We’ve all done it. We’re in line at the grocery store when our eyes drift to the magazine rack. We scan the flashy print for news of the latest starlet tantrum or red carpet romance. We roll our eyes or have a little chuckle, but whatever the reaction, the rich and famous seem a constant source of curiosity for many. But that salacious and sensational an soap opera that is Hollywood tends to feel like a place that’s very, very far removed from our own little neck of the woods. But the glitzy limelight of Hollywood might not shine that far from Preston Hollow after all. Some of our neighbors actually knew these familiar faces before the big break, others have rubbed elbows with A-listers in their line of work, and still others just happened to encounter a star in passing — proving that, in the end, this is indeed a small world. Here are some of our neighborhood’s claims to fame — something we call Preston Hollow’s very own …

Charles Ford has spent a lifetime behind the lens, photographing cultural icons for top magazines. If you’ve flipped through the pages of Rolling Stone, Vogue, Esquire, Harpers Bazaar or GQ, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this resident’s work. “I actually started taking photos back in high school, but I was so bad I could never make the yearbook staff,” Ford says. So he took the safe route, earning a business degree at the University of Texas-Austin. That’s where fate stepped in. “During college, one of my friends was working on a project in , and he needed someone to take photos, so he asked me to help,” he says. “So I went and started taking photos, and I got some great stuff — which is kind of unfair because anywhere you point a camera in a country like that, it’s going to be interesting.” Those photos jumpstarted his career, and within a few years he’d worked his way up to the big leagues of New York City, where he says, “a lot of work with celebrities came into play.” One of his most memorable photo shoots was with Yoko Ono. “I remember I went to Yoko Ono’s apartment for the photo shoot, and just being there, seeing all the John Lennon memorabilia — like his big, white piano — was really moving,” he says. “What really impressed me though was this roadmap from a cross-country trip they’d taken. John Lennon had doodled little animals and people on the map, along the route they’d taken, and Yoko Ono had kept it, and famed it.” After the shoot, Ford was preparing to leave Ono’s apartment when he got the parting gift of a lifetime. “As I was leaving, I told her how much my mom enjoyed seeing her and John Lennon as guest hosts on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’” he says, “and she said to me: ‘Oh really? What’s your mother’s name?’ And then she pulled out this postcard with a sketch by John Lennon, and she wrote a note to my mom on it. Of course, I knew immediately that I didn’t have to buy a Christmas present for my mom that year. She still has that postcard framed in her house.” Stepping into the Houston training studio of world champion heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield made for another memorable shoot, Ford says. “We got their right in the middle of a training session. All these big guys in the gym were gathered for a prayer circle, and there was gospel music playing,” he says. “So the whole time these boxers were training, there’s gospel music playing as people are beating the crap out of each other. It was very surreal, very bizarre.” But, as a true Texan, Ford says photographing country music icon Willie Nelson was one his most remarkable days on the job. “I was actually pretty excited to meet him and get the chance to photograph him,” he says. “I went out on his property, I think they called it ‘Willie-ville’ and I got a photo of him slow dancing with his daughter. It was very sweet, and he’s just a very nice, down to earth guy.”

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For more information about Charles Ford’s photography, please visit charlesford.com

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Today we know him as the ultimate Hollywood heartthrob, but back in high school, Preston Hollow resident Melanie Pinker just knew him as “a very popular and very nice goody two shoes.” She’s referring to none other than Brad Pitt. Pinker and he “were associates in the same circle of friends” throughout middle and high school in their hometown of Springfield, Mo. “He was just the sweetest guy in the world,” she says. “One year he was dating a girl who tried out for the cheerleading squad, and she didn’t make it. So Brad made a campaign to try and get her on the squad. It didn’t end up working — but now that’s a good boyfriend.” Even back then, Brad was quite the ladies man. In fact, he had the girls lining up to kiss him — literally. “We would go roller skating, and the girls would have contests to see how many boys they could kiss, and Brad was always a willing participant,” she says. “And of course all the girls wanted to kiss him as well. He was always very popular when it came time to play spin the bottle too.” When he wasn’t dazzling the girls, Pitt was singing in his church’s youth choir, acting in drama club, playing tennis, or cheering in glee club, a fact which Pinker thinks “he might be a little embarrassed by now.” She says she never would have pegged Pitt to be the megastar he is today. “I would have never thought Brad would turnout to be a celebrity like that, but then again, you never do expect those types of things,” she says. “I can still remember double dating with him in eighth grade, and his date was so much taller than him. It just makes me laugh now.” Pinker lost touch with Pitt after high school, but suspects he’d remember her if they crossed paths again. “Both of our fathers worked for the same company, and both our families still live in the same town, so I always joke that we need to go out on the lake with them sometime,” she says. “But if I ever was to catch up with him, that’d be great because he’s just an old friend, and I’m happy to see he’s done so well.”

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Kirby Warnock still remembers that trip to West Texas. “I was just 5 years old when my dad took me to Marfa, Texas, where they had filmed the movie ‘Giant’,” he says. “Even though I was just a kid, I remember being so intrigued because that was the first time I got to see where a movie was actually made.” That intrigue stayed with him, and in 1995, Warnock returned to the small town of Marfa to produce ‘Return to Giant,’ a documentary about the making of ‘Giant’, a 1956 drama classic — and the last film James Dean made before dying. “This was the first documentary I ever made, so I really learned as I went along,” he says. “My documentary looked at the locations where this movie was shot. We really focused on the town, and how several of the locals were hired to work on this movie, and we interviewed some of the movie cast.” And that cast included some pretty big names, like Academy Award-nominated actor Dennis Hopper. “It’s funny because Dennis Hopper always plays these creepy villains, but in person he’s really like this polite frat boy,” he says. “He was especially nice during our interview, and maybe that’s because he really enjoyed making ‘Giant,’ but I really can’t say enough good things about him.” Warnock also scored an on-camera interview with Earl Holliman, a Golden Globe Award-winning actor. “When I met with Earl, there was something almost familiar about him,” he says. “It’s hard to describe, but it’s almost like he was an old uncle. He’s just a good ol’ boy.” Musician Don Henley narrated the documentary. “We contacted Henley’s agent to see if he’d do it, and sure enough, he agreed to it,” Warnock says. “He showed up at a studio here in Dallas to record the narration, and he was very accommodating. I think the whole reason he was willing to work on the project was because ‘Giant’ was one of his favorite films. And of course, I was very happy to have him come on board.”

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Nigel Chalkley thinks Dallas could be the next Hollywood. “People have no idea what types of resources we have here; we could make this Hollywood No. 2.” And Chalkley should know: He’s been pushing to make it happen for years. “The legislation is a real problem because we don’t give tax incentives to filmmakers, but that industry could actually bring multi-millions of dollars to our economy,” he says. “And we are already have Reel Effects, one of the nation’s top animation studios in downtown Dallas … so that momentum is already here, we just need to keep it going.” Chalkley has also been active in the Deep Ellum Film Festival for several years, and he helped organize this year’s AFI Film Festival in Dallas. He also recently produced a documentary, “TV Junkie”, which is a compilation of the video biographies of Rick Kirkham, a promising television personality who secretly battled addiction for several years. “Kirkham started keeping a video diary when he was 14, and he continued to document his life from then on, so we compiled all those videos into one documentary,” he says. “Kirkham was going to be next Tom Brokaw. He had a family, a promising career and the life of young jetsetter, but nobody knew he was also a crack cocaine addict. The documentary follows him through these wonderful journeys and into these dark places. When I saw the raw video footage, it was just one of those things where you knew you had to do something with it.” “TV Junkie” debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the best documentary award. It was also recently featured on HBO, as a part of a series about addictions, and on Oprah. Today, the documentary has also been integrated into an anti-drug lesson on DVD for teachers to show in the classroom. Chalkley’s work in film production and involvement with film festivals has given him several opportunities to mingle with big screen stars, like Robert Duval. “Robert Duval is a wonderful Texas gentleman,” he says. On a few occasions, Chalkley’s also hung out with Lou Diamond Phillips. “I first met Lou at a cancer benefit where he came out to play poker,” he says. “He took his shirt off to try and intimidate us, which we all got a good laugh out of, so he’s very funny. He’s also very down to earth and always willing to support a good cause.” Overall, Chalkley says he feels fortunate to have met many of people who give us big screen entertainment. “I’ve been very fortunate to even be in the same room with these icons. After all, they’re the celebrities on the cover of ‘People’, and not everyone gets to meet them.”


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