RECENTLY that grand lady Lauren Bacall made a rare visit to the Friars Club to join the tribute to Broadway veteran Lee Roy Reams. The Friars’ host, Freddie Roman, reminded the audience that Bacall’s first experience with the club was at a roast for her beloved, Humphrey Bogart, back in 1955. At the time women were not allowed to cross the threshold of the Frairs. (Imagine that!) So Bacall sent an audio tape to congratulate her husband. The tape began. “This is Lauren Bacall, Mrs. Humphrey Bogart. You rat bastards!” But when the tape finished, Bacall in person popped out on the stage. She had been smuggled in. The guys went crazy, of course. They promptly forgot why they had barred women in the first place. While Freddie was telling this incident at the Reams tribute, Bacall started heckling him from the audience. Freddie searched out Bacall and shot back with an affectionate grin, “You rat bastard!”
THE PRINCE of Wales is not only bringing out a book, “Harmony,” on ecology from Harper Collins, but he is joining with the beauteous Elizabeth Hurley to produce organic food. His food company Duchy Originals will be producing acres on her Cotswolds farm … ANTONIO BANDERAS, the engaging voice of the adorable swashbuckling cat in “Shrek,” is a serious guy otherwise. He is trying to make a movie about the last Moorish king of Granada, Mohammed XII, who was known as Boabdil. The royals of Abu Dhabi liked the idea but wanted it to be filmed in English and Antonio wants it to be in Arabic and Spanish. So the project is on hold! … THE PET SHOP BOYS have written a song for Shirley Bassey, she of the James Bond theme songs, and the Dame is mulling whether or not she wants to be part of a group that has sold 50 million records worldwide … WOODY ALLEN seems to be growing younger. He looked great at the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival where he seemed to actually be enjoying promoting his latest, “Whatever Works.” And didja know that Woody did not vote in the last Academy Awards even though his “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” star, Penelope Cruz was in the race for an Oscar? (And ended up winning!) Woody says, “I am not a member of the Academy.” (This, from a guy who has been nominated 16 times and even won once for being “Annie Hall’s” director and won twice for writing that and “Hannah and Her Sisters.” He didn’t show up to receive any of these three awards. … SACHA BARON Cohen has included a sketch in his new film “Bruno,” which seems to be poking fun at Madonna’s effort to adopt an African baby. Cohen is asked the name of the baby he has adopted in the movie. “I gave him a traditional African name — O.J.” P.S. Sacha has since “apologized” to his old friend Madonna — she was very much his benefactor/cheerleader a few years ago. And you wonder why stars are often wary in their friendships? … CAROLINE KENNEDY is joining the Literacy Partners group that is reaching for a younger demographic. The Literacy Associates gang meets at Tenjune in NYC’s meatpacking district on June 2. Tickets are only $150 and I encourage you to join if you have a dime left in your pocket. I love how times have changed. It’s a lure now to invite people to join a benefit meeting in the meatpacking district!