John Kerry's handsome stepson, Chris Heinz, was axed yesterday. Let me explain.
Heinz, who gave a beautiful speech two nights ago introducing his mother to the Democratic convention, got into a bit of a nasty situation yesterday. He had just finished speaking at an event with his mother and brother at the Sheraton in Boston. His mother, Teresa, left before him.
"My brother and I and some agents" — he means Secret Service, not talent — "got into an elevator to go downstairs. The doors closed and the elevator just dropped, like 18 inches. And it stopped."
The men did not panic, but it's not like the fire department was going to wait around to see what would happen. There would be no jiggling of the buttons or, worse yet, long waits while the captives revealed intimate details of their lives. This was not a movie. No, the fire department arrived and took axes to the door, and removed the passengers swiftly.
"The irony," Chris says, "is that we were on our way to an event for firefighters. When I got there, I said, You won't believe what happened."
Heinz, whom I met with Gwyneth Paltrow about five years ago, says he's going to keep the dating thing on the down-low through November 2, by the way. And if John Kerry should become the next president, don't look for Heinz to move into the White House with his stepfather and mother.
"It's not smart to live with your parents," he assured me. "I won't be doing that."
Emmy-winning, brilliant (I think at least) comic-writer and actor Larry David is not happy with The Atlantic Monthly. He and his wife Laurie are featured in a piece in the September issue by Eric Alterman, of The Nation. (Actually, I think it's an excellent piece, and you should read it at www.theatlantic.com.)
I know that Larry and Laurie don't like the piece because Larry was busy telling Alterman off during cocktails yesterday at Tina Brown's luncheon at Radius restaurant in Boston. The event, as far as I can tell, was so Brown's CNBC show and, I guess, by extension, CNBC, NBC, and GE could all endorse John Kerry. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was the featured speaker on the subject of Homeland Security and was quite articulate.
Among the guests was Michael Moore, the even more ubiquitous Arianna Huffington (whom I inadvertently referred to by her maiden name, Stassinopolous, the other day), plus GE/Universal chairman Bob Wright, his new corporate P.R. person Anna Perez, NBC chief Jeff Zucker, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, CNBC President Pamela Thomas-Graham and MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Brown's esteemed husband Harold Evans, plus Democratic donors and supporters Patricofs and Goodales, as well as former Senator George McGovern, former mayor Willie Brown, former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, BET president Debra Lee, plus even more Democratic strongholders like Harold Ickes and Paul Beirne, Lisa Caputo, New York's Robert Zimmerman, Susan Estrich, Joe Klein, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner with boyfriend Matt Nye, and former Recording Industry Association of America chief Hilary Rosen, who must have an MP3 player by now.
For Hollywood flavor, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick — who were in town not for the convention, Kyra said, but by coincidence because Kevin's band, The Bacon Brothers, had a gig — were seated front and center. And, of course, for style and sardonic asides, my beloved Cindy Adams rounded out the group.
But there was Larry David, snapping away at Alterman, while wife Laurie looked concerned. A couple of times Alterman said, "I'll take a second look at it," meaning the article, which criticizes Laurie — a fervent fundraiser for the National Resources Defense Council and a "green" person — for being a bit of a hypocrite. Even though she talks about the evils of SUVs, and espouses driving hybrid cars, Alterman says she has a private jet. "She's a Gulfstream liberal," he writes. Ouch! Well, no one is perfect. I know a lot of people on Atkins who eat M&Ms.
Aside from the Davids, Alterman takes on a lot of other Hollywood liberals, especially those involved with fundraising for various causes. Some of these causes are a little sketchy, and overall Alterman makes a lot of salient points. There's a lot of money harvested in Hollywood, but what it's for, and where it goes, speaks to the problematic equation of celebrity and power.
Maybe the award for worst venue ever for a big party goes to the men's clothing store Louis Boston. (It's pronounced Louie, like the Danny DeVito character on Taxi.) Last night the Creative Coalition tried to cram a couple million young people into Louie Boston and a couple of tents in its backyard so everyone could hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers up close. Patrons supposedly paid $1,000 apiece, but as one friend quipped, if everyone actually forked over that money, the Coalition raised more in one night than John Kerry did recently at Radio City.
There were the requisite velvet ropes, nasty security guards and the surliest representatives of the store you could imagine. All of this was designed to keep everyone out of a VIP area in the store and outside in the lightly falling rain. Since clothes in Louie Boston are very, very, very expensive, this did bring to mind a good question: Why not just shop at the Gap or Bloomingdales, instead?
"You're the kind of person who gives the media a bad name," said a man who seemed to be in charge, if not own, Louie Boston when our pass was not honored. The fire marshall was invoked, a man who must be very busy since he seemed to be all over Boston last night issuing proclamations.
Later, the Creative Coalition's secret A-list reconvened at a nice bar in the Park Plaza Hotel called Bonfire. Jill Daschle, identified as the daughter-in-law of Tom Daschle, was in charge of offending people and keeping them out. She did an excellent job.
Inside, the Coalition's charming president Tony Goldwyn, apologized for the mess with Louie. Bianca Jagger and an eclectic bunch of celebrities, including Alyssa Milano, Lisa Ling and Chris Lawford brushed off the raindrops and munched on little cheesecakes. The bar featured Chopin vodka, which, at that point, I can't tell you how happy I was to see.
And what of Ben Affleck, you ask? "He's gone home to bed," said his publicist. "Whose bed?" I responded in keeping with the week's theme. "His mother's," the publicist responded, and don't get any funny ideas either. Ben, unlike Chris Heinz, has no problem bunking with the parents.
Most actors should stay away from politics and public speaking. That was a lesson learned yesterday by actor Esai Morales who appeared in a panel discussion at the Shubert Theatre yesterday moderated by Paul Begala (and disorganized by young, rude DNC robots). Morales was joined by Affleck (surprise!), Alec Baldwin, Dee Dee Myers, Rob Reiner and Al Franken. Terry McAuliffe and Larry and Laurie David were in the audience.
It was billed as a "humor" panel, so there were lots of quips about the president, the vice president and others in the Republican party. (Believe me, the same will happen when the Reps get to New York.) Baldwin called Dick Cheney a sociopath, Franken said George W. Bush was not a nice guy, and Begala said: "If the president is a Texas cattle rancher, I'm a Hasidic diamond merchant."
"I've seen you on 47th Street," Franken retorted.
Baldwin called America between New York and Los Angeles "flyover country, not leadership America." When Franken immediately balked that he was from Minnesota, a state with a history of leadership, Baldwin retreated and attempted an apology. (Later, at a much more elegant and pleasant reception for a movie called "American Wake," Baldwin did a 180 and was so eloquent he didn't seem like the same person.)
So you see, things were already not going well when Morales suggested that George W. Bush must have known about 9-11 in advance and used it to his advantage. I have never seen a panel of people look more stunned, or stumble for a way to undo a statement. Morales looked around the stage to see if there was a way to take back what he said, as if he'd been thinking something else, this is what had come out, and it was all wrong. The audience was silent, but Begala swatted the whole matter away. The woman sitting next to me, who works for DNC finance, winced. Oy vey!
My advice: no more panels with actors, people. Let them do what they're good at. They need scripts. It's much, much safer.