Americans sample Paris hospitality

GOOD MORNING from Paris after an evening at the residence of Ambassador Pamela Harriman. The gracious and ever-beautiful Harriman, considered by some French to be America’s finest ambassador in many administrations, hosted an affair that started with cocktails on the terrace of the beautiful former home of the Rothschilds, then proceeded to a salon converted to a screening room, where Harriman showed “The Birdcage” for 50 guests, including longtime friends Veronique and Gregory Peck. He has known Harriman since she was married to Leland Hayward, then Peck’s agent. The Pecks have been in Paris one month, returning this week after many celebrations — wherever they went — on Greg’s 80th birthday. Peck, looking handsome, has been walking about Paris for two-three hours at a stretch, to the delight of Parisians. He now starts his U.S. and Canadian “concert” tours, SRO’d in advance. Guests at Ambassador Harriman’s ranged from the political, Ambassador David Aaron, to business leader Madame Ro. There were many laughs during the screening of “Birdcage,” with references to President Clinton, the “gays in the military” question, prayer in schools, as well as references to Europeans such as the late President Mitterand. The bust of President Kennedy in one of the Harriman salons always causes one to stop and reminisce — and, this time, to comment on the recent auction in N.Y. of the Kennedy memorabilia. Ambassador Harriman was amazed, as were the rest of us, at the prices some items fetched — and she also frowned on the whole idea. As ambassador, she will not be able to participate in the second Clinton campaign, as she had in the first, before her appointment. We also sadly talked of the deaths of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and the other Americans on the ill-fated plane in Bosnia. Brown had dined at Harriman’s residence the night before.

I ALMOST DIDN’T RECOGNIZE the man near the concierge’s desk at the Hotel Ritz. It was Quincy Jones, who laughingly admitted he had shaved off his moustache — while nervously readying to attend daughter Jolie’s (43) singing debut at the Jazz Bakery in L.A. Jones was particularly proud of her singing, he said, as she has started this new career so well. Jones was in Paris to receive his honors as Chevalier of Arts and Letters. He is already a member of France’s Legion d’Honneur and was wearing the rosette in his lapel. We joined him in the hotel bar, where he talked about the great days of musicians in Paris. And he also recalled the great parties in the hotel thrown by his dear friend Steve Ross. “He (Ross) took over the third floor,” laughed Quincy, “and that was after we’d partied all night in Paris.” Having received his Arts and Letters honors from both the Sorbonne and Harvard, Jones recalled being in Paris in 1953 studying with Nadia Boulanger. “She introduced me to Stravinsky,” Jones reminisced. He is here to promote his “Q’s Jook Joint” album. And on Friday, he will attend the Tina Turner concert in Paris, featuring the opening act of Bruce Willis and the Accelerators. Willis wings over from filming “The Fifth Element” in London. Bruce would like to accelerate filming of his role in this epic, which has taken over all but two stages at Pinewood … Would Quincy do the Oscar show again? No, he said — not in the immediate future, at least. And not because he didn’t enjoy producing the Oscars. He liked everything about it — ranging from Whoopi Goldberg to the emotional moments with Kirk Douglas and Christopher Reeve. But Jones has three major movies, plus his music, to take up most of his time. The pics include “Don Quixote” with Robin Williams for Fred Schepisi, “Steel” with Shaquille O’Neal, and a version of “Oliver!” set in contemporary N.Y., to be called “Yo! Ollie!” The music would range from rap to salsa. Quincy wants to work on “conceptual music.”

ROMAN POLANSKI LOOKS GREAT — in wonderful spirits as he readies to start directing “The Double” June 10, starring John Travolta in the double role, plus Isabelle Adjani, John Goodman and Jean Reno. The start is a week delayed, as Travolta is stateside in “Michael.” Lili Zanuck, who produces with Todd Black, says the delay costs ’em (Mandalay Prods.) a quarter of a million dollars! Special effects on “The Double” will be done at Sony, with the team coming over to work with Polanski in Paris. No, he is not (cannot be) returning to the States. Will he? Does he plan to? “I’ve done nothing about it,” he said directly. He is most enthused about the double meanings in the movie, and it will be up to audiences to decide whether Travolta is actually one or two people. “See the movie,” he laughed. Roman will shoot all over Paris –“Not postcard Paris,” he insisted, since one of Travolta’s roles is that of a middle-class working man, an accountant. Polanski is enthused about the special effects of this picture. Noting recent movie magic, he said he loved “Babe”– and not just because he has a 3-year-old daughter — the apple of his eye … Dick Zanuck flew to Paris for a visit with Lili. He’s in post on “Chain Reaction,” filmed in freezing Chicago this winter. Paris is blooming in the spring, flowers everywhere, new gold trim on monuments, the Champs Elysee boasting a parade of sculptures. Ah!

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