he buzz was on at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace movie theater Thursday night when Cuba Gooding Jr., former President George H.W. Bush, former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison and a load of other notables gathered for a preview of George Lucas‘ film Red Tails.
This was one of a series of pre-release screenings being held across the country, aimed at raising interest in the story of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen. Joining Gooding in the celeb crowd were Red Tails director Anthony Hemingway and actors Terrence Howard, Nate Parker and David Oyelowo.
The real stars of the night, however, were three of the World War II African-American pilots who call Houston home — Luzine Bickham, Larry E. Brown Jr. and Clyde Alexander Sr. They posed for almost as many fan photos as the film stars, all except for Gooding, who, although he arrived late, genially let the cameras flash.
Close to 350 friends of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence (named for Mae Jemison’s mother) and city VIPs, including Mayor Annise Parker, mingled in the second-floor theater lobby over cocktails and light buffet before the screening that was followed by an on-stage discussion of the film by those involved.
Red Tails will be officially released Jan. 20. In the meantime, these gatherings are engineered to gain support for the action-packed film that — as Lucas lamented at a director’s conference last year — has had a difficult time getting funding. Jemison was on board early with support offering to host the Houston screening.
“We want folks to come and go out and say, ‘This is a movie you need to see.’ Why? Because first of all it’s about real life. It’s about things that people don’t talk about and it tells a story of real young men doing things that are extraordinary,” Jemison said.
“We need to change images,” she continued. “And I think this is one of those both image-changing movies and awe-inspiring movies for everybody.”
Among those applauding the film were Barbara Bush and scores of leading African-American Houstonians including former astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, U.S. Rep. Al Green, State Rep. Sylvester Turner, Immigration Judge Clarease Yates, NASA’s Xavier Samuels, Houston Texans GM Rick Smith, Ensemble Theatre executive director Janette Cosley, Winell and Doug Herron, Ronald Robinson, Phyllis Williams, Gene Locke, Polly Turner and Juliea Robinson-Nelson, Jemison Foundation director.
On to dinner
Key organizers in the Red Tails screening, visiting cast and crew and a handful of VIPs moved on to Del Frico’s Double Eagle Steak House around 10:30 for dinner in the private wine room.
GM Arthur Morodian, who attended the screening, welcomed guests that included Reliant Energy president Jason Few, Anita and Gerald Smith, Linda Lorelle and Lou Gregory and Diedra and Terrence Fontaine.
Fashion on Sale!
CultureMap’s Fashion on Sale kicks off a week from today in West Ave with a swank cocktail party that gives attendees ($75 admission) first dibs on tons of fab fashion buys presented by more than two dozen boutiques. Among them is everyone’s favorite — Tootsies — which is joining the party in a really big way.
Mickey Rosmarin and his team are rounding up hundreds and hundreds of swell fashion finds and offering them for as much as 70 percent off including dresses (daytime, cocktail and long), handbags, shoes and bridge lines. (Gift bags for the Friday night preview party include $25 Tootsies gift cards.)
You can reserve your tickets here for the VIP party or shopping days ($20) next Saturday and Sunday.
After the swearing-in
Once the very public swearing-in, the lengthy City Council introductions and first council meeting of 2012 were over on Tuesday, Mayor Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard adjourned to the Julia Ideson Library for a little relaxed schmoozing with supporters, fans and City Hall directors. By the time all was said and done, as many as 300 supporters, fans and City Hall directors had cycled through the refurbished building, packing the second floor reception hall and expanding upward to the third level gallery.
Metro chairman Gilbert Garcia led the enthusiastic crowd in cheering the Mayor to the podium where she applauded the city’s character of place and Houstonians’ willingness to help one another.
Celebrants included Dana Kervin, John Kuhl, Kathy and Dennis Winkler, Cindy Clifford, Kim Padgett, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Suzan Deison, Joan and Richard Jennings, Sonia Soto, State Rep. Carol Alvarado, Tammy and Kelly Dowe, Sylvia Garcia and Catarina Cron.