and the crowd heads into the Winspear for the evening’s program, which included a showing of “Being Elmo” after the presentation of the 2011 Dallas Star Awards to Ann-Margret and Liener.

A-M, who opted to put off her red carpet walk till the next night, did make the short walk to the podium and told the audience, “I love Dallas, Texas. . . I just really admire you guys. I love your sense of humor; you’re honest, you don’t ask anybody for anything. You are true patriots.” The rest of her brief acceptance touched on:

  • Her calling out the Dallas Morning News‘ Vognar, who had just interviewed her,
  • Dallas being the name of one of her sons,
  • Having filmed “State Fair” here in the 60’s and
  • Recording a gospel album in Dallas with producer Art Greenhaw.

In introducing Ross, DIFF Chairman of the Board Michael Cain said Liener was a mentor to him and Melina, Michael’s wife. Then Ross came to the podium saying, “Liener ranks at top of the list of the finest people I’ve ever known. . .  He’s always been in charge of everything.” Then Ross had “Hail to the Chief” played followed by his leading the audience in now-standard-Perot hip-hip-hooray.

Liener accepted his award with style and grace and attributed the success of the film festival to Michael.

Then the crowd settled back to watching “Elmo,” while the red carpet, the stanchions and the backdrop were being prepared for their next appearance Friday at Victory Park.

Next: Ann-Margret does Victory red carpet.

TACA Proscenium Kicks Off Plans for Party On The Green And Custom Auction Gala With Lexus MIA But Sugar Bowl On Hand

It’s amazing how certain trends stealthily emerge. One that has been seen recently is “The Sugar Bowl.” More about that later.

Andy Teller and Lynn McBee

Wednesday night TACA Lexus Party on the Green Co-Chair Ashley Tripplehorn opened her contemporary digs for a kickoff reception for TACA Proscenium. TACA Chair Andy Teller, Ashley and her Co-Chair/sis Elizabeth Tripplehorn addressed the group from the steps of the Bud Oglesby-designed home.

Elizabeth and Ashley Tripplehorn

Ashley has enhanced the Oglesby creation of huge windows and clean lines with her own touches including a striking photo of a young nude woman on the wall. One guest said, “We walked in and my wife said, ‘You can’t look at that.’ And I said, ‘It’s too late!'”

(Editor’s note: No, MySweetCharity is not posting a photo of the nude.)

Main topics were Party on the Green (May 20) and the TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Gala (September 23). Both will be held at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, but the Party on the Green will expand its use of space. They’re expecting about 600 this year and are including local chefs as well as the Rosewood stable of champions.  Among the local chefs scheduled to be there are Tim Byres of SMOKE, Kevin Garvin of Neiman’s, Sharon Hage of the late York Street and Teiichi Sakurai of Tei-An.

Nancy Gopez with camera in hand

Still another hot topic was the Lexus CT 200 H Hybrid that will be raffled off. Raffle Chair Nancy Gopez was there with a camera in one hand and a handful of tickets for sale in the other. But, alas, there was no Lexus hybrid to show off. Seems that were none available to display. Ah, the price of popularity!

Factoid: Since 1967, TACA has contributed $19.3 million to 140 performing art groups.

D'Andra Simmons and Emily Eisenhauer

Oh, what about “The Sugar Bowl”? It has been noticed that when photos are taken, the pose du jour for the stylish gals is to place a hand on the hip. Put two of these lassies together and you’ve got a “sugar bowl.”

D’Andra Simmons and Emily Eisenhauer offered to demonstrate the look.

UPDATE: From this time on, the pose will be called “The D’Andra,” since she has made it a staple of the pictured set.

Emily Giffin Made 700 New Very Best Friends At Chick Lit Luncheon

Lara Tafel

There are people who you just know you’re going to like. Like that gal who taught you how to shave your legs at summer camp. Or, the fellow who helped you understand Jack Kerouac. Or, that pal who bought the materials to roll your arch-enemy’s house. About 700 guests met such a person — Emily Giffin — at the Chick Lit luncheon presented by Dr. Robert and Lara Tafel benefiting Community Partners of Dallas last Friday.

But it wasn’t easy getting to her.

The luncheon was taking place at Brook Hollow Golf Club, which turned into a major traffic jam both on property and leading up to it. First problem was the lineup on Harry Hines. Nicely coiffed females in major SUV’s fighting 18-wheelers for the right lane southbound on HH to get to the BHGC gates. Naturally, the SUV’s won. (Nobody messes with a Texas lady in an SUV on her way to lunch.) What created an unnatural backup was the decision to close the left turn on northbound HH, complete with a policeman and cones.

But once past the BHGC gates, there were still more men-in-blue directing traffic like a square-dance caller. You go that way; you go this way; and a do-si-do and away you go. The reason for this division of traffic was simple. Organizers had decided to use the porte-cochere for a check in complete with book sales. This resulted in the dividing of traffic. But despite the best efforts of valets, it was still confusing and delayed some guests a bit.

Ah, but once inside, it was wall-to-wall gals. One BHGC staffer shook his head saying that the roof was the only place vacant. To accommodate those who were seated on the porch and in the grill, large flat screens were set up.

The star of the lunch blended in perfectly with the crowd. Instead of looking like a successful author with six books under her designer belt, a legal degree from the University of Virginia, and the mother of a soon-to-be-released Kate Hudson movie, she looked like the rest of the “chick lit-ters” seated next to luncheon co-chair Anne Stodghill.

Paige McDaniel and Emily Giffin

At 11:58, Community Partners President/CEO Paige McDaniel started the program announcing that The Container Store had been honored with the Partners for Children Award for the company’s 19 years of support. Back in 1992 The Container Store joined forces with Community Partners in building the first Rainbow Room, where supplies, clothes and toys are made available to caseworkers shopping for abused and neglected children. Just this past year The Container Story donated $28,000 in cash and goods, including more than 5,400 supplies.

The minimal chatting that was occurring on the porch and grill came to a stop when a video was shown telling the story of the children who benefit from the luncheon. The Paige described the lives of pain for the children who seek help from Community Partners. Her message was, “Share the little voice.” In other words, if you suspect a child is being neglected or abused, report it.

At 12:20 Anne and her co-chair Angela Nash introduced Emily, who was having a bad hair day and let the guests know who was responsible — Derek at Frederic Fekkai. He had canceled her appointment. Quite frankly, Emily looked darn good, but promised that she would have looked better if Derek hadn’t stood her up.

Sorry, Derek, but it was quickly apparent that Emily has no fear in naming names. For instance, Jodie Rhodes, who was her first book agent and got nothing but rejection slips, was summed up as, “She’s mean.”

But Emily, like any new very best friend, wasn’t all negs. Nope, she recalled the best day of her life. The day she got married? The birth of her children? Heavens, no. We’re talking about a professional woman who changed careers before she was 30. She mischievously admitted it was the day that her first book deal came through.

Talking through her six books and the thinking behind them, she admitted that Baby Proof was the one that addressed “the last taboo of women — not having children.” That’s when Emily launched a pep rally for Jennifer Aniston. She said that Jennifer had been the victim of her then-husband’s future wife’s placing stories in the media about Jen’s not wanting to have children and that being the cause of the breakup of their marriage. The 700 guests cheered, whistled and whooped it up for Jennifer and Emily.

The author then told a story that provided a guilty pleasure for many. It involved Emily’s gal pal who had been more or less dumped by a Frenchy “Jean Paul.” Emily not only looked the chap up in France, but went to his home in a rural French area, marched up to the door and had her husband take photos of JP from a distance with his matronly wife. Immediately after leaving the couple, Emily had the photos sent to her pal, who said it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her.

But that’s the kind of friend Emily is.