Obama 'West Wing' tribute makes rounds

THE SETTE Mezzo restaurant on Lexington Avenue between 70-71st is a favorite in that East Side neighborhood. The food is great, the service is legend and everybody pays in cash unless they let you enter the charmed circle with a house account. Prominently now pasted up in the window is a check from one Bernard Madoff marked “account closed. Returned not paid.” Mr. Madoff bounced his check to Sette Mezzo for $164.39 on Dec. 4. The waiters sniff, “He never did order any expensive wine. He was one of our first house accounts but he’s a crook!” Meantime, do the guys engineering salvaging what is left of the Madoff empire know that the New York State Office of the State Comptroller has a listing of seven organizations that actually owe Bernie Madoff money! These may not be insignificant sums either. Some of the ones owing Madoff are listed as Brown Bros. Harriman & Co, Medquist, Inc., Bank of New York, Capital Gold Corp, Nat’l Ass’n of Securities Dealers, and ATT &T, Inc.

THERE’S A DVD floating around with the famous theme music from TV’s “The West Wing” and it shows the Obamas in the White House. The well-known Allison Janney, who played the press secretary to the President in the TV series, says it was just sent to her and got her all choked up. Ms. Janney is getting ready to move back to New York with her beloved dog. She’ll be in Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5″ extravaganza happening in April in NYC.

BARBRA STREISAND? You won’t see her at any of the Inauguration functions — though she was most certainly asked to appear! But she and Diana Krall will watch the ceremonies from a recording studio in L.A. where they’re working feverishly on Barbra’s new album. Diana is producing with her trio. They are toiling like crazy in a limited two-week time period that unfortunately coincides with Washington’s festivities. Barbra says she is happy she could do her L.A. fund-raiser for the president-elect and even though she won’t be in D.C. on Tuesday, he knows her heart is there along with 300 million other Americans.

I WENT to the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City to film a moment of an upcoming “Ugly Betty” wherein I, as myself Liz, offer comments on the outrageous behavior of one Judith Light. (This sterling actress, famous for her days with Tony Danza on “Who’s the Boss?,” is brilliant on this TV series as Claire Meade, the murderous wife and mother of this show’s publishing dynasty.) I don’t know how actors do it? You sit around for hours dressed, made up and it’s like waiting for paint to dry. Suddenly, you’re “on” repeating the lines you memorized so carefully. (“Just give us the essence of it,” says somebody in a dark, dark studio which seems to be filled with hundreds of technicians.) But it was actually great to be part of the TV hit “Ugly Betty,” especially when Betty is America Ferrera — and just about the nicest girl anyone would ever want to meet. I asked while we waited what it was like to be called “America.” She sighed: “Well, I didn’t use the name when I was growing up. You know how kids like to tease you. My family called me Georgie. But now I have grown into it. I’m proud of it!” What a doll!

AS ALWAYS, I enjoy the Globes’ party atmosphere, the candid reactions, table-hopping and intimate chatting caught by the cameras. (This is where lip reading comes in handy.) And no reactions were more genuine and fresh than those of Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, the adorable young stars of “Slumdog Millionaire.” These kids looked so thrilled with the success of their film, but also simply happy to be there. Not a jaded, cynical, oh-this-crap-again bone in their bodies. Yet. And who had the most fun at the Globes? From where I sat, it had to be Emma Thompson. She seemed to be there to party, cheer on other actors, and have a glass or two.

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