Debbie’s Week at a Glance: From Hollywood to the Hamptons

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Will Ryman's flower sculpture welcomes you to Bonnie Lautrenberg’s Watermill home.

Alas, I descended La Cuesta Encantada — the enchanted hill — never more so with the Hearst Rønning wedding, and left the fairytale.

L.A.’s historic diner, Norms, was the ultimate contrast, re-entry spot. I have long admired its mid-century design and have always wanted to try it. I ate bacon, eggs, cottage cheese, hot cakes, and home fries, which was the smallest plate in the place, and I happily, and unusually for LA, was one of the smaller people there.


L. to r.: From Castle to coffee shop in two hours flat; Because why just have a potato if you can load it up.

I love the idiosyncrasies of L.A. — Norms, minutes from Cecconi’s, oil rigs, 15 minutes from Beverly Hills; multi-million dollar homes cobbled next to ranch houses. Kooky and oddly comforting — anything goes.


Dick Blick, my favorite name and favorite art supply store.

The first night, we tucked into a charming restaurant called The Nice Guy, in West Hollywood — dark and hip enough for our young guests, cold enough martinis and lush enough Bolognese for me.

Tuesday lunch we lined up at Joan’s, West Hollywood’s favorite fancy fast food restaurant and took it as far as the outdoor tables, to dine and watch — lunch theater.

Tuesday night Blaine Trump and Steve Simon invited us to their uber-glam and sexy August rental, high in the Beverly Hills. Only days in, Blaine already had her personal linens, houseman, and style in place. The entire back of the house had sliding walls that afforded the ultimate, unobstructed views of the valley below. Her fab neighbors, Ambassador John Emerson (Germany, for President Obama) and his wonderful wife Kimberly Marteau Emerson, joined.


L. to r.: Blaine Trump, Ambassador John Emerson, and the valley beyond; Kimberly Marteau Emerson and Steve Simon. They like each other.

Kimberly is still active in the organizations in Germany she became deeply involved with during his tenure, and is writing a book about her experience as an ambassador’s wife … and more. I think it should be mandatory reading for all in that role. 

Truth be told, I was meant to be working on an art project for my dearest pal, Leslie Klotz, but played a little hookey on Wednesday to visit The Hammer museum with my son, Will. We will call it inspiration … and some sustenance in their fabulous restaurant, Audrey’s. You have to admire a Museum that has world-class exhibitions, performances, lectures and a dog adoption day.


Leslie Klotz, guest here, hostess at home, and animal protector, everywhere.
Leslie, my Will, me, and my brand new BFF from night before, Kimberly Emerson, at Wally’s wine store that morphed into chic wine bar and restaurant, in Beverly Hills.

And on a canine note, Devon Elliott came to visit with his famous pup Mabel, the subject of his book written with his husband, Nathan Lane. Mabel, their pampered pup, is “sassy, classy (and sometimes a big gassy), but especially naughty.” Leslie doesn’t just invite folks for coffee. She set up a faux book signing table within her gates to greet them. Devon was tickled, Mabel non-plussed.


Clockwise from top left: Mabel, immortalized; Devon Elliott, Naughty Mabel and faux book signing event; Miss Mabel playing hard to get with Mr. Brinkley.

Another thing I love about L.A. is the reverence they have for old school restaurants. New York just lost one of its last, Le Veau d’Or, though the Frenchette boys say they’ll preserve some of its charm. Every time I see Wendy Stark, I get to enjoy yet another Sinatra-esque Italian. This time it was La Dolce Vita, owned by none other than Alessandro (“Al”) Uzielli, Anne Ford and Gianni Uzielli’s son. Red abounds — wine, sauce and banquettes.

I swore I saw Dean Martin winking at me from the bar. We were joined by Chip Conlon and Alex Hitz, whose newest book, “The Art of the Host,” will be feted on both coasts in a few weeks.


More of us, plus Chip Conlan, Alex Hitz and Wendy Stark at La Dolce Vita.

I finally painted Thursday, and arrived at dinner with cobalt blue and cadmium red paint under my nails, but Sela Ward and her husband Howard Sherman and their beautiful, Brown co-ed, actress and singer daughter Anabella didn’t mind. They are artists, too. I had never been to Craig’s, and so loved.  What a way to finish my old school swing. Back in a banquette, sated by Chicken Parm and smitten with Tommy, the dark suited, silver fox, out of Central Casting manager.


L. to r.: Hubby, papa and host, Howard Sherman; The lovelies: Sela Ward and daughter Anabella at Craig’s.

Then I had to go home. Probably mercifully, it was a quiet weekend in Southampton, small family dinners, punctuated by a Common Good conversation with Michael Wolff, author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” and now “The Siege: Trump Under Fire.” Bonnie Lautenberg, widow of Senator Frank Lautenberg, and accomplished photographer, hosted in her lovely Watermill home, filled with her pictures of moments in history, captured during her fascinating life with Frank, and her new series of film stills married with artwork from the same period. To Wolff’s credit, or was it … when asked if he would comment on Epstein (before his demise), he said ‘No’.


Bonnie’s barn — a very glam one.
L. to r.: Hostess Bonnie, soon in a parka, off to Iceland; Michelle Paige (ex-GuvPaterson, who wed again, today) and Kaveh Naficy.
The Common Good’s Patricia Duff and author, Michael Wolff.
Jeweler Judith Ripka and husband Ronald Berk.
President Obama and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, by Bonnie.

I finished my week gently, on the beach, with a glass of rosé, missing the sunset on the Pacific, but also loving the moonrise on the Atlantic.


Home again, on my coast.

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