Thirty-five years ago, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel made history in Chicago with their show “Sneak Previews,” later to become “Siskel & Ebert,” “Ebert & Roeper” and “At the Movies.” On January 21st, Roger made history again by bringing back one of the longest running shows in television history. The premiere party for “Ebert Presents At the Movies” was held recently at the Peninsula and it was a glorious affair in every sense of the word. Everyone who was anyone was there – all invited personally by Roger and his devoted wife, Chaz. The Red Carpet Girls welcomed guests as they stepped into a movie lover’s dream party. There were large movie posters in every corner, flashing strobe lights and a step-and-repeat with curtains just like the ones on Roger’s previous sets. Photographers were everywhere and there were even stars on the floor a la Hollywood Boulevard. I was thrilled to see my name there alongside Mayor Daley, Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel, Maggie Daley, Julee White, Carrie Birkel, Sonia Evans (Chaz and Roger’s daughter), Les Coney, the Peninsula’s Marc Anderson and Sugar Rautbord among others. So exciting! Happy invitees mixed and mingled in the lobby sipping Ebertinis and Ebert-O’-Tinis before the ballroom doors opened. Inside the grand room, you were transported back to old Hollywood where everything was bigger and grander than real life. Massive columns with faux flames shooting out from the top bore the name of Roger’s new show boldly down their sides. Beautiful displays of food filled every corner and the room was lit like one of the beautiful old movie theaters we all miss so much. It was a sight to behold…and then Chaz and Roger entered the room to wild applause! Chaz wore a beautiful flowing green gown with a matching ruffled shawl and Roger was dressed in his iconic white scarf and dark suit. Chaz led Roger to his place of honor in front of the stage and the show began. A trio of singers/dancers channeling The Supremes entertained the crowd while Roger happily clapped along. Marlene Siskel Eglitzen even took a turn with Roger around the dance floor! It was a joyous moment for everyone. Then Chaz took to the stage, or I should say commanded the stage. She has been such a source of strength for Roger and has helped him through so much. Her speech was eloquent and loving and included everyone important to them both. Alderman Ed Burke was up next and he thanked the Eberts on “behalf of the Mayor and the entire City Council” for remaining so true to Chicago by keeping all of their shows here. Indeed, they have had many offers to move the show elsewhere but Chicago is where their hearts are, luckily, for us! The new hosts of the show, Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, were introduced and you could tell from their onstage banter that they are the perfect choices. Both have an extensive knowledge of the world of film, obviously. I wish Chaz and Roger the VERY best on this new show, whose pilot was produced by Howard Tullman and Tribeca Flashpoint Academy. The show appears on WTTW Channel 11 Friday nights at 8:30 PM and repeated on Saturday morning at 11 AM. I will meet you on the balcony, Roger…WELCOME BACK!!!!! (To view ALL event pics, please click here.)
Our Chicago fashion world just keeps growing! Recently, the Chicago Fashion Incubator introduced the 2011 Designers in Residence as well as celebrated the success of alumni designers at the LAUNCH/CFI pop-up shop grand opening event. Over 300 fashion-loving guests showed their support for the city’s local talent, celebrating the second year of the pop up store located on Level 5 of The 900 Shops on N. Michigan Avenue. My favorite DJ, Sye Young, spun stylish beats while Ford Models (with hair done by Mario Tricoci) showcased the 2011 designs with an informal fashion show. The 2011 class of designers include Concetta Cipriano, Shavanne Dorsey, Eric Kipp, Kahindo Mateene, Taneasha Prunty and Crystal Simms. Trunk shows will run through the end of April. For more information about the Chicago Fashion Incubator, please visit www.chicagofashionincubator.org.
I didn’t miss one second of Princess Diana’s wedding and I don’t intend on missing the next Royal wedding, either! It has to be the wedding of the century between Kate Middleton and Prince William and I think they will live happily ever after, unlike his parents. I also think the fact that they’ve been together for so long – seven years! – will ensure this. I have a feeling William was making very sure not to make a mistake. They sure seem like the perfect match to me! So, if you’re a Royal nut like I am and are anxious to have instant updates on the wedding on April 29th, here is the 411: The official website of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials was recently launched and received almost two million hits in its first 24 hours! The site, launched by St. James Palace with the address www.officialroyalwedding2011.org, includes updates and background info, including details about the receptions, the wedding route and a chance to sign up to Clarence House’s Twitter feed. This website might also include a live feed from the wedding…oh boy! I can’t wait!!!
There is a lot more to today’s reality stars than you might think. At least this is the case with former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Dina Manzo, who founded Project Ladybug in 2007 with a wish to bring financial and emotional hope to children and their families who are undergoing rigorous medical treatments. Dina earned her wings when she launched her first fund at St. Joseph’s Regional Hospital in New Jersey. In 2010, the project was included in the acclaimed Sloan-Kettering and in December 2010 arrived in Chicago to Comer Children’s Hospital. Chicago’s first Ladybug Bash, “Treads and Threads,” will take place on Thursday, April 7th, from 7 - 10 PM at Grossinger City Autoplex, located at 1530 N. Dayton. That’s when Project Ladybug partners with Grossinger City Autoplex, Manny B & Co., and Chicago’s leading fashion designers for an evening of fashion, food and luxury with a presentation by AKIRA and a tasting from over 15 of the area’s top restaurants. There will be a “Pit Stop” for the men that will include a shoe shine, basketball competitions and online gaming. Tickets for this event are $60 and can be purchased by clicking here. Congrats Dina…we need more reality stars like YOU!
I don’t know of anyone on the planet who doesn’t love NBC’s "24/7" host Catie Keogh! She is truly one of the hardest working women I know and I love, Love, LOVE her show so when another friend of mine, Kathleen Henson of Henson Consulting, asked me if I would appear on a segment, I jumped at the chance. I was so honored to find it was a show about “Women Who Give Back” and included Lindsay Avner and Sonya Jackson. Lindsay is the founder of Bright Pink, which is the only non-profit national organization with an exclusive focus on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in high-risk young women. Sonya Jackson is the Managing Director of Corporate Social Investment for United Airlines and the president of their Foundation. As you can see, I was in exalted company! We had a great taping at JW Marriott’s gorgeous VALEO Spa for Catie’s show, “24/7,” which airs at 12:30 AM Saturdays and six times a day on NBC Nonstop. Thanks so much for including me…it was a great day with great women!
Well, I guess/hope there is room for another steakhouse in town since Michael Jordan’s Steak House will be here soon! Opening in late summer of 2011 inside the historic Intercontinental Chicago, the restaurant will be 6,300 square feet with seating for 160 plus seating in the bar. The restaurant will occupy the second floor dining room and first floor lobby bar space, replacing both Zest Restaurant and The Lobby Bar. Michael says, “I’m excited about bringing a Michael Jordan’s Steak House to Chicago, especially to the world famous Magnificent Mile. I’m already looking forward to dining here.” Oh boy, SECURITY PLEASE!!!
I am sooooo excited about Victory Gardens Theater’s 2011 “Chicago Stories” fundraiser on Friday, May 13th, at the Four Seasons Hotel! I am proud to be a co-chair along with Anne Marie Peretz and Stephanie Pendexter for Artistic Director Dennis Zacek’s farewell gala. This event will be a special tribute to Dennis and will be hosted by another legendary Chicagoan, Bill Kurtis, who was also a former fellow “Chicago Stories” playwright! The night’s events will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live and silent auctions, a divine dinner in the elegant Grand Ballroom and plays written by two VERY notable Chicagoans: philanthropist Pam Crutchfield and Howard Tullman, president/CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy. The evening will close with a special tribute play to Dennis Zacek written by the VGT Playwrights Ensemble. There are also some surprises I can’t mention in case Dennis reads this! Tickets are $350 with Table Sponsorships beginning at $5,000. For tickets and more info, please call the fabulous Development Manager Kaye Oberhausen at 773-328-2146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to pay tribute to this beloved Chicago institution, Dennis Zacek!
Internationally renowned conductor Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti is being honored with the Dushkin Award from the Music Institute of Chicago at its 81st anniversary gala on Wednesday, May 4th, at the Four Seasons. Chaired by Alexandra and John Nichols, the evening begins at 6 PM with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres followed by an elegant dinner and awards presentation. Past recipients include Yo-Yo Ma, Leon Fleisher, Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, Isaac Stern and Sir Georg Solti to name a few. Sandra and Jack Guthman will receive the “Cultural Visionary Award for Chicago.” Honorary Chairs for MIC’s 81st Anniversary Gala include Cindy Pritzker, John H. Bryan and Joan W. Harris, who were last year’s Visionary Award winners. Tickets are $550. For more info, please call 847-448-8327.
I was so happy to be included in the intimate group invited by Louis Vuitton’s Director Garth Jackson to the Park Hyatt this week for a Moet Chandon tasting. It doesn’t get much better than this! Ten beautiful ladies sampled the top vintages with Moet’s Chef de Cave, Benoit Gouez. For the first time in Chicago, we tasted this venerable house’s 69th Grand Vintage, Moet Grand Vintage 2002. I’m not sure they picked the right “connoisseur” for this task since the last time I drank champagne was when I got sick on it at my bridal party 21 years ago but I plunged right in since this was an opportunity not to be missed! This rare vintage has been fermenting for seven years but it only took me seconds to knock down. Since I drink my Pinot Grigio with ice, I found the following information about an all new champagne coming out to be of particular interest. Recently in Miami, Moet introduced Moet Chandon Ice Imperial, that is INTENDED to be drunk with ice! It will be in an all white bottle. Congrats to Moet and to the cutest store director I know, Garth Jackson! To view more pics, please click here!
Steve Starr has a legendary collection of film memorabilia and shared this fabulous photo of Elizabeth Taylor with me upon her sad passing. She had sent him her signature which I thought looks surprisingly childlike. She signed the slip of paper when she was 69. I think she was, and still is, the most gorgeous star I’ve ever seen. And pair her with the likes of a guy as sexy as Richard Burton and you can only imagine the fireworks! She embraced those stricken with aids before anyone else…what a grand lady.
Special thanks to Jealous Magazine and reporter Nancy Plummer for including me in their fabulous new online magazine! Their mission is “to present original fashion, beauty, cultural and life-style content through a socio-political lens and capture the creativity and diversity of Chicago while promoting new and emerging talent across the nation.” I wish them the BEST in this endeavor! Check out my interview here.
Well, this is all for now! Thanks for checking in and I will “see” you next week with more of the lowdown on Chicago’s highlights!!!! In the meantime, here is something for all of you dog lovers!
P.S. Don’t miss Sarah Vargo’s next DIVA SERIES party on Thursday, April 7th, at JBar, located at 610 N. Rush, from 6-9 PM! Sarah’s Maven Promotions have teamed with the Aparecio Foundation and TCW Magazine to honor influential and successful women in business, PR, media, fashion, fitness, beauty, lifestyle and much more. Local divas will include Melissa Maynard De Kerch, Corri McFadden, Tamika Maria Martell, Carol Calacci, Michelle Elfvin, Anna Fong, Jessica Lindsay, Julie Blake, Nikia Jefferson and moi among many others. Please RSVP to email@example.com; I hope you can join me for this FASHIONISTA DIVA event!