Mailer keeps things lively at the library

MARYLAND SCENE

Around Town

November 16, 2003|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Norman Mailer and Tony Danza - now there's an interesting twosome. OK, maybe not. But both celebrities were performing at events last weekend.

Mailer was this year's Lifetime Literary Award winner at the "Seventh Annual Enoch Pratt Library Society Award Dinner." Bob and Sandy Hillman were hosts of the central library event this year. It was attended by some 150 of the library's major supporters, including: Barbara and Ed Brody, Peggy and John Heller, Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff, Ellen and Ed Halle, Ginny Adams and Dr. Neal Friedlander. Executive Carla Hayden said that, even though the Pulitzer Prize-winning author has health problems, he has to use two canes to walk and is fighting macular degeneration, he was "quite a card."

"His wit was very much intact," Carla notes, "He was very lively ... and made a few biting political comments."

Carla says Mailer also made his audience vote on whether they'd like to hear him give a reading of one of his works, or hold a question-and-answer session. They went for the reading.

FOR THE RECORD - Oops. The Tony Danza performance we wrote about recently was actually at the Mechanic Theater, not the Meyerhoff.

Mailer read an essay he'd written on the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Huckleberry Finn." Carla said it was so interesting that a few folks said later that they wanted to read the Mark Twain classic again.

And then there was the surprise that was Tony Danza, who gave a performance at the Meyerhoff for the benefit of the Yeshivat Rambam scholarship fund. That evening about 800 folks learned the sitcom star can do more than deliver a line.

"It was fantastic!" the school's Bonnie Block rhapsodizes. "He was multi-talented. He plays the cornet, the piano, tap dances and sings!"

Bonnie says Danza performed a variety of songs, from the 50's to the 60's, from Broadway tunes to Sinatra standards. He even did a rap song listing all the famous people from his home territory of Brooklyn, N. Y.

"And he's a comedian," Bonnie continues. "He was telling jokes the entire evening. I'd pay to go see him again."

A few hundred folks got better than that at a post-show champagne and dessert reception. Tony Danza came out for a bit - mingling, posing for photos and signing autographs.

"He was very sweet, open and friendly," Bonnie says. But then, he had already charmed the crowd with his performance. The evening, which honored school supporters Judith Sykes and Elliot Bernerd, raised almost $290,000.

Tekkies in town got a celebrity of their own at the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's "TechNite 2003." More than 900 people gathered at the Baltimore Convention Center to network and hear best-selling motivational author Seth Godin speak. Godin's books, including Permission Marketing, Unleashing the Ideavirus, and Purple Cow, spoke for 40 minutes about what companies are doing that is remarkable - in the way that purple cows are remarkable. He told his audience how they could make themselves and their products "purple cows" as well.

"It was a blast," says GBTC's executive director Penny Lewandowski. "It was the best TechNite ever. It moved. It moved fast. ... Seth Godin was blown away. He wasn't expecting this in Baltimore. This huge technology community, all this energy."

Another high? TechNite 2003 raised more than $100,000 for the Greater Baltimore Technology Council programs aimed at improving and helping the area's technology community grow.

It was a great night on the towns, Baltimore and Chicago, for supporters of Baltimore Medical Systems recently. That's Chicago, as in Chicago, the musical, which recently played at the Lyric Opera House. BMS offered 600 tickets for the show in a benefit for the seven community health centers it runs in and around Baltimore. About 100 benefactors, including honoree William Donald Schaefer, Johns Hopkins Health System president Ron Peterson, NeighborCare's Stanton and Renee Ades, Mitzi Purdue, Troy Powers and LeRoy Merrit, attended a dinner beforehand at the Brass Elephant. And after the show, several hundred folks, including a few cast members, packed the Lyric's mezzanine for a dessert reception.

"We had never done anything like this before," says BMS board member Dr. Drew Fuller. "It was fantastic."

So was the amount raised for BMS' programs providing comprehensive health services to medically under-served areas - a fantastic $111,000.

Maryland Historical Society

It was a union of the old and the new as the Maryland Historical Society celebrated its renovation and re-opening with "Homecoming Gala - Celebrating Maryland."

A spotlight directed the 620 guests to the new glass-enclosed entrance. The cocktail hour was celebrated on each of the three floors of the renovated MHS building. Folks could take in all the new space and all the exhibitions therein - occasionally stopping to munch an hors d'oeuvre or two. Guest Zelig Robinson even proffered his own exhibit, proudly displaying the original Spiro Agnew watch he designed more than 30 years ago. He donated its clock counterpart to MHS.

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