JUST IN: The Dallas Opera’s First Sight/First Night Plans Revealed With Dianne And Mark LaRoe At The Helm

While the queen bees may have flown to cooler places, the worker bees are hard at work churning out news.

The latest comes from The Dallas Opera about its annual fall two-day fundraiser — First Sight/First Night.

First, let’s get the basics down. The luncheon and fashion show will take place on Thursday, October 19, followed the next night [aka Friday, October 20] by First Night’s seated dinner, performance and after party. All of these activities will be taking place at the Winspear Opera House, but you already knew that.

Now about the who’s who involved in putting the festivities on, here goes:

Overseeing the whole two events will art-loving Dianne and Mark LaRoe, who chaired the 2016 TACA Custom Auction Gala, and, boy, have they been busy putting together their team.

Dianne and Mark LaRoe (File photo)

Nancy Nasher and David Haemisseger (File photo)

Serving as honorary co-chairs will be Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger, who have practically made the Performing Arts District their second home.

Lisa Cooley and Ciara Cooley (File photo)

Bela Cooley (File photo)

Steve and Betty Suellentrop (File photo)

Co-chairing the First Sight luncheon will be Lisa Cooley and her girls — daughter Ciara Cooley and new daughter-in-law Bela Cooley. Presented by NorthPark Center, the luncheon will be highlighted by fashions from NorthPark Center’s Salvatore Ferragamo.

As for the black-tie First Night, it will be presented by Deutsche Bank Wealth Management and will kick off for The Dallas Opera season with Betty and Steve Suellentrop serving as co-chairs. The evening will start at 5:30 p.m. with guests arriving via a red carpet for a cocktail party, having a gourmet dinner in a tent in Sammons Park and attending the Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance of Camille Saint-Saëns‘ “Samson and Dalila.” For those with no curfew, there will be an after party.

Tickets are available here.

Dallas Film Society’s 2017 Art Of Film Was A Double Header With Honoree Robert Benton And Dallas Star Awardee Faye Dunaway

Hayley Hamilton Cogill, Paul Coggins and Regina Montoya

Gary Cogill declared that Robert Benton was one of the nicest people in the film business. This claim took place on Wednesday, March 29, as guests like Co-Chairs Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, Stacy Girard, and Haley Hamilton Cogill gathered at Sixty Five Hundred for the Dallas Film Society’s Art of Film honoring Benton for his multiple accomplishments in the film industry. Interestingly, the occasion coincided with the 50th anniversary of “Bonnie And Clyde,” which Robert co-wrote.

James Faust

As DFS Artistic Director James Faust talked film with others, DFS President/CEO Lee Papert said that “she and Robert are due at 7, but they may be running late.”

There was a way that Lee said “she” that made one realize the female in question was not your typical Kmart shopper.

Moments later, the red carpet was abuzz of activities with high-caliber photographers and cell photographers snapping away, for Faye Dunaway had arrived. That was the “she” in question.

Dunaway, who would be receiving the Dallas Star award the next day at the opening of the Dallas International Film Festival, was on the scene because of her fondness and admiration for Benton. The two had worked together 50 years ago on the making of “Bonnie And Clyde.”

As mics were thrust in front of Dunaway, the night’s interviewer Gary looked downright gleeful about his chat on stage with Benton.

Faye Dunaway

As Faye shaded her eyes from the bright lights and accommodated the reporters with mics in hand, Benton was nowhere in sight.

After the last interview was a done deal, Faye found herself in a one-on-one conversation with film Critic Joe Layden.  

The two found themselves sipping soft drinks on a nearby couch. Cogill noted, “That’s a Thomas Crown scene on the couch.” If you squinched your eyes, you could sorta think that despite the lack of a chess board.

Robert Benton

As photographers tried for shots of the two, Faye had had enough. Her initial wave-off didn’t dissuade the flashing photographers. A stronger wave and an unhappy face got the message across.

In the meantime, a car pulled up and a group stepped out with the last one being a man with a cane. It was the man-of-the-hour — Robert Benton.

When someone teased him that he was going to have to behave, a friend laughed, “Oh, don’t tell him that.”

Benton smiled and chuckled with a twinkle in his eye.

As he headed to the ramp leading to the festivities, Cogill’s description of Benton seemed more true than ever.

Plans Announced For The Dallas Opera’s First Sight First Night As Part Of Its 60th Anniversary

Leave it to The Dallas Opera types to get ahead of the heat of summer. Word has it that DO General Director/CEO Keith Cerny and his team got those music loving Winspears (i.e. Ellen and Don) to chair this fall’s First Sight First Night fundraising for the DO’s 60th anniversary.

Ellen and Don Winspear and Jennifer and Keith Cerny (File photo)

Ellen and Don Winspear and Jennifer and Keith Cerny (File photo)

Gee, it was three years before Don was even born and such names as Elsa von Seggern, Larry Kelly and John Ardoin were mainstays along with Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr. in making arias the hip of hop of Dallas sounds back then.

But there’s more to the reveal. Joyce and Harvey Mitchell will be the honorary co-chairs.

Tiffany Divis (File photo)

Tiffany Divis (File photo)

Kara Goss (File photo)

Kara Goss (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

Rhonda Marcus (File photo)

More good news! NorthPark will be the presenting sponsor for the First Sight Luncheon Fashion Show that will be returning to the Winspear on Thursday, October 27, with fashions gloriously provided by NorthPark’s Versace, of course. The luncheon co-chairs will be the willowy fashion-loving trio of Tiffany Divis, Kara Goss and Rhonda Marcus.

Of course, there will be the designer highlights, but those details are forthcoming.

Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk (File photo)

Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk (File photo)

As for the black-tie goings on, Matrice Ellis-Kirk and Ron Kirk will co-chair the cocktails, dinner, opera — “Eugene Onegin” —and after-party with Hunter Sullivan providing the non-operatic tunes. That will all take place on Friday, October 28, at the Winspear. The evening’s festivities are being presented thanks to Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management.

As for the vittles, the Wolfgang Puck crew will be in charge for both the luncheon and dinner.

Before heading to Pilates, why not get your tickets now?

The Art Of Film Honoree Isabella Rossellini Once Again Charms Guests With Her Stories Of Family And The Film Industry

As the cars arrived at The Space on Oak Lawn, they bypassed a mini-red carpet and were directed to a group of waiting car parkers on Friday, November 20. Some fella was interviewing Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert. Others took a pass on the red carpet and headed into The Space with Andy Warhol artwork on all the walls.

Elettra Wiedemann

Elettra Wiedemann

At one point someone claimed that The Art of Film honoree Isabella Rossellini had arrived and been led through a door backstage. It turned out that it was indeed Isabella, and the door led to a VIP meet and greet. With Isabella was her taller-than-tall daughter Elettra Wiedmann.

While the special peeps did the grip-and-grin with the model/actress/author/mom, others checked out the artwork.

On one wall was a photograph by Warhol of Rossellini. It was going for $4,000. Next to that was Warhol’s “Tattooed Women Holding Rose” that could be picked up for $18,000.

Across the way behind the Vodka bar was the framed artwork cover of Warhol’s “After The Party.” Nearby Dr. Michael Sills recalled his father, the late Stanley Sills, had partnered up with Warhol to publish the book. In appreciation for Stanley’s assistance, Warhol gave him two signed prints of “After The Party” from the book. In turn, Michael and his brother, David Sills, were each given one of the prints.

Benton and Courtney Bagot and Shelle and Michael Sills

Benton and Courtney Bagot and Shelle and Michael Sills

According to Christie’s Senior VP Capera Ryan, there were 30 pieces of art on exhibition and up for sale. What doesn’t sell in Dallas is headed to NYC. She pointed out that this opportunity would allow someone to own a Warhols for as little as $4,000.

She pointed out one piece, which Warhol used as a “calling card,” with the names of clients.

Barbara and Stan Levenson and Amy Levenson Krumholz

Barbara and Stan Levenson and Amy Levenson Krumholz

Art of Film Honorary Co-Chair Barbara Levenson rallied from under-the-weather status on Thursday to join husband Honorary Co-Chair/husband Stan Levenson and baby daughter Amy Levenson Krumholz.

Mary Hatcher and Lynn McBee

Mary Hatcher and Lynn McBee

Lynn McBee was still rocking and rolling despite having been subbed in for John Castle at The Breakfast for The Bridge and chairing The Salvation Army luncheon. Regarding Rossellini, Lynn said that she had recently seen Rossellini in “Blue Velvet” and realized that the 1986 David Lynch–directed movie was about human trafficking.

Stacy Girard

Stacy Girard

After the majority of guests like Co-Chairs Stacy Girard and Jerry Rasansky, Pam and Mark Denesuk, Hayley Hamilton Cogill and Veletta Lill took their places at tables around the room, Isabella and Elettra were led to their places.

Soon Dallas film-fount-of-knowledge Gary Cogill and Isabella were seated on stage for a chat with the 200 guests eavesdropping.

Isabella said, “Texas to me spells babies.” The reason was her former marriage to Dallas’ Jon Wiedemann and having adopting a son [Roberto Rossellini] in San Antonio.

Speaking of children, Gary asked about her own childhood to which Isabella explained, “There is no normal for anybody. Everyone’s life and family is very specific.” She fessed up that as a youngster, she and her siblings would throw water on the paparazzi stalking their mother [Ingrid Bergman].

Gary Cogill and Isabella Rossellini

Gary Cogill and Isabella Rossellini

On the topic of her mother, who would have been 100 years old this year, Isabella described her as a “subtle actress” who had a “modern way of being an actor.” On the subject of “Casablanca,” Isabella admitted that “It’s a total fantasy, yet it sucks you in. The detail is so rich.”

From her father, the late director Roberto Rossellini, she learned, “You can tell the story with whatever means you have.” She also recalled that following World War II, he helped redeem Italians in the eyes of the world with his landmark film on fascism, trying to explain, “Before you are a fascist, you are a human being.”

Regarding her own life, Isabella, who was born with scoliosis, underwent her first surgery for the condition in 1967 at the age of 13, resulting in her being in a body cast for 18 months. Just three years ago, she went through yet another surgery for the condition. Her comment? “Nowadays they have great drugs.”

Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini

Like old buddies catching up, Gary and Isabella talked about film industry types like:

  • Actor/dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov: “I think he’s a genius… It isn’t the acrobatics. It’s the feeling. He still has that same power.”
  • “Blue Velvet” director David Lynch: A Houston writer described it as, “Leave It to Beaver dies and goes to hell and loves it.” Dino De Laurentiis gave David Lynch a little money and said, “Make the film you want to make.” The results were “Blue Velvet.” It restored David’s confidence after “Dune.” “Blue Velvet” is “very mysterious. Frightening. Repellant and yet appealing. This is his originality.” It wasn’t so much the narrative as the atmosphere. “Mysterious forces that are around us and we don’t really know the origin of it.” Mel Brooks called David Lynch “Jimmy Stewart from Mars.”
  • “Immortal Beloved” director Bernard Rose: “Immortal Beloved” was MTV director’s take on Beethoven.
  • Isabella’s “Green Porno”: It’s about animal sexuality and Robert Redford produced.
  • Red carpets: “I don’t like fame or walking the green carpet…er, the red carpet.”
  • The love of acting: “I like telling stories. But I don’t only act. I also write and direct.”

No sooner had the twosome taken a bow, than dinner (autumn greens and radicchio with grilled Portobellos, crumbled slow roasted icotta, balsamic cipolii and “Campbell’s Tomato” vinaigrette; chianti-braised costola breve with a fontina, roasted red pepper and herb potato cake and lemon-scented broccolini with fresh baked mini-muffins, corn breads, rolls and sweet cream butter; and autumn pumpkin trifle with cream cheese mousse and toasted pepitas) was served to accompany the food for thought.

Thanks to such events like The Art of Film, the Dallas Film Society has provided $150K in scholarships to local high schools over the past nine years. Next on the scorecard will be the annual Dallas International Film Festival.

Kids Fashion Show For Kindness Is Signing Up Munchkin Models For Sunday’s Fundraiser Now

While the weather is looking rather damp, dreary and downright chilly the next few days, don’t worry. As Annie says, “This sun will come out….only not tomorrow.” It’s expected to arrive Sunday.

"Becoming A Santa" elf*

“Becoming Santa Claus” elf*

By then, the kids will be showing signs of cabin fever or mall malaise. How about an opportunity to dress up and have some fun that doesn’t require cooking, posting greeting cards or shopping?

Well, 8-year-old Emanuelle Marcus has just the answer — Fashion For Kindness. According to her fashion savvy mom Rhonda Marcus, the Hockaday second grader “conceived the idea to hold a children’s fashion show to raise money and awareness for the family opera, ‘Becoming Santa Claus,’ which, as you know was written by Mark Adamo, commissioned by The Dallas Opera and will have its world premier at the Winspear Opera House on Friday, December 4. The opera was funded by Holly and Tom Mayer in memory of their grand-daughter, Chloe Shea, who tragically passed away at age 3 from a rare form of brain cancer.”

For $20, munchkins under 12 can walk the fashion red carpet in their own holiday attire and they will receive a T-shirt and a “Becoming Santa Claus” coloring book. For guests it’s a $10 donation and the request for an unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots program. Sign up deets are here.

The emcee for the fashion show that officially starts at 1 will be Gary Cogill, who has just barely caught his breath after interviewing Jon Voight and Isabella Rossellini.

Another VIP on hand will be composer Adamo, who will chat with the models.

BTW, if you’re planning on your pre-teen Gisele Bündchen/Andre Hamann to be on the red-carpeted catwalk, you need to have her/him there by 12:30. Let’s not have any youthful divas arriving late for this one.

Alas, there is a caveat. If you ain’t registered, you ain’t getting in. And where is it taking place? Sign up and find out! So, the message is “Sign up now!

* Graphic courtesy of The Dallas Opera

The Dallas Opera’s First Night Featured A Chilled Supreme Court Justice For The Football-Theme Black-Tie Soiree

The rain and chill of Friday, October 30, gave way to an afternoon break following the Dallas Women’s foundation’s 30th Annual Lunch at the Hilton Anatole. While some hoped that Mother Nature was leaving the area, weather forecasters warned that she was resting up to unload for the evening.

In fact, Ma Nature was focusing on The Dallas Opera‘s First Night VIP red carpet and pre-performance seated dinner in a tent adjoining the Winspear Opera House.

Forewarned, The Dallas Opera staffers had a back-up plan all prepared. Instead of the usual red-carpet entry from Flora, guests were to arrive at 5:30 in the underground parking and take the elevators to the ground level.

Upon exiting the elevators, the black-tie set strolled a green carpet to the tent for the VIP reception.

Why the green walkway instead of the traditional red? It was to “kick-off” the evening with a nod to the opera’s season opener, “Great Scott,” which had a football theme. Think green playing field. Ah, now it makes sense.

Ellen Winspear and Rhonda and Fraser Marcus

Ellen Winspear and Rhonda and Fraser Marcus

Anne and Steve Stodghill

Anne and Steve Stodghill

Laura and Tom Leppert

Laura and Tom Leppert

As the beautiful people checked in at tables just outside the tent, a couple of staffers swept water from the walkway. While the First Sight & First Night Co-Chairs Ellen in Michael Faircloth and Don Winspear, First Night Dinner Co-Chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill and guests like Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Rhonda in Amanda Wakeley and Fraser Marcus, Honorary Co-Chairs Micki and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Lynn and Allan McBee, Donna Wilhelm, Laura and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Nick Even with Arden Kwan, Kristina Lechowski and “Moby-Dick” and “Everest” librettist Gene Scheer and Holly Reed with Greg Haynes Johnson looked perfect, the tent proved to be not so perfect.

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal and Kristina Lechowski and Gene Scheer

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal and Kristina Lechowski and Gene Scheer

Bart and Jolie Humphrey

Bart and Jolie Humphrey

Greg Haynes Johnson and Holly Reed

Greg Haynes Johnson and Holly Reed

One AARP-vintage gal queried a passerby, “What should I do about my chair?” The lady’s chair was directly under a leak in the tent.

Mary McDermott Cook

Mary McDermott Cook

On the back wall of the tent was a mammoth scoreboard and the sound of college fight songs could be heard. Philanthropist Mary McDermott Cook in a black-and-white jacket threw her arms sky-high and announced, “I’m refereeing!”

Jennifer Cerny’s one-shoulder emerald green gown put the tent’s green flooring to shame…Jolie Humphrey’s “vintage” gown matched the tables’ gold glittery tablecloths, red-and-white chairs and red-and-white chairs.

Someone asked, “Have you seen Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” Immediately the photographers demanded, “Are you serious?” Yup! Next question: “Where is she?” Answer: A hand pointed to an elevated area of the tent where guests were gathering around tables. Final question: “What’s she wearing?” The answer: A white outfit with black piping.

Off the photographers went in search of the Supreme Court justice. A sudden burst of flashes indicated that the photographer had found the jurist. Only the 5’1” tall Supreme was wearing a man’s tuxedo jacket that hung down past her knees, and she looked rather unhappy.

Mitch and Linda Hart, Ruth Ginsburg, Keith and Jennifer Cerny

Mitch and Linda Hart, Ruth Ginsburg, Keith and Jennifer Cerny

To her side a coatless Mitch Hart said, “She needs a blanket.” Yup, she looked pretty unhappy, but wasn’t covering her up with a blanket rather extreme? No. Mitch explained that the 82-year-old was cold and needed a blanket, a stole, anything to keep her from chilling too much.

In the meantime, looking like Nancy Walker’s sister, Justice Ginsburg found herself being photographed with all types of local VIPs. So, why was Ruth at the event? She’s a big opera lover. In the past she had said, “In my dreams, I can be a great diva.” She’s also a big fan of Jake Heggie, who composed “Great Scott.”

And speaking of Jake, while his Supreme groupie was chilling in the tent, he was seen heading past the models in the designer outfits into the Hamon Hall for a private party with a passel of his buds. One woman seeing the passing Heggie parade commented, “It’s probably warmer in there!”

But the weather challenges of the night didn’t end with dinner. After the performance, the after-party got underway back in the tent. With the dinner’s tables and chairs removed, it should have been the perfect place for dancing, partying and celebrating the debut of “Great Scott.” And it was, except the green flooring evidently still had a couple of wet spots creating a bit of a slippery situation.

Friday’s Predicted Rains Change Arrival Plans For Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon And Dallas Opera’s First Night

Mother Nature's tears

Mother Nature’s tears

The rains are coming and Friday is looking pretty darn soggy. At least that’s what the weather experts are saying. While some of Friday night’s high school football games are being rescheduled for tonight, the fundraisers are also arranging for the umbrella-friendly stuff.

The Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Lunch organizers decided the VIP valet would be vastly better at the Chantilly and Tower entrances instead of the Jade entrance. After all the Chantilly and Tower entrances are more accommodating to guests making their way from vehicle to door in the rain. And, yes, there will also be complimentary self-parking. But if you do that, don’t forget your umbrella and remember to puddle hop.

Dallas Women's Foundation 30th Annual Luncheon*

Dallas Women’s Foundation 30th Annual Luncheon*

Model and Elizabeth Anyaa

Model and Elizabeth Anyaa

The Dallas Opera’s First Night red carpet parade that usually goes from the Flora curb to the Winspear front door has been rethought. After all, you can’t have all those ultra-fabulous gowns being dragged through the mini-ponds. According to the Dallas Opera braintrust, First Night guests will discover the valets in the Winspear’s underground garage. Then they (the guests, not the valets) will take the elevators up to the ground level, where the red carpet will be held in the tent. The models wearing the creations by Geoffrey Henning (Great Scot), Khanh Nguyen (Tosca), Ed Popken (Becoming Santa Claus), Elizabeth Anyaa (Manon) and Michael Faircloth (Show Boat) will be on stages in the Winspear lobby for the reception.

Is there anything better than a rain backup plan? Yup, no need for a rain backup plan.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Women's Foundation

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: The Dallas Opera’s First Night

Keith and Jennifer Cerny (File photo)

Keith and Jennifer Cerny (File photo)

The Dallas Opera is on a roll. Its First Sight Luncheon sold out on October 16. Now, more “sold out” news is coming from the aria set.

First Sight First Night Event Co-Chair Don Winspear announced last night at the First Sight First Night patron party in Hall Arts that the First Night’s red-carpet, seated supper and after-party on Friday, October 29, is sold out, too. Needless to say, the news was greeted with cheers, smiles and applause.

First Night is being presented by Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management.

BTW, The Dallas Opera General Director/CEO Keith Cerny reported that wife Jennifer Cerny has picked out her gown for the big night. To top her gown from last year is gonna be tough, but Keith thinks she just might have done it.

 

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: The Dallas Opera’s First Sight Fashion Show And Luncheon

What a simply fabulous way to end the week and to look forward to a weekend of beautiful weather! Word just arrived that The Dallas Opera’s First Sight Luncheon and Fashion Show is a done deal. In other words, it’s sold out, but there’s probably a waiting list if you waited too long. The Thursday, October 29th daytime event is being chaired by Dallas First Lady Micki Rawlings and will feature clothes from Mulberry at NorthPark.

Mike and Micki Rawlings (File photo)

Mike and Micki Rawlings (File photo)

As for the First Night red carpet reception and dinner, there are a scant number of tickets left for the black-tie activities preceding the performance of “Great Scott” at the Winspear on Friday, October 30. The word “hustle” may not be strong enough if you’re planning on joining Co-Chairs Ellen and Don Winspear, Honorary Co-Chairs Micki and Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dinner Co-Chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill. So, lock down your tickets and go shopping for that new gown/tuxedo and appropriate trinkets.

JUST IN: John Clutts To Chair 5th Annual Dallas Summer Musical High School Musical Theatre Awards

Word has it that John Clutts is thrilled. The reason? He’s just been named to chair the 5th Annual Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards on Thursday, April 16, at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Tracy Jordan and John Clutts*

Tracy Jordan and John Clutts*

According to Dallas Summer Musical President/Managing Director Michael Jenkins, “John’s experience in the community as a dedicated leader and volunteer, along with his business acumen and insight, is the perfect combination for this role as chair of the 5th Annual High School Musical Awards.”

The evening will include Red Carpet arrivals, a VIP reception and the show beginning at 7 p.m.

And what will the show be? It will be performances featuring the nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Musical complete with musicians supporting them on stage.

But the highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the winners and scholarship recipients.

So, exactly how are the winners picked? It’s a lengthy process supervised by Program Manager Tracy Jordan.

First of all, a panel of three judges visit each participating North Texas high school and judge productions in the following 16 categories: Best Musical, Best Direction, Best Musical Direction, Best Choreography, Best Orchestra, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting, Best Ensemble, Best Crew, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress.

The judges’ “ballots are tabulated by the accounting firm of Grant Thornton and the top scoring high schools in each category are nominated as finalists” in all categories except Best Actor and Best Actress.

The nominees in those two categories will “perform the evening before the Awards show for the assembled Dallas Summer Musicals judges and will be scored at that time. The winners will be revealed the next night at the Awards show at the Musical Hall.”

While scholarships will be $1,000 and more, the Best Actor and Best Actress winner will “receive an all-expense paid trip for five days to New York City to represent their high school in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmy™ Awards) for the chance to win prizes and scholarship, which vary by year.”

Thanks to Founding Donors Leah and Jerry Fullinwider, “DSM’s program is the only official awards program in North Texas recognized by the National High school Musical Theatre Awards.”

According to John, ““I am honored to chair this program and be a part of its continued development and success,” John replied. “The reach of this program across North Texas is growing and we look forward to even more schools participating next year.”
For ages, North Texas has been known for having a lovefest with Broadway thanks to people like Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, Roger Horchow, Cappy McGarr and the list goes on. Who knows? One of these young performers may be taking that first step to a “tony” future.

Now, you know why John is thrilled.

* Photo credit: Chris Waits

Academy Of Country Music “Lifting Lives” Benefit Had Heavyweights On Stage And A Lightweight Red Carpet

For modern country-western music worshipers, the 50th anniversary Academy of Country Music awards on Sunday, April 19, was the super-duper bowl. But on the Friday before, a scant 900 were to party for Garth Brooks’ ACM Lifting Lives benefiting Children’s Health and Cook’s Children. Why, there was even a chance to bid on a couple of Garth’s red pickups.

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks

Produced by ACM Lifting Lives and Encore Live of Fort Worth, pre-event hype was as amazing as the Sunday celebration at AT&T Stadium. The fundraiser was to spontaneously take place at the Omni Dallas and Fort Worth Zoo with Hunter Hayes, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, Trisha Yearwood and, of course, Garth.

However, signs appeared that all was not exactly falling into place. The Monday before, the twin events were reduced to Big D only. It was just as well, since the weather was really fouling up outdoor plans throughout the area.

When the big night arrived, it was a mixed bag. The good news was that on the surface the guests were having a jolly good time. Behind the scenes it was not going exactly according to schedule. So much so that one local event planner passing by winked, “Don’t mention our name with this.”

The media was given strict orders in the days leading up to the event. Media was to check in at 5:15 p.m. Red carpet for media interviews with celebs was to take place from 5:45 p.m.-7:30 p.m. The cocktail reception for guests was to start at 6 p.m. Dinner and the program would take place in the Dallas Ballroom from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Strict orders were given that under no circumstances were any media allowed to photograph the performers during the program. If one broke the rule, they would be escorted out of the ballroom, never to return. They would probably be kicked off Garth’s Christmas card list, too.

Following orders to a “T,” the media checked in on time and were escorted to the curtained-off lobby outside the Trinity Ballroom, where a mini-red carpet was in place with platforms and roping. The sponsor backdrop was still being jiggled to fit just right.

Josh Dorr

Josh Dorr

Tara and Montel Williams

Tara and Montel Williams

Staffers in black walked the area comparing notes. At 6:10 p.m. word was passed that Josh Dorr was approaching. One media type asked, “Who’s he?” Didn’t matter. Within minutes that photographer was calling Josh by name and asking him to move to his left for a better shot. A staffer walked by reporting that Hunter would not be walking the carpet.

At 6:15 p.m. Montel Willliams, who would be co-hosting with ET’s Nancy O’Dell, was next on the carpet with his wife Tara. Things were rolling along.

Alan Peppard and Charlotte Jones Anderson

Alan Peppard and Charlotte Jones Anderson

Behind the crowd of photographers and reporters was Charlotte Jones Anderson talking with Alan Peppard.

Then, nothing. The clock was ticking. Staffers compared notes. A blonde announced that there was food and drinks in another room for the media. Some of the press perked up. Others shrugged. Then she was more emphatic. Some followed her. Others stood their ground. Finally, it was reported that the room had to be cleared for a VIP reception, but the media would be back in place by 6:45 for the rest of the red carpet.

Like hungry mice, the media fell for the bait and took their place in a holding room, where mini-crab cakes and itty-bitty waffles were passed around. At 6:45 Dallas Morning News photographer Ashley Landis and a Fort Worth photographer broke ranks and headed back to the curtained-off lobby. Once inside the area they were scrammed out by a California PR type.

Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood

Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood

At 7:00 p.m. more media gathered outside the curtain area, where they spied between the curtains more than 100 guests plus Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, and Trisha and Garth posing against the backdrop for Getty photographers. One media type grumbled that he hoped that his equipment was still untouched when they let them back in. The clock kept ticking, but the crowd wasn’t moving.

Sybil and David Yurman

Sybil and David Yurman

The Band Perry

The Band Perry

Big Little Town

Big Little Town

Nancy O'Dell

Nancy O’Dell

Finally at 7:14 p.m., the VIP’s were heading to the ballroom for the big show and the media was allowed back in and took their place. Jeweler David Yurman, The Band Perry and Big Little Town and Nancy O’Dell walked the line.

Courtney Kerr

Courtney Kerr

At 7:40 p.m. a staffer announced that Courtney Kerr would be next to be photographed and interviewed. A national member of the media asked, “Who’s she?” Local types muttered something about her being a reality show used-to-be, a blogger, and a former manager of a mall sunglass shop.

Just as Trisha and Garth finished up the last interview at 8:17 p.m., the staffers seemed to be disappearing. One media type asked when Urban and Lady Antebellum would be showing up. Nope. They wouldn’t be available. That was it.

The media closed up shop, since they were prohibited from shooting the program inside the ballroom, where the dinner (green salad, petite filet with vegetables and Key Lime cheesecake) was now being served.

But the good news is that the live auction resulted in Garth buying back his old dually pickup for a cool $275,000. He just couldn’t part with his beloved 1992 pickup. In the end, more than $700,000 was raised for the charities.

Another thing that was raised was the roof, what with all those talented celebs on stage. After Hunter’s short opening set got a few couples out on the dance floor—Jennifer and John Eagle among them—Little Big Town had the crowd singing along with its hits like “Pontoon” and  “Girl Crush.” The Band Perry kept things going with a touching song called “Bright Eyes,” for which they were joined onstage by more than a dozen Lifting Lives campers with Williams Syndrome, a rare neurodevelopment disorder.

After Lady Antebellum’s performance of the upbeat pop rocker “Need You Now”—probably the evening’s highlight to that point—Urban blistered through a rocking set before introducing Garth. “He’s the reason we’re here tonight,” Keith said. “If he calls, you come a-runnin.’ ” Urban and Brooks teamed up on the latter’s smash, “Friends in Low Places,” before Trisha sang her hit tune, “She’s In Love With The Boy.” Then Keith, Garth and Hunter returned to the stage to top off the evening with a stirring rendition of Brooks’ monster hit, “The Dance.” “I love you guys,” Garth concluded just before midnight, disappearing into the wings. “Thanks for having us!”

A ‘Verklempt’ Blythe Danner Helps Jump-Start The Ninth Annual Dallas International Film Festival

The opening night celebration for the Dallas International Film Festival is always a memorable event. And the ninth annual one, held Thursday, April 9, at the historic Majestic Theatre downtown, was no exception. How could it have been anything but, with the beautiful and talented, Emmy-winning actress Blythe Danner walking the red carpet, then accepting her Dallas Star Award before the Opening Night Centerpiece screening of her latest feature, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”?

Clad in a white blouse and long black skirt, Danner, 72, began the evening by moving graciously along the red carpet in front of the theater, posing for photographers and chatting amiably with reporters. Not far away from her was Dallas resident Mary Crosland, who was described as an executive producer on the “Dreams” film. Crosland was being cheered on by Debra Nelson, a Dallas friend who was watching the action from the sidewalk.

With the Carpet duties behind them, the group headed next into the Majestic lobby, where such first-nighters as Anne and Steve Stodghill and big DIFF sponsors Randall Goss and Arthur E. Benjamin were among the excited, chit-chatting crowd. Then the lights blinked on and off and everyone headed into the seating area for the opening ceremony. The crowd was welcomed by Don Stokes, chairman of the board of the Dallas Film Society, and Lee Papert, the society’s president and CEO.

Lee, standing at a podium on the raised stage, recognized the evening’s presenting sponsor, AutoNation, before giving way to Goss. Randall pointed out that the 11-day festival would be a “Herculean effort,” featuring 165 movies from 32 countries. Then, bringing on James Faust, the film society’s beloved artistic director, Goss said, “I’d like to introduce the DFS athletic … er, artistic … director, James Faust!” James, ever the wise-cracker, continued the joke as the audience roared: “My first job as athletic director will be to …” After giving a shout-out to the “1,400 volunteers who work with us year-round,” Faust brought on veteran Dallas TV reporter/critic Bobbie Wygant, who introduced a video reel featuring clips of Danner’s work.

When the video was over Blythe herself emerged, to hearty applause, to receive the film society’s Dallas Star award. “I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to be here,” she said. “In fact I’m getting a little verklempt—[partly] because my cousins are here tonight.”

After poking fun at her current TV ad for an osteoporosis treatment—“Thanks to my Prolix commercial, my bones are strong!”—Danner explained that the evening’s Centerpiece film had been shot in just 18 days and had featured an “extraordinary script.” She also said the flick’s director, Brett Haley, had brought great sensitivity and humor to the movie, which tells the story of a widow whose quiet life is turned upside down when she meets several new people, including a handsome widower played by Sam Elliott.

Surprising as it was for many in the audience to learn, “I’ll See You in My Dreams” is Danner’s first leading role ever. However, “there have been better roles for women lately, than when I first started years ago,” she said. Then it was time to screen the Centerpiece film—but not before Faust got in one last wisecrack. “Blythe is cool,” James said. “But we’re here for a movie … ‘Fast & Furious 8.’ ”

Get All “Goop”-ed Up For Blythe Danner’s Receiving The Dallas International Film Festival’s Dallas Star Award

If you were one of the lucky ones to have scooped up something at last year’s “Goop” pop-up shop at Highland Park Village, then you’re all ready for Thursday night. What’s happening that deserves a show-and-swell in Gwyneth Paltrow fashion? Her mom, Blythe Danner, is gonna be in town to accept the Dallas Stars Award at the Dallas International Film Festival’s opening night Centerpiece Screening at the Majestic Theatre.

Known for her theatrical (“Butterflies Are Free”, “The Deep Blue Sea” and “Our Town”), television (“Will & Grace” and “Huff”) and movie performances (“The Great Santini”, “Meet the Parents” and “1776”) for ages, Blythe has been all over the small screens talking up Prolia.

Most recently, the 72-year-old Danner was at the VIP dinner for her Sundance film, “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” where she was asked by the New York Post’s “Page Six” about Gwyneth’s “conscious uncoupling” with husband Chris Martin. Her response, “They are so smart … both incredibly brilliant. They’re making it work, they’re great friends and the kids are in wonderful shape. So I have to take my hat off to both of them.”

Dallas Film Society Reveals Dallas Star Awardees And 165 Films For Upcoming 2015 Dallas International Film Festival

The Dallas Film Society just revealed the recipients of the Dallas Star Award and the Texas Avery Animation Award, as well its complete lineup for the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival presented by AutoNation.

From Thursday, April 9, through Sunday, April 19, the annual film festival will feature “165 films representing 32 countries” including 17 premieres of which 10 will be world premieres, three North American premieres and four U.S. premieres.

James Faust (File Photo)

James Faust (File Photo)

According to DFS Artistic Director James Faust, “Completing the lineup for our 9th festival is such a major accomplishment. We are proud to have another amazing group of films, filmmakers, and award recipients to present to the DFW community.”

But if you’re into name dropping, here’s your paragraph to read. On the opening night ”I’ll See You in My Dreams” starring Emmy and Tony Award-winning Blythe Danner will be shown thanks to U.S. Risk/Kara and Randall Goss. On this occasion, Blythe will “accept the Dallas Star Award, presented by the Dallas Film Society to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to modern cinema and the advancement of the art of film.”

OK, so if you’re of a certain age group, you’re thinking her contribution has been daughter Gwyneth Paltrow. Ah, but if you look at her lengthy career, you’ll see it includes everything from dramas (“The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides”), musicals (“1776”) and television (“Huff” and “Will & Grace”) to comedies (“Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”).

At the Dallas Film Society Honors director John Landis will receive a Dallas Star Award for his numerous film accomplishments including “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, “An American Werewolf in London”, “Trading Place” and “The Blues Brothers”, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary. He also wrote and directed “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”.

The late L.M. Kit Carson, who died this past October, will be honored posthumously with a Dallas Star Award. Kit’s accomplishments included such screenplays as “Paris, Texas,” “Breathless” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”. It was Kit, who along with the late SMU film professor Bill Jones, established the USA Film Festival in the early 1970’s.

And saluting area animation within the film industry, the Texas Avery Animation Award will be presented to 2015 Golden Globe nominees and BAFTA winners Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. If their names don’t immediately register, think “The Lego Movie”.

DFS members will be able to purchase online tickets Monday, March 16. Public sales will be available starting Thursday, March 19. For ticket info, check here

Lee Papert (File photo)

Lee Papert (File photo)

.

According to Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert, “The majority of the films will be screened at The Angelika – Dallas. The Opening Night Screening will occur at the Majestic Theater downtown. We’ll have an outdoor screening at Klyde Warren Park on Saturday, April 11. We’ll also be at the Texas Theater on April 17-19. We’ll have one Centerpiece Screening at the Cinemark in West Plano on Thursday, April 16.”

Whew! If you think that’s a lot of screenings, you’ll see that’s just a smidgen of what will be showing. For a full-blown listing of the films that will be shown, just follow the jump: [Read more…]

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: Unite Forever Gala

There was a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’ taking place at AT&T Cowboys Stadium for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Unite Forever Gala. UWMD CEO Jennifer Sampson‘s damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead effort paid off!

Jennifer Sampson, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Brian Gallagher

Jennifer Sampson, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Brian Gallagher

With the likes of Bushes, Perots, Joneses, Dedmans, Stabauchs, Aikman (and his cute date), Hunts and Forbes 500-type CEO’s in the crowd, success was guaranteed.

The crowds at "Unite Forever Gala"

The crowds at “Unite Forever Gala”

Doing all the singing on stage were croonin’ Blake Shelton and singer/dancer Usher.

Blake Sheldon

Blake Shelton

Usher and dancer

Usher and dancer

But with 20,000 in the stands and 1,400 wining and dining on a multi-terraced dining room on the field, you just know that there were a herd of hifalutin types in the crowd.

While the post is being prepared, enjoy the faces that partied hardy on Friday, February 6, at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Round Robin November 8: An Evening Of Hope Gala And Hollywood Domino Dallas

The Dallas North Tollway was pretty ugly, Saturday, November 8. In the rear view mirror the lights were a blanket of white lights. Ahead was a stagnant sea of red lights. Still fundraising covered the area north of the Bush and in the shadow of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Hope’s Door

The Stonebriar Westin was busy, busy, busy. There was a wedding in one area. The Toyota team was hosting California Toyotians to get them to move to North Texas.

Down a hallway with signs promoting the Toyota gathering, the VIP party for Hope’s Door‘s An Evening Of Hope with some in Gatsby attire found their way to a pre-fundraising reception.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Once in the reception…though the Toyota folks were so friendly that you wanted to at least buy a Toyota, if not sign up to work for ‘em… someone pointed out that commentator Glenn Beck was over in the corner.

But there was a bevy of blondes and others standing in line with cellphones prepared to capture a moment of their relationship. Gee, it was like kids eagerly waiting to sit in Santa’s lap.

In Dr. T. J. Eckleburg glasses, Glenn looked like a grown-up version of The Christmas Story’s Ralphie. When asked where his beautiful wife Tania was, he replied that she was out of town. And, yes, she was “beautiful both inside and out.”

He also hinted that during the past couple of years he had changed his nonprofit focus and would be revealing his plans for the future in the days ahead.

Holly Reed

Holly Reed

Chanel Vieth

Chanel Vieth

Others in the reception included Carter Malouf, Cathy Vieth with daughter Chanel Vieth and Holly Reed, who is still in a non-huggable state. Seems she had tripped over her new puppy, Kiwi, and broke her collarbone in two places. Bad puppy!

At dinner Hope’s Door Interim Executive Director Suzanne Bock Grishman told how the day after she took Glenn and Tania on a tour of the facilities, Glenn shared the experience with his radio listeners. The results? More than 550 raffle tickets @ $100 a pop for a 2014 CLA Class Mercedes-Benz were sold.

Event Chair Stephanie Mattison,in gold Gatsby-style sequined gown with fringe, was presented a pearl necklace by Board Member LaShon Ross. The strand was donated by jewelry/host committee member Carter.

One of the live auction highlights was actor Burton Gilliam‘s putting a “Blazing Saddles” movie script signed by director Mel Brooks up for bid plus a lunch with Burton.

Another of the evening’s highlights was the presentation of the Heroes of Hope Award to Jessica Blair and The Mary Kay Foundation. Jessica “emphasized that Hope’s Door is crucial to the victims of domestic violence and helps them become survivors.”

In case Hope’s Door is new on your nonprofit radar, the organization offers “intervention and prevention services to individuals and families affected by domestic violence and to provide educational programs that enhance the community’s capacity to respond.”

Hollywood Dominos

Going south on the Tollway proved to test the patience of a saint, let alone hundreds of PWPAP (People With Plans And Places), thanks to a collision between two white cars and construction at Lemmon Avenue causing all the traffic to be funneled down to one lane.

Still, dedicated fundraisers made their way to The Empire Room on Riverfront for Hollywood Dominos.

The event had had a rough launch. After a couple of false starts, Co-Chairs Ayaan Ahmed, Sally Evans, Priya Bhola Rathod, Reese Threadgill and Ashley Burghardt announced it was finally taking place. Ayaan was an old pro at fundraising. After event planning in New York City, she had fallen in love with Dallas and moved to the North Texas area. Then she arranged for the Diamond Rocks event with Russell Simmons in 2009 at Reunion Station.

Bu false starts? So, your memory is too boggled with plans for the holiday. Here is a Readers Digest version of its history. Back in August at Minimally Invasive Surgical Institute of Dallas, the word was revealed that Johnny Depp’s fiancé, Amber Heard, would be the celeb host and the event would take place at F.I.G. with hundreds in attendance and would benefit Amber’s The Art of Elysium and local fav Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. The crowd in for the announcement party was made up of folks whose tans were as dark as their outfits were ultra-white.

Whoa! Hopes were high that maybe Depp himself would pop by for the September 6th event.

After all, other Hollywood Dominos in Los Angeles, New York and Cannes had featured international media clamoring to get to such stars as Ashton Kutcher, Charlize Theron, Gerard Butler, Demi Moore, John Hamm, etc.

But in August just days before the event, word was quietly passed that Ambie had a scheduling conflict and the event would have to be postponed to a later date.

Kristin Davis

Kristin Davis

Then it was announced that Amber and accessory du jour Depp wouldn’t be coming at all. Instead 25-year-old singer Vanessa Hudgens, 49-year-old Kristin “Sex and The City” Davis and Jesse “Dallas” Metcalfe would provide the star va-va-voom. In turn the festivities would provide funding for Make-A-Wish of North Texas.

Previous vendors had had to bail due to “scheduling conflicts”. Some former associates did side eyes and then raised their irises to the ceiling saying, “Honey, good luck.”

The red carpet walk was shorter than the length of a king-size bed. Vanessa arrived on time. Kristin appeared just as the red walk was closing down. Media was advised that interview with the “celebs” would only be allowed during the carpet walk.

Instead of 300, it was less than half that size. TMZ and Entertainment Tonight weren’t on the other side of the velvet rope at the red carpet parade. But KTXD’s Paul Salfen showed up and asked Kristin for a photo with his gal pal. Kristin accommodated, but then said she had to get inside.

Jesse Metcalfe and Bill Hutchinson

Jesse Metcalfe and Bill Hutchinson

Barry and Lana Andrews

Barry and Lana Andrews

Mike and Natalie McGuire

Mike and Natalie McGuire

Cara Santana

Cara Santana

Kaitlyn Ballard and Sophie McGuire

Kaitlyn Ballard and Sophie McGuire

Inside Jesse had his pals like Bill Hutchison, Lana and Barry Andrews, Natalie and Mike McGuire and Jesse’s date Cara Santana at tables. Since it was Jesse and it was a family-friendly event, McGuire daughter Sophie had brought along gal-pal Kaitlyn Ballard.

Still another munchkin in attendance was pretty-in-pink Julia Brown, who in addition to being the Make-A-Wish lady of the hour was also an adorable leukemia survivor.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: First Night

Keith and Jennifer Cerny

Keith and Jennifer Cerny

Stefani Burns

Stefani Burns

Just the day before opera lovers were lunching at the Dallas Opera’s First Sight with fabulous food and fashion. Friday, October 24, the crowd had gussied up with the most amazing gowns for the Dallas Opera’s First Night and the season’s opening night. The evening was headlined with perfect weather, gents just made to suit for tuxedos and models standing on platforms showing off one-of-a-kind fashions completing the seasons performances.

Pictures from the red carpet showcase entrance can be seen at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: First Sight/First Night

According to First Sight/First Night Co-Chair Lynn McBee,

Nick Even and Lynn McBee*

Nick Even and Lynn McBee*

“The season opening of the Dallas Opera has to be one of the most thrilling times of year in the city! Nicholas Even and I are really excited to be co-chairs of the First Sight/First Night events.

“The season opens with a stunning fashion show, First Sight Fashion Show and Luncheon, featuring styles by world-class Italian designer Roberto Cavalli and custom-made gowns created by internationally renowned Dallas designers. Each of the operas presented during the 2014-15 ‘Heights of Passion’ Season will be reflected in the gown designs. And of course we will be having a lavish gourmet luncheon prepared by Wolfgang Puck catering. The event is being held Thursday, October 23 at 11:00 a.m. in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

“We can’t wait to see the spectacular fashions presented by Roberto Cavalli, NorthPark Center —a name synonymous with joy, glamour, and success!

“The Dallas designers creating the opera-themed gowns are Nicolas Villalba who will design for The Marriage of Figaro; Abi FerrinSalome; Elizabeth Anyaa La Wally; Edo PopkenEverest; Khahn Nguyen, (Nha Khahn line) – La Bohème; and Michael FairclothIolanta.

“The ambiance of the occasion is certain to be fabulous with Event Architect Jeffrey Horn at the helm!

“First Sight is also a fundraiser and the opera gowns will be available to purchase online through Heritage Auctions. Table sales for First Sight start at $10,000 and individual tickets are $250.

“The activities continue with the First Night Pre-Performance Dinner, Friday, October 24, 5:30 p.m., beginning with a dramatic ‘Red Carpet’ arrival. This lovely affair is held at Sammons Park in a tent (adjacent to the Winspear Opera House) with magnificent opera décor. Held prior to the opera, it features an elegant three-course, gourmet dinner. Tables start at $25,000 and individual tickets are $750. (All tickets include a ticket to the After Party.)

“The Linda and Mitch Hart Season Opening Night Performance is The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart, Friday, October 24, 8:00 p.m., a comedic gem, also presented at the Winspear Opera House. Tickets prices vary and are available by calling 214-443-1000 or by visiting www.dallasopera.org.

“First Night After Party begins as the opera ends in the Sammons Park tent with DJ Lucy Wrubel rocking the house while guests mingle with the cast. Patrons will enjoy a fantastic breakfast bar, decadent desserts and Opera-inspired cocktails. Tickets are $125.

“The Winspear Opera House is located at 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

“We are also pleased to announce the corporate sponsors we already have participating in the FIRST SIGHT/FIRST NIGHT festivities—NorthPark Center, Haynes and Boone, LLP, St. Michelle Wine Estates, and Heritage Auctions! We invite other companies to support these events and enjoy the exposure affiliated with this wonderful arts organization.

“We have tickets, table sales, and sponsorships on sale now. For more information please visit http://dallasopera.org/firstnight. All proceeds benefit the Dallas Opera, a non-profit arts organization.

“We look forward to seeing everyone at these fantastic events!”

* Photo provided by the Dallas Opera