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Smiles, birthdays, and must-see openings.

PREMIERE OF DISTRACTED

Playwright Lisa Loomer's Distracted premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Since his wife, Rita Wilson, was starring in the production, Tom Hanks played official host to such celebs as Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, impresario David Geffen, and Martin Short. Nicole Kidman with hubby Keith Urban also showed up, but the Aussie beauty kept her head down to avoid being photographed. Hanks personally saw to it that everyone was seated and comfortable. Some other A-list celebs in attendance included Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), which Rita & Tom produced, and Lucy Lawless (Xena, Warrior Princess) with a blonde hairdo. Distracted is a thought-provoking play with a message related to ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) that is well worth seeing.

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OPERATION SMILE

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Donald Trump, Jr. represents the best of today's young businessmen. His inherent business sense and superb education have helped in his position as Executive V.P. of Development for the Trump Organization, and he is a regular on his father's hit TV show, The Apprentice. But most importantly, he has inherited his parent's humanitarian genes, and is a supporter of Operation Smile--a leading medical service organization dedicated to improving the lives of children worldwide.

Trump Jr. was honored, along with his actress/model mate, Vanessa, at Operation Smile's 5th Annual Gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Billy Bush (Access Hollywood) emceed the evening, along with Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel) and her husband, reality show king, Mark Burnett. Entertainment was provided by multi-Grammy Award winner Christopher Cross and Debbie Allen's Dance Academy. A donation of $150,000 was made by Angeles Lladro of the renowned Spanish House of Porcelain of the same name.

Also lauded was LA Clippers star Elton Brand, who received his award from boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard. It was heartwarming to witness the support for a charity that provides free reconstructive surgery to more than 100,000 children with cleft palates, tumors, or other birth defects in 32 countries around the world. Now that's something to smile about!

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BEVERLY COHEN'S Birthday

Beverly Cohen, owner of the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, celebrated her birthday with a fabulous party at Pane Vino restaurant in West Hollywood. Among those invited were Liz Flynt (Larry Flynt's wife), life insurance broker/agent Stephanie Hibbler, and anesthetist Darlene Friedman. Also present were Brentwood's Grace Scherrer and Annie Lehrer. Beverly is anxiously awaiting the completion of her mansion in Newport (former home of John Wayne), but is quite comfortable at the Four Seasons Hotel where she currently lives. Some of the long time friends sharing Beverly's birthday celebration included feminist attorney Gloria Allred, designer Ricco Antonio, who owns boutiques in Beverly Hills and La Jolla, Suzan Brassfield, former model and now owner of a winery in Clearlake, California, Shelly (Mrs. Donald Sterling), and Mr. Blackwell, who has been dressing Beverly for the longest time.

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DAVID GEST

David Gest (former husband of Liza Minnelli) has completely reinvented himself. He is the toast of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. After his break-out appearances on the reality show, I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, David proved he really is funny and great on camera. As a critic in London stated, "I've warmed up to him, just like the rest of the viewing public." Gest hosted a soiree in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to announce his Prime-Time ITV UK TV series, The David Gest Show, and the publication of his autobiography, Simply the Gest. Some of the many celebs toasting him included the gorgeous Rhonda Fleming, former child star Margaret O'Brien, Stella Stevens, and the irrepressible Jackie Stallone, who is off to Russia to celebrate the 75th Birthday of Mikhail Gorbachev.

DANCERS SOCIETY

Judy Garland, Liza Minelli's mother, was paid special tribute by the Professional Dancers Society (PDS) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Each year, the Gypsy Awards are presented to performers who left their distinctive marks in the world of entertainment. This year Florence Henderson and Nanette Fabray were lauded for their great talent. Henderson, best known as Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, had a longstanding career in musical comedy. She starred on Broadway in Fanny, The Sound of Music and South Pacific to name a few, and was the first woman to guest host The Tonight Show.

Fabray, who began her career at age three, dancing at the Paramount Theatre in L.A., is best known for her comedic work with Sid Caesar, and she also starred on Broadway in such vehicles as By Jupiter, Arms and The Girl and Mr. President. Among the guest list who came to honor them were Dick Van Dyke, Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's other daughter), Mitzi Gaynor (President of the PDS), and Carl Reiner, who tripped the light fantastic with Fabray on the old Sid Caesar Show.

Kudos to Joni Berry, who announced that last year over 700 dancers received aid from funds raised by PDS, which has provided over $1.2 million for dancers in need.

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GENESIS AWARD

Happy Feet, Charlotte's Web and Fast Food Nation were among those honored in 18 categories at the Genesis Awards at the Beverly Hilton. Presented by the Humane Society of the U.S., these awards celebrate the major news and entertainment media for showcasing animal-protection. Among the animal-friendly presenters were Casper Van Dien and his real-life wife, Princess Catherine Oxenberg, James Cromwell (Babe), Ed Begley, Jr. and his mate, Rachelle Carson. But the star who received the biggest applause was Rusty (the dog from Rocky), accompanied by Burt Young, who portrayed "Paulie" in the Rocky films. Young, who was once a champion boxer himself, has now turned his talents to painting, and invited us to an exhibition of his work.

Also lauded was celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who now supports the ban on foie gras, which requires force-feeding of birds such as ducks or geese. As a way to celebrate Spago's 25th anniversary, he stated that his restaurants will now feature free-range veal and eggs, and that he is committed to raising the bar on treating farm animals well.

Kudos go to Beverly Kaskey, Executive Producer, and her hard working committee-but most of all to Founder Gretchen Wyler, who devoted her life and love to the protection of animals. C

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Marci Weiner, our Society Corner columnist, is widely recognized as a society reporter. She has been writing for many years for publications such as Entertainment Today, Beverly Hills 90212, The Good Life, West Coast Lifestyle and Movieweb, to name a few. Her syndicated column reaches the socialites and celebs in Tinseltown, and she is friend and confidante to movers and shakers around the world.
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Title Annotation:SOCIETY CORNER
Author:Weiner, Marci
Publication:Celeb Staff Magazine
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:1136
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