No Hollywood Stars at Dinner for Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip must have been a little disappointed last night. The White House dinner thrown in their honor didn't include any Hollywood stars. Remember when Princess Diana got fussed over by John Travolta and Tom Selleck? How times have changed!
Instead, the guest list was a strange mix of media people and Bush/Republican high rollers. Among the latter: Texan Harold Simmons, who has given Republican candidates $370,000 over the last decade, according to published records.
Another Texas billionaire, Richard Kinder, formerly of Enron, donor of nearly $750,000 to Republicans over the last dozen years, also made the cut.
So did Jerry Perenchio of Chartwell Partners, whose family in total has impressively given about $1.6 million to Republican causes over the same period — and a few thousand to Democrats, just in case.
T. Boone Pickens ($322,851 on his own) was there too, as was Gerry Shaheen, president of Caterpillar Group ($370,000) and Herbert Kohler, who has opened his fancy faucets for Republicans to the tune of $257,993.
Actual celebrities? You tell me. Among the attendees were NBC's David Gregory, ABC's Robin Roberts, pregnant member of "The View" Elisabeth Hasselbeck, her football player husband Tim, plus Peyton Manning, Arnold Palmer, Henry Kissinger, the wife of opera star Placido Domingo and violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Queen Elizabeth II may have returned home with a T-shirt that read: "I went to the White House and all I got was this lousy T-shirt and anecdotes about Rosie O'Donnell."
Of course, most Hollywood stars probably identify themselves as Democrats, but still: Who would turn down an invitation to meet the Queen of England at the White House?
At Liz Smith's Literacy Partners dinner last night in New York, Bette Midler — the surprise performer at the swellicious Lincoln Center event — quipped about the State dinner, "I wasn't invited, so it turned out I was free. And I hear President Bush has already made his first faux pas of the night. He congratulated Queen Elizabeth on her Oscar win."
And yes, the Literacy Partners event last night at Lincoln Center's New York State Theater was a tribute to the amazing Liz Smith and her partners-in-reading Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd.
They have raised more than $20 million in 20 years to teach illiterate adults how to read. Last night they raised $1.2 million with special guests Vanessa Redgrave, Frank Langella and novelist Alexander McCall Smith giving readings.
Literacy Partners is a phenomenon. With low overhead, the smallish group spent $1.6 million last year, according to tax records, just on programs. The staff gets reasonable, not particularly great, salaries, but the results are huge.
Two graduates of the program spoke last night and, as usual, brought tears to the eyes of the most jaded New Yorkers. They were a 46-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman whose lives have changed thanks to Literacy Partners. Remarkable.
Among the guests: Hearst Magazines' Cathie Black and Ellen Levine — Hearst was the night's sponsor. Harry Evans and Tina Brown broke bread with many members of the New York glitterati, including the quite legendary artist Francoise Gilot, who is also the mother of Paloma and Claude Picasso; and ABC News' Cynthia McFadden, who brought with her Bob Woodruff and his wife, Lee. The latter pair read a little from their new book and spoke about their ordeal since Woodruff was wounded a year ago in Iraq. Again, remarkable. They are a great team.
Scaasi and Ladd have worked hard on Literacy Partners all these years, but Liz Smith is really the face of the organization. How she has time for it, I don't know.
At 80-plus years old, she is still turning out a great daily gossip column in the New York Post and online. It's the template for this column — don't kid yourselves. We've learned more from Liz than from three major colleges.
She is the gold standard for entertainment reporting, and the gold standard period. Bravo!
"Spider-Man 3" actually took in just over $151 million over the weekend in the U.S. alone. That's about $3 million more than Sony originally thought. Whew!
The total take for the whole wide world in just three days: $381,660,892. Think about it: They don't even need to take out another ad. Sony's work is done. Everything from here on out is gravy.
Of course, hitting the $1 billion mark wouldn't be bad, either. And it's possible. Let's face it: We're stuck with Spidey for a decade more at least.
Drew Barrymore's "luck" has run out; "Lucky You" is a huge dud. Barrymore may be People's Most Beautiful girl, but she's made one too many versions of the same romantic comedy. This one was the straw that, you know ...
Luckily, Drew is supposed to take on more serious fare next; a dramatization of the Al Maysles' documentary "Grey Gardens."
Speaking of Maysles, his 27-years-in-the-making doc, "The Gates," about artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude's efforts to set up a series of orange gates in Central Park, closed the Tribeca Film Festival.
Maysles started the film in 1979, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude were first turned down by the New York City Parks Department. It took them until 2005, when Mayor Mike Bloomberg quickly agreed and let them fulfill their dream.
The film is a great historical document, particularly as it shows the short-sighted New Yorkers — politicians and civilians — who stupidly blocked the Gates back then.
If they are alive, they will be embarrassed to see themselves on film now. Ah, bureaucracy: It's a four-letter word.