FILLING ORINDA'S 750-SEAT ART DECO THEATER three times in one week is news.

First, there was seeing Tippi Hedren, the beautiful (still!) star of the 1960s classic Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds," first for the unveiling of her star on the city's new Walk of Fame, and the next night for a special showings of the film.

Then, some 45 wannabe stars competed as finalists in the Art Council's "Orinda Idol" contest, seasoned performers ranging from kindergarten through high school.

It was high drama in both cases: Theater Square was filled with the excitement of youth and the quickening pulses of the performers, whatever their age.

Blonde Ms. Hedren, wildlife activist, saves beaten circus elephants and big cats — lions, tigers, cougars, black and spotted leopards — through the Roar Foundation providing sanctuary at her Shambal Preserve at Acton (Los Angeles County) a 503(c)(3) organization. Call 661-268-0380 to participate.

A vision in above-knee-length pastel voile blouson and sparkling spangles, Tippi told fun tales of master Hitchcock, as well as the terrifying behavior of some of the birds assaulting her. Those having dinner with her during her Orinda visit found her gracious as well as lovely, posing for pictures with the locals. And the California Independent Film Festival folks had a surprise for her — In Lafayette, they found a sea foam green Aston Martin convertible from a classic car collector — the car believed to be the very one she drove in that scary movie.

MORE GOOD NEWS: The CAIFF has joined the Lamorinda Film and Entertainment Foundation (which produced Orinda's successful film festival), thus moving from Livermore closer to the East Bay.

"The Birds" and its feminine star's appearance was the first of several special events the California Independent Film Festival plans before the 2010 four-day film festival, scheduled for April 22-25.

Meanwhile the Lamorinda group is looking for special entertainment events and welcomes suggestions at its Web site, www.lfef.org, advises executive director Randy Hollechau.

The Orinda Idol performers also were self-assured. A handsome Miramonte junior, appearing with his little second-grade sister, didn't win, but the duo cheerfully announced they'll try again next year. They thus indicated they've already profited from life's inevitable leveling experience — you can't win 'em all.

German physicist Petra Michel, founder of Orinda Idol, added a co-chairman this year — Augyn Severson, sister-in-law of Orinda's mayor, Sue Severson. And the voice of Orinda, Steve Hargrove, was heard in the land.

  • n n

    FROM FILM FANTASY TO FOOD: Orinda's next event: Restaurant Tour, Tuesday, Sept. 29, starting at Theater Square with appetizers at 5 p.m., tour at 6 p.m. and dessert at 8 to 8:30 p.m., and benefiting our schools. Get tickets in advance at $30 per person online at www.orindachamber.org/OrindaRestaurant2009.htm.

  • n n

    ON TO LAFAYETTE, where the 14th annual Art and Wine Festival last weekend drew almost 100,000 people looking for and finding most anything. Jewelry was popular, some acquiring rings to wear from ears to toes. Arts and crafts in many modes attracted mothers and babies, strollers, dogs from teeny to to wolf-size, children through adults, the latter toting their wine glasses amid the tantalizing aroma of Polish sausages and beer and enjoying the sweet coolth of ice cream. Saw Berry Knight volunteering for Las Trampas — lots of good causes represented. Moraga Art Gallery's Pat Smith had a grass-green ribbon crocheted into an interesting scarf. Lafayette's Chamber of Commerce CEO Jay Lifson deserves another medal for this winner weekend; in addition to the award he won recently from the Contra Costa Library's Second Chance Project that teaches adults to read, Jay raises money for this project via the annual "best martini in CCC" contest, providing a pleasant combo for participants. Congrats, Jay and Lafayette.

  • n n

    FIVE YEARS AGO, Carolyn and Chip Herman, along with John Vanek, service manager of Orinda Motors, founded the annual September Car Show and made about a thousand greenbacks for charity.

    Chip collects Mustangs, and looking around Orinda, discovered some other horseless carriages. This year they made $25,000 for Orinda Schools' Education Foundation of Orinda, and for Seniors Around Town, the group of Orinda Association volunteers that drives elders who can't drive themselves anymore. And this year the Orinda Historical Society participated. Not a bad record for the first five years! And it was free, except for dads and kids who paid $25 each to ride in their favorite. A total of 130 cars admired, oldest being the Kaiser Darrin.

  • n n

    AWWWWW: EVERYBODY LOVES GERRY (Dzendzel) THE VET, and now Gerry has a love of his own — she's Jenifer, appropriately enough a technician at his Orinda office duplex, with one door for dogs and one for cats. They married June 27 in the beautiful tiny chapel at Sea Ranch (capacity about 15). So last Saturday, some 200 friends gathered for a reception at Running Springs on Fish Ranch.

    Rich Render, boyhood chum of Gerry, was best man and his crackin' good band player for the occasion — call Rich, he can supply one or up to 20 players for your next event. Congratulations, one and all.

  • n n

    THE ACALANES CLASS OF 1954, unique in that it was the last class that included Orinda, Lafayette and Walnut Creek, wants you to know its 55th reunion is Saturday, Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Zio Fraedo's Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. Cocktails, dinner and dancing (They still can!)

    More info online at www.acalanes1954.com., or call Judy Rugh Muller at 707-933-8020. They must be nearing a record; they've met every five years since graduation and plan a benefit for Acalanes now.

    See you at Saturday's Moraga Pear Festival — good pies, music, treats for the kids.

    Reach Sun columnist Harriet Ainsworth at 925-254-9320.