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The chat out back

SOCIAL CLIMES

October 20, 2002|Gina Piccalo | Times Staff Writer

Hundreds of guests herded through the palatial Beverly Hills home of Alan Ladd Jr. and his wife, Cindra, out to their lush backyard where John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, gamely chatted up a group of fans. Travolta later explained his meet-and-greet philosophy. "It takes away the tension in the air when you disperse the energy and say hello. It's easier than the built-up stress in everyone wanting to meet you," he said, pausing to shake hands.

Nearby, Meryl Streep spoke into "Entertainment Tonight's" camera about her upcoming role in "The Hours." Suddenly, one partygoer shouted: "You're stunning!" Streep, wearing a light blue ankle-length robe, smiled and replied dryly: "I feel like I'm in my bathrobe." In a courtyard, Olivia Newton-John embraced singer Sheryl Crow, both of whom later took the stage for a few songs, along with Melissa Etheridge. "It's been a long time!" Newton-John said.

The event, which raised more than $500,000 for the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the nonprofit. The group, founded by Nancy and Jim Chuda, funds research and education on the dangers to children of toxins, pesticides and cancer-causing agents.

Decked out in the invitation-prescribed "equestrienne, Gypsy or bohemian" attire, supporters of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County dined under the stars before attending the U.S. premiere on Oct. 12 of Theatre Zingaro's "Triptyk," a French equestrian ballet set to Stravinsky and Boulez.

The society spent "six years of dreaming, 18 months of scheming, and tonight we are beaming with pride," society executive director Dean Corey told guests as they feasted on goulash at tables topped with lanterns and flowers. Afterward, the crowd swept into a darkened, incense-scented tent to watch the 23 horses perform ballet moves with dancers from Kerala, India.

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