George Christy Talks About David Boyer, Fireside Convalescent Hospital, Ava Fries And More!
People we should know. Dr. David Boyer. “He miraculously saved my eyesight, and I’m indebted to him forever.” So reveals producer Arnold Kopelson about this distinguished ophthalmologist with six local Retina Vitreous Group offices manned by nine colleagues. “I was terrified. Panicked from the torn retina. When all else failed, Dr. Boyer came into my life, and his expertise and instant care has now given me perfect vision.
Others “saved” by his diagnosis and treatment agree how fortunate we Californians are that Dr. Boyer’s with us in Los Angeles to look after our well being. He is kind and considerate and patient, with astounding knowledge in his retina vitreous field. “Truly a miracle worker,” adds Arnold Kopelson. Dr. Boyer is consistently recommended to patients by leading ophthamologists such as Dr. Tony Nesburn and Dr. Kristin Nesburn.
A collector of contemporary art, Dr. Boyer and wife Susan never miss Ava Fries’ Angels’ Night biannual gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, where we met some years ago. Hosted by Ava’s Center Theatre Group Affiliates, the event raises big bucks for our Center Theater Group, and this is where we became aware of the doctor’s celebrated career.
Ava and husband Chuck Fries, the “Godfather of the Television Movie,” are prominent collectors as well, their Beverly Hills mansionette’s a repository for new and established artists. Ava corrals the talents, many now friends, to contribute their works for auction. An original idea in behalf of her Angels’ Night fundraisers, which she established 20 years ago to support CTG’s productions. Along with its educational division which introduces young people from childhood to pre-teens into the magic and power of theater.
Long ago we crowned Ava the CTG’s “Queen of Angels,” and long may she reign with her creative fundraising prowess. Husband Chuck continues to executive produce their rewarding and glamorous evenings.
A city without the arts is a lost city. A city without soul. And midway during the evening, CTG’s artistic director Michael Ritchie thanked the city fathers for coming together 50-years ago to create our world-renowned Music Center. Which has given us the Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for world-class presentations. Of theater, opera, music and dance events.
Michele Lee emceed this week’s Angels’ Night program with its Roaring Twenties theme, featuring the Crystal Dancers performing to Tom Griep’s Orchestra. And honoring “angels” the likes of philanthropist Brendell Gottlieb, entertainment attorney Patty Glaser, the hard-working Roberta Haft, who loves her backyard llamas and peacocks. In times past, Roberta mentioned that one llama goes gaga sniffing perfumes – “such a sweetheart … do you think he’s gay?”
Tracie Bennett, whose riveting portrayal of Judy Garland in End Of The Rainbow this year at the Ahmanson will be long remembered, was presented with the Distinguished Artist Award by Michael Ritchie. In thanking all, Tracie quoted Mum’s advice “to be brief, sincere, and be seated.”
Ava and Chuck were missed, Ava regrettably indisposed for the evening, with Chuck attending to her comfort at home. Nonetheless, their enthusiasm for our cultural continuity was reflected in the crowd. Among the many were the evening’s co-chair Kim Peterson, CTG’s director of development Yvonne Bell, whose fundraising staff totals 21 and who arrived with her Scottish kilt-wearing husband Derek Bell, the helicopter pilot covering news for CBS and Channel 9.
Other CTG supporters: Stan Frilech, Karla and Bill Ahmanson, Maggy and Jack Simon, with whom Tracie Bennett houseguests, Steve Stabler, Jolene and George Schlatter, Cecile and Norm Krevoy, Tim Regler, Frank Mottek, Prince Frederic, who’s wed to Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mary and Fred Willard, Carol and Stephen Roundtree. Sam Mudie, Howard Rosoff, Derrek and Amanda and Alexis Haft.
Tablesful of gold, silver, platinum and bronze angel donors filled the ballroom. As did the flocks of patron saints who contributed to the silent and live auctions, with the evening’s “take” rising to $1 million. Through the years, Ava and her CTG Affiliates have raised $7 million.
Another night, Spago never looked more beautiful with its luminous lighting and romantic white decor, and Gelila Puck never looked more beautiful in Ralph Rucci couture. Gelila and Wolfgang Puck were welcoming Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzana to Beverly Hills for an exquisite dinner that included 300 guests. Among them were Kanye West with Kim Kardashian, Eva and Michael Chow, stylist Rachel Zoe, Joe Jonas, Amy Smart, Maria Sharapova, Devon Aoki, Liz Goldwyn, Ben Silverman, auctioneer Simon de Pury with wife Michaela, Babyface Edmonds and opera’s Vittorio Grigolo performed.
More than a million dollars was raised to benefit the Dream for Future Africa Foundation, founded in 2010 by the Ethiopian-born Gelila. “Our primary focus is an economic sustainability for African families, whose children are thrust into the working world without training,” she says. “We just celebrated the opening of the Vocational Training Center in the Ethopian village of Aleltu, offering diplomas from courses in communication technologies, the garment trades (sewing and design), hotel and tourism … we believe this will create a middle class for Africa.”
“Yesterday was Gelila’s birthday,” announced Wolfgang, “so I said let’s stay in bed. But she was out of the house in a flash, working nonstop to create this perfect night. Another big reason to love her!”
We visited with Motown titan Berry Gordy, Suzanne de Passe, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, designer Waldo Fernandez. Also with Spago’s veteran major domo, Tom Kaplan, more handsome than ever, who opened the initial Spago on Horn Avenue in 1982. Tom oversees the Spago empire in Las Vegas and is wed to beauty Elizabeth from Austin, Texas. She and Tom are the parents of four-month-old Austin.
We sat with Denise Flanders, the manager of the Dorchester Group’s Hotel Bel-Air with its popular Wolfgang Puck Dining Room. She arrived with her food and wine director Stephane Lacroix.
Denise is a native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a brief drive from that “most livable” city of Pittsburgh with its fine universities and museums and where those three rivers converge: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. We should note that Denise’s hotel career dazzles. From overseeing New York’s Pierre to Chicago’s Four Seasons to Seattle’s Olympic, and the list goes on. She enjoys walking our Los Angeles canyons, and strolling the beaches on sunny days.
Author William Stadiem was a tablemate. Bill’s mom, Beatrice, has resided at the Fireside Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica for eight years, where a family member of ours has also been looked after. By the bright and indefatigable staff that includes rehab director Jessica Pohlkamp, occupational therapist Jessica Hendrick, speach pathologist Kira Morris.
The Fireside is legendary for its rehab successes, and Bill gives the Fireside “a thumbs up.” He lives nearby, and brings Mom home every afternoon for lunch. Bill, how lucky can you get?