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ANN CONWAY

The First Lady Will Have the Fluor at Fund-Raiser

March 23, 1992|ANN CONWAY

Looking for a power party? Then look to Tuesday's "Evening With Barbara Bush" at Fluor Corp. in Irvine.

Not only is the 5 p.m. reception being chaired by a blockbuster committee--mall mogul Henry Segerstrom, Fluor Chairman Les McCraw, mega-developer William Lyon, for starters--it is being attended by Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren.

Who can remember the last time Orange County's only billionaire mixed with the local sociopolitical set? (Who can remember the last time we had a power party?)

There are two reasons why Bren has chosen to attend the $250-to-$1,000-per-person fund-raiser for Sen. John Seymour, says Irvine Co. spokesman Larry Thomas. First, "Bren and Seymour have known each other for years. This is an important time in Seymour's campaign."

Second, Bren and the First Lady are "pleasant friends," Thomas notes. (A donor of $100,000 to the Republican National Committee during President Bush's first presidential bid, Bren has enjoyed some very private moments on Pennsylvania Avenue.)

Guests who have anted up $1,000 for the beer and wine and International Buffet-themed reception will have a private photo opportunity with Mrs. Bush. (Now you know how those power social types got those photos of themselves with heads of state.)

The event doesn't mark the first time that Fluor Corp. has been the site of a political bash. Last August, Gov. Pete Wilson celebrated his birthday on the corporation's grounds with hundreds attending a Western hoedown. "It was fabulous," says Santa Ana attorney Ron Lais. "Everyone in Western gear. Great band, great food."

Why Fluor Corp.? "Seymour's people came to us," says J. Robert Fluor, the company's vice president of corporate relations. "So did Wilson's. It's a good facility--flexible, lends itself to different things."

And it comes cheap. Fluor is paying the lion's share of the reception's food (estimated at $35 per person by caterer Denise Roberson), decor and beverage cost. The facility is free. A similar bash at the Irvine Hyatt Regency would include a 17% service charge and 7.17% tax on top of that. "Fluor is very accommodating" says Cori Capizzi, assistant to Seymour's finance director.

Eight thousand invitations were sent for the reception. About 700 people plan to attend.

On Thursday, the Secret Service met with Roberson to discuss the menu and check the corporation's kitchen area and corridors. But there will be no special food preparations for Mrs. Bush. Not even a taster or designated food handler.

"The Secret Service was very low key," says Roberson. "She gets to do anything she wants."

Ginger Snap: The woman they say did everything Fred Astaire did only backward and in high heels charmed the hundreds who heard her speak Thursday at a meeting of Round Table West at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

Escorted onto the speakers' platform in a wheelchair, Ginger Rogers, 80, introduced some clips of films in which she had starred--"Tales of Manhattan," "Weekend at the Waldorf" and "Monkey Business," among others--and answered questions about her book, "Ginger: My Story," during her one-hour visit.

Hate to gush, but it was thrilling to watch a legend watch herself on the silver screen: There was a snappy Ginger balancing a glass of water on her nose ("Monkey Business"). There was a smitten Ginger going limp in George Montgomery's arms ("Roxie Hart"). And there was Fred and Ginger--she in a cloud of white chiffon--sailing around a dance floor to a haunting "They Can't Take That Away From Me." There was even the Academy Award-winning Ginger ("Kitty Foyle") dreamily asking Dennis Morgan: " Tell me about love."

Speaking of love, one guest wanted to know, did Fred Astaire ever kiss her off screen (he never did on screen, you know). "Well, he escorted me home after a date we had in New York," she said, "a date where we'd danced so much our ice cream had turned to soup. He kissed me in the car."

One had to wonder why the platinum-haired Rogers--eyes blue as the bay, skin still a luminous porcelain--chose to disguise herself in a slouched black hat, loud metallic scarf and goggle-size glasses.

"I guess she just wants to look like a grande dame now," said her agent, who refused to discuss why the legendary dancer is confined to a wheelchair.

At one point, former child star Jane Withers stood and thanked Rogers for being "one of a kind."

"Your spirit and love was so special," Withers said, starting to cry. "Thank God for Ginger Rogers!" At which point, tears began to flow from Rogers' eyes. "Thank you, Jane," she said softly.

"What a happy day," deadpanned Round Table founder Margaret Burk.

Also among guests were Round Table's executive director Marylin Hudson; Donna Crean; author Peter McWilliams, and Skipper, Rogers' snow-white poodle.

Pro Bono: Developer Kathryn Thompson will stage a posh reception at her Emerald Ridge home in Dana Point on March 31 for senatorial aspirant Sonny Bono. The bash is $250 a plate, with entertainment in the subdued mode (something on guitar or piano, says a spokesman). About 50 people are expected to attend. Among guests will be Alan Thicke of television's "Growing Pains."

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