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Zeta-Jones: Bond Girl * Paltrow: Jewel thief * Diandra Douglas: Blushing bride

Gwyneth Paltrow came to town Monday night dripping in diamonds to host a gala at Lincoln Center where she told friends that she’s thrilled about the role she just landed playing a glamorous jewel thief. Madonna wanted the part, too, but come on, showbiz is still showbiz. And when the juicy role of the notorious Eighties London jewel thief Joan Hannington, who was as blonde, beautiful and fashionable as she was cunning, hit the market both Gwyn and Madge went after it.

This story first appeared in the December 3, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Hannington, who became known as “the Godmother” would dress up in Dior, Chanel and Gucci, stroll into London’s top jewelry stores, ask to see their very best diamonds and then distract the sales staff long enough to swallow the gems — gulp — and replace them with fakes.

She pocketed over $5 million worth and lived the high life for several years until she got caught. During her 18 months in jail, she wrote a book called “I Am What I Am,” on which the movie is based. Joan, now 46 and an antiques dealer, is delighted with the casting and says, “Madonna can’t do a cockney accent and Gwyneth can. Same as me, she’s a mimic. I’m happy that she’s doing it.” Everyone hopes that this will be the hit that’s been eluding Paltrow of late. Oh, and maybe there’s a bit part somewhere in the movie for Madonna.

Speaking of jewel thieves, Catherine Zeta-Jones wants to be the next Bond Girl. She’s even consulted the original 007, her pal Sean Connery with whom she starred as an art thief in “Entrapment.” Connery is encouraging her, but Catherine is being very particular. She wants to play a character equal to Bond in “Everything and Nothing,” which will most likely be Pierce Brosnan’s last appearance as the dapper spy. Catherine’s thinking along the lines of a modern day Mata Hari and she wants to sing the theme song like Madonna did in last year’s “Die Another Day.” But Madonna only got to play a cameo in that one. Catherine doesn’t do cameos.

Meanwhile Brosnan has proved he’s a romantic in real life just as he is on the screen. He gave his wife, Keely, on her 39th birthday a $75,000 BMW, diamond earrings and is taking her on a Caribbean cruise.

Diandra Douglas, the beautiful ex-wife of Michael Douglas, is engaged to financier Zachary Hampton Bacon III, who is just about as good looking as she is. Diandra is very busy these days, spending most of her time in Europe, where she is shopping for an estate in Andalucia, Spain, where she can stable her dearly beloved horses. She is also writing her autobiography, which will include stories about growing up as a daughter of a diplomat, her years at Georgetown University and her 23-year Hollywood marriage. But don’t expect a wicked “tell-all” on that part of her life, something she always said she wouldn’t do. “First of all I consider it the height of bad taste, and secondly Michael is the father of my son, Cameron. If I hurt his father, I’d also be hurting him,” she says. She has some definite ideas on today’s age-related issues as well. “Our whole generation is obsessed with age. In Hollywood you do see odd couples. It’s not normal for a 70-year-old man to be with a 22-year-old girl. Certain young women fall in love with the idea of having a fat bank account and a credit card and not the person.” When did you first notice it, Diandra? (You will be happy to hear that Mr. Bacon is 48, thank you very much.)

Jane Brody of the New York Times — her articles tell us all how to keep healthy and happy — gave the high-powered group gathered at the Irvington Institute fall luncheon at the University Club all sorts of hints about managing their growing stress levels (“No More Stress (more or less)”). Lauren Veronis and Nancy Shavel Gabel were the co-chairmen of the hot meal, and Lauren’s daughter Perri Peltz Ruttenberg was the moderator. Listening attentively were such concerned ladies who battle daily with the hurly burly of their active lives, social and otherwise, as Lynn Nesbit, the noted literary agent, Marie-Josée Kravis, Casey Ribicoff, Gigi Arledge, Norma Smith, Lally Weymouth, Catie Marron, Allison Cowles, Pamela Gross, Elaine Langone, Evelyn Lauder, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Susan Hess and like that.

The menu was designed to be soothing and stress-free, and special herbal teas and tonics were served — chamomile and Pacific to ensure a soothing flow of calmness through the heart and soul and black vanilla rose, the sensuous Yin of the vanilla bean coupled with the robust Yang of a bold black tea guaranteed to bring blissful peace to the most frazzled and fitful. If Yin and Yang wasn’t for everyone, lined up on the tables were Excedrin, Maalox and Tums. It’s a wonder the lot of them didn’t fall asleep in their chairs, although there was a nod or two noticed. (Not you, darling.)

As for Perri Peltz Ruttenberg, she was also the mistress of ceremonies at the big Americans for the Arts gala at the Mandarin Oriental, chic with a little fox fur on her shoulders, a silver bodice and a skirt to match. Leave it to Perri.

Prince Rainier, 80, brought his family together for Monaco’s National Holiday, which was particularly joyous as last year at this time he was in the hospital during the celebration. The Princesses Caroline and Stephanie and Prince Albert seem to have mended their differences as they smiled and waved from the balcony to their countrymen. Caroline’s husband Prince Ernst of Hanover was there as was her handsome 15-year-old son, Andrea Casiraghi. Her equally gorgeous 17-year-old daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, was just in New York staying with her friend Eugenie Niarchos, the late Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos’ granddaughter. The two beauties, accompanied by car and driver, went shopping in SoHo, and since they are both art lovers repaired to the James Rosenquist show at the Guggenheim. Neither was seen with any American boyfriend, at least not yet. Charlotte is excited about helping her mother in her new role as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Caroline follows in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn, Jane Seymour and Angelina Jolie and says she will focus her efforts on promoting vocational training for women in Africa and Asia. Children’s rights have been one of her favorite causes since she became the head of the Princess Grace Foundation started by her mother 40 years ago. That mother would have been very proud.

Betty Scripps Harvey, the newspaper heiress, and her husband, Jeremy, have finished their new house called Entre Nous, at the Lyford Cay Club in Nassau. And what a house! Betty leaves the Bahamas for a few days to return to the roots of the Scripps empire where it all began in the 1800s. She will be the chairman of the 74th annual Candlelight Ball on Saturday at the Del Mar Country Club to benefit Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.

You should know that Ellen Browning Scripps was the first chairman of the Candlelight Ball and Betty is carrying on the family tradition of philanthropy with a contribution of $1 million to the cause. She’ll be wearing a red ruffled Scaasi ballgown with a Scripps parure of rubies and diamonds. Who knows what Ellen wore to the ball 74 years ago, but I can tell you a parure of rubies and diamonds was nowhere in sight. Oh, and Betty will fly out the Bob Hardwick Orchestra for the fun because she just loves to dance, dance, dance.

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