George Christy Talks About Jim and Ann Gianopulos, Greek Easter, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and more
A perfect Sunday.
Blue skies and sunshine.
Long-awaited warmth, after weeks of wintry chill.
An ideal afternoon for the picnic in a Westside garden with good food, music and folk dancing.
We were at the Greek Easter togetherness with friends invited by our hosts of 25 years, Ann and Jim Gianopulos. Who gather festive guests that may only see one another at this looked-forward-to fete.
Jim, who presides over Paramount Pictures, and wife Ann are royal treasures for those of us who’ve known them over time.
We were privileged during this springtime picnic to meet and sit with the young Sophia Landers, 12, daughter of Jim’s offspring Despina and musicmaker husband Jay Landers.
Fluent in four languages, Sophia’s a student at our Le Lycee Francais on Pico Boulevard, and a charmer we all should know.
“Tell me … how old are you?,” she wondered. “Let me guess … are you 20?”
“You can’t be 30,” she replied in disbelief.
After we mentioned our true age, she was aghast.
She offered to serve us a selection from caterer Ina Poncher’s bountiful buffet. Delicious spring lamb, moussaka a la Grecque, chicken oregano, and baklava.
The tradition of cracking one red Easter egg on top of another to see who’s egg is the tougher without cracking followed. Everybody likes another try “in hopes” they may have the better egg.
Children laughed and played with Jim and Ann’s happy daughters, Nicoletta and Alexa.
This year, Ann and Jim were honored with the presence of His Grace, Bishop Apostolos from the Metropolis of San Francisco, who arrived with our Very Rev. Father John Bakas from our local landmark, the magnificent Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
In his early forties, tall, dark-haired and handsome, Bishop Apostolos could pass for a cinema idol.
Out-of-towners included shipping heir George Kulukundis from Athens, Peter and Christina Gianopulos from the East.
From the Bay Area arrived Ann’s mom Bebe McRae, the award-winning realtor in a fetching taupe Chanel frock. Her husband Colin McRae was busy photographing the event. They invited San Francisco’s Gail and Harvey Glaser to join them here.
Among our local yokels of Greek heritage (or not) were Rita Wilson (husband Tom Hanks busy movie making), her sister Lilly Reeves with broadcaster daughter Carly.
Always with us: the beloved Dawn Knepley, the front-and-center executive assistant to Jim.
We suggested that Dawn book Jim into appearing on So You Think You Can Dance? Watching him perform our Greek folk dances so joyously, he would win top prize. Jim was born to dance.
We visited with Jim’s daughter, the endearing actress Mimi Gianopulos, Michelle and Michael Chiklis, who reminded that non-Greeks may be invited only by a Greek friend.
Also: Nancy and Sid Ganis, John Stamos, whose wife Caitlin McHugh is infanticipating. Alex Berliner with his slim and trim daughter Liliana, Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) with husband Ian Gomez, Andrea and Chris Wilson (brother to Rita Wilson).
Time and again, bandleader Nondas Evangelatos fired up his Greek musicians to play the ballads many of us grew up with. Which revived heartfelt memories of youth and family.
Music and fragrances rekindle our souls with remembrances from long ago.