Every August at the height of the racing season in horsey to-die-for Saratoga, Marylou Whitney, toast of the town and the first lady of the elite racing world, and her husband, John Hendrickson, give a big blowout at the resort-famed Canfield Casino. The “It” party of parties, it’s always a riotous celebration around a theme that changes every year because Marylou despises a rut. The surrounding gentry usually come costumed corresponding to the theme and prepared for groaning boards bearing everything from caviar to cotton candy — although not at the same time. Marylou and John’s out-of-town friends look forward to these invitations, little works of art and imagination, as glamorous and decorative sometimes as the party itself. Oh my, Marylou!
So this year, the theme is “A Night in Egypt” in honor of the 78th running of The Whitney, one of Saratoga’s great stakes races named for the Whitney family, which has bred and raced brilliant horseflesh since forever.
Don’t worry about what to wear. The invitation reads “Black tie, please, no costumes,” which may come as a huge disappointment to a number of would-be Cleopatras, who were planning to appear in full regalia down to the last scarab and asp.
Which brings to mind equine news from England, where Madonna has added horseback riding to her long list of newly acquired British country sports. She has put away her shotgun and jumped on her horse. She really had no trouble mounting a thoroughbred at a stable in London for her first lesson, but to prevent anyone from witnessing her rookie ride, she rented out the entire arena. No one except her instructor was allowed to watch, but after her first lesson, she had the confidence to borrow two horses from the stable to take home to her country house to practice. Giddy-up girl.
Calvin and Kelly Klein are sponsoring a $25,000 Show Jumping Derby at the 30th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show on Sept. 4, where the Grand Prix lunch officially closes the summer season. Among those taking tickets and tables are Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his daughter, Georgina, an ace rider; Anne Hearst and her daughter, Amanda; Sybil and David Yurman, and James Mischka and Mark Badgley. For the 10th year, Robbins Wolfe will serve lunch to all the tables in the VIP tent featuring its signature show cookies in the shape of horses sporting blue frosted ribbons. Oh, well.
Gwyneth Paltrow is working on her Peggy Lee imitation for a movie to be based on the late George Plimpton’s book, “Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career.” The flick is titled “Have You Heard?” The script will focus on those figures of his era, who meant the world and all to Truman and who, in turn, found him absolutely delicious. That is, until he stupidly and arrogantly fell from grace by being a big blabbermouth.
Peggy Lee was one of Truman’s chums, but in his mind and raging social ambitions, nobody was more important than what he called his “Swans,” fashion immortals such as Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness and Slim Keith. You should know that in the movie, Sigourney Weaver will play Babe, Isabella Rossellini will play Gloria and Hope Davis will portray Slim Keith. Sandra Bullock will also have a role, playing “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee, Truman’s best buddy from the early years. Truman’s relationship with the two murderers of the Clutter family in Kansas will also be covered. These are the two killers/criminals whom he befriended and later wrote about in his magnificent bestseller, “In Cold Blood.” If ever anyone has friends in high and low places, that was Truman, who, thank heavens, couldn’t keep his mouth shut or his pen from spilling one scandal after another.
Nicole Kidman bought a house in Beverly Hills just around the corner from Tom Cruise. She figures it will make joint custody of their children a bit easier, and she will move into the four-bedroom house that she’s now in the process of redecorating in the fall. There will be a state-of-the-art gym in the house, and Kidman says she’s hired a nutritionist and a trainer because she wants to gain a little weight and set a good example for other women. Now that is sweet.
Daniel Day-Lewis and his wife, director Rebecca Miller, are coming to town to host Grand Classics’ screening of “Kes” at Soho House on July 26. It’s the story of a young boy, filmed in 1969, who discovers himself through his relationship with a wild bird he finds and trains. (Of course, in 1969, a wild bird meant something different from what it does today, if you think it over.) The evening, benefiting the American Film Institute, is sponsored by Hugo Boss and the committee includes such sparklers as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Claire Danes and Sydney Pollack, among others.
Jude Law, Sienna Miller‘s fiancé — or is that ex-fiancé — has been hiding out in a country house in England with friends while he begs, and I mean begs, for forgiveness. Sienna has been having a dreadful time handling the dreadful news of his affair. She broke down during her curtain call onstage Monday night after playing Celia in “As You Like It.” The audience gave her a standing ovation. Sienna left the theater without her diamond engagement ring and with her face buried in her hands. There’s no business like show business, or so they say.