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Conductor James Conlon, Rita Wilson, Jennifer Conlon and Tom Hanks at premiere of Mahagonny

Budd Schulberg, who won an Oscar for his screenplay On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Marlon Brando, was the recipient of the Thomas H. Ince Award at the Backlot Film Festival. Ince was one of the most important and influential figures in the American film industry, and it is appropriate that Schulberg, whose other works include A Face in the Crowd, and The Harder They Fall (Humphrey Bogart's last film), was honored for his excellence in film making.

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Actresses Kathleen Early, Kathleen Turner & Lesley Ann Warren at premiere of "Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Among those in attendance at the reception were Swedish actress Maud Adams and her husband, Judge Charles Rubin. Adams, who just celebrated her 62nd Birthday, still retains her "Bond Girl" looks, and is starring in The Seekers, which was one of the films entered in the competition. After all 60 is the new 30 in Tinselown, isn't it?

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Audra McDonald, star of Mahagonny

We were pleased to attend the premiere of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera. Kurt Weill's provocative work that inspired the Broadway hits Cabaret and Chicago, provided an evening of haunting melodies, a stunning libretto by Bertolt Brecht (Three Penny Opera), and the magical voices of Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald and Anthony Dean Griffey to name a few. Mahagonny is an exciting blend of opera and musical theatre, which depicts a civilization that is simultaneously Paradise and Armageddon. McDonald shone as the bordello beauty Jenny, and Patti LuPone, whose Broadway successes include Sweeny Todd and Evita. was outstanding as the malicious madam. Mandy Patinkin (Criminal Minds) LuPone's former co-star in Evita, was at the after party and was thrilled with the new production, which will run until March 4th. Other celebs turned operaphilles for the night, included Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (starring in the play Distracted at the Mark Taper Forum opening in March ), and Nia Vardalos, who Rita discovered, and who later produced the award winning film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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Beverly Hills Judge Charles Rubin and his actress wife, Maud Adams

And while on the subject of winning plays in Los Angeles, Kathleen Turner turned quite a few heads starring in Edward Albee's drama, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Ahmanson Theater. Her over the top sexuality and bitchy dialogue were a sight to behold, and Bill Irwin as her harassed hubby, matched her point to point. We particularly were impressed by David Furr's portrayal of Ned, the handsome biology professor who becomes Turner's unwitting prey. Did you know that Turner was chosen as best actress last month at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards in London? She finally found a role she can "sink her ferocious teeth into". I'm tempted to purchase the DVD of the 1966 Oscar winning film starring of Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton, and compare performances. The Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles is definitely a force to be reckoned with on the Hollywood Beat.

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Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin at opening night party for Mahagonny

SAVE THE DATE:

Restaurant enthusiasts and wine lovers will gather at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Thursday March 1, 2007 to sample a vast array of the finest food and drink that L.A. has to offer - all in one place! The 2007 Planned Parenthood Annual Food Fare will bring together 150 of Los Angeles' best restaurants, caterers, wineries, florists, and entertainers, and is expecting to draw close to 2000 Angelinos with an appetite for great food, great drink, to benefit the non-profit organization.

Tickets for Food Fare are $125 for the daytime session (10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.) and $175 for the evening session (6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.) if purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $150 for the daytime session and $200 for the evening session. Tickets are available online at www.ppaction.org/ppla/events/foodfare2007/details.tcl or by calling 310-395-0098. Food Fare began in 1979 with a cooking demonstration by Julia Child to raise funds for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (www.pplosangeles.org). To date, the annual food and wine tasting event has raised over $6 million for PPLA to support health care services, responsible sex education, and advocacy programs. PPLA is the largest provider of reproductive health care services in Los Angeles County.