Senator celebration reminds us that it's still a wonderful life

THE BALTIMORE SUN

SENATOR THEATER owner Tom Kiefaber and Charles "Buzz" Beeler, a Baltimore County police officer for 29 years and playwright in his spare time, collaborated to bring fans a 50th anniversary showing of Frank Capra's beloved 1946 classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." Once again, the Senator was the scene of a glitzy affair, with klieg lights shining as a limo arrived carrying Frank Capra Jr., son of the film's legendary director, and Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the film. A champagne reception, music by the Swing Central Band and the unveiling of an 'D additional star block on the Sidewalk of the Stars were part of the festivities. Before the film, guests heard a few words from Kiefaber and Capra and saw a slide show by Grimes that took fans on a behind-the-scenes tour of the movie.

Among those at party, which was a benefit for the Maryland Food Bank, were Dean and Linda Kenderdine -- he's assistant secretary, state Department of Business and Economic Development; Marty Katz, a well-known photographer; Bruce and Rose Crockett -- he works for Baltimore City Public Works and did the commemorative sidewalk block; Joe Baum, local film enthusiast who organized a similar event with Frank Capra Sr. in the late '70s; Susan Kershaw, floral designer, who donated the lovely flowers for the outer lobby; Bill Ewing, executive director of the Maryland Food Bank; Karen Webber, Maryland Food Bank; Steve Yeager, local filmmaker; Scott Johnson, entertainment attorney; Ilene and Phil Spector -- they own Fashions Unlimited; David Blecman, owner of the David M. Blecman Studio; and Kevin Bonner, general manager of Planet Hollywood in Washington. (The rumor is that Baltimore will get a Planet Hollywood in the Harborplace area soon, which could mean a star-studded opening if celebrity owners come to town.)

Beeler, who helped produce the event, wrote the script for "Misfit Patrol," which premiered last May at the Senator and was produced and directed by Anthony Cardoza. Capra, the president of Screen Gems Studios, located in my lovely hometown of Wilmington, N.C., stayed in town for a couple of days to discuss a little business over dinner at Sabatino's.

Fantasy trip

It is said that Christmas is for children, and I have decided that at this time of year I become a child again, because I truly love the Christmas spirit and all the trimmings. When Debbie Bangledorf of Johns Hopkins Children's Center asked me if I'd like to take my grandchildren on a trip to the North Pole, I said yes without blinking an eye.

I arrived at the airport with three of my grandchildren, and we gathered at Continental Airlines Gate 2 with dozens of children from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, their parents and other guests. Thanks to an incredible crew from Continental, the trip was a great success. After the flight attendants took us through all the normal take-off info -- how to fasten seat belts and use the oxygen masks -- we taxied around the airport and sang Christmas Carols. Shades were drawn on the plane to help the magic work. The flight seemed so real that my 9-year-old granddaughter, Catie, looked at me and said, "We really did take off, didn't we, Gammy?"

On our arrival at the North Pole, Santa boarded the plane to welcome and escort us to an area where a choir was singing. Children had pictures taken with Santa and received a present with personalized gift tags. We had lunch before leaving the North Pole (a festively decorated arrival gate), which looked great thanks to a talented crew from P.W. Feats, led by Sarah Hryb, John Fisher and Sandy Pagnotti, all of whom donated their time on a Saturday morning to help with this project.

Holiday concert

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, now that the Junior League of Baltimore has had its Holiday Pops Concert. This was the league's 15th annual pops at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. It was a benefit for the group's community programs for families and children at risk, such as New Start Furnishings, the Hampden Family Center, Done in a Day, Tuesdays at the Library and the Junior League Larks. This year's event, co-chaired by Beth Haynes and Alice Smith, showcased some of Baltimore's emerging artists and the chorus Children Around the World, directed by Loyola College senior Kellie Caruso.

One-woman show

"A Winter Night's Dream" is a one-woman show by Mary Lin Yoshimura at the Pearl Gallery in Hampden through Jan. 30. The artist is married to Jim Yoshimura, one of the producers and writers for the NBC television series "Homicide." Yoshimura and her husband have lived in Fells Point for the past four years. Stop by the gallery for a look at her paintings, floor coverings and dynamic painted fabrics used to upholster chairs and sofas. I am told that cast and crew members of "Homicide," including Yaphet Kotto, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson and Tom Fontana own some of her work. At the exhibit opening, a few "Homicide" cast and crew regulars, including Kyle Secor, were on hand to help benefit the Mother Seton School in Fells Point and Hampden Elementary School.

Host talk

If you're entertaining during the holidays, MCI, in cooperation with the March of Dimes, has a free tip-line that runs through Jan. 2 for those seeking advice on how to give the perfect holiday gathering.

All you have to do is dial (800) 383-HOST and listen to words of wisdom on holiday entertaining from people including fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi: "Be the host with the most flair"; comic Joan Rivers: "Uncover humor in any holiday event"; former social secretary for Jackie Kennedy, Letitia Baldrige: "Set the dining stage with helpful tabletop tips"; Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr: "Eat hearty with healthy holiday trimmings"; founder of Mondavi Wineries Robert Mondavi: "Select the perfect wine for the occasion"; owner of B. Smith restaurants Barbara Smith: "Organize a festive Kwanzaa celebration"; restaurant guide co-publishers Tim and Nina Zagat: "Host a party at the perfect restaurant"; and executive chef at Sarabeth's Kitchen Steven Picker: "Prepare a simple, delicious holiday main course or appetizer."

In return for the celebrities donating their time, MCI made a donation to the March of Dimes in their names.

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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