Monday, February 27, 2012

Marriage-go-round; last of Gossip Girl

Looking northwest across Central Park. 5:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, February 27, 2012. A brilliantly sunny day, yesterday in New York. And cold.

Marriage-go-round; and Up and Down. In the Good News (for some) department, the four-year-old acrimonious divorce saga of Cendant Corporation tycoon Henry Silverman and Nancy Silverman, his wife of 33 years (37 if they’re still not officially divorced) is over. Done, like dinner. No trial dates, as many of their friends had anticipated; no more tumult, no more shouting. I’ve been told that the settlement is said to be somewhere in the hundreds of millions and has been agreed upon by both parties.  

The soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Silverman with Mr. Silverman in happier times, at the Whitney Gala.
Henry Silverman built Cendant into a multibillion dollar a year business through hotels, motels (Days Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Ramada, Travelodge, etc.), rent-a-cars (Avis, Budget) and real estate (Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Sotheby’s International Real Estate). The soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Silverman was by his side every inch of the way in the years he created his treasure.

Four years ago Mr. Silverman told Mrs. Silverman there was somebody else in his life. The story was first reported here on the NYSD. Like, his physical trainer, a woman named Karen Hader. The new couple soon (maybe immediately) took up residence together and before we knew it, the pitter-patter of little feet could be heard in the new couple’s marble halls, while the Battle Royal with the once deeply devoted (and I’m not exaggerating) now deeply wounded wife Nancy, began.

The split came as a big surprise to friends because Nancy Silverman practically worshiped at the altar of astounding business success she identified as Henry Silverman’s personal possession. That is not to say she behaved like anybody’s patsy; she is definitely a woman with her own ideas. But they were probably the last couple in their set who would have been considered candidates for this sort of thing. They appeared to be a team; joined at the hip. Then the news broke, and so did the wife; just about. Henry was out the door, altar and all.

The stories that followed were typical divorce chatter that you hear in this neck of the woods, where the departing partner withholds, withdraws, refuses, forbids and generally leaves the cruel impression that he didn’t give a damn about the lady he’d spent the prime of his life with. Or vice versa. This kind of divorce technique is produced and directed by the lawyers.

Mr. Silverman and Ms. Hader.
It is so commonplace where money is involved that it probably could be packaged and sold as a DIY divorce kit. My friend Margery Rubin, who divorced one of the biggest matrimonial guys in the business and won (at trial) what she had fairly coming to her, learned it so well she can advise you to practically DIY.   

Divorce today, as handled by a lot of matrimonial lawyers, with the obvious approval (and maybe assistance) of the divorcing spouses, is a crummy, dirty, ugly business. It is also a crummy, dirty, ugly business that many people seem to agree to participate in rather quickly -- like putting on an old coat.

For example, last August a State Supreme Court judge banned “scientific” evidence whereby Henry Silverman (or his lawyers) was claiming his “innate genius” was the reason he made this great fortune while married to Mrs. (And therefore should be exempt from community property laws.)

This was evidently designed to alter the perception of others that she – and her focused devotion – had something to do with the increasing number of zeros in Mr.’s bank account. (ed. note: It should also be noted that Mr. Silverman also had some other significant partnerships and close relationships -- the kind you don’t leave for an enthusiastic physical trainer no matter what -- such as Blackstone and Apollo Management, two of the biggest private equity firms in the business).

So four years later after the groom skeedaddled like a thunderclap, the dust settles. The denouement: Mr. Silverman will be out a big chunka-change. Mrs. Silverman can rest assured she can pay the gas-and-electric and have three squares a day (on her favorite china). And the newly-ish Mr. and Mrs. Silverman can get on with their new lives and their new family. A relatively simple solution that dents a bank balance but doesn’t hurt a flea, so to speak. The question begs for future considerations: what took so long?
On my way across the Queensboro Bridge Thursday afternoon at 3:30 looking out at the Silvercup Studios where Gossip Girl is shooting.
Last Thursday was my second and last day of “Gossip Girl.” Call was for 3:45 p.m. A big relief after the 16 hour day before. At five o’clock we were into rehearsals and then shooting the scene. I was on my way home at 9 p.m. Whew.

I had lines in this one. Two; so ordinary as to not imply anything about the story. Kelly Rutherford had those lines. I had two lines. Blah blah, blah; and later: blah, blah. Nevertheless the scene was just me and KR. She seemed so much the part right there on the set that it was easy to act off of her. On the set she is much like she is on-screen (ex her character’s edge). She’s one of those girls who has work to do and she does it. She’s got two little ones at home also.

The other person in the scene was Sheila Kelley who plays Kelly Rutherford’s sister Carol. I don’t know much about her character or their relationship except that on camera they seem like night and day. And then some.

Sheila Kelley, the S Factor Girl, with her script on the set.
Off-camera, Kelley not only wants to get the job done, she’s also getting another job done. She doesn’t sit still. Unless she’s thinking (or in Hair and Makeup). She’s busy. That must be the way she lives. I really didn’t know anything about her until this. Many others know her -- from Gossip Girl, Sisters, LA Law, ER, on Sopranos, and on and on. She has had a very successful career in Hollywood.

She’s got personality. She was that girl in high school that a lot of the boys would have liked to date but she dated only the football captain. She was a looker then, as she is now. I read somewhere she trained ballet, went to the Tisch School at NYU as a Dance Major.

This is a glass-half-full girl (only when it’s not full full). For example: She had to learn how to pole dance and do a strip tease for a film she produced. She took what she learned and used it for her role, and then she turned it into a business. You may have heard of it because she’s been on Oprah and every other media marketing promotional device extant. Her brand is “the S Factor.”

The exercise involved had a very positive effect on her physical and mental self. There’s a book: The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman. And three DVDs.

But it’s not like Sheila Kelley is the name behind the label. She’s the force too. Besides the DVDs and the book, there are classes in New York, in Chicago, in San Fran, Houston, Costa Mesa, and also retreats – a big one scheduled for the near future. Watching Sheila on set – and you can see from the pictures I took of her during a break – she looks like she could maneuver a pole dance and a strip rather effortlessly, not to mention effectively. I don’t mean that the way you might think it sounds (after all, if nothing else, she’s a good actor). I mean she’s long and lithesome and very at ease in movement with her physical self. She said the pole dancing really changed her physically and made her feel a lot more in touch with her femme and sensual side.

Sheila and her husband, actor Richard Schiff (West Wing) have two children, ages 17 and 11.

And while we’re on the subject of Hollywood, where all weekend has felt like a National Holiday (ending with fireworks), this past Friday night, the now thoroughly bi-Coastal Alex Hitz gave a pre-Oscar party at his Sunset Plaza aerie with its infinite views of  L.A. and the Pacific, for 130 of his nearest and dearest, including: Beatrice Reed, Denise Hale, (who arrived with an entourage), Gabe Doppelt, Bobby Harling, Sally Horchow, Steve Brill, Victoria Brynner, Peter Dunham, Larea Shriftman, David Jones, Sessa and Richard Johnson, Garrity and Patricia Lansing, Christian Leone,  Percy Gibson and Joan Collins, (and pals) Nikki Haskell, Joanna and Emanuelle Della Valle, all kinds of Bloomingdales – Alex, Samar, Justine, Honey Bear, Robert; Liz and David Netto, Jeff Sharp and Doug Steinbrech, Felicia Taylor, Bronson van Wyck, Ruth and Hutton Wilkinson, Selim and Mary Zilkha, Rupert Adams and Nadja Swarovski, Hal Rubinstein, Catherine Oxenberg, (who brought her kids), Karen Santo Domingo, Mrs. Livingston Taylor, Annabelle Begelman and Steve Shulman, Tom Ditmer and Frances Schultz, Peggy Siegal, Carlos Souza, Roman Alonso, Carol Bell, Nate Berkus, Alison Gorsuch, and dozens more just like ‘em.
Carly Steel, Brooke Davenport, and Alex Hitz.
Kate Johnson and Justine Bloomingdale.
Joan Collins and Percy Gibson.
Nikki Haskell. Sheila Shah.
Rodolfo Monaco and Frank Bowling.
Assaf Blecher and JR Savet.
Paul Keller, Alex Hitz, and Bridget Gless Keller.
Steven and Annabelle Shulman.
Malcom Kutner and Christian Leone.
Joan Collins, Barbara Davis, Joyce Reuben, and Simon Reuben.
Malcom Kutner, Nate Berkus, and Christian Leone.
Blake Davenport and Brooke Davenport.
Kennon Earle and Bronson Van Wyck.
Hutton Wilkinson and Ruth Wilkinson.
The guestlist was authentic Hollywood but the star of the show from what I can see was the buffet prepared by the host himself using recipes from his upcoming book: My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist being published by Knopf in October.
Pimiento Cheese on Rye Toast.
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Parmesan.
Mushroom Tarts.
Erlinda's Exquisite Short Ribs.
Broccoli Slaw.
Beverly Hills Chicken Curry.
Priceless Pecan Bars.
Best-Ever Brownies.
6-Layer Salted Caramel Cake.

Comments? Contact DPC here.