Sharon Stone, the sexy star of "Basic Instinct" and "Sphere," was last year's auctioneer for the American Conservatory Theatre's annual Starry, Starry Night gala and had hoped to repeat her duties Oct. 7 for the San Francisco company. However, a brain aneurysm put the actress in an undisclosed San Francisco hospital Sept. 29, where she was still undergoing testing on Thursday.
Stepping in to wield the mallet will be "L.A. Law" star Michael Tucker. Joining him will be his wife Jill Eikenberry and former ACT Conservatory graduate Benjamin Bratt, the evening's honorary chair.
Musical theatre diva Betty Buckley will perform, a new addition to the Starry, Starry Night's roster. Buckley, who last appeared at ACT in March, 2001, has starred in multiple Broadway shows, including Cats, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1776, Carrie, The Triumph of Love and Sunset Boulevard.
ACT celebrates its 35th year in 2001 with an auction that will include items from the company's past (scripts and posters signed by Olympia Dukakis and Bill Irwin and a portrait of acting company actor Marco Barricelli as Pirandello's Enrico IV) and future (a walk-on in A Christmas Carol and the chance to have the Lower Lounge Bar in the Geary Theatre named after the winning bidder). Tucker will auction off the theatre-related items in the Imperial Suite of the Westin St. Francis Hotel.
Other Bay Area celebrities with ACT pasts will be present at the gala including former ACT artistic director Edward Hastings and actors Joy Carlin, Bill Paterson and Ruth Kobart. The conservatory students and Buckley will give a cabaret during the evening, led by Young Conservatory director Craig Slaight. A.C.T.'s conservatory, sole beneficiary of "Starry Starry Night," serves 3,000 students a year under head Melissa Smith. The first U.S. acting program not associated with a college or university to award a masters of fine arts degree, the conservatory has produced several well-known artists including Annette Bening, Winona Ryder, Danny Glover and Denzel Washington.
Tickets for the benefit are $500 for premium admission; standard is $350. For information and reservations, call (415) 439-2308.
-- By Christine Ehren