Phyllis Diller is going into series TV. Are we ready? She told me last week she's going to play Stacy Keach's mother in the Fox sitcom Titus. She debuts on the show's first episode this fall.
Diller made a rare appearance on Thursday night in Elaine's, the famous New York watering hole. She was accompanied by her road manager/opening act/musician/friend Mercer Helms. Diller, who is 83, was the original female comedienne, paving the way for everyone who followed. She was also the first celebrity to be candid about plastic surgery. She's had tons of it. But she told me: "I'm done now, that's it. There's only so much to work with!”
Diller is still on the road all the time; in fact she was between gigs in Boston and god-knows-where and wanted to see The Producers on Broadway. She got fifth row seats. And the verdict? "Wonderful!!"
Strangely enough, I read subsequent to our meeting — in the new Entertainment Weekly — that Diller and Helms were in a bizarre accident just two weeks ago in Canada. Their limo driver parked on a steep uphill incline, got out, and the limo rolled back and over her. She was killed, according to the magazine.
There are 590 kids at the posh all-girls private school known as Spence. That's the total, from kindergarten through high school graduation.
Two girls who passed through Spence's famous doors recently most likely knew each other. Even if they don't, they are now tied together by politics. The daughter of Michael R. Bloomberg, and the daughter of Judith Nathan. He's running for mayor. She's dating the current one.
What makes this situation somewhat more unusual is that Mr. Bloomberg, who has an estimated wealth around $4 billion, donates $5 million a year to Spence. It comes from his Michael R. Bloomberg Family Trust Foundation. It's the single largest donation he makes each year. Bloomberg is also a trustee on the school's board. "He's an excellent parent," said school headmaster Arlene Gibson.
But for a few years, Bloomberg was integral to the education of Rudy Giuliani's girlfriend's daughter.
And you thought New York wasn't a small town.
But there's a wrinkle. Gibson told me on Friday that Nathan's daughter left at the end of last year, about a month after her mom and the mayor were discovered by this column dining at midnight in a romantic alcove at an upper East Side pub. Private school kids in New York rarely change schools unless they're having difficulty.
Spence, which is also known as the school that gave us a finished Gwyneth Paltrow, charges around $20,000 a year for tuition. Bloomberg's older daughter went there too.
"Don't make us out as the Gwyneth school," Gibson pleaded with me. "We have a lot of very smart girls here."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg has more than one registered private family charity. Besides his own, he also maintains something called the Bloomberg Sisters Trust. The listed trustees are his 22-year-old daughter Emma, ex-wife Susan, and corporate giving chief Patti Harris.
The Bloomberg Sisters Trust listed a half million dollars in assets on its 1999 federal tax filing. The charity made one donation that year: $5,000 to Covenant House, a drug rehab program.
Calls to Harris were not returned.
The new issue of Premiere magazine is here, with Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter and the Planet of the Apes gang on the cover. It's the usual good read, with lots of little tidbits.
Here's one, from John Connolly's piece about the original sex symbol, Mae West. West, it seems, may have invented the contraceptive sponge during her days of promiscuous sex ("An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away," she used to say.) West "would attach a sponge to a silk ribbon and insert it into herself to prevent an unwanted pregnancy," Connolly writes. And this, a half century before the FDA approved similar devices.
West, I learned, was almost involved with Mickey Hargitay, the famous body builder who went on to marry then-younger sex bomb Jayne Mansfield. (Their daughter, Mariska, stars with Chris Meloni in Law and Order: SVU.) To "get" Hargitay, West actually called a press conference and demanded Mickey be there to denounce his relationship with Mansfield. But the whole thing backfired when Hargitay announced his love for the younger woman instead. This was most certainly before the days of control freak PR people.
Also in Premiere this month, Paul Rudnick — writing as his nom de plume, Libby Gelman-Waxner — comments on Steven Spielberg’s criticism of the Boy Scouts not allowing gays: "I don't get it…because the Scouts are just so gay. It's all boys, they all wear matching outfits, and whenever they climb a tree or do a crafts project, they get rewarded with jewelry."
Last night’s Sex and the City finally managed to work in Kim Cattrall's real life husband — sort of. Carrie started dating the owner of a jazz club (Craig Bierko) who happened to be listening to music played through great speakers in his living room. The set up was by Mark Levinson, owner of Red Rose Music on Madison Avenue. The speakers looked lovely on TV. I've heard them and know how exceptional they are. Congrats, Mark. That must be the pay off for watching your wife cavort with all sorts of guys and now, of all things, a woman. Cattrall, p.s., seems to be even more in the groove this season than ever before. Must be because she's listening to better music.
Watch Roger Friedman on Fox News Channel's Entertainment Coast to Coast, Saturday at 8:30am and 2pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm.
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