The Valley Line: Before the movie, there is a screenplay

Wow, I certainly liked our spring-like weather last weekend. I opened up all the windows and doors in the house in order to chase the winter doldrums out and let the fresh air of the season in.

It is benefit season and events are happening fast and furiously. I'm running as fast as I can to make sure to tell you all about what is happening hither and thither.

I know the buzz about Oscar night is still humming, and I have to tell you about one pre-Oscar award show that is becoming the one to attend in order to get a hint about the screenwriter award.

This award evening is called “The Scripter” and it is held each year in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC Campus. This year's offering celebrated the 25th year that the Friends of the USC Libraries present the best cinematic adaptation of the written word. The Scripter is the only award of its kind that honors screenwriters, as well as the author of the work upon which the adaptation is based.

The nominees for this year were “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “The Perks of being a Wallflower,” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Yes, you are right: The winner was “Argo.”

Authors Joshuah Bearman and Antonio J. Mendez and screenwriter Chris Terrio were honored by Dean Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries and USC President C.L. “Max” Nikias at the black-tie ceremony.

In his acceptance speech, Bearman said, “I think that with adaptation you hope another writer can come and take a look at your work and see a new perspective and add insight, which is certainly the case with Chris Terrio.”

Terrio based his screen adaptation on Mendez's autobiographical work, “The Master of Disguise,” published in 2000 and Bearman's article, “The Great Escape,” which appeared in Wired Magazine in 2007.

Among my delightful dinner partners that evening were Stephen Chbosky, author and screenwriter of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and his wife Liz. Stephen, a USC grad, told me he got the inspiration for his book and subsequent movie just steps away from where we were dining on the USC campus.

He was thrilled to be nominated that evening. Both he and his wife were also all aglow as they talked about and showed me photos of their 6-month-old daughter Maccie Margaret. What a beautiful baby she is!

Quinlan gave the guests a warm welcome as they sat at beautifully decorated tables in the Los Angeles Times Reference Room in the library for the evening's festivities. It is always so special to dine in a book-clad room.

The USC Libraries also honored Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana with the Literary Achievement Award for their body of work to date. Nikias presented the honor.

During their writing partnership McMurtry and Ossana have collaborated on dozens of novels and screenplays, including the Academy Award winning movie, “Brokeback Mountain.”

The Scripter Award dinner is always a lovely event and this year's 25th anniversary celebration was even more so.

Valleyites in attendance that night included Patsy Dewey, who is on the board of directors of the Friends of the Library, Phyllis Winnaman, Jim and Sue Stoddard, Frank and Janet McNiff, and Jill Wondries.

Themed “Springtime's Promise,” the women of Las Candelas presented its 60th anniversary celebration benefit fashion show, boutique and luncheon.

More than $80,000 was raised to support charities such as Hillside Learning Center, right here in La Cañada Flintridge; Hathaway-Sycamores, the Glendale YMCA's domestic violence program and the mental health services of Glendale Healthy Kids.

The beautifully presented booklet, given to each guest, stated “our theme reflects the commitment of the members of Las Candelas to reach out with loving hope to the children with emotional and mental health challenges in our community.

With a membership of just 40, the women of Las Candelas is a powerhouse machine that goes into high-energy motion for this event that only happens every other year. The sheer coordination of the day would make chief executives of major companies shake their heads in wonderment.

More than 700 guests first gathered in the foyer of the Burbank Marriott Hotel where the benefit was held. The first order of business for guests was to go shopping in the boutiques, which garnered 25% of the profits to go to the Las Candelas charities.

Guests sipped cool beverages or cups of coffee while also finding neighbors and friends to chat with. There was such a feeling of good cheer as the hum of conversations buzzed around me.

Mind you, this wasn't just an occasion for the ladies, because there were several tables of gents who were chatting about their golf games and other sporting events, not to mention their appreciation for the lovely models that pranced down the catwalk.

Lourdes Chavez, a favorite designer to the well-dressed women of Los Angeles, presented the couture fashions. She is a dynamic designer and her collection this year featured striking bright colors such as red, hot pink, and multicolor florals. She also has a magic touch of drama with her black and whites.

The event opened with greetings from Las Candelas president Monica Sierra, a La Cañada Flintridge resident. Benefit co-chairs, also LCF residents, were Diane Russell and Bobbi Gangi.

Also working hard on this benefit were Pattie McCormick, Cathy Keen, Ellyn Semler, Karen Whyte, Jeannie Flint, Debbie Hinckley, Joan Anderson, Valery Moorhead, Sally Perkins, Ann Ways, Linda Malmquist, Jeri Benton, Marilyn Olson, JC Byer, Shirley Johnstone, Marcia Lytle, Glady Kabateck, Margaret Steenken, Dianne Endsley, Patti Baker, Carolyn Beaton and Linda Gregg.

Celebrated early in the program for their longtime service to the club as active members were Diane Johnson, 46 years, and Fran Buchanan, 45 years, Also remembered was the late Merle Hollywood for her 48 years of service.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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