Byline: Aileen Mehle

Jane Fonda’s son by Tom Hayden, budding young actor Troy Garity, learned a little about thievery playing the helpless, romantic, wannabe hero, stuntman-in-training, getaway driver for Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton’s bank-robbing bunch in “Bandits.” Catch it at a theater near you.
At a West Coast junket for the flick, Garity put whatever naughty bits he had picked up into practice by stealing all the flowers from the party’s arrangements and passing them out to his gang of fans. And have you heard about his cute sense of humor? He says he was inspired for his “Bandits” role by Clint Eastwood and — his mom’s Golden Retriever!
“I played the part combining the traits of both of them,” he says, “a strong sense of loyalty, good instincts and a keen sense of smell.” So that’s why Clint has lasted so long. That keen sense of smell does it every time.
Troy’s not the only one squeezing his creative juices dry. Elijah Wood, the lead star of “Lord of the Rings,” went into an artistic frenzy to get this part of a lifetime. After memorizing some of the script, he grabbed a bunch of his friends, rented costumes and a handheld camera and crept into the Los Angeles woods on a never-say-die mission to get the role of the Hobbit Frodo. Transforming himself into character and filming himself in the middle of hundreds of trees and bushes, he sent the tape to filmmaker Peter Jackson who was so overwhelmed by Elijah’s bucolic frolic he hired him for the entire “Rings” trilogy. Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortenson got their parts in the film without even so much as sticking a Hobbity fern in their doublets.

Since this is the season for just about every European prince going to take unto himself a commoner (as in not titled) fiancee, let it be known that Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands has the happy duty of introducing his 30-year-old Argentinean sweetheart, Maxima Zorrequieta, to the people of his kingdom. The lovers have been on a 16-city, whistle-stop tour of the prosperous kingdom where Maxima charmed her future subjects with her warmth, her smile, her willingness to personally connect with them and, listen, her mastery of the Dutch language, no mean feat. She’s even put on a hard hat and a safety vest when it was needed. Don’t ask.
The lovers met two years ago in New York when Maxima was working as an economist for Deutsche Bank. They were so obviously taken that hardly anybody wanted to muddy the romantic waters by bringing up the little scandal involving Maxima’s father, Jorge Zorreguieta, and some questionable political involvement in Argentina’s military dictatorship from 1976-1981. Furthermore, since the tour went so well — Maxima received huge bouquets of flowers at every stop, why not let bygones be bygones? So now, Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus are busy as big Dutch bees making final plans for the royal wedding scheduled for next February in Amsterdam. All the swells hoping to be invited are already polishing their silver skates.

High society — if there is such thing — surfaced at the Metropolitan Opera to hear Jane Eaglen and Dolora Zajick’s soprano pyrotechnics at the premiere of the intriguing but bare-bones new production of Bellini’s “Norma.” Among the Veuve Cliquot sippers decorating the center boxes were Cecile Zilkha in a navy blue evening suit, Annette de la Renta in a black evening suit, Sid and Mercedes Bass (in a black evening suit and black and white pearls), Jayne Wrightsman in a black evening suit trimmed with ruffles and white gloves and Nancy Kissinger in a royal blue satin coat with a lace jabot and more white gloves. Nancy was listening intently as her husband, Henry, with bodyguards hovering nearby, discussed politics. Henry, politics? So much for Jane Eaglen, Dolora Zajick and “Norma.”

The wonderful Julie Andrews will be the guest of honor at ‘S Wonderful!, Lenox Hill Hospital’s Autumn Ball, in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria on Nov. 12. Julie will receive the hospital Medal of Distinction and who, if anyone, deserves it more. She could have danced all night — and maybe will…Get ready for next year, when the East Side House Settlement’s Winter Antiques Show holds its Opening Night Party on Jan. 17. Katie Couric and noted architect Richard Meier are co-chairs of the gala…When the Group Theatre Society presents the “Stella by Starlight” celebration at the Rainbow Room on Nov. 19, it will honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late legendary Stella Adler, the dazzling actress/director/teacher. During the evening’s festivities, presided over by dinner co-chairs Barbara and John Hearst, Sidney Lumet will receive the Group Theatre Award; Benicio Del Toro, the Stella Adler Award; and literary critic Harold Bloom, the Jacob Adler Award. Marlon Brando is the honorary chairman of the evening. “Stella — Stella — Stella.”

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