Anniversaries Came March-ing In!

You Oughta Be in Pictures

The credits rolled ahead of time: 30 years, the Farrell Estate, Susan Brennan, stars Elston and Deven Howard, and a cast of hundreds. All that came together on a splendid Saturday evening when the New Orleans Film Society held an elegant evening dedicated to supporting independent cinema in New Orleans and honoring its three decades. The eye-catching, Mediterranean-style Farrell Estate on St. Charles Avenue was the site for the sights.

The party began inside the house, which was described as “a museum in itself.” Then film folks moseyed freely about the grounds, especially within the capacious and adjacent clear tent. White globe-lamps hung from the ceiling, a slew of tables were set up, and roses and other flowers in white vases served as centerpieces. They were done by Thibodeaux’s Floral Studio. Throughout, amethyst lighting bathed the tent and the grounds. Behind the main house was a long rectangular pool in which white-lighted fountains played. To the side of the pool was a smaller house, with a handsome wood-paneled room, and arrays of desserts.

Susan Brennan, a lifelong New Orleanian and the owner and developer of Second Line Stages, “the first LEED Gold certified, state of the art, sustainable sound stages in the United States,” was the honoree. She was joined by her husband, Ralph Brennan. More luminaries were event chairing twosome Elston and Deven Howard, Alexa Georges and Jerry Armatis, Jennifer Coolidge, NOFS executive director Fallon Young, board President Valerie M. Grubb, Amanda Warren with Kevin Pozzo, Randy Fertel, Mamta Melwani with Rivers Spencer, Sandy and Mackie Shilstone, Lesli Harris with Richard Perque, Jason Waguespack with Jeffery Morgan, Katherine and Tony Gelderman, Frances Oser, Bonnie Wilson, Adam Marcus with Linda Novak, Nathan Grant with Kunal Syngal, Gina Charbonnet, Monica Frois and Eve Barrie Masinter, Donna Sterling with Tony Ciaccio, Gregory Morey and Scott James, James Farwell and Gay LeBreton, Beth and Austin Lavin, Marcia and Gothard Reck, Susan Curry and others who were picture perfect.

A good bit of conversation was about the Oscar-winning, “Green Book,” the Best Picture for 2018, which was screened on Oct. 17, 2018, at the Orpheum Theater for the opening of the society’s annual New Orleans Film Festival. In fact, one of the mansions featured in the film is located almost diagonally across the street from the Farrell Estate.

Thirteen New Orleans restaurants fed the partying NOFS flock with such treats as steak tartare, turtle soup and macaroons. Once again, 13 was a lucky number. That many live-auction items had the crowd bidding for such items as two tickets to the New York City premiere of the Sir Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” as part of a VIP weekend, and a weeklong vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Of course, any film crew needs a soundtrack and that was done, albeit live and with gusto, by Mahmoud Chouki, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, and DJ RQ Away. Many of the numbers pleased the party pack, but one resonated most definitely for those who spend hours looking at movies. It was “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Two-score 'Lark'ing

Lark in the Park, the premier fundraiser for Friends of City Park, targeted Storyland as its beneficiary. Opened in 1956, Storyland in City Park became an enchanted playground, attracting generations of children and their moms and dads. With funds from the most recent Lark, Storyland will be refurbished by creating a modern entity with new exhibits and updates to the existing site.

A momentous year for Friends of City Park, the organization celebrated 40 years. Incorporating past successes and projected future ones, the 2019 Lark in the Park was co-chaired by 22 past Lark chairpersons. The honorary chairwoman was Bev Church, who spearheaded the 1982 Lark, as well as chaired the last major Storyland renovation in 1986.

The VIP party was housed in the Pavilion of the Two Sisters with scrumptious nibbles by Messina’s Catering & Events and entertainment by cellist Helen Gillet. For the gala, both the pavilion and the Botanical Garden were venues. Lounge areas outfitted by Distressed Rentals and Revival and Pret a Fete were welcome additions. The purveyance came from 35 generous eateries with oysters as a highlight and, later on, beignets from the Café du Monde food truck as late-night nibbles. Republic National Distributing Company provided premium libations and three specialty cocktails: Wheatley Vodka Blue Chi-Chi, Jameson Horsefeather and SoCo Southern Lemonade.

Then there was the live auction of six enticing entries led by auctioneers Leigh Morgan Thorpe and Robin Bordelon Borne (with spouse Scott), the Porter Lyons Jewelry Pull, and the raffle of a 2019 Bryan Subaru Outback donated by Bryan Subaru. The drawing will be July 17.

Further features were the centerpieces donated by Iris Floral and Event Design and the singing of Songbird of New Orleans Robin Barnes and her band. Post auction, AFX Pro LLC put on a fireworks show, after which deejay Ann Glaviano-HEATWAVE spun vinyl pyrotechnics.

And Lark’s legions? Friends of City Park Board members included President Larry Dale and Connie, Adam Metcalf and Colette, Jackie Palumbo and Vincent, Jason Villemarette and Nicole, Kathleen Smith and Tom, Shon Baker and Charlie, Edmund Shrenk and Kathy, Jackie Shreves and Bruce, Lindsey Wands, Shannon Brice and Andrea Frischhertz and Brad. Steve Pettus and Yvonne, Bill Hoffman and Denise, Bob Thomas and Polly, Larry Katz and JoAnn, Karen DeBlieux and Peter and Will Tregre and Donna were from the City Park Improvement Association.

More Lark-ers were those from presenting sponsor Capital One Bank and car raffle sponsor Bryan Subaru, as well as the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust (Vincent J. Giardina and Lisa Romano). Jay and Andre Batt made rounds, along with Emily and Alon Shaya, Brian and Michelle Barkemeyer, Aimee and Ken Gowland, Dessa and David Giffin, Gary Levy, Kimberly and Keith Zibilich, Malcolm Ehrhardt, Jules and Clarice Moise, Mark Zerzman, Margo DuBos and Carol and Harold Asher. For all of them, 40 was a fit!

A Vrooom with a View!

Some parties end with a whimper. This one with a vrooom! Temple Sinai Cantor Joel Colman, the honoree and subject of a “This Is Your Life” program, uses a motorcycle to get around. Appropriately his love for the big wheels translated to the clothing of attendees (lots of leather jackets!) and the décor. His motorcycle sat centrally in the foyer.

The mother-daughter team of Susan Kierr and Sarah Hess (with Josh) co-chaired the on-premises bash with lots of help from Sarah’s mother-in-law, Susan Hess (with Bill). The latter couple, Susan and Bill, also donated a Telluride, Colorado, condominium stay to the silent auction. Another top donor was Hope Meyer (a diamond ring). Diamond earrings donated by Friend & Company were won in the raffle by Judy Aamodt.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Galatoire’s donated food for the patron party, adding to the tasty contributions from Sue Barton and Marc Behar, and the Goldring Family Foundation libations. Marriott catered the dinner with a menu of salad, filet and chocolate mousse pies.

The postprandial fun was the “Cantor Joel Colman … This Is Your Life!” program of videos, music and speakers to recognize his 20 years (and continuing) at Temple Sinai. Participants were host Eric Dreiblatt, childhood friend Allen Leider, son Josh Colman, Temple President Judge Robin Giarrusso (with her son, Councilman Joe Giarrusso), Cedric Walker (with Julie), Tim McConnell and the Rev. Peter Weiss of the New Orleans Fire Department (for which Cantor Joel serves as a co-chaplain) and opera singers Tommy Zanca, Aaron Ambeau and Zara Zemmels. Also, Temple youths, executive director Liz Yager, executive director emeritus Herbert Barton (with Sue and his daughter Barbara Greenberg), Rabbi Matt Reimer and Rabbi Emeritus Ed Cohn (with Andrea). Praise was plentiful to organizers Amy Reuben and Marc Behar. General dancing concluded the evening.

Further notables were Tracy Todd, Jeffrey Goldring, Marianne Cohn, Amy and Mark Stein, Pamela and Rob Steeg, Jennifer and Jack Benjamin, Amy Gainsburgh-Haspel and John Haspel and dozens more, several of whom witnessed a fun farewell at the end when Cantor Colman got on his motorcycle, revved it up and vrooomed out onto Palmer Avenue.

New Orleanians' love of fun and festivities is legendary. Join The New Orleans Advocate's Facebook group to follow the who's who of the city and the best parties in town courtesy of society and party experts Nell Nolan and Jeff Strout.