Last night in New York
The Van Vliet & Trap table at The Horticultural Society of New York's Flowers & Design. Photo: JH.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in New York. Then in early evening, the clouds drew over and there was a light spring rain.

At 9:30 I went down to The Four Seasons Restaurant on East 52nd Street where Peggy Siegal had organized a dinner after the showing of the opening film of the Tribeca Film Festival, “Flight 93,” the flight on 9/11 that went down over Pennsylvania.

I was one of the first people there. I ran into Jane Rosenthal, the film producer partner of Robert De Niro and co-founder of Tribeca Films. She is also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. She was having something to eat with Lisa Robinson, the music editor of Vanity Fair, Cathy Nelson who is head of music for Universal and Hollace Davids who is head of special events for Universal and who also, with her director-writer husband Paul Davids has just completed “The Sci-Fi Boys” which will be screened at the Festival.

I missed the screening. I missed it purposely. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to see the agony and the anguish which even the thought of evokes clear memories of that day.

I was talking to Steve Rubenstein from Rubenstein Associates who handle the PR for the Festival now in its fifth year when filmmaker Ken Burns and his daughter Lilly arrived straight from the theatre.

Burns has just completed a fourteen hour mini-series on the Second World War (called “The War”) which airs on PBS for the first time in September 2007. 60 million died in that War. He said that the younger generation somehow, because of television had come to believe that the losses were those of the Jews and other minorities and political prisoners in the concentration camps – more than 10 million, but that, in fact, there were five times as many who lost their lives before and that was only learned about at the very end of the war. Burns’ film will change that perception.

In the Pool Room of The Four Seasons for the Tribeca Film Festival's after party for the opening night film of Flight 93

He said he spent a lot of time interviewing veterans about their recollections for the series. Many of the veterans had never spoken of their experiences before. Family members present during the interviews heard things for the first time. These were hours laden with powerful emotions that were coming out for the first time in six decades.

Burns said that last night in the Ziegfeld Theatre, during the screening, the families of the victims aboard Flight 93 were there, all seated together. Their sobs, their crying, their moaning filled the theatre. It was “like a sound (Burns) had never heard before.” No one in the theatre, he said, was unaffected by the grieving families.

A few minutes later Felicia Taylor came by. She asked what I thought of the film. I told her I hadn’t seen it. “Maybe a good idea,” she said quietly, and continued on. The night after 9/11 I saw Felicia Taylor at the eleven o’clock hour dining at Swifty’s. Coincidentally I had been dining with Peggy Siegal. I barely recognized Felicia at first site – literally. It turned out she’d been telecasting for NBC from the site downtown, and what she’d seen had wracked her. I thought of that moment last night, as did she.

I talked to Eleanora and Michael Kennedy who had also just seen the film. Michael had felt like me and was reluctant, but Eleanora felt duty-bound to see it, and although it was wrenching and brought back so many personal memories of that day, they were glad that they saw it.

Later, moving about, as I was taking a picture of the pool room where many of the guests were (they were also in the Grille Room), I got into a conversation with a woman named Esther Heymann. Esther lost her 27-year-old daughter on that flight. Seeing film footage of the disaster was not something new for her. She and the families of the victims were there dining. She told me that the forty-six families of the victims had developed a bond and that they had all seen other films about it. They were most interested in this film because they are raising money to build a memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 10% of all the revenues from the first three days showing of the film will be donated to their cause. You can donate too by visiting

Everyone had high praise for Paul Greengrass, the film’s director. No matter how horrendous it was to sit through, to witness, everyone felt that Greengrass did a brilliant job. By eleven o’clock the restaurant was packed. The fabulous buffet tables of seafood, of pastas and salads, of sushi, of mets, as well as the bars was a comfort for the guests on this emotional night.

Lisa Robinson, Cathy Nelson, Jane Rosenthal, and Hollace Davids
Lilly Burns and her father and Ken Burns
Marcia Gay Harden and Thaddaeus Scheel
Fran Lebowitz
Michael and Eleanora Kennedy
Joe Versace and Vicki Mabrey

Paula Mello and Julia Stiles

Esther Heymann and her daughter Sarah Waino
Warren and Olivia Hoge

Paul Greengrass

Meanwhile, JH and the Digital was down at Gotham Hall where the Horticultural Society of New York was hosting its annual spring gala “Flowers and Design.” Regular NYSD readers may know about this event where the city’s leading floral designers create spectacular table designs, so spectacular that the dinner itself is almost an afterthought (not by the caterers of course).

This year they were inspired by the theme: “Celebrating the Renaissance, Designing the New Golden Age”. They honored the renowned interior designer Bunny Williams who is so busy with all of her houses, her reading, her (rescued) dogs, her husband and business-partner John Rosselli, not to mention her armies of clients to tend to that it’s amazing she had time to attend the dinner. The Design Chair for the evening was Chris Giftos, former Floral Master at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A report from one of the attendees: “The room looked beautiful. The tables were well thought out and incredibly well done. Blaine Trump and Gillian Miniter had the good fortune of sitting at the Antony Todd designed table that looked like something out of Marrakesh. Like the kind of table you would want to sit at with a lover – in a private setting. With a fantastic magnum of bubbles ... made me want to make a reservation at Casa La Femme or hop on a Royal Air Maroc plane and see the real deal. The smart looking gals all had on floral chiffons ... ”

Bunny Williams and Cece Black
Liz Peek and Michael Vollbracht

Roy Kean

Hugh McMahon
Badgley Mischka

Mille Fiori Floral & Event Design 1

Mario Nievera and Michael Foster
Elizabeth Stribling

Kent and Wibby Sevener with Chip Burley

Antony Todd
DeJuan Stroud, Inc.
Elizabeth Ryan Floral Design
L'Olivier Floral Atelier & L'Olivier Downtown
LMD floral events interiors
Castle and Pierpont
Renny and Reed
H. Hartley du Pont
Mark Gilbertson, Francis Hufty, and James Loudter
Georgina Schaeffer, Liz Finkle, and Elizabeth Belfer
Prudence Design & Events
Verde Custom Flowers, Inc.

Chestnuts in the Tuileries

Ayako Tachikawa
Edward Barsamian and Melissa Berkelhammer

Flowers, Sticks and Stones

Mille Fiori Floral & Event Design 2
Eric Javits

Flora New York

Phillip Thomas, Edward Barsamian, and Jeff Caldwell
L'Olivier Floral Atelier & L'Olivier Downtown
Serenading the guests to dinner

Belle Fleur, NYC

Gotham Gardens

Kent Sevener, Linda Garnett, and Mary Van Pelt

Katrina Parris Flowers
Hartley du Pont

Monique Merrill and Peter Van Ingen

Wolfgang Thom and Georgina Schaeffer
John Rosselli and friend

Charlotte Frieze and Gary Van Dis


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April 26, 2006, Volume VI, Number 71
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & DPC/


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/