Doing Time At The Ritz-Carlton For Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

When New York City’s Robert A.M. Stern Architects designed Dallas’ Ritz-Carlton, they must have had the idea that mass transit and SmartCars were the only modes of transportation in Texas. What does this thought have to do with Wednesday’s Child‘s “Belonging Luncheon” Friday at the Ritz? More later, but first let’s get to the luncheon.

VIP types were told that their reception for the luncheon started at 10:30. With expectations that they would meet featured speaker Leigh Anne Tuohy of The Blind Side fame, they arrived to find sponsor backdrop in place, photographer ready to shoot and notables like Event Chairs Janelle (pictured) and Larry Friedman, emcee Gloria Campos, award recipients Myrna Schlegel and Julie and Lance Brennan. But, alas, no Leigh Anne.

As the minutes ticked away, the VIP reception melted into the pre-luncheon reception with 402 getting very cozy. Any long-haired blonde was given a second look. Say, wait! Was that Leigh Anne? Yes, but not the Leigh Anne you suspected. It was Junior League of Dallas President Leigh Anne Haugh, who had brought a copy of a magazine with a story about Leigh Anne Tuohy’s daughter Collins when she spoke to the Junior League. “I just thought she might like to have a copy,” Leigh Anne H. said. Eventually, she would seek help getting the publication to Leigh Anne T. via awardee Myrna.

But that was not to say the VIPs weren’t a part of the crowd. Media types like WFAA’s Debbie Denmon and media personality Jocelyn White were mixing with guests. Plus the Schlegel clan of beauties including patriarch Bob Schlegel and sisters Kari Schlegel and Kimberly Whitman (pictured left with Bob Schlegel) were there to cheer on Myrna.

To help while away the time, Ritz staff made sure everyone had something to drink, and adorable male models encouraged guests to sign up for the raffle — more tickets to the Super Bowl and a nice piece of jewelry by Naomi. Over to the side was a collection of art by local celebs for sale.

As the doors to the ballroom opened at noon, still no Leigh Anne T was in sight. Someone said she was on property but was in a private room just waiting to speak.

Immediately upon entering the ballroom, guests were welcomed to songs performed by the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas on risers at the back of the room. Looking quite magnificent, the room was filled with round tables easily seating 10 people, except for the table directly in front of the podium. This table was an extended long head table with Janelle and Larry seated at the head along with friends like Craig Watkins (pictured left with Larry Friedman).

Promptly at 12:05 p.m. a video was presented with Wednesday’s Child President/CEO Pat Lockerd and others telling the organization’s story and asking guests to “Step Up” with donations.

Following the video at 12:10 p.m., one of the young people from the video named Mickey was introduced to the crowd by Pat. Mickey addressed the crowd like a seasoned veteran–until she asked everyone in the room to hold up the pledge cards at their tables. With that a forest of white cards grew. Then Mickey said, “Now, who is going to be the first to pledge $5,000?” The forest was toppled. Then she asked for a $1,000 pledge. Not a card went up. She continued not giving up and finished her talk at 12:17 p.m. with “Dig deep.”

By this time, a parade of servers with salad plates had made its way to the tables and Gloria was at the podium again encouraging people to pledge.

Just as the Children’s Chorus was exiting the ballroom at 12:18 p.m., four Grinches arrived on the scene asking for pledge cards.

In typical Ritz serving style, the servers like precision Rockettes removed the salad plates as guests chatter. But instead of immediately being replaced by entres, the tables remained empty. No problem. It allowed folks to table hop, while the male models wandered the room promoting raffle ticket sales.

Someone in the know claimed that the event was scheduled with the Ritz to be over by 1. But a guest reading the program said, “No, the lunch ends at 1:30.” Who says people don’t read programs?

One guest admitted that she was starting to feel uncomfortable with all the pressure to pledge and buy raffle tickets. “Do you think they’re going to have a toll booth when we leave?”

At 12:38 p.m., the parade of servers reappeared with entre plates. A female voice was heard over the PA system. Some eyes looked to the podium, but no one was there. Expressions of confusion were exchanged. “Did you hear what she said?” No, but it must not have been important because no one was rushing for the doors.

At 1 p.m., the voice was heard again but still not understood. Someone pointed out the source of the voice was a woman at the production table in the back of the room. She didn’t seem upset, so again it wasn’t that big a deal.

The male models continued to wander the room with signs held high.

At 1:02 Gloria was back at the podium but people were hardly listening. They had settled into a pleasant chat session. Putting on her glasses, Gloria carried on and finally got the groups’ attention as she introduced Janelle and Larry, who were a nice combination of sincerity and chuckles.

One of their first duties was to present Julie and Lance Brennan (pictured left with Julie Brennan) with “The Gloria” named after guess who? The owners of The Turtle Creek News were brief and grateful.

Then Myrna Schlegel (pictured) received the “Belonging Award” and was even briefer in her acceptance.

While all these announcements and acceptances were going on, the Ritz staff started removing the floral centerpieces. Maybe they were rentals and had to get to the next event? But wait. The staff returned to the tables with big, square white platters with white mounds. From a distance they looked like Japanese hot hand towels. Strange. On closer inspection the mound wasn’t a clump of towels at all, but a cloud of “white stuff.”

Before guests could trade ideas on what to do with the new centerpiece, a slick video announced that Leigh Anne Tuohy was going to speak. For those who had been holding their breath since 10:30, the 1:20 appearance was long anticipated.

Leigh Anne (pictured) didn’t fail. Spunky, take no prisoners and fearless, she talked to the remaining guests. Some like Florence Shapiro just couldn’t stay.

Leigh Anne talked about

  • attending the Academy Awards and being seated with Sandi (Bullock) and Jesse (James)
  • Daughter Collins standing up in the moon roof of the limo on the way to Academy
  • Adopted son Michael’s scaring a beggar by chasing after him to give him some money
  • How their family shot into the national spotlight and
  • The need for people to make a difference in the lives of others by getting involved.

By the time she finished her talk at 1:48 p.m. with “I’m gonna be checking on you,” even the most frustrated guest was a member of the Tuohy fan club and rewarded her with a standing ovation. However, that standing ovation quickly became a rush to the valet. Poor Janelle and Larry tried to get the guests to stay for the raffle drawing, but the herd was headed to their cars. Or at least that’s what they had planned.

Little did they know that they were rushing to wait. As more than 300 people turned in their blue valet tickets and cooled their heels, they made observations about the Ritz’s itty bitty porte-cochere that was strangling the delivery of cars. On the other hand, the Ritz staff must have been used to the “it’s nothing new” situation. With cups of coffee on trays, they were gracious hosts trying to soothe the frustrated guests.

Soon it became a bunker mentality with veterans advising newcomers to settle back and just wait. This cooling of heels resulted in all types of activities. Some cell phoned to explain their delayed arrival at appointments. Others started texting their inner feelings about the Ritz’s parking nightmare ala social media. But some made discoveries. For instance, one woman, who had her hands full, dropped her program. Without hesitation the gentleman next to her moved quickly to retrieve the program for her. In handing the program to the woman, she noted his hand, “That’s a huge ring! What does it stand for?” To which 6’1″, former Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle Russell Maryland (pictured) humbly said, “The Super Bowl.”

Tutu Chic Fashion Show Scored “Wow!” Despite Winspear Sniff Factor

While Dallas audiences have been accused by some of being too generous with their standing ovations, the word “Wow!” is another situation entirely. Rarely is the word heard rising from audiences at a fashion show. Usually, the predominantly female audiences smile and nod with approval, as if at a tennis tournament.

Thursday “Wow!” was popping up all over the Winspear stage as Stanley Korshak presented designer Naeem Khan and his collection at the Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon benefiting the Texas Ballet Theater. Instead of the everyday, lean professional models, the runway was strutted and danced with dancers (pictured) from the TBT.

Before the show started, Naeem was asked about the presentation of his Spring 2011 collection at New York’s Fashion Week, when he received a standing ovation from the audience of fashion experts. The former Halston assistant admitted that Fashion Week is a killer and none of the audiences go overboard with praise. If you check out the video, you’ll see Naeem take a bow looking like the proudest peacock on the walk. What you don’t see is the crowd giving him a standing ovation.

But back to Dallas and Tutu. The event started off on a bit of a rocky footing. There was a definite “scent” in the lobby of the Winspear that reminded one how important it is to have a good plumber available 24/7. When asked if the problem was a result of the Virgin America party with Sir Richard Branson and Willie “Six Ounces” Nelson, one organizer said that the odorous situation had been in the air for a couple of days.

Luckily, the crowd gathered at the foot of the stairs and the ladies wearing the scents of Oscar, Armani, Gucci and Michael Kors overcame the Winspear Downwind. Also, adding to the fashion excitement was the arrival of Honorary Chair Nancy Rogers and her entourage (pictured from the left, Nancy Gopez, Tanya Foster, Paige Lane, Nancy Rogers, Donna Baker, Sonia Black, Leisa Street, Sunie Solomon, Kris Johnson and Mary Gill) quickly followed by the Amy Turner posse (pictured from the left, Lori Jones, Raina Snell, Dallas Snadon, Amy Turner and Kathleen Hutchinson).

After a glass or two of champagne, the ladies headed to the stage of the Winspear with its Nutcracker scenery and the fashion show. Co-chair Elaine Agather took to the stage. Korshak’s Crawford Brock‘s smile got bigger and bigger each time Elaine hyped the fabulous clothes available at Korshak. The gal needs to leave the banking world and start being the Korshak spokesperson!

As Naeem’s backstage-man Tim Quinn looked on from the sidelines, the show went on flawlessly with the clothes being displayed beautifully as the ballerinas (pictured) put them through their paces. For evidence, check out MySweetCharity’s “Photo Gallery.”

Then Elaine was back on stage to auction off two tickets to Naeem’s fashion show during Fashion Week and a $3,000 gift certificate toward an outfit. She started at $1,500 and eventually got it up to $4,500 thanks to Dwight Emanuelson, who was on the front row. Elaine admitted that she really wanted to get it up to $5,000. With that teamwork got into play. Naeem kicked in $500 to make it happen, then Dwight  added a bit more change with Nancy Rogers and Crawford kicking in, too, until the number hit $11,000+.  Co-chair Gina Betts, Tanya Foster and Olivia Kearney (pictured right with, from the left, Gina Betts, Nancy Rogers, Tanya Foster, Naeem Khan and Elaine Agather) were dazzled by Elaine’s auctioneering talents as well as the “kick in” attitude of the bidders.

With a nice bit of change going to the TBT and the ladies button holing Naeem’s folks as well as Crawford’s about pieces that they were interested in, the group headed to lunch in the lobby of the Winspear. . . the part of the lobby that was way far away from odorous side.

Congratulations to the two-year old event that earned a “Wow!” from fashion lovers and some nice financial support for Dallas dancers.

Wednesday’s Child Luncheon Is Going To Impress With The Tuohy Touch

She impressed Sandra Bullock and now she’s going to make a definite impression on a passel of folks Friday at the Ritz-Carlton. She is Leigh Anne Touhy of The Blind Side and will featured speaker for the annual Wednesday’s ChildBelonging” Luncheon.

Chairs Janelle and Larry Friedman have arranged for a “Heart of the Art” silent auction, book signing by Leigh Anne, a Super Bowl and Naomi jewelry raffle and a holiday performance by the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas. Scratch your head and you’ll remember the children performed at Barbara Bush‘s “A Celebration Reading” and were incredible.

If you’re wondering what the heck is the “Heart of the Art,” you just knew we’d have the answer. It’s various pieces of art created by the likes of Phil Romano, Emmitt Smith, Lynn Dealey, Lisa Boyd, Roz Campisi and Molly DeVoss. The trick is that each pieces has a heart in it.

And, as if all of that isn’t enough, Myrna Schlegel will be presented the “Gloria Award” for her long-time support for foster children, and Julie and Lance Brennan will receive the “Belonging” Award because of their “embodying the spirit of belonging to assure change in the lives of North Texas foster children.”

If you act now, you just might be able to get one of the last remaining tickets by calling 469.718.5616.

Rhinestones And Tom Addis Are A Cattle Barons Best Friends Come October 15

Wednesday night the theme for the 2011 Cattle Barons Ball was announced by Chair Jennifer Dix at Bachendorfs. Better start collecting as much glitter as possible because it’s gonna be “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

It’ll be Saturday, October 15, at Southfork. But don’t be lulled into thinking, “Same place as last year.” Rather it’s may be the same canvas, but Tom “Party Producer to the Rich and Famous” Addis will be the artist handling this year’s masterpiece.

Just imagine all the clever ways rhinestones will be worn come the fall. Designers are already at their sketch boards coming up with boots, hats and chaps. Just to get guests in the mood. Bachendorf’s Lawrence Bock had guests photographed with a male and female model in overly sequined cowboy garb.

Do you think Glen Campbell will be able to make it?

Dallas Film Society’s “The Art Of Film” Proves Legends Like Robert Duvall Are Ageless

Robert Duvall might as well just move to Texas. Yup, his home is in Virginia with his wife Luciana, but his fan base in Dallas alone would get him elected to anything he wants. The sell-out attendance and its enthusiasm about his Friday, November 19, appearance at the Dallas Film Society‘s The Art of Film should prove that.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17

Before he even arrived, a patrons party held the Wednesday before at Newt Walker’s was a sneak preview of the types of Dallas film lovers involved. Relative new face on the scene was Arthur Benjamin with his gal pal Sundays Hunt (pictured left with Arthur Benjamin).  Besides being the title sponsor of the Friday night event, Arthur has deep roots in the celluloid industry. His uncle was the late Robert S. Benjamin, who was “a driving force in turning United Artists around in the 1960’s and later went on to form Orion Pictures in 1978 as a joint venture.”

Arthur met Dallas Film Society Chairman Michael Cain and his wife Melina at the Palomar’s 214 one morning and learned about the proposed Duvall visit. He was so impressed with the plan that he stepped up to be the title sponsor to honor his late uncle.

When asked if he’s any relation to actor Richard Benjamin, Arthur chuckled, “No,” but he and Richard knew each other. It seems that both used to order Chinese food from the same Beverly Hills restaurant, which invariably would get the orders mixed up. So many times Arthur and Richard would meet on Beverly Drive and exchange paper bags.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19

As guests arrived at the Hall of State for the reception, interview and dinner with “Bobby,” it was obvious that this was a definite red carpet affair. With reporters, cameras, lights, sponsors backdrop and red carpet, Duvall and his interviewer Elvis Mitchell (pictured) were facing a mighty gauntlet. But they weren’t alone. Mayor Tom Leppert, Dallas Film Society Artistic Director James Faust (pictured), DFS founder Liener Temerlin, Arthur, Michael and a dressy group of guests chatted it up.

While guests waited patiently inside for Bobby, red carpet journalists quickly learned why Duvall is considered a legend. He took time to talk with each person as if there were no one else in the world.

Ah, but inside the Hall of State lobby were two mighty important people — at least to Bobby. On a bench, just to the right of the entrance, a petite beauty all in black sat talking with a Barry Corbin look-alike complete with cowboy hat. It was obvious from afar that they were longtime friends. They were none other than Mrs. Duvall (Luciana) and the Duvalls’ longtime friend Sheriff Arvin West (pictured right with Luciana Duvall) from Hudspeth County. Since meeting in 2000 in Lajitas, the three had become great friends with Arvin visiting the Duvalls’ home several times.

“He is the definition of a red-blooded American,” Arvin said. “He’s today’s John Wayne.”

While Arvin and Luciana sat in the lobby waiting for Bobby to finish his red carpet strut, a handful of VIP’s were in the West Texas Room Library. There weren’t that many, so they felt that once Duvall arrived, they would have a leisurely time with the Academy Award winner.

Ah, but that was not the case. Once Bobby left the red carpet, the sea of people parted for him throughout the lobby and followed him. It was obvious that the men checking credentials at the VIP room were going to have their hands full. Pretty soon the library filled with people. Everyone appeared to be a VIP. Instead of having a place for Duvall to stand for photos and visit with the VIP’s, he found himself in the back of the room between the wall and the bar with people trying to get to him. One woman wanted to walk with him about a story idea. Another just wanted to bend his ear. PR’s Beth Wilbin diplomatically tried to arrange quick photo opps for extreme VIPs like Event Chairs Lynn and Allan McBee (pictured right with, from the left, Robert Duvall and Lynn McBee) in the sea of  people. In fact the only people not trying to get to Duvall were Luciana and Arvin.

Eventually, Bobby was escorted to a SRO Margaret and Al Hill Lecture Hall for “the conversation.” As VIP’s found their seats in the front five rows, Luciana found her seat on the front row but none for Arvin. Without a nano-second of hesitation, the Argentine beauty insisted the cowboy sheriff take her seat. He wouldn’t hear of it until he saw the look in her eye. Quietly, he took his seat and removed his hat. Organizers quickly saw the situation and a seat on the second row center was found for Luciana.

When all were settled (pictured) and cameras at the back of the room were rolling, the program started.

With his dreadlocks in full array Elvis opened the talk with “First, I’m honored to be back in Dallas, and, second, I’m not James Faust (DSF artistic director).”  He went on to quote Horton Foote regarding Duvall: “He’s the best there is.”

Then the two (pictured from the left Elvis Mitchell and Robert Duvall) settled back for a 53-minute conversation that covered such topics as —

  • His last stage play American Buffalo (1977) and Lonesome Dove were the highlights of his career.
  • He doesn’t read reviews. “I hear about them.”
  • On Lonesome Dove: “It’s like a bible in Texas. My wife still hasn’t seen it. But that’s OK.”
  • On Dwight Eisenhower: “He was a wonderful man. I tried to find the essence, the vulnerability. He was a very decent man.”
  • “If there were no movies, I would go back do plays.”
  • “I was sitting outside having lunch one day and here Frank Sinatra walks down Third Avenue one day and Paul Newman walks up Third Avenue and they meet. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, there’s power.'”
  • On Marlon Brando: “He wouldn’t speak to you for six months. A strange guy. On the Godfather, there was a lot of mooning, a lot of stories, but there might be some children here. A lot of fun on the set.”
  • “Wherever (Marlon) Brando is, he loves Jimmy Caan. To this day, he’s still trying to figure out a joke that Jimmy told him 25 years ago. Anytime he’d tell a joke, it would take three second for Brand.” Duvall does an impression of Brando (pictured).
  • “A young actor once said to me, ‘What do you do between jobs when you are young?’ I said, ‘Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies, and more hobbies to keep you off the dope.'”
  • “When I went to Hollywood years ago, I had a lot of free time between jobs. So I went to the Pickwick Stables. Four dollars a hour I could take a horse out. So I figured I was gonna get a good seat on a horse because most actors don’t have a good seat on a horse. I went out bareback, English saddle, western saddle. I learned how to jump a horse, did some competition.”
  • “I (pictured) die pretty well.” (Colors, Geronimo and Lonesome Dove.)
  • “I can remember Beau Bridges, Jeff’s brother. We were at Rodney Dangerfield in the Comedy Club in New York City and we were sitting this far away and he (Rodney) demanded that we laugh. We wouldn’t laugh. He really got put out. He really wasn’t that funny that night.”
  • “Argentines think when lightning strikes, it’s God taking their picture.”
  • Sammy Baugh: “For eight years he didn’t know who I was. Well, I sat down with him for two hours and talked. All those gestures that I had in Lonesome Dove, I got from him.”
  • “A guy in Dallas told me that when (Larry) McMurtry wrote Lonesome Dove, he thought  of Don Quixote.”
  • “Broken Trail is one of my favorites.”
  • Angelo Evans (the 7-year old gypsy star of Duvall (pictured)-directed Angelo My Love): “He was on my street (73rd and Central Park West). He so intrigued me. He’d sit on the street corner and say, ‘Hey, buddy, do you have the time?’ The old guy would give him the time. Then he would ask somebody else. Finally, I asked him, ‘Angelo, why do you keep asking people for the time?” He said, ‘I do it because I like to see people work for me.'”
  • “I’ve always been instantly recognized in Texas. One time years ago I was in a club in Dallas up against a wall with a drink and people were milling around. Some guy spots me and in his eyes only he knows who I am and we only know each other. As he comes by, he’s very discreet and doesn’t want to give it away, so as he passes by, he goes, “Terry Bradshaw.”

Michael Cain then presented Duvall with the 2010 Dallas Star Award, and the audience gave him a standing ovation. Mayor Tom then thanked him and told him that “Unfortunately, the governor couldn’t be with us this evening.”

Without missing a beat, Duvall came back with, “I hope he found time to work on the tax rebate.”

Mayor Tom presented Duvall with a letter from the governor recognizing all Duvall’s work in Texas.

Then it was up to the Grand Hall for a seated dinner with film professionals like Lone Star Film Society’s Dennis Bishop and celluloid supporters like Karla and Liener Temerlin (pictured left with from the left, Karla Temerlin and Michael Cain) sitting together comparing notes about Duvall and movies in general.

Andrew Stevens (pictured, Stella’s son, not Connie’s) relocated to the area about five years ago and has done 10 to 12 movie productions in Texas. While still an actor, he’s also produced or financed 175 movies over the years.

Rob Carliner is an old associate of Duvall’s. Having production credits for The Apostle and Crazy Heart, he admitted that they worked more than three years to get it to the screen. Rob was also executive producer on Duvall’s Get Low. Nowadays, Rob is running the film division of LA’s Prospect Park, which used to be The Firm, the management and entertainment company that produces USA’s Royal Pains TV show. Currently, he and Bobby are trying to get the financing arranged to produce Border.

Fly Me To The Moon Dazzles With Sell-out Crowd And Countdown Dinner

Unlike years past when the Museum of Nature & Science‘s annual Dinner in the Wild  tended to more the “nature” aspect of the museum, the November 18th theme was Fly Me To The Moon. So it made perfect sense to hold it at Frontiers of Flight Museum.  However, with 1,000 guests, long tables of silent auction items and highly-decorated tables taking up both floors, the flight tended to be as bit cozy as a shuttle capsule at times. The coziest spot was the hallway leading from the entry to the side exhibit halls and bar. But who could blame the log jam when there were so many items to peruse?

Checking the crowd conditions like a top-notch flight attendant, Museum Exec Director Nicole Small looked quite adorable in her 1970’s Emilio Pucci uniform from the good old Braniff days when Harding Lawrence jazzed up uniforms. She had located the dress at Vintage Martini.

Speaking of Braniff, old timers not only recalled the defunct airline but also the headlines it made back in the 1969 when Ross Perot chartered a Braniff jet and named it “Peace on Earth” to promote the release of the North Vietnamese POWs.

Among those checking out the silent auction items and utilizing the computer bidding was Lyda Hunt Hill, who was looking forward to 2011 already. Not only is the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge scheduled to open in October, but Lyda will be moving her office in April with a perfect view of the bridge’s 40-story tall arch. Lyda was dazzling in an aqua blue glittering top that she recalled buying when she was a deb. Just goes to show that classics are timeless.

Another couple considering a bid or two were Museum COO Terrell Falk and her husband Jim.

Standing on the sidelines were AT&T’s Holly Reed with Mayor Tom Leppert’s right-hand man Chris Heinbaugh. Holly was looking forward to a calmer Christmas to New Year’s period this year, since the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be held on January 7 instead of New Year’s Day.

Others deciding not to venture through the crowded hallway included petite Nancy Dedman, who made a beeline for the Richard W. Cree Exhibit Hall and the mezzanine to check out the amazing centerpieces (pictured) by Garden Gate Floral Design and the lunar decor created by Fauxcades Creative Event Design.

By 8:10 p.m. the crowd was seated and welcome by Nicole on the stage in the main hall with the sound of jets landing and taking off at adjoining Love Field.

“High rollers” (i.e., guests on the mezzanine) felt a little like they were watching the stage from the moon. Those seated at tables on the second row had to stand to see the stage around the centerpieces and tables bordering the railing. Again, not a big deal since they were having so much chatting.

What were they chatting about? Bedbugs! Mattress Giant CEO Michael Glazer admitted that the pesky little critters really had not been a problem in the Dallas area, as they have been in other parts of the country.

Tonya Ewing was giving her husband Tim a hard time for making her change her outfit at the last minute. Seem the svelte Tonya had planned on wearing a black dress, but Tim reminded her that it was a moon-ish type party and convinced her to rummage through her closet for a gold spangled dress that she hadn’t worn in ages. Despite Tonya’s protests, Tim was right. She looked spang-tacular!

Meanwhile on the stage, chair Honorary Chair David Corrigan and his wife Emily greeted the group. Then Nicole introduced Mayor Tom, who told the crowd, “the success of our city will be determined by our avility to educate our young people.” He went on to offer a special thanks to Margot and Ross Perot Sr. (pictured right with Ross Perot Jr.) and the Perot family, who were all there.

At 8:22 p.m. it was announced that dinner was to be served. Ah, just perfect timing for a school night. The delicious first course of Creole lobster bisque individually was poured into warmed bowls over Texas goat cheese tart. Everyone was sipping and very happy.

Then a slight “oops” happened. As guests chatted waiting for their meals, the minute hands on the analogue watches ticked away. At 8:45 p.m., guests were starting to give each other the raised brow. Was this becoming a trend to allow an extended period of time for digestion between first course and second? On a school night no less?

Promptly at 9:00 p.m. the live auction began with the beef tenderloin dinner on the mezzanine just starting to appear. The mezzanine guests, who had wanted to bid, sent for programs to learn what was on the auction block. Evidently no one had placed the programs at the tables. Too bad because they missed the first item — Adopt-A-Dinosaur and private event for 100 people at the Museum of Nature & Science. Valued at $7,500, it went for a blue-light special bid of $4,500.

By the time the auction was over, the museum had scored a sell-out event with a successful auction and a near-full moon to watch them drive home.

Silent Auctions Are Better Than Black Friday

People often wonder if the silent auctions are really worth all the work and investment. Here’s one that certainly was.

Dee (pictured) and Gary Marchand attended the recent Zoo-To-Do and perused the items in the silent auction. When the young couple compared notes, they decided to bid on only something that had no bids. There was one that caught their eye — A Thanksgiving Tradition. Was it a turkey with stuffing? An entry to the Turkey Trot?

Nope. It was six tickets to the annual Cowboys game on Thanksgiving. Hey, not bad. But wait! It got better. The seats were not only on the 50-yard line, they were in a suite with all the perks plus parking tickets. The former New Orleans Marchands couldn’t pass it up since the Cowboys were playing the Saints.

After much soul searching, they decided to make a bid in the upper three-figure range. Yes, the Marchands paid more than they would have for tickets to a movie at NorthPark, but they

  • got what many would consider a bargain especially since the Cowboys are now on a winning streak
  • will make their first visit to Cowboys Stadium in grand style and
  • support the Dallas Zoo.

So, are silent auctions still worth all the trouble? Well, the Marchands sure think so.

 

The Salvation Army’s Soul-Saving Campaign Raised Funds With Sole-Saving Blake Mycoskie

The annual Salvation Army Luncheon is an inspiration in itself. With a herd of both males and females showing their support for the 130-plus year old organization, the luncheon is the warm-up kick-off for the yearly red kettle drive. As guests arrived at the luncheon in the Hilton Anatole, they were greeted throughout the lobby by The Salvation Army (TSA) associates ringing bells.

For some reason, there seemed to be a little more pep in the step as people entered the ballroom. Perhaps it was the Cowboys’ recent wins, the very successful Bush Center groundbreaking or the slight turn in the economy. Regardless, the crowd of 1,500 was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Charlotte Anderson was wearing many hats like —

  • First Daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
  • Exec VP Brand Management for the Cowboys
  • President of Charities for the Cowboys
  • National Advisory Board Chairperson for TSA.

No wonder the gal had a front row table!  She also had by her side Mom Gene Jones at the next table with gal pals Diana Strauss and Lee Ann White, but she also was joined by Brill Garrett (pictured right with Charlotte Anderson), Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett’s better half.

No wonder Keith Urban will officially kick off the Red Kettle campaign performing halftime at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game.

Across the ballroom was Gail Turner, who feared  she was going to “have to put rocks in (husband/SMU president) Gerald‘s shoes” to bring him back to earth after the Bush Center groundbreaking two days before.

Speaking of which, Nancy Halbreich was giddy about the groundbreaking, too. Not just the event. She was just sitting among the first 10 rows with Nancy Dedman when Mitt Romney sat down next to her. When asked how the niece of former Democratic chairman Robert Strauss felt to be one of the only Democrats at the largely Republican gathering of 2,300, she diplomatically answered with a smile, “I consider myself to be an Independent.”

A few tables over, Bobby Lyle was being hugged and greeted like Santa. Luncheon Chair Joyce Fox (pictured right with Bobby Lyle) was one of the first to do the honors. Seems that Bobby was in charge of underwriting for the event and he has a reputation for making people want to give.

But more about that later.

Following the lunch’s being served, a moving video was presented telling “Edith’s Story” with the capper being the presentation of Edith to a standing ovation. Next Major Ward Matthews with the assistance of his wife Captain Michele told the group that one of the highest honors that TSA bestowed on individuals was The Others Award. It was created to recognize those outside TSA who have gone “above and beyond” to help the organization. They told how Jan Pickens, Ray Nixon (pictured) and Jim Francis had made such an impact through their efforts to raise awareness and finances for TSA that they were receiving The Others Award.

Then Gerald revealed that Bobby Lyle had given him an envelope with the amount of money raised from the luncheon. After opening the envelope, Gerald reported a whopping $3,313,154 was the magic number. But not satisfied, he suggested that everyone with a cell phone text a certain number which would result in their donating at least $10.

Immediately folks like Rena Pederson, Ann Carruth and Harriet Miers started texting. A few others raised an eyebrow. Looking a little uncomfortable, one guest whispered, “They just said that over $3 million was raised by us. Now, they’re asking for more?”

If you do your arithmetic and everyone in the room had texted $10, that would have increased the total by $15,000.

Gerald, the man who knows how to make things happen, also told the crowd that they could make a donation the old fashioned way by putting money in the little red kettles on each of the tables or buying the centerpieces.

Those Salvation Army soldiers really know how to market!

Speaking of marketing, the man of the hour and guest speaker Blake Mycoskie (pictured) took to the stage. The former SMU tennis player/founder of TOMS knew how to make an impression both visually and verbally. Doffing his brown sports jacket, the tousled brunette with the scruffy beard in the red plaid shirt with leather and beaded bracelets looked more like a beneficiary of TSA than the head of an international shoe mega-wonder. Ah, but he was just setting the well-dressed audience up.

While other speakers had used teleprompters, Blake talked non-stop for 25 minutes about his life. Sounds like half  a therapy session, huh? Not Blake’s life. Having done everything from losing  “The Amazing Race” by four minutes, to starting an online driver education company to playing polo and sipping fine wine in Argentina, Blake sounded like the ultimate subject of a  Robin Leach segment. Then while in Argentina, he joined some English-speaking gals in delivering shoes to children in a poor village a couple of hours outside town. He was so moved by the experience that he decided to start a company that gave one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.

Blake’s tales of how he created the start-up company and in no time was overwhelmed with orders and encounters with the likes of Anna Wintour kept the audience riveted.  That first summer, 10,000 pairs were sold from his 1,000-square-foot apartment. This year TOMS gave awayits one millionth pair of shoes.

“Every single person in this room can have a tremendous impact  on the lives of people locally in this community and all over the world,” Blake said. “And your support for The Salvation Army is not just about  breaking a record or fund raising goals, which is awesome. It has to continue day after day after day. The more you incorporate giving into your life, the more you will receive. When you leave today, think what else you can do to help someone in need.”

By the time Blake had completed his talk, not a soul had left the ballroom and all gave him a standing ovation. It’s suspected that many were wearing TOMS by dinner time.

John Larroquette Was The Reluctant Inspiration At C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast

To say actor John Larroquette doesn’t suffer fools is an understatement. Even before he started his talk at last Monday’s C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast, he gave the impression that he really didn’t want to be at  Belo Mansion with hundreds in the audience. Politely posing for photos with guests (pictured from the left Isabell Novakov, John Larroquette and Brian Heflin), the 6’5″ Creole smiled like a kid who had been made to stay after school.

Once at the podium, it appeared that he really would have preferred to have been anywhere else.

“I don’t do a lot of these,” he said. “Let me just say. I speak for myself. I am not representing any organizations of any kind.  And usually it’s more of a closed audience, shall we say? A select audience?”

The audience laughed, but there was an undercurrent that John was dead serious.

“Most of whom I know have a type of leprosy in common with me.”

More laughter.

Larroquette (pictured) then started a slow inhale that sucked the audience into his world of chemical and alcohol dependency of the 1970’s and his own recovery in the 1980’s. Starting with his childhood in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, he talked about —

  • His father’s abandoning him and his mother when the youngster was two-years old
  • Learning that he had siblings from his father’s second marriage including a brother named John. “Who besides a drunk names two sons John? Sort of a coon-ass George Foreman. He (the father) was an alcoholic. I didn’t know him. At seven, he came home and took me to the racetrack. Why? Half off if you took a kid?”
  • Having never met his half brothers and sisters
  • Never having a drink growing up in New Orleans

But that changed in the 1970’s, when he became a “prolific drunk” —

  • “I was a hedonist gluttonous animal from the get-go. A child of the 60’s.”
  • “I loved the panhandler with the sign ‘Spaceship Broken. Needs Parts.’ I always gave him $10.”
  • “I was the ‘Chemist.’ People sent me stuff in the mail: ‘Take this and tell me what it does.'”
  • He moved to Hollywood because “there was a place that actually paid you to be other people.”
  • He went on a seven-and-half-year downward spiral.
  • Got $12 for a pint of blood. “$16 if you brought a buddy.”

Using his sardonic style, he told how he turned his life around in the 1980’s —

  • “When I got sober, Betty Ford was still trying to decide whether she wanted gin or vodka for cocktails that night. Weren’t a lot of place to go like C.A.R.E.”
  • “On February 5, 1982, I was doing coke and Johnny Walker Black. I was stuck sober.” Looking in the mirror, he thought, “What a loser! I saw a big, fat  ugly actor who was going to die.”
  • It was later than he learned that, “I got sober on my father’s birthday.”
  • Definition of an alcoholic: “Like a man on fire running through a room, sooner or later the flames will touch everyone.”
  • “I’m an expert on how to get drunk, and how to stay sober: You don’t drink.”
  • Quoting George Carlin: “Just because the monkey’s off your back doesn’t mean that circus has left town.”

By the end of his talk, Larroquette had shrunk the hundreds in the ballroom to a select audience of friends.

No, he doesn’t do many of these, but when he does, his talk rightly receives a standing ovation like last Monday.

Tutu Chic Luncheon Will Be A Too-Too-Must Attend

Last year‘s Tutu Chic Luncheon may have been one of the most fun fund raising secrets of the season. For its first time on the society calendar, it had the guests on the Winspear stage sipping champagne, eyeballing Korshak fashion and enjoying  dancers Texas Ballet Theater (pictured).

The Tutu Foursome chair-gals (Elaine Agather, Gina Betts, Tanya Foster and Olivia Kearney) who pulled it off last year decided to do an encore on Thursday, December 2, same place, same agenda.

With Nancy C. Rogers as the honorary chair, you just knew they were going to up the ante and they did with flair. Designer Naeem Khan will make a guest appearance for the event.

Champagne reception starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the on-stage fashion presentation and the seated luncheon in the lobby of the opera house.

Tickets were going quickly, so move your tutu by calling Jeanne Cassidy at 877.828.9200, Ext. 110.

BTW, the underwriters include the following ballet lovers:

$25,000 — Nancy C. Rogers

$5,000 —  Jacqueline Barrett, Nancy Carlson, Jolie Humphrey, Holly Lydick /Shannon Hart, PaperCity and Priscilla Martin

$2,500Cassandra Fine Catering, Jeanne Marie Clossey, Barbara Daseke, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson and Wells Fargo

$1,500Elaine Agather, Terry Dallas, Lisa Barfield Kopecky, Courtney Marcus/Diane Byrd, Cynthia Miller, Jennifer Staubach and Kelly Van Den Handel

Mystery Man Surprises And Honors Pat And Emmitt Smith At The Robert S. Folsom Leadership Awards Dinner

Not only are they one of Dallas’ most dazzling couples, they’re also one of the most proactive teams in community services. They are none other than Pat and Emmitt Smith (pictured). For their “demonstrated commitment to community leadership,” the Methodist Health System Foundation presented the twosome with the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award last Thursday at the Hilton Anatole to a packed house that raised $915,000.

Event chairs were Emmitt’s old Cowboy buddies Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston, but there was a problem. Troy was out of town and “at the last minute” Daryl had to duck out. Yipes! What was Foundation President/CEO April Box Chamberlain (pictured) going to do? There she was with the Smiths seated at the table in front of her and no “official emcee.”

April put out a plea for someone to volunteer. Search lights surveyed the room for a volunteer. As guests looked at each other in confusion, a voice from the back of the room said he might help. He seemed a little out of place wearing a Cowboys baseball cap, weather vest and the sunglasses (pictured).

April: “Do you know about Pat and Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “A little bit. She was Miss Virginia.”

April: “How about Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “Who?”

By this time the ever-classy Smiths were looking just a little bewildered, as was the rest of the audience.

Mystery Man admitted that he knew Emmitt had been a Cowboy.

April: “So Emmitt’s on your fantasy team”

Mystery Man: “You’re kidding. No chance! Can he shoot? Dribble? I know he can’t rebound! I like guys who can play basketball.”

By this time the man was marching up to the stage stripping off the sunglasses, baseball cap and vest revealing himself to be Dallas Mavericks owner/former Dancing With The Stars competitor Mark Cuban (pictured). The crowd plus the honorees loved the surprise emcee and his “last minute preparations.” High fives and hugs were exchanged as Mark proceeded through the crowd.

Putting on a jacket and standing at the podium, Mark acknowledging Emmitt’s success at DWTS: “I’m the one who should have won Dancing With The Stars!”

Then one-of-a-kind Mark got serious about the couple telling the crowd: “I’ve known them for a long time. They’ll have a long impact on the city of Dallas. That’s what this award is all about! . . When this couple sets their mind to something, it happens.”

Then looking at Pat, Mark got downright school boyish: “Pat won Miss Virginia. She should have been Miss America!”

So, what is it about the Smiths that motivates them to personally and professionally support people and causes? Earlier in the evening Pat and Emmitt talked about their efforts, both individually and through the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities. With Pat watching attentively, Emmitt (pictured) said, “We’re just trying to improve on the things we’ve started. For kids, especially at-risk kids. Biggest thing for them is exposure to me. Exposure to the possibilities that they might not otherwise see. If that makes me a role model, I guess I’m a role model.”

Pat (pictured), who just gave birth to the newest Smith less than two months ago, looked pageant ready. Adding to her husband’s comments, she told how they had had a parent-teacher conference earlier in the day about their eight-year old son, E.J. The youngster had been assigned to do a project on a person, place or thing that he admired. “It was Emmitt,” Pat said with a smile of pride. “He really looks up to you. It’s all about family.”

Once again the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award selection was right on target.

Carson Kressley, Veterans Day Parade Make Voices For Children Luncheon Memorable

It was a perfect storm situation Thursday. More than 500 guests were on their way to Union Station for the Voices For Children Luncheon featuring Carson Kressley and benefiting the Child Abuse Prevention Center. They had been warned that traffic might be a bit dicey, but what the heck. Most of guests were veterans of traffic snarls at the every venue in the area. However, a Veterans Day parade (pictured) marching right in front of Union Station with surrounding streets more or less blocked off was another situation entirely.

As guests arrived with tales of talking their way through police lines and creative driving, it only added to the energy level. Add Carson and you’ve got Red Bull Extreme. Like a rock star, he was immediately surrounded by the gals who all wanted their photos taken with the former star of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. As he straightened Voice Chair Robert Weatherly‘s (pictured) tie, iPhones and compact cameras were nearly blinding as they photographed the blonde cutie. It’s too bad they couldn’t have generated some heat, too. The predicted cold front wasn’t due til Friday, but it was as cold as a fur vault. Poor Holly Davis (pictured left with, from the left, Carson Kressley and Rhonda Sargent Chambers) looked flawless in her single-shoulder sweater, but admitted that she was positively freezing. Union Station staff said that they had lowered the temperature due to the fact that more than 500 were expected and the temperature would eventually warm up. Despite the two-stories of windows and bright sunlight beaming in, it was nippy throughout the event.

Once safely inside the icebox . . . er, dining room and seated for lunch, the group thought their parade problems were behind them until the speakers started trying to be heard. Imagine brass bands, military vehicles and shouting crowds in the background while someone is trying to be heard in the Grand Hall, which can often be acoustically challenging on the best of days.

One committee member admitted, “When we booked this, we didn’t realize the Veterans Day parade would be taking place in front. If we had, we wouldn’t have booked anything in downtown Dallas.”

But not to worry. The guests chatted non-stop. So much so that despite the best efforts to get their attention, emcee Brendan Higgins resorted to a dirty little trick. He announced from the podium, “Let us bow our heads and pray.” Silence followed almost instantly. Then Brendan asked God’s forgiveness for the faux prayer to get their attention. Naughty boy, but it worked.

Just as dessert is being served, Carson was served up for his talk. But Carson was a trooper and carried on with a flute of orange juice. He warned the group that he was “not going to be politically correct. I’m going to be inappropriate.” With that he launched into the following areas:

  • His suggested theme for children abuse — “Shake martinis, not babies.”
  • Likes Rick Perry because of his hair.
  • Provides his 10 steps to feeling great about yourself:
  1. Wear a good bra — uplifting experience
  2. Go to the spa
  3. Be grateful
  4. Accept compliments graciously and learn to give a compliment.
  5. Focus on giving
  6. Have confidence in yourself.
  7. Sit in the front
  8. Make a list of your most amazing attributes.
  9. Posture — walk with purpose
  10. Be a role model.

Before anyone wanted it to end, Carson was done with his totally ad-libbed talk. It was time for the live auction of “A Day With Carson!”  including his visiting the winner’s home for a private closet consultation, a Rolls Royce trip with Carson to Barney’s for a wardrobe refreshening with a $2,000 gift card, lunch at the mansion with Carson and three  of the winner’s friends and a R&R at the Stoneleigh Spa.

Carson got into the swing of getting the bidding going as he went from table to table with a microphone. At one point adorable realtor Logan Waller (pictured) was the target of Carson’s antics and ended up with Carson sitting on his knee.

As the bidding rose, Jenna Turner‘s bid of $8,500 drove Carson nuts. He offered a personal foot massage and asked her if she had “a significant other.” Jenna’s response was to point to an empty seat next to her that had just minutes before been occupied by emcee Brendan (pictured right with Jenna Turner). Guess it’s official — they’re seeing each other. Ah, now Brendan’s reaching under the table to hold Jenna’s hand during the ltalk made perfect sense.

Back to the auction. A couple of tables over, blonde Lisa Schnitzer couldn’t stand the near-but-not-enough-reach for $10,000 bid and volunteered to add $1,500 to Jenna’s bid just to even things out. You gotta love a gal who’s not only beautiful but comes through in a pinch. Carson was happy; Jenna was happy; Lisa was happy; Child Abuse Prevention Center Exec Director Jessica Slie Trudeau was happy; 500 guest were happy! Happiness warmed everyone.

Just In: “The Art Of Film” Is Sold Out!

If you were hoping to attend the Dallas Film Society‘s The Art of Film this Friday at the Hall of State with Robert Duvall (Bobby to his friends, don’t you know) and Elvis Mitchell (Elvis to his friends, we guess), it’s too late. The shindig is sold out.

Exception: According to event mastermind Lynn McBee, “If someone writes a really big check, we’ll find a way to squeeze ’em in.” Leave it to Lynn to let money have its way.

But if you can’t write that substantial “make-Lynn-happy” check, then DFS President/CEO Tanya Foster advises you to go to the Dallas Film Society’s website to purchase tickets for Get Low. It’ll be shown Saturday morning at Cinemark 17 Theatre. And, yes, Bobby will be on hand to introduce the film.

 

Bushes Take Over Dallas For “A Celebration of Reading”

Dallas was definitely full of “bushes” last Monday. They flew in from Florida, Houston and the outer limits for “A Celebration of Reading.” Why? When Barbara Bush puts on an event for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the grandkids come a-running. For a brief few hours, Dallasites felt like they were part of a Bush family reunion.

But let’s start at the beginning. No, we already did that with Mandi Bush. Let’s start at noontime.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Locals/authors/former Firsties Laura and George Bush had three generations of Bushes (pictured) plus the evening’s authors in for lunch at their place on Daria. NBC’s Today correspondent Jenna looked svelte. (Gee, don’t they feed gals in NYC?). Mandi was catching the rest up on George P.’s whereabouts (he’s overseas for active duty).

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Wimpy Kid’s author Jeff Kinney (pictured third from the right with, from the left, Donovan Campbell, Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush, Leila Meacham and Condoleezza Rice) was sorta overwhelmed: “Here I am eating at the Bushes with Barbara Bush!”

After a brief rest in the afternoon, they headed to an evening of Super Duper Boldfacers at the Meyerson. At a pre-event reception it was a jamfest with Neil Bush and his family feeling right at home with the locals. Over to the side Papa George (aka #41) was seated with Kroger’s Gary Huddleston and adorable wife Becky chatting about Houston-based Pete Roussel,  who was on #41’s staff from GHWB’s days as a congressman to the White House. . .  Mandi was looking terrific as usual and managed to sub in nicely for her husband George P. The girl has never met a stranger! . .  Kids in the crowd were torn between checking with Wimpy author Jeff (“I feel lucky to have had any success in publishing at all”) and having their picture taken with Barbara, who is the picture-perfect grandest mom. . . If you think Barbara is a traditionalist reader, rethink that one. She enjoys her iPad as much as hardbound books. . . In the meantime, Bush grandkids were all over the place making everyone feel like they were a member of the Bush clan. Newlyweds Sandra and Jebby Bush told how they knew each other for three years but didn’t start dating until two years ago. The reason: Sandra was living in London. The twosome got hitched this past May. . .  Ruth and Ken Altshuler found a table in the back of the room with Ken Cooper.

Then seamlessly it was noted that the Bush munchkins quietly headed to the door at the far end of the room, while elder Bushes exited the opposite side of the room. Someone said, “George seems to be slowing down a bit,” noting the cane. A female guest retorted, “That may be true for his walking, but he is still a great hugger and the twinkle in his eye is brighter than ever.”

As the 1,400 found their seats in the Meyerson’s concert hall, Celebration of Reading veterans advised first-timers that they were in for an evening of inspiration, fun and possibly a surprise or two.

(Editor’s note: If you wonder why only 1,400 attended the event when the Meyerson can easily handle 2,062, it’s because the Bushes insist that all have a “light supper” afterwards and the Meyerson can only accommodate 1,400 at the seated dinner.)

The event started right on time at 7 p.m. with #41 being escorted on stage by Mandi. Telling the crowd how the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy had grown, he added, “. . . talk about ‘Mission Creep,’ this is it!” (For you non-politicos, it was a clever reference to #41’s days as president when he explained he didn’t take out Saddam because he didn’t believe in “mission creep.” The twinkle in his eye could be seen from the back of the Meyerson.)

Then a video of a first: “A Celebration of Reading” at sea. It seems that former First Daughter/Sister Doro Bush Koch arranged to have the celebration held on board the USS George H. W. Bush CVN77 on May 1, 2010, with authors like Antwone FisherJames Bradley and Jill Conner Brown.

Immediately following the video, first lady of the evening Barbara Bush entered the stage to a standing ovation. She told the crowd that she didn’t realize until recently that “A Celebration of Reading” was on Facebook (“Betty White has beaten me to it”). On a more serious note, she reported that the foundation had raised $37 million and had assisted 850 literacy programs throughout the country.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

As an example of the program’s effort, Barbara introduced “inspirational reader” Susie Marsh (pictured left with, from the left, Barbara Bush and Susie’s program instructor Melody Barnes), who at the age of 58 returned to school to get her high school diploma. Thanks to the Richardson ISD Family Learning Program, she is not only on her way to getting her GED but she and her 6-year old grandson read to each other.

As Susie hugged Barbara, she may not have noticed that she received a standing ovation from the crowd including Condoleezza, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Nancy and Peter Beck on the front row.

Then everyone settled back for the authors to take their turn at the podium. Introducing each were a different set of Bush grandkids. Jeff said that he was the author who would provide levity, and he did just that. Ending his talk he admitted that when his publisher suggested that he launch his newest Wimpy Kid book on Tuesday, he didn’t realize that #43 would be launching his on the same day. Jeff suggested that for the cost of #43’s book you could get two Wimpy Kid books plus a cup of Starbucks.

Next was Condoleezza Rice. Before reading an excerpt from her Extraordinary, Ordinary People, she told how her mother had been a teacher for Willie Mays. Having grown up in the hotbox of Birmingham, Ala., during the racially turbulent 1950’s and 1960’s, Condoleezza recalled the day of the bombing of the nearby 16th Street Baptist Church. She also told how her mother advised her daughter, “You might not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s, but you could be president of the United States.”

Following Condoleezza was Roses author Leila Meacham, whose marvelous southern accent gilded the reading of the book that she undertook at the age of 65. Five years later Grand Central Publishing released Roses and it became a New York Times bestseller. Think of it as a Texas version of Gone With The Wind covering a century of three generations in the Lone Star state.

At 7:54 Dallas native son Donovan Campbell took the stage and the audience with him. Before launching into Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, he took time out to address his father, who was in the audience. With a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips, the son congratulated his father for celebrating his “49th birthday for the 11th time.”  Donovan had the entire audience in the palm of his hand as he described his platoon and their facing “some of the bloodiest battles of the war in Iraq.”

While following Donovan might have been considered nearly impossible, former First Lady Laura Bush took on the challenge with grace and style, reading an excerpt from Spoken From the Heart. While always so proper, Laura provided genuine insight to her being courted by George W. Bush (aka #43). Their whirlwind dating/engagement was the talk of West Texas that the “most eligible bachelor in Midland” is marrying “the old maid of Midland.”

Then she introduced “a special surprise guest” — #43. Welcoming the former president with another standing ovation and cheers, the 1,400 got a sneak preview of the next day’s official launch of his book Decision Points, including:

  • Teasing his mother about the “Celebration” — “Mother, I’m glad you did something constructive.”
  • “If you sense shock tomorrow when this book comes out, it’s because, believe it or not, there are some people in our country who do not think I can read much less write.”
  • On his reason for writing the book — “My goals in writing this book are two-fold. First I hope to paint a picture of what it was like to serve as president for eight consequential years. I believe it will be impossible to reach definitive conclusions about my presidency or any recent presidency for that matter for several decades. The passage of time allows passions to cool, results to clarify and scholars to compare different approaches. My hope is that this book will serve as a resource for anyone studying this period in American history. Second, I write to give readers a perspective on decision-making in a complex environment. Many of the decisions that reach the president’s desk are tough calls with strong arguments on both sides. Throughout the book I describe the options I weighed and the principles I followed. I hope this will give you a better sense of why I made the decisions I did.”
  • “I never had to search for a role model. I was the son of George Bush.”
  • On Barbara teaching her little boy French as she drove him through the desert to the orthodontist in Big Spring: “If only Jacques Chirac could have seen me then.”

Following his talk, #43 took a seat on the front row and joined the rest of the audience in hearing the 80 members of the Children’s Chorus of Dallas beautifully perform “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Like any proper hostess, Barbara thanked all for coming, saying, “I bet you’re a little ‘bushed’ tonight.” Then she invited the 1,400 to a light supper.

As guests found their tables, some noted that a certain area of the lobby looked like a convention of Don Draper hunks. It turned out that when you have two former presidents and two former first ladies, you end up with four teams of Secret Service members. One matron asked her table partner, “Do you have to be good-looking to be on the Secret Service?”

As Barbara chatted with Peter Beck (pictured right with Barbara Bush) and #41 joined Dee and Charles Wyly at their table, guests not only found a perfect dinner but gift bags with two books  plus a copy of the winning essays from the writing contest at Peak Preparatory. (If you’d like to see the essays, follow the jump. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has provided the winning copies.)

On the other hand, the younger first couple made an exit signing books (George W. Bush pictured) as they left. After all, #41 had to rise early the next morning for a book signing at Borders, where people were already lining up to meet Barbara’s oldest boy. [Read more…]

John Larroquette reviews: He’s An AMAZING Speaker

MySweetCharity’s Houston bud Kristi Hoss Schiller just sent the following note about Dallas C.A.R.E. speaker John Larroquette:

“He is an AMAZING speaker — we just had hin at the Houston Council two weeks ago — LOVED HIM!”

Trust MSC when we say that Kristi never ever understates anything.

See you tomorrow morning with Johnny boy at Belo. Coffee is on us!

2010 Black Tie Dinner Guests Were Champing At The Bit

Considered the standard bearer of formal fund raising within the LGBT world, the Black Tie Dinner proved its stuff Saturday night at the Dallas Sheraton. Starting at 5:45 p.m., the backup of cars into the hotel was already looking like a wheeled version of a conga line. Alas, the parking garages attached to the Sheraton were marked “Full” to allow space for the valets, so many chose nearby parking lots and a walk.

But the space issue arose again upon entering the festivities. Like the March of the Penguins, tuxedoes were everywhere, especially in the silent auction arena just outside the Lone Star Ballroom. What else would you expect when you have 3,000 over for a black-tie dinner? Didn’t matter. Everyone was having way too much fun and the congestion just added to the evening’s conversations.

But a few hundred were cubbyholed in private receptions in the Austin Ballrooms. The VIP reception for 500 featured a coolly blue-lit Grey Goose bar with four lines of guests waiting their turn for a libation. In from Washington D.C. was Human Rights Campaign CFO Jim Rinefierd in a red shirt and leather tuxedo with matching tie.

Next door was the Speakers reception for a mere 150. Unlike the free-moving VIP reception, it had the nicety of having Judge Barbara Houser and evening honoree Carol West (pictured right with Barbara Houser) greeting guests at the door.  Part of the room was a photo factory for shooting evening headliners like Gavin Creel and Chely Wright with local celebs. Two photographers with name takers were lining ’em up and shooting them. On the sidelines Mitchell Gold, like a Cecil B. DeMille, admonished, “Only two flashes” per setup.

Another person on the side was Chely’s gal pal Lauren Blitzer (pictured left with Chely Wright), who co-wrote Same Sex in the City.

In the back of the room was a handsome Marine all decked out in his formal dress uniform. Could this be a situation of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? Upon inquiring, the Marine turned out to be Chely’s brother Christopher, who was in from Kansas City with his wife Karla, for Chely’s receiving BTD’s Media Award.

Also on hand supporting family ties were Stephanie Vanderburg and Christine Fischer (pictured right with Stephanie Vanderburg), daughters of BTD Board Member Debra Davis.

Across the way attorney Don Gaiser in a silver-and-black tuxedo jacket was escorted to red carpet area to have his photo taken with the celebs. Buying 10 tables gets you Very VIP service, don’t you know! But the standout in this crowd was Grey Goose’s Claire Winslow (pictured) with her red hair and one-of-a-kind dress and stockings.

Before you knew it, the place cleared out and all headed to the silent auction area to await the opening of the Lone Star Ballroom doors for the night’s dinner.

Now mind you, adding more than 600 people to the already crowded silent auction space might be a problem for some, but for the BTD crowd it was a more-the-merrier scenario. It was a melting pot of all professions, backgrounds and personalities like Messy Panocha (pictured). Let’s face it — the drag diva just stands out in any crowd and loves it with those glittery eyelashes and remarkable hairstyle.

Then there was CPA Mike Larsen (pictured) in his natty kilts, freelance musician Henry McDowell in purple tie (guess he didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t Purple Tie Dinner), and sales associate Marjan in her gold-spangled dress.

Promptly at 7 the doors to the Lone Star opened and the 3,000 filed in for dinner, entertainment and learning more about the beneficiaries and honorees.

If you were among the top-tier guests, you were seated at tables with their own server who took drink orders throughout the night. Shoot, it was like life aboard a luxury liner. No muss, no fuss, just let your server know what you want and it was johnny-on-the-spot. . . drink wise. On the other hand, if you wanted food, regardless of your place in the pecking order, you were limited to salad and a basket of bread until 8:29.

While organizers had held off dinner to allow the speakers and entertainers to be heard over the clatter of dishes, they didn’t realize how really hungry folks could get. This may have explained why so many guests started talking among themselves and checking their smartphones instead of listening to the speakers.

After a brilliant performance by Gavin with the Turtle Creek Chorale, BLT Co-Chairs Ron   Guillard (pictured) and Nan Arnold (pictured) welcomed the group. While marvelous in their efforts to coordinate the event, their calling is not in the world of emceeing. This became apparent when the next speaker Carol West received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award. With zeal, presence and eloquence, she set a pace that would be hard to match. But shoot, she’s a Fort Worth minister and knows how to hold a crowd’s attention!

Next on the agenda was Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese (pictured), who could easily be heard but seemed to change the direction of the evening from enjoyment to political agenda. Perhaps it was the fact that it was now verging on 8 p.m. and the crowd was wondering when the next course would arrive on their tables.

At 8:10 a video was shown but the audio was not stellar quality, thereby losing the attention of many.

But that quickly changed when the list of sponsors was recognized. American Airlines seemed to get the biggest applause.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (pictured) took the podium as the keynote speaker and once again thanked the sponsors and launched into her talk. Perhaps it was the pangs of hunger or the hour, but the attention of the crowd started wandering. With Tammy looking down from eight huge screens surrounding the room, you would have thought she would have commanded the room. But instead many were looking for trays of food that were nowhere in sight and others were checking their smartphones.

The bread basket at one table was making its final pass when a young man, like a starving hero in a lifeboat, gallantly offered the last piece to the rest of the table. When no one took him up on his offer, he grabbed it and apologetically said, “I’m sorry, but I’m so hungry.”

At 8:25 one man could be heard loudly questioning, “Where’s the damned food?” Within four minutes, Tammy concluded her remarks to a round of applause and hopes that food would soon be on its way, but no. Instead the list of sponsors rolled on the screens with a voice reading each one over the PA system. Waiters were standing on the sidelines just waiting for the signal to present the food. As the last of the Single Seat Sponsors was read, the parade of trays started marching from the kitchen. It was then that a voice over the PA system announced, “You must be seated to be served.” Like children attending their first holiday sit-down supper, the guests stayed put.

But then, after the guests enjoyed some mighty tasty steak and creme brulee, it was time for the live auction and happenings that once again allowed the Black Tie Dinner to be a monumental money maker. How much? That will be revealed in December. Check back here for the final results.

30th Anniversary of Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer Brings Honors, Joys And Tears

Friday evening was a very special one for Cindy Brinker Simmons at the 30th anniversary of Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer at the Adolphus. Having founded the organization to help children and their families battling cancer, Cindy’s work both professionally and personally have been amazing and inspiring.

To mark the occasion, Event Chair Mary Poss created an evening for the 300 guests that was personal and reflected the core of what WOKC has come to mean to so many.

One of the highlights was the presentation by Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (pictured left with, from the left, Cindy Brinker Simmons and City Councilman Ron Natinsky) to Cindy of a proclamation designating Friday, November 5, 2010 as “Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer Day in Dallas.”

To commemorate the 30th anniversary, the first Norman Brinker Humanitarian Award was presented to Pete and Pat Schenkel “for their extensive community support and philanthropic service to the Dallas community.” It was especially touching that Cindy and her stepmother Toni Brinker presented the award to the Schenkels.

Then it was time to present the “Little Mo” awards, that were named in honor of Cindy’s mother, Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker, who died of cancer at the age of 34. Given to community leaders who represent Little Mo’s spirit of hard work, humility, compassion and excellence, the awards were given to the following:

  • Cristy Ecton of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas — Education & Awareness Award
  • Dr. Meaghan Granger of Cook Children’s Medical Center of Fort Worth — Medical & Health Achievement Award
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs — Philanthropy Award and
  • Lori Freeland — Volunteerism Award.

The heartbreaking moment in the evening occurred when Honorary Chair Annette Leslie (pictured left with husband Craig Leslie) shared the story of her 17-year old son, Carson, who died earlier this year from medulloblastoma. She told of Carson’s “courageous fight with cancer the impact WOKC had on their family and the inspiration his legacy is providing to other teens with cancer.” Following her very personal story, Carson’s book Carry Me was given to the guests.

To help other families like the Leslies, more than $200,000 was raised thanks to the live auction and event underwriters like

  • Celebrating Success ($20,000) —  Margot and Ross Perot
  • Changing Lives ($10,000) — Kenny Can Foundation and Mary and Mike Poss/Living Green Designs
  • Researching a Cure ($5,000) — Brinker International, Cindy Brinker Simmons and family and Rosemary Haggar Vaughan Family Foundation
  • Sharing the Vision ($2,500) — Ann Cain, Dean Foods Company, Inwood Village Pediatrics, Paula and Bob Strasser, Safeway, Inc./Tom Thumb, Toni and Norman Brinker Fund, UT Southwestern Medical Center/Southwestern Medical Foundation and Wells Fargo
  • Presenting Sponsor – American Airlines
  • VIP Cocktail Reception Sponsor – Jersey Mike’s
  • Media Sponsor – Modern Luxury

“We are overwhelmed at the generosity and support of the sponsors and guests for tonight’s event and we thank each one of you for your contribution to our cause,” said WOKC CEO Evelyn Costolo (pictured left with Mary Poss). “Fundraising from tonight’s event far surpassed our goal and raised over $200,000! The majority of these funds will be used to fund Medulloblastoma research at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and Plano and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Medulloblastoma is the most common type of brain tumor found in children and accounts for 15-20% of pediatric brain tumors. Each dollar contributed tonight will allow us to continue our fight against childhood cancer, until the day when all children are living cancer free.”

Cindy, your folks would be very proud of you.

Photo credit: Alana McIntyre, 1000 Words Photography

Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund’s Perfect Look Wasn’t All That Perfect

In the way old days families would gather around the television set to watch the Miss America pageant. Both were so glamorous and everyone watching had their favorites.  The Miss America contestants looked so beautiful and always had the perfect answer for the tricky question segment of the evening.

But reality isn’t always what it appears. For instance, Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund admits that for years she suffered from an eating disorder to achieve physical perfection.

You’re laughing. Eating disorder? Have a Hershey bar and get over it.

With that attitude, it proves that education is needed and that’s exactly what Kirsten is going to do at The Elisa Project‘s sixth annual Life Lessons Luncheon on Thursday at the Hilton Anatole. Event Co-chairs mother/daughter Megan and Ryan McManemin have a personal reason for their involvement. Ryan was diagnosed with partial anorexia and bulimia while at Episcopal School of Dallas. Feeling pressured due to athletics and social pressure, the youngster was desperate to achieve “perfection.”

In fact her first episode occurred this time of year when Ryan was a freshman in high school. With all the food at Thanksgiving, purging was Ryan’s solution. But once was not enough, so it continued until Ryan “confessed her secret to her parents.”  Coming together, the McManemins weathered a full-court-press treatment program to redirect Ryan’s behavior for recovery.

“The treatment of eating disorders is a long, difficult process. Our family was extremely fortunate Ryan came to us early in her struggle,” said mother Megan. “We were able to get her immediate, intensive treatment before she lost control to this formidable disease.”

Even if you are a healthy camper, you may unknowingly have a person in your life who is suffering from this “unfashionable” disease. More reason to lunch Thursday with Ryan, Megan and Kirsten.

The Senior Source Calls In Nobel Laureate To “Roast” Marnie And Kern Wildenthal for “Spirit of Generations 2010”

Only Marnie and Kern Wildenthal could be “roasted” by a Nobel Laureate with a sense of humor. That’s what happened at The Senior Source’s “Spirit of Generation” luncheon Friday at the Anatole.

But before the stellar crowd lunched and laughed, the VIP reception took place in the Wedgwood Room that was just a tad bit chilly. It seems that prior to being the place for the reception, a flock of flowers had been in a holding pattern.  No problem. With the cold front that had moved in earlier that day, the ladies like Helen Storey and Virginia Chandler Dykes had pulled out their wool suit jackets for the lunch and others like Ruth Altshuler (pictured right with, from the left, Alicia Landry, Virginia Chandler Dykes and Helen Storey) and The Senior Source Exec Director Molly Bogen wore extremely fashionable six-foot long  scarves.

The hot topics of conversation ranged from 2011 Equest Co-chair Barbara Stewart (pictured) reporting that her daughter/Equest co-chair Margaret Macatee will be handling the hi tech aspect of promoting that annual event at Brook Hollow; Mary McDermott talking about the October opening festivities for the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge;  and Isabell Haggar happily recalling Dinner Under the Star’s incredible success.

One person steering away from a particular topic was Ross Perot. He opted to take pass regarding the week’s elections.

Then it was on to a ballroom full of boldface types like Jess Hay seated with Margaret Crow, who just a couple of weeks ago had been on hand for the opening of the “refreshed” Anatole lobby. . .  Faye Briggs with her daughters Pebble McKenzie and Hester Briggs had French beauty Sylvie Wainwright (pictured left with Faye Briggs) at her table.

When all were settled in, it was time for the program with Luncheon Chair Sandra Estes teasing the group that for a long time she had considered “senior citizens as the ‘others.'” But her thinking had changed over the years and now, “I’m sold on old!”

Baylor Health Care System Foundation President Rowland “Robin” Robinson (pictured) did a nice job subbing in for Baylor Health Care System CEO Joel Allison who was in Washington on business. As you can guess, Baylor, like so many of the health care providers, is very concerned about providing for the upcoming flood of baby boomers as they approach the senior years.  “Both organizations (The Senior Source and Baylor) are committed to meeting the physical, the spiritual, the emotional and the mental needs of our clients.”

Following a video and a note from British operatic great Robert Lloyd recognizing the Wildenthal for their contributions throughout the years and their friendship, it was time to get down to business, or in this case, laughs. That was left in the hands of UT Southwestern Nobel Laureate Dr. Al Gilman, (pictured right with, from the left, Margo Goodwin and Kern and Marnie Wildenthal) who really should start a second career of roasting great people. While Al lauded Marnie for her decades of teaching at Episcopal School of Dallas, he gently poked fun at Kern with decades of stories about Kern even before his days as UT Southwestern president. A recurring theme was bird droppings that seemed always to find Al but avoid Kern.

But Al was not going to just tease Kern. He told the group of Kern’s incredible work ethic, his vision in orchestrating the growth of UT Southwestern, as well as the Dallas Opera.

Kern must have known that the lunch was going to have some mischief from the red-ribbon-tied Coke bottles at his table (pictured). Luncheon guests learned that Kern has a love for Coke. They also learned from this brilliant, world-famous friend that not only did they share the same birth date, but they also have a respect and friendship for each other that is unmatched.

With that Marnie and Kern accepted their award with the grace, eloquence and humility proving they rightly deserved the 2010 Spirit of Generations Award.

Art + Advocacy Brings Out The Young Art Lovers For Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center

If all the young art lovers of Dallas seemed to be MIA Thursday, there was a reason. They (pictured) were at Three Three Three First Avenue having a heck of a good time buying up art and raising money for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. The occasion was Art + Advocacy presented by TurningPoint Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch Wealther Management U.S. Trust.

Event Chairs Ginny and Conner Searcy and Honorary Chair Molly Byrne arranged for a live and silent auction of artowrk by both emerging and established artists (Daniel Birdsong, Fannie Brito, Isabelle du Toit, Letitia Eldredge, Frankie Garcia, Michael Ledoux, Bonny Leibowitz, Shane Pennington, Kristen E. Rice, Ryder Richards, Zach Saucedo and Valton Tyler) plus something very special — an exhibit of self-portraits created by child-abuse victims who have received help at DCAC.

Helping to get the crowd revved up for bidding were DJ Lucy Wrubel handling the music and auctioneer Mike Jones and KDFW-CH. 4’s Natalie Solis (pictured) getting hands raised for the auction.

St. Jude And The Jumbotron Watched Over “Evening Under The Star”

Last year’s Evening Under the Star had to be moved upstairs at Cowboys Stadium because the Jumbotron was having issues. It was a great event and no one knew the difference. . . until this past Friday, when the annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital benefit took over the field with Jumbotron on best behavior overhead.

Around 1,000 guests staggered around the field. No, not because of over indulgence of refreshments. They were simply in awe of the place. As massive as the stadium is, it’s an entirely different experience when you’re on the field itself. No one has come up with a word big enough to capture the feeling of the First Wonder of the Football World.

Being on the field transformed guests from proper type folks to wannabe athletes. Redhead Lisa Doney (pictured) took up the football toss and was not going to give up until she got that dang thang through the tire.

Across the way, Dan Gray and Brad Nall (pictured) took turns attempting to kick the football through the goal posts. For some reason, that goal post just seemed to get further and further away.

On the other hand, Host Committee Chairs Sherice and Tim Brown (pictured left with Sherice Brown) looked down right at home on the playing field thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Tim’s years playing for Notre Dame and in the NFL.

However, the two most popular pre-show activities on the field were the buffet line and the silent auction.

The rows of Taste of the NFL featured cuisine ala major NFL flavors including:

  • Atlanta (Southern Comfort Food) — Classic green bean casserole, southern fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, Georgia peach cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream
  • Dallas (Served Up Texas Style) — Cowboy cole slaw, smoked beef brisket, Dr Pepper BBQ sauce, jalapeno cornbread, chocolate decadence bites
  • Chicago (Windy City Selections) — Caesar salad, Chicago-style pizzas (pepperoni, spinach and baby portabella, BBQ chicken Hawaiian)
  • San Francisco (Pacific Temptations) — Skewers from the Pacific Rim, lemongrass tenderloin of beef, Asian chicken, ginger shrimp, fried rice, vegetable spring rolls and fortune cookies

Over toward the silent auction, Margo (pictured) and Jim Keyes were proving to be  old hands at the St. Jude’s silent auction and headed straight for it. BTW, Margo looked rather fabulous courtesy of others. Her turquoise necklace, black pants suit and stilettos were picked out by Jim and her turquoise earrings came from jewelry designer DiAnn Malouf. And speaking of designs, it seems that Jim’s submission for this year’s The Catholic Foundation Plaza was a finalist. . .Leaving the stilettos at home and buying into the whole western motif was Gail Fischer. Why the metal on her boots alone would set off any metal detector.  . .  Honorary Chair Aileen Pratt didn’t have a chance to check out the silent auction because she was trying to track down husband Jack and her daughter (“She looks so cute in her fringe”).  It’s easy to see why Aileen and Jack were selected as the honorary chairs. Aileen is so articulate and committed to children in need — “Children don’t understand the economy going badly. They understand pain and need and we have to help them regardless of the financial situation.” As Party Co-Chair Lydia Novakov said, “Their (the Pratts) devotion to the mission of St. Jude has helped so many precious children in their toughest hours. Their efforts parallel those felt by numerous others in the Dallas community. Aileen (pictured) and Jack are true angels in our midst.”

Then folks settled down for a live auction conducted by Mike Jones followed by a concert with Jo Dee Messina.

Before the live auction and concert started, Toni Brinker and Isabell Haggar (pictured right with Toni Brinker) were spotted standing on the star at the 50-yard line. When asked about their luck in not having the event on the same night as the World Series next door at the Ballpark, Isabell said, “St. Jude was watching over us, I guess!”

Evidently Isabell was right. St. Jude must have been keeping a watchful eye on the project to raise funds for his hospital. The evening raised a whopping $700,000. That’s $100,000 more than last year. Guess it really did pay to move the party down to the field of dreams.

Sorry, But The Annual Museum of Nature & Science Gala Is Sold Out

If you were hoping to attend the Museum of Nature & Science’s “Fly Me To The Moon” on Thursday, November 18 at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, you’re out of luck. It’s a sell out!

Honorary Chairs Emily and David Corrigan and Event Chairs Henny Wright and Ed Stead have put together quite an evening to raise funds for the Museum’s “education initiatives, including a scholarship program that opens the door for at-risk school children in North Texas to visit the Museum.”

That means you won’t be able to have dinner catered by Kent Rathbun or participate in the incredible auction of —

  • A once-in-a-lifetime ZERO-G Experience of true weightlessness! On a specially modified Boeing 727, parabolic arcs are performed to create a weightless environment allowing the guest to float, flip and soar as if in space.  The ZERO-G Experience includes 12-15 parabolas, a participant’s own ZERO-G flight suit, ZERO-G merchandise, a Regravitation Celebration, certificate of weightless completion, photos and video of the unique experience.  Item includes airfare to the departure locations at Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Las Vegas or Bristow Air Center in Titusville, Fla.
  • Breitling Emergency Mission Men’s Watch PLUS a flight on a Breitling stunt plane with the Captain of the U.S. Aerobatic team, David Martin.  Courtesy of Richard Eiseman Jewelers.
  • Luxurious private island Caribbean getaway in Cayo Espanto for three nights for two including private butler service, three tailored meals per day, all drinks (excluding wine/champagne), and transfers.  Coach airfare for two to Belize courtesy of American Airlines.
  • 10-day buffalo and plains game hunting safari for two hunters, courtesy of Robin Hurt Safaris.  Includes one professional hunter and exclusive use of the hunting camp and concession in Tanzania.
  • Bow hunt in Grayson County, courtesy of Greg Almond.  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harvest a giant Whitetail deer on a ranch located within 70 miles of Dallas area.
  • Two first-class international airlines tickets, courtesy of American Airlines
  • Sparkling Brilliance!  White topaz and 18 Karat gold “Maltese Cross” Earclips in white or black enamel by Verdura
  • Night at the Museum – Adopt the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Museum of Nature & Science’s Dinosaur Gallery. The winner will also have the opportunity to host a private viewing of “Dinosaurs Unearthed” and a screening of Sea Monsters in the TI Founder’s IMAX theatre for 100 of your closest friends, family and colleagues!
  • Amethyst, Courtesy of Daniel Trinchillo – Fine Minerals International.  A beautiful example of Mother Nature’s art work!   A stunning example of Amethyst stalactites from Uruguay is mesmerizing in both its color and undulating form.
  • Capella  Pedregal – Cabo San Lucas…….Start with a beach so private it takes a 1,000-foot tunnel through a granite mountain to get there.  Your 7-night stay at the recently unveiled Capella  Pedregal  Resort includes a 4-bedroom, 4,000 square foot Villa with dual master suites, 2 private plunge pools and your very own Majordomo awaiting your arrival.  Enjoy the plentiful resort dining venues, the highly indulgent Auriga Spa, the state-of the art Fitness Center and all the intuitive services of the luxurious Capella  brand!

Sponsors for the event include the following:

  • Galaxy ($50,000 level) — Balfour Beatty Construction.
  • Eclipse ($25,000 level) — American Airlines; Bank of America; Al G. Hill, Jr.; Lyda Hill; Suzanne and Patrick McGee; Margot and Ross Perot; Nancy Perot; Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr.; Carolyn and Karl Rathjen; and Katherine and Eric Reeves.
  • Constellation ($12,500 level) — AT&T, Emily and David Corrigan, Ka and L.L. Cotter, Nancy Dedman, Energy Future Holdings/TXU Energy, Fine Minerals International, Cindy Thomas and Bert Headden, Sally and Forrest Hoglund, Ketel One Vodka, Kent Rathbun Catering, Nokia Siemens Network, Peregrine Group, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Rosewood Foundation, Henny Wright and Ed Stead, Marisa Chung and Daniel Trinchillo.

Sip, Shop And Save With Partners Card At Gucci Wednesday

Early reports from Partners Card shoppers are daunting! Experienced, shop-til-you-drop types are loving the thrill of the killer purchases. Those more timid types are a little wary of the activity initially, but they’re getting into the swing of things. You’ve got to admit that shopping in Dallas has never been for the faint of heart.

A great place to exercise your Partners Card is Wednesday night (tonight) at the new GUCCI boutique in NorthPark from 6 to 8 p.m.

According to co-hostess Rhonda Sargent Chambers, “Partner’s Cards are available in-store for $60, with 100% of your purchase supporting The Family Place programs and entitling you to enjoy a 20% discount on any purchase now through November 7th.”

You not only can do your holiday shopping and impress your friends with gifts, but you can also help The Family Place.

T. Boone, Emmitt And Roger Upped The Ante For Expanding Worlds With Flying Footballs And Talk

It’s challenging when your annual luncheon doubles in size and that’s what happened to LaunchAbility‘s “Expanding Worlds 2010” lunch Tuesday at the Fairmont. Last year’s event of 200, mostly gals, at the InterContinental Hotel for an onstage conversation of Elaine Agather, Linda Custard and Tincy Miller, grew dramatically. Instead of being north of LBJ in the intimate Malachite Room, this year’s venue was held straight in the heart of downtown Dallas at the Fairmont’s International Ballroom. In place of three proper ladies chatting, it was guys whom other guys just wish were their best friends — T. Boone Pickens, Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach (pictured right  with, from the left, T. Boone Pickens and Emmitt Smith).

The results — twice as many guests and many, many more men!

The VIP reception starting at 10:45 a.m. in a part of the International Ballroom proved to be a bit of a challenge. It appeared that everyone was a VIP and wanted to have their photos taken with Boone and Roger. Word had spread through the crowd that Emmitt “was running late” and wouldn’t be there til lunch started. Also, someone said that he would not be signing anything.

As the official event photographer hustled people through to have their official “grip and grin” photos taken with Boone and Roger, the two VIP’s cordially and good heartedly posed with one and all.  The whole scene reminded one of high school prom photos without corsages.

On the sidelines, Ebby Halliday who came up with the idea of having “the triplets” for the star attraction sat smiling gleefully at the mass that had responded to her suggestion. That gal knows how to create a winning operation.

Former KXAS-CH. 5 anchor Mike Snyder was talking with friends about his involvement with American Airlines and the veterans program.

On the other hand, across the ballroom table hostess Ruth Altshuler was masterminding the arrangement of guests at her table by placing cards at each seat. Smart move on Ruth’s part. Recently luncheon and dinner guests have been complaining that after placing their materials at a certain seat at a table, they return only to find that other table guests have moved them to another seat. It happened at this event — several times at several tables. Gee, you would have thought the guests were preparing to go on a death march instead of to eat.

But all was soon forgotten when lunch began and a video presentation about LaunchAbility was partly shown. Alas, the tape stopped midway, but adlib expert/ emcee Scott Murray picked up the story without missing a beat. Who needs a video when you have Scott?

Also helping in the communications at the luncheon was signer Connie Miller (pictured), whose hands never stopped throughout the event.

Soon it was time for the Big Three to take to the stage. Before they took their seats, Roger got his hands on the two footballs that had been autographed by the three and auctioned off. Emmitt warned the hundreds of guests, “Folks, watch out. He is going to throw it.” And Roger did just that, twice. The first time caught some off guard. The second time set a covey of guests scrambling to catch it. The fellow who caught the ball put it neatly in an empty seat next to him with pride, only to have an event staffer retrieve it for the winning bidder.

Scott quipped, “Come to think of it, the Cowboys are in the market for a quarterback, Roger.”  To which Roger responded : “I was trying to get warmed up for the Jacksonville game next week.”

The ball throwing naturally launched the conversation into the sports arena. Here are some highlights from the chat (pictured from the left, Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach and T. Boone Pickens): [Read more…]