Thursday, October 26, 2017

Distinguished Contributions

Misty Copeland, Benjamin Millepied, and David Hallberg on stage last night at the David H. Koch Theater for the World Premiere of I Feel The Earth Move. 9:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, October 26, 2017. Overcast with little Sun yesterday in New York. Rain in the area if not in the city. Temperatures in the mid-60s by afternoon and into the low 50s at night.

Scorpio. Today is the birthdays of three women -- Hillary Clinton, Judy Green and Alice Mason. I’d first met Mrs. Clinton at a fund-raising party that Alice Mason gave for her when she was running for Senate. I saw her thereafter a few times, all at campaign fund-raisers. She reminded me of the smartest girl in first grade who always had her hand up first, and grew up to be one of the smartest women. Ironically, those admirable characteristics may have betrayed her when the classroom became the globe.
DPC and Hillary in 2000 during her Senate run.
I met Alice Mason through Judy Green, author, party-giver, New York wit, and generous friend to many. We lost Judy in 2001, three days after 9/11, to pancreatic cancer. She was sixty-six. All three women had and have certain characteristics and qualities in common: dynamic, ambitious, hard-working, highly intelligent, motivated and always surrounded by people.

Alice today remains ensconced in the same apartment where for years she hosted the most famous dinner parties (for sixty) in New York. Alice personally raised $1.5 million for Jimmy Carter when he was running for President – at a small dinner at her apartment.

After he won the election, President Carter asked what he could do for her. She told him she’d like to be invited to a dinner at the White House, and that she’d like him to do something for Human Rights in the world. He delivered on both requests, and Alice went to more than one dinner at the White House as well as continued to give dinners for Jimmy and Roslyn Carter well after their White House years.
DPC with Jimmy Carter around the same time.
Judy Green, who grew up in New York in the age of Herman Wouk’s “Marjorie Morningstar,” was famous for her dinner and cocktail parties where she entertained a wide cross section of New York. She liked a crowd from Get Down and Mix it up. From Broadway babies, models, former debutantes, investment bankers, restaurateurs, actors, artist, writers and such; to Hollywood, to Downtown and anybody else in between.

DPC with Judy Green in December, 1997.
The buffet table was always festooning with masses of Vincent Minuto’s addictive “finger food,” along with all the champagne you could drink. When Judy ran out of Cristal, she’d have the staff re-fill the empty bottles with some cheap label and no one knew the difference.

She loved morning gossip on the phone, read all the dailies front to back, liked betting on a horse race, boxing match or ball game; read voraciously, wrote three dishy novels and loved Hollywood. She loved Frank Sinatra who was her husband Bill Green’s closest friend. She herself couldn’t hum a tune on-key but nevertheless once made a “Happy Birthday” record for Frank on his birthday.

Sinatra responded with the message: “lay off the music and stick to your novels.” Happy Birthday to All.

More Joan. Tuesday night’s book signing party for “Joan Rivers Confidential” with Melissa Rivers and Scott Currie was a big success at Maxwell’s Chophouse.  Hosted by Joan’s friends Cindy Adams, Deborah Norville and Blaine Trump, they were serving the Liz Taylor and The Tonight Show cocktails made with 3 Kilos Vodka. They also sold out of books. (It was #1 on Amazon yesterday morning). Joan could have made a joke out of that combination.
Scott Currie and Melissa Rivers.
Deborah Norville, Cindy Adams, Melissa Rivers, Scott Currie, and Blaine Trump.
Lawrence Kaplan, Melissa Rivers, Jill Evans, Regina Haynes, Evan Haynes, and Henry Schleiff.
Jeffrey Caldwell, Steven Gambrel, James Anderson, and Thom Filicia.
Steve Tager, David Cashion, Lawrence Kaplan, Jill Evans, and Michael Sand.
Christopher Makos, Fern Mallis, and Greg Calejo.
Susan Magrino Dunning, Scott Currie, and Allyn Magrino.
Martha Stewart and Tracie Hotchner.
That same night, I was over at the Metropolitan Club for a black tie dinner hosted by the Council for Canadian American Relations. They honored Frank Stella and the Honourable Hilary Weston for their Distinguished Contributions to the Arts in Canada and the United States, and paid a Special Tribute to Canadian born, American filmmaker Norman Jewison.

The CCAR was created in 1972 (originally as American Friends of Canada) at the instigation of the late philanthropist Bluma Appel, and through the guidance of David Rockefeller and the late Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The organization produces programs that showcase cross-border collaborations and honor cultural achievement.

These “institutional” dinners, often black tie affairs, not infrequently are held at the Metropolitan Club, the impressive monument to the Gilded Age designed by Stanford White and built at the behest of J. Pierpont Morgan on property previously owned by an American, Lily Hammersley, the second wife of the 8th Duke of Marlborough (Winston Churchill’s grandfather.)
The Canadian Mounties: Jordan Bell, Nicolas Dromard, Bret Shuford, and Evan Alexander Smith.
This is one of those “speech” dinners, although not so much a promotion raising funds, but rather a celebration of people who characterize their objective: artists. There’s no urgency to their objectives. What there is to make up for that is the talent. Frank Stella, Norman Jewison? Already you’re anticipating maybe something interesting.  Mrs. Weston is less well known but in her circles of interest she is highly regarded and well-respected for her philanthropic works and personal interests.

First came Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, and art historian to introduce Frank Stella. Lowry has an evangelical manner in speaking of those he admires, and he admires Frank Stella almost to the point (not quite) of idolatry. He can tell you why succinctly, and you can’t help but agree. The mere mention of the name can conjure up a Stella image. That commands.

Stella the man has a modest, yet obviously intelligent manner when he himself speaks. His canvases loom over his presence; and they stay with you. Away from the studio, he is a very pleasant, articulate man, probably not modest but nevertheless unimpressed with himself. He has a humility in that you sense a man most interested in his work rather than anything material or intellectual that it might bring him.
The Mounties sing!
Mr. Stella was followed on the program by former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney (1984 – 1993). I had never heard Mulroney speak before. He was there to introduce us to Mrs. Weston.

Mulroney has a politician’s polish that is just this side of hypnotic. Also a pleasant man, with an Irishman’s wit and glint, he’s most enjoyable company with a storyteller’s approach, and prone to perfectly delivered, amusing, ironic anecdotes. Oh, I heard he sings  at parties too, and has quite a good voice. I’m smiling with amusement as I write these words because it’s inevitable.

I cannot think of one politician today who has that gift of engaging. Not to mention wit. Listening to him was like watching a performance you’d wish we had in real life. A highly sophisticated boy from the people, who understands the needs of the people. Perhaps because he will always be “of” them. In my lifetime, John Kennedy had that quality as a speaker of course, and in his General Electric style, so did Ronald Reagan.
Frank Stella.
Mr. Mulroney told a story about the campaign flight of Bobby Kennedy when they were headed to Los Angeles and stopped over in Kansas for re-fueling. Among those on the flight was New York Times  reporter (R.W. always known as) Johnny Apple. Apple had already taken note on the trip of Kennedy acolyte William vanden Heuvel, “an investment banker and lawyer who seemed to know everyone aboard.” During the stopover in Kansas, Apple, out on the tarmac noticed that Mr. vanden Heuvel was walking Kennedy’s dog.

“Is that your dog?” Apple asked dog-walking vanden Heuvel, who replied, “You may think it’s a dog, but it looks like an embassy to me.”
Brian Mulroney.
We learned from Mr. Mulroney that his friend Mrs. Weston was one of those women who quietly has a very active life with her interests, many of which she shares with her husband Galen, and many of which benefit both Canadians and Americans in the areas of the Arts. In her speech, which was basically a gracious thank you, you could see that gentle intent that no doubt has moved many an individual to progress and succeed. She is known in Canada as one of its leading businesswomen as well as philanthropic. 
Mrs. Galen Weston.
After the main course, author-playwright John Patrick Shanley took the podium to introduce Norman Jewison.

Mr. Shanley’s play “The Portuguese Kid” just opened that night. He came from the theater to deliver his introduction. Shanley has another side of the Irish disposition, also funny although definitely edgier, like a kid from Brooklyn in the old sense. He wrote the screenplay to Jewison’s “Moonstruck.”

Before he took the podium we were shown a series of clips of Norman Jewison’s films. A highly memoral collection; each clip made me wish I could watch the entire film again:
The Cincinnatti Kid, The Russians Are Coming…, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rollerball, Agnes of God, and more.
John Patrick Shanley.
After running the film clips, Jewison, who is 91, made his way to the podium and after his thanks to Shanley, he recounted watching the Oscars the night Cher had been nominated for “Moonstruck.”  As he watched her come up to the stage to accept her award, he wondered who she would thank – her director? or her producer?

“She thanked her makeup artist:” Everyone in the crowd roared with laughter.

It was that kind of a night. With that Mr. Jewison had us all ready to settle in for as long as he wished. From Toronto, his first job in New York was directing a new Judy Garland television show in the 1960s.  He met with her agents/managers Freddie Fields and David Begelman, now forgotten but once very successful. (As an aside, Jewison remarked that those two “managers” stole more from her in a paper bag than you could imagine in a lifetime. This was widely known.)
Norman Jewison.
They told the new director they wanted someone else on the show, along with Judy. He was surprised they felt they needed anything more than Judy Garland. They gave him a list of potential guests, telling him they wanted a very big name for the first show.

He was amazed at the Bigness of the names – Rock Hudson, etc. When he saw Frank Sinatra’s name he suggested that. Fields and Begelman told him to call Frank and ask him. He was surprised they didn’t do it, since they undoubtedly knew each other and he, Jewison, was a new man in town, a Canadian, a young guy no one ever heard of.

So he called Frank Sinatra at his home in Palm Springs.

“Mr. Sinatra’s residence,” was the butler’s voice on the other end.

Jewison explained that he wanted to talk to Mr. Sinatra about a business matter having to do with Judy Garland’s new show coming up on CBS.
Dean Martin, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra on a CBS special in 1962, before the weekly series began.
After a brief wait, Sinatra comes on the line. Jewison tells him that they’d like him to be on the show with her as her first guest, kind of welcome her to the medium.

Sinatra agrees to it. Jewison was so surprised at how easily he got him, he automatically added, “do you think you could get Dean to come with you?”

Sinatra replied: “you gotta lotta chutzpah kid.” He got Dean, too.

It was a great night at the Metropolitan Club. We were reminded by Mr. Mulroney that this year was the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, and that we, the United States, have lived together for all that time in complete peace. The CCAR’s intent is to continue that path through the Arts.
Also this past Tuesday, midday at The Metropolitan Club, The Horticultural Society of New York hosted its 24th Annual Fall Luncheon. Jared Goss, Chairman of the Board, Alatia Bradley Bach, Vice-Chairman, and Sara Hobel, Executive Director, led the event, which honored Huguette Hersch for thirty years of work at the forefront of floral arts, including her artistry in botanical jewelry, and her leadership of the Society's Circle of Friends.

With author and journalist, Veronica Chambers as emcee, The Hort presented the Barbara A. Margolis Award to Chefs Seamus Mullen, Bill Telepan, and JJ Johnson. The event raised $200,000 for The Hort's horticultural therapy program on Rikers Island; public plaza horticultural care and workforce programs, and for public education programs taught in public schools and at the newly opened greenhouse and nutrition center at The Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in Harlem.
Alatia Bradley Bach, Dennis Hersch, Sara Hobel, George Pisegna, Chef Joseph JJ Johnson, Huguette Hersch, Chef Bill Telepan, Jared Goss, and Veronica Chambers
Alison Strong and Wade Williams Liliana Cavendish
Susi Wunsch, George Vellonakis, Dr. Marianne Engle, and Veronica Bulgari
Emma Goergen and Amanda Tapiero Kathleen Giordano and Alison Minton
Annamaria Holmes, Nevitt Jenkins, Tish Bliss, Crystal Mesckat, Huguette Hersch, Lydya Wallis, Cindy Willis, Tana Dye, and Clelia Zacharias
Dennis Hersch, Ardith Myerson, Jane Suglia, Nicole Hersch, and Greg Hersch
Daniel Morales, Mark Gilbertson, and Michele Heary
Jared Goss, Evelyn Tompkins, Mark Gilbertson, and Mary Van Pelt
Mark Gilbertson, Barbara de Portago, Anne Shearman, and Jared Goss
Martha Glass, Guy Robinson, and CeCe Black
Alatia Bradley Bach
Chef Joseph "JJ" Johnson, Veronica Chambers, and Chef Bill Telepan
Huguette Hersch
Lucy Day, Mark Gilbertson, and Michael Kovner
Rebecca Bagadonas, Erika Albies, and PJ Pascual
Alice Ross, Mark Gilbertson, Mary Van Pelt, and Katie Tozer
Diane Van Amerongen and Sheila Stephenson

Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Rivers & Hort)

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