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Rewind 2003 | SOCIAL CLIMES

Beasts, feasts & artistes

December 21, 2003|Ann Conway | Times Staff Writer

In an ecstatic blur of stainless steel, sequins and raised batons -- and not one but three opening-night galas -- Los Angeles celebrated the debut of a cultural landmark and the highlight of the year's party-scape. While annual extravaganzas such as the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes couldn't begin to compare with the long-awaited opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in October, event planners did dream up some unforgettable evenings. A sampling:

There was the all-night REDCAT 'Round the Clock party in November to open the Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater (in the "basement" of Disney Hall), starting with a $1,000-a-head dinner, continuing with a $125 cocktail party in the galleries and ending with a $10 post-midnight bash featuring Rice Krispie treats and dozens of art installations and performances.

At the Los Angeles Zoo's Beastly Ball in June, guests could bid on opportunities to name a giraffe or bathe an elephant.

And at the first-ever soiree staged by the UCLA Hammer Museum, in October, reclusive artist Lee Bontecou was reacquainted with her "old friends and enemies" -- the 70 sculptures and 80 drawings collected for her retrospective.

The one-time reading of the screenplay for "All About Eve" at the Ahmanson Theatre in April for the Actor's Fund America had Tom Mankiewicz, son of screenwriter Joseph Mankiewicz, proclaiming that showbiz wasn't any more "backstabbing and strange than ... what goes on in corporate boardrooms."

Guests called the Los Angeles Opera gala marking the September opening of "The Damnation of Faust" the "party from hell," after the faux "flames" that licked the perimeter of the Music Center Plaza. They slurped Blue Moons and chatted with a robot at the space-age Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Gala in July, and at the 70th anniversary of the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach in September, they were surprised by cold "marble statues" springing to life.

There was the 90th anniversary in May of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where guests got to ogle an 80-million-year-old dinosaur egg from Patagonia. And the June gala at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, where guests were invited to pretend as if they were under water as they dined beneath a replica of an 88-foot blue whale and her calf.

Not to mention the screening of the 1937 film "The Dybbuk," hosted by Avada, a group aiming to bring Yiddish culture to the under-40 set. It was held on a warm August night on a wide green lawn -- at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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