Around Town


April 13, 2003|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Imax premiere attracts stars, weakens knees

Who knew a star-stuffed movie premiere could be so low-key? And here in B-more, no less. But there they all were - Oscar-winning Titanic director James Cameron, actors Bill Paxton, John Travolta, Robert Patrick, Joaquin Phoenix, Morris Chestnut, Balthazar Getty, as well as Disney Studios honcho Dick Cooke - walking the red carpet inside the Maryland Science Center last week. They and a couple of hundred other guests were handed 3-D glasses as they entered the Imax theater and settled in to watch Cameron's new documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss. The hourlong flick is about a voyage Cameron and Paxton took to the bottom of the sea, literally, exploring the wreck of the Titanic with all sorts of whiz-bang mini-subs and remote control cameras. The additional star power that night was provided by the cast of the Disney film, Ladder 49, which is filming in Baltimore now.

At a party after the screening, Phoenix and Patrick huddled with Paxton, firing questions at him about the experience. Meanwhile, 49 castmates Morris Chestnut, Jay Hernandez, Getty and Kevin Chapman kept themselves entertained by goofing on each other, roping in at least one local reporter (ahem) in the game.

Local guest Valerie Bellman couldn't keep her eyes off a buff Travolta.

"I need an inhaler," she said, explaining her potential swoonability. Meanwhile, her friend Kathi Whitman raved about how sweet Paxton was. And Steve and Mindy Geppi had a ball taking photos with the celebrities.

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Hollywood was the theme of this year's "Breath of Life Celebration," the American Lung Association of Maryland's annual bash. Party chairwoman Diane Macklin says the 400-plus guests were greeted in the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel's ballroom with a blinking theater-style marquee, which announced the gala and its "stars," honorary chairman writer/producer/Baltimorean David Simon, and honoree, state school superintendent Nancy Grasmick. Big statues of Oscar adorned the room, and folks got a chance to have photos taken holding Oscar replicas. The shindig raised around $130,000.

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Spring was very much in fashion last week in Charm City, with fashion the main theme in two first-time fund-raisers last week. First, there was "High Heels for High Hopes" for the March of Dimes. About 200 guests gathered at Bonnie View Country Club for an evening featuring an "interactive fashion show," courtesy of Cross Keys boutiques Ruth Shaw and Chezelle.

Brave models Ali Knott, Tosin Adegbola and Carol Alexander dressed and undressed (down to body suits) on stage, as Chezelle's Patty Davis Puller and Ruth Shaw's Ray Mitchener explained how to use key pieces in various outfits.

"Ray was fabulous," raved Ruth Shaw.

"We've been doing these seminars for quite a while and people find it more interesting than a [regular] fashion show where everyone just comes marching out. ... We show how you can change from day to night [dressing], or for traveling, the way a person works with her wardrobe."

The party raised about $15,000 for the March of Dimes.

Meanwhile, "Fashion Fever" hit Grey Rock Mansion last Sunday for Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, featuring a high-energy fashion show by Vasarri.

"[We did it like] a real New York fashion runway," says Vasarri owner Gail Kandel, "with chairs set up along the sides ... and goody bags on each of the chairs."

Committee member Cindi Monahan says the audience got so involved, there was no extraneous chatter.

"They were dead silent, totally involved," she noted. Gail says she got a kick out hospital president Sheldon Stein's reaction.

He told the crowd, when he was first approached about the fashion show idea, he didn't think it would succeed, but that he was blown away with how great the party was. And that $10,000 it raised doesn't hurt, either.

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Chalk up another big success for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. This year's "Culinary Extravaganza" brought in more than 300 local folks, who got to sample gourmet treats whipped up by 20 local restaurants and caterers and by Phil McGauley, executive chef for Korbel USA. Wheels' Toni Gianforti says a couple of the big crowd pleasers this year were the lobster spring roll, by Elkridge Hunt Club chef Paul Glomp, and the Kobe beef tartare presented by Corks Restaurant's Jerry Pellegrino. The eat-a-thon cooked up some $95,000 for Meals on Wheels.

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