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When Russians Need Help Staging Parade, Johnny Grant’s Their Man

Wearing a cowboy hat and a big smile, Johnny Grant shared some of Hollywood’s glitz and glamour with Russian officials earlier this month.

As Hollywood’s ceremonial mayor, Grant traveled to Moscow at the invitation of the Moscow city government and Randtek International Ltd., a private company commissioned by the government to promote parades, concert and festivals that benefit the city’s social services.

Grant, who recently retired as vice president of public affairs/special projects for KTLA television and is also executive producer of the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, knows firsthand about producing such grand-scale events. During the 10-day trip, he exchanged ideas on ways to convert military parades into peacetime events and festivals. He also discussed how to bring more tourism, promotional gigs and corporate sponsorships to Moscow.

“They wanted to know how to make a parade more festive by replacing missiles with music, tanks with floats and artillery with charitable groups,” said the longtime Hollywood resident. “It’s interesting in Russia how they want everything we have.”

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This spring, he plans to return to Moscow for the Peace Victory Parade, which highlights the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Impressed with his knowledge, parade organizers asked Grant, a World War II veteran, to serve as co-grand marshal of the parade with Victor Kulikov, senior general of the Russian Armed Forces. The duo will preside over the May 9 festivities, which culminate in Red Square.

Coincidentally, Grant, 69, will celebrate a birthday the same day.

“Who would have ever dreamed that I would ride through Red Square on my 70th birthday?” he said.

Curt Wittig, professor of chemistry at USC and holder of USC’s Paul A. Miller Chair in Letters, Arts and Sciences, has won the 1993 Herbert P. Broida Prize, given by the American Physical Society.

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The Santa Monica resident will receive the prize at the society’s Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics meeting May 17-19 in Reno, Nev.

The $5,000 prize and a certificate recognize Wittig’s pioneering work in developing the field of photo-initiated reactions in weakly bonded species.

The Westchester/LAX Chamber of Commerce has appointed Linda Criss executive director of the chamber.

Criss, who attended John Carroll University and served as a senior staff member of the California League of Savings Institutions, is a resident of Playa del Rey.

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Attorney Roger Funk, a partner at the Century City law firm Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman and Machtinger, has been reelected for a second term as president of the Westside Fair Housing Council.

A member of the board of directors since 1987, Funk was its vice president during 1990 and 1991. He has provided pro bono legal representation for victims of housing discrimination based on race and family status.

Other newly elected officers include James Hornstein, June Chase, Anne Froehlich, Fred Mautner, Margery Posner and Danny Klein.

Violinist Chen Zhao was the first-place winner of the 1992 Herbert Zipper Instrumental Excellence Competition.

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Zhao, a senior at Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, won second place in the 1991 Palisades Symphony Young Artist Award Competition.

He is a resident of West Los Angeles.

Rabbi Robert Wexler of Los Angeles will be inaugurated as president of the University of Judaism today.

Wexler, who has been with the university for nearly 15 years, most recently served as vice president of administration and member of the faculty. He succeeds David Lieber, who retired after 29 years as president.

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