Monday, March 8, 2010

Everybody loves a star

Even New Yorkers are glued to their TV sets on Oscar night. 11:00 PM.
March 8, 2010. A beautiful weekend in New York with the temperatures rising into the low 50s by Sunday, with lots of white-bright sunshine.

The Thursday Breeze.
Or why I like to go to Michael’s for lunch. At least one reason. I was having lunch with that redoubtable blonde about town Nina Griscom, and who should be sitting at Table 1, around the corner from us looking out at roomful of bankers, publishers, media moguls, journalists and socialites, but ... Hulk Hogan. And entourage. I mean really: where else in the world would you get that kind of icing on the celebrity cake?

Rosanna Scotto with Hulk Hogan at Michael's.
Naturally I brought my digital (I’d planned to get a picture of me and Nina but forgot in the melee of getting a photo of Hulk Hogan). Rosanna Scotto was at the next table across from us and as you see, she’s no kid to waste a photo op and she got herself in there.

Everybody loves a star. And Hulk Hogan is a star. You can tell because off-camera, he looks just like Hulk Hogan! The one and only. I don’t know what he was doing in town but Susan Blond is his press agent, she knows what he’s up to. She was at Michael’s too.

He was lunching with his manager, and some family members and friends. He’s a big guy, kind of larger than life. It’s the aura (as well as the tonsorial artisanship), the flush of his complexion against the white hair, and the fact that he’s a big guy.

If he got you in a neck-hold, for example, you can only think ... not pleasant.

He was, however, very accommodating. Camera ready when he was ready, and very agreeable. Hulk Hogan. Tommy Hilfiger was across the way. He’s pretty famous too, although he ain’t no Hulk Hogan, that’s for sure.
Hulk Hogan and gang at Michael's. Behind Mr. Hogan: Jimmy Hart, Susan Blond, and Elizabeth Rosenthal.
Thursday night at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, there was an Inaugural Gala Dinner for the Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women which was created by Cecilia Attias two years ago. Mrs. Attias up until that time was known as Cecilia Sarkozy, briefly the First Lady of France when her then husband Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France.

Her husband today, Richard Attias, is very well known in the corridors of power as the man behind Davos, (or the man who runs Davos, depending on who’s telling you). The new foundation, from what I could gather, will find funding for projects all over the world that promote and support matters of women’s rights.

Cecilia Attias.
It was a very impressive dinner. The Stephen Schwarzman building, as it is now known, is one of the great institutional monuments of New York. Cocktails were in the entry hall of the library and then we went down stairs to the Celeste Bartos Forum for dinner. The room was beautifully decorated with vast and shimmery sprays of flowers as centerpieces. The menu had been provided by one of Mme. Attias’ friends and supporters, Daniel Boulud – this is quite the coup for a benefit dinner no matter what the charity. Paul LeClerc, the head of the Library spoke. As did Diana Taylor.

Cecilia, as they all call her, has lived in New York, under the radar mainly, for the past few years. She is one of those women who makes friends with other women, and as a result she has a number of very good women friends in New York. Used thoughtfully, in New York such thing is a network. I could see she has that self-confidence.

I met her for the first time only on Thursday night. She has a quality of determination about her although it’s not hardnosed but almost unassumingly. Like, why not?

I read that she studied piano as a young girl and won first prize in a conservatory contest; that she’d studied law and worked as a parliamentary assistant before she went to work for Elsa Schiaperelli, the French fashion house, as a fitting model. She’s been married three times, has three children; and now she has a new mission.

I’ve been covering the world of philanthropy (which in today’s terms is the real world of society with a capital “S”) throughout the 90s and Aughts now, and it is interesting to watch the process unfold as well as change with the times. Many of these projects (which is how they begin) have flowered and done amazing things for the community and for the world. Evelyn Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation, for example. Sharyn Mann’s Food Allergy Initiative is another. Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and the Rita Hayworth Alzheimers.
The New York Public Library's president, Paul LeClerc.
Cecilia Attias at podium ...
Ceceilia Attias on the stage as her husband addresses the guests.
It is an area of philanthropy that is the domain of women to a great degree. The subject of Women and Women’s Rights is regarded by many women as the forefront of solving the problems and improving education and living conditions for everyone – male and female – men, women and children, the world over. The subject is the future of mankind. If the civilization is to be saved, if the world and all its troubles is to be saved, then, it would seem to more than some, that it will be because the women saved it.

The motivation behind these projects is to take control of matters at hand, independent of governmental (re: political) solutions, deeming an alternative. Mme. Attias has thrown her hat into that ring of solutions.
Nazee and Joe Moinian with Dayle Haddon. Olivia Flatto.
Christiane Amanpour. Christy Ferer and Paul LeClerc.
When I met Cecilia Attias, who is very warm and friendly (and French), I couldn’t help noticing the similarities between her and Carla. Now what do I care? I don’t. But I was noticing anyway.

Aha, a type. He definitely has a type. The new man, Mr. Attias, however, does not seem to bear much resemblance to his predecessor, although he and the President of France have a thing in common besides: they are go-getters. Time determines the rest.
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