Debbie’s Week at a Glance: From James Dean to Doubles

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Lobster cookies at Lobster Night at Doubles!

Twice in the last two months, I spent magical weekends at Hearst Castle — first for Amanda Hearst and Joachim Rønning’s wedding, then for the Annual Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, and twice I descended La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) and re-entered real life, which actually isn’t bad.

I’m sure James would be honored.

Beth DeWoody and I hitched a ride from San Simeon to LA and made a memorable stop at the James Dean death memorial site, adjacent to the Jack Ranch Cafe, just beyond the Paso Robles wineries. It’s become a shrine and destination for his fans (how old must they be?) and that strange group of death site visitors that apparently exists. He was 24, and ironically, on his way to compete in a car race. The darling little, authentic cafe/diner was closed but apparently slings a mean meatloaf — when open.

I had a little visit with Beth at her fabulous, art filled (surprised?) mid-century apartment on Wilshire which is also home to an assortment of glam retired actresses, who sport ruffled bathing caps for their daily pool exercises in the courtyard.


James Deans last stop, The Jack Ranch Cafe. Looks like it was Marilyn’s, too.

I tucked into my pal Leslie Klotz’s also midcentury West Hollywood digs and was quickly off to see Brett Williams and Rob Haskell’s new pug puppy, tentatively named Joan. We ooohed, aaahhed, admired her corkscrew tail and all else that was achingly adorable, and made sure to give equal love to Beverly, her senior citizen sister.


Brett Williams and his pug posse, Joan and Beverly.
Joan, full frontal and her sculptural corkscrew tail.
Sisters, sisters …

Formosa beckoned — a recently restored, legendary Chinese restaurant full of history and kitch, which is what I love about LA in general. Originally a ’20’s celebrity hot spot, then shuttered, it has reborn with enthusiasm, care and many millions of dollars. The bar was a prop from the 1937 film, The Good Earth. A trolley serves as a narrow dining room option, and of course, Mai Tais and Scorpion bowls overflowed. Think Trader Vics, but vintage.


Formosa, 1925 and back.

Wouldn’t it be nice if dinner at home in our city, could be under the Jacaranda and the stars, with the pups running freely on the grass? That is part of the magic of LA. And what made it nicer was that it was with my boy Will, and his talented, charming friends. Revell Carpenter Schulte (actress), Ritchey Howe (Disney) both East coast transplants, Huw Collins (actor — Pretty Little Liars), Danielle Macdonald (actress, currently in Netflix’s highly touted, Unbelievable), and of course, hostess, Godmother and ASPCA animal advocate, Leslie Klotz. Soup dumplings slopped and various bottles of wine from the thoughtful guests and beyond were sipped (that’s polite).


Dinner at home — Ritchey Howe, Huw Collins, me, Leslie Klotz, my Will, and Danielle Macdonald.
Will and Danielle, entertaining opposite sides of table.
L. to r.: East coast imports, Revell and Ritchey. Lucky LA; A little rhumba is always appropriate.

A girls lunch was de riguer, and who nicer to spend it with than Anne Hearst McInerney (who stayed beyond The Castle for her new son-in-law, Joachim Rönning’s L.A. premiere of Maleficent), Blaine Trump (here for another month), and Blaine’s great pal, now ours, Chris Riley, wife of the legendary Pat Riley.


Il Pastaio, Beverly Hills hub.

Blaine and Chris are joined at the basketball hip, and are courtside partners for every Miami Heat game. They also share CA, as Chris has a house in Malibu, and Blaine is here often to be with family and because she loves it as we all do. Beverly Hills’ Il Pastaio is Sette Mezzo, San Ambroeus and Pastis rolled in to one, with a parade of tulle, leather and spandex outfits never witnessed in the flesh in Gotham.


Ladies who lunch, LA Style: Chris Riley, Anne Hearst McInerney, me, Leslie Klotz, Blaine Trump.

I spent the bit that was left, finishing a painting for Leslie’s home … and eating left over Chinese.

We spilled off Jet Blue and careened into NY, just in time to make the second half of Mark Gilbertson’s cocktail, which felt as full and vibrant as anytime earlier might’ve been. As he began to wonder why I was late, I headed him off with “I came in from L.A. for you!” Maybe not entirely true, but it packed a punch. I did have a later private transport option, but will not dwell on it nor be pretentious as I think all mentions of anything but commercial are. You have already heard everything about this swell party from David. It really is the kick off for the fall season, and after a summer spent in many different corners it really was nice to reconvene.


L. to r.: Alison Aston and Mark Gilbertson; Ari and Rachel Hovnanian.
Gigi Mortimer, Pierre-Yves Roussel, and Tory Burch.
L. to r.: Tara and Allison Rockefeller; Stephanie Krieger and Brian Stewart.
Kristina Davison, Sallie Giordano, Betsy Pitts, and Simone Mailman.
L. to r.: Brian Sawyer and Zani Gugelmann; Lisa and Brian McCarthy.
Fran L’Esperance,Terry Fitzgerald, and George Farias.

What could be a more truly New York finish to our re-entry, but Lobster Night at Doubles? With so many NY institutions fading — Four Seasons, Mortimers, Le Veau d’or (though almost back), Le Cirque — it’s heartening to see Wendy Carduner and her Doubles packed to the gills, serving up the never wavering delicious food and giving grown up dancers a place to shimmy, or at least sway. And who else creates a boat to house her hundreds of lobsters, pried out of their shells for us by her stalwart, elegant staff. I guess it is nice to be home.


Wonderful Wendy Carduner. Inset: Doubles maestro chef serving up those lobsters!
Lobster boat.
Dinner theater, Leslie and Christopher Mason using lobster as prop as we ate them.
All that was left. Then I took them.

Nicer still after … host Geoffrey Bradfield’s traditional nightcap, a French 75 at Restaurant Daniel.


BFF’s, Helena Lehane and Geoffrey Bradfield.

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