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The Roar of the Library Lions * Mariah’s London Debut * Blanchett and the Bathtub

When this year’s Library Lions roared at the New York Public Library’s dinner celebrating the Lions’ contribution to the arts, it was a refined and distinguished roar. Because who is more refined and distinguished than the library’s 2003 vastly talented honorees, poet Billy Collins, artist Jim Dine, singer-performer Audra McDonald and historian John Richardson? Not many.

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The evening drew the cream of social and influential New York. You know, the ones with the money. The chairmen of the evening tells the tale — Lord and Lady Black, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Princess Firyal of Jordan and financier Lionel Pincus, Veronica Hearst and Liz and Felix Rohatyn, generous contributors all. The honorary chairman, Brooke Astor, could not make it but Astor Hall, named after her famous philanthropic family, which has done so much for the library, was a reminder of her ever-gracious presence.

Let’s just say that the decor almost stole the show — not easy in that gang of notable social showstoppers. David Monn designed the spectacular setting with Gayfryd Steinberg, helping to make it happen. The steps of the Library’s Fifth Avenue entrance guided by the two magnificent stone lions were lighted in dramatic colors of plum and burnt orange. In Astor Hall, Monn built a 20-foot-high arrangement of chrysanthemums and fall pear leaves bursting from a gigantic classical urn. As guests entered the Bartos Forum, where the dinner took place, the floor was bathed in mist. It was like walking on clouds. The entire ceiling and walls of the room were canopied in towering arrangements of brown and burnt orange and gold pear branches. It could have been a forest in there. I mean, the autumn leaves were falling everywhere.

Each table was covered in chocolate brown cloths and centered with huge silver bowls overflowing with purple grapes, chrysanthemums and tiny apples. The lighting was superb. (David Monn has worked with tastemaker Carolyne Roehm for ages, and it was he who helped her achieve the striking effect at her country house square dance last weekend, designing an outsized harvest moon to shine down on her barn, which was piled with bales of hay along the walls. Really rustic à la Roehm.)

And this is who “made” the party: the hosts and hostesses of course, with Veronica Hearst dressed in black by Dior, ever-chic Liz Rohatyn in black beaded with white and Princess Firyal in one of her beautiful collection of embroidered white blouses. Aggie Gund wore a long black-and-white-checked satin coat. Others in the crowd were Gigi Arledge, Sherrie and David Westin, Shirley and Abe Rosenthal, former Sen. Bob Kerrey of the New School Kerreys, Jamie Niven, Nan Kempner, Pauline Pitt, Gayfryd and Saul Steinberg, Louise and Henry Grunwald, Drue Heinz, Gifford Miller, Sir Evelyn and Lady de Rothschild and others too elevated to mention. It was an evening of evenings.

You probably know that Jude Law and Sadie Frost were granted a quickie divorce in London last week. Everybody else does. What you probably don’t know unless you read the London papers is that Sadie is known to be extremely unhappy about recent tabloid pictures that show Jude’s new girlfriend kissing their seven-year-old, Rafferty. Sadie has told her ex that she does not want “that girl” acting as a second mother to her children. So you can imagine what she’ll say when she learns that Jude has agents looking for an apartment for two in New York. He is moving here for several months while filming the remake of “Alfie.” The whisper is he wants to live in with “that girl,” 21-year-old Sienna Miller, who costars in the film as “the perfect woman,” the one who makes Alfie, the notorious womanizer, change his ways and want to settle down. Is that what you call type casting?

Two of America’s bright lights are planning their debuts in London with the hope that all will lead to Broadway. Calista Flockhart is signing a contract to take the lead in Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” playing the same prostitute in search of redemption that Greta Garbo, Liv Ullmann, Natasha Richardson and Marilyn Monroe all had a whack at. Mariah Carey is ready to sign on the dotted line in another play with a Marilyn Monroe connection. She plans to star in “The Sleeping Prince” this January, a piece best known for its 1957 movie incarnation, “The Prince and the Showgirl,” with Monroe starring as the American showgirl, Mary Morgan. The play’s producer, Bill Kenwright, says, “Mariah wants to get rid of the glitz and tassels. She wants to be an actress.” I can wait if you can.

Cate Blanchett bought a $30,000 solid marble Portuguese bathtub for her four-story house by the sea in the English countryside. It turned out to be too big and too heavy for the staircase so Cate had the piece hoisted up to the top floor and slipped in through a window. Remember Cate became an international star playing Queen Elizabeth I, who overcame a few problems of her own, never mind what she slipped in and out of windows. Oh, ha ha ha ha ha.

No one will be surprised if Rudy Giuliani joins Peter Jennings, Julia and David Koch, Gillian Hearst-Shaw and Pamela Fiori at the opening of the new Brioni boutique at Bergdorf Goodman today. Rudy and Peter are rarely out of their Brioni suits, shirts and ties — at least not in public. It’s been a big buzz at Bergdorf’s lately, with personal appearances by such designers as Narciso Rodriguez, Maggie Norris and Brunello Cucinelli, who just filled an order for 30 cashmere sweaters in pink, blue, yellow and beige, as well as pegged pants for Ellen DeGeneres to wear on her talk show.

The Dia Art Foundation, founded in 1974 with Texas oil money from the wildly rich de Menil family, will celebrate its fall gala tomorrow night in its striking Chelsea space. Expected are such Dia supporters as Robert Altman, Sofia Coppola, Tom Ford, Helmut Lang, Miuccia Prada, Donna Karan, Stephanie Seymour, and artists Mark Rothko, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra and James Turrell. And they had better all get there, and on time. When they do, they will be welcomed by Dia’s director Michael Govan and his pretty new wife, Prada’s Katherine Ross and Dia trustees Farha de Menil Freidrich, Jan Cowles and Michele Klein, who will have Zac Posen, Kasper, Tama Janowitz and painter Richard Tuttle at her table. Dinner will be served inside a shimmering work of art by video artist Robert Whitman, who will project original pieces on all four walls of the space. So get ready.