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And the Oscars Come to--Fashion Island

March 23, 1994|KATHRYN BOLD

Party guests were given the star treatment on Monday when the Assistance League of Newport-Mesa staged its own Oscar night bash.

Atrium Court in Fashion Island Newport Beach was transformed into a small-scale Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, complete with larger-than-life Oscar statues and a red carpet for receiving more than 450 party-goers for the league's first-ever "Night of the Stars" Academy Awards celebration. The $100-per-person gala was expected to raise about $75,000 for the league.

Everybody's a Star

"I've always loved the Academy Awards. I knew about the party they had at Wolfgang Puck's, and I thought it would be fun to do that in Orange County," said Charlene Wardrup, chairwoman of the league's Virginia Castle Auxiliary, which helped stage the event.

In true Oscar tradition, guests were greeted by a bleacher filled with "fans" who screamed, applauded and snapped pictures.

As they made their way up the red carpet, party-goers were interviewed on camera. Those already inside watched the interviews on two wide-screen televisions. While most were a little tongue-tied before the camera, guest Eileen Passo had the right idea. Not missing a beat, she told interviewer William Yingling: "I'm just ecstatic about my nomination, and even if I don't get (an Oscar), I'm ecstatic to be here."

Many dressed like Hollywood stars, the men in tuxedos and the women in flowing chiffon gowns, little black dresses and beaded sheaths.

Mary Lynn Bergman-Rallis was covered head to toe in gold and black stars that matched the decor. Her blazer, strapless top, skirt and even shoes were all covered with stars.

"I decided to make this a star-studded evening," she joked. "It's all Escada. I actually had this in my closet, and it matches the decor perfectly."

Special Effects

Atrium Court was filled to capacity with tables draped in black cloth and sprinkled with gold confetti. Huge gold stars hung on the walls, and tall gold vases filled with white flowers adorned each table.

"We wanted to do something new and different," said Mary Jean Simpkins, event chairwoman.

Guests were served smoked salmon with pecans and a honey mustard sauce, mixed greens with a roasted beet and shallot vinaigrette, grilled chicken with sun-dried tomato butter sauce, pureed garlic potatoes, Tuscan beans with prosciutto, and a fresh fruit tart for dessert, all the work of Specialty Catering.

During the meal, they watched the awards ceremony on the wide-screen TVs, applauding when their favorite actors and actresses picked up a gold statue. During commercials and after the broadcast, Barry Cole and his Sounds of Music Orchestra played the best songs from movies dating back to 1950.

After dinner the league saluted two "philanthropic stars," Virginia Knott Bender and Byron Allumbaugh, for their community service on behalf of children.

Proceeds from the event will go to assistance league programs, including the Children's Dental Health Center, Grace Hoag Child Day Care Center and Operation School Bell, which provides clothes to needy children.

Among those attending were Patti Rose, league president, and her husband, Chris; Jim Roberts, auctioneer; Ronnie Allumbaugh, Ted Simpkins, Mary Roosevelt, George and Judie Argyros, Jim and Patty Edwards, Gerald and Marge Elmer, Robert and Elaine Bassmajian, Roger and Jocelyn Gilbert, Dale and Joann Johnston, Jerry and Janie Kingsley, Sam and Linda Mayeda, Mary Dell Barkouras, Rich and Lissa Callaghan, Chan and Marie-France Lefebvre, Jim and Sue Mears, Dennis and Marion Pickens and Chris and Lorie Veitch.

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