Robert Downey Jr. Receives the Renaissance Award from the Gene Siskel Film Center

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With Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee, Robert Downey, Jr.

My new favorite Hollywood star is Robert Downey, Jr. hands down.  Not only is he uber talented but he is kind, gracious, adorable, self-deprecating and an all-around nice guy.  When I approached him before the event, I told him I had missed the photo op for the Gala Committee with him earlier.  He asked my name, turned me toward the camera and took, not one, but two photos with me.  Now there is the mark of a man.  I noticed that throughout the evening, if not for his agent/wife Susan, he would've stayed the whole night answering questions from the audience.

The event started out with cocktails at the Ritz and then we moved into the ballroom for dinner.  With its low ceilings and low lighting, it was the perfect intimate atmosphere for a Q & A with Robert.  The interview was conducted by the director of his latest film, Todd Phillips.  They had just completed "Due Date" with Jamie Foxx which will be due out in November.  We caught a sneak peek and it looked adorable and funny.  Jamie spoke to him via video and told him he was like Van Gogh.  Foxx said, "May you keep your brushes dipped and keep creating all of the wonderful shades of Downey."

The live auction, conducted by co-chair Bill Marcus wearing an Ironman helmet, included first class airfare to LA for the premiere of Due Date, 4 tickets to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, a stay at the Four Seasons and a preview party for a new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  This package sold for $8500. There was also a Chicago Package.

During the course of the interview, Downey was asked if he could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be.  He answered, "Chaplin, I would love to know how he liked my portrayal of him."  And during his dark days he said Jodi Foster was one of his most supportive friends.  He was too cute for words and, unlike other stars in the past, seemed completely delighted to be there.  He joked about flying through a horrible thunderstorm and admitted he feared for his life at one point.  But then he realized, "A Jewish mother-in-law trumps a Hollywood star" which explained why they were on the flight.

The event was a sell-out and benefitted the Gene Siskel Film Center.  Gala Co-Chairs were Ellen Sandor (who was responsible for getting RDJ to appear here) and Bill Marcus.  The Gala Committee included Michelle Cucchiaro, Eda Davidman, Melissa Sage Fadim, Marsha Goldstein, David Hundley, Marlene Iglitzen, Lynn McMahan and moi!

It was an exciting evening!  Chicago IS really the Hollywood of the Midwest with all of the stars coming to town like Ron Howard recently for the International Film Festival and also with all of the exciting film projects planned here for the summer.  I can't wait ....polishing my Red Carpet shoes right now!  (Extra pics by Caitlin Saville)

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  • It was a wonderful event and a beautiful night. I'm so glad that I was able to be a part of it all. The photos are great!

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