Pittsburgh Film Office hosts pre-Oscars bash

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It might have been cold outside, but on Friday night inside J. Verno Studios, the mood was hot as 400 guests gathered for the Pittsburgh Film Office's annual pre-Oscars bash. "So You Want to Be in Pictures ...?" featured a variety of cocktails, an espresso bar, treats from local restaurants, a primping salon and a photo booth for those wanting to capture the magic of the evening.

The film office has held this event for the past 14 years to help celebrate the film industry in Pittsburgh, said executive director Dawn Keezer. For everyone packed into the studio, there was much to enjoy.

"The food is incredible. Savoy's mac 'n' cheese bar is awesome," said Katie Imler of C-leveled consulting, who wore a gorgeous red lace dress.

For those who wanted to look like movie stars, makeovers were provided courtesy of Emilio Cornacchione of Izzazu Salon, Downtown. Partygoers could primp before making their way over to film their own movie scene, complete with props and directed by Russ Streiner, film office chairman. Sarah Lolley from accidentalmama.com and her husband, Dr. Patrick Filip, performed a little dance for the camera. The film will play at the Pittsburgh Film Office's Lights! Glamour! Action! Oscar Gala March 2 at Heinz Field (1-888-71-TICKETS or www.pghfilm.org for tickets).

And what would a Hollywood party be without a little scandal? After last year's photo booth caused a stir, Doug Hupe of Tyler Mountain Water Co. forewarned friends this year: If you step into the booth for a smooch, the entire crowd will witness your display of affection on giant television screens throughout the party.

"What's great about this year is that it is pulling people from all walks of life," said Dr. Katie Farah, who chaired the event two years ago.

Attending with her husband, Dr. Tony Farah, she said she was already planning her Oscar party dress for the March gala.

Enjoying the fabulous buffets were honorary chairs Blair and Deb Rice-Johnson, who wore a beautiful blue cocktail dress and is president of sponsor Highmark Health Plans. Also there were Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald with Cathy, Revive Marketing Group's Eileen French, Jack Bellas and Gina Vensel, city public works director Guy Costa and his fashionably late brother, state Rep. Paul Costa, state Sen. Wayne Fontana, Laurie Streiner, WTAE's Michelle Wright, Rick McMaster, Tara Rieland, Stan and Susan Muschweck and Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile. Bringing chic metropolitan style to the event was real estate developer Lucas Piatt as well as Katy and David Caliguiri of the Caliguiri Group.

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