Mirren deemed a ‘national treasure’

French leaders welcomed at Waldorf

THE BRITS were invited by the Daily Telegraph last week to vote for their “national treasures” and the list is pretty much as expected with Dame Helen Mirren leading big names in the arts. And on the same week, Helen was seen in a brief two-piece as she emerged from the waves off Italy. (This caused people to crow that she is “like a real woman — curvy, voluptuous and proud of it” at age 62.)

* * *

Sure is fun to see two of the TV shows this column pushed from the beginning now getting their due. I mean those cable miracles “The Closer” on TNT and the AMC hit “Mad Men,” now hotter than the cigarettes its stars are smoking. When I started writing about “Mad Men” a lot of people said I was crazy to push it. Who cared about the ’50s-’60s advertising world, they asked? When I began touting the gifted Kyra Sedgwick and her daffy “Closer” detective, this divine creature was being largely ignored, despite the success of the show. Then, Kyra’s nervous cop really caught on, and now she’s a huge star. And it has been fun to watch Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” become an overnight heartthrob success.

* * *

HAPPY TO report our pal Evan Smith has now been named president and editor-in-chief of the very good Texas Monthly magazine.

Evan was front and center covering both last weekend’s Austin Convention Center for Netroots Nation (liberals uniting) and the RightOnline convention held in the picturesque Hill Country for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

Both happened at about the same time, just showing the world that most of Texas is a little to the right while Austin is always a little to the left. Evans says: “It was like a ‘Star Trek’ convention and Austin is still the center of the universe.”

* * *

WE’LL GET all Frenchified in the fall when France’s controversial president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his hot First Lady, Carla come to the Waldorf on September 23rd to accept the 2008 World Statesman Award.

Mayor Bloomberg will also receive a Public Service Award and GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt the Appeal of Conscience award. It’s be a big night!

* * *

Vanessa Redgrave confesses she wants to play mad Queen Margaret in Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, part 2″…A disillusioned Julia Roberts opines: “I’ve actually gone on a pop-culture fast. The TV shows and gossip magazines seem so polluting and toxic now. It’s exhausting just looking at a newsstand these days.”

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