...PLUS ACES UP! FOR URBAN PREP, CHICAGO "SITA RAM" FEATURES CHICAGO CHILDREN’S CHOIR, KUTZA WINS A POLLACK, NEWSAPALOOZA, KANDY KANE BALL, ART INSTITUTE’S BIG! WEEKEND, JOFFREY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER DINNER, DARLING PAWS FUR BALL VIDEO ON WATCH312.COM, "SHOP IN CHICAGO" SUPPORTS LOCAL BUSINESS, WORLD AIDS DAY CELEBRATION, MUSIC BOX’S “SCROOGE & MARLEY” PREMIERE AND SO MUCH MORE!
The Art Institute was THE place to be on November 17th when The HistoryMakers welcomed and honored Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. during “An Evening with Berry Gordy.” The program consisted of a one-on-one interview with Gordy conducted by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill and taped live before 450 guests for airing on PBS-TV. Ifill’s interview thrilled the audience with a peek into Gordy’s celebrated life as an entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, movie director and producer who has left an indelible influence on music and films both nationally and internationally. Some of Motown’s most recognizable performers and producers were in attendance including R&B songwriter, producer and singer Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson fame. Simpson and her late husband, Nick Ashford, were an important part of the Motown family, having penned such hits as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.” Simpson was joined by a new generation of Motown’s recording artists that included Janelle Monae and KEM, who delivered a special tribute during the taping. Gordy’s son Stefan Gordy, known to the music world as Redfoo (one-half of the hip-hop duo LMFAO), was in attendance, too. Several early members of the Motown family, including Jimmy Ruffin, Claudette Robinson of The Miracles, Freda and Sherrie Payne and former president of Stax and Motown Records Al Bell, were also on hand for this historic event. Honorary co-chairs for the evening included Christie Hefner, Clarence Avant, Walter & Shirley Massey and Richard Parsons. The title sponsor was Comcast NBC Universal; Julieanna Richardson (founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers) served as executive producer; Suzanne de Passe (former president of Motown Productions and director of the upcoming Broadway production of “Motown: The Musical” along with Charles Randolph-Wright), served as co-producers. “American Idol” music director, Ray Chew was the show’s music producer. Music industry powerhouses Universal Music Group, Sony Music, David Geffen, Clarence Avant and Jerry Moss were major underwriters for the evening. Other major sponsors included Universal Music Group (which owns Motown), Sony Music (which owns the Motown publishing rights), Discover, Abbott Laboratories, Chicago Tribune and The Ritz Carlton Chicago. Gordy founded Motown Records in 1959 and grew the company into the most successful African-American-owned enterprise in the United States. He is also credited with having created a new sound that changed popular music, the Motown Sound. While working on an assembly line at Ford Motor Company, Gordy began writing and selling songs that were recorded by several local artists. After borrowing $800 from his father, he formed Motown Records, which was headquartered in a house on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard. In 1960, Motown released the song “Shop Around” written by Gordy’s longtime friend Smokey Robinson and recorded by The Miracles with Robinson on lead vocals. The song sold more than a million copies and helped to launch the most influential era in the history of popular music. Motown quickly turned out successive hits by signing and grooming recording artists such as Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell and Mary Wells. Previous honorees have included Harry Belafonte, Dionne Warwick, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, B.B. King, Colin Powell, Della Reese, Russell Simmons, Diahann Carroll, Denyce Graves, Nikki Giovanni, Andrew Young and Earl Graves. Founded in 1999, The HistoryMakers is a national, non-profit institution that develops, preserves, and provides online access to an internationally recognized archival collection of thousands of African-American videotaped oral histories that document, promote, and celebrate the successes of individuals, events, movements and organizations that are of historic value and importance to its community and American society. For further information on The HistoryMakers, please visit the website at www.thehistorymakers.com.
The PAWS Fur Ball was such a success with a sell-out crowd of more than 750 people and rocker Billy Corgan in attendance! Check out the fun and my interview with the generous Smashing Pumpkins frontman on my "Candid Candace Chicago" show on Watch312.com!
Quite simply, one of the best “amateur” shows I’ve ever seen...although you couldn’t really call Newsapalooza 3 “amateur” when you have Grammy winner Richard Marx as your musical director! Founded by Roe Conn (beloved WLS radio co-host of “Roe and Roeper”) and Marx in 2008, this annual event attracted more than 500 guests to Park West on November 10th for a musical extravaganza that left everyone speechless in its variety and quality of entertainment by local media stars. It was billed as “five networks together for one night” – all to benefit Clearbrook, the state’s largest provider of services for the people with developmental disabilities. Roe served as the emcee and Ryan Chiavarini of “Windy City Live” opened the show singing John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” and playing a mean guitar. He is an amazing talent and, if “WCL” fails (yeah, right!), he could definitely make a living on the stage! Steve Dahl was up next and sang and played guitar to “Taking Care of Business.” A slightly nervous Val Warner came on next (in the cutest glittery hot pants you’ve ever seen) and sang “I’m Coming Out” with Ryan jumping on stage to give her some moral support near the end. She was adorable and that girl could sing AND dance! Channel 7’s Ron Magers and Kathy Brock introduced Rob Johnson via video from their newsroom and he sang a believable rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl.” WGN’s Dina Bair sang “Mama Said” by The Shirelles and brought whistles from the crowd when a hunky dancer joined her for her finale with an “American Idol”-style dance number. I was told by a guest who had been there for all three years that last year’s event featured more of artist Richard Marx, so when he came onstage this year to sing the song he had written for and with country star Keith Urban, “Long Hot Summer,” for the first time in public, the crowd went WILD! This guy is so darn talented...he truly can do it ALL! Beautiful Anna Davlantes and Cheryl Scott sang and danced back-up for Richard Roeper’s Elvis impersonation. (He sang “A Little Less Conversation” in a leather jacket and sunglasses.) After his performance, Roe said, “What the hell was that?” (It was so cute since, before this, he introduced him as “the best radio partner he’s ever had.”) Natalie Martinez, Alicia Roman, Megan Glaros and Daniella Guzman brought the house down in skimpy, sexy outfits dancing and singing to Beyonce’s “Who Won the World.” WTTW’s Phil Ponce introduced one of the highlights of the night: his two sons, Dan and Anthony. Their parody of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” had the crowd laughing and cheering uncontrollably. They switched lyrics to “sing us a song, you’re the anchorman...” “We’re all in the mood for a felony...” etc. They received a standing ovation for their double pianos and clever reworking of this Joel classic. Roe thanked sponsors Mike McGrath (McGrath Acura of Downtown Chicago), Terlato Wines, Coca-Cola, MillerCoors and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. WGN’s Steve Sanders was up next (I would’ve hated to follow the Ponce boys) and he sang and played the guitar to the Beatles hit, “A Hard Day’s Night.” I admired the courage of each and every performer, many who were clearly stepping out of their comfort zone for this great cause. ABC's Paula Faris, who left Chicago for NY but returned to support this cause, bravely sang Joan Jett's “I Hate Myself for Loving You” that should only be left to Faith Hill who sings a reworked version to open Sunday Night Football. All of the entertainers came together for the finale to sing the Steve Miller Band’s hit, “Keep on Rockin’ Me Baby.” A private VIP after-party for 125 guests was held at the Four Seasons and featured award winning Chef Kevin Hickey’s fabulous tastings as well as the opportunity to meet the media stars and Richard Marx, who so graciously donated their time and talents to benefit Clearbrook and posed tirelessly for photos with fans. The last image I have from the party was of Ryan Chiaverini who was at the bottom of a pile of cute friends for a photo op. A great time was had by ALL! Guests seen on the scene included Robert Murphy and Cheryl Larson, Kristina and Mike McGrath, Korinna Isselhardt, Mike McGrath Jr. and Crystelle Tipton, Brenda Arelano, Louis Santini, Liz Abraham, Mark Serry, Beth Heller, Taneesha Maus, Jordyn Daniels, Marlaine Selip and Cindy Patrasso, Rebecca and Charlie Besser and Larry Wert. Don’t miss Richard Marx’s return performance to Park West on Sunday, December 16th! For tickets, visit www.etix.com, for more info on Clearbrook, please visit, www.clearbrook.org and to see all the great pics in my Tribune column, click here! (Additional pics by Mila Samokhina.)
I’m so proud of Urban Prep Academies and its founder Tim King. As you may or may not know, this non-profit organization operates the country’s first network of charter public schools for boys. Its three schools – located in the Englewood, Bronzeville and Near West Side communities – have been recognized internationally for achieving a 100-percent college acceptance rate for all of its graduates! “The fact that Urban Prep students are African-American males and mostly from low-income families makes getting our students to and through college even more important,” said King. This year, King hosts “Aces-Up!,”an annual charity poker tournament that raises funds for the Academies. The fun will take place on November 30th at the City Winery Chicago (located at 1200 W. Randolph) starting at 5 p.m. Local media stars will be mixing, mingling and participating in the Texas Hold ‘Em tournament with an open bar and buffet! In addition to King, the event will be hosted by former Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Sun-Times columnist/TV/radio personality Richard Roeper and College Football Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bear Chris Zorich. So, come join in the fun for this wonderful cause! I hope to see you there! (For tickets and more info, please click here!) (Photos by Kardas Photography.)
Chicago has a new clubhouse/restaurant and it’s called the Tortoise Club! In anticipation of its November 13th opening, the restaurant hosted a series of pre-opening parties to celebrate this new hotspot in the city's River North neighborhood. Hosts Ned and Debby Jannotta, friends of owners Keene and Megan Addington, hosted an intimate sit-down dinner for about 60 of their closest friends. Guests were welcomed into the warm, glowing interior with oak and mahogany paneled walls, tartan plaid covered furniture, a lounge and bar area with velvet banquettes and club chairs and the most talked about room of the night, the Parlor, or as many call it, the Red Room. With its lipstick red lacquered walls, a cozy fireplace and original books from the Newberry Library it was one of the most popular rooms of the evening. Chef Gray McNally prepared a three-course dinner that included Berkshire pork chops, Lobster Thermidor, wild pheasant pie and TC coffee cake. Some of the notable guests included Renee Crown, Andy McKenna, Michael and Jacky Ferro, Phillip and Judy Block, Chris and Anne Reyes, Susan B. Noyes, John and Holly Madigan and Gordon and Carole Segal. If you want to join the "club", visit 350 N. State St. for lunch and dinner! (Photos by Jannotta Photography.)
The 56th annual Chicago Children’s Choir’s Red Jacket Optional Benefit was recently held at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. More than 750 guests raised nearly $630K for the Choir’s music education programs in
61 Chicago Public Schools, eight after-school Neighborhood Choirs and the world-renowned Concert Choir (the Voice of Chicago) that serves more than 3,000 children every year. You won’t want to miss this amazing group of voices for "Sita Ram," coming to the
Harris Theater on December 14th and 15th. David Kersnar of Lookingglass Theatre Company, Josephine Lee of Chicago Children’s Choir and Krithika Rajagopalan of Natya Dance Theatre will bring “Sita
Ram” – an original world musical – to the stage for three highly-anticipated shows. Premiered in 2006, “Sita Ram” presents a modern interpretation of the ancient Hindu epic “Ramayana” fusing the past, present and future in a fantastical world of song, dance, fashion, and design that leads its audience on a path of reflection and self-discovery. For tickets and more info, please visit www.sitaramthemusical.com. If you know Monika Dixon, you know it’s her passion...
The Kandy Kane Ball will be Saturday, December 8th, at Joe’s Bar – it is one of my favorite events! With more than 1,000 attendees, it is an annual sell-out. Tickets are $50 and require a toy donation for admittance. Toys are distributed to churches for underprivileged kids. This year, the Chicago Children’s Choir will perform...get your tickets NOW at www.ticketweb.com!
I’m all about supporting and shopping local so here’s a great event that offers just that! The fourth annual "Shop IN Chicago", presented by Cece & Melinda for Raymi Productions, will be held at the Drake Hotel on Tuesday, December 11th from 6 and 9 p.m. Talented Chicago designers will come together to sell clothing, jewelry, accessories and more, offering great discounts and specials for one evening only! Dior Beauty will offer complimentary make up applications for all shoppers and, for a special added treat, The Cabaret Project will share holiday cheer by donning Dickensian apparel and singing holiday harmonies from 6 to 7 p.m. Don’t miss out on this chance to help support small business in Chicago! (To RSVP for this FREE event, please click here but please note that an RSVP is mandatory for entry).
The Art Institute of Chicago hosted two back-to-back blockbuster parties recently on November 9th and 10th. The second annual Diwali Celebration on 11/9 attracted more than 350 lavishly dressed guests, many decked out in festive Indian attire, who came together for a night of lights. Diwali, in Indian tradition, is known as the Festival of Lights and guests were greeted with dazzling jewels and vibrantly colored saris draped upon the ladies who displayed the glamour of India’s rich history. A peacock was perched near the entrance and Kehoe Designs had festooned Griffin Court with canopies of banana leaves, garlands of plum orchids and hundreds of sparkling lights. Bon Appetit’s new chef Jason Gorman created a delicious Indian inspired dinner and after, guests danced to upbeat Bollywood music with a bit of “Party Rock Anthem” thrown in. The evening was co-chaired by Anita and Prabhakant Sinha, Anu and Arjun Aggarwal, and Rita and Gautam Dhingra. Ms. Dhingra welcomed guests by quoting a line from Kipling’s “The Ballad of East and West” which highlighted the unification of Eastern and Western cultures, just like the evening she and her co-hosts had planned. The following night, more than 450 guests again descended on the Art Institute to celebrate its newest galleries (The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman and Byzantine Art), made possible by a generous $10 million donation from Mary and Michael Jaharis – the largest gift in the history of the ancient art collection of the Art Institute. A ribbon cutting ceremony and a blessing by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios marked the official opening of the new galleries. Guests then had an opportunity to survey the more than 450 marble, ceramic, gold and silver treasures that were arranged chronologically around McKinlock Court. For dinner, the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court was dramatically transformed by Heffernan Morgan to create a classical Greek-inspired setting. Attendees included His Excellency Sir Peter Westmacott (British Ambassador to the U.S.), Jonathan Williams (Director of Collections for the British Museum), The Honorable Consul General of Greece Ms. Ionna Efthymiadou, Ian Wardropper (Director of the Frick Museum in NY), James Cuno (President of the Getty Trust), Sir Paul Ruddock (Chairman of the Board of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London), Marilynn Alsdorf, Mary and Richard Gray, Susan and Lewis Manilow, Drs. Lynn Hauser and Neil Ross, Louis Holland, Karen and Walter Alexander, Alex Krikhaar and Helen Evans, Mary and Michael Jaharis (Curator of the Met of NY). Congrats to the Art Institute for an amazing weekend of culture and excitement! For more info on events, visit www.artic.edu. (Photos by Bob Carl.)
One of my favorite picks of the holidays is always the Joffrey Ballet’s performance of "The Nutcracker." It is a pure delight for every member of the family as is the Nutcracker Family Dinner which will be held on Saturday, December 15th, at the Palmer House in the State and Grand ballrooms. The enchanting evening will feature entertainment, a traditional family-style meal and, of course, a thrilling performance of Robert Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker.” (Guests will have the option of attending the matinee or evening performance.) Co-chaired by Women’s Board members Laura Kofoid and Carol Stone, the evening will begin at 4 p.m. with cocktails, punch, music and special “Creation Stations.” (For tickets and more info, please click here!)
Founded in 2003, the Pritzker Military Library houses more than 65,000 books, manuscripts, artworks, artifacts, films, documents and audio recordings dedicated to the experiences of America’s Citizen Soldiers. Recently, it hosted its ninth annual Liberty Gala at the Hilton Chicago, bringing together patrons of the Library with very special guests who included men and women from every branch of the Armed Services, Medal of Honor recipient Hal Fritz, Pritzker Military Library Founder Award winners Albert B. Ratner and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation (the award was accepted by foundation president/CEO Major General Thomas Wilkerson), as well as the 2012 recipient of the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing, Sir Max Hastings. Hastings is the author of 23 books, has reported on 11 conflicts (including Vietnam and the 1982 South Atlantic War) and was the editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph AND The Evening Standard. Congrats to all of these worthy honorees! (For more information on this amazing organization, please visit www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org.)
I’m a HUGE fan of the Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport Ave. It reminds me of the Golden Age of Film with its beautiful interior spaces and cozy theatre seating. I can’t imagine a better holiday experience than seeing the premiere of “Scrooge & Marley” at this legendary spot on Thursday, November 29th! Gala opening night will feature most of the stars of the film and include Bruce Vilanch, SNL star Tim Kazurinsky, Rusty Schwimmer, Megan Cavanagh, Ronnie Kroell, David Moretti, Richard Ganoung and JoJo Baby. The red carpet begins at 6:30 p.m., with the film screening at 7 p.m., followed by a Q & A with cast and crew. Recounted from a gay sensibility, this production will feature a wide range of music from award-winning singers and bands, with a special end credit song performed by Jason Gould. (For tickets and more info, click here!)
Congrats to Chicago International Film Festival founder Michael Kutza on his latest accolade! The American Cinematheque honored him with its Sydney Pollack Award at the Beverly Hilton on November 15th. Accepting the award, Kutza recalled meeting Pollack in 1986 shortly after he had directed “Out of Africa.” They became good friends with Pollack becoming a mentor and encouraging Kutza to support independent film. This is only the third time this award has been given. Past recipients were the directors of the Sundance and Telluride Film Festivals! Thanks for all you do Michael! We are all lucky to know you!
As we all know, the holidays are upon us! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving...I know I did: We shared a lovely meal at my sister and brother-in-law’s, Nancy and Dr. Os Steinwald, with a fun group of 16. It’s so exciting to see how much the little ones have grown from one holiday to the next. It made me realize how quickly time is flying by but it also put me in the holiday spirit and made me want to get my Christmas décor up ASAP! Here is a post I wrote for Chicago Now explaining why I love this holiday so much (plus pics) I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed putting it all up, remembering cherished memories with each and every ornament. See you next week!
Love, as always,