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Newport's own divas to come out for Oscars

March 24, 2001

Stefanie Frith

NEWPORT BEACH -- Elizabeth Taylor. Marilyn Monroe. Shirley Temple.

Cher. They all plan to make an appearance at the Diva's Academy Awards

Premiere on Saturday night at the Four Seasons Hotel.

"Even Mae West is thinking about coming," said Joanne Pavia, vice

president of the Divas, a support guild for the Balboa Theater, which is

in the process of being renovated.

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The theater, once a vaudeville palace, was closed in the early 1990s.

Community residents have rallied together to reopen it, and the Divas

were born about a year ago. It will cost $6.5 million to renovate the

theater and, so far, the Divas have raised $2 million, enough for a

groundbreaking in May.

This year, the Divas wanted to do something extra special for their

fund-raiser, which they hope will raise $30,000 to $50,000 for the

theater. When co-chairs Debbie Schweickert and Nancy Lynn Olson realized

the Academy Awards were coming up, they knew they had found the theme for

their party.

"We thought the Academy Awards would be a new twist. So we thought

about celebrity look-alikes and our own Oscars," said Schweickert, who

will attend the party as Elizabeth Taylor. "We didn't want to make it the

same old dinner-dance idea. We wanted to perk up some new interest."

As guests arrive Saturday, they will walk down the red carpet and be

greeted by paparazzi and searchlights. Guests may then pay $1 per vote on

the celebrity look-alikes in categories such as best actor, best actress

and best couple. The winners will receive The Diva Award, which is made

by the same company that makes the Oscar statue.

Pavia, who will attend as Shirley Temple, said she has all kinds of

tricks up her sleeve to ensure she wins the best actress category.

"I am going to tap dance up and down a staircase, and I have ribbons

with my name and best actress on them to pass out," said Pavia, who

admitted she looks nothing like Temple. "I just realized I had to be over

the top. My brother has been working on the costume. But my tapping,

well, it's kind of rough."

The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra also will perform, and the Divas

will give a lifetime achievement award to John and Donna Crean, Newport

Beach residents who have donated a lot of time and money to the Newport

Beach community.

"We are really excited," said Olson, who will dress as Marilyn Monroe.

"The band will play music from the '20s and '30s, and also theme songs

from movies like 'Titanic."'

Pavia said people should come to the event because the Balboa Theater

needs the support.

"There's going to be lots of surprises, and it's going to be lots of

fun," she said. "The Divas are a really friendly, really fun group, and

it's going to be a great night."

FYI

What: Divas' Academy Awards Premiere

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Four Seasons Hotel, 630 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach

Price: $100

Phone: (949) 646-5161

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