It was not your ordinary film premiere that took over the central hall of the Baker Institute on the Rice University campus earlier this week. In fact, there has seldom been a Houston film showing that attracted such an A-list crowd, the exception last month when former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush hosted friends and family for a preview of The Book Thief. And they were in the mix on Monday.
On this night, individuals of power and influence gathered to salute former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and to view a preview of the documentary James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work. Close to 250 guests including former Mayor Bill White, Anne and Charles Duncan, Sid Bass and Lynn and Peter Conway (finance chair for the documentary) sat down for screening of the video that is set to be aired nationally on PBS, though no exact date has yet been scheduled.
Executive producer John Hesse and writer/director Eric Stange combined forces in this the most recent of three documentaries they have created for PBS. The previous two were based on the Berlin Wall — The Wall: A World Divided and After the Wall: A World United.
For this preview, the 90-minute documentary was edited to 60 minutes, beginning with a comment on Baker by NBC news analyst Tom Brokaw, "In a time before compromise was a dirty word, he was a master of negotiation." Following the film, a number of guests joined Baker and his wife, Susan Baker, and Baker Institute founding director Edward Djerejian and wife Francoise Djerejian at dinner in a private club on the edge of Memorial Park.
The VIP gathering at the Baker Institute included Shahla and Hushang Ansary, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Ginny and L.E. Simmons, Kay and Ned Holmes, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Pat and David Jones, Elizabeth Winston-Jones, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Mary-Bonner Baker, Doug Baker, Annette and George Strake, John Williams and Patty and James Huffines.