LUNCHED recently with Sotheby’s Jamie Niven in Michaels where we sat cheek by jowl with producer Diane Sokolow and Jennifer Holliday, the original Effie of “Dreamgirls” on Broadway. Nearby was a fur-clad, high-heel booted beauty named Joan Collins. She was with her husband, Percy Gibson, health guru Nikki Haskell and Jolene and George Schlatter. Over the first course Jamie spoke with pride of his daughter, Fernanda, who helped make actress Rachel Weisz such a vision on Oscar night in her Vera Wang gown. Then I asked Jamie for his recollections of the Vanity Fair party. “Well, I stumbled as I was going to shake hands with Daniel Craig so 007 caught me right in his arms. I told him he was the best James Bond yet but I modestly added that my father had also played the same role in the original version of ‘Casino Royale.’ Craig said — ‘And your father would have been David Niven? Well, you know the original ‘Casino Royale’ is quite a cult movie.'” Jamie agreed and went on to sit nearby with Angelica Huston. They reminisced as well about the first movie version of “Casino Royale” because her father, the late John Huston, also appeared therein with David Niven.
IF I printed even part of the guest list for the fund-raiser the National Resources Defense Council hosted honoring Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter — we’d faint from the high-celebrity tone and very VIPness of it all. This environmental group took over the beautiful old Cunard Line building down near Wall Street and raised $3.1 million the other snowy eve. Fran Lebowitz was the sardonic emcee and Anderson Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio lent their presence. Funniest bit was a film showing Helen Mirren as “The Queen” gazing at Graydon standing and then dancing in the background. But the NRDC for all its good work was preaching, via documentary and speeches, to the converted and we were a trapped audience until 11 p.m. (I ask, do cocktails have to go on forever?) Less is more; less is more. Remember that for your 10th fund-raiser next year.
FANS OF singer Tori Amos can expect a new album coming May 1 titled “American Doll Posse.” And Tori has a real doll posse working with her on this disc — four well-known female musicians. One is brunette, two are blonde and there’s a redhead, too. Amos won’t part with the names, but insists they are “trailblazers, representing the many facets of a woman” … Mary J. Blige attributes her success to many things, among them are photographers Markus Klinko and Indrani. They have had a long history of image-creating for the Grammy-winning Blige. J.P. Robinson, the art director of her label, Def Jam, told the photographers they were, “ahead of the voting members in making her dreams come true … thank you for helping her look like the queen she is” … Anna Magnani, the Italian actress whose deep-circled eyes and un-girdled belly shocked America into awarding her an Oscar in 1956 (for “The Rose Tattoo’) will be the subject of a new off-Broadway show, “La Magnani,” opening March 22 at Arclight Theatre. Directed by Elizabeth Kemp, this is a one-woman effort starring Theresa Gambacorta.
SAMMY DAVIS JR. will be celebrated in a “musical bouquet” titled “The Ultimate Entertainer,” which debuts at Resorts Atlantic City on April 14. The show has the full support of Sammy’s widow Altovise. Actors and singers are now auditioning for various roles. Sammy was a great artist who could never find himself; always insecure, always too impressed by his circumstances (being taken up by the cruelly mercurial Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack), frightened it would all disappear. But at his peak, Sammy was a one-of-a-kind entertainer. … Went again to catch some of Tom Stoppard’s panoramic epic “The Coast of Utopia” and must say that Jack O’Brien has out-directed, out-witted, out-staggered us with his masterful presentation. The 44-person cast is brilliant. … “Why, just good, clean, healthy living.” That’s what a resplendent Elizabeth Taylor said at her 75th birthday party in Las Vegas, when asked her secret to long life. Taylor winked. La Liz was condemned by the Vatican, pronounced dead several times and survived Eddie Fisher. Three-quarters of a century is just gravy to her.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)