Black Tie hands out $1.15 million

Kouvelis named as 2011 co-chair as board begins preparations for 30th annual fundraiser in November

Tammye Nash and David Taffet |

HANDING OUT THE CHECKS | 2010 Black Tie Dinner Co-chairs, above left, Nan Arnold and Ron Guillard talk about their year heading up the Black Tie board. Incoming 2011 Black Tie Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis, right center, presents a check to representatives of Home for the Holidays. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Officials with Black Tie Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 9, distributed grants to 20 beneficiaries totaling $1.15 million — up from the 2009 total of $1.04 million.
The funds, representing proceeds from the 29th annual Black Tie Dinner held in November, were distributed at a reception at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, host hotel for the annual fundraising dinner.

Ron Guillard, completing the second year of his two-year term as Black Tie Dinner co-chair, offered special recognition to the sponsors, table captains, dinner guests and volunteers who helped make this year’s sold-out dinner so successful.

CATCHING UP | AIDS Services of Dallas President and CEO Don Maison, left, talks with former Resource Center Dallas board chair Bill Brosius during the Black Tie Dinner check distribution party Thursday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

“My last official act couldn’t be more exciting than to distribute checks,” Guillard said. “It’s fantastic to be in the room with all the people who do so much work with Black Tie Dinner assuring its success.”

Nan Faith Arnold, who began the second half of her two-year term as co-chair at the distribution party, said, “I’m having a blast. It’s a great night. Each of our beneficiaries stands strong for the people they serve.”

“Stand strong” was the theme of this year’s event.

Chris Kouvelis, who will be Arnold’s dinner co-chair in 2011, was introduced.

“The check distribution event is the culmination of what we work for all year,” Kouvelis said. “It’s the most exciting thing to do. I’m honored to be in this position and am looking forward to a fantastic year.”

As in previous years, about half of the proceeds from the 2010 dinner — $577,500 — went to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The Dallas-Fort Worth dinner is the largest fundraiser of its kind each year for the foundation.

HRC Development Director Chris Speron attended the check distribution event. Executive Director Joe Solmonese was scheduled to attend but remained in Washington because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell vote.”

“The Dallas LGBT community is one of the most generous communities anywhere,” Speron said. “And the Black Tie Dinner is unmatched anywhere in the country. We are so privileged to work with the people involved in Black Tie Dinner and benefit from their amazing work.”

The remaining funds were divided between 19 local organizations providing services to the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities. Resource Center

EXPRESSING THANKS | Board members for Equality Texas, along with Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, right, accept the organization’s check from Black Tie Dinner. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Dallas received the largest local grant, getting a check for $48,504 from Black Tie.

RCD Executive Director Cece Cox said, “We are again delighted and thankful to be a beneficiary of Black Tie Dinner. This is unrestricted money that allows us to provide more services and reach more people.”

Groups were acknowledged for their participation. Turtle Creek Chorale sold the most raffle tickets. White Rock Friends contributed the most volunteer hours and the chorale was recognized for 682 hours of rehearsal time for the Black Tie Dinner performance. Resource Center Dallas sold the most tables with 22.

Black Tie Dinner is the largest formal seated dinner of its kind in the country in terms of both attendance and charitable contributions. This year, 3,000 guests attended the event, which featured keynote speaker Tammy Baldwin, U.S. congresswoman from Wisconsin, Media Award recipient Chely Wright, Elizabeth Birch Equality Award recipient American Airlines and Kuchling Humanitarian Award recipient the Rev. Carol West.

Arnold and Kouvelis said the Black Tie Dinner board is already working on the 30th Anniversary dinner, scheduled for  Nov, 12, 2011, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. The 2011 beneficiary application will be available online in February at


•2010 Black Tie Dinner Beneficiaries

Human Rights Campaign Foundation $577,500
AIDS Arms $38,029
AIDS Interfaith Network $24,464
AIDS Outreach Center $28,245
AIDS Resources of Rural Texas $25,622
AIDS Services of Dallas $34,896
Celebration Community Church $40,043
Congregation Beth El Binah $26,157
Equality Texas Foundation $25,219
Health Services of North Texas $23,600
Home for the Holidays
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legacy Counseling Center $24,449
Legal Hospice of Texas $25,844
Northaven United Methodist Church $38,559
Resource Center of Dallas $48,504
Turtle Creek Chorale $32,494
White Rock Friends $21,055
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas $22,532
Youth First Texas $34,640

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

La cage aux fools

Remake of Veber farce a showcase for Carell

DINNER PARODY | Paul Rudd and Steve Carell spiral out of control in laugh-filled French farce remake.

3 out of 5 stars
Steve Carell, Paul Rudd.
Rated PG-13. 105 mins.
Now playing wide release.

With the one-two punch of Despicable Me and now Dinner for Schmucks, Steve Carell will be hard to beat as the summer’s King of Comedy.

Schmucks is based on the 1998 French comedy Le Diner de Cons by Francis Veber, writer of La Cage aux Folles. With typical American excess, it’s half an hour longer than the French version (about 15 minutes too long) and includes the eponymous dinner, which Veber left to the imagination. Still it’s a top screen farce featuring moments of inspired silliness.

A farce by its nature requires lots of expositional set up, so your patience is tested at the beginning, but the payoff is worth it. Tim (Paul Rudd) is a hard-working analyst for Fender (Bruce Greenwood). With a connection to a wealthy Swiss wastrel (David Walliams of Little Britain) and the help of his secretary (Kristen Schaal), Tim may advance from the sixth floor to the seventh: Moving into the company’s inner circle gets him invited to a monthly dinner party where idiots are invited and mocked.

Tim has begun making frequent proposals to his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak), an art curator promoting the career of pretentious painter Kieran Vollard (Jemaine Clement). Tim promises not to participate in the dinner until he meets socially awkward Barry (Carell), who fits the idiot profile so perfectly it seems like fate.

Tim invites him to the dinner, giving him a license to cling. Barry sets about systematically but inadvertently destroying Tim’s life, hilariously involving his own boss at the IRS (Zach Galifianakis) and a stalker (Lucy Punch) with a near-fatal attraction to Tim.

Because the p.c. police are watching, the dinner guests not only have to have some kind of alternate intellect, but must be extraordinary people with specialized skills or hobbies they engage in obsessively. We’ve already seen Barry’s work in a fascinating opening montage: He dresses up dead mice and poses them in elaborate tableaux.

In classic fashion, it’s always clear where Dinner for Schmucks is headed but not how it’s going to get there. Each of Barry’s blunders is just a bit more outrageous than you think it’s going to be. Carell, skillfully delivering malapropisms like “the fecal position,” can take over the late Ed Wynn’s title of the Perfect Fool. Rudd makes an equally perfect straight man, though the character and situation may be too close for comfort to what he played in I Love You, Man.

The supporting players overact appropriately, with Szostak and Punch likely to raise their profiles significantly. It’s a treat for Flight of the Conchords fans to have Clement and Schaal in the same vehicle, even if they don’t get to interact.

Director Jay Roach almost makes up for those dreadful Austin Powers movies here. A moment when Barry’s backstory is told in three photos is surprisingly subtle and touching, reminiscent of the marriage montage in Up. If you like to laugh, you’d be a schmuck to be late for Dinner.

— Steve Warren

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas