Scene & Heard: Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation's Casino Night

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Following the April 3 game against the Denver Nuggets, 750 Lakers fans poured into the Lexus Club at Staples Center for the 4th annual Casino Night, a $500 per person benefit for the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, which promotes education, teamwork and self-esteem by focusing on sports and providing financial aid.

Couple Khloé Kardashian and Lamar Odom took time to pose on the red carpet before heading toward the abundant buffets. It wasn't hard to spot the Lakers as most stood heads above others. When asked his height, the towering 6-10 Odom said with a smile, "Handsome doesn't have a height."

While some played arcade games or gambled with free chips, others posed for pictures with Odom, Shannon Brown, Luke Walton and Ron Artest beside the team's championship trophies. Artest also slipped into headphones for a short stint with the DJ.

Celebrities arrived en masse to hobnob with the team. Kevin Connolly of "Entourage" said, "I held the door for Steve Blake," before he and his costar Emmanuelle Chriqui settled onto the patio with Kobe Bryant.

The guests included Teri Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives," Ellen Pompeo of "Grey's Anatomy," Victoria Justice of "Victorious," Regina King of "Southland," Jeremy Piven of "Entourage," Lacey Schwimmer of "Dancing With the Stars," Jessica Stroup of "90210," Julie Bowen of "Modern Family," Ashley Tisdale of "Hellcats" and "High School Musical," Ryan Rottman of "The House Bunny" and Kyle Richards of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," with Mauricio Umansky and their daughters: Alexia, Sophie, Farrah and Portia, 3.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss called the fundraiser "unique." But not all were feeling festive. "I'm not happy to be here," said head coach Phil Jackson. "We lost."

Presented by Pechanga Resort Casino and OneWest Bank, the party netted $300,000 for the foundation.

'Women in Focus'

Before sharing words of wisdom, plus a few cautionary tales, at the April 1 "Women in Focus," some of today's most accomplished female filmmakers joined VIP guests for lunch on a state-of-the-art soundstage at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Dean Bob Bassett welcomed the group, which included Kristina and Larry Dodge, for whom the college is named; university President Jim Doti; and the day's panelists — the women who "knocked on the doors of the boy's club." The panelists were Dawn Hudson, executive director of Film Independent; Susan Cartsonis, producer of "Beastly" and "What Women Want"; Shana Feste, writer-director of "Country Strong" and "The Greatest"; Mary Lambert, director of "Pet Sematary" and some of Madonna's early music videos; Cathy Schulman, "Crash" producer and president of Mandalay Pictures; Nancy Utley, president of Fox Searchlight Pictures ("127 Hours" and "Black Swan"); and Rebecca Yeldham, producer of "The Kite Runner" and "The Motorcycle Diaries."

That such women opted to spend a day at the film school speaks to their sense of responsibility toward the next generation, said Alex Rose, producer of "Norma Rae" and the Chapman University professor who organized the panel. "They know how hard it was for them and they are very respectful and admiring of young filmmakers," she said.

"It's all about women getting ahead, about women not having limits," said Bonny Schumacher, who sponsored the luncheon, along with Twyla Martin and Harriet Sandhu.

During the talks, many women had tales to tell about obstacles they faced as women in the film business. But not Lambert, who declared that that had not been her experience. As the crowd went silent, she added: "April fool's."

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