Sting and Trudie | Martha Stewart, Dining

Getting 'Cheeky' With Sting and Trudie

Thursday night: Dinner with handsome rock star-actor-memoirist Sting and his beautiful wife, producer-actress-activist Trudie Styler. At: Soho House, following a screening of a new film produced by and featuring Styler called "Cheeky." It's a British comedy-drama written and directed by David Thewlis.

Also at dinner: Ellen Barkin and husband Ronald Perelman, plus Deborah Jackman (Hugh Jackman's wife) with friends from Australia, plus Boston philanthropist Bobby Sager, Sting's manager Kathy Schenker, and a couple more friends, enough to make the group fit an octagonal table in the private room.

"Cheeky" is notable for its fine writing and acting, particularly a saucy comic role for Styler, who trained in the United Kingdom with the Royal Shakespeare Company "long before she became Mrs. Sting," the singer told us in his toast.

It was the first time Sting had seen the film, and he was noticeably moved and impressed by his wife's latest accomplishment. Don't forget this was set up on the one night Sting had off from four shows last week at the Beacon Theater.

Barkin, who's about to have a big comeback in a new film by Todd Solondz, also made a toast to her friend. She told me she'd trade most of the films she has made in her illustrious career (not including maybe "Sea of Love," "Diner," "Switch") to make movies with Solondz. ("He's a genius," she said.)

Barkin told the table, "Trudie is the only producer who regards the acting as something better than the producing." (Styler's other producing credits including Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch.")

The fact is, Styler is so natural in the role of Thewlis's girlfriend that it's a surprise she hasn't done more acting. Of course, she does have four kids and two step-children, plus Sting and the Rainforest Foundation. It's not like she has a lot of free time on her hands. It's not like she's just lazing around her homes eating bon-bons.

"We just brought in a world-renowned chess champion to play with our 8-year-old-son," Sting said proudly. "He's that good."

It was only the night before the screening that Styler commanded Row H center of the Beacon while Sting played his second show of the week, featuring songs from his latest album, "Sacred Love."

Styler bobbed along to "If I Ever I Lose My Faith in You" and other hits, mouthing the words with unusual enthusiasm considering she must have heard these songs a million times before.

But I do think her faith in herself and in Sting is what makes Styler remarkable. The couple met Hugh and Deborah Jackman because Sting recorded the theme song from "Kate & Leopold." Now they're all pals.

At a time in life when people don't necessarily make new friends, the Stings — not the Sumners — (please, I asked and no one calls Sting Gordon Sumner, which is his real name, not even family) keep expanding their horizons, increasing their circle of influence and knowledge.

With Thewlis, Styler says he came to her with a script that he couldn't get produced. It became her cause. Then he suggested that she take on the role of Nancy, a juicy part considering she must seduce Thewlis' recently widowed character.

Styler showed the film at the Toronto Film Festival last September and then waited again to screen it for distributors. If the reaction she got on Thursday night is any indication, "Cheeky" — the title refers to a bizarre TV game show in which Thewlis's character, Harry, is a contestant — should be on screens everywhere by the fall.

Martha Stewart, Dining

One week before Martha Stewart and her broker, Peter Bacanovic, got their guilty verdicts, the pair was very close. I'm told by sources who saw them that they dined together at the new Japanese restaurant Matsuri in the Maritime Hotel on West 16th Street. I wonder if that was the last meal the pair will have together in this lifetime considering their mutual fates.

I haven't written anything about the Stewart case since before the trial started, but I will tell you that I think the idea of Stewart going to jail is preposterous. Isn't this more a situation of punishing this woman for years of built up resentment toward her?

Everyone seems to have a negative anecdote about her, especially those in the town of Westport, Conn. Even her gardener had a case against her once upon a time. But jail? How about endless public duty helping the homeless, elderly and terminally ill?

Stewart's arrogance and hubris are what did her in, in the end. On the day that it was revealed last year that she had altered her phone log, I told you that the cover-up in her case would prove to be more damaging than the case itself.

The most insane thing Stewart did was insist that she had always planned to sell ImClone if the stock if it fell below $60. No one who knew her believed this fantasy and the jury didn't either.

I saw Stewart on Dec. 6, 2001 at ImClone founder Sam Waksal's Christmas party three weeks before the whole thing blew up. She was not a happy camper that night.

Indeed, Stewart was drunk and moody, sitting on a ledge in the front hall of Waksal's loft with a black cloud over her head. More than one person wondered what was going on. In retrospect, I wonder, had she been told bad news was coming even then?

As for Waksal, his seven-year sentence seems even harsher in light of Stewart's potential 18-month term. The ImClone drug Erbitux has finally been approved by the FDA and is already helping cancer patients.

Waskal's insider-trader domino effect of phone calls, messages and forgeries were made in a panic when he thought 20 years of work was about to go down the drain. Now the work has proved to be important and consequential. With improvements along the way, imagine the help it will be bringing people by 2010.