August 6, 2008

Taper Forum Set to Reopen

L.A.'s political pooh-bahs powwowed for a photo op and early morning celebration at the Center Theatre Group's new Mark Taper Forum last week in anticipation of the public reopening of the landmark theatre, set for Sept. 14.

Following the usual rhetoric, Brindell Roberts Gottlieb - she made the $5 million lead gift in honor of her late husband, Milton, to bring the Taper's renovation to life - pressed a button to release a shower of streamers on the crowd.

Among the attendees were L.A. County Supervisors Gloria Molina, Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Don Knabe, Zev Yaroslavsky, and L.A. County CEO William Fujioka. Also there were Music Center Chairman John B. Emerson, President Stephen Rountree, CTG Board President Martin Massman, Board Chairman Richard Kagan, Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, and many donors to the $30 million project.

None other than renowned social butterfly/gladiola fancier Dame Edna will launch the new Taper when she presides over the opening night gala to be held at the Music Center Plaza on Sept. 13. The dynamic doyenne from Down Under plans to meet and greet the red- carpet arrivals at her own party, which will be followed by cocktails, dinner and a special preview of John Guare's classic "The House of Blue Leaves." Madame Everage advises that she will visit her beloved "Los Angeleeze" again in June 2009, with her latest gambol, "Dame Edna: My First Last Tour" at the Ahmanson Theatre.


The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors staged its third annual "Entertainment Night" to benefit the Caucus Foundation last Saturday night.

This year's event, held at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, paid tribute to two distinguished mentors who received special achievement awards for their roles in nurturing new talent. The honorees were historian and preservationist Robert Rosen, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and Jon Avnet, who has directed, written and produced more than 60 motion pictures, television movies and Broadway productions over the past 25 years.

Avnet serves as chairman of the board of directors of the American Film Institute, where he has been the guiding force for 20 years, initiating the K-12 Screen Education Program and Mentoring Fellows at the Conservatory for Advanced Film Studies at AFI.

Caucus President Chuck Fries said that since the foundation was formed in 2001, it has presented 74 grants plus awards, in the amount of $545,000, to needy student filmmakers enrolled in accredited film and television schools throughout the country to help them complete their films. This year, the Caucus has also initiated a program for four individual internships.

APPLAUSE PLEASE For U.S. Navy SEAL Robin L. Miller of Pasadena, a Loyola High School alumnus, who has completed three tours of duty in the Middle East. His proud mom, Lyn Miller, along with family and friends, were on hand when Miller, 31, and already a Purple Heart recipient, received both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star in a special ceremony held in his honor in San Diego last week.

For Sue Campoy who launched her San Marino restaurant, Julienne, 23 years ago. It is now one of the most popular eateries in the West San Gabriel Valley, and Campoy has always credited her friends with its success. "I could never have done it without them," Campoy said. "That's why it's so important to give back." And that's why she was beaming at the dedication of her "brainchild," the Village Kitchen. The new caf and bakery near Echo Park is part of the latest addition to the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children, operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet under the aegis of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.

"It's just like that old adage: 'Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime,' " said Campoy, who was joined by L.A. City Council members Eric Garcetti and Tom LeBonge for the ceremonies. "We have a staff of 10 women, recently homeless, all without experience, and some with prison records," she said. "Our Executive Chef Jaime Turrey is teaching them excellent culinary skills that will qualify them for a job and, hopefully, an independent life."

Campoy who has been the lodestar of this project from the beginning, reiterated the importance of friends in its realization. They include Norman's Nursery, Bob Smith Restaurant Supply, U.S. Foods, Pasquini Espresso Co., the Hayden Foundation, Kathleen and Gordon McDonald, Margo and Mitch Milias, Liz and Paul Walker, Veronica and Bob Egelston, Judy and Steve McDonald and Edwina and Tom Johnson.

The Village Kitchen, open weekdays for breakfast and lunch, has quite a sophisticated bill o' fare. The entrees, sandwiches and salads are similar to the Julienne cuisine and baked goods are all made from scratch. The address is 1671 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.

For longtime community activists Edith and Jack Roberts, who celebrated their 90th birthdays last month. Jack is Institute Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Caltech and a National Medal of Science winner. Edith has been involved in numerous civic activities, but she is best known as the "Godmother" of the Pasadena Symphony.

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