Davis tome explores Gotham jet-setters

“THE PRODUCER Harold Prince … felt uncomfortable with the raging elitism of the evening. When he and his wife approached the Plaza and saw the crowds standing outside, the French Revolution was the first thought that came to his mind,” writes Deborah Davis in her book about Truman Capote’s black and white ball titled “Party of the Century.” Book sums up New York and a bit of the International Set’s social history from the ’50s to the end of the 20th century. Everyone who was anyone is included, including all the people who didn’t get invited to Truman’s 1966 party for the late Kay Graham. … There are vastly entertaining details — the misprinted invitation that Truman hand-corrected, the fact that W described the guest list as “The Chosen People,” the many of the elite such as Frank Sinatra and Gianni Agnelli who busted up the ball taking their gangs to Jilly’s and to Elaine’s instead of staying to the bitter end, the people who were bored and left early like Candice Bergen, the ones such as Diana Vreeland who “pretended” to attend but didn’t really. (She went to the Paleys’ pre-dinner and then home because she was mourning the death of her husband.) … Let’s not forget that Christie’s chairman Stephen S. Lash is celebrating “The Black and White Ball” to remember Truman’s 40th anniversary and it will be held March 14 amid the contents of the Plaza Hotel at the Christie’s Grand Ballroom. Peter Duchin’s merry men will play again and everybody will dress up as they did for the original.

THE COMBO of the off-the-wall Wachowski brothers and the posh imprimatur of an invite from Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter brought out an amazing crowd for the “V for Vendetta” last week. The assembled included Conde Nast king Si Newhouse, star Natalie Portman, director James McTeigue and producer Joel Silver. I asked if she felt she was famous enough yet and she broke into laughter. Natalie is all hyped up for her “Saturday Night Live” hosting that we’ll see next weekend. Among screening VIPs sighted: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Candice Bergen and Marshall Rose, Lauren Bush, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera, Peter Sarsgaard, James Toback, Robert Kennedy Jr., Moby, Mike Nichols, Michael Moore, Ellen Levine, Henry Alex-Rubin, Alex Gibney, Stone Phillips and family, CBS’s great new anchorman Bob Schieffer and his daughter Susan, NBC’s Chuck Scarborough, Deborah and Allen Grubman, Claudia Cohen … My prediction is that this Wachowski effort will be the hit of 2006!

EVERYTHING ABOUT Roberta Flack brings back memories of sweeter, spicier, times all sung and danced to her exquisite tunes. What’s wonderful is that each and every song on her just released greatest hits album is as relevant today as it was then. She murmured, “First of all, songs choose me. But I need to relate to a song through empathy or personal experience. There has to be a love affair between my mind, my heart, the melody and lyrics.” The love affair lives on as this current Rhino/Atlantic CD exemplifies. … Sandra Bernhard is heading back to NYC with a brand new show, “Everything Bad is Beautiful.” From March 29 through May 28, Bernhard brings her startling meld of powerful singing and pungent commentary to the Daryl Roth Theater on East15th Street and Union Square. A Bernhard performance is an experience that is funny, moving, sexy, hot, cool and genuinely on the edge. … Harvey Weinstein’s new lady love, Georgina Chapman, closed her Soho store in London and is moving to Manhattan’s meat-packing district.

REMEMBER THE sensation Maxwell Caulfield caused off-Broadway twentysomething years ago in “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” and then later in “Salonika” and “Loot?” Caulfield’s expert thesping and his chiseled oft-bare physique were noted. (In “Salonika” he appeared nude for about 40 minutes, acting with the great and unruffled Jessica Tandy.) Times change and the years fly by, but from the look of the posters for Karoline Leach’s new play “Tryst” starring Maxwell and Amelia Campbell, the actor’s talent for staying in shape hasn’t suffered. Stripped in these pics to the top of his gluteus maximus, and embracing Campbell, Maxwell appears to have stopped the clock. “Tryst” opens in early April. Caulfield’s wife Juliet Mills stars in the L.A.-based daytime soap “Passions.”

TALK OF the town was the “Friends of 21” breakfast where VIPs from Mario Cuomo to Ed Koch to GOP power broker Bill Plunkett to TV’s Richard Leibner to Bill O’Shaughnessy gravitate semimonthly. The speaker was rambunctious “Hardball” talker Chris Matthews. He opined from the podium, “I think I ought to be a little careful what I say here. I see Bill is taking notes!” (He indicated O’Shaughnessy, the president of Whitney Radio in Westchester.) … Among Chris’s opinions: “Diane Feinstein is the one great ‘grown-up’ in the Senate. I’d trust her as president. Another ‘grown-up’ is Kay Bailey Hutchinson.” … On John McCain: “He has unbelievable numbers. Integrity, independence. But he lives off the fat of the land with respect to issues. And he wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘How can I screw George W. Bush?’ McCain has a moral edge over all of us.”