The original premise of Community Partners of Dallas’ Chick Lit Luncheon was based on an author as the keynote speaker whose work was a chick magnet. It scored high in getting gals buying the speaker’s books and reading up on her life adventures and views.
For the first ten years, it was held at Brook Hollow grand ballroom and became so popular that it overflowed into the Promenade and Oak Room. Then three years ago the event took a huge leap of faith. It moved the whole kit and caboodle to the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom and had a guy as the speaker. The fella was nattiest author/TV personality Tim Gunn, who charmed the audience with his anecdotes.
The following year the event returned to the Anatole, taking another big leap landing the ever-headline-making, reality star/author Bethenny Frankel.
While she wasn’t Tim Gunn, she became the major conversation piece for months afterward. Some absolutely loved her unbridled comments; others shuddered at her unbridled comments.
When it was revealed that the luncheon on Friday, April 13, was returning to the Anatole again, some wondered if the author would be a Tim Gunn, a Bethenny Frankel or a return to the days of Julia Reed. The announcement was made in January. It would be non-author Katie Holmes, who was known for her TV successes (“Dawson Creek,” “The Kennedys,” “Ray Donovan”), her movie roles (“The Ice Storm,” “Wonder Boys,” “First Daughter,” “Miss Meadows”) and her relationships (former fiancée Chris Klein, ex-husband Tom Cruise, friendship with Jamie Foxx). While she had adapted a film from a book (“All We Had”), she had yet to put pen to paper.
Still, hopes were so high as well as the cause being so worthy and the awardee being Jan Rees-Jones.
The day started off at 10:30 a.m. with a patron party in the Wedgwood Room’s foyer. Like the VIP party at Dior the night before, the room was jammed. The meet-and-greet was a stop-and-write-and-go situation. The required green cards weren’t filled out and left Katie and photographer Holt Haynsworth just cooling their heels. Katie didn’t register anger, frustration or boredom. Rather she just waited. When the guests had fulfilled the green card requirements, they posed with Katie for the photo and were on their way. Like any meet-and-greet, there was little interaction beyond “Hi,” smile and “Bye.”
However, Greg Nieberding did stage a photo, where Katie was on his left and his right arm was positioned as if someone were there. Perhaps he plans to insert friends in the empty space.
At 11:15 the session was over and Katie was escorted away before being led into the Chantilly Ballroom and its 1,300+ guests, including Presenting Sponsors Lara and Robert Tafel, Jamie Williams, Daniella Giglio, Melissa Macatee with mom Barbara Stuart, Tucker Enthoven, Gina Betts, Angie Kadesky, Claire Emanuelson, the Cooley chicks (Bela, Ciara and Lisa), Tracy Lange, Susan Palma, Stacey Walker and Daffan and Doug Nettle.
The luncheon had its very good points:
- Four huge screens smartly placed high enough around the room for all to see without moving chairs.
- The videos showcasing the need for CPD in working with foster children and the day’s awardee Jan Rees-Jones were well produced.
- The call for money was record breaking.
- Food was served promptly.
- A lot of money was raised.
- The program ran tight ending at 12:45.
On the other hand, it had some points that could have been better:
- During the call for money, the lights in the room were not pulled up. The darkened room resulted in guests having a hard time finding the donor cards and filling them out. Luckily, it didn’t deter them from donating a record-breaking amount.
- The exchange between Katie and PaperCity’s Christina Geyer was rather lackluster. Christina didn’t follow up Katie’s answers. Example: Christina asked Katie who were Katie’s role models. Katie replied “Michelle Obama…” Christina didn’t follow that up by asking, “What about Michelle Obama earns that place in your mind? Is it the way she’s raised her children? Her stand on eating healthy? Her fashion style?”
In all fairness Christina was hamstrung by a list of pre-approved questions. Thus such subjects that would have naturally been associated with Katie like Cruise, Fox and Scientology were probably off limits. The result was a conversation that wasn’t so much a chat but a blind date that didn’t get to first base.
In going from one extreme (Bethenny) to the other (Katie), the event planners may have gone too far to the safe room in the world of keynoters. Perhaps the Chick Litters might consider returning to their roots and have a bona fide author as their speaker.
Still the purpose of the luncheon was to provide funding for CPD’s mission “to ensure safety, restore dignity and inspire hope for abused and neglected children served by Dallas County Child Protective Services.” Luckily, the end result was “mission: accomplished.”