Next Saturday, from 7-10 p.m., you are invited to a gala which offers you both the opportunity to an evening of elegance and enjoyment, plus the chance to do good for an international charity which is dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
The gala will take place at the Jamestown Gateway Station, on West Second Street, in downtown Jamestown. The watchword for the evening is "Every Little Black Dress Needs a Pink Ribbon." The public is invited to wear black dresses or other dress clothes, although organizers are quick to say that Sunday best is the order of the day, regardless of color.
The evening will involve a cocktail reception, featuring wine, soft drinks, hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, a silent auction featuring celebrity memorabilia and fine art pieces. The highlight of the evening will be a fashion show, featuring a collection of little black dresses, modeled by breast cancer survivors.
Hosts for the evening are Bob and Irene Terreberry. To make reservations for the gala, and to gain admission for pre-sale prices, you can phone the Terreberrys at 386-2532. Pre-sale admissions cost $25 per person. Tickets purchased at the door will cost $30 per person.
Let me share with you some of the items which will be auctioned off at next week's gala event. The disadvantage of our early deadlines is that there are undoubtedly more items which have been donated after we had to submit our copy. Please treat this list as a sampling of what will be available, on which you can place your bid next Saturday:
Melissa Gilbert, who won fame by growing up in the living rooms of much of our country in the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the television series "Little House on the Prairie," has donated the complete collection of DVDs from all nine seasons of her television show, and they come with the star's autograph. Gilbert has also donated a signed copy of her 2009 memoir titled "Prairie Tale."
Mindy Kaling, a star from the television series "The Office," and now of her own program, "The Mindy Project," has donated a signed DVD disc of the pilot episode from her own show.
Jason Alexander, an actor probably best known for his role on "Seinfeld," has donated a signed photo and a copy of a children's book which he has authored.
Michael York, a prominent film and television star who has also published an autobiography and various books of poetry, has donated a DVD of one of his films and a collection of his published prayers and poems.
Journalist Cokie Roberts and women's rights activist Gloria Steinem are breast cancer survivors who have authored books, and signed copies of their books have been donated for the auction by Carrie Wolfgang at Novel Destinations.
Several singers-songwriters have donated signed photos. These include Melissa Etheridge, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Sammy Hagar of Van Halen and Olivia Newton-John.
Hall of Famer and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly has donated a signed photo.
A sweatshirt autographed by both Lucie Arnaz and Buffalo Sabres player Rick Martin has been donated by the A.M. Rotary.
The Lucy-Desi Center of Jamestown has donated a dress which has been worn by actress Melody Thomas Scott from the cast of "The Young and the Restless." They have also donated a program signed by the headliners of the 2012 Lucy Fest celebration, and two tickets to a performance by one of the headliners of the 2013 celebration.
A cartoon of the principal cast of the animated television series "Family Guy," which has been autographed by many of the voice-over actors from the show, has been donated.
Jamestown native Tom Andolora, who has made a name for himself as an actor and a singer, has donated a signed script of "The Spoon River Project," the play which he adapted and directed for three summers in Jamestown's Lake View Cemetery, and which is now being performed around the nation. He has also donated a signed photo of himself.
Andolora has a friend who is a personal assistant to athletes Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. They have donated signed photos, a signed shirt and signed tennis balls.
A native of Mayville who is not named in the materials I have on hand, currently works in post-production on the "Grey's Anatomy" television series. That person has donated a scrubs shirt autographed by most members of that program's cast.
Present and past members of 10,000 Maniacs have donated a number of items for auction.
A number of area restaurants have donated gift certificates for auction. These include The White Horse Inn in Cassadaga. The Red House in Cassadaga has made available the rental of its facilities for a small event, for auction.
F. Murray Abraham, Oscar winner for Best Actor for the film "Amadeus," has donated an autographed DVD of his award-winning film. Abraham has also donated a two-disc set of himself reading an adaptation of the film's screenplay, which he made for BBC. It is also autographed. The BBC set has never been released for mass distribution, so it is a rare item, indeed. Area native Ron Destro has arranged for the Abraham contributions and several others.
Area native Matt Weimer works for ESPN. He has donated four tickets to the Aug. 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, and four tickets to the Aug. 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. These tickets are worth more than $600.
In addition to these items, there are a few baskets full of valuable items which have been donated, as well as works of art from a number of area artists. These include Gary Peters, Bob Gibbon, Reno Pottery, Mike Flaxman, Susan Wolf, Bill Smith, Sue DiVincenzo, Kathy Swanson, Patricia Colburn and Jerry Paduano.
THE AVON FOUNDATION
Money earned from next Saturday's gala celebration will be donated to The Avon Foundation's Breast Cancer Crusade. That is a charity founded by the Avon Cosmetic Corporation in 1992. The Crusade has donated more than $780 million in its history to fund research into causes and prevention of breast cancer, as well as treatment of the malady.
So, you can have an elegant evening out, you can have fun and see and learn about many interesting individuals, and you can do a good deed for an important charity.
Because we have some space yet to fill after sharing with you all the information about next week's gala, let me tell you about a popular new film which I have recently watched on DVD.
"The Intouchables" is a 2012 French film, which has won a number of Cesar Awards, the French equivalent of the American Oscar. For the most part, the film is entertaining, and the scenes of French vistas, ranging from views of Paris to the beaches of the Atlantic and the mountains of the Alps, are quite beautiful. It was recorded in French, and the DVD comes with easy-to-read subtitles in English.
The film won an approval rate of 75 percent from professional film critics, and of 93 percent from laymen viewers. Despite this, I think it is racist and anti-intellectual to an overwhelming degree which the film's creators probably don't even understand.
The film was both written and directed by Olivier Makache and Eric Toledano, based on a true story, as they announce at both the beginning and the end of the film. The actual people on whom the principal characters are based are shown in the "Extras" segment of the DVD.
It concerns a tall, handsome and muscular young man who soon tells us he was born in Senegal, and was brought to France as a child. His name is Driss, and we see him waiting in line for an interview to become a paid companion to a fabulously wealthy French executive named Philippe. Philippe has been paralyzed in a paraglider accident, and we are told he cannot move any part of his body nor feel any sensation from his neck down.
Driss is perfectly frank with the interviewers. He doesn't want the job. He wants them to sign a paper which says he applied for the job and they chose someone else, so that he can collect some sort of government welfare payments.
To the interviewers' astonishment, Philippe comes into the room in his custom-made wheelchair and immediately likes Driss at first sight. He tells one of his loyal servants that the young African is a glib talker, and he is the only candidate interviewed to date who hasn't treated Philippe like an invalid, but who has insisted that he take care of himself to the extent that he is able to do so.
Soon Driss is grabbing Philippe under the arms, dropping him into the passenger seat of his own wildly expensive sports car and taking him places he has never been. On the occasions he is stopped for his reckless and outrageous driving, Driss tells them he is rushing Philippe to the hospital because he is dying of convulsions, and Philippe obliges by shaking violently and covering himself with slobber. Naturally the police escort the car to the hospital, where as soon as the police cars depart, Driss drives away, leaving hospital staff staring in astonishment.
So, this is an unlikely buddy picture, and although there are many surprises in the screenplay, the basic elements of the film are predictable after the first 10 minutes.
We learn that Philippe is a widower, whose wife of 25 years has recently died of cancer. The couple has a daughter, now in her mid-teens, and with her mother dead and her father paralyzed, she has become unruly and treats everyone she knows with contempt.
The handicapped man is rich beyond all imagination. He assigns Driss a bedroom which by itself is larger than a great many apartments in the expensive city of Paris. The bathroom has several windows and is even larger than the red wallpapered bedroom.
On his rare day off, Driss returns to his aunt's home, where the woman lives with at least a dozen grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other young people she has taken into her house. Sometimes he steals her a little present from Philippe's apartment, such as a Faberge egg.
Soon Driss is showing Philippe that he can have a great deal of fun despite his handicap, and Philippe is taking Driss places such as expensive restaurants, to which he could never normally aspire. All of that is charming, and quite predictable.
The great problem with the film is that the filmmakers are culture snobs. Philippe celebrates his birthday by hiring a string orchestra, which performs music by Vivaldi and Bach, while Philippe and his guests sit in quiet contemplation. Driss soon orders the orchestra to stop playing, and gets the entire collection of guests up and dancing to some modern equivalent of the Boogie, while outrageous rock 'n' roll music pours out of Driss's iPod.
If the filmmakers created a scene in which Philippe entered into a collection of Driss's friends and relatives, listening to music which is unique to their culture, while consuming food which is normally attributed to their culture, and Philippe sneered at Driss's culture and demanded that it be replaced by Bach and Vivaldi, audiences would be outraged.
But the filmmakers never consider that the cultivated guests might actually like their habitual music and might be offended by having it criticized and ridiculed. Yet that is exactly what Driss does to his employer's birthday celebration, and this is treated as a good job, well done.
There is another scene where Driss ridicules an opera performance he is being paid to attend to look after the needs of his employer, and makes certain that people sitting near to Philippe's box are assaulted and knocked down, and Philippe is forced to abandon his seat and leave the performance.
Regular readers know that it is my firm belief that while everyone is entitled to his own tastes and opinions, the generally accepted principal that anything involving education and/or intellect is boring and a waste if time is a major culprit in our culture's enormous difficulty in teaching young people much of anything.
Elements such as Driss's frequent pouring of boiling water onto Philippe's bare skin to prove that he is incapable of feeling anything below his neck are also a problem.
The two principal actors, Francois Cluzet as Philippe and Omar Sy as Driss, are talented, and their relationship is admirable and enjoyable. One wonders if someone couldn't have dropped a hint that the film doesn't need to ridicule and insult in order to celebrate an individual's awakening to his position in the world.
"The Intouchables" was released in May 2012, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The film is rated R for language.
Winged Ox Players will perform the play "Freud's Last Session" this evening and tomorrow afternoon at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Jamestown.
The play, by Mark St. Germain, imagines an encounter between an aged Sigmund Freud and the middle aged C.S. Lewis, taking place in London on the day World War II was declared. Freud, who in real life died approximately three weeks after the setting of the play, was a convinced atheist and was certain the coming carnage of the war was proof of the rightness of his beliefs. Lewis was a member of the Church of England, who would make a series of radio broadcasts throughout the war to support his Christian beliefs and to encourage the English public to remain faithful to them.
Tonight's performance begins at 7 and tomorrow's matinee begins at 2 p.m. One hour before curtain time, a catered meal will be served which is included in the ticket price. Both performances will include dessert and coffee, which will be served after the performance, along with an open discussion with the actors and director.
Tickets are $10. Each performance is limited by the size of the performing space, in the church's undercroft or basement, to no more than 60 members of the audience.
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Tomorrow at 7 p.m., the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Jamestown will present a performance by classical guitarist James Piorkowsky, as part of their Music Salon series.
The artist is a former member of the Buffalo Guitar Quartet. He will play a number of his own compositions in the program.
Admission is free, although a freewill offering will be taken to meet the cost of offering the performances. The congregation's place of worship is located on Prendergast Avenue, near the intersection with Buffalo Street.