Zoo gala awash in a rosy glow

SCENE & HEARD

Scene&heard

June 18, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Everything was in the pink at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore for Zoomerang 2006. Pink, as in this year's theme of pink flamingos. Pink, as in the bow tie on a penguin standing outside the zoo entrance. Pink, as in the suggested attire for the hundreds of human guests, as well. Gala co-chairs Sarah Davison and Joanna Golden set the tone in pink gowns, while co-chair Mark Davison sported a pink bow tie with his tuxedo.

Fenwick Financial president Ann Fenwick floated in on a cloud of blush chiffon.

"I had this in my closet, but I asked [date] Wil Sirota where his pink bow tie was," she said. Sirota, the black-tied DLA Piper senior partner, smiled and shrugged.

Among other standouts -- the Corrao family from Ellicott City. Daughter Megan, 26, was layered in fuchsia organza and sequins, while dad John Corrao displayed a rosy checked vest and hot pink tie.

"I dressed them both," proudly claimed mom Joan.

Interior designer Patrick Sutton sported a plastic bow tie with a pink center. Zoo board member Carole Sibel was glammed out in a hot pink cocktail number, as she raved about her encounter that evening with a snake -- of the non-human variety.

"I petted a boa constrictor. You know, they're not slimy. They feel like a pocketbook," she announced.

The mood, too, remained rosy the entire evening. Various bands performed, as guests explored what seemed like miles of tents with tables of food set up by local restaurants and caterers. A freshly seared baby lamb chop here. A shucked oyster there. Indian, Mexican, Italian food. For dessert, all you had to do was wander around the zoo's mansion house, where a dozen chefs offered cookies, cake, crepes and even giant strawberries injected with liqueur. It was enough to leave any guest tickled pink.

A DRINK WITH HANNAH BYRON

She helps to bring films to the city

Hannah Byron has been director of the Baltimore City Film Office, a division of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, for four years. A Baltimore native, Byron, 49, has spent her career in government work; her most exotic job was when she worked for the United Nations in Kenya in her 20s. She is a former director of communication for Maryland Public Television and director of tourism for the state. Byron is married and has two sons, 19 and 15.

That's quite an exciting job.

It has its moments. But film production here doesn't just happen. It takes work ... You have to [help production companies] find filming locations, production office space, parking, staging ... There's a lot of focus on the feature films that shoot here, but there's also TV, documentaries, commercials.

How much of your job is actually glamorous?

About 10 percent.

What's the most glamorous part?

I think when it all comes together at a premiere. That's what I like best about this business. There's a beginning, middle and an end. You get to see the culmination of it.

And the least glamorous?

There are many, actually. Where the Spot-A-Pottys go. That's very important.

When people find out what you do, what do they ask most often?

Do you get to meet movie stars? I do. Martin Sheen was someone most memorable to me. And [the late] John Spencer. They were both here filming a scene for The West Wing. Joaquin Phoenix. [I've met] just about everybody who's been in town for a film. They've all been very down to earth and pleasant.

That's no fun!

So, I should tell the truth? ... But, it's not a fluffy job of meeting movie stars. It's a very competitive business. And I'm a very competitive person. There are a lot of people here who depend on this business to put food on their tables.

Sounds like this appeals more to the government geek than the movie fan in you.

Yes. You really need to know the ins and outs of state government. It's a very important aspect of this position. Like with locations. If a film company doesn't find what it needs here, it'll go to our competitors, like Philadelphia, Richmond or Washington, D.C. ... I like to close the deal. I like to line everything up for a production company. I want them to film in Baltimore.

It's not exactly 9 to 5.

It's 24 / 7, particularly when a production is in town. Like when one film was here and a sewer line broke where they were. We had to immediately find a new location.

What surprised you most when you started this job?

It surprised me about how many people are involved. You see the film credits, but then you see all these people in one place, shooting a scene that'll be on the screen for less than a minute. It's mind-boggling.

Do you actually go to the movies?

Yes. ... I'm a new Netflix addict. ... I generally watch about two to three [movies] a week. But, that doesn't stop me from going to the Charles or the Senator.

SOCIAL EVENTS

SATURDAY

SOLSTICE GALA: THE SCIENCE OF SUMMER

Benefits Maryland Science Center

Open bar, hors d'oeuvres, food stations, live music, dancing, view exhibits

Maryland Science Center

8 p.m.

Tickets $100

Call 410-545-5940

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