Monday, March 24, 2008

Palm Beach, Chicago, Houston Social Diary

The view from Terry Allen Kramer and Nick Simunek's Palm Beach ocean front palazzo.
Easter came early this year, plus it is Spring Break in Palm Beach and the town is bursting with activity. All the private schools are out so tons of kids are in town visiting their families, kicking up their heels and everyone wants to pack it all in before the end of March.

Me too, so I headed right down to Worth Avenue to check out Jeannie McQueeny’s terrific line of clothing. Jeannie McQueeny aka Lady Nuttall from Lyford Cay, was showing her fabulous caftans that are so right for resort life.

Jeannie McQueeny at Trillon holding one of her designs
Jeannie really gets it as she has lived in Nassau for years and really knows the kind of clothes you need for such watering holes.

After that I hit the tennis courts and regrouped to go to the Winston Churchill Foundation at Club Colette, honoring Arnaud de Borchgrave. All and all it was a perfect evening with short eloquent speeches, good food, lovely flowers by Jose Camargo, and a great group.

I spotted in the crowd Winston and Luce Churchill, Sunny Marlborough (aka Duke of) with Lilly Mahtani, Alexandra de Borchgrave, Audrey and Martin Gruss, David and Jill Gilmour, Ed and Suzie Elson, Catherine Cahill and Bill Bernard, John Mashek, Virginia Coleman, Joanne and Roberto de Guardiola, Catherine and David Hamilton, Karen and Richard LeFrak and more.

Next night was Terry Kramer and Nick Simunek’s big fun cocktail party at their absolutely dazzling, grand ocean front, 44 thousand-square-foot palazzo designed by Jeffrey Smith, punctuated with Picasso’s and decorated by Pauline Pitt with gardens designed by Mario Nievera. Terry and Nick used the very same team to create their spectacular duplex penthouse in New York City on the Upper East Side too. There was a wonderful mix of young and old sipping champagne and nibbling on yummy hor d'oeuvres and having a ball in the beautiful house.
Brucie Boalt and Catherine Shaw with her mother Gigi Arledge
Mark Gilbertson and host Nick Simunek
Terry Kramer and John McCloy
Jane Ylvisaker and Helga Wagner
Arriana and Dixon Boardman
Joanne de Guardiola and Mila Mulroney
Wilbur Ross with Melania and Donald Trump
After that we headed to David and Julia Koch’s spectacular abode, the historic oceanfront Addison Mizner-designed Villa Sarmiento for a benefit dinner dance supporting the American Ballet Theatre.

After a glorious performance of “Swan Lake” and “Don Quixote” plus a “Sinatra Suite,“ there was an auction conducted by Sotheby’s star David Ober of divine Graff earrings and then dinner and dancing way into the wee hours of the night.

In the group were Kathy and Billy Rayner, Maria Pia de Savoie and Michel de Bourbon, Howard Cox, Anne and Jerome Fisher, Karen and Richard LeFrak, Carol and Earle Mack, Chris and Grace Meigher, Christine and Steve Schwarzman, Maria and Bruce Bockmann, Marianne and John Castle, Luce and Winston Churchill, Sunny Marlborough and Lilly Mahtani, Talbott and Jack Maxey, Sabrina and Carl Forsythe, Dimitri of Yugosavia, Peter Lyden, Jim Mitchell and more.

— Hilary Geary Ross
Books awaiting the author’s signature. Click to order.
Last Wednesday night in Palm Beach, Steven Stolman hosted a book party at The Colony Hotel for author Scott Brigg and his new book “Feel the Burn.”

Book parties always have a certain buoyancy of their own. Maybe it’s the pseudo-intellectual premise lubricated with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres suggesting that people actually do read even if they’re known for never staying home and reading.

  Hilary Geary Ross and Scott Briggs
But when the author is a dashing young man like Scott Briggs and the subject matter is a thinly veiled roman a clef of one’s experiences as a personal trainer to the ladies and gentlemen of Manhattan/10021, guests were buying copies like crazy and skimming instantly for dish and dirt, of which there’s plenty. “Feel the Burn” is Brigg’s first book (originally serialized on this very website) and the synopsis alone immediately suggests a surefire sitcom. That’s how careers are made.

The gathering brought out tout Palm Beach to meet and greet the author by the hotel’s state-of-Florida shaped pool (we kid you not, but it’s missing the Panhandle).

In the crowd, Hilary Geary Ross, Howard Froman, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, John Milligan, Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas, “Kennedy Women” author Laurence Leamer, Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond, John Tatooles and Victor Moore, Sandy and Buddy Thompson, Leontine Linen’s Jane Scott Hodges, Richard Lambertson and John Truex, Kay Gilman and Herb Schmertz, Lois and Stanley Udell, Peter Cromarty, Jack Young, Laura Evans, cabaret star Marilyn Maye, Mia Morrison, Leslie Singletary, Rick Sabag and Rod Thorne, Jimmy Tigani, Patrick Killian, Laura Warner, Charles Lannigan, Lilly Pulitzer VP Sharon Sweeney and designer Jeffrey Chow and hip antiquaire Christine Bell.
Geoffrey Thomas and Sharon Sondes
Stanley and Lois Udell with Peter Cromarty
Rod Thorne and John Milligan
John Tatooles, Dan Hall, Victor Moore, and Scott Kent
Buddy and Sandy Thompson with Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond
Jane Scott Hodges and Rick Sabag
Howard Froman, Steven Stolman, and Scott Briggs
Richard Lambertson and John Truex
Gillian Miniter and Jane Scott Hodges
Steven Stolman and Leslie Singletary
Christine Bell and Victor Moore
Stephen Mooney with Penny and Keith Williams
Sharon Sweeney, Jack Young, and Jeffrey Chow
Scott Briggs and Laurence Leamer
The Kennedy mystique still fascinates even as this legendary family tree branches, splits and cross pollinates well beyond Joe and Rose and “Bobby and Ethel and Jackie and Jack.” So it was no wonder that in support of Best Buddies -- the organization championed by Anthony Kennedy Shriver. Palm Beach’s Flagler Museum was packed to the rafters, and raised nearly $600,000.

Frank Crystal & Company’s president and COO, Mark Freitas, chaired this premier gala in the Flagler Kenan Pavilion. It featured moments of poignancy, such as a Best Buddies young man thanking his mentor, to energized abandon as disco diva Gloria Gaynor belted out her repertoire in an adjoining tent glittering with hanging strands of crystals and spinning lights.
Cocktails in the Flagler Courtyard.
Tatiana Platt accepts the "Spirit of Leadership Award."
There: the evening’s honoree Tatiana Platt and husband Campion, Alina Shriver, Sargent and Eunice Shriver, Mary Fairbanks, artist Hunt Slonem, Tommy Quick, Cece Farris, Craig and Michele Millard, Arij Gasiunasen, Howard Froman and Scott Briggs, Mark and Ashlyn Montgomery, Sylvester and Gillian Miniter, jeweler David Morris, and Howard and Michele Kessler.

Best Buddies pairs intellectually disabled children and adults with mentors in the hopes of improving their lives, helping them navigate an already complicated world and securing gainful employment, which is the key to liberating them from the shadows of discrimination and dependence.
Hunt Slonem, Eunice Shriver, and Sarge and Anthony Shriver
Mark Freitas, Mary Fairbanks, and Howard and Michele Kessler
Ashlyn and Mark Montgomery
Campion and Tatiana Platt
Rod Thorne and Rick Sabag
Gillian and Sylvester Miniter
Gala Chairman Mark Freitas
Howard and Michele Kessler
Eunice Shriver and Tommy Quick
Artist Bruce Helander boogying to disco diva Gloria Gaynor
Anne and Jay McInerney
John Pankauski and Tricia Burt
Scott Briggs and Howard Froman
Bob and Mia Matthews
Antoinette Boalt, Geoffrey Thomas, and Sharon Sondes
Houston’s new downtown park, Discovery Green, sparkled at its inaugural “Gala on the Green.” Co-chairs Franci and Jim Crane, Nancy and Rich Kinder and Eileen and Kase Lawal hosted some 1,200 guests at the elegant black-tie evening on the park grounds across from the George R. Brown Convention Center. Many of Houston’s notable society turned out to celebrate the much-anticipated $122 million project which creates and preserves green space within Houston’s central city.

Major water features of the 12-acre park were visible to arriving guests including Doug Hollis’ Mist Tree and the Gateway Fountain.
Guests are serenaded as they walk the red carpet on the Brown Foundation Promenade.
A cocktail reception was hosted in Discovery Green’s signature restaurant, The Grove, which is operated by the Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group of Café Annie fame. After sipping green mojitos at The Grove, guests strolled down the “red carpet” to dinner under the live oaks along the Brown Foundation Promenade which was illuminated in green light from chandeliers elegantly draped from the branches.

Guests passed artist Margo Sawyer’s multi-colored artwork Synchronicity of Color before arriving at the white tent over the two-acre Jones Lawn. The tent was transformed by the masterful design skills of The Events Company.

Co-chairs Eileen and Kase Lawal
Guests then dined on the menu organized by Schiller Del Grande’s chefs Robert Del Grande and Ryan Pera: Filet of Beef with Home=style Mayonnaise, BBQ salmon with Corn Husks, Spicy Corn Salsa, Mexican Style Sweet Potatoes and Fried Chicken served family style.

Houston Mayor Bill White and his wife Andrea were honored and presented with the “Andrea and Bill White Promenade” (formerly Crawford Street bisecting the park) in recognition of their vision and dedication to this exciting addition to downtown Houston. Nancy Kinder, in return was honored with a personal gift from the Whites -- for the next three years there will be an annual concert and performance by Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts honoring Nancy. As the Chair of the Discovery Green Conservancy board, Nancy personally headed the effort to raise $54 million for the park in addition to the gala fundraising efforts. Fundraising achieved from the gala alone was $2.1million.

The amazing talents of Sha’on & Success, a New Orleans based group who evacuated to Houston temporarily post-Katrina, delighted gala attendees. Adding some sizzle to the night was Houston’s own Archie Bell.

Among those attending: Courtney and Chris Sarofim, Fayez Sarofim and Dena Albee, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Peter and Frances Marzio, Margaret Alkek Williams, Brady and Elizabeth Carruth (honorary co-chair), Tom and Jacqui Castro (honorary co-chair), Susie and Joe Dilg, Patti and Richard Everett, Larry and Mary Ann Faulkner (honorary co-chair), Tilman and Paige Fertitta, Jackie Martin (honorary co-chair), Vance Muse  of Travel & Leisure magazine, Bill and Sara Morgan, Jim and Cherie Flores, Tony and Cynthia Petrello, Mimi and Robert Del Grande, Candace and Lonnie Schiller.
Rich and Nancy Kinder (co-chairs) with Andrea and Mayor Bill White
Ginger and Jack Blanton with Bob Eury
Guy Hagstette, Discovery Green President; and Julie Bergen, Development Consultant, were singled out for their tireless efforts on the project.

The park officially opens to the public on April 13th with a Family Day planned. This day also marks the beginning of the park’s Spring/Summer programming season.

The Discovery Green Conservancy operates the park. It is a private, non-profit organization formed in 2004 at the behest of the City of Houston’s Mayor Bill White. The Conservancy was charged with designing and building an urban park on property across from the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Dena Albee and Fayez Sarofim
John Guess and Melanie Lawson
Yvonne and Rufus Cormier
Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel
Jessica Rossman, Gordon Bethune, and Jackie Martin (honorary co-chair)
Michael Zilkha, Franci Crane, Mayor Bill White, and Nancy Kinder
Nancy Kinder, Eileen Lawal, and Julie Bergen
Terence and Dierdre Fontaine
Larry Speck and Robert Del Grande
Richard Lapin and Jill Jewett
Brothers Jerry Finger and Marvy Finger
Co-chairs Eileen and Kase Lawal with Franci and Jim Crane
Sue and Lester Smith
Hermann and Aliyya Stude
Chris and Don Sanders, Heather Houston, and Paul Johnson
Sidney and Don Faust
BA Bentsen with John and Brenda Duncan
Elizabeth Stepanian, Brian Teichman, and Victoria Johnson
Encore Strings at Discovery Green "Gala on the Green"
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) raised more than $260,000 at their annual Gala, “Opera Less Ordinary,” held this past March 8th at the Grand Ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Guests enjoyed an evening of cocktails, dinner, raffle, silent auction, live auction and a stunning performance from mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó. The evening was a dazzling success and the guests left in eager anticipation of COT’s forthcoming 2008 Spring Season, which opens April 30th.

NBC5’s Art Norman kicked off a special presentation honoring COT Board Trustee Gladys L. Wolff. Honored for service the longest-serving board member on the COT Board -- 30 years. Lastly, she was presented with an engraved plaque from Tiffany & Co. to commemorate her commitment.  

Canadian Mezzo-Soprano Krisztina Szabó
This year’s the more than 280 guests participated in two raffles as well as both the silent and live auctions. Auctioneer Michael Davis, from Hart Davis Hart Wine Company, helped to raise over $71,000. The funds will help support COT’s upcoming 2008 Spring Season at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.

The net from this fundraising auction was an increase of 35% over last year. COT prides itself on partnering with Chicago Public Schools to bring young artists to inner-city school children to provide a 25-week program through the school year that integrates opera into the students’ curriculum.

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, who was a last minute addition to the program, flying in merely hours before the Gala, gave a ravishing performance, as did Donna Elvira who is in the COT’s new production of Don Giovanni this Spring. Ms. Szabó was joined by Matt Hanscom, a member of COT’s Young Artist Program, for a duet from Don Giovanni. The evening’s entertainment ended with performances from Lucas Harbour, Fred Joseph, Kari Sorenson and Amanda Tarver, all members of COT’s Young Artists Program.

Founded in 1974, Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, outreach, education and young artist programs.
Ritz Carlton Grand Ballroom, Chicago.
Since Brian Dickie’s appointment as General Director in 1999, COT has evolved as an opera company that is young, fresh, and colorful — an image well suited to its surroundings at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.

The 2008 Spring season opens with Mozart’s Don Giovanni (April 30-May 11) setting the classic story in a contemporary VIP nightclub, followed by the Midwest Premiere of John Adams’ A Flowering Tree (May 14-25) with Adams conducting the first two performances, and closes with Handel’s Orlando (May 28-June 8), a Baroque opera with the drama unfolding in the style of 1940’s film noir.

For more information on the 2008 Spring Season, visit or call 312.704.8414.
Michael Russell, Thomas Yore, Gary Weiand, Alan Burral, and John Kukla
Rick Cohn and CSO/Lincoln String Quartet violinist, Qing Hou
COT Board member, Gala Committee Chairman Jon Omahen of Tiffany and Co. (of Chicago)
Auctioneer Michael Davis from Hart Davis Hart Wine Company of Chicago in the Grand Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago
Dana Hammett and conductor Francesco Milioto
Mr. Neil Kawashima, Karen Kawashima, Past COT Board President Dorothy Osborn Walton, and Ann Blickensderfer
Joyce Idema and Gala Honoree and longest serving Board member Gladys L. Wolff and Jackie Quinn
Dr. John Brill
Kari Sorenson, Fred Joseph, Amanda Tarver, and Lucas Harbour; members of the 2008 COT Young Artist Program perform for the guests
Kelly Hsieh and Juan Fernando Yoshikay
Jim Gandre, Nell Dickie, and Boris Thomas
COT General Director Brian Dickie, Gladys L. Wolff, and NBC5’s Art Norman
Marla Krupman, COT’s Director of Development, helps donors place money in the raffle drum
Mark Naif, Silvia Vettese and Brian Sanderson
Cynthia Bates with Robert and Lois Moeller
Laura and Dr. Ricardo T. Rosenkranz
American Airlines representatives: Mo Euti, Carolyn Read, and Angela Sciortino
Michael and Mickie Miller of Barrington
Olga Sezneva and COT Board Member Mr. Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg
COT Gala Committee Member, Elaine Wong
Marisa Bryce and Jim King
Stacey and Kurt Lightcap
Suzy Lurie and COT Young Artist Program Member Matt Hanscom
Josh Brown and Annie Ethridge
  Hal and Christina Steinbrenner at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa - New York Yankees Annual Luncheon.
And down in Tampa Bay last week, the 2008 New York Yankees Luncheon benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay was held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel.

With over 400 guests, the event raised a record $280,000. The exciting event included speeches by event organizer Harold Z. Steinbrenner and Manager Joe Girardi, a silent auction of Yankees items and autograph signings with Yankees players past and present.

Attendees included George M. Steinbrenner III with his daughter Jennifer, Christina Steinbrenner and the rest of the Yankees organization.

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay is to enable all young people, especially those who need us the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Photographs by Lucien Capehart (Palm Beach); Liz Lauren (Chicago); Photos by Design (Green).

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