Our town's Fontaine Swope and her team at Eli Marketing are on a roll. After the Saints' win in New Orleans and with the Super Bowl on the horizon, this mega event planner is readying for some real party action.
She has organized the hotter-than-hot Maxim magazine bash at most of the recent Super Bowls and is doing it again in Miami, along with the ESPN Tailgate party. On Monday morning, she was already hearing from hotel contacts in Florida that the New Orleans contingent was booking fast and furiously.
While Swope has to sign gag contracts for most of her events, she did allow that Maxim's party this year will be big and bodacious. After passes for the game, it's the most sought-after ticket of Super Bowl week with requests pouring in from celebrities and players by the hour. "The RSVP cutting room floor looks like an A-list crowd to me," she e-mailed from party central. "But we only allow 1,500 guests. So you can imagine the struggle."
She did allow that at the Maxim Super Bowl party in Miami two years ago the star line-up included David Spade, Jamie Foxx, Tom Brady and loads more. One uninvited guest at that party was a businessman in blue blazer and khaki slacks who shimmied up a palm tree at the hotel next door and launched himself into the fray. He landed smack in the middle of a VIP (which sort of ruined his party plans), jumped up and sprinted away with security in hot pursuit.
There was an added note of space-age interest to last week's launch of the Houston Symphony's performance of The Planets — An HD Odyssey. Astronaut John Grunsfeld returned a special conductor's baton to maestro Hans Graf, one he had carried with him on his most recent mission in May to repair the Hubble telescope. Graf had made the baton himself using a 1928 Krug Champagne cork as the base — the perfect item for a culturally-significant NASA memento.
The astronaut was allowed to carry several personal items with him on the mission and, as a huge Houston Symphony fan, he chose to take along Graf's baton. (Grunsfeld had narrated the Houston Symphony's performance of The Planets in 2006.) At last week's performance, he made a formal presentation of the baton on stage in Jones Hall. Applause, applause.
Iranian-born, Hollywood actor Shaun Toub headlined the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's packed presentation Friday night of the Iranian film, No One Knows About Persian Cats. Before introducing the film, Toub met with members of the MFAH's Friends of the Arts of the Islamic World subcommittee in a behind-the-scenes discussion on Persian carpets from the Bayou Bend Collection. That discussion was led by Walter Denny, adjunct professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts.
Subcommittee members attending included Sima Ladjevardian, Lily Kooros, Sima Sharifian and Rania Daniel. Sampling Persian fare from Caspian Caterers and Epicure Bakery were guests including Shoaleh Shirvani Nosrati, Faranak Zafarnia, Soodabeh and Jim Babcock, Soody Sharifi, Ahmad Adam and MFAH film curator Marian Luntz.
A league of their own
Big on community service, long on volunteerism, the Junior League of Houston marked a milestone last week with a cocktail reception celebrating 85 years of serving the city. More than 150 league members, community leaders and charity reps saluted the organization on the night that also served for presentation of the league's Community Assistance Grants. Close to $95,000 was awarded to five non-profits.
So much more than a fancy ladies social group, which might have been the misconception years ago, the Junior League of Houston today provides $1.9 million in volunteer hours and direct financial support to 33 community programs. Saluting the league for its accomplishments were guests including Junior League president Kristen Buck, Association of Junior Leagues International president Debbie Robinson and Junior League president-elect Jeanie Chandler.
Neal Hamil, Paula and Sam Douglass, George Lancaster, Rob Taylor, Bess and Rob Wilson and oh so many more celebrating on Friday night at the reopening of Armandos after a brief locking of the doors due to a dispute between owners. Few were celebrating more than Armandos proprietors, husband-and-wife team, Cinda Ward and Armando Palacios . . .
Becca Cason Thrash, Dr. Mary Riley, Annie Amante, Karen Henry and Adriana Longoria lunching at Grotto 610 on Friday . . .
Clyde Drexler dining at Hugo's . . .
Retired Houston Chronicle food editor Ann Criswell lunching at Mockingbird Bistro.