A record 8,600 friends of the Lanier Law Firm attended the Houston firm’s annual holiday party on Dec. 14, where teen popster Miley Cyrus, star of the Disney show “Hannah Montana,” entertained a huge crowd that included thousands of screaming, dancing preteen girls. W. Mark Lanier, who hosted the party on the grounds of his house in northwest Houston with his wife, Becky, says partygoers donated a covered wagon full of school supplies and more than $250,000 for Guatemala SANA. The charity was established by Rafael Espada, the vice president of Guatemala and a former doctor in Houston. Lanier says every penny donated at the party will go directly to the charity and its educational programs. Lanier says they hired Cyrus for the show to bring a large crowd to Christmas Cheer and Charity event, which also featured plenty of food, games and carnival entertainment. Lanier says Cyrus performed at a reduced fee, because it was a charitable fundraiser, but he says he can’t say how much his firm paid her. But he notes that she was booked for a 45-minute show and actually sang for 90 minutes, which he says is the longest nonstop show she’s ever performed. Next year’s party will likely double as another fundraiser for Guatemala SANA, Lanier says. Who can top Cyrus? Lanier declines to confirm or deny the rumor that Elton John will take the stage at the 2009 holiday party, but he says it is true that he and Becky ate dinner with John at the British singer's house two or three months ago. “He’s a very nice gentleman,” Lanier says.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys