The Crowd: Arts community gathers at Chapman University

Bob Bassett, dean of the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, welcomed the arts community in Orange County to the 13th annual Women in Focus conference.

An accomplished female roster of industry talent addressed a crowd of some 400 guests on the "state of the intersection of art and commerce in the business of communication."

Among the celebrated panelists were Debra Martin Chase, producer of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "The Princess Diaries," Leslie Dixon, producer of "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Outrageous Fortune," Nina Jacobson, producer of "The Hunger Games," Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of DreamWorks Animation, and Stacey Snider, chief executive and co-chair of DreamWorks Studios.

The event was moderated by Dawn Taubin, professor of public relations and advertising at Dodge College, who is also an accomplished marketing consultant to the film industry with credits that include the 2011 Oscar-nominated film "The Help" and the "Harry Potter" film series.

The Women in Focus conference — underwritten by event sponsors Twyla Martin, Tricia Berns, Laurie Rodnick, Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, Harriet Sandhu, and Bonny Schumacher — began with a VIP reception and luncheon on one of the Dodge College sound stages, which was transformed into a set reminiscent of the iconic Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Following lunch, the crowd converged upon the Folino Theatre in the Marion Knott Studios for a candid sharing of experience in the real world of Hollywood filmmaking.

"It is so important for students that are passionate about the entertainment business to understand the challenges associated with making great movies that are also commercially successful," Dean Bassett said.


Guilds feted

The Guilds of Segerstrom Center for the Arts held a springtime celebration called "A Classic Night at the Starlight Club."

The festivities were part of the 25th anniversary year-long tribute to the performing arts in Orange County, and the significant role the guilds have played in supporting 25 years of diverse artistic achievement associated with the Segerstrom Center.

The upbeat evening on April 19 was held at Costa Mesa's Crevier Classic Car museum and was chaired by the dedicated Kathy Fleming. Several hundred guests came to pay tribute to Guild member Susan Strader, also a prominent member of Angel of the Arts.

Surrounded by some 100 elegant classic and rare vehicles on display, guests began the evening with a champagne reception hosted by South Coast Helicopters, owned by Kathy and Cliff Fleming. ESCADA presented a fashion show, while the crowd mingled among the silent auction checking out items for sale in support of the Guilds fundraiser.

Dinner was served by Soiree Catering, beginning with a wedge salad followed by a duet of filet mignon and grilled salmon. Supporting the evening were Margaret and Tom Larkin, Carol and Kent Wilken, Deborah and Larry Bridges, Gail and Jim Daniels, and Carol and Doug Kentner. As much as $153,000 was raised.


Home tour coming up

The Newport Harbor Educational Foundation's 15th annual Home Tour unfolds on May 17.

The day begins with an open house at 17th Street's Fleur De Lys, followed by a tour of homes that includes residences in the Balboa Coves, the Castaways, Dover Shores and Newport Heights.

A midday luncheon will be served at the Newport Theatre Arts Center on Cliff Drive, and will feature a boutique of home design accessories. The stylish Barclay Butera and staff will open his interior design studio for an afternoon reception to close out the anticipated tour.

Tickets are $65 and may be purchased by going online at or stopping by Barclay Butera, Fleur De Lys, Gatehouse Interiors or Marmi to buy tickets in person. Funds raised from the Home Tour benefit the Newport Harbor Educational Foundation.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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