Film Notes: Film Office's Oscar party stocked with auction prizes

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The winner of, say, the Oscar for best actress won't be the only contest at stake at this year's "Highmark Presents Lights! Glamour! Action!" party.

A poster for "The Dark Knight Rises" autographed by director Christopher Nolan along with actors Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is among the nearly 150 items partygoers can bid on at the Feb. 26 gala.

The mix of entertainment, sports, Pittsburgh and pampering prizes includes two tickets to a summer Poison concert, the chance to watch the show from the side of the stage and to meet Bret Michaels.

Both of those items carry hefty minimum bids, but partygoers can bid on a copy of the book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" autographed by writer-director Stephen Chbosky along with stars Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Logan Lerman, Nina Dobrev and others.

A collection of T-shirts and posters from "Abduction" ($25 minimum bid) will be on the block along with an autographed script for "The Good Wife," a collection of DVDs signed by Denzel Washington, along with two seats from the Civic Arena, a Hines Ward autographed football, Steelers tickets, a trip to Walt Disney World and a "Dancing With the Stars" VIP experience.

The 12th annual Oscar party, a main source of support for the Pittsburgh Film Office, will be held at Heinz Field. The telecast will be streamed live on a big screen at the event, which is black tie optional.

Tickets, still available, are $250 per person and include entry at 6 p.m., a VIP champagne reception and valet parking; $125 gala ticket provides admission at 7:30 p.m.; and Oscar tickets, $75 if six or more ordered, with admission also at 7:30 p.m. The gala will feature food stations, a bar and live music.

To order or for more information, call the film office at 412-261-2744 or go to

Honorary event co-chairs are Dr. Tony G. Farah, president and CEO, WPAHS Physicians Organization, and his wife, Dr. Katie Farah. The film office, which is coming off the biggest year in its 22-year history, markets the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region to Hollywood.

A Puck-ish menu for Oscar

In case you want to duplicate the menu being served to guests at the Governors Ball, the celebration held immediately after the Oscars in Hollywood, you will need to think (and cook) like Wolfgang Puck.

He and chef Matt Bencivenga are creating more than 50 dishes, from one-bite hors d'oeuvres to small-plate entrees, that will be passed throughout the evening.

Signature favorites, such as smoked salmon Oscars, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, and gold-dusted chocolate Oscars, will appear alongside lobster tacos with tomato and pickled shallots, and beet salad with pistachio butter, burrata and citrus balsamic. The menu will incorporate local produce and sustainable seafood and promises a nod to Oscar in 3-D.

Wolfgang Puck Catering will serve the Academy's 1,500 ball guests, including Oscar winners, nominees, presenters and telecast participants.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised on ABC.

In related news, Ben Stiller and onetime Oscar host Chris Rock have been added to the growing list of presenters.

Also on board: Halle Berry, Rose Byrne, Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Emma Stone and the stars of "Bridesmaids," including nominee Melissa McCarthy.

Wells to direct Meryl, Julia

Meryl Streep will play the pill-popping mother of Julia Roberts in a film version of the play "August: Osage County."

The Weinstein Co. announced that John Wells, a 1979 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, will direct the adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play. Filming is scheduled to start in the fall.

The play is a robust, satiric-tragic explosion of one family's feuds and foibles. A road company version brought Estelle Parsons and Shannon Cochran to the Benedum Center in April 2010.

"Meryl's extraordinary body of work made her the only conceivable choice to play Violet," Mr. Wells said in an announcement. "Coupled with Julia's effortless mastery of every role she undertakes and her fearlessness as an actress, I'm confident this first ever collaboration with Meryl and Julia will produce an exciting and moving film."

Mr. Wells is the creator of "ER" and "The West Wing" and winner of multiple Emmys and Peabody Awards.

All signs point north

"The Bat Whispers" and "The Bat," films based on a Mary Roberts Rinehart play, will open a film series being presented by the Allegheny City Society, committed to preserving the history of Allegheny City/North Side.

Ms. Rinehart, born in the city of Allegheny in 1876, penned "The Circular Staircase" and then rewrote it as "The Bat" with playwright Avery Hopwood. It appeared on Broadway, initially was released as a silent movie and then remade into 1959's "The Bat" starring Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price.

The films will kick off the series Tuesday, while a film directed by Lois Weber will screen March 20. Her silent film, "Hypocrites," is notable for its use of a nude woman as a symbol of the naked truth about a religious congregation's appetites for money, sex and power.

On April 4, "The Valley of Decision" will be shown. It's a 1945 film based on Marcia Davenport's historical novel about an Irish immigrant who accepts a job as a live-in maid at the home of a steel mill owner. It's a multi-generation tale examining social classes, love, a violent strike and more starring Greer Garson, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore and others.

Programs, including a brief talk about each film and its connection to Allegheny City, will start at 7 p.m. at Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church at 416 W. North Ave., on the corner of North Avenue and Resaca Place. Donations will be accepted and light refreshments provided.

In brief

• "Goon," a hockey comedy produced by former Shadyside resident Jesse Shapira, is scheduled to open here March 30. Directed in the vein of "Slap Shot," it stars Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel and Liev Schreiber.

• Release date for "Won't Back Down," the Viola Davis-Maggie Gyllenhaal movie made in Pittsburgh in 2011, has been shifted to Sept. 28.

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: . First Published February 17, 2012 5:00 AM


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