Walkers are to New York society what free dresses are to socialites, which is to say they both help the machine run smoothly. Back in the day, men like Jerry Zipkin and Kenneth Jay Lane were the ones to accompany wealthy women to events around town. The current crop of dandy escorts are more likely to partner with party girls, but they remain essential nonetheless.

A few of those gentlemen showed up Monday night to a screening of “The Extra Man,” a film about a walker based on Jonathan Ames’ book of the same name. In the movie, Kevin Kline plays Henry Harrison, a socially ambitious playwright who’s perfected the art of the plus-one. Paul Dano is his charge, Louis Ives, who comes to Manhattan to be a writer and gets schooled by Henry in proper dinner conversation along the way.

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Several of the more socially active guests, including Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon, Cynthia Rowley, Jamie Johnson, Elie Tahari and Marjorie Gubelmann — who brought along “The Hills” star Stephanie Pratt (it’s not as weird as you’d think — Gubelmann’s obsessed by reality TV celebrities) — arrived to the Cinema Village fully understanding the concept of the extra man. But the movie’s stars were clueless before they signed on to the project.

“I had no idea about this,” said Katie Holmes, who plays an idealistic environmental journalist and dim crush of Louis’. She was familiar, however, with having to attend a party when her husband, Tom Cruise, has prior obligations elsewhere. “I go by myself,” Holmes said. “Or I’ll take one of my sisters.”

After the film, partygoers including Kline, Dano and Samantha Mathis (Holmes had left before the film started) headed over to Vapiano, a high-class, fast-food pasta joint that sponsored the evening.

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