"If someone pays $1,000, we really want them to have a great time."
And, indeed, people are lining up to pay $1,000 for a ticket to "Phantom of the Opera," which opens at the Ahmanson this spring. The money, however, goes not to scalpers but to the Center Theatre Group, which holds its benefit at the May 20 preview performance.
Benefit chairs Nancy Vreeland and Terri Childs have sold more than 500 of the Gala Patron and Gala Sponsor tickets (priced at $1,000 and $500) and that's without an invitation even going into the mail. (For those not so flush but fervent to see "Phantom," CTG is also selling $250 and $100 tickets to the benefit. These do not include the post-performance gala, but they do include the pre-performance "lavish" champagne reception.)
The length of the CTG committee list, Childs said, happened because "everyone wanted to be included--and everyone is working." There are three vice chairs--Robin Parsky, Jane Weintraub (her husband, Jerry, has just joined the CTG board) and Debbie Tellefsen. Among those names crowding down the side of the benefit stationery: Blue Ribbon president Joanne Kozberg; Terry Stanfill; Mary Jane Wick; Lilly Tartikoff; Rosemary Tomich; Barbara Marshall; Giney Milner and her daughter-in-law, Mary; Sandy Ausman; Peggy Parker; Beth Pressman and Lynda Palevsky (who is doing the invitation, but nobody is sure if an invitation is now necessary).
With corporate sponsorship, the benefit could net more than $500,000, organizers said. And they're hopeful that even those in the cheap seats will be done up in black tie or at least something truly festive.
As far as the post-performance gala is concerned, Vreeland said she is "thrilled" that Chasen's will be doing the supper--"I've long wanted to bring them downtown."
And, as far as the decor, it will be "Paris opera of the era," Childs said. One idea is that the centerpieces will be Phantom-style masks.
As an added moneymaker, artists and designers Bob Graham, Ken Lane, Nolan Miller and Frank Gehry are all designing masks to be auctioned at the party.
Just how desperate is everyone to see "Phantom"? Well, there is the story of the man who left a signed blank check with the receptionist for CTG development director Mary K Bailey with a message that he was a friend of a CTG board member and a note that he was interested in tickets and could she call him with details.
BENEFIT BONANZA--This is a wonderful idea for a fund-raiser: Have celebrities like Candice Bergen and her director husband, Louis Malle; Gene Kelly; Joan Collins; Shirley MacLaine; George Burns and others take Polaroid pictures of what "home" means to each of them (like George's hand holding his cigar). Then auction them off for the Spare Change Project of the Family Assistance Program of Hollywood. It will all take place at Spago Tuesday. . . .
The Center for Early Education celebrates its 50th anniversary this year--and it's taking the shape of a major birthday party at the Biltmore Hotel March 11. Center parent Lorna Luft headlines the evening. There will be a silent auction, and the whole time is seen as a "special opportunity for three generations of CEE parents and alumni to celebrate together," according to Susan Franklin, president of the Board of Trustees of the West Hollywood-based private school. . . .
Mark your calendars--the 13th annual Coro Public Affairs Awards Dinner is set for April 27 at the Century Plaza Hotel. Honored this year will be KCBS-TV's Bill Stout and Westminster Neighborhood Assn. President E. Grace Payne.
JOURNALISTS ON THE MOVE--Richard Turner, for several years bureau chief of TV Guide here, moves over to the Wall Street Journal in mid-February. There, Turner will cover the TV, record and film industries from the West Coast. . . .
Ciji Ware has been telling Los Angeles where it's at healthwise and life-style-wise for many years, on TV, in print and on KABC. And, in 1982, she published the nonfiction book, "Sharing Parenthood After Divorce." Next month, Ware debuts as a novelist, when Bantam prints her "Island of the Swans," a historical novel set in 18th-Century Scotland.