Gotham discovers ‘Utopia’

THE OPENING NIGHT of Tom Stoppard’s anxiously awaited “The Coast of Utopia–Part One: Voyage” was down-to-earth and filled with good spirits on stage and off. Lincoln Center is now aglow with sparkling holiday highlights, and the glow follows one right into the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Director Jack O’Brien deserves his own halo for bringing the human aspects of this intriguing literary spectacle down to human size — even if the earth keeps spinning, as the stage at this theater is wont to do. The sets are staggeringly beautiful. The grand cast is superb. The celebs on hand in both the theater and later in the wonderfully decorated Tavern on the Green, are known more for their artistry than their cleavage. Martha Stewart led the VIP pack. Chelsea Clinton was with a handsome date and remained unnoticed until one rascal photographer begged for a photo. He was refused. Also seen: Blair Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Stockard Channing, Jill Clayburgh, Joanna Gleason, Paul Rudnick, Kate Burton and Tom Stoppard’s guest, Vaclav Havel. All in all, a night to remember.

WHILE THE Middle East blows apart and America goes shopping, how about this for an elitist idea: an American city where only millionaires are allowed to live? That’s the premise for Jack Miller’s novel “Millionaire City” and the theme repeats itself in the film version planned by producer Gene Corman. Corman has put out feelers to Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump to appear as themselves in this movie. Will any of them consider doing this? They are being offered scale — $737 — for their cameos. I assume they’d give their “salaries” to God’s Love We Deliver, Broadway Cares, Literacy Partners or some other charity that needs every dime.

WHEN MERYL Streep walks the red carpet on Oscar night, she won’t be wearing Prada shoes. Streep says, “I own one pair of Prada shoes. They make my feet hurt. It’s not the shoes — they are exquisitely made. I blame my feet. I’ve got my mother’s feet.” … Michael Jackson loves James Bond movies, despite the fact that they are rife with violence and adult sex. Michael was in London when “Casino Royale” had its Royal Command Performance premiere. But he didn’t go. Jackson said he was “too nervous” to be near the queen. He asked the Bond production company to lend him a tape and he watched “Casino Royale” in his hotel suite, drinking Diet Coke and munching popcorn.

MARTHA STEWART hit six cities to pump up her “Homekeeping Handbook.” I gave a copy of this work away as a Thanksgiving present and found myself hugged and kissed. “Oh, everyone I know wants this book,” squealed the recipient. I’d say Martha’s effort, her 27th book with Clarkson Potter, makes the perfect gift as everyone wants to know how to do everything from cleaning a showerhead to tidying up a piano. … Elton John went public again at the Old Vic auction in London when he passed up a chance to bid on an evening with Paris Hilton. Elton wisecracked that he’d prefer to have spent an evening with her grandpa, the late hotel tycoon Conrad Hilton … Fans are e-mailing, begging us — of all people — to talk Britney Spears out of her new loving palship with Paris. Maybe Britney thinks Paris isn’t as low-rent as old-what’s-his-name whom she is divorcing? Paris didn’t cover herself with glory when she threw up onstage recently in Las Vegas right in the middle of lip-syncing songs from her album. But when has Hilton ever covered herself with glory?

CHER ON Robert Altman: “I am devastated. I loved Robert so much for so many reasons. He was a big, old, gnarly bear of a man who gave me a chance to act (“Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”) when nobody else would. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He also saved my life. I will never meet his like again.” (E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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