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Lunch with Elton

HAD LUNCH last week with Elton John, wearing what looked to be about half of Britain’s Crown Jewels. Actually, his “bling” consisted of only a wristwatch, a necklace, an earring, and a number of finger rings from the bedazzling jeweler Laurie Rodkin. Elton was off to Montreal and then to Australia. Elton is planning a show that he hopes will open in 2009 and be directed by “Billy Elliot’s” Stephen Daldry. Elton had quite a bit to say about his life and times, including his philosophies on raising money for his AIDS foundation and his place in entertainment as what he now calls “a part of the Old Guard.” In March, he will play and sing for his own 60th birthday party at Madison Square Garden — a favorite place of his own choice.

TOM CRUISE’S PR guy Paul Bloch declined my offer to fly to Rome cover the Cruise-Holmes nuptials, saying there would be no media at the very private medieval Italian Castello Odescalchi on Saturday. He added, “That isn’t to say it won’t be covered — privately — and pictures and stories will appear but none of it will be sold for charity or otherwise.” Paul went on to remind me that the recent Vanity Fair pictures of Tom, Katie and baby Suri were not sold, but simply arranged for the magazine. Tom and Katie are not out to make money from private matters, not even for charity. … Speaking of marriage, rumors flew last week that Beyonce and Jay-Z were about to tie the knot in Antigua or some other warm, tropic spot. This didn’t happen. But I’m surprised by the cynicism attendant on this long-running romance. Both performers are discreet and respectful of their own privacy.

THERE ARE plenty of second and even third acts in showbiz, and one who is having a strong career resurgence is George Michael. He is a quarter way through his current European tour and response has been overwhelming. In Copenhagen on Saturday, he performed for an audience of 50,000. He beat U2’s record for jamming people into Denmark’s Parken Stadium. Before an American conquest, however, George will put on display the John Lennon piano he owns. Lennon wrote “Imagine” on this instrument. The piano, which George purchased many years ago, debuts again in December at the Kenny Goss’ gallery in Dallas. Kenny is George’s partner. A limited-edition book, with pictures of the piano, will be sold — profits going to AmFAR.

IF YOU’RE INTO the nostalgia of New York and of The New Yorker magazine, look no further than Linda H. Davis and her book “A Cartoonist’s Life,” about the great macabre artist Chas. Addams. The best stories are new ones about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Try these: The world’s most famous widow wrote playful messages in Charlie’s pocket diary. “Jean Smith’s birthday – send present.” And then “Did you send present?” and then “She loved present” but P.S. “Why did you spend so much on Jean Smith?” Ending “Pay for present to Jean Smith.” The book reports: “Two months after her husband’s assassination, 34-year-old Jacqueline Kennedy began going out a little. At first she attended small dinners at the homes of Washington friends. Then, as her streetside brick Colonial house lay under siege by reporters and tourists, she began escaping to New York on the weekends, where she saw Addams and other mutual friends including Irwin Shaw, Truman Capote, and Pamela Hayward. She was soon living at the Hotel Carlyle while her new 15-room apartment at 1040 Fifth Ave. was being remodeled.” … Addams often socialized with the Stephen Smiths and the Peter Lawfords. At one of those overcrowded Kennedy weekends, Addams was a guest, with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport, Mass. Schlesinger found him “a very jolly roommate.” Now he was one of several discreet men who were taking Jackie out and he was clearly smitten. “He was stunned by, captivated by Jackie,” said Nancy Holmes. Jackie adored his work. “I love Pugsley and Lurch, but my favorite is Morticia. She and I have a lot more in common than you might think,” teased Jackie. … Once Addams and Jackie stopped for dinner at the Stockton Inn, which had inspired the Lorenz Hart song, “There’s a small hotel with a wishing well.” The waiter said, “Your friend looks a lot like Jackie Kennedy.” Addams answered, “That’s right. A lot of people tell her that.”

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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