Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rain doesn't slow down the day

Raining along Fifth Avenue. 2:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Weatherman promised a wet day in New York. Sort of but not quite, with temperatures rising up toward Springtime.

Over at the Museum of Modern they held the David Rockefeller Award luncheon and honored banker and one time cabinet secretary (under Richard Nixon) Pete Peterson. The Award is presented to an individual “for enlightened generosity and advocacy of cultural and civic endeavors.” The luncheon is also a fundraiser which benefits the Museum’s educational programs. Yesterday they raised almost $4 million, which gives you some idea about the pockets of those attending, many of whom represented corporations, and the influence of the honoree, which is precisely how the process works.

Pete Peterson received his award from David Rockefeller while Mary Hilliard photographs  
Co-chairs of the luncheon were J. Tomilson Hill, Donald Marron and Richard Salomon. Honorary Co-chairs were Marie-Josee Kravis and Jerry I. Speyer. With approximately 250 guests, among those attending were Sid and Mercedes Bass, Leon and Debra Black, Agnes Gund, Suzanne and Bill McDonough, Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin, Jamie Niven, Patrician and Gustavo Cisneros, Sydney and Stan Shuman, Holly Peterson, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Jo Carole, Aerin and Jane Lauder; the Museum’s president Glenn Lowry, Catie Marron, Louise Grunwald, Jeff and Liz Peek, Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones, Paul LeClerc of The New York Public Library, David Rockefeller, Mr. Peterson’s wife, Joan Ganz Cooney, Elizabeth Rohatyn, Adam Weinberg, Liz Smith, Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley, Lisa Phillips.

The tables were set up in the museum’s gallery facing the garden presided over by Rodin’s majestic sculpture of Honore de Balzac who kept a cocked eye on the whole occasion. Mr. Rockefeller’s mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was one of the founders of the museum. His father was never an aficionado of modern art but nevertheless supported his wife’s interest, which in turn plied the interests of their offspring.
David Rockefeller under the watchful eyes of Rodin's Balzac.
The David Rockefeller Award is meant to be and is an award of prestige, of one of the greatest cultural institutions in New York and indeed, in the world. Its recipient is one who can and does make a difference to the institution financially. No small number of tickets were sold amongst the business community for yesterday’s do because of Pete Peterson who has become something of an eminence gris in social, political and business circles. Besides being a frequently published assessor of national financial matters, last year he also “cashed out” of his position at Blackstone Group (which he founded with Steve Schwarzman twenty years ago), realizing a billion dollar reward for his time. At the time, the cashing out (when the firm went public) was looked upon as a likely ending to a long and illustrious career. Now the move is beginning to look like something more, either prescience of the highest order or brilliant luck. Or both.
Lewis Cullman and Agnes Gund
Richard Salomon, Marie-Josee Kravis, and David Rockefeller
Jerry Speyer and Peter Peterson
Helen Stewart
From the MoMA lunch I hurried down Fifth to the Bryant Park tents where the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is going on. I was there to see a 2 o’clock show of Dennis Basso’s Fall Collection. These shows usually start late, some outrageously late.

No one expected any such thing from Dennis, however. But by 2:30 no one was being admitted to the Promenade. This was very unusual. Finally about three it was announced that a young man had had a very serious epileptic seizure in the tent. There were no paramedics nearby and it took some time to get them there. Just after three they removed the barriers and we were admitted.

Dennis Basso has over the years become a social fixture in the New York-Southampton-Palm Beach axis, making friends among the different age groups. He is a worker and a  frequent welcoming host. This was reflected in the crowd along with the corps of fashionistas, fashion journalists and editors who filled the giant tent for his show. I did not see Ms. Wintour although Andre Leon Talley was there in Row A, front seat number 1.

Mr. Basso, who started out fashion life as a furrier, has also moved into ready-to-wear, that is dressy ready-to-wear.
Nina Griscom and daughter Lily
Barbara Winston
Ellin Saltzman
Giles Bensimon
Candace Bushnell
Susan Magrino and Scott Currie
Leba Sedaka
Jane Pontarelli and Denise Wohl
Audrey Gruss
Marisa Brown and Eva Lorenzotti
Barbara Portman and Rory Tahari
Milly de Cabrol
Carol Alt and Andrew Saffir
Jamee Gregory and Bill Smith
Bill Smith and Becca Thrash
Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Barbara de Portago
JIll Kopelman and Jennifer Creel
Tinsley Mortimer and Fabiola Beracasa
Gigi Mortimer and Marjorie Gubelmann
Brooke Shields and Lorraine Bracco
Lauren Ezersky and Patrick MacDonald
Geoffrey Bradfield and Michele Gerber Klein
Jill Roosevelt, Bettina Zilkha, and Marcia Mishaan
Last night Tamara Mellon, the Jimmy Choo shoe-tycooness, and Joshua Schulman were official hosts at a dinner party at the East Side townhouse of Nick and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn to celebrate the publication of “Celebutantes” by Ruthanna Hopper and Amanda Goldberg.

Ruthanna and Amanda are both children of Hollywood. This is a not uncommon yet rare breed of cat in social circles. These are the circles of the elite, West Coast-style, which is quite different from their Eastern brethren. Children are brought up with a sense of the entertainment industry as a way of life, a living, a breathing place in life. And yet ... and yet, Hollywood; serious? Oh very. Uh-huh.

Ruthanna’s father is Dennis Hopper, the movie star, art collector and multimillionaire filmmaker. Her mother is one of his five wives. Amanda is the daughter of Wendy and Leonard Goldberg of Beverly Hills and Television and Movies. Her father Mr. Goldberg was once a partner of Aaron Spelling and produced many hit television shows such as “Charlie’s Angels.” He also produced the hit film “Charlie’s Angels,” along with many others.

Ruthanna Hopper and Amanda Goldberg (Click to order "Celebutantes")
The two young women met on Oscar night a few years ago at a party at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles. Someone introduced them because  they were both kind of sitting off to the side watching the party go on. In talking they discovered their similar backgrounds and interests, one of which was mutual: writing. One thing led to another over the following months; a friendship blossomed and eventually Ruthanna asked Amanda if she might be interested in writing a book together about this Hollywood life they’d been brought up in. A kind of West Coast variation on the Bergdorf Blondes theme.

It was interesting to hear them talk about how they went about approaching writing a novel. They knew exactly how to go about it. Was it their natural upbringing where people sit around and talk scripts for hours and days and years on end? Was it awareness of the process of producing something, as both had witnessed by osmosis? Whatever it was, they set their computers down on opposite sides of the table and started talking and writing in tandem. They already had many ideas of the characters they wanted and so they fleshed them out. Then they fleshed out the plot of the story and turned it into a treatment. When an agent sold it to St. Martin’s Press, they sat down to write.

In hearing them relate their experience, it seems as if both girls had built in discipline although Ruthanna believes that it’s having Amanda as a collaborator that armed her with discipline. They each have a different approach to putting it down. Amanda is very very expressive verbally. Ruthanna has to write it out. Together, after a year and a half, they competed “Celebutantes.” Yesterday was the official pub date. Sally Richardson, the publisher was there as were Amanda Goldberg’s parents.

Both girls were surprised to find the after-process of writing a novel – the promoting – was so intense. As part of the process, they made four videos based on the book and which can be seen on YouTube. Next week they leave for Amsterdam and then to Madrid and Barcelona to publicize the book which is being published in several languages, and then back to L.A. for Oscar week.

I asked if they were planning to collaborate again. Oh yes. They have an idea, probably a sequel to “Celebutantes” for the characters are still very much alive in the girls’ psyches. Both told me that they felt so close to the characters that they even dreamed about them.

About 9:30 our hosts called for everyone to ascend the stairs to the Rohatyns’ kitchen where a big buffet of pastas, salads, fish, meats and string beans, roasted garlic and lotsa talk around the tables set up in the kitchen, the dining room and the living room.
Helen Shifter and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn
Shoes and stockings ...
Product placement at its finest
Ruthanna and Jeanne and Amanda
James and Kim Garfunkel
Somers and Jonathan Farkas with Alexandra Wolfe
Wendy and Leonard Goldberg with Sally Richardson
Celerie Kemble
Alex Papachristidis, Carol Mack, and Scott Nelson
Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict
Kimberly and Eric Villency
Fabian Basabe and Zani Gugelmann
The spread
Serena Boardman, Rufus Albemarle, and Bill Norwich
Alexandra Wolfe and Somers Farkas

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