Women's Fund honors royalty

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
May 20, 2010

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Oscar-nominated musician-actor Queen Latifah isn’t above beat-boxing at a gala. When a fan at the Boston Women’s Fund awards dinner asked Latifah to drop a beat into the microphone the other night, the Queen shook her head and exclaimed, “I’m 40 years old,’’ but indulged her audience with a few seconds of impromptu rhythms. Latifah was a good sport all around at the event, which was held at the Mandarin Oriental on Tuesday. Before accepting the organization’s Woman Activist of the Year Award, Latifah — also known as Dana Owens — told the audience that women must support one another, that men must be a part of the equation, and that all women should be armed with courage. “You can be beautiful, squishy, and soft — and strong,’’ she said. Latifah stuck around late into the night to mingle with fans who purchased tickets for a VIP meet-and-greet. During the after-party she told us that she was thrilled to have Celtic Rajon Rondo make a cameo appearance in her new film, “Just Wright,’’ in which she plays a physical therapist who falls for a basketball player, portrayed by rapper-actor Common. Of Rondo, the Queen said, “He’s cool. I’m happy he’s having an extraordinary postseason.’’ So are we.

Making the scene at STUFF party

STUFF magazine held its annual “Players’’ party at Jack Huang’s new Japanese brasserie, Basho, the other night, and the crowd included design diva Denise Korn, the Estate’s Christie Leigh Bellany, Teranga owner Marie-Claude Mendy, Galvin-ized Headwear’s Marie Galvin, the MFA’s Keith Crippen and Bill McAvoy, Chanel’s Mary Noble King, Marilyn Riseman, Stil owner Betty Riaz, and William George from James Joseph Salon.

Wicked gala in Central Square

The Central Square Theater held its Wicked gala the other night, and guests included “Wicked’’ author Gregory Maguire, Rosie’s Place founder Kip Tiernan, Andrew Silver of the Coolidge Corner Theater, Farm Aid’s Carolyn Mugar, director Danny Gidron, Ig Nobel Prize originator Marc Abrahams, playwrights Bob Boulrice, Alan Brody, Saul Slapikoff, Amy Merrill, and Rosanna Alfaro, and Eppie Lederer’s daughter Margo Howard.

In step with Springstep

Who needs Erin Andrews, Evan Lysacek, and Julianne Hough when you have Hallmark Health CEO Michael Sack, restaurateur Darryl Settles, Medford Chamber of Commerce director Cheryl White, and Springstep dance instructor Sharon Montella? The locals took part in “Dancing With the Springstep Stars’’ at Radiance, the annual benefit for the art center in Medford. Ben Vereen’s daughter Malaika accepted Springstep’s Cultural Champion Award on his behalf.

‘What’s left’? New film.

There is life after drug addiction. Just ask writer Richard Farrell. The former junkie from Lowell will be played on the big screen by “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’’ actor Channing Tatum, who has signed on to star in the movie version of Farrell’s book, “What’s Left of Us.’’ The memoir, published last summer, chronicles the author’s harrowing drug habit and eventual rehab in the Mill City. Farrell, who now lives in New Hampshire, told us the film is likely to be shot in Massachusetts next spring, and he’s writing the screenplay. “I [expletive] love the guy,’’ Farrell said of Channing, whom he recently spent time with in New York, where the actor is filming “Son of No One’’ with Katie Holmes. (The hunky Tatum, who’s married to Jenna Dewan, also starred in “Public Enemies’’ and “Dear John.’’) “Some people say he can’t do it, but I know he can. He’s got some craziness in his past that makes him perfect.’’ Farrell grew up in Lowell and also directed the award-winning documentary “High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell,’’ which featured “Irish’’ Micky Ward’s half-brother Dicky Eklund, a onetime boxer who was then an addict. The dreary detox where Farrell finally dried out is gone, but he said the Tewksbury State Hospital is of similar vintage and vibe. “Be great if it’s shot in early March,’’ said Farrell. “When the streets are all muddy.’’

Actors ‘Dream On’

Steven Tyler’s unmistakable scream it wasn’t. But the “Dream On’’ sing-off on Fox’s “Glee’’ Tuesday between Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew Morrison was plenty entertaining. Though both actors have Broadway chops, Morrison clearly had the better voice, including at the end when that good old, high-pitched scream was called for. Not that Aerosmith needs any more publicity, but surely the Boston rockers didn’t mind the plug (and the royalties?) for one of their greatest hits, which they’ll perform this summer at Fenway when they play with the J. Geils Band.

Goodwin feted
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin visits Old Sturbridge Village tonight to accept the 3d annual Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors those who honor history. In 2008, it was given to Burns himself. Last year, it was given to actress Laura Linney, who portrayed Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries “John Adams.’’ Goodwin told us the other day that she’s no stranger to Sturbridge. Not surprisingly, she used to take her children to Old Sturbridge Village to give them a taste of the past. “Just to be able to imagine that you’re back in time,’’ Goodwin said, “it’s fun.’’ She told us it’s a particular honor to receive the award from Burns, who’s been a close friend ever since she helped him with his documentary “Baseball.’’ Goodwin wasn’t supposed to be a big part of that 1994 miniseries, but her two favorite teams — the Dodgers and the Red Sox — turned out to play big roles. “They were such lovable losers,’’ she said. For the record, Goodwin tells us that when she reads for fun, it is not about history. Her bedside book is always a mystery novel, and she confesses that she only makes it through a few pages before dropping off each night. “When you’re only reading four or five pages and then going to sleep, [the challenge] is just remembering who was killed.’’

With the assist
Celts CEO Wyc Grousbeck returned from Orlando just in time to attend yesterday’s Mass. Eye and Ear luncheon. At the event at the Four Seasons, Grousbeck, who is chairman of the hospital board, announced that Mass. Eye and Ear will hold a gala — called Sense-ation! — at the Renaissance Hotel Oct. 13. . . . Here comes the judge: TV judge Glenda Hatchett will headline Children’s Services of Roxbury’s inaugural Strengthening Families awards dinner. The June 16 event will honor Dr. Kermit Crawford, Loretta DeGrazia, and state Representative Gloria L. Fox. The president of Children’s Services is Pamela Ogletree, wife of Harvard legal eagle Charles Ogletree.

Drawing attention
New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast dined UpStairs on the Square the other night with a group of luminaries from Lesley University, including President Joseph Moore and Deborah Schwartz Raizes, chair of Lesley’s board of trustees. Before leaving, Chast autographed a copy of her new book with David Remnick, “Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006.’’ She was in town to receive an honorary degree yesterday at Lesley’s commencement, along with Vicki Kennedy, celebrated author and critic Chinua Achebe, and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Doug Most of the Globe staff contributed. Read the Names blog at Names can be reached at or at 617-929-8253.