The week begins
The bar at Cipriani 42nd Street at the American Theatre Wing's Spring Benefit. 8:05 PM. Photo: JH.
A chilly Monday, bright and sunny, in New York; after that very warm and fair weekend. Better not to jump the gun.

At 6:30 JH and I went down to Christie’s at Rockefeller Center for cocktails preceding the benefit dinner for the Center for Arts Education (CAE), a premiere public/private partnership founded to restore, stimulate and sustain quality arts programs in New York City public schools. Hard to believe, but more and more I learn that New York City public schools now lack just about everything but the very basics, to the point that people like Laurie Tisch, who is a founder of CAE (in 1996), have to find the funds to help the kids.

A decoration made by student artists of the Center for Arts Education
They used this event as an opportunity to showcase elementary school students who have benefited from the arts education programs funded by the Center. CAE, since its founding, has awarded more than $35 million in private and public funding to support arts education, as well as partnership and programs in New York City schools. And why is that important? You have to ask? In a word: dreams. Of a better life, self-created and realized.

Among its projects CAE supports a Parents as Arts Partners program, as well as a career development program which places NYC high school students in executive departments of arts and related businesses and non-profit organizations. We talked to a couple of young people who are currently participating in this program. One young man is working in the advertising department of a major department store where he is seeing the results of his efforts being published. A young woman who is working in a fashion house is seeing the seeds of a career being planted.

The honorees last night were the Annenberg Foundation, The Honorable Schuyler Chapin and Vartan Gregorian. A group of students from Frank Sinatra High School of Fine Arts performed jazz during the cocktail hour, in a room with its walls hung with paintings created by student artists in the program. The centerpieces for the tables were created by students from PS 144 in Queens, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx and PS 44 in Brooklyn, in collaboration with Matthew David Events.
Stephen Lash and Vartan Gregorian
Laurie Tisch and Cory Booker

Schuyler and Catia Chapin
Emily and Jerry Spiegel
Laurie Tisch, Emily Sussman, and Bob and Joan Tisch
Students from Frank Sinatra High School of Fine Arts performing
CAE interns James Dunphy, Dyaise Shantal Lamb, and Ilbert Sanchez
Jon Tisch
The centerpieces created by students from PS 144 in Queens, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx and PS 44 in Brooklyn, in collaboration with Matthew David Events
From Christie’s we hopped a cab down to Cipriani 42nd Street where the American Theatre Wing was holding its Spring Benefit to honor CBS Television and his chairman Leslie Moonves. Mr. Moonves is co-President and co-Chief Operation Officer of Viacom and Chairman of CBS. He was being honored for his and his company’s “steadfast commitment to the Tony telecast and live theatre.”

Jessica Lange and Christian Slater
We arrived just as a cadre of photographers were following Christian Slater and Jessica Lange to the so-called red carpet for the perfunctory shots. Whether they are or not, the two looked like an item. Although that’s actors for ya ...

In the crowd: Lucie Arnaz, Hank Azaria, Julie Chen (Mrs. Moonves off-camera), Charles Grodin, Cheyenne Jackson, James Earl Jones, Pia Lindstrom, Maria Cooper Janis, Cece Black, Sondra Gilman (the new president of the American Theatre Wing, succeeding the late founder) Marian Seldes, Sir Howard Stringer, Richard Thomas, Tommy Tune, Kathleen Turner, Leslie Uggams, Lilas White, Beth DeWoody, Chappy Morris and Melissa Stanley, Barbara and Donald Tober, Marty and Cornelia Bregman, Joanne Cassullo, Dasha Epstein, Elizabeth Stribling, Doug Leeds, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sharon King Hoge, Peggy Siegal, Audra McDonald and David Geffen. Honorary Chairs were Sumner Redstone and Sir Howard Stringer. Chair of the event was Jon Wilner.

The American Theatre Wing is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to education and excellence in the theatre and with the League of American Theatres and Producers, they jointly award the Antoinette Perry (“Tony”) Awards.

JH was pretty busy at this event, as you can see. Interestingly, it has lately become the habit, in my observation, that whenever a woman knows she’s going to be photographed, she puts down her glass, even if it’s water, so as not to appear to be drinking. It amuses me because frankly I rarely if ever see a woman at any of these parties and events drinking in any way that could be considered excessive.
Ellen and James Marcus
Doug Leeds and Peggy Siegal

Cece Black
Sharon King Hoge
Chuck and Catherine Gropper

Chappy Morris and Melissa Stanley
Jessica Lange and Christian Slater meet and greet
Nathan Bernstein and Katharina Otto-Bernstein
Jamie deRoy and Tricia Walsh-Smith

Joanne Cassullo
Barbara Tober and Sondra Gilman
Chase Mishkin and Pete Sanders

E.J.
Les Moonves, Julie Chen, and Sir Howard Stringer
James Earl Jones with his wife Cecilia
Beth Rudin DeWoody, Eric Faulkner, and Daryl and Jordan Roth
Maria Cooper Janis and Isabelle Konicky
Anki Leeds, Elaine Orbach, Wendy Sarasohn, and Nancy Leeds
Greg and Margaret Hedberg
Paige Peterson
Dinner is served at the American Theatre Wing's Spring Benefit
When the crowd at the American Theatre Wing benefit went in for dinner, I departed for a dinner party at the Fifth Avenue apartment of my friends Tom and Diahn McGrath. The McGraths, both lawyers, always have an interesting group at their dinners. Their chef comes in from Long Island to prepare an excellent dinner, and the table usually seats twelve or fourteen.

Their guest of honor last night was Tom Suozzi (pronounced Swazzee), the 42-year-old Nassau County Executive. I first heard about Mr. Suozzi years ago when my late lamented friend Dorothy Hirshon told me about him because he’d been elected at age 31 as Mayor of Glen Cove, which was her home base. She was a big fan of his.

In 2001, he was elected Nassau County Executive, the youngest person ever to hold that office, and a Democrat in the most Republican county in the state of New York, as well as the first Democratic County Executive in over thirty years, and only the second in Nassau County’s history. The reason for his election was that the old boys who were running the show for years had gotten lax and sloppy with their constituency.

Tom Suozzi
Mr. Suozzi is Italian-Irish American (he grew up in a household that included both sets of grandparents) and has that kind of almost wise-guy candor that identifies him as a man who comes from the nabes (whether or not he does). He’s a good looking man, married, father of three children, a lawyer and a CPA, who is also the only elected official to be awarded a US environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Environmental Award. During his tenure as Mayor of Glen Cove, Mr. S built a new City Hall Police Headquarters, Courthouse and EMS building.

In 2001, when he ran against the Republican incumbent, he defeated his opponent by a margin of nearly two to one. During his first week in office, he was ordered by a New York State appointed financial control board to propose a plan to eliminate the County’s massive $428 million deficit or be subject to a State takeover. He did it. And not only did he do it, but he did it with a no-tax increase balanced budget, two years in a row. Nassau County also received 8 bond upgrades in a single year – the only municipality in the nation to be recognized for its positive achievements this way.

Mismanagement, according to Mr. Suozzi, is one of, if not the leading problem in politics today. One hand greasing the other and ignoring the needs of the governed who foot the bills. His achievements are evidently so remarkable in this particular political atmosphere where politicians seem to be expected to help themselves to whatever, that he certainly looks like a hero.

Next election, however, he faces a new Republican opponent, and, according to him, his excellent record does not make him invulnerable to someone else’s succession. However, he seems confident that he can win and again, and maybe go on to higher office.

At the McGraths’ dinner table, there is always an abundance of conversations and opinions. Last night, however, it was mainly Mr. Suozzi’s forum, although there were others, obviously important political contributors, who were interested in his long-range political plans.

Occasionally, although not often,
I am exposed to these moments when a politician and/or candidate presents himself or herself to potential supporters, and it is always interesting. I unfortunately missed a breakfast at “21” for Senator McCain a couple of weeks ago, although several friends told me about it with great enthusiasm and approval. It’s always interesting to see and hear these people under these circumstances – a small-ish group of interested and/or concerned potential supporters who are inclined to ask the “hard” questions of the politician.

Mr. Suozzi obviously enjoys the game. He even admitted it. Politics, he pointed out, does not pay. He earns $109,000 a year, about what he earned as a junior lawyer at Shearman and Sterling. But he likes the problem solving and the competition, and, he joked, the ego boosting. He has a candor that is charming and disarming, although one that because of that Italo/Irish kind of wise-guyness (and don’t get me wrong, I grew up in that atmosphere, and am easily amused by it), may lead others to other, less favorable conclusions about him. Nevertheless, he’s a smart guy, and it’s a dynamic personality that is forthright, look-you-straight-in-the-eye, with a solid handshake and an ability to at least appear to be listening to the person he’s talking to.

Alice Mason
, the legendary real estate broker here in town who was for years one of the most important Democratic fundraisers nationally (she personally raised more money individually for Jimmy Carter in 1976, and also raised $1.5 million for Clinton-Gore at one dinner in 1992) was at the table. Occasionally I couldn’t help stealing a glance in her direction just to wonder how she was apprising the man, for whatever her political affiliations, she’s very canny and shrewd about such matters. Of course I couldn’t read her mind, and so I may never know.

So last night was about raising money for teaching art and offering opportunities to children in New York public schools, raising money for the American Theatre Wing which is dedicated to assisting the creative forces in American Theatre, and all followed by a delicious dinner with several sophisticated and prosperous New Yorkers listening to a young man who may or may not be on the threshold of a major political career. Definitely a most interesting evening to this observer.
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Last Wednesday night, Barbara de Portago of the Versailles/Giverny Foundation hosted an annual gala dinner for 170 honoring Queen Noor of Jordan at the Hotel Carlyle.
Barbara de Portago, Queen Noor of Jordan, and Gillian Spreckels Fuller
Missie McCloy and John Punnett
Florence van der Kemp and her grandson Cadet Russell Grant (of The Valley Forge Military Academy and College)
Gündel Dorrance and Stephanie Dorrance Jr.

Her Highness Princess Zarina Zainal of Malaysia
Howard Laks and Irena McLean in Givenchy
Roger and Kassidy Schagrin

Sherri Babbio
The Earl and Countess of Albemarle, Rufus and Sally
Geoffrey Bradfield and Liana Makkos

Karin Luter
Kathy Sloane
Andrea Stark

Warrington Gillett III and Noelle Nikpour
Tom Croonpuist and Cochane Wilcox
Nicola Loeb, Sharon Handler in Givenchy, and Ambassador John Loeb
Leslie Eichner, Guy Clark, and Gigi Fisdell
James Tigani and Nanette Ross
Raul Suarez, Debbie Bancroft, and Marcel Guzzo
Mary Ourisman and Nancy O'Sullivan
Robert Couturier, Keith Langham, and Carlos Picon
Stanley and Elizabeth DeForest Scott
Penelope Hunter-Stiebel and Gerald Stiebel
Jonathan Farkas and Mona Wyatt with Larry and Michele Herbert
Linda Hess Cooper, Carl Forsythe III, and Carole Holmes
Mark Rice and Gillian Spreckels Fuller in Givenchy



April 12, 2005, Volume V, Number 62
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/NYSD.com and Jay Brady (Queen Noor)

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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com