IF YOU were running an important auction for a good cause, what would be your chance of getting to the Pope to ask him to join? Well, Ethel Kennedy didn’t hesitate when it came to the non-profit Robert F. Kennedy Memorial fund. We don’t know Benedict XVI’s answer, but he did respond. The auction has been on charitybuzz.com for a while and continues through May 7, so get in on it. You can have tea with Alan Greenspan, chat it up on “The View,” walk down Wisteria Lane with those housewives, see Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder” early, jam on a Peter Frampton guitar, lunch with VIPs. Call 202-463-7575 ext 241. … Designer Mica Ertegun is carrying on the effort of her late husband Ahmet, to keep improving relations between this country and Turkey. On Wednesday, there’ll be a black tie dinner at the Waldorf honoring GE chair Jeffrey Immelt and Dogus Group chair Ferit F. Sahenk with Mica, NBA commissioner David Stern and DuPont chair Charles Holliday Jr. hosting. Call the American Turkish Society 212-583-7614.
MARLO & PHIL, Thomas & Donahue, have big deal openings this week but neither can attend to cheer the other on. Friday night she opens officially in the new Elaine May play, “Roger Is Dead,” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. Unfortunately, he will be in Boston at the premiere of his documentary, “Body of War.” This hubby and wife have hardly seen one another in weeks. Maybe they’ll get together for Father’s Day! … Frank Langella, who stars as Richard Nixon in December’s “Frost/Nixon” movie, will soon start filming Andrew Jarecki’s “All Good Things” in Connecticut.
ON APRIL 28, Madonna’s final album for Warner Music Group — her home base for 25 years — debuts. Ellen DeGeneres is shimmying to Madonna’s single “4 Minutes” every day on her TV show. Some of Madonna’s most ardent admirers wonder if she has over-reached — at least in terms of presentation. The album art for “Hard Candy” crystallizes this concern. There she is, photographed in a black leatherette dominatrix outfit and faux-fierce attitude. It is a re-tread of her old “Sex” book persona. Harsh. Madonna, if challenged, would say, “It’s ironic, it’s a parody!” And, sure, every great star eventually riffs on his or her image. But why not simply let Steven Meisel photograph her as the powerhouse glamour-puss she is today? (Meisel’s Vanity Fair cover this month — Madonna clutching a giant globe of the earth — is sensational.)