Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kicking it off with the “Mother of the Year”

L. to r.: Restaurateur Michael McCarty, actor/producer (“Bella”) Eduardo Verastegui, Tony Bennett, Frank Gifford, Sean Wolfington, Susan Bennett, Herb Siegal, and Michael’s GM Steve Millington.
This was the main table at Michael’s yesterday lunchtime, right around the corner from where I was sitting with the polo playing PR exec Ashley Schiff and her boyfriend Mike Ramos. I’m not certain what brought this crew together (although Gifford and Siegal, old pals, were lunching at a table nearby), but the Latin American heart throb Sr. Verastegui is a recent friend of the legendary crooner Mr. Bennett. At one point in the luncheon the painter/portraitist Mr. Bennett drew a likeness of his friend. Next week Tony Bennett will appear at a benefit for the Israel Philharmonic at the Waldorf. Mr. Verastegui’s film “Bella” is a big hit, as my colleague and Verastegui enthusiast Diane Clehane wrote in today’s, "the star is known as the Brad Pitt of Latin America." It was a celebration luncheon all around. Otherwise around the room, producer Charles Kopelman, Sherry Westin, Wash Post columnist Richard Cohen, producer John Hart, Peter Price, Lynn Goldberg, Peter Wolf, his wife, Judy Price with Beth DeWoody, Maryam Banikarim, Steve Aarons, Jamie Niven, Jerry Della Femina and Gerry Imber, Warren Hoge and Gerry Schoenfeld, Felicia Taylor and Francine LeFrak, Alex Hitz and Brooke Hayward Duchin, Pamela Keogh, Marc Victor, Brad Zeifman, Jared Shapiro, et al.

Last night in New York. Cynthia and Dan Lufkin hosted a reception for the American Cancer Society – New York, as a kick-off for the upcoming ACS’s annual “Mother of the Year” 2008 Award Luncheon. This year the honoree is Mrs. Lufkin, and remarkable mother she is.

Two or three years ago Cynthia was diagnosed with breast cancer when her pregnancy was about to come to term. The seriousness of her condition demanded immediate action. Her child (a girl) was born very soon thereafter and then Cynthia underwent major surgery. She’s a young woman, as you can see, already the mother of another little girl, and a fairly newlywed to her husband Dan. She’s also a popular woman in New York, very active in several philanthropies as well as a very friendly kinda happy-go-lucky (on the surface) girl. Everyone rallied behind her and in numerous ways kept silent vigil for her complete recovery. Which she has achieved completely, we can all say thankfully.
The Lufkin living room.
When you’re in her presence it’s hard to imagine what she’s been through in the past couple of years because it was an intense and not short process. Cynthia’s one of those people who wears her woes quietly and resolutely. So last night was a kind of celebration aside from the purpose of publicizing the upcoming luncheon which will be held Tuesday, February 26th at the Plaza (cocktails 11:45, luncheon 12:30).

I’ve covered these “Mother of the Year” luncheons in the past. They draw a big crowd of mostly women, many prominent and social, many others who are just supporters of the cause. In past years they’ve been at the St. Regis Roof. This year will be in the newly refurbished Plaza Ballroom. It’s a warm and touching event and often filled with laughter – which is why it probably draws a big crowd every year. The honorees are always very interesting, having interesting stories to tell, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes very amusing, even funny, and all times carrying the implicit message of courage and hope.
The Eastern view of the living room.
Meanwhile back at the Lufkins’ kick-off cocktail. It was held in their recently finished apartment which is in a renovated and restored 19th century building up on Central Park. As you can see from the photograph I took of the living room, it is spectacular in the way that New York apartments can be spectacular, lending itself to wonder and to a child’s imagination. 

I got there more than an hour into the party and so I missed many. Although I did see Diana and Richard Feldman, Leigh and Emily Keno, Chris Meigher, Wendy Carduner, John Castle, Grace Hightower DeNiro, Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, Roger Webster, Peter and Jamee Gregory, Ellie Cullman, Couri Hay, Cricket Burns, Julie Dannenberg.
Dan and Cynthia Lufkin
Anne Sutherland Fuchs and Dayle Haddon
Richard and Diana Feldman
Wendy Carduner, Somers Farkas, Cynthia Lufkin, and Muffie Potter Aston
Diana Feldman and Anne Keating
Terianne Zeifman, Cynthia Lufkin, and Luis Valero
Emily and Les Keno with Barbara and Chris Janien
Fred and Sharon Klingenstein
Dennis and Justin Karr
Cynthia Lufkin and Grace Hightower
Cricket Burns, Julie Dannenberg, and Emily Keno
Erin Ryder and Rebecca Meyers
Peter Gregory and Chris Meigher
Afterwards it was down to Swifty’s for a late dinner with an old friend from Los Angeles on her way back from London. Swifty’s was jampacked. Among the crowd: Interior designer Roberto Couturier was entertaining at a small dinner in the backroom. Saw Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino, Barbara and Bobby Liberman, Peter Bacanovic, Alex Hitz among them. Also at another table, interior designer Barbara Uzielli with friends. In the front more interior designers John Barman and Kelly Graham with J.Crew honcho Jeff Pfeifle et al; and at a corner table political consultant Robert Zimmerman with a lady friend. Swifty’s did the hors d’oeuvres for the Lufkin party also – the little pigs in the blanket, the miniature cheeseburgers that you can pop down like potato chips. So it was a Swifty’s night for this palette.

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