David Rosenberg, Sabra Bordas, Kathy Hamilton and Noel Hamilton support the 60th anniversary gala for The Philharmonic Society. (Handout / Daily Pilot / May 2, 2014)

The Balboa Bay Resort welcomed the Philharmonic Society of Orange County May 2 for its 60th anniversary celebration dinner. The gala evening honored president of the society and artistic director Dean Corey for his 21 years of service to the Philharmonic. Corey will retire in June and, with his wife Kaly, will move to France. He will take with him the prestigious Golden Baton Award bestowed upon him for his contributions to the cultural life in Orange County. The celebration at the Balboa Bay Resort also included the announcement that the Philharmonic Society had met a $1-million challenge grant created in 2013 by an anonymous donor. Longtime Balboa Bay Club members and community activists James and Catherine Emmi extended the challenge grant this year with a generous $250,000 donation. The gift from the Emmis will support the Philharmonic Society's goal of continuing to present world-class musical performances in Orange County.

On hand for the French-inspired dining event were Philharmonic board chair Noel Hamilton and his wife Kathy joining donors and supporters including Judith Jelinek, Don and Karen Evarts, Sabra Bordas, Adrienne and RJ Brandes, Anne Rosenberg, Georgiann Mastrangelo and William and Laila Conlin. Also front and center for the Philharmonic were Jane and Stan Grier, Douglas and Deirdre Smith, France and Richard Campbell, Debra Gunn Downing and Charles Kantor and Fernando de la Fuente with Fiorenza Comunian. The crowd enjoyed the cuisine of Balboa Bay Resort Chef Vincent Lesage, featuring a dinner that began with a ratatouille salad, followed by an entrée of filet of beef tenderloin. Spectacular table décor was created by the superbly talented Youngsong Martin of Wildflower Linen.

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Women in focus

Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts presented its 15th annual symposium on "Building a Dialogue Between Emerging and Established Women in the Film Industry," sponsored by a committee of Orange County's most powerful and visible women including Twyla Reed Martin, Eve Ruffatto, Harriet Sandhu, Laurie Rodnick, Adrienne Brandes, Diana Martin and Joyce Tucker. More than 400 guests attended the April 11 event at Chapman University in Orange, which included an executive luncheon followed by meetings held in the Folino Theatre in the Marion Knott Studios.

The guest list of accomplished female film industry executives and producers was impressive. Offering insights into the next generation were Erica Huggins, president of Imagine Entertainment; Sue Kroll, president of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures; Michelle MacLaren, producer of "Breaking Bad"; Terry Press, co-president of CBS Films; JoAnne Sellar, producer of the film "The Master"; and Academy Award-winning producer Cathy Schulman for her work on the film "Horns." On hand for the event, which was moderated by Dawn Taubin, chief marketing offer for DreamWorks Animation, were Dodge College Dean Robert Bassett and a host of Chapman dignitaries.

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A bit of Hollywood nostalgia

Kathy Marlowe Thompson and her husband Jerry Thompson opened their landmark waterfront estate in Corona del Mar for a late afternoon cocktail reception on the coast honoring the work of Costa Mesa's Share Our Selves in advance of the 20th anniversary of the Thompsons' sponsored Onion Luncheon. What began in 1994 under the leadership of Kathy Thompson, joined by 30 local women and 1,000 pounds of Imperial County onions, has evolved over two decades into a cherished late spring event that has raised more than $760,000 for SOS, assisting low-income and homeless individuals and families in Orange County.

The onion luncheon is the brainchild of two auxiliary groups created by Thompson, known as the SOS A-Team and the Star Team, comprised of donors who come back every year committed to the work of Share Our Selves. As tradition demands, each guest attending the onion luncheon, which this year takes place May 21 at the Five Crowns Restaurant in Corona del Mar, takes home a massive bag of sweet Imperial Valley onions. At the Thompson reception, guests were treated to a nostalgic visit with Kathy, a former Hollywood actress and model who appeared in dozens of movies and television shows in the 1950s and 60s. Today, she and Jerry and their extended family are committed to bringing financial support to disadvantaged citizens of Newport-Mesa, enabling SOS to offer life-saving services. To learn more about SOS and/or support the Onion Luncheon, email teri@great-taste.net or call (714) 960-0534.

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Wine festival set for May 23 to 25

The 2014 Newport Beach Wine Festival, sponsored by the Meritage Collection of resorts and held at the Balboa Bay Resort over the weekend of May 23 to 25, promises to be an exceptional festival of fine wines and spirits. The massive event opens on Friday evening, May 23, with a wine dinner and reception billed as the Master Sommelier Coasting Through California Wine Dinner. On Saturday, May 24, a selection of in-depth wine seminars including "Cook to This! Cooking Class and Wine Pairing," "Quintessa Wine Tasting" and "Coastal California Appellation Experience" will be followed by "The Grand Tasting" in the Balboa Bay Resort Grand Ballroom, which will include the pouring of more than 90 varieties paired with gourmet culinary creations presented by the Balboa Bay Resort's Lesage.

Finally on Sunday, May 25, the wine events will begin with "Beer for Breakfast," followed by the "All-American Seafood Festival" and, at dusk, "Cigars 'On The Rocks,'" an evening of cigars, cognacs, Scotches, ports, tequilas, fine artisan cheeses and decadent desserts. To learn more and to make reservations for any and all of the Wine Festival events, call (855) 977-3123.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.