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Tulare County shines in Tinseltown
Stafford's Famous Chocolates for the stars
Tulare shined where it is a good place to shine — Hollywood.
Taking advantage of connections that former Lindsay City Council member Suzi Picaso has, Eric Coyne, head of the county’s Film Commission, was able to get the county and a few of its homegrown products at the prestigious Borgnine Movie Star Gala, An Evening in Honor of Ernest Borgnine that was held Saturday night as part of the Oscar weekend festivities in Hollywood.
Coyne used the occasion to tout Tulare County as a good site for filmmakers who in turn bring thousands of dollars into the area.
“I got a couple of filmmakers interested in coming to Tulare County,” said Coyne of his evening brushing elbows with stars like Marylou Hemmer, Doris Roberts, Gage Golightly, Barry Corbin, Ashley Argot, Kenton Duty, Kevin Sorbo and Marilu Henner.
“One actor, Sarbo, was particularly interested in Balch Park. I’m hoping to get him up here for some scouting,” said Coyne.
“We had a lot of fun,” he added of the evening that forced him to find a tuxedo for the night.
Rob Taylor, owner of Stafford’s Chocolates, was one of the handful of local companies able to put out a display and hand out samples to the star-struck audience.
“The exposure for us was great,” he said. Taylor sent his son Benjamin and his sister, Amy, manager of the chocolate shop in Porterville, to be hosts for the evening. “We thought he’d (Benjamin) would be the best guy for that job.”
“They treated us really well. We got some contacts and they met a few movie stars,” he said.
A couple of those stars asked them to help cater their children’s birthday parties. “I think it’s a good place to start.”
He said they took 200 ooey gooeys and 100 half pound boxes of chocolates to the event.
Another hit was Bari Olive Oil from Dinuba and bath soap that included olive oil grown in Tulare County. Setton Pistachios of Terra Bella also provided pistachios for the gift bags that were given to the guests of the event.
The gala was an invite-only celebrity event with press, red carpet, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live music and a short program for charity and award presentations. More than 80 celebrities attended, including filmmakers.
“I spoke with a guy from Fox Productions. He had somebody interested in orange packing for a possible film set,” he said.
“I got to talk with decision-makers,” said Coyne, adding “I knew it would get us a tremendous amount of promotional value.”
While Coyne said it cost the film commission about $1,000 to participate, Taylor said it also cost his company to be in attendance.
Picaso is a close friend of Nancee Borgnine, daughter of Ernie Borgnine, and got Tulare County into the door. She has done a lot of work in Hollywood in makeup.
“We got in through the gracious of Suzie,” said Coyne.
“I’m delighted with what we accomplished,” he concluded.