Springs break

It’s a GOOD MORNING back in Hollywood after a weekend re-discovering Palm Springs. Driving alongside us at the entrance to Rock Resorts’ recently acquired (for $50 million) the Lodge at Rancho Mirage was Michael Feinstein. And greeting both of us was Herbert Spiegel, the hotel’s managing director and Rock VP who, in 1984, had given Feinstein his start as a cafe star at Le Mondrian Hotel on the Sunset Strip. Michael stayed a year at the Café Mondrian, bringing in Hollywood celebs nightly and igniting his career. Liza Minnelli, who would join him nightly at midnight, also hosted this gala opening, bringing friends and glamorous stars including Elizabeth Taylor. This past weekend, Feinstein was in the desert to star at the McCallum Theater with two sold-out shows. He also had time to visit and duet (!) with Jane Wyman (91) and Merv Griffin … Meanwhile, Herb Spiegel is bringing new glamour to the Lodge (the former Ritz Carlton) with $25 million in additions including a spa headed by Steven Boggs from the BevHills and Bel-Air Hotels … We had dinner with Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden at Paul Bruggemans’ Le Vallauris, celebrating the eatery’s 31st award-winning anni. Oden, who celebrated his 55th birthday Monday, told me he’s intent on re-establishing the link between Hollywood and Palm Springs. This year, the Palm Springs Film Fest had more than 100,000 attendees. Oden is looking to establish its own film commission to gain more production; last year, 88 film permits were issued. In September, the expansion of the city’s Convention Center will be celebrated with a major entertainment event produced by Dick Taylor, who segued to the desert from L.A. where he had been president and CEO of Rogers & Cowan from 1986 to 1991. He also produced cirque-like shows for the grand opening of the new casino in Palm Springs, well as extravaganzas at casinos owned by the four other Indian tribes in the desert area. There’s also a plan for another “live” theater. … The Palm Springs Follies continues SRO in its 14th edition and is creator-producer-director Riff Markowitz is already at work readying the15th edition to bow in the fall. The Palm Springs Follies’ fame has spread worldwide. The glamor girls (average age — unmentionable) remain the stars — and this edition also boasts added savvy showbiz patter by the irrepressible Kaye Ballard. And Markowitz’ salt-and-peppery palaver makes the show a continued must-see.

WE RETURNED FROM Palm Springs Sunday night in time to join the throng on Rodeo Drive celebrating Walk of Style honorees, the late Herb Ritts and Mario Testino. Fashion week in L.A. wound prior to the start of these festivities and the block-long, body-to-body bash (catered by Along Came Mary) was in a noisy mood toasting the awardees and the theme itself. Anjelica Huston hosted. “Torso,” by her husband, sculptor Robert Graham, heads the Walk and winners received replicas of his artistry. Anjelica noted she “had the great fortune to know and work with” both honorees. Patrick Swayze and Malcolm Rogers, director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts made the presentation to Shirley Ritts, mother of Herb. Cameron Diaz and Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, did the honors to Mario Testino. Swayze and wife Lisa Nieme had just winged in from London. He was filming “Keeping Mum,” the fourth in a series of pix/shows he has started in the past year. “I’m re-focusing my career this time.” The Italian Trade Commission presented the celebration. A photo exhibition of Ritt and Testino photos is now on display on Rodeo Dr. … Lauren Bacall, in town to sign (sellout) copies of her (third “and last”) autobiog, “By Myself and Then Some” (Harper Collins) was at the Walk of Style with daughter Leslie (Bogart) and husband Erich Schiffmann. Bacall had co-starred with Huston in “These Foolish Things.” Son Sam continues in his journalistic role in “West Wing.” While her book writing is completed, Bacall’s looking to continue acting — film or stage “as long as it’s something original.”

RODEO DRIVE HAD been the site of high drama two yeas ago when Bobby Short collapsed and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai. I talked to him the next day as he was recovering from a attack caused by neuropathy. He shortened the number of his work dates and his stands at the Carlyle, but he never short-changed any audience at any gig. He always gave his all despite his illness, while he curtailed his own personal life. When doctors last week told him he could have two more weeks if put on a life-support system, but with no hope of reversing the intensity of the leukemia, he refused. “He had too much dignity, he never cheated,” Robert Nahas, his friend of 40 years, told me. Nahas, who was with him the last weeks in Mougins, France, and then in the final five days at N.Y. Presbyterian Hospital, said Bobby died peacefully, softly humming songs. One of the last, Nahas said, was “Picture You Without Me.” It’s hard to think of so many places, so many times, so many songs — without hearing Bobby Short. But now, he’s asked for no services, no applause. Sorry, Bobby, your request will be ignored by so many of us who want to thank you at least one more time for the joys you brought into our lives. He made the words sound like they were written especially for him to sing. He made the music sound like it was written specifically for him to play with. He made his work places, places designed only for him. Bobby Short was one of a kind. And no one kinder to any audience. … Among those in tribute to Betsy (Mrs. Walter) Cronkite at Monday’s funeral ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s at 50th and Park, Hillary Rodham Clinton who recalled the times the Cronkites lifted the Clintons’ spirits in their dark days. Attendees included the Tom Brokaws, Howard Stringer, Lynda Bird Johnson-Robb, Mike Wallace, the Morley Safers, Dan Rather, Don Hewitts, Andy Rooney, Andrew Heyward, Bobby Zarem … Anne Nelson , one of the longest-serving employees at CBS is toasted today on her 60th at the web at a party hosted by Les Moonves and Nancy Tellem on Stage 46 at CBS TV City. She has no intention of retiring — she has given up tap dancing, but not tennis … CBS’ “Young and Restless” star Kate Linder is national spokesperson for the ALS Association (Lou Gehrig’s disease). She’ll launch Kate’s Club to get more industryites involved … The L.A. Alzheimer Association, which celebrated its Night at Sardi’s this year with “Side by Side by Sondheim” (he celebrates his 75th birthday today), have slated “Funny Girl” as their musical takeoff. Barbra Streisand, whose mother suffered from Alzheimer’s, is a supporter of the organization.

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