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Filmex Festival '85 Unreels Friday

Jody Jacobs

February 17, 1985

The Los Angeles International Film Exposition kicks off Festival '85 with a fanfare Friday at the HBO Pavilion at the American Film Institute. And that's just the beginning.

The festival itself gets off to a rousing start March 14 at Mann's Chinese Theatre with the American premiere of "A Private Function." That's a film that should touch us all. It's about the socially ambitious wife of a chiropodist who attempts to pull herself up the social ladder by throwing a banquet in honor of the upcoming marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten. Sounds right up our alley.

The premiere will be followed by the Filmex Society Annual Benefit Ball at the Palace on Vine Street. And that will include an international buffet, a laser show, dancing and singing and Broadway-type entertainment by Donna McKechnie, Pam Myers, Lauree Berger and Laurence Guittard. The honorary ball co-chairmen are Cher, Wendy Goldberg and Jack Nicholson. Tickets for the movie and party are $250.

Two of the town's most generous men fought it out over the bill for dinner for 1,400 people Saturday night. As you might expect, Dr. Armand Hammer won and he got to pick up the tab. Former Sen. Richard Richards proved to be a good loser. Just as he'd promised earlier, he made an underwriting contribution, too.

The party in question was the 1985 Epicurean Gala at the Century Plaza, a benefit for the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, a first for the center and a wow of a success. Individual and corporate sponsors contributed $160,000 and counting all contributions (including a full-length mink coat donated by Lena Horne) the total added up to more than $750,000.

The first part of the evening had celebrity cooks showing off their culinary skills in small, well-decorated kitchens. Gala chairman Edward White said it turned a normal cocktail party into a "festive adventure." Olympic champs Mitch Gaylord, John Naber and Cathy Rigby collaborated on their entrees; consumer advocate David Horowitz served shrimp a la David. But the hit of the evening was Madame Sylvia Wu's chicken salad. By the time the cocktail hour was over she had served 800 portions, the last of them on paper napkins since by then she'd run out of plates.

Howard Keel was master of ceremonies. Kenneth Jonsson, for whom the cancer center is named, was introduced and applauded. The center's director, Dr. Richard Steckel, received a special award and two messages, one from President Reagan, the other from Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, and both were read by Congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler. And then it was time for entertainment--Willie Tyler, the ventriloquist-singer, with Lester, his sidekick, and Vic Damone, who sang old and new songs for 60 minutes.

Dates to Circle in Red: Friday for the Bachelors' 80th Anniversary Ball at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Patronesses for the "fancy dress" affair, which will go on 'til 4 a.m., include Mrs. Warren Brooks Williamson, Mrs. Robert Hudson Carpenter, Mrs. Charles Emil Ducommun, Mrs. Henry Owen Eversole Jr., Mrs. William French Smith and Mrs. Preston Hotchkis.

And Friday again, this time for the International Committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn.'s 23rd Ball honoring the consular corps. Because ball chairman Mrs. Richard Natale is of Greek descent, it's being called the Hellenic Ball. The Greek ambassador to the United States and Mrs. George Papoulias are flying in from Washington to attend.

The Social Scramble: Before leaving for Houston and Dallas and points east, Mary Homi pulled together a little dinner party at the Hotel Bel-Air for Natale Rusconi, the Florentine who runs Venice's Cipriani. London's Billie Hamilton was to be there, too, but his plane from one of those sunny Caribbean islands was hours late and Billie arrived in Los Angeles at 2 a.m. By then Mary's other guests--Olive Behrendt, who spends six weeks a year at the Cipriani, and Michael and Alana Jackson, who are mad about traveling--had long since finished their salmon with black pasta, buffalo milk cheese and tomato salad and an array of desserts.

Arnold Beckman, the almost 85-year-old (his birthday is in April) founder of Beckman Instruments and a man most generous with his time and money, was honored by the City of Hope recently. And during a daylong program on molecular biology sponsored by the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope and the City of Hope National Medical Center, the second annual Beckman Lecture was delivered by Dr. Robert Gallo on "Viruses, Cancer and AIDS: Progress and New Challenges."

Chef Bent Thomsen, formerly of Scandia and now owner of Tivoli Garden, and Steve Wallace, owner of Wally's Liquor, co-hosted an aquavit tasting at the Garden. To add to the array, Chef Thomsen's father, Christian Thomsen, had brought over a few bottles from Denmark that are not available in the United States.

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