“THE MIX is the message,” says PR queen Peggy Siegal of her deft hand at promotion parties.
Of course, the most brutish part of my job is having to sit with men like George Clooney and Bruce Willis for dinner. But somebody has to do it and that lucky somebody is sometimes me. The other night in 21 after the feisty “Leatherheads” movie premiere at MOMA, Peggy had done the impossible — mixed Oscar winners and glamorous VIPS with millionaires and their rich wives. Nay, some were billionaires! I did spy David and Julia Koch, Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson, Woody “he owns the Jets” Johnson and Suzanne Ircha, Samantha Boardman and Aby Rosen, Jeanne and Herb Siegel, John and Susan Gutfreund. These rich and powerful folks enjoy a free meal as much as anyone and the Edmiston Yacht folks were underwriting the wines, caesar salads, steak and French fries. (Everybody reached for the latter and I had to tackle a waiter to serve the crispy needs of the lovely Jules Asner, Mrs. Soderbergh, at my table.) Rather, we were at Mr. Clooney’s table. The star himself never sat down but stood in the same spot in one of the dining rooms, welcoming all comers, laughing and scratching for two hours. This party was celeb to the max. That eternal sex symbol Candice Bergen, and Marshall Rose, a buoyant Katie Couric with her new boyfriend Brooks Perlin. Karen Zucker allowing her NBC titan hubby to sit on my left with his Blackberry aglow. (When I told him that NBC, now rising again, needs to bring me back in order to seize and hold their increasingly older audience, he jotted a note on his French cuffs!) Introduced to director Steven Soderbergh, I told him I knew all about him, but George Clooney had asked me never to print any of it. He said, “And I know all about you, too!” Daunting, that!
Also in Peggy’s mix — the gorgeous star Julianna Margulies, actress Karen Duffy who was handsome in a raincoat, and the talented Ellen Barkin. Let’s add NBC’s Ben Silverman, Hollywood’s rebel prince, and this year’s Oscar winner for “No Country for Old Men” — Joel Coen, ABC’s Sherri and David Westin, Diana Taylor sans the Mayor of NYC, Patricia Clarkson, Harvey Weinstein and his bride Georgina Chapman, TV’s electric Lara Spencer, and one of Clooney’s inner circle, Richard Kind, who will bow at Lincoln Center in “Candide” this very night. (His co-star is the wonderful “Jersey Boys” Daniel Reichard.)
Oh, yes, a person I was hoping to see was Clooney’s co-star in “Leatherheads” — Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger. She had rushed to London for the director Anthony Minghella’s memorial. She won an Oscar for his “Cold Mountain.”
And now for the piece de resistance. I had a really good talk with George Clooney before this party started. We fell into each other’s arms still commiserating on the death of our mutual friend, Ann Richards. George said he has the Tom DeLay piñata Ann had made for him as a gift the last time we’d all been together at Sardi’s. He said, “It’s hanging in my bedroom. My God, wouldn’t she have been a pistol in this current election? It would have been catnip for her. What would she be saying about Hillary, Obama, and McCain? There is nothing I love better than somebody like Ann who had developed into a real character, who (ital) was (ital) a real one, unique and combative. I loved that woman.”
To close — my best moment? Standing in an embrace with the one and only Bruce Willis. He said, “Liz, I feel that my entire life up until this moment has crystallized and come to fruition since I met this woman.” (He indicated the gorgeous model Emma Heming who he introduces to everyone as “my girlfriend!’) When I agreed that she was very beautiful, he said, “No, that’s not it. She is beautiful inside. I am so happy.”
Somehow I guess a party where you’re kissed by George Clooney and Bruce Willis is not exactly hardship duty. And I apologize to all the women out there who are rightfully envious. These two top my list! They are both truly good human beings and very thoughtful civilized guys.