Debbie’s Week at a Glance: The relative calm before the gobble gobble/ho ho storm

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Girls' night. Identities are blurred to protect the innocent!

This may be a bit of a mellow week, but buckle your seatbelts because there is some fermenting need to celebrate the hell out of this holiday season. I’ve received 15 invitations in the last three days — not that I can tell you about all of them, but I’ll try. I’m going to enjoy this relative calm before the gobble gobble/ho ho storm.

I started the week doing what I like best, watching a film, especially when it’s as good as Matthew Miele’s documentary “Alan Pakula – Going for Truth.” Matthew clearly has good taste in his subjects. He also directed and produced a documentary about our very own DPC, debuting soon. 

Hostess, beloved wife and legendary beauty, Hannah Pakula.

And Alan Pakula is eminently deserving which is dramatically illustrated in this film. Miele, a great fan of his, cold-called his widow the biographer (“Marie of Romania,” “Madame Chiang Kai-shek) Hannah Pakula and their son, and pitched the idea. 

Two and a half years later, he said, “ I think I got it.” We do, too. It opens with an emotional Harrison Ford talking about the shocking death of this beloved genius. Only 70 — and in the midst of a movie he was making about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book — he was killed in a bizarre car accident on his way to his Hamptons home. 

Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts and many more shared their memories and admiration for him. His body of work is remarkable: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “All the President’s Men,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “The Pelican Brief,” “Presumed Innocent,” and more. And in this era of reality TV personalities, his ethos of staying behind the camera, telling truths and letting the story do the talking seems all the more relevant, and missed today. 

Director Matthew Miele letting it roll.

Boaty Boatwright and Hannah hosted  the screening and reception at Steinway Hall, and some of his subjects and stars were there, including Alan Alda and Carl Bernstein, and other fans including Veronica Beard (a producer), Air Mail’s Alessandra Stanley, Victoria Hagan and Michael Berman, and Matthew’s TV-hostess wife, Sara Gore. Impossibly attractive, I told them they were and should make more of them. They did — three kids. The film will be the centerpiece of the AFI gala and tribute to Pakula, and will have its theatrical release in early 2020.

Happy couple Victoria Hagan and Michael Berman.
L. to r.: Patricia Duff, hostess Boaty Boatwright, Alan Alda, and me; Air Mail’s Alessandra Stanley.

More culture – Victoria Wyman hosted a kick off cocktail at her art-filled home for The Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s February 23rd Gala (you can’t kick off early enough!). And the Hungarians came, a goulash including Director Emeritus Daisy Soros, Ambassador and Mrs. Donald Blinken (former Ambassador to Hungary and Vera was born there), and Governor Pataki. 

“That’s right, you’re Hungarian!” I commented to the guv in my typically astute journalistic manner. “Yes, aren’t you?” he replied. 

“No, I just look it,” even I didn’t know what I meant. 

L. to r.: Proud Hungarians hostess Victoria Wyman and Daisy Soros; FBFO Chair Stephen Benko. Inset: Positively glowing — Governor Pataki looking as good as he did when he was guv, probably because he isn’t.

FBFO Chair Steven Benko told us that before their gala on the 23rd, the Orchestra would be holding a special concert for people on the Autism spectrum, an initiative that Maestro Iván Fischer created. Many rounds of applause are clearly in order.

Joanna Fisher, Victoria Wyman, and Nancy Silverman.

What would a week be without a girls’ dinner? While all of you fellows were watching The World Series, we were defiantly not and while I’d love to give you a report, alas, what is discussed at girls’ dinners, stays at girls’ dinners. What’s that — you didn’t ask? Fine.

Back to that damn tart at Pierre’s on Sunday. You can probably watch its effect on me in my pictures. Salad, next time.

That darned tart again.
Post tart.

And in case you’ve never heard of The National Institute of Social Sciences, you should. I was fascinated to learn more about it from Fred Larsen, the President of the board. 

Each year, since 1913, the NISS has presented their Gold Honor Medal to someone who has made “the highest contribution to society.” Honorees have included Bob Hope, Margaret Mead, a plethora of Rockefellers and this year, The Metropolitan Opera’s Peter Gelb. On accepting he said, “If I was chosen for this distinguished award because of my position at The Met, I guess my study of social sciences certainly would apply to The Metropolitan Opera House.

“We have more than 3,000 people who work there, and they certainly exhibit every form of behavioral science. Sometimes I feel like I work in some kind of social science laboratory. Maybe that wasn’t why you decided to give me this award, but I am very grateful to be receiving it.” 

Honoree Peter Gelb and hostess Yanna Avis.

Grateful, exceedingly modest, and then off to his job at The Met, which on this particular eve was offering Orfeo.

Yanna Avis, the sultry chanteuse (catch her and her can-can dancers at La Golue on November 22nd), hosted the socially scientific folks including Edith and Phillipe deMontebello, trustees Barbara Tober and Michele Jeffery, honorary trustee Geraldine Kunstadter, Dr. Lisa Airan and Sharon Hoge. 

Philippe de Montebello and Fred Larsen.
Yanna with Pepita Serrano and Sharon Hoge.

I ended my week with visits to two of my favorite spots, Bergdorf Goodman and The Carlyle. I ate at Palette, the newly designed Bergdorf basement (they call it the Beauty Floor) café, now featuring Ashley Longshore’s exuberant art. And I succumbed to bread, via tea sandwiches, which I find strangely irrestible. Then dinner at The Carlyle Restaurant, the still gracious, elegant, eatery with an unnamed friend.

Ashley Longouse’s decor and art demands attention at Bergdorf’s Palette.

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