Byline: Aileen Mehle

Penelope Cruz is supposed to sizzle on-screen as a gorgeous, self-indulgent party girl who married Johnny Depp’s George Jung character in “Blow,” based on a true story. And she probably does, because she is being bombarded with movie offers. Ted Demme, for one, the director of “Blow,” was blown away (haha) when he saw the movies Penelope had made in Spain. “Sometimes it’s difficult to watch a foreign film because there are a lot of things to pay attention to if you don’t speak the language,” he says. “With Penelope I just found myself looking at her and not even worrying about what she was saying.” Holy caramba, Ted. You should have kept your chin up.

This is what her “Hannibal” co-star Anthony Hopkins has to say about his co-star, Julianne Moore, who plays the Clarice Starling role originated by Jodie Foster in this sequel. “Regardless of the female stars being considered to replace Jodie in the part, whenever Julianne Moore’s name was mentioned, my immediate reaction was that for my money she was perfect.” How sweet, even if he eats people. Oh, and director Ridley Scott says: “When you meet an actor as capable and talented as Julianne, it’s a great find. This is what directors hope and pray for. I knew almost immediately she’d be wonderful in the role.” You’ll only have to wait a couple of weeks until the movie opens to find out what these two ravers are talking about. I can wait till the end of time.

Rank has its privileges but so does blue blood. Alas and alack, neither one is exempt from seasonal malaise, as in sick as a dog. The Countess of Airlie, who you will recall is a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth, was scheduled to grace our shores earlier in the week to host a dinner at venerable Christie’s. Her co-host was to have been Lord Anthony Crichton-Stuart, the brother of the Marquess of Bute, and incidentally the head of Christie’s Old Master Pictures department at Rockefeller Center. The occasion was a preview, you understand, of Christie’s Old Master Pictures sale — including a Rembrandt last seen in the collection of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. As provenances go, it went.
Milady’s dinner was also to have celebrated the National Galleries of Scotland, one of her favorite charities. Even though she is American by birth — her mother was Nin Ryan, a formidable New York social figure, and her grandfather was the titan Otto Khan — Virginia Airlie lives in Scotland, and her husband’s title is altogether Scottish; thus her interest in the National Galleries of Scotland, now beginning a major renovation of their remarkable buildings in Edinburgh, modeled originally on the Parthenon, only foggier. What a shame that she was not feeling up to snuff and quite unable to come here and shake hands with some of the local swells. But that didn’t stop the guests from raising a glass to Virginia Airlie and to the Countess of Mansfield, who came in her stead from her family seat, the legendary Scone Palace. (I went to a festive dinner there last summer, so I can attest to its beauty and splendor. Aren’t you glad?)
Attending the Christie’s dinner were such as Drue Heinz of the Heinz Heinzes, the Countess (Grace) of Dudley with her forever faithful friend, the literary editor Robert Silvers, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky. Is the message here that there will always be an England? Even without fox hunting? Oh, well. Minus that blood sport, they can always give chase to Madonna’s brush. It’s a thought.

Sick of the lingering snow and slush, certain restless New Yorkers with both ants and money in their pants are flying off in all four directions seeking heat and, please God, culture. Listen, they can go where they choose. It’s a free country, even if it does cost a lot of money.
Palm Beach — also West Palm Beach — would seem the perfect place for them to land. That’s where, in WPB, in a 35,000-square-foot tent, such gods and goddesses of the antiques world as Bernard Steinitz, Michael Goedhuis, Mindy Papp, Fred Leighton, etc. have proudly displayed their wares at the Palm Beach Art & Antique Fair. And the list of stellar dealers has grown in the last five years: William Acquavella, Richard Feigen, Alex Veervordt, Giovanni Sarti, A La Vieille Russie, like that, are all newcomers under the marquee.
That show opens on Feb. 1 with a gala preview. Then, on Feb. 3, interior designers Mario Buatta and Ann Downey, the co-chairs of the fair’s Collectors and Connoisseurs Committee, will give a dinner at Mar-a-Lago for Paige Rense, the honorary chairman of the show, and the editor in chief of Architectural Digest. All sorts of decorators will be there: Juan Pablo Molyneux, Gregg Jordan, Mary Meehan, Tony Ingrao, etc., and such civilians are expected as fun heiress Terry Allen Kramer, Margo and Ashton de Peyster, Pat and Sidney Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Barry Van Gerbig, Lesly Smith, who is Palm Beach’s popular and attractive mayor, and others too steeped in the arts to mention. So I won’t.

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