Byline: Aileen Mehle
With never-ending zest for the pursuit of culture in all its infinite variety, a certain segment of New York society is planning an evening of Russian culture at the Americas Society on April 25. Not only will this group be celebrating an evening of Russian culture in general, but honoring, in particular, a dead Russian poet, the great Alexander Pushkin. The idea is to be of help to two Russian projects in need of completion: the restoration of Pushkin’s ancestral estate at Petrovskoye in Pushkinsky Gori and Pushkinsky Dom in St. Petersburg, the Russian House of Literature, which houses the priceless manuscripts of not only Pushkin, but the literary giants Tolstoy, Gogol and Dostoyevsky. Maybe this is their way of saying, financially — we really care?
The benefit tribute will involve an intimate dinner, readings of Pushkin’s poetry by full-throated Philippe de Montebello of the Metropolitan Museum, a concert pianist, and songs from “Eugene Onegin” and “The Captain’s Daughter.”
The honorary chairmen are Philippe and Prince Vladimir Galitzine. The chairmen are Gaetana Enders (it was her idea), Kenneth A. Pushkin and Pietro Cicognani.
It was Pushkin who said, “I have created a monument not wrought by hands.” It may sound better and a bit more modest in Russian.
On the evening’s honorary committee are such as Mikhail Gorbachev, David Rockefeller, Prince Alexander Romanoff and Jayne Wrightsman and Annette and Oscar de la Renta. You see?
SHOWFOLK: Coming soon to a theater near you will be those two smoldering movie stars, Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, in a torrid little thriller called “Original Sin.” Naturally, MGM is hoping the box office will be as sizzling as Angie and Tony are, a couple you practically have to turn the hose on to get their attention…in the movie, in the movie, in the movie! In private life, Antonio’s married to Melanie Griffith and Angelina to Billy Bob Thornton, and movie stars never, ever, ever stray.
In the flick, Jolie plays the mysterious, mail-order bride of Banderas, a rich plantation owner. When he sent away for someone to share his lot, he had no idea he’d be getting a hot-hot-hottie like Jolie by return mail. Of course, he bursts into flames when he sees those lips, etc. etc. (This was before all her Billy Bob tattoos, remember.)
So anyhow, because actors forever feel compelled to give you their take, whether you want it or not, on life, love and politics, here, just in time for Valentine’s Day, are Angie’s thoughts on the characters’ tumultuous and obsessive relationship: “I think we’ve lost a lot of romance in life now…Most men can’t be men, and women aren’t focused on being women…Being sexual means something else…I just think everybody’s protecting themselves so much, everybody does in a relationship…They don’t want the other person to know how much they want them or need them or depend on them…This brings back that mad passion for love — you live for it and die for it and you nearly go mad because your life spins out of focus…So it’s interesting and it’s given me hope!”
Well, it gave her hope, alright, and she really spun out because soon after she made the movie, she married Billy Bob Thornton. He’s no Antonio Banderas, but who is? As they say around the tapas bar, “His kind don’t grow on arboles.”
MORE SHOWFOLK: At the “Salute to Chita Rivera,” the Drama League put on its annual musical celebrating Broadway, and the Pierre Hotel ballroom almost melted in the heat, ayayay. In one act, six of Chita’s “boys” danced a tribute to her to the music of “Hey, Big Spender” and in the middle of it all, off went their clothes. One rip and it was skin and thongs, oh my. Chita had her legs on a couple of the boys’ shoulders, and someone remarked that though she is no spring chicken, she can still make the roosters crow. Oh, hahahahaha. That is so funny.
In the crowd were Edwina Sandys of the Churchill family, who is off to Palm Beach for the debut of her new book of paintings and stories called “Penelope in Belgravia”; Marisa Berenson; Patricia Duff; Fernanda and Kirk Henckels; Cy Coleman, and John Kander and Fred Ebb, the brilliant creators of so many Broadway hits. Kander and Ebb staged the after-dinner show honoring Chita with such as Elaine Stritch and Russell Nype reprising their original duet from “Call Me Madam,” Alan Cumming, Dorothy Loudon, Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and others too long-legged to mention. All this with the blessing of their unions, because they’re no dummies.
During cocktails, there was a stir in the ladies’ room. What were all those men doing in there? It turned out they were bodyguards for Liza Minnelli, who, when the lights went down for the show, emerged to say nothing would keep her from being with Chita on her big night. As for Liza, we are all waiting for her big night and hoping it will be very soon.
David and Julia Koch have a new little baby girl in the family. Her name is Mary Julia, and she was born Friday at New York Hospital joining her big brother, David Koch Jr. The nursery in Palm Beach was all ready for her.