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NEW YORK — Certain people do not claim to be anything other than what they are. Peggy Siegal is one of these people.

For her (fill in the blank) birthday party on Tuesday night at the Hotel Plaza Athenée, the veteran flack sent out invitations promising not only dinner but also a preview screening of Bob Balaban’s new IFC television show “Hopeless Pictures.” An animated satire of the film business, the show features, among other things, Siegal’s voice-over as a “diva publicist” who calls herself “Pegela” and lounges poolside, taking calls on her cell phone from a flailing studio head named Mel Wax, whose latest film she’s promoting.

“It’s supposed to be a character, but basically it’s just a continuation of my life,” Siegal explained as guests like Debbie Bancroft, Carolyne Roehm, Jeffrey Leeds and André Balazs took their seats to view the first episode. “Bob told me to ad lib so basically I just said all the things I’ve been saying for the last 25 to 30 years.”

Dim the lights, get the popcorn!

“The last screening was such a disaster,” her character tells Wax, in one of several phone conversations they have with one another in the first episode of the show, which airs Aug. 19. “So next time, we’ll send them the invite and one shoe in their size. Then, when they show up, they get the other one.”

Needless to say, the guests in attendance also saw certain similarities between their friend Peggy Siegal and the woman she’s playing on TV.

“We play tennis together in Southampton,” said Nina Griscom after the screening. “When I get aggressive she points at her body parts and says, ‘You break it, you buy it.’”

Vogue writer Billy Norwich called Siegal the day of the party to say he was on deadline and couldn’t make it, but she guilted him into coming. “She knows I’m Jewish. She said, ‘How can you do this to me?’”

This story first appeared in the July 25, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But Vera Wang stood Siegal up. This caused people at her table much concern — for the designer, not the publicist. “Maybe if we hide her place card Peggy won’t notice she didn’t come,” one of them said.

Fat chance.

Siegal’s response?

“She’s chopped liver!”

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