Oscars 2015: the posh and political

It was a night of platform heels and platform speeches at the Oscars.

Hollywood insider film “Birdman” swept the 87th Academy Awards (winning best picture, director, and original screenplay)  and many of the night’s winners used their acceptance speech time to stump for causes close to their hearts. Here’s the lowdown on a very long night….

birdman promo


First-time host Neil Patrick Harris breathed new life into an old show as Oscar producers took a more positive tack that paid off. Less snark and more sugar, the show intended to celebrate our love of movies, not just the celebrities who make them.

neil-patrick-harris-oscars promo

I won’t pretend I’m not a huge NPH fan from his How I Met Your Mother days and I expected him to be lengen (wait for it) dary. (sorry, how could I resist?!)

The opening musical number was well-rehearsed, clever, funny and a love letter to movies, instead of the standard teasing/humiliating stars routine. I loved seeing NPH inserted into movie classics and the Anna Kendrick and Jack Black cameos.

With no less than five costume changes, including three different colored tuxes, he was a compelling and affable steward throughout the show. I loved the bit where he spoofed Birdman and Whiplash and wound up on stage in tight-whiteys.


May fav looks of the night….(for pix click here) 

Once again, five-time nominee Julianne Moore wins in a white beaded strapless Chanel with black accents with an impeccable fit that complimented her alabaster skin. Her makeup, up-do and diamond earrings were also perfection.  Glad she looked so good the night she finally won!

Many of the best dresses were white, including Lupita N’yongo’s Calvin Klein white beaded sheath with a sexy halter of pearls. She looked like an oyster goddess.

— I wasn’t sure about Reese Witherspoon’s strapless white Tom Ford gown with two black lines, but it grew on me as the night progressed.  It was her typical simple, elegant, modern fare. Not imaginative or risky, but solid, and she gets extra points for being one of the few who let her hair down, despite the rain.

–I was soooo disappointed with Jennifer Aniston’s Globes dress last month but she completely redeemed herself in a gorgeous nude sparkly Versace dress that hugged her body like a Band-Aid. The sleek design had subtle cutouts that showed off her phenomenal body.  Her loose shiny hair completes any outfit.

–Although black is never as exciting as color, if you’re Cate Blanchett you find a deep velvet sheath with rough, frayed edges and a sexy keyhole back, and pair it with a giant turquoise necklace that matches your eyes perfectly… and you pop right off the screen.

–Another exception to “black is boring” was Sienna Miller, who can do no wrong. Her Oscar de la Renta short-sleeved dress with flared peekaboo skirt and velvet bows was sweet and ethereal and different.

–Although I’m not impressed with Dakota Johnson in interviews or for starring in 50 Shades, I was impressed by her YSL one shoulder red dress and diamond jewels. Perfect Oscar fashion: classic and timeless with a nod to old Hollywood but sexy and fresh, with a sassy ponytail.

Felicity Jones, nominated for best actress for Theory of Everything owned the moment with a gorgeous grey Alexander McQueen ball gown with a hand-sewn beaded bodice and giant satin skirt with classy updo. Channeling Audrey Hepburn, the look was flattering, elegant, regal.

Zoe Saldana looked amazing in a blush pink Versace dress with stiff, artful lines. She paired the dress with loose curly hair pulled up.

Guys who know how to wear a tux, the tighter, the better: Eddie Redmayne in navy, John Legend in Gucci… and Adam Levine in Armani. Whiplash’s Miles Teller is my new boy crush. Handsome, confident, talented, he spoke intelligently on the carpet like an old pro.

Scarlett Johanssen popped off the red carpet in an extremely tight-fitting emerald-green Jessica Rabbit hourglass dress by Versace, and funky green beaded necklace.

But there were some couture catastrophes….

Lady Gaga made quite an entrance in a white beaded Alaia ball gown with red leather spacegirl gloves. The look was very Jane Jetson meets Grace Kelly. Odd.

–Much like how I feel about Gwyneth herself, I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated Paltrow’s pale pink, one-shouldered sheath. It was sexy and flattered her sick Tracy Anderson bod but why oh why did she add the giant organza flower on the shoulder? Too much or avant garde like a Carrie Bradshaw accessory?

—Not sure what the usually best-dressed Nicole Kidman was thinking. She looked like a slimy Rainbow Fish in an iridescent strapless gown with an unexplained red belt.

--Kerry Washington looked more mother of the bride than belle of the ball in a strapless white dress with dowdy beading.

–Loved David Oyelowo in Selma but he looked like he was missing his pals from the barbershop quartet in is tight red tux.


–I was disturbed by the lack of movement in Melanie Griffith’s face. She couldn’t express her pride and amusement over daughter Dakota Johnson’s new success because she’s spent too much time at the plastic surgeon’s.

Faith Hill you’re so pretty but your hair’s too short and you and Tim McGraw need to eat a few IN and Out burgers– he looks old and manorexic!


Paramount Pictures

–By far, the best speech was given by John Legend and Common when they won best song for Selma and Common talked about the famous bridge where MLK’s march took place  “This bridge is a symbol for change. Its spirit is built on hope, welded with compassion, sealed by love for all human beings. Selma is now. The struggle for justice is right now. Our voting rights are being compromised,  and our struggle for freedom and justice is happening now.”

–I wanted to stand up and cheer like Meryl Streep and JLo when best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette used the end of her speech to forcefully demand wage equality and equal rights for women.

–Graham Moore won for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game and used part of his moving speech to speak to gay teens who feel hopeless and alone: “When I was 16, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, different, like I didn’t belong. And now I’m standing here. I’d like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or different. Stay weird. stay different and then when it’s your turn and you’re standing on this stage, pass that message to the next person who comes along.”

– In her classy acceptance speech for best actress for Still Alice, Julianne Moore said she’s glad the movie has drawn attention to Alzheimer’s Disease, which still has no cure.

Alejandro G. Inarritu, who wrote and directed Birdman used his best picture acceptance speech to ask for respect for his fellow Mexicans and all immigrants.

–J.K. Simmons made his wife the highlight of his acceptance speech forWhiplash (amazing must-see performance in a disturbing but compelling movie) and told us to call our moms– not text or email– call! Thanks dude.


Most of the musical numbers were sleepy, except best song winner “Glory,” performed by John Legend and Common with a powerful reenactment of the Selma march on stage that had the whole crowd on their feet– many in tears–  by the end.

Lady Gaga beautifully sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.  I admit I sang along and wept nostalgic tears when Julie Andrews came out afterwards to thank her and introduce the nominees for best score.

Idena Menzel and John Travolta acknowledged their unusual connection (he famously butchered her name at the last Oscars) and gave out an award together. But instead of making up for last year’s gaffe, he continued his weird streak by pulling her face too close to his very pulled, rubbery face, and spoke to her in a creepy voice that gave me shivers. Ick.


Richard Linklater in the Best Director category. I loved Birdman but best picture and screenplay should have been enough. Linklater came up with the concept and executed shooting a beautiful, relatable film about an American family experience over a 12 year period. He should have been recognized.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

Michael Keaton as best actor for Birdman. Eddie Redmayne was wonderful playing ALS-affected genius Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything, but he’s young and has a long career ahead. Keaton’s an old timer who was great in this movie and may not get another shot at gold.

What were your favorite moments and looks of the night? Tell me in the comments.

Y’all jonesing for a jello shot? Bachelorette party in Austin!

Austin bachelorette party La Condessa on carpoolcandy.com

The bachelorettes after a margarita-soaked dinner

You may remember that Wilson’s brother got engaged  (in an uber romantic way you can read about here) last summer, and we’re all looking forward to the nuptials in March.

The whole family will play a part: Wilson is serving as best man (his speech is going to kill) I’m a bridesmaid, Jacob and Aden are groomsmen, and Eli is a ring bearer.  I had almost forgotten all the hoopla surrounding a wedding, and in the zillion years since we got married, customs have become more high brow.

Apparently dinner at Sparks and a lap dance on 42nd Street is no longer sufficient to celebrate the end of bachelorhood. Wilson had to travel to Puerto Rico for the bachelor party. I didn’t get all the details (probably best,) but it sounded like a lot of standing around the swim up hotel bar drinking Medalia beers.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

At my bachelorette party, we got drunk at Coyote Ugly in the East Village, flashed our bras and danced on the bar before falling asleep in the cab home. Nowadays all the hip gals hop on a plane for fine dining and shopping in a funky city like Austin.

I’d never been to Austin, and we all loved the vibe in the Lone Star state’s capital city. My only complaint is that we were there for too short a time.

We arrived Friday night and dug into some famous BBQ at Ironworks.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

It’s not the place to keep good habits from your nutritional cleanse.

Wiping sauce from our chins, we took an Uber (no ride was more than $5!) to an area downtown with lots of bars and restaurants and walked around.

Live music at Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

Live music is everywhere– the city feels young and hums with great energy.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

I ordered an amazing cowboy hat for our bachelorette, decorated with sequins around the brim and light up letters spelling”BRIDE.” (Shout out to the peops at Red Sky Trader who got me the hat on time!)

As I walked into each bar I was slapped with nostalgia. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a place with that familiar stale humidity, coupled with the smell of beer, whiskey, and sweat. It’s the smell of possibility and abandon. I had missed it.

6th Street Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

6th Street was packed

We stopped into a few places before finding our way to the famous 6th Street. It’s party-central in kind of the worst way. Lots of drunken frat boys, tourists, and crowd wranglers making deals better than Monty Hall to get you into their place to spend cash.

But we are New York City girls, too smart for such traps. We surveyed the scene and settled in at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar which was just our speed.

Austin bachelorette party at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on carpoolcandy.com

A bunch of talented musicians took turns on two pianos and a drum set singing oldies and popular songs by request.

Austin bachelorette party at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on carpoolcandy.com  We quickly realized we weren’t the only bachelorettes there and had to compete against at least 3 other groups before we could get our bride onstage to be serenaded.

Austin bachelorette party at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on carpoolcandy.com

We chugged our cocktails, did a couple jello shots, and belted out the words to favorite songs.

Austin bachelorette party at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on carpoolcandy.com

Good times!

The next day we walked around the South Congress area, an artsy, retro neighborhood with cool cafes and antique and used clothing stores. Iconic neon signs, bright southwestern colors and the occasional bearded guitar player on the corner felt authentic and cozy.

Austin bachelorette party at South Congress Cafe on carpoolcandy.com

We ate at the South Congress Cafe where the carrot cake french toast with cream cheese-pecan syrup is out of this world, especially washed down with their award-winning Bloody Marys. Great way to start a Saturday.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

We stayed at the minimalistic, chic boutique Hotel San Jose. Saturday night we gathered in a hotel suite to sip chardonnay from penis straws while the bachelorette opened gifts of lingerie and answered relationship quiz questions that made us giggle.

Austin bachelorette party at La Condessa on carpoolcandy.com

Next we headed out to La Condessa for some upscale Tex-Mex fare and buckets of margaritas.

After dinner we hailed a couple pedi cabs to take us to Rainey Street.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the freedom of the girls weekend, maybe it was the open air, or the 80’s hip hop music blasting from a boom box– I’m not quite sure. All I know is I haven’t laughed that hard in a long while.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

Deep, rolling belly laughs that couldn’t be stifled. All of us were like a pack of hyenas howling at the moon as the pedi cabs rolled on. It was hilarious.

Austin bachelorette party on carpoolcandy.com

We danced and laughed at a few bars on Rainey and then headed back to the hotel to squeeze out the last moments of a super fun weekend.

I’ll admit I thought traveling to Austin for a bachelorette party seemed excessive at first, but all the girls were great and it was really a bonding experience that will make celebrating the wedding together even more sweet.

When I travel with my crew, I’m always trying to find things to do to satisfy everyone. If we had gone to Austin as a family we would have visited the zoo, walked around UT to check out the football stadium, and probably tried to catch a game. We would have stayed in a conventional hotel with an indoor pool for the kids.

Austin bachelorette party La Condessa on carpoolcandy.com

It was so refreshing to spend the weekend with people who wanted to do what I wanted to do: walk around, eat, shop, and stay up late talking. I didn’t realize how much I needed it!

Warning to you Wilson: I’m going to make sure I take girl weekends more often.

Who’s in?

We all want our kids to be “The Opposite of Spoiled”

I reviewed an eye-opening and useful book by New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber this week that I’m recommending to all my fellow parents. The Opposite of Spoiled argues that if we don’t get real with our kids when it comes to money, we’re setting them up for financial confusion down the road.

opposite of spoiled cover on carpoolcandy.com

What I liked most about the book is it’s not wonkish at all– it’s filled with lots of helpful advice and concrete suggestions for guiding kids to manage money responsibly. Lieber has been using his column, guests stints on the NYT‘s  Motherlode column, and his Facebook page to find real stories from families all over the country trying to keep kids grounded in our materialistic culture.

Lieber’s research led to this clinical definition of a spoiled child: He/she has few chores or responsibilities, few enforced behavior and schedule rules, and is lavished with time, assistance and material possessions by parents.

Sound a bit familiar? Yikes!

We’re all a little guilty of spoiling our kids and Lieber goes into all the reasons we do it– from childhood wounds to a need for acceptance from kids and peers. But we’re doing them a disservice by keeping them in the dark about finances and not requiring them to take on more regular responsibilities.

Shutterfly dry erase chore chart on carpoolcandy.com

Here’s an excerpt:

Some of the book’s unconventional recommendations may surprise parents, like answering salary questions honestly and not tying household chores to allowance. Parents who fear that talking with kids about money leads to spoiled children may be denying them a map to navigate important decisions later on.

 Lieber says it’s “lunacy” to expect a teenager who’s probably never bought anything more expensive than a bike to make one of the biggest financial decisions of his life when choosing a college, if financial aid is involved. The book’s goal is to lay a framework for kids to start dealing with the dough when they’re younger so they develop good habits before finances get more complex with student loans, retirement plans and insurance policies in their 20s and beyond.

 When explaining money decisions, Lieber suggests distinguishing “wants” and “needs.” If kids understand the difference, it becomes easier and more rewarding to save for coveted things. Guiding kids to separate money into spend, save and give away piles isn’t new, but Lieber delves deeper into how to help kids appreciate those choices, which often require patience and restraint and build character.

It’s rare to find a book about finance with so much heart, but Lieber’s bottom line is to invest in our kids’ futures by being honest and aware of our relationship with money: “There’s no shame in having more or less, as long as you’re grateful for what you have, share it generously with others, and spend it wisely on the things that make you happiest.”

You can read the rest here.

Would you be willing to discuss your household income with your kids? Tell me in the comments.

Mouths of Babes: teen hubris

Look at that face...He thinks he knows everything.

Look at that face…He thinks he knows everything.

Here’s another comment one of my kids made that bears sorting out in a Mouths of Babes post.

It happened during a round of Trivia Crack with Eli the other day.  Jacob– who will be 15 next week and has all the markings of a surly, know-it-all teenager– was listening in as I struggled with a science question.

Me: “Quick what’s the abbreviation for iron?”

Jacob: (eye roll) “Fe!!”

Me: (smiling) “Thanks!”

Jacob: “How do you not know that? I’m already so much smarter than you mom.”

Needless to say, I missed the next question because I was staring at him, jaw dangling open, blood boiling up to my temples.

There was no sense of irony, hesitation, or even humor in his comment. NONE.

He truly believes that in his short time on this planet, he’s acquired more knowledge than I have.

Of course, this is ridiculous. Besides the fact that I’ve had many more years of education, my decades more of life experience have made me wise.

His standard "I don't have to smile for you" face

His standard “I don’t have to smile for you” face

Yet I felt threatened, defensive and alarmingly insecure in the face of his confident conviction that his intellect is superior to mine. I haven’t understood his math homework since 7th grade and I know nothing about the sports trivia he can recite from morning til night, so in his view, I am a dumbass.

The comment was misguided and really funny when you think about it. But there was something about it that struck me deeply in one of my most vulnerable places.

When I was growing up and scared to death of boys, the one thing that terrified me most was that they would think I was dumb. Sure, I wanted them to think I was pretty and cool, but I gave up many a flirting opportunity if I had the chance to best a male in conversation.

In my career, I often found myself going an extra 10 miles to prove to my bosses (often males) that I was prepared, that I knew my stuff.

When I commute on the train, I’ll actually choose to read Time rather than People sometimes so strangers on the train will know I’m a person of substance. (As if only shallow people read People!)

These are the crazy games we play in our heads.

It's hard always being the smartest person in the room....

It’s hard always being the smartest person in the room….

Jacob’s comment really got to me for a second. He’s very smart and driven. And one day– probably sooner than I think– he will be smarter than I am. I want that for him. I hope he continues to be intellectually curious, and fascinated by people and how the world works.

But part of living with a teenager is taking lots of deep breaths and reminding myself that every foolish word out of his mouth is age-appropriate. And this too shall pass.

I’m sure there will come a time when life will knock him down and he’ll come to me looking for advice and maybe realize I’m not so inferior after all. Until then, there will be no way to convince him that he’s not the only one at the dinner table who has a clue.

Beating him at a few rounds of Trivia Crack will have to be enough for now.

Pop culture potpourri

Yeah, I saw all your Facebook photo posts of your fabulous white beaches in Aruba and gorgeous views from the ski lift in Vermont. I was happy for you, really I was.

But one of the great things about staying home for the holiday break was a chance to catch up on all the TV, movies, and other crap I’ve meant to get to but never seem to have the time.

There’s an overwhelming amount of media to ingest, and much of pop culture popularity now is through word of mouth buzz, so thought I’d share some of the stuff I’m digging at the moment.

serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.com

Serial    I can’t explain why listening to almost 12 hours of one woman talking about a 15-year-old murder case is fascinating but it is! We were driving to Boston for New Year’s and I plugged the podcast into the car stereo. My kids groaned as soon as the top 40 stopped, but within 20 minutes, all 5 of us were entranced.

by the way graphic on carpool candy.com

-- By the Way, In conversation    I’ve raved about actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast before but then it went silent while he was shooting The Goldbergs. But he’s back baby, and better than ever. It’s not an interview show, it’s literally just 2 people onstage before a lucky live audience– chatting about anything from pilates to bad movie endings. He gets the best guests, but I’ll listen to any episode–even unfamiliar names — because it’s always entertaining. Who loves Garlin most? Brady, who’s getting some nice long walks.

imitation game poster on carpoolcandy.com

–The Imitation Game   This movie is a fascinating piece of little known history, and an interesting character study of Alan Turing– an odd codebreaker who helped end World War II.  Wilson and I give it two thumbs up for a riveting story and excellent acting. I know ladies swoon for Benedict Cucumberpatch but I don’t quite get it. I preferred to admire the flawless skin and effortless style of Kiera Knightly. Without giving too much away, there’s also a powerful social/cultural statement about the lack of human rights at that time that resonates today.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boyhood    There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this movie but I liked it and appreciated the creativity, foresight, and endurance required to make such an innovative film. As the mom of three boys, it was interesting to see their common behaviors and attitudes, but this boy’s parents’ divorce was central to the story and will likely speak volumes to single parents and blended families. The characters were appropriately gray– not all good or bad– and showed growth as they lived with the choices they made. It’s a quiet movie though. Half the time I was stressed while watching, expecting a big dramatic turn of events, but it never came. I’d like to see it again, knowing the outcome, and appreciating the pop culture references and details. It’s groundbreaking in film history, and significant in modern culture.

HBO Boardwalk Empire poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boardwalk Empire    I don’t know many people who watched this HBO series that ended last fall, and that’s a crime. We finally finished the last season and put it in our top 10 best dramas of all time. Each episode– exec produced by Martin Scorsese– was like a mini movie. The cinematography, art direction, costumes, and attention to historic detail was flawless and the writing was brilliant. Every season had its own intensity, and featured mafia legends including Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein.  Season 3 with Bobby Cannavale as the psycho mobster Gyp Rosetti was one of the sickest characters I’ve ever seen on TV.  I’m telling you, watch it. Or I’ll break your legs.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Parenthood     If you stuck with it through all six seasons as we have, it was well worth it. It’s been called “appointment crying” and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an episode with a dry eye, because creator Jason Katims and his excellent writers know how to yank at those heartstrings like he’s playing a bass. It got a little soapy in the last couple seasons, but the characters are complicated, the acting is excellent (shoutout to Ray Ramano, who knew?) and the stories are often relatable. Episode 11 was especially great as they started to revisit the past and wrap up the series in a subtle but powerful way. I’m eager to see how they end it. Even if you gave up a few seasons ago, I’d recommend watching the last two episodes. But be sure to bring a hanky.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Into the Woods soundtrack   This was my dad’s favorite Broadway show of all time and we saw it with Bernadette Peters back in the day, so I was thrilled to see it was coming to the big screen. I haven’t even seen the movie yet (soon!) but am loving the music. Sondheim is the most clever theatrical rapper there is. The lyrics are beautiful and poetic, and the bigger message about life in and out of the woods is timeless. (Cinderella: “How can you know who you are til you know what you want, which I don’t?)  As Eli told me– he’s my one kid who loves show tunes as much as I do–  the story is about what happens following “Happy ever after.”  Careful what you wish for!

RHOBH poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Real Housewives of Beverly Hills    Sooo much better this season! They got rid of the two creepy weirdos from last year and scored the goofy, fun, candid Lisa Rinna and her pal, soap opera actress Eileen Davidson. The houses. parties, and shopping sprees are still outrageous, the hair and makeup completely over the top, and the cat fights extra scratchy. Sure, Yolanda is out of touch with reality, but somehow she’s still endearing and a good mom. Brandi is trashy and so clearly in need of therapy it’s like watching a tall white Cadillac Escalade with blinged out wheels crash in slow motion.  Great TV.

The Affair on carpoolcandy.com


–The Affair    A lot of fellow TV junkies are raving about this show but Wilson and I thought it was mediocre. The concept is compelling– a story of an affair of two married people, culminating in a murder mystery, told from his and her points of view. But some of the writing was lame and the way they bopped around the Hamptons and Brooklyn when they should have been hiding in hotel rooms was bonkers and unrealistic. Oh but did I mention Joshua Jackson is unbelievably hot?? I don’t care how good The Wire was, I can’t imagine a world where one would choose the overcompensating greasy curls and weak character of Dominic West over Jackson, the brooding cowboy. I will say that the last 3 episodes were great and hooked us in for next season.

Trivia Crack Game on carpoolcandy.com

–Trivia Crack     Jacob introduced me to this app on my phone and it’s an addictive diversion when on-line at Trader Joe’s or commuting home. You answer questions in several different categories in less than 30 seconds, and can play against friends. The questions aren’t that hard (yet) so it’s a nice little ego boost and feels like a better use of brain juice than say, scrolling Facebook.

Are any of these sucking up your time? What are your latest pop culture obsessions? Tell me in the comments.

Black leaders raise $2.1 million so kids can see ‘Selma’ for free

I was working on a piece this weekend that I have to share. It’s a great story to commemorate the Martin Luther King holiday,  and there’s still time to take advantage of an inspiring program called “Selma for Students,” in cities all across the country.

I’m working today, but Wilson is taking the kids to see ‘Selma,’ thanks to some amazing business leaders who had an idea “that had legs,” as one of them told me.

It’s rare that a good idea discussed over dinner with friends actually turns into something big, and raising more than two million bucks in less than 2 weeks because you believe in educating our youth is pretty special.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Here are the deets:

Many students across the country will mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this year in a more meaningful way than just enjoying a day off from school.

That’s the goal of Paramount Pictures and scores of African-American business leaders who have sponsored free screenings for students in select cities of the new movie, ”Selma,” about King’s 1965 civil rights march.

 It all started at a dinner party on New Year’s Eve, when a group of prominent African-American executives were discussing the historical significance of  “Selma,” and how important it is for young people to see the story come alive on-screen. 

Soon dinner table chatter became a movement and within a week, 27 business executives created a fund to allow some 27,000 middle school and high school freshman students in New York City to see the film for free at participating theaters starting January 8. Seventh, 8th and 9th grade students were required to show a school ID or a report card to receive a free ticket.

”The reaction has been incredible,” Megan Colligan, President of Marketing and Distribution at Paramount– the film’s distributor– told FoxNews.com. “There’s something so special in not planning it, it really came from organic honest inspiration and then people were willing to dedicate themselves to doing something that’s never been done before. “

When the New York theaters sold out quickly in the first weekend, and the fund continued to grow as news of the program spread, the leaders expanded it to 75,000 tickets. Then Paramount and the executive sponsors began to think bigger.

By Sunday night (Jan 18,) the Selma For Students efforts had raised $2.1 million and distributed at least 285,000 free tickets in 24 cities– from Nashville to San Francisco.

“There’s a common identity with this cause and this history and everyone wanted to touch it. It’s been an incredible outpouring of support,” one of the business leaders, Fred Terrell, told FoxNews.com. “It’s something I’ve never seen, it’s been so infectious, and it gives you a sense there’s a cohesive quality to the African-American business community. They want to be part of educating our youth and telling that story to young people,” Terrell, Vice Chairman at Credit Suisse, said.

Executives leading the “Selma” for Students charge hail from many companies representing finance, law, and media—including American Express, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, BET Networks, and Essence Magazine.

As school, church, and youth groups gobble up available tickets, organizations in many communities nationwide have coordinated campaigns to find more African-American business leaders to underwrite more free tickets to keep the movement going.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

“Selma” details the events surrounding Dr. King’s march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, which resulted in one of the most powerful victories in the civil rights movement–President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite brutal opposition, King and his non-violent supporters made history as they courageously fought for change.

It was an epic moment the program sponsors wanted today’s youth to understand. “It would be a shame for such a great a historical vehicle to be in the marketplace and not get the opportunity to have a community meeting around it. The story is as relevant today as it was in 1965,” Terrell said.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about my history,” Joshua Phillips, 12, a student at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey said at a recent “Selma” screening with his classmates.

Several institutions in New York City and other communities are supporting the project by hosting viewings and discussions. Participating students are encouraged to share their thoughts on the film and photos of their experience on social media, using the hash tag #SelmaForStudents.

“We don’t get out like this so much so it’s something different for the students to experience, seeing an educational movie while having fun at the same time,” said Amanda Sherwood, 13, of Orange, New Jersey.

Terrell and many of the business leaders involved were pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming enthusiasm for the program and how rapidly it all came together. “The kids will know that there are African-Americans who cared about their education, who found a special connection between this movie and their own lives, and wanted to pay it forward,” he said.

“Selma” — directed by Ava DuVernay– stars David Oyelow as Dr. King, and includes actors Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, Cuba Gooding Jr., rapper Common, and Oprah Winfrey. “Selma” won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song and Best Picture. 

“The police officers beating the peaceful protestors had the biggest impact on me. People have to understand the struggle African-Americans had to go through to vote. We take it for granted,” said Antonio Green, 13, who saw the movie twice this week in South Orange, New Jersey.

The free “Selma” tickets are available for students, while supplies last, through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, January 19.

Did you take advantage of this amazing offer? What did you think of the movie? Tell me in the comments.