Stars come out at Starkey
It's 3:45 p.m. Saturday at the Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala in the St. Paul RiverCentre. The red carpet -- an annual late-summer, celebrity-enhanced fundraiser for the Eden Prairie-based hearing aid charity -- awakens when Verne Troyer buzzes past on his cart, photographers whispering, "Mini Me!" Then Gary Busey, in Texan drawl, accounts for his multi-colored shoes: "They came to me in a dream last night."
Soon an old man wearing medals stumbles down the carpet. A publicist whispers: "That's Buzz Aldrin. You know, from the moon?" Aldrin doesn't know the entertainment lineup. "Will they be playing the Star-Spangled Banner?"
Basketball heroes, professional poker players and child stars are shoved in front of us. "No, I don't follow Kevin Love on Instagram!" sneers an annoyed Ron Harper. Honoree and wealthy entrepreneur Glenn Stearns extols virtue earned from failing the fourth grade when Chevy Chase slips past.
Waiting for Chase, I track down a publicist.
"Who do you work for?"
"The Hulk--and this is his daughter." She points to a brunette 20-something in a black dress at her side.
"I usually hate these things, but Dad's hearing aid really helps."
Freed up, Chase bends low for a repeated question.
"See! He does have a hearing problem," his wife smirks.
"I'm a jazz pianist," Chase explains, "Bill [Clinton] got fitted and loved his Starkey. "
Sandwiched between the Hulk and Clark Griswold, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and wife look eager for conversation. "Oh man! Glenn Frey from the Eagles is here?"
A big cheer and in bounds elfin duo Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. "We're doing just this. Then going home," Crystal chides. "Actually you have wonderful bike shops here," adds Williams.
Another whoop, this time for Billy Ray Cyrus. "I'm excited to see my friend President Clinton. I met him on a train years ago."
Before clarifying this comment, the final A-lister arrives, sending publicists herding.
"How much time do you have, kid?" The hearing aid in Steve Martin's left ear is nearly imperceptible.
I hold up my near-empty notebook.
"I started banjo when I was 16 and last year gigged at the White House. How's that?"
President Clinton won't walk the red carpet. By 5:10 the once-manic hall is nearly empty.
The folks behind Macy's Glamorama know a thing or two about putting on a large-scale fashion production. Now in its 21st year, the show benefiting the Children's Cancer Research Fund is a well-oiled machine of designer fashion, models, eye-popping visuals, live music and choreographed dance numbers. Friday's show at the Orpheum Theatre was no different.
One highlight: the signature men's underwear, always an entertaining piece of cheese. In keeping with the "British Invasion" theme, the strapping fellas donning British police hats and sock garters were interrupted by a Margaret Thatcher-like character who chased them to the "Benny Hill" theme song. Dance segments featuring b-girls dressed in punky school uniforms from Madonna's tween in-house line for Macy's, "Material Girl," were also crowd-pleasers.
That being said, something seemed to be lacking with this year's show. While headliner Robin Thicke is a smooth operator, he fell flat as the show's finale. The YouTube boy-girl sensation Karmin, which served as the mid-show act, would have provided a more energetic finish. As far as genuinely thrilling fashion moments go, the most inspiring was the presentation of Donna Karan's 1930s zoot suit-inspired, Dick Tracy-esque Fall 2012 collection, which had models descending staircases in what looked like a Parisian hall. Another segment thoughtfully paired Rufus Wainwright's cover of "Across the Universe" with models dressed in Rachel Rachel Roy, presented on a moving "turntable" in the center of the stage.