HAMILTON'S MIGUEL CERVANTES' PRIVATE PARTYSLATE CONCERT; MERRI DEE CELEBRATES 50; GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER GOES HOLLYWOOD; BILLY HOSTS PARTY FOR CHRIS; THE MAIN EVENT FOR CATHOLIC CHARITIES; REUTE'S ARTFUL AFFAIR; HUGOS CELEBRATES 20; CELEBS & PLAYMATES GALORE AT HOLLYWOOD SHOW; THE STONES SET TO ROCK NAVY PIER; CHEF BAYLESS HOSTS ALL-STAR CHEFS FOR CHARITY; BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS' "YOUTH OF THE YEAR" COMPETITION; MICHIGAN AVENUE MAG'S COOL COVER PARTY; THE LIST; A FAV RESTAURANT; GIGI'S PLAYHOUSE GALA; A WHIRL FOR BROOKFIELD ZOO; GILDA'S CLUB IS "UNCORKED"; CHICAGO LIGHTS GALA OF HOPE; NENA'S NOTES; COOPER HEFNER ROCKS; SWEET VIDEOS AND SO MUCH MORE!
On March 1, 15,000 Illinois youth descended on the Allstate Arena in Rosemont for WE Day, an international series of inspiring stadium-sized events that celebrate the power young people have to solve pressing social issues. The event brought together world-renowned speakers and
performers that included host Shay Mitchell, along with Buzz Aldrin, Andra Day, Xzibit, Arne Duncan, Jordan Smith, Rhymefest, LaRoyce Hawkins, Monique Coleman, Dante Brown, Stedman Graham,
Bailee Madison, Frank Waln, Grace VanderWaal, Celebrity Marauders, Spencer West and more! WE Day Illinois, made possible by title sponsor The Allstate Foundation and partners, paired its star-studded lineup with international activists and WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger who founded the organization 20 years ago. Together, they energized the crowd with unforgettable performances and motivational speeches
to inspire youth to continue taking action on issues such as bullying, education and poverty. More than half of the attendees came from Chicago Public Schools. You can’t buy a ticket to WE Day—students from across the country earn their way
by the actions they take on one local and one global cause of their choice and it is free of charge to students and teachers. One such youth is 9-year-old Jahkil Jackson, founder of Project I Am, an
organization that donates “Blessing Bags” filled with everyday essentials to homeless shelters in Chicago. To date, Jahkil has handed out more than 1,600
“Blessing Bags.” Onstage, WE Day Illinois host Mitchell shared, “I attended my first WE Day three years ago—my experience that day had
such an impact that I promised that it wouldn’t be my last time at WE Day." The night before, a private event was held at Morgan Manufacturing and featured a performance by The Voice, Season 9 winner Jordan Smith (see his performance here).
WE Day is the perfect antidote for the sadness we're reading about in the papers today. I'm so happy it exists and on a global scale at that! (To learn more about this worthy organization, click here) (Photos by Timothy Hiatt)
It sure wasn't your average industry party when PartySlate, the go-to website for party planners founded by Julie Novack, hosted an intimate gathering at the hot, new private concert venue in Bucktown, In Studio Live, on February 13. The by-invite-only
dinner party featured one very special guest, Miguel Cervantes, the star of Broadway's smash hit "Hamilton," who performed a private concert, along with fellow
castmate Colby Lewis! The evening celebrated the success of PartySlate and also introduced In Studio Live to an appreciative group of Chicago notables that included Art Norman, Linda Johnson Rice, Ji Suk Yi, Susanna Homan, Debi
Lilly, Monika Dixon, D.C. Crenshaw and so many more! Cervantes charmed the audience with a set list of songs that held personal meanings for him. He performed “One Angry Dwarf” from Ben Folds Five, and “Hey Kid” from If/Then, a song that
he first performed when his wife, Kelly, was pregnant with their son (which left partygoers misty eyed). The crowd went wild when he performed a rendition of “Wait for It” (a song that he actually doesn’t sing in Hamilton but wanted to) and “Bust a Move” from Young
MC. Cervantes is a big believer that a playlist can make or break a dinner experience and he certainly made this night a special one for those in attendance. Cervantes, who moved to Chicago from New Jersey with his family last summer, said that the role of Hamilton has changed his life. After a string of roles in Broadway shows from American Idiot
and If/Then, Cervantes declared that he was done with Broadway. “I saw Hamilton in New York, it was great, as great as everyone said that it was,” Cervantes said. “But I was done with
theater unless Lin (Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton) called.” And he DID! Five weeks later Cervantes was taking over the role of Hamilton as the lead in Chicago. And as Miguel
wholeheartedly acknowledges, the role has been “an unbelievable upgrade for our lives." He maintains a humble disposition and credits the power of music influencing so many moments
of his life. “I remember listening to the radio as a kid with my dad and thinking about the melodies and how the music made me think and how it made you feel a certain way,” he
said. “When you stop and turn your head and think — wait what was that, it changes the way you think.” The evening included decor by Kehoe Designs and a gourmet menu created by the
Entertaining Company (Wendy Pashman) that was inspired by the event's Hamilton theme. Waiters greeted guests with "Painkiller" cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres including
pulled jerk chicken, tuna tartar and shredded short rib popovers. Dinner began with a “West Indies Salad” — inspired by Nevis, the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton--followed by
spice-encrusted baby lamb chops, parsnip puree and roasted vegetables. (To see video from this memorable night, click here) (Photos by Bob & Dawn Davis Photography & Design).
It was one joyful night on March 1 when a couple hundred of Merri Dee's closest friends showed up at the
Metropolitan Club to celebrate her 50 years in broadcasting. Organized by Fifth Third Bank's Andrew Hayes, the event, a fundraiser for YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, was filled with fans and friends of this Chicago legend. Lines snaked through the Club at Willis
Tower to meet/greet and take pics with and of Merri. Many of her family members were in attendance including her attentive, loving daughter Toya Campbell. Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a big, beautiful Eli's Cheesecake were served before the program began. Merri's longtime friend Micah Materre served as emcee and presented a remarkable video of Merri's life. She was shot in the
head twice following a kidnapping after filming her talk show early in her career. She survived, never gave up and has been a victim's rights advocate ever since. Her book,
"Forgiveness & Grace", would make a great movie! Other speakers included Bob Sullivan (regional president, Fifth Third Bank), Eric Smith (market president, Fifth Third Bank), Dorri
McWhorter (YWCA CEO), Susanna Mendoza (Il. State Comptroller), daughter Toya and Haj Gueye (a Ghanian men's clothier). Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle presented Merri with a Cook County Proclamation and Alderman Ed Burke will have the city proclaim a Merri Dee Day soon. Honorary host committee members in the audience included Mable Buckner, Deborah Brown
Farmer, Cheryl Grace, Marty Castro, Kendra Chaplin and Liz Cullen. Other members included Val Warner, Melissa Forman, Dennis Fitzsimons, Melody Spann Cooper and Sunny Chico. The highlight of the evening came when McWhorter shared the details of the Merri Dee Healing Center that
will be opening in the summer at its 63rd and Woodlawn facility. In 1992, after suffering a childhood of abuse, Merri helped draft the country's first ever Victims' Bill of Rights that was passed by Illinois state legislature and
served as a model for other states to pass their own victim's rights legislation. She founded the Chicago-based program Athletes for a Better Education and served as the television host of the United Negro College Fund's "Evening of Stars" fundraiser for over two decades. She also hosted telethons benefiting Easter Seals as
well as advocating for many other charities. During the evening, Dee told the crowd that she had received a congratulatory note from a few of the athletes she'd helped early in her career--the note was signed by Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas and Doc Rivers among others. Congrats to this much loved legend, Chicago's own Merri Dee! (To see/hear Merri's touching speech, click here!)
Chicago got a taste of “La La Land” on February 26 when the Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosted the city's longest-running awards show viewing party, “Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star.” Guests were invited to celebrate the 89th Academy Awards dressed in their finest Oscar
fashions, enjoy delicious food (think Eli's Cheesecake, meatballs, grilled cheese and tomato soup!) and festive drinks, all while watching the event on the Film Center’s state-of-the-art big screens. The party began with a
VIP reception followed by a Red Carpet hosted by Tommy Walton (SAIC Fashion Design Department, MasterChef) and NK Gutiérrez (filmmaker, actress and host of The Soul Salon). The dynamic duo asked guests for their predictions as cameras rolled with footage shown live in the theaters. The
GSFC honored these Chicago filmmakers for their outstanding contributions in film: Lonnie Edwards, Lori Felker, Jennifer Reeder and Michael Smith. All the honorees represented the thriving and diverse film community in Chicago which the Film Center mirrors through its inclusive
film programming. Hollywood on State was co-chaired by GSFC Advisory Board members Mary Walker Kilwien and Chuck Droege and sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation. Since 1972, the GSFC has presented cutting edge cinema to an annual audience of 80,000. It hosts over 1,600 screenings and 200 filmmaker appearances every year.
The Rolling Stones’ first ever major exhibition, Exhibitionism, will debut at Navy Pier on April 15th and run a four-month engagement through July 30. The exhibit tells the story of the most
influential rock ‘n’ roll band in history, allowing visitors to experience first-hand their incredible journey from early days living together in a tiny flat to headlining the biggest stages in the world. This highly immersive and
interactive exhibition explores the Stones’ extraordinary career featuring over 500 rare and original items from their archive. From their most cherished instruments, onstage and offstage clothes,
valuable works of art and handwritten lyric books to personal diaries, recordings, unseen film and photos, a screening cinema and interactive recording studio, the exhibit will culminate in an exciting and powerful backstage-to-onstage 3D concert experience. (I can't wait to see this!) There is the recreation of the Edith Grove flat that Mick, Keith and Brian shared in 1962. (The flat was located just off the King’s Road in London’s Chelsea neighborhood). There is also a recreation of a Stones’ recording studio
complete with their original instruments, plus a “backstage” area to give fans a sense of what it truly feels like just before the band heads out on stage. A guitar gallery brings together examples of some of Keith, Ronnie and Mick’s prized instruments, including a rosewood Fender Telecaster and a Maton that Keith played on Let It Bleed, which famously disintegrated as he reached the final notes of ‘Gimme Shelter.’ Other unique items include the cassette player on which Keith famously sketched out the idea for ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, just before falling asleep in a Florida motel room, Mick’s lyric book which features the hand written words for ‘Miss You’, ‘Hey Negrita’ and ‘Worried About You,’ Keith’s 1963 diary, and the toy drum kit that Charlie used in the recording
of ‘Street Fighting Man.’ Over the past 50 years, the band became, and have remained, one of the most culturally important acts in history. Exhibitionism is the largest touring experience of its kind ever to be staged, and the first time in history the band has unlocked their vast private archive exploring the very beginning of their history to The Stones’ superstardom of today. The exhibit at Navy Pier sold out its limited time early bird offer due to strong demand but individual tickets are now on sale here to the
general public. They range from $25- $35 for adults, $20-$22 for juniors. VIP tickets are available for $80, which includes entry to the Exhibition on two separate days (2 visits); VIP Souvenir Ticket and Lanyard; the ability to arrive on any day for any session with no advance booking; and the VIP Fast track entry lane into the exhibit. Rock on!
Former Illinois State Senator Bill Marovitz hosted a fundraiser for the Special Olympics of Chicago at Carnivale, a restaurant he co-owns, on February 27. The event honored Illinois state gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy for his
ongoing support of the SOP, a non-profit that benefits kids with developmental issues. It was co-founded by Chris' aunt Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver and Justice Anne Burke. Chris was introduced by Kevin Magnuson, Special Olympics Chicago
president, who thanked Marovitz for hosting the 1000-strong crowd and acknowledged notables in the crowd. They
included Alderman Brendan Reilly, Alderman Eddie Burke and his wife Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Senator Bill Cunningham, Alderman Patrick Thompson, Mike Sheahan, former Cook County Assessor James Houlihan and
Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Brennan. Kennedy spoke in that voice that we all recognize and said he had found out he was the honoree when he received the invitation! He went on to say,
"Supporting and helping people with developmental disabilities are who we are as Chicagoans. It defines us and differentiates us from every other city in America and the world. The notion of fairness and service to others helps define our culture for our city and everyone who lives here." He went on to thank Anne Burke for her service saying "her story is one we want our kids to know." Special Olympics, that began in the Chicago Park District, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 20 next year.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago hosted a record breaking 700 guests at its 3rd annual charity boxing match, the Patrick J. Ryan Main Event & Casino Night, to support the Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) Program on February 3rd
at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. The event was established by former Attorney General of Illinois Jim Ryan and his wife Marie and their family, after the loss of their son, Patrick J. Ryan, to suicide. The Drury Lane was transformed into a boxing hub and featured an exciting night of 8-10
Golden Glove-style amateur boxing fights, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a raffle and ringside seating with dinner along with a casino night portion of the event with craps, blackjack and
roulette! Boxing legends such as Leroy Murphy (Captain of the 1980 Olympic team; Former Cruiserweight Champ), Montell “Ice” Griffin (1992 Olympian; Former WBC Light Heavyweight Champion), David Diaz (1996 Olympian; Former WBC Lightweight
Champion), Danell “Doc” Nicholson (1992 Olympian; Former IBO Heavyweight Champion), Louie Lomeli (Former #1 Lightweight Contender), Mike “Fly” Garcia (Former 2x Illinois State Champion; 7th Ranked Featherweight Contender), Bobby Hitz (Former Professional Heavyweight Contender and Top Chicagoland
Boxing Promoter) and Frank “Time Bomb” Scalise (Current Professional Lightweight) were all in attendance much to the delight of the crowd. Over $112,000 was raised to benefit the LOSS Program, a non-profit that addresses the unique needs and emotions of those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Since its inception in 2010, the program has helped hundreds of
children and families.
Congrats to Friends of Conservation's Reute Butler on her recent reception at Findlay Galleries in Palm Beach. The private viewing of her magnificent photographs was a great success and was loaded with friends and fans on February 15. Everything about this event was elegant, from its chic location on
Worth Avenue to the attendees, just like Reute! A portion of the proceeds of sales benefited the FOC, of course! Congrats Reute on this wonderful success!
Mark your calendars and visit me! I'm so excited to participate in the Hollywood Show at the Hyatt Rosemont on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26. I'll be signing autographs along with several other Playboy Playmates including Crystal
McCahill (Miss May 2009), Reagan Wilson (Miss October 1967), Gale Olson (Miss August 1968), Charlotte Kemp
(Miss Dec. 1982), Liz Glazowski (Miss April 1980) and Cathy St. George (Miss August 1982). Celebs in attendance will include Angie Dickinson, Richard Chamberlain, Stefanie Powers, Dawn Wells and Batman and Robin (Adam West and Burt Ward) in their final appearance together. For tickets and more info, click here! Hope to see you soon!
Congrats to Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House on it's 20th anniversary! The Gibson's Restaurant Group celebrated this milestone with a week-long party that kicked off on February 22nd and featured free cake and bubbly and even a throwback menu! The year
was 1997. Fresh off of opening the now iconic Gibsons Steakhouse, owners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli ventured onto their next project--opening this premier seafood dining destination, Hugo’s on Rush Street. Some stats: Since
opening, Hugo's has pulled in over $14 million a year and has opened three additional locations. With over 200,000 meals served in 2016, the restaurant ranked 69th among the Top Grossing Independent Restaurants in America. “The
Gold Coast has changed so much since we opened,” says Gregg Horan, Director of Operations for GRG who has been with Hugo’s since opening day. “There was Jilly’s piano bar across the street and
Nico Osteria was a coffee shop. I think the reason we’ve stood the test of time is that we make longstanding connections with our customers; I have regulars that still come in to this day that have been with us since day one.” (Like Chuck and me!) Then and Now: Travel back to a time when the movie Titanic was
top of the box office and the Chicago Bulls had just clinched their 6th consecutive NBA championship —The throwback menu then included some of Hugo’s most popular dishes like mussels ($6), Hugo’s famous frog legs ($16), jumbo lump crab cake ($12.50) and Hugo’s gigantic slices of Key Lime pie ($4.50). And here's some more fun facts--(1) The name
Hugo’s Frog Bar comes from co-owner, Hugo Ralli’s, grandfather whose nickname was Frog when he served in the British Army. (2) The dining room’s famous “elevator booth,” a secluded table refurbished from an antique elevator shaft that originally belonged to Winston Churchill. (3) Over 18,879 slices of chocolate mousse pie have been served at this Gold
Coast hot spot over the past 10 years. (4) Hugo's top selling menu item over the past 20 years is the Chilean Sea Bass, which executive chef Russell Kook currently prepares with a miso glaze, Hon Shimeji Mushrooms and fresh peas. (5) Before it was Hugo’s, the space occupying 1024 N Rush Street was a movie theatre. So now ya know! Congrats to this much loved restaurant from one of its biggest fans!
To mark the 30th anniversary of his beloved Frontera Grill, Chef Rick Bayless is partnering with FamilyFarmed to throw the Good Food party of the year! On Sunday, April 30, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., the celebratory evening will feature renowned chefs from around the globe along with an inspirational forum exploring the Good Food movement! The event is a joint effort of Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation, which has made nearly $2 million in grants to Midwestern local farmers since 2003, and FamilyFarmed, a nonprofit that works with farm and food entrepreneurs to build the market for delicious, healthy,
locally and sustainable food. Held in Griffin Court in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing, this celebration will be a memorable precursor to the James Beard Foundation Awards the following day. Guests will enjoy food and drink from top-flight chefs from Chicago and beyond — all invited personally by Rick Bayless — transforming the beautiful venue into a Culinary All-Star Food Court. For tickets and more info, click here.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago will host its annual Youth of the Year Competition & Dinner on Tuesday, March 7 in Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom. This is always an
inspiring event to celebrate our kids! For tickets and more info, click here!
Thanks so very much to Michigan Avenue Magazine (Dan Uslan and JP Anderson) for including me in the mag's annual THE LIST! I'm humbled, honored and thrilled to be included along with notables like Billy Crystal, Molly
Ringwald, Bernadette Peters, Grant Achatz, Jason Erkes, and Jim Lasky. What awesome company! And a special congrats to their 2 time cover-girl, Giuliana Rancic! Great choice!
Mario Lopez and other stars will shine for individuals with Down Syndrome at Gigi's Playhouse for its annual "i have a voice Chicagoland Gala" on Saturday, March 11, at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. Other famous faces on the guest list include CBS 2's Rob Johnson, who returns as guest emcee. One of the live auction items is a VIP suite for U2 at Soldier Field with 20 friends! For tickets and more info, click here!
Gilda's Club of Chicago will host its annual "Uncorked" wine tasting event on Thursday, March 2, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $45 or at the door for $50. All event proceeds will benefit Gilda's Club, a free
support community for people affected by cancer along with their families and friends. (For tickets and more info, click here).
I'm sure many of you are already fans of this delicious Japanese restaurant, Wakamono (Waka), located at 3313 N. Broadway in Lakeview but, if
you haven't tried it, put it on your list. The food was fabulous, the ambiance dreamy and cozy and the history of its owner Kai Togami could be made into a movie!
On Saturday, April 22nd, the Children's Place Association will host its Once Upon a Time Gala to support programs that help children facing illness and extreme poverty. This year's theme is the Black & White Ball for this black-tie event that will be held at Revel Fulton Market. For tickets and more info, click here.
Giordano Dance Chicago will host a benefit celebration on Saturday, April 1, that will begin with a performance at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. I just love Nan Giordano and her dynamic dance group and hope you can join them! For tickets and more info, click here!
The fabulous Brookfield Zoo will be hosting its annual black-tie gala, "Whirl", on Saturday, April 29 at the zoo! Co-chaired by William Kunkler III and Stephanie Kangas, the event will celebrate 25 years of the Women's Board's support of the Chicago Zoological Society's conservation and education programs. (For tickets and more info, call 312.553.2000!)
The Chicago Lights Gala of Hope, hosted by the Chicago Lights/Fourth Presbyterian Church, will take place on Friday, February 24, at the Hyatt Regency. The event will benefit the Church's five outreach programs that impact over 4,000 low income and at-risk individuals annually. For tickets and more info, click here!
Special thanks to fashion legend Nena Ivon for including me in her incredible blog, Nena's Notes! She profiled me here, my collections here and here. Love her and her newsy posts! One of my favorite interviews she did was with Randolph Street Market founder Sally
Schwartz! Check it out here and don't miss Sally's next market on March 25 and 26!
My two cents--I never thought it was a good idea to transition to a non-nude Playboy Magazine and now
my instincts have been confirmed. Thank goodness for Cooper Hefner. He was never in favor of this move either and now, four months after being brought on as chief creative director, the no-nudes policy has been scrapped. The current March/April issue announced this change with the title
"Naked is normal." Cooper said, "Today, we're taking our identity back and rediscovering who we are." YEAH! The new issue introduces model Elizabeth Elam as Miss March 2017 in a spread shot by photographer Gavin Bond. The former editorial director, Hugh Garvey, and the creative
director, Marc Lewis, have both resigned. I'm happy Hef's original vision will be continued now that his son is in charge of creative. It also doesn't hurt that my roller-skating photo was included in this issue too! Clearly, they are on the right track! :-) Hopefully, it will be a whole new and better world for Playboy.
I hope you're enjoyed this edition of Candid Candace! If you're not a subscriber, please sign up here! My lists are never shared, only treasured.
Love, as always,
P.S. The Oscar gaffe is history now but comedian James Corden's YouTube/ La La Land parody will live on! Check it out below! Too funny!