LAS CRUCES >> Organizer Ross Marks calls it “the most spectacular non-athletic event in Las Cruces history.” A stellar list of celebrities will be in Las Cruces this fall to honor a Tony Award-winning playwright, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and multi-honored filmmaker, director, actor and educator at “Mark Medoff: Far From Finished.” The event will be Sept. 6 at New Mexico State University’s Center For The Arts.
“Several of Mark’s noted collaborators will be in attendance, including Richard Dreyfuss, Jeffrey Tambor, Chris McDonald, Linda Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, and nationally known producer-writer and NMSU graduate Don Foster. Neil Patrick Harris and Gov. Susana Martinez are invited guests,” said Marks, a long-time collaborator, who is also Medoff’s son-in-law.
The event is a launch and fundraiser for the Mark Medoff Visiting Lecture Endowment that funds the Mark Medoff Lecture Series at NMSU, which “will bring in world class artists in theater, television and film to inspire not only the students at NMSU, but the community of Las Cruces,” Marks said.
The first celebrity lecturer will be announced at the gala.
“We’ll have symphony, dance, music, live theater, celebrity roasting and a silent auction,” Marks said.
One of the items up for bids is a walk-on role in the hit show “The Big Bang Theory.”
“I think it’s going to be a fabulous event. The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra will be involved, and we’ll have some music from recent shows we’ve done together and some Broadway and film music,” said LCSO conductor and director Lonnie Klein.
“I’m honored and I’m embarrassed by all this. People are usually dead when something like this happens. It’s great,” Medoff said.
Event coordinators say the event honors nearly half a century of achievements and the internationally renowned Medoff’s loyalty to Las Cruces.
“Mark has been at NMSU for almost 50 years! His play, ‘Children of a Lesser God,’ which premiered on the NMSU campus, won the Tony Award for best Broadway play. His film adaptation of the play earned him an Academy Award nomination. Mark has premiered nearly one dozen plays on the New Mexico State campus. Despite his international success, Mark has never left Las Cruces or NMSU,” Marks said.
Medoff was also instrumental in founding NMSU’s Creative Media Institute, which he has described as “the kind of school I wish I could have attended myself.”
Visiting celebrities will appear on a panel the morning of the gala where they will offer tips and answer questions from NMSU students.
Jeffrey Tambor will be master of ceremonies for the event, which was the brainchild of Creative Media Institute department head James Maupin.
Sponsors of the event include NMSU, The Las Cruces Sun News and Bravo Mic.
Tables of 10 for dinner, at 5:30 p.m., just before the 8 p.m. event, are $5,000, and they’re going fast.
“We have already sold eight tables. There are three tables remaining.” Marks said, adding that each table will include a celebrity guest.
Tickets, at $50, $75 and $100, are now on sale for the event at the Pan Am Ticket Office at 575-646-1420. and Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com, or call 1-800-745-3000. For more information or to reserve a table at the celebrity dinner, call 575-646-6149.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.
If you go: “Mark Medoff: Far From Finished”
What: “Mark Medoff: Far From Finished”
Special guests: Richard Dreyfuss, Jeffrey Tambor, Chris McDonald, Linda Hamilton, Jesse Plemons, Don Foster, Neil Patrick Harris, Gov. Susana Martinez
When: 8 p.m., Sept. 6 (dinner at 5:30 p.m.)
Where: NMSU Center For The Arts
How much: $50, $75, $100, limited celebrity dinner tables, $5,000
Info: Pan Am Ticket Office, 575-646-1420. ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000. Celebrity dinner reservations, 575-646-6149.
Mark Medoff comments about some of his famous collaborators who plan to attend “Mark Medoff: Far From Finished”
•Richard Dreyfuss (“Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Goodbye Girl”): “We met when he was in my play, ‘The Hands of Its Enemy,’ which we did together in Los Angeles. He told me he thought it helped resuscitate his career in the movies. We talked about trying to put together something else to do. He once told me if he could do something else, he would teach history. I think of him from time to time when I start writing projects. He talks like the people in my head talk. He’s a great actor, a great friend.”
•Jeffrey Tambor (“Larry Sanders Show,” “Arrested Development,” more than 200 film, TV and stage roles): “We met at the same time I met Richard (Dreyfuss, during the same play) and we stayed in touch. He came to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the White Sands Film Festival. Jeffrey is one of the funniest and sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. He just has no fear whatsoever as an actor and he’s an incredibly good and loyal buddy.”
•Chris McDonald (“Happy Gilmore,” “Thelma and Louise,” numerous movie, TV and stage roles): “I cast him in ‘Refuge’ and ‘Children on Their Birthdays.'” He first got in touch with me back in the 1980s when he played Teddy in ‘When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder,” and told me I had an affect on his career. He’s turned out to be somebody of enormous good will and loyalty. When I was directing ‘Refuge,’ if he wasn’t shooting that day, he would come and stand with me and not only make me laugh, but make sure I was getting what I was supposed to be doing. He became another first A.D. (assistant director). He would hang out with me and we became good friends.”
•Linda Hamilton (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Terminator”) started in Medoff’s film “Refuge”: “I remember when we were filming, she said that she’d had some issues when she was young and one day she woke up and decided she was going to be kind to everybody and by golly, she was. She never ever told anyone, ‘I can’t talk to you.’ She came back for (a screening of ‘Refuge’) at the White Sands Film Festival and she would have stood out through the entire night talking to people and taking photos with them. She’s an entire graduate course in how to be gracious with people, besides being a hell of an actor.”
•Jesse Plemons (“Breaking Bad,” “Friday Night Lights”) was among child stars of Medoff’s award-winning film, “Children on Their Birthdays”: “He came to me through Nancy Chartier, an actor friend in Dallas who teaches children when I was looking for 11- and 12-year-olds. She sent me tapes of six kids. I asked Stephanie [Medoff’s wife] to come watch this tape to see if any if these jump out at you, and she said ‘That’s him.’ We both knew that right away. I’m so fortunate to work with people who are graceful, gracious and talented. He was a lovely kid to work and we stay in touch and I’m always looking for ways to work together.”
•Don Foster (writer-producer whose credits include “Two and a Half Men,” “Roseanne,” “Mike and Molly,” and “The Big Bang Theory”): He was one of my students who could always make me laugh. He is a really sweet, bright, gracious person. The fact that he has become so successful as a writer is proof that good things sometimes do happen to good people. I’m very proud of Don.”
•Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie Houser, M.D.,” “How I Met Your Mother”) starred with Whoopie Goldberg in the 1988 film “Clara’s Heart,” for which Medoff wrote the screenplay: “I met him in summer camp when I was running a theater program here. (Harris and his parents were then living in Ruidoso.) The first night, everybody was in a circle and I would have them stand close and look me in the eyes and say their name. When I got to Neil, before he said anything, I thought, ‘I don’t know who this kid is, but I know this kid has something.’ When we were about to film ‘Clara,” the kids here put him on tape and he was very funny, very charming and still is. With the camera running, he was just kibbutzing and we had him read a scene with our daughter Rachel. We took the tape and flew to L.A. and Marty Elfand (‘Clara’s Heart’ producer) said within 15 seconds: ‘That’s the kid.’ We told his parents, ‘If he does this, all of your lives are going to change. He’s going to have a very big career.’ When he auditioned for a TV series about a young doctor in his teens, I told him and his parents, ‘He’s never going to have his teen years, be a normal teenager growing up. He’s going to be a famous actor.”
By S. Derrickson Moore – firstname.lastname@example.org @DerricksonMoore on Twitter