Travoltas to headline red-carpet gala
Published: Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
The last time John Travolta and Kelly Preston ambled down an Ocala red carpet, they greeted hundreds of fans near a sand sculpture, a mime, a steel drum band and a sexy stilt walker wearing wings.
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ewers Center, College of Central Florida, 3001 SW College Road, Ocala
Tickets: $150, available online www.cf.edu/foundation/TravoltaEvent and at CF's Enterprise Center
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Regal Hollywood 16, 2801 SW 27th Ave.
It was March 2010, and the Anthony A-listers were celebrating the drama “The Last Song” starring Preston. At that point, the Travoltas had already helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for multiple charities through similar Ocala movie premieres since 2007.
They anchored pricey parties that included celebrity mingling and private screenings of movies starring one or more Travoltas: “Old Dogs,” “Wild Hogs,” “Bolt” and “From Paris with Love.”
The paying guests got the royal treatment. Yet at four of those five shindigs, folks who did not pay $100-plus per ticket still got to meet — and even hug — the Travoltas as they worked their way down the red carpet into the screenings.
And so it will be Saturday, as Travolta and Preston host a party celebrating Oliver Stone's new thriller “Savages,” in which Travolta plays a corrupt DEA agent.
For guests paying $150 per ticket, there will be a reception with live music, food and the Travoltas, followed by a sneak peek of “Savages,” which opens nationally the following week.
But the free red-carpet procession outside Hollywood 16 will be quite a party, too.
A band made up of Performing Arts Conservatory teachers and students will perform, as will PAC dancers and acrobats. The headliners will include another local star: Ocala-bred Sean Gerrity, formerly with the Las Vegas vocal group Mosaic but now a member of Edge Effect.
That group will perform Saturday with, organizers said, “honorary member” Scott Porter, a star of TV's “Friday Night Lights” with Taylor Kitsch, one of Travolta's co-stars in “Savages.”
Money raised from the gala's ticket sales will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County, the College of Central Florida Foundation's Jett Travolta Scholarship, the Munroe Regional Medical Center Foundation and Ocala Police Department's drug-prevention programs. Funds raised through the gala's auctions will benefit Ocala-based Never Say Never, which helps disabled people participate in sports, attend camps and obtain prosthetics.
The Travoltas selected the beneficiaries themselves, said Lisa Lombardo, spokeswoman for Saturday's event. One, the Jett Travolta Scholarship fund, is an endowment administered by the CF Foundation that awards money to CF students studying performing arts, Lombardo said. The scholarship is named after the Travoltas' late son, Jett, and has so far helped at least four CF students.
This is the second time the Travoltas have chosen the Boys & Girls Clubs. In 2008, the “Bolt” event raised about $55,000 for the organization. Those funds helped expand the club's game room in Ocala and, among other improvements, add a media room, said Jerry Lane, the club's executive director.
Travolta has been helping Never Say Never for about a year and a half, said Nick Stillwell, one of the group's founders. He said the star has helped Never Say Never athletes pay travel expenses to meets, among other things.
Saturday's gala reception at CF's Ewers Century Center will include live music by Ocala singer/songwriter Charlie Walker.
The red carpet procession is expected to start around 6:30 p.m. in front of Hollywood 16. Organizers recommend arriving early to secure a good spot along the velvet rope.
Before the Travoltas head into the theater for the screening, they are expected to address the crowd and present a check.
The local “Savages” event also marks the first time Travolta has appeared at a local public event since being dogged by allegations that he improperly touched two massage therapists. As it stands now, both plaintiffs have withdrawn their federal suits against Travolta and hired celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who is now being sued by the plaintiff's original attorney for, he contends, stealing his clients.
Meanwhile, Travolta — whose attorney has vehemently denied the allegations — is going about the business of being a movie star and promoting what could be one of the summer's biggest thrillers.
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