Dinner, an auction and a live broadcast of the Academy Awards are all part of a fundraiser to be held at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
By MONIQUE FIELDS
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2001
CLEARWATER -- The Film Foundation of Tampa Bay wants everyone to leave their comfortable sofas, throw on their favorite little black dress or suit and head straight for Ruth Eckerd Hall on Sunday for a star-studded evening.
Whoopi will be there. John Travolta, too. Word is, Erin Brockovich will be working the room, as will Chuck Noland, the lead character in Cast Away.
Well, sort of.
More than a dozen leading ladies and gentlemen have donated autographed pictures, T-shirts and other items to the foundation for a silent auction at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the live broadcast of the Academy Awards.
"It's another way to experience the Academy Awards and help out local organizations," said Marion Rich, an event organizer and immediate past president of the film foundation, which gives money to needy, behind-the-scenes film crew members.
Organizers also will fill in commercial breaks with trivia, a live auction and some performances, including one by a singer who sounds like Frank Sinatra.
Proceeds will help the foundation sock away money for scholarships and an emergency crew fund. Ruth Eckerd Hall's performing arts foundation also will share in the proceeds.
On the auction block will be 5-by-7 and 8-by-10 glossies of Nicolas Cage, Barbra Streisand, Susan Sarandon and Clint Eastwood, to name a few. The organizers also have secured original scripts from the movies Gladiator, Erin Brockovich, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Billy Elliot.
"To get a script is one thing, but to get a script of a potential Oscar winner could be very valuable," said Linda Perry, an event planner and a member of the foundation's board of directors.
If that's not your style, there are several vacations and other excursions available, including a stay at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Or bid on items from the small screen's huge hit, the Sopranos, including a Tony Soprano hockey jersey.
Local actors will work the room as characters who appeared in some of the past year's most popular films, such as Gladiator, Traffic and Cast Away, greeting guests who pay $50 for a chance to dine among the "stars" and watch the real stars on a 10-foot screen.
Tickets to Night With the Stars gala are $50. For more information call the Ruth Eckerd Hall ticket office at (727) 791-7400, or the film commission at (727) 464-7240. Proceeds benefit the Film Foundation of Tampa Bay and Ruth Eckerd Hall.