One of the delights of New York’s nightly round of money-raisers is watching Diane Sawyer run a gala as the mistress of ceremonies. Deft is the word for Diane. She always looks like the millions of dollars she helps summon up for the cause, and when she gets up on the podium, she talks to the crowd as though they were all her best friends — easy, breezy. Diane gave one of her stellar performances at the International Sephardic Education Society Benefit at the Waldorf, a party for 650, where a dazzling Sir Elton John brought down the house and Francois Curiel, Christie’s deputy international chairman and generally regarded as the auctioneer’s auctioneer, sold four lots of various programs, awarding college scholarships to promising young Israeli students in need. He is another star at what he does. The ISEF scholarships were founded by one of the world’s eminent philanthropists, the late billionaire Edmond Safra, whose widow, Lily, the chairman of the gala, has carried the torch to a remarkable degree. She is also the head of ISEF’s honorary committee, which includes such worthies as Dr. Neil Rudenstine, the former head of Harvard University; New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau; Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger; Sir John and Lady Bond, and Lord Rothschild. Lily underwrote the evening at the Waldorf and among her supporters dressing up the room were Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Linda Wachner, David Furnish, Robert Higdon, Lily’s daughter, Adriana Elia, and, last but never least, ISEF president Nina Weiner in ropes and ropes and ropes of pearls.

Lily’s next project is a great dinner on May 26 at the Library of Congress in Washington celebrating the dedication of the Edmond Safra Family Lodge at the National Institutes of Health. This is a large, comfortable house built and donated by Lily on the grounds of the NIH to house the families of cancer patients at NIH who are in need of a place to stay nearby.

This story first appeared in the April 29, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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The Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden will take place on June 7. Not only will this be the first party in the garden since the museum has moved back to its home on West 53rd Street, but it will be honoring its chairman emeritus, David Rockefeller, and celebrating his 90th birthday. This is especially fitting as David was present at the founding of the museum in 1929 and was born on the site that is now named in memory of his mother, the recently restored and enlarged Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. There is no one who has done more for the museum and, while he was about it, no one has done more for the city of New York. Bravo, David Rockefeller and happy birthday.

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Arianna Boardman, that beautiful thing, slipped into her sleeveless red satin Prada cocktail dress and a Van Cleef & Arpels ruby necklace, a gift from her husband, Dixon Boardman, to go to the ASPCA’s Bergh Ball last week, and Cynthia Lufkin wore a pink silk number layered with sheer Victorian lace by Nicole Miller. The ladies were there to check out the doghouses designed by Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Lilly Pulitzer, Isaac Mizrahi and Betsey Johnson, which were auctioned off for $20,000, bringing the night’s take to $500,000. That’s dog lovers for you.

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Here’s what Pierce Brosnan has to say on his desperate days working with Teri Hatcher, who played Paris Carver to his James Bond in “Tomorrow Never Dies,” in 1997: “I got very upset with her, she was always keeping me waiting for hours and I must admit I let slip a few words which weren’t very nice.” Who’s sorry now?

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Brad Pitt has pulled out of “The Watchman,” a comedy set to start shooting later this year, to go on a bonding trip with his brother. Brad’s just back from another bonding trip in Africa with Angelina Jolie, as the world knows. The two Pitt boys will drive their motorcycles around the country, perhaps in an attempt to dodge Brad’s romantic turmoil. But don’t be on the lookout for Brad and Angelina on the Interstate or at your local Motel 6.

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Reese Witherspoon, glamorous in plunging black, with her handsome husband, Ryan Phillippe, dressed to match in black tie, did their absolute best to dispel those naughty rumors about trouble in their marriage at the premiere of Ryan’s new movie, “Crash,” in Los Angeles. The golden couple went so far as to embrace passionately on the red carpet to the delight of the paparazzi and the chagrin of the tabloids that have them on the rocks. Phillippe is preparing to play the lead in Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray” with model Eva Herzigova. Stay tuned.

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Madonna’s new documentary, entitled “Re-Invented Process” and about her recent tour, has been rejected by the Cannes Film Festival, which starts May 11. But she can console herself by knowing she will do the voice of a character in “Puss ’n Boots,” the spin-off of “Shrek 2.” I can wait if you Cannes. Did I say that?

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Halle Berry, in the spirit of generosity, has donated two of her dresses to her alma mater, Cleveland’s Bedford High School, for its spring benefit. One is the white Versace halter dress she wore to the premiere of the movie “Lackawanna Blues,” and the other is a knee-length print that she wore on the cover of Ebony last year. It will be interesting to note just who will fit into those two little frocks.

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Hugh Grant bought a $7 million love nest in Barbados to share with his beloved, the sexy heiress Jemima Khan. Hugh hasn’t officially proposed to Jem and she’s not yet wearing a ring, but someone said he has been looking for the perfect rock to put an end to his life as a bachelor. That’s rock as in diamond.

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Prince Harry has returned to England to get ready for his stint at Sandhurst, which begins in early May. As we all know, he just spent a week with his girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, the 19-year-old daughter of a Zimbabwean millionaire, on a safari vacation in Botswana, where they stayed in everything from a $40-a-night room to a $2,000-a-night suite. Harry says their favorite nights were spent eating around a campfire and sleeping under the stars. Uh-huh. 

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Famke Janssen is inviting her friends to Soho House next week to a screening of her favorite film, “Le Souffle au Coeur” (“Murmur of the Heart”) by Louis Malle, as part of the Grand Classics Film Series. Among those expected are Cornelia Guest; Emilia and Pepe Fanjul and their daughter, Emilia Fanjul Pfeifler; Anne Hathaway; Lola and Stella Schnabel, and Helena Christensen. The night is underwritten by the designer Hugo Boss and The Week magazine.

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