Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2 L.A. "Diary"

The rooftop pool at the Peninsula.
By Sharon Sondes

The minute the wheels hit the tarmac at LAX I start humming “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” I'm so glad DPC asked me to write this diary because years ago I had great fun writing 2 LA "DIARY" pieces for Andy Warhol’s Interview. The first was on Liza Minnelli and Jack Haley's wedding, and the second was when the late great Hollywood producer Allan Carr tossed one of his famous parties at his new house in Malibu!

In those days I stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel because the former owners Ben and Bonnie Silberstein (she was the original Lucky Strike girl) were family friends. I still love The Bev. Hill's Hotel but this trip Geoffrey and I decided to try Robert Zarnegin's fabulous Peninsula.

Robert just married my pal Adrienne Fauci, and I couldn't wait to see her and meet him. I slept so well because the hotel has the most wonderful pillows which are actually monogrammed with your initials! I was tired because the trip west was so uncomfortable!

The entrance to the Peninsula.
Continental's domestic First Class is as bad as their international First Class is excellent! I really miss American Airlines old "Noon Balloon" -- a 747 replete with piano lounge upstairs and chockablock with movie stars and all sorts of Important People! It was great fun, and great hobnobbing!

Anyway back to the Peninsula. A born and bred New Yorker, I can't drive. Geoffrey was too busy with his real estate ventures to play chauffeur.

Thus it was a treat to be able to walk mostly everywhere. I called Ann Turkel, model, actress, producer and my pal since we were teenagers, to come along, and play "catch up" while we shopped.

Ann (who was married to actor Richard Harris) now has her own production company called Starburst and is casting her first film “Walkiria’s War,” the story of a beautiful 19-year-old Italian college student who joins the Resistance fighting the Nazi's during World War II. She went on to be awarded a Medal of Honor for her heroism.

We walked to Brighton Way to the Pat Areias shop (there is also a sister store on Madison Avenue), where there is a huge selection of every type of belt and buckle imaginable. Also silver ice buckets, creamers, teapots etc adorned with turquoise lizards.
Pat Areias belts galore.
I "lost" my alligator belt in Palm Beach when some very light fingered thief had slipped it and my jeweled tiger's head buckle right off my waist. I felt nothing and assumed it had just fallen off either in the house or driveway. My hostess searched every nook and cranny but there was no trace of it. 

Kacy, the manager, helped me find an excellent replacement. We then went next door to the most unusual handbag and shoe shop called Shizue. The unique bags are made from every type of skin, fabric, stones, feathers, and they come in different shapes and sizes.
Ann Turkel at Pat Areias. Store manager Kacy.
They were very nice until I asked if i could photograph their bags. Not having any credentials they thought Ann and I were out to steal their designs so, “no dice.” We then tried to find a Lanvin faux platinum and diamond cuff, but no one in Beverly Hills carried it.

Our last mission of the day was to go to the Beverly Center and look at the faux gold watches at Swatch. I've never worn a watch in my life! I'm always running late and it would make me too nervous. But these were great! Ann said the woman's watch looked just like an Ebel , but it was too girly for me. I picked the chunkier man's watch but left lots of links in so it was more braceletty-looking.
The Peninsula's Belvedere bar.
The rooftop bar at the Peninsula.
Ann drove me home at breakneck speed as Geoffrey and I were due to meet the Zarnegins and the young Geoffrey Thomases at the hotel's Belvedere bar at 7. We ordered a magnum of rose champagne to toast the Zarnegins’ recent marriage, and the happy news that the kids are making Geoffrey a grandfather in February.

As i was leaving I noticed Paris Hilton, and Bill Maher were also in the bar. The Zarnegins took us to one of my favorite restaurants Ago, and we sat on the patio. Sadly Simon Cowell did not materialize at the next table as he did last summer. After dining on Ago's signature veal and pasta, we ended the evening with a nightcap at the Peninsula's beautiful roof bar overlooking the city. 
Dinner at Ago with Geoffrey Thomas, Adrienne and Robert Zarnegin, Me (Sharon Sondes), Geoffrey Thomas III, and Jennifer Thomas.
The next night Nikki Haskell gave a party for Frank and Kathie Gifford. Entertainment Tonight and DPC have already covered this, but I just want to say it was such a fun evening, and Nikki is a brilliant hostess!

I skipped lunch the next day in favor of the gym as we had been eating much too much, but I invited some pals over for tea in the Living Room at the Peninsula. It's a beautiful room with 2 fireplaces, a harpist and a real English tea of cucumber sandwiches, scones, jam, clotted cream, crumpets (English muffins to you), strawberries, little cakes, champagne and many choices of tea. Angela Rich arrived first. Barbara Leary (once married to the late Timothy) also came. She was here on her annual trip to visit son Zach. She and fiance Kim Esteve have a famous art collection on their estate in Sao Paulo, and are also very involved with MOMA!
The suite at the Peninsula.
The last gal to arrive was Nancy Stoddart, still suffering from the shock of having one of her corgis killed by a hit and run driver. Currently she's working on an autobiography and as Nancy has lived all over the world and been friends with everyone from Marie Helene de Rothchild, Jackie Onassis, Madonna (Nancy hosted Madonna's shower before her wedding to Sean Penn), her story should be riveting.
Jane and Terry Semel.
I thought I was all talked out, but later when we met Terry Semel (former CEO of Yahoo) and his lovely Jane, my gift of gab returned. Both Semels looked amazing! Terry, due to enforced rest and rehab because of a knee injury, looked young and lean from all that exercise. Jane, due to her newest project, a film she is making of a book called “Fortune’s Children; the Fall of the House of Vanderbilt,” which she is producing with Joel Silver. Both were on the cover of VARIETY that very day because HBO had agreed to making a possible series of the book.

Jane, an accomplished photographer, is also building a house in East Hampton so her plate is very full. Last year we celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary -- a big dinner dance at their home in Malibu. This year they were planning a much smaller party once again in Malibu.

Then on to a great dinner at Madeo's, one of the last remaining old LA haunts with delicious Italian food.
Geoffrey with Rikki Klieman and Police Chief Bill Bratton at BLT.
The next night we met up with Police Chief Bill Bratton and his wife Rikki Klieman at BLT (they took over the old Dome space) and along with delicious steaks ate huge popovers and about 20 sides plus at least 4 desserts. BLT loves the Brattons and the food just kept coming. Rikki, a lawyer, was disappointed that the James Woods' TV show “Shark” wasn't picked up for this season as she had a reoccurring role on it!     

We still had 2 more dinners to go in Beverly Hills, but our hosts were "press shy.” Finally on to Malibu and some fresh air!!!!
Malibu House overlooking the beach.