Byline: Aileen Mehle

The big news today is that Lachlan Keith Murdoch, the son of world class titan Rupert Murdoch and his beautiful wife, Anna, and, at 23, one of the most eligible young men in the country, has become engaged to Kate Harbin, the fetching daughter of a prominent Philadelphia lawyer. Both were classmates at Princeton. Hearts and flowers, friends. And throw in some daffodils and moon beams.

Sweet Charity: Liz (Mrs. Anastassios) Fondaras of the New York and Paris social swim is the chairman of the world premiere of “Jefferson in Paris” at the Paris Theater and the gala dinner following at the Plaza on March 29. The Francophile night will benefit the French-American Foundation, and naturellement 500 of the beau monde will be there. Immediately after the film, dinner will be waiting in the hotel ballroom decorated by Bill Tansey, who says the room itself is so beautiful in the nude he has only to pretty up the tables with French and American-bred flowers. You will be thrilled to learn that 18th-century music will be playing as guests enter through the Palm Court to the Terrace Room and finally the ballroom. Coming from all over for the fun are Nick Nolte, who plays Thomas Jefferson in the movie, and the other stars of the picture Greta Scacci and Gwyneth Paltrow (she is Blythe Danner’s daughter and maybe Brad Pitt’s girlfriend). Also flying in will be Helena Bonham Carter, who’s not in “Jefferson,” but as her relatives, Baron and Baroness Elie de Rothschild, will be coming over, why not tag along for the thrilling affair?
The evening is under the patronage of French Ambassador to the U.S. Jacques Andreani and French Consul General Andre Baeyens. Mercedes and Sid Bass and Michael Eisner of the Disney Eisners are the honorary chairmen and will be sitting in the front row. Tell me you’re surprised.
Each table will have a big name or star host including Ismail Merchant and James Ivory (it’s their picture via Touchstone), and the committee includes such as Ambassador Pamela Harriman, Genevieve Faure, Princess Laure de Beauvau-Craon, Count and Countess Jean-Charles de Ravenel, Elizabeth de Cuevas, the Hon. Anne Cox Chambers, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Mireille and Ted Pillsbury, Maisie and James Houghton, John Sargent, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha, Felipe and Renata Propper, philanthropists Reba and Dave Williams (they restored the Carousel in Central Park and are great supporters of Marymount Manhattan College), Carroll Petrie, the Walter Curleys, Liz and Felix Rohatyn, J. Carter Brown, Bootsie and Evan Galbraith, Charlene and Tony Marshall and the Guy Wildensteins. That should hold you till we get a corde.
Jefferson spent five Aprils in Paris (1784-89) as American minister to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s court at Versailles. He was popular with the nobility, the aristocracy, liberals and intellectuals who admired his wisdom and sought his guidance. Oblivious of the horrors soon to let loose, Jefferson left Paris after the Bastille fell, but not before he fell for the beautiful Maria Cosway (Greta Scacci). That about takes care of the evening. It’s enough to powder your peruke.

More Sweet Charity: The Young Friends of The New York Public Library want us all to know that they’ll “splash away their mid-winter blahs” at their cocktail dance benefit on March 9. The Library will be transformed into an underwater fantasy for the evening and please wear your black tie and “aquatic headgear.” (I tremble to think). The chairmen are Norah Burden, Helen Pardoe and Mimi Somerby and downtown diva Chi Chi Valenti will coordinate the entertainment with costuming by Kitty Boots, and Johnny Dynell will mix the music in the Celeste Bartos Auditorium. Expect Neptunes, mermaids and dancing naiads, pirates, fortune tellers and tattooists. For those who arrive bare-headed, Anna Moore Hats will handle your case. Over 750 guests are expected. Esther Williams, who’s been there, done that, is staying home.

Still More Sweet Charity: On April 19, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House celebrates two milestones, the beginning of its second century providing services and programs to improve the quality of life on the Upper East Side, and the presentation of the second annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Community Service Awards. At this year’s dinner at Sotheby’s, Sotheby’s president Diana D. Brooks and executive vice president Robert Woolley will be honored with both the Corporate and Local Business Awards. Rabbi Ronald Sobel will receive the Community Activist Award, and John Pierrepont the Philanthropist Award for almost 30 years of invaluable service to LHNH. Sydney Roberts Schuman and Jessie (Mrs. Rand) Araskog are in charge of the evening for lovers and supporters of LHNH. Be there.

Even More Sweet Charity and More Sotheby’s: On June 26, Sotheby’s will host Bid For Life, a benefit auction for three AIDS-related organizations, Friends In Deed (represented by Mike Nichols), Gay Men’s Health Crisis (represented by Joan Tisch) and God’s Love We Deliver (represented by Blaine Trump). The evening will be another event in honor of Sotheby’s beloved Robert Woolley whose achievements, creativity and generosity will be commemorated. There will be a live auction including “fantasy” lots (such as a walk-on part in a Mike Nichols movie) and a silent auction with bids starting at $500. Robert’s goal: to raise $1.5 million.

Maybe Lady Thatcher isn’t quite the heroine she used to be in the UK, but in Beverly Hills — especially among Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s fans — she remains Queen of the May. While she was visiting California, Mary Jane and Charles Wick, Reagan friends and stalwarts, gave Britain’s former prime minister and her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, a big dinner at Chasen’s, and they all came, including Gov. Pete Wilson (who wasn’t running for president that night) and Mrs. Wilson, Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale with Joe Hannan, Diane Sawyer, Marion and Earle Jorgensen, Barbara and Marvin Davis, Edie and Lew Wasserman and on and on and on into the almost 100 percent Republican night. It never has taken much to make Charlie Wick leap to his feet, so leap he did, eloquently toasting both Thatchers and citing Lady Thatcher’s unique friendship with Ronald Reagan and how it has changed the course of history. There may have been some dry eyes in the house but not many.

Virna Lisi will play a grandmother in her next movie, “Where Your Heart Takes You,” but, unlike her role in “Queen Margot,” in this one she won’t have to look ghastly or go bald. She’ll retain her beauty, merely adding 40 years in the process. Oh, is that all? What a relief!.
Speaking of “Queen Margot,” Vincent Perez, the handsome sex-throb therein, keeps insisting that after a day of shooting love scenes he feels “like a piece of meat.” Hey, Vinny, there are worse things.