...PLUS PUBLIC CHICAGO CHANNELS STUDIO 54, FRIENDS OF CONSERVATION’S WILD GALA, CHEEKY CHICAGO’S FOURTH ANNIVERSARY, SERVICE CLUB OF CHICAGO’S “GRATITUDE” GALA, THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM CELEBRATES 30, MITCH CANOFF FINDS “SOLACE,” BARBARA BATES’ PINK FASHION SHOW, ROE CONN’S NEWSAPALOOZA, HALSTED VODKA SUPPORTS GLBT COMMUNITY, A NEW WATCH312.COM VIDEO AND SO MUCH MORE!
I have never attended a more exciting red carpet event than the one recently hosted by the Chicago International Film Festival. For its 48th annual event, formidable founder Michael Kutza called in the big guns of show biz who included Al Pacino (with stunning girlfriend Lucila Sola), Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin and Jon Bon Jovi for the world premiere of their new film, “Stand Up Guys”! You knew this was going to be huge as soon as you pulled up in front of the Harris Theater: For this event, there was even a red carpet OUTSIDE beginning at the curb for this exalted group of legendary stars. And the crowds...OMGoodness! You had to fight your way through the front door and yet cooler heads prevailed inside where the crack PR team from Carol Fox and Associates and the dynamic Film Fest team had everything well in hand. I was even told a PR associate had measured the media spacing on his hands and knees with a ruler – now THAT’S organization and planning! I was proud to be there representing my 'Candid Candace Chicago' show for Watch312.com with cameramen Alonzo Stallings and Matt Natale along with social media queen Ashley Stevenson, who kept the Twittersphere buzzing with event pics and info. I saw WGN’s Dean Richards, Fox Chicago’s Bill Zwecker, Extra’s Jamie Blyth, Tribune’s Luis Gomez, NBC5’s LeeAnn Trotter and ABC7’s Janet Davies. (It was a thrill and a privilege to share the red carpet with them.) Everyone was double-checking their questions so they would be prepared when the first celeb rounded the corner. Producer and Lakeshore Entertainment founder Tom Rosenberg was in a great mood for his world premiere and said, “There’s no better place to open a film than the CIFF and this film belongs here!” He admitted to me that his Lakeshore Entertainment film company’s logo of the little boy diving into a pond was NOT him or a family member but was rather an image he selected to signify “the exuberance of youth.” I interviewed Christopher Walken, who was probably the least talkative of the bunch. When I asked him what his new film, “Seven Psychopaths” was about, he said, “The title.” Oh boy! Jon Bon Jovi was beyond handsome with the most perfect set of teeth I’ve ever seen. When I asked him what the two songs were about that he had written for the film, he said, “The characters.” By now, I felt like it was going to be a long night for interviews until superstar Al Pacino rounded the corner. My legs went numb and all of the intelligent questions I had went right out the window and then he was there, standing in front of me, smiling from ear to ear. I felt I could do no wrong – he made everyone in line feel that way, I later learned...what a true star! As a matter of fact, he talked so long to each and every reporter that his in-her-own-right-world-famous publicist Pat Kingsley had to tap him on the arm to remind him to keep moving! I couldn’t believe my good fortune and jokingly offered Steve Starr $4,000 if he could grab a photo while I was speaking to him. (He did...but I didn’t pay up, LOL!) The world is Pacino’s oyster and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. His girlfriend, Lucila Sola, is gorgeous and he was heading to NY from here for his already-sold-out stage performance of “Glengarry Glenn Ross.” Good for HIM!!! Screenwriter Noah Haidle couldn’t have been sweeter either and was excited that he will have his play “Smokefall” staged by the Goodman for their 2013-14 season. Alan Arkin was a nice guy, rather low key but pleasant. I had read that in his past, he had performed as a folk singer so I asked him if there was any singing on set. He said, “Gangsters don’t usually sit around singing folk songs.” (Fortunately, he laughed along with his gorgeous wife, Suzanne Newlander Arkin, and it was a nice moment. Whew!) Following the red carpet, more than 1,500 people watched the screening. A brief presentation preceded the 90 minute film and included host Bill Kurtis introducing the event’s lead sponsor, Columbia College’s Allen Turner. CIFF founder and artistic director Michael Kutza introduced Rosenberg, who then presented the stars to the crowd. The film will most certainly win a basket load of awards when it debuts in January 2013. To see Walken, Arkin and Pacino onscreen together was like watching a firecracker sizzling before it exploded. You didn’t know what was coming next. Julianna Margulies had a terrific role, too and was a great addition to the film. You will love sexy Vanessa Ferlito’s scenes as well! OMG! There is a shot of her coming up in an elevator with a baseball bat that will, for sure, become iconic. I loved this film and you will, too. After the movie, the buzz in the crowd sounded like a swarm of bees. We all walked to the Cultural Center where the stars were expected to attend but a change of plans took them all to a private dinner at the Pump Room hosted by producer Rosenberg. Believe me, they had done enough and deserved their down time with friends. I was thrilled to co-host this major opening night event with dynamic Film Fest Board member and RL’s Rich Varnes, whose Gibson’s Restaurant Group provided all of the delicious food for the post-party that also included the sweet jazz sounds of the Jesse Charbonier combo. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, as you can imagine. It was such a magical evening that I will never, ever forget thanks to the genius of Michael Kutza. Long may you and the CIFF reign! Can’t wait to go to CLOSING NIGHT and see the Robert Zemeckis film, “Flight.” Oh, the places the Chicago International Film Festival takes us! Become a member and see all of this great programming for yourself! (Fab Fotos by Mila Samokhina and Steve Starr. - click here for more - and to see what happened on the red carpet, check out my Watch312.com video below!)
PUBLIC Chicago celebrated its one-year anniversary in grand style with a Studio 54 theme on Tuesday, October 9th. The foot-long invite arrived filled with silver stars and glitter that spilled out all over your desk and floor when you opened it. For me, it evoked two emotions: First, it made you excited to attend and relive those glory days and second, it made you wonder who in the heck was going to clean up the mess! LOL! PUBLIC Chicago is the first hotel to open under Ian Schrager’s new brand and he was on hand that night to greet attendees. The party was planned as an homage to the renowned NYC club where, I am proud to say, I frequented when I lived in NY in the ‘70s. And because of this fact, I was expecting grand things a la the real hotspot. The most memorable part of the original NY design was a giant moon that descended from the ceiling with an enormous coke spoon. This and the flamboyantly dressed partygoers were elements I will never forget. I was hoping to see some outrageous costumes, drag queens, maybe even some animal elements reminiscent of the time Bianca Jagger arrived on a white horse for a party there. I was prepared and excited, even donning my old silver spandex pants but, alas, it wasn’t that kind of party. Grace Jones, where are you when we need you?! Yes, there was a beautiful dance floor complete with flashing strobe lights and waiters with sparklers but I guess I’m a bit jaded. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fabulous party with lots of lots of gorgeous Chicago peeps and there WERE Studio 54 personalities there including DJ Johnny “Jellybean” Benitez and the doorman, Mark Benecke. Sirius XM Radio broadcasted live interviews as well as the event’s music on its Studio 54 channel throughout the night. The VIP room in the Library projected home movies all evening with great footage from the early days with amazing images. This was also the first time that Schrager has ever hosted a Studio 54 event, despite numerous requests over the years. I loved the fact that he brought his first party here to Chicago and it was a wonderful treat. The hotel and the restaurant are both so chic and I think he and his team did a fantastic job reworking a legendary landmark for the 21st century! Here’s to you, Ian – even though those wild days of 54 are gone, the party still rocks! (Check out more pics here!)
The Friends of Conservation Ball really upped the ante at this year’s beautiful gala, held in the magnificent Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library on Friday, October 12th. Reute Butler (FOC President and Ball Chairman), resplendent in a red gown, was smiling from ear to ear for the entire evening where more than 300 black-tie clad guests were on hand to support this worthwhile charity that is changing lives the world over. Chicago Dowel Company’s handsome Paul Iacono was entranced when he attended his first event for the FOC last year. And, believe me, this is one guy you want to impress. His list of formidable friends and his philanthropic bent helped fill the room to bursting and Reute was so thrilled to have him onboard as a co-chair. Established in 1982, the FOC helps prevent wildlife and habitat degradation in the Masai Mara, one of the most ecologically important regions of the world. Their longtime royal patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, sent a moving letter that was included in the Tribute Book (another Iacono touch) for the event: “It gives me enormous pleasure to offer my congratulations to the FOC on this the 30th anniversary of your founding. Since your early interventions to help save black rhinos from extinction in the Masai Mara, threats to our precious wildlife have increased inexorably, everywhere, too often outstripping the pace of conservation action. Yet time and again you have demonstrated that it is possible for dedicated people with clear vision to make a difference, stemming the loss of wildlife and critical habitat and through landmark projects, reversing the declines of some acutely endangered species. As your Patron now for more years than I care to remember, I can only pay tribute to the role played by the FOC in one of the greatest causes imaginable – preventing the destruction of the natural world.” Amen to that, Prince Charles! The evening began with a VIP meet-and-greet with former “Wild Kingdom” host, the fabulous and much-loved Jim Fowler, who is another long-time supporter and FOC director. In addition to his lovely wife, Jim brought along some of his furry, feathered and scaly friends: There were adorable leopard cubs, an 8-foot-long python that Reute has known since it was tiny, several joeys and more. CNN’s glamorous Zoraida Sambolin returned to emcee this lovefest that began with Reute and her mother, Jorie Butler Kent (FOC Founder and International Chairman), onstage describing what this organization means to them. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Reute hugged her elegant mother and said, “You are an inspiration” following a moving video presentation produced by Manuela Hung. Everyone who attended was happy to help in some way: Caterer George Jewell donated a private dinner during the live auction portion, Paul Iacono bought a great trip (courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent, who had donated a lot of exclusive, eye-popping travel packages) and auctioneer David Goodman – one of the best in the business – kept the paddles in the air as he helped raise money for this wonderful cause. A Heads or Tails Game had glam guest Mamie Walton in the running almost to the very end for an iPad. It was a perfectly produced event from beginning to end and we were so thrilled to be there. One of my favorite parts of this event is watching the delighted smiles on the faces of guests as they took advantage of the opportunity to handle these wild, adorable creatures, all captured on film by fabulous fotog/friend Mila Samokhina. FOC 2012 Co-Chairmen (besides Paul) included Kip Helverson, Rachael Phillippe, Holly Rothschild, Joan Wegner and Wendy Wood-Prince; Michael Butler, John and Jutta Maue-Kay, Geoffrey J.W. Kent and Kay and Fred Krehbiel were honorary co-chairmen and Tara and Charles Wegner were also committee co-chairmen and benefactors. As we all know, it takes a village to put on an event this size so special thanks to Langham Hotels (especially you, Rebecca Werner!), Anantara Resorts, Kent Wine Cellar & Trust, Leela Palace Hotels, Patagonia Sur, Sanctuary’s Gorilla Forest Camp, Sea Cloud Cruises, Suenos, The Balmoral Hotel, The Royal Scotsman and W Santiago among countless others who donated time, services or auction items. Your contributions helped so many! If you would like to learn more about the amazing work of the FOC or would like to donate, please visit www.friendsofconservation.org. (Fab fotos, of course, by Mila Samokhina. View more here!)
Cheeky turns FOUR!!! I remember when the dynamic duo of Jessica Zweig and Erica Bethe Levin started their creative website CheekyChicago.com and now they have these Vogue-worthy jutting cheekbones, fashion savvy and business acumen that would impress the most formidable dot-com billionaires, which I’m sure they’ll be soon!!! We were so thrilled to attend this BIG event at the Four Seasons. You knew where the party was located from the moment you stepped inside the lobby as the sounds of more than 450 excited partygoers echoed throughout the building. Everyone was so thrilled to be there to celebrate/support/love these two women, their staffers and this awesome website geared to ALL things you need to know about the Windy City. Platinum Events (love Justin Jacobson) transformed the gorgeous Grand Ballroom into “four seasons” (Get it? Insanely clever!) Guests experienced the transitioning of seasons, Cheeky Style (which is a lot like Gangnam Style – hot, hot, HOT!). From viewing the latest fall trends from Edith Hart to welcoming winter with Klutch Club (think health in a box), to reviving winter skin a la Elure Beauty’s medical spa while sipping Skinnygirl cocktails (my very fav, thanks to Tom Strehle), the night offered guests so many ops to step into their favorite seasons for this Cheeky fourth-anniversary party! Four Seasons’ Executive Chef Kevin Hickey provided a veritable feast of food and live music from Stitely Entertainment kept the dance floors packed. If you’re not hooked up with this cool website yet, you’re missing out on SO MUCH!!! Check it out, sign up and strap yourself in for a very wild ride in the Windy City! Congrats Jessica and Erica! Love you, love your website...and I hope YOU love these pics!
Mitchell Canoff – one of Chicago’s most colorful photographers – has been covering social and political events for decades and traveling the world to capture people and places through the lens of his camera. On one of his recent journeys, he spent hours of solitude photographing the landscapes of Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in eastern California and Great Dunes National Park in Colorado. What resulted was a collection of work entitled “Solace” and the debut exhibition of his work and Mitch’s 70th birthday party were celebrated by longtime friends and clients at a party on October 8th at Paris Club. Friends in attendance included Suzie, Ross and Todd Glickman, Jimmy Rittenberg, Kimberly Gleeson, Richard Doermer, Rich Melman, Jerrod Melman, Christie Hefner, Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, Jennifer Girard, Cheri Eisenberg, Joan Hackett, Charels Cherney, Tony Fitzpatrick, Sue Chernoff, Sunny Fisher, Thad Wong, Billy Marovitz, Jack Kellman, Danny Coval, Joan Steele, Mickey Norton and Gary Gordon, Bonnie and Jim Spurlock, Christine and John Mallul, Deborah Chapman, Skip Weiss and Patrick Reedy; John Strazinsky (grandson of Igor Stravinsky) and Domenica Scorsese (daughter of Martin Scorsese) were also in attendance. Congratulations, Mitch...what beautiful work!
A not-to-be-missed event, NEWSAPALOOZA, will be held at Park West on Saturday, November 10th beginning at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by much-loved radio and TV host Roe Conn and his beautiful wife Barbara, this event will benefit Clearbrook, the state’s largest provider of services to people with developmental disabilities. Roe’s long-time friend, Grammy Award winner Richard Marx, will perform and serve as musical director for the third year along with lots of other media personalities including Rob Johnson, Richard Roeper, Ryan Chiaverini, Val Warner, Steve Sanders, Anna Davlantes, Dan and Anthony Ponce, Steve Dahl, Natalie Martinez, Paula Faris and more. I’ve been told to expect the unexpected as far as talent from our town’s news people and I can’t wait! Tickets are $75; for more info, please visit www.roeconn.com. I hope to see YOU there!
The Chicago Children’s Museum Gala 2012 will be held at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom on Saturday, November 3rd, beginning at 6:30 p.m. This year’s gala celebrates 30 years of families and honors the Museum’s commitment to providing playful learning opportunities that bring families and children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities together. The honorary host committee includes the Crown, Goodman and Pritzker Pucker families and Joan Harris. For tickets and more info, please visit chicagochildrensmuseum.org.
Mark your calendars for beloved designer Barbara Bates’ Winning the Fight Against Breast Cancer Fashion Show on Sunday, October 28th from 2 to 6 p.m. at Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (3rd level). This event will help raise money for the Barbara Bates Foundation’s Institutional Grant on Disparity and Education of Breast Cancer which will serve to educate and address the disparities in breast cancer care faced by women in the African American and Latino communities. This event also marks the launch of a partnership between the Barbara Bates Foundation in conjunction with the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation benefiting the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Sinai Health System. More than 50 breast cancer survivors will model Barbara’s designs for this great cause! To purchase tickets ($250) please click here!
The Service Club of Chicago is celebrating its 122nd gala, themed “With Gratitude”, on Friday, November 2nd at the Four Seasons Hotel. Co-chaired by Elizabeth Brodsky and Kimberly Gleeson, the evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception. This black-tie event will also include live and silent auctions, fabulous raffle drawings and a wine auction. The Stanley Paul Orchestra will keep the crowd on the dance floor and the after-party will feature Peter Oprisco. (Tickets are $400 or $122 for after-party only and can be purchased by clicking here!)
DRINK IT!! Founded to champion GLBT community building and human rights, Halsted Vodka is a totally new concept in spirits that has been created with the help and inspiration of the community on Chicago’s North Halsted Street. It was developed with the help of consumers of the street’s popular bars and clubs who were invited to take part in blind tastings. Designed to taste good and DO good, this all-American spirit donates 15 percent of its profits to GLBT causes. For more info, please visit www.blinkbeverage.com. I can’t wait to try it!
Who saw our town’s “Squire”, Bunky Cushing, in this month 40th anniversary issue of W Magazine!? It was a great article on the world’s classiest women and the men who love them and squire them! Congrats Bunky!
I can’t wait to share all of the news from NEXT Fashion Chicago and Susan G. Komen’s fantastic Pink Tie Gala that honored some of our town’s top guys next week so stay tuned and thanks so much for checking in!
Love, as always,
P.S. I hope you can join me at TCW Magazine’s 30th Anniversary Halloween Party, “Costumes & Cocktails”, on Tuesday, October 30th, at the Cultural Center from 6 to 10 p.m. This event will provide 30 grants for 30 area charities with buffet stations, full bar, music, dancing and “Pumpkins on Parade” silent auction! Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.