Friday, March 2, 2007

A birthday for the books

Dallas Roberts, Oliver Sacks, Judge Barrington D. Parker, Frank McCourt, and Jane Friedman get a good laugh. 6:40 PM. Photo: JH.
2.20.07 - Jill Krementz celebrated her birthday last night at her Turtle Bay studio with a party she hosted with her husband Kurt Vonnegut and daughter Lily Vonnegut, for a fine array of guests – all good friends: authors, artists and sundry long time friends. The Krementz-Vonnegut parties, for any reader or writer, are always impressive because of the achievements of the assembled.

In the crowd:
Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe
(yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of her marriage to the late tennis great Arthur Ashe); Pia Lindstrom, Joan and John Jakobson, Dr. Gerry Imber, Oliver Sacks, Shirley Hazzard, John Berendt, Billy Collins, Frank and Ellen McCourt, Abigail Pogrebin, Mary Ellin Barrett whose father, the late great Irving Berlin’s show “Face the Music" will be the next Encores production at City Center.

Also: Carolyn and Tom Meehan (Tom’s the librettist of “Hairspray” and “The Producers;” and his next show “Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein” will debut  -- they hope – next Halloween); Marsha Norman, who won  a Pulitzer for her play “Night Mother,” and also wrote the book for the stage production “The Color Purple;” Pete (A.R.) and Molly Gurney, Justine and A.O. (Tony to his friends) Scott, New York Times theatre critic; Barrington D. (Danny) Parker, United States Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit; Suzanne Maas, Lindsley Dalglish Borsadi, an old boarding school friend of Jill’s from The Masters School; Midge Richardson, retired editor of Seventeen; Marc Pachter, executive director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington (Jill sits on the board); Jane Friedman, CEO of HarperCollins; HarperCollins publicity director Jane Beirn and Bob Raber; Susan Zirinsky (executive producer of 48 Hours) and Joe Peyronnin, John Hockenberry, award  winning contributor to Nightline and National Public Radio and his wife Alison; Celia and Henry McGee; New York Magazine TV critic John Leonard and his wife Sue; Morgan Entrekin (head of Atlantic Grove) and Rachel Cobb; Isobel and Ron Konecky (Isobel is chair of the New Dramatists); singer, pianist, music archivist, and owner of Feinstein’s at the Regency, Michael Feinstein; Christopher and Beth Hart, producer/ director who is working on an upcoming producing of “ACT I” based on the memoirs of his father Moss Hart. His mother Kitty Carlisle Hart frequently appears at Feinstein’s at the Regency. More, there’s more: Lou Miano, Leonard Harris, Maggie Paley, Ann Gussow, Louise Hirschfeld, Anne and John Janas, Robert Garrison.
The birthday girl with Kurt and Lily
The party began about five. At about 6:30, the birthday girl got up to thank the guests for coming, pointed out that they had another reason to celebrate because Kurt’s back on the best-seller list, (“A Man Without A Country,” Random House) and then she introduced a special treat for everyone: Rosanne Cash with her guitar who sang a country rendition of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from “My Fair Lady.”  Ms. Cash invited Michael Feinstein to join her in harmony singing the last lines of the song.

Cocktail talk.
  I asked Lou Miano how he knew Jill.  He told me she was his assistant at the short-lived but splashy SHOW magazine which was the creation of A&P supermarket heir Huntington Hartford, publishing four beautiful issues before going belly-up in 1964. At that time, both Hartford and Hugh Hefner put glossy show business/entertainment magazines on the market (Hefner’s was Show Business Illustrated) and both failed despite the high quality of the art and the edit. Perhaps it was the quality that killed them because there’s never been another show business periodical to match either of them.
A sampling of Henry Wolfe's contributions to the world of graphic design.
One day back then Lou dictated a letter to Steve Sondheim and was surprised to get a return reply by phone the next morning. How did the composer/lyricist get the letter so quickly, Lou wanted to know. Sondheim told him his nice assistant (Jill) delivered it by hand (since she “just happened to be walking by his house that afternoon”). Most interestingly, she travels in rarified circles compared to most of us, often in the company of many of the great dynamic and creative personages of our time. Although, it should be noted, when many of these distinguished types meet under her roof, there’s a certain feeling of “just folks.”

I asked Lou if he were the one who got Jill started on her illustrious career as a photographer. No, he replied, that came from Henry Wolf. Henry Wolf, now forgotten in modern media circles (he died a year ago this week, at age 79), was one of the greatest graphic designers of the last half century, having served as art director at Harpers Bazaar, Esquire and Show Magazine and on many major advertising projects for McCann-Erickson.  He also taught at Cooper Union, the School of Visual Arts and Parsons. His work was clean, clever, distinctive and classy. So Jill learned from the master, and became one herself.
Lily Vonnegut
Michael Feinstein, Mary Ellin Barrett, and Jill Krementz
A Krementz photograph of Kurt and Lilly in a horse and carriage
Kurt holding a gift for Jill
Jane Beirn and her husband Bob Raber
Marsha Norman, Tom Meehan, and Louise Hirschfeld
Frank McCourt, A.R. Gurney, and Billy Collins
Shirley Hazzard and John Berendt
Frank McCourt, Carol Muske Dukes, Oliver Sacks, Billy Collins, Kurt Vonnegut, and Lisa Rosen
John Janas, A.O. Scott, and Justin Scott
Lily Vonnegut, Oliver Sacks, and Jill Krementz
Louis Miano and Maggie Paley
Michael Feinstein and Rosanne Cash
Celia McGee, John Hockenberry, and Rosanne Cash
John Jakobson and Judy Auchincloss
June and Jonny Cash, Oct 23, 1968.
Bob Dylan and Jonny Cash on the same night.
Alfred Hitchcock, April 26, 1974.
Tom Wolfe. Working for the NY Herald Tribune, 1964.
Joan Jakobson
Ron and Isobel Konecky
Dallas Roberts and Marc Pachter
Rosanne Cash singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady
Jane Friedman and Rosanne Cash
Judge Barrington D. Parker and Anne Janas
L. to r.: Ann Gussow, Carolyn Meehan, and Marsha Norman; Jill with Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe.
Dr. Gerald Imber and Suzanne Maas
Billy Collins, Kurt Vonnegut, and Lisa Rosen