The real-life tale of 'Starter Wife'

THERE I WAS one night at the theater and at an after party, I spied the electric hair-do of one Brian Grazer across a crowded room. This mega movie producer, named one of Time’s “100 most influential” people, was traveling around the room, dragging behind him a chic looking but slightly reluctant charmer named Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. I realized that this lady — a concert pianist when she isn’t attending to Brian’s happiness — is the replacement for the mega-movie-producer’s famous “starter wife” of 10 years, producer-writer herself, Gigi Levangie.

After Brian and Gigi broke up, I wrote a story in the spring of 2007 about how she would find revenge by becoming a big professional hit, one that nobody in Hollywood could ignore. Well, of course, she has! Her plans to bring “The Starter Wife” story to TV became a reality on the USA Network. It is also great to have the delightful Debra Messing back playing the delightful Gigi in this smashing TV comedy/drama that is a perfect follow-up after the “Will and Grace” years.

At the time Gigi and Brian were going kaput, I asked her if, during their separation, she saw other men? “Yes!” said Gigi with enthusiasm. “I saw two guys: Patrick age 3, and Thomas, age 7, our children.” Gigi Levangie is a beauty, much like a movie star herself, though she says “acting bores me!” She is a happy, positive, self-defined package and was, even back during her traumatic divorce from Brian.

Gigi claims that reading saved her life during the weeks after she and Brian separated. “I look back on it now as a kind of vacation. You know, I never believed that being a Hollywood wife meant you should major in shopping or become a jewelry designer. That’s what a lot of Hollywood wives do. I have also written two books myself — “Rescue Me” and “Maneater.” I also wrote the Julia Roberts’ movie ‘Stepmom.’ And my latest novel, coming in June, is titled ‘Queen Takes King.'”

So happy she is now, the entrepreneur who brought “The Starter Wife” to its peak and that she no longer thinks of herself as a “starter wife,” just as a starter!

FILM FANS, memorabilia mavens and admirers of the late great Bob Hope will adore the auction of property from Hope’s life and career, on Saturday and Sunday, put together by his daughter, Linda. This happens at the Beverly Hilton, benefiting U.S. veterans through the Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation. (Dolores was Bob’s divine wife of many, many years.) And what property it is! There’s great stuff from Bob’s golf collection, including a Tiffany sterling silver golf club given to the actor on his 95th birthday by NBC. There are rare photos, furniture, suits, ties, t-shirts, boxing gloves and hockey sticks autographed by great sports stars, presidential seal cufflinks from Richard Nixon, a rattlesnake-encased pen holder, smoking jackets, hats of every style (including a sombrero), exotic souvenirs from his world travels, his makeup case. The beautifully photographed catalog alone is priceless and a genuine collector’s item. For info on the event contact Darren@juliensauctions.com.

IT’S ABOUT time the Theater Hall of Fame added the one and only Nathan Lane. Joining him next Jan. 26 at the Gershwin will be playwright Alan Ayckbourn, producer Emanuel Azenberg, choreographer Patricia Birch, actor Richard Easton, composer Marvin Hamlisch, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and posthumously — Roscoe Lee Brown… SARAH JESSICA PARKER and Matthew Broderick will host the one night only concert “B’way Voices for Change”” this Sunday for America Votes. Call 212 – 239-6200…And the Harold Clurman Festival of the Arts happens Friday-Oct. 27 at the Stella Adler Studio…A HIGHLY glam event Oct. 20 where Mayor Bloomberg opens the “Lightyears: A Salute to the Arts” at Cipriani 42nd Street. Honorees are fashion’s Iris B. Apfel, designer Mario Buatta, musician Michael Feinstein, and N.Y. film czar Katherine Oliver. Brian Stokes Mitchell sings and Joan Rivers auctions and maybe emcee Chuck Scarborough gets in a word edgewise. Call 212 – 821-9428…THERE are a few tickets left for Oct. 27 “On Broadway: A Glittering Salute to the American Musical.” Brooke Shields hands the Rolex Dance award to Tommy Tune; Angela Lansbury hosts Sono Osato and Brian Heidtke. Call 212-2287446 ext. 33…WORRIED about money? Forget it and join Denise Rich who raised over $5 million last year via her “Angel Ball” fighting cancer. On Oct. 22 at Cipriani Wall Street, of all places, you could win the auction for two Vanity Fair Oscar party tickets on Feb. 22 in Hollywood, or play the Golf Masters in Augusta, snag a Jonas Brothers guitar and great things like that. Let’s don’t disappoint the generous Denise; she has never disappointed anyone.Call 212-254-6677.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more