The rain moved on yesterday
An alligator on display at the Central Park Zoo for Wildlife Conservation Society’s annual fund raising gala, “SAFARI! The American West”. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesdays at Michael’s restaurant, which you’ve read about over and over here, are big with the media folk. Coincidentally or not the luncheon guests are (partially) listed in that day’s, the creation of an intrepid little lady named Laurel Touby who looks like she was sent over by her boss to get the names of the people who sat at that Wednesday’s MEDIA tables. Some now believe that Ms. Touby’s industrious collecting of what is merely libation for thirsty egos, has effected the profile of the Wednesday Media Customer at Michael’s. And it could very well be. She was not the first to record it. It started here, although my objective was not as focused as Ms. Touby’s, nor would it be.

The Media World is a very amusing watch. Their interest in their own newsworthiness often seems to exceed their interest in THE news. But, at the end of day kids, it all boils down to the reality: The Rent.

So. Michael’s on Wednesday is now a Media Circus. (Thank you Laurel.) And is that fun? Aren’t circuses fun? Yesterday it seemed like they were hanging off the ceiling along with Real Names – Willy Nelson (how many times do you get to watch Willy Nelson in a room fulla suits holding forth with his signature self-effacing modesty?). If there were a conversational noise distiller and you could have isolated the conversations I’m sure there were more delicious dishes NOT on the menu.

And over there was Kathleen Turner, who was lunching with Terry Allen Kramer. And Mr. Barry Diller whose former movie studio colleague Jeffrey Katzenberg was nearby, as was Hollywood director Brett Ratner and Hollywood agent Jim Wyatt. And Norman Pearlstine the former head of Time (and former husband of Nancy Friday), and Jim Kelly the just-happened former editor of Time and the new editor of Time, Rick Stengel and the just-happened former head of Court TV, Henry Schleiff. Right next door to them, Joe Armstrong was with Paula Zahn. Ms. Turner was lunching with Terry Allen Kramer and Claire McCurry.

You’ve read about Terry here before, and last February you saw a picture of her standing in in the brass, glass and steel front door of her Palm Beach mansion. Terry Kramer is rich as Croesus’ daughter and one of the great gals of New York. She’s got a big house on the ocean in Southampton that she’s been thinking of selling since she and her partner Nick Seminuk spend a lot of their summer in the South of France. Howard Stern’s rented it for a year. (He’ll never wanna leave – Terry lives well but she also lives Very Comfortably; snuggle up.). She also produces Broadway shows. Like the wildly successful “Movin’ Out.” Like the recent revival of of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (starring Ms. Turner.)

DPC with Erica Jong and her daughter Molly Jong Fast

Mr. Rattner was with Jerry Inzerillo, the hotelier who’s plugged into the the entertainment industry enough to be an agent. Table one which is larger and in the bay had a bunch of executives: Stuart Zakim, Arnold Huberman, Jeff Schneider, Howard Polskin, Patrick Reilly, Peter Himler, Matt Hitltzik. There was Matt Frankel, Drew Kerr, Jeff Bercovici of WWD. Never heard of ‘em? Doesn’t matter, they’ve heard of You.

Then there was Zoe Baird. Susan Blond with Andrew Klink, and next door Linda Fairstein and lunch partner; Harry Benson, the man who’s photographed more of the Great Big World’s players in the past half century than anyone else and who now appears in a monthly photo memoir in Quest. Mr. Pearlstine was lunching with Ron Perelman; Bettina Zilkha was with Debbie Bancroft and George Farias; Holly Peterson et al; Stan Shuman, Gerry Byrne with Nick Verbitsky, Tony Hoyt with Curtis Geisin, Rachel Sklar of the Huffington Post with Mark Lukasiewicz; literary agent Freddy Friedman, literary pr guru Lynn Goldberg and Joan Gelman; Cindi Lieve of Glamor; also literary guru Sandi Mendelsohn, Dana Cowin from Food and Wine. There was Graziano de Boni, the head of USA Valentino, with Kevin O’Malley from Esquire, Neal Shapiro of ABC News with Juju Chan and Andrea Wong.

Me, I was with Erica Jong and her daughter Molly Jong Fast. This was my first time meeting Daughter, who is in her late 20s, and as engaging and verbal as her mother. It is always interesting to see someone you know completely away from their being a family member. For you always see another aspect of that person’s personality. One way or another. Erica Jong in the Mother role. She plays it very graciously, bowing to her daughter’s charm.

Ms. Jong-Fast brought me a copy of her “Girl Maladjusted; True Stories From a Semi-Celebrity Childhood.” In other words: child of the famous (I haven’t read the book yet but am assuming.) Children of celebrities are a category onto themselves. And they all know it. Ms. Jong-Fast also has the self-confidence of New York girl with that built in cosmopolitan savvy that New York kids (of a certain socio-economic strata) acquire with the same ease they learn to use cell phones. She comes easy to a sense of irony as well, as well as an ego that gets enough exercise so that she focuses on her curiosity. And so we talked about: books, book reviewers, the mean ones who like taking other writers out in reviews (a LOT of those overfed and undernourished egos), and many other things – three people who may even talk in their sleep.

There is another section of the restaurant, not so incidentally, which is the location of choice for many others in other businesses or with other business. That room, which is located in the second half, the back of the restaurant, is half glass, in a California style, and looks out on the garden of the building where the restaurant is located. The garden room is what attracted Michael McCarty to the space in the first place. He took one look and said “that’s for me!” The explanation was simple. He already had a hugely successful (still is) restaurant by the same name in Santa Monica and it has a garden. However, it is in the front room where the media people, etc. sit. Possibly because it’s easier to flee an irate boss or reader.

The rain moved on yesterday in New York. By late afternoon the clouds had cleared away for the sunny blue sky. This was a good thing. At 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, it was appreciated for the fact that last night was the Wildlife Conservation Society’s annual fund raising gala which this year was called “SAFARI! The American West” celebrating the American West and the 100th anniversary of the American Bison Society which along with the WCS, saved the bison from extinction.

Hundreds of years ago, hundreds of thousands of bison roamed the West. The arrival of the Europeans to settle in the early 17th century was the death knell for the beasts although it was more than a century before that materialized. By the third quarter of the 19th century, the migration of these Europeans towards the shores of the Pacific plundered the lands of the bison and their human neighbors, the Native Americans.

By the beginning of the 20th century, there were less than 1000 bison left. In 1905, William Hornaday, director of the Bronx Zoo, along with President Theodore Roosevelt and others created the American Bison Society. Two years later 15 members of the Bronx Zoo went out to Oklahoma and got started restoring the specie. I don’t know the number but there are now thousands of bison inhabiting roaming areas of the West.

The work of the wildlife conservationists is as crucial as that of the nature conservationists, the environmentalists and ecologists. It is directly to the survival of our own specie. The WCS saves wildlife and wild lands worldwide. They do it through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Their activities can and do change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living harmoniously.

Last night more than 650 supporters gathered for the black tie dinner, auction and dancing. They raised more than $1.1 million. They honored Mary and Howard Phipps Jr. Mrs. Phiupps is the Chairman of the Board of Old Westbury Gardens, a former Phipps residence. She is also a Director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York. Mr. Phipps, known as Howdy to his friends, is a Wildlife Conservation Society Chairman Emeritus. He’s been a Trustee of the WCS since 1961.

The cocktails were held, as they always are, by the Sea Lion Pool with the sea lions energetically in residence. Their presence was assisted by some of the zoo’s newcomers: Nachman the wallaby, Veta the fennec fox, Zach the cockatoo, Lucy the monitor lizard and Frankie the sloth.

In the glittering crowd: The Schiffs – David, Lisa, son Drew and his wife Karenna Gore; Uma Thurman, Glenn Close and David Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Michael and Judy Steinhardt, Jones Yorke and Betsy Bartlett, Allison and Leonard Stern, Edward and Andrea Stern, Andrew and Ann Tisch, Ann and Tom Unterberg, Katharina Otto and Nathan Bernstein, Virginia and Warren Schwerin, Priscilla and Ward Woods, Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels, Daria and Larry Leeds, Richard Kaplan and Edwina Sandys, Rosalie and Garry Brinton, Norma Dana, Wilbur Ross and Hillary Geary, Debbie Bancroft, Dailey and Gordon Pattee, Frances Hayward, Debra and Leon Black, Nicholas Landrigan, Peggy Siegal, Franz and Bettina Burda, Edward and Susie Hayes, Caroline Hirsch, Jamee and Peter Gregory, Margo Langenberg and Rolf Heitdmeyer, Muffie Potter Aston, Dick and Francesca Nye, Dayssi and Paul Kanavos, Edgar and Louise Cullman, Marian Heiskell, Bonnie and Charlie Evans, Dana and Dr. Patrick Stubgen, Ellen and Dr. Dick Levine, Bill and Tina Flaherty, Frannie Scaife and Tom McCarter, Denise Wohl.

After dinner the main course there was an auction conducted by Jamie Niven who raised $100,000 between four couples who bought the right to name their own Bison Herd. That’ll be some name. And after dessert, the junior set joined the festitivities – almost 1000 people, men in suits, young women in dressy or long dresses, with cocktails and canapés around the Sea Lion Pool again and then dancing to the spins of Tom Finn. I checked out just about that time as they were streaming in. It was the perfect weather for nighttime party in the park surrounded by the Manhattan towers through the trees.

Peggy Siegal and Muffie Potter Aston
Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos and Isabella Rossellini with the house sloth
Karenna and Drew Schiff
Dr. Steve Sanderson with Allison and Leonard Stern
Above: Carol McFadden. Right: The Animal parade at the Central Park Zoo.
Ann Unterberg
Susie Hayes and Debbie Bancroft
Frances Hayward, Virginia Schwerin, and Tess Mullarkey
Ann Tisch, Ambassador and Mrs. Dan Gillerman, and Andrew Tisch
Lisa Schiff and Tobie Roosevelt
John Barman and Andrea Stark
Western cocktail entertainment
Marcy MacDonald and
Jean and Armand Lindenbaum
Richard Kaplan
Jonathan and Somers Farkas
Katharina Otto-Bernstein, Nathan Bernstein, and Uma Thurman
L. to r.: Hilary and Wilbur Ross; Harriet Weintraub and Bill Cunningham.
Betsy Bartlett, Lisa Schiff, and Jones Yorke
Andrea Stern
Clockwise from above: A Sea Lion entertaining himself during the speeches; An eagle perched in the zoo; Senator Hassell-Thompson and Donna Drayton.
Denise Wohl
Under the tent for dinner
Dr. Steve Sanderson, Glenn Close, and David Shaw
Rosalie Brinton and friend
Maria Antonia Paternó
Jane Batkin and Ann Tisch
Ron and Harriet Weintraub
Norma Dana
Linda and Ben Lambert
Tina Flaherty
Terry Liebman and Ellen Liman
Francesca Stanfill
Jamie Niven
Garrison Brinton and Richard Kaplan
Dana Stubgen and Shura Out
The Bison Syndicate: Allison and Leonard Stern, Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Jessie Ewing, and Steven Silpe
Oliver Hammond and Shura Out
Caroline Hirsch
Rolf Heidtmeyer and Margo Langernberg
DJ Tom Finn conducts the night


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May 18, 2006, Volume VI, Number 85


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/