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A Fancy Dinner for ‘Green Tomatoes’

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Sure enough, just after the entree was served in USC’s Doheny Memorial Library, waiters brought the piece de resistance --fried green tomatoes. True Southerners, such as Dr. Frank Thompson, said the tomatoes should have been a little greener. But they were a unusual touch to the Friends of the USC Libraries Scripter Award black-tie dinner Saturday honoring Alabama writer Fannie Flagg.

Flagg is the author of “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” She accepted the Tiffany-designed crystal Scripter Award for the screenplay adaptation of her book for Universal’s “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

Carol Sobieski was honored posthumously as collaborator on the screenplay; Jim Sobieski accepted.

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Wearing a voluminous, short, Ruben Panis dress, Virginia Ramo held court in the library’s baronial rotunda with her honorary co-chair, Elaine Leventhal. Philanthropists Jane and Herbert Boeckmann, the night’s working chairs and its underwriters, were nearby.

So was Marjorie Lord Volk, Scripter selection committee chair. The committee chose “Tomatoes” as the best realization of a book as film over other finalists “At Play in the Fields of the Lord,” “The Prince of Tides, “Rambling Rose” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

It was a glossy crowd. Marjorie (Maggie) Volk’s daughter, actress Anne Archer, was with her. More: Friends president James Childs Jr., emcee Hal Kanter, USC Senior Vice President and Provost Neil Pings and University Librarian Peter Lyman. Flagg’s Tennessee friend Dixie Carter (“Designing Women”) and her Mississippi friend Diane Ladd paid tributes. In the audience: Stockton Briggle, Dale Davis, Geena Davis, Penny Marshall, Linda Weitzler, singer Colleen Casey, Kenneth and Adrienne Pingree, and Richard Riordan (rumored mayoral candidate) escorting Nancy Daly.

Said Flagg of her story about the relationship between two Southern women: “I wanted to reward middle-class people who get up every day and pay their taxes.”

Former USC Librarian Charles Ritcheson, who lives in Washington, said the library still has to raise $658,000 to reach a $4-million goal (the dinner was expected to net $142,000) in order to match a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $1 million. USC students Lisa Baker and J. Bleckman helped things along by announcing a senior class gift of $50,000.

GREAT LADY: The photo blowups were wonderful. There was Alice as a child in ringlets and white high-button shoes playing tea party; Alice in a huge sombrero at her memorable Fandango party, and Alice in pearls a year ago.

The pictures hung in the front party room at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Beverly Hills when grande dame Alice O'Neill Avery was surprised on her 75th birthday last week. She thought she was just going to dinner when son Doug Avery, in coat and tie, and his wife, Diane (who planned the surprise), picked her up. The shrieks of “Happy Birthday” were so warming that the honoree broke into tears and asked for a fast martini.

Alice Avery’s son Tony Moiso and his wife, Melinda, of Laguna Beach stood with three daughters--Cristy and Anne Marie, and Trina Shattuck and her husband, Mack. Avery’s son Jerome Moiso and his wife, Mary, came from Carmel.

Avery’s brother, Democratic kingpin Richard O'Neill, and his wife, Donna, were there. So were best pals Josie Wayne; Jackie and Jay McMahon; Elizabeth Westerby; Joan Graham; Dr. Burton Smith (former physician to Presidents Reagan and Bush) and his wife, Kit, and former Ambassador to the Vatican William and Betty Wilson.

CIRCLE RED: Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser hosts the L.A. Dodgers 65 Roses Club dinner to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Saturday at the Sheraton Universal. Dodger center fielder Brett Butler has signed on as sports auction chair.

PAST PERFECT: Doug and Lynn Brengel hosted a post-concert dinner in their San Marino home to honor Placido Domingo after his recent appearance as conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena and his acceptance later of the Ambassador Award for Excellence from Ambassador Foundation chairman Joseph Tkach. . . .

Jeanne Roderick, general manager of Escada boutique in Beverly Hills, surrounded herself with 200 members of Friends of Robinson Gardens to announce that Escada will sponsor the Children’s Garden at Virginia Robinson Gardens. It’s designed to teach Beverly Hills and Los Angeles third-graders ecology and conservation. . . .

Some 60 guests joined UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Andrea L. Rich at the Venice home of Roy and Carol Doumani. The occasion honored Robert Blocker, new dean of the UCLA School of the Arts . . . .

From $1 tips for autographs, $2 tips for photographs and lots of VIP sponsorships, Children’s Bureau of Los Angeles is predicting a $210,000 net for child-abuse prevention. Sunday, Los Angeles Kings Wayne Gretsky and Dave Taylor did the signing and posing for 1,500 fans and 500 at a VIP reception at Tip-A-King ’92.


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