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Originally published Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Tuxedos and gowns were in abundance at the Seattle Hotel Association's 10th annual Evening of Hope gala last weekend at the Fairmont Olympic...

Seattle Times columnist

Tuxedos and gowns were in abundance at the Seattle Hotel Association's 10th annual Evening of Hope gala last weekend at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, but the most talked-about accessory of the night surely was the live cockroach brooch worn by Leigh Canlis of Canlis Glass.

The roach came dressed for the occasion studded in crystals and attached to a delicate gold chain; still, I am of the opinion that a cockroach doesn't belong anywhere near an Escada gown.

"It's definitely a male, by the region it's chosen on the dress," Leigh said, as the roach parked itself on her chest. "It hasn't told me its name yet." Later, she was overheard calling it Rodney.

Husband J.P. Canlis stood among the constant throng of onlookers surrounding Leigh and agreeably played the role of bodyguard.

"I protect my wife from her jewelry," he said. "And if it gets too close to her skin, I pull it off."

This year's gala highlighted Seattle's homeless and thus attracted such guests as Mayor Greg Nickels, attending for the first time. Just as I was working up the courage to go all Joan Rivers on him and ask, "Who are you wearing?" — pinstripes and a maroon tie — a photographer came up and snapped our picture. I'm secretly hoping it winds up in the pages of Us Weekly.

As befitting a fundraiser for first-time beneficiary Plymouth Housing Group, each dinner table sported a decorated birdhouse as centerpiece. To no one's surprise, the most flamboyant table belonged to PR maven Tamara Wilson, who outfitted her centerpiece with a hot pink flamingo, feather boa and a gaudy pair of high heels. This may or may not have been inspired by the little old lady who lived in a shoe, and had so many children, she didn't know what to do....

A private Mardi Gras party last weekend hosted by socialite JJ McKay, ModSystems CEO Mark Phillips and equestrian Lisa Schepis drew an eclectic crowd of local bold-faced names to a spacious loft in Belltown. Former Q13 anchor Christine Chen wore a single strand of gold Mardi Gras beads, along with her own eye-catching necklace of pearls and colored beads, which she bought "for $10 at an antique store in New Jersey." Actor Tom Skerritt, last seen floating face-down in a pool on ABC's "Brothers and Sisters," made a cameo with wife Julie Tokashiki. A man known to his friends as "The Larry David of Kirkland" told amusing stories over cocktails, such as the one about being present at the launch of the shuttle piloted by the guy at the center of the astronaut love triangle. "He's [the astronaut] from Alaska," Kirkland Larry David told me and my friend, who moved here from Alaska. "Miss Teen Alaska and the lieutenant governor of Alaska were at the launch." We sampled the jambalaya and cornbread, admired the view and whispered about Dale Chihuly's wife, Leslie, who was wearing the coolest pair of glasses and looked just as artsy and sophisticated as one might expect — Mardi Gras beads and all....

Actor Eric Roberts, whom I associate mostly with his appearance in those Mariah Carey music videos starring the dreamy Wentworth Miller, begins filming around Seattle this week for an indie flick titled "The Spy and the Sparrow" and directed by local filmmaker Garrett Bennett. I'm told that several major scenes will be filmed inside the historic First Church of Christ Scientist on Capitol Hill, which has delayed renovation plans to turn the church into private townhomes until production ends.

And that's a wrap.

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

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