Byline: Aileen Mehle

Joan Collins and George Hamilton didn’t exactly light up San Francisco theater-goers when they trod the boards in “Love Letters,” although Joan did make out much better than George, who was shredded by the critics. But that’s not really what I want to tell you.
Recently George and Danielle Steel of San Francisco, the queen of best sellers, have been carrying on a mild romance. Nothing to write home about, you understand, but enough to cause a little ripple and a lot of conjecture. Danielle was to have given George a party on “Love Letters” opening night, but guess what? Something must have ticked her off, because, just like that, she canceled the party and flew off to Europe to join her ex-husband, Tom Perkins, on one of his yachts. No, it never was much between Danielle and George but the abrupt break was enough to surprise le tout San Francisco. Oh, and George.

Speaking of San Francisco, the rumor there is that Sharon Stone, married to that city’s newsman Phil Bronstein, is expecting. Repeat, it’s a rumor, a rumor, a rumor.

The Forbes family is noted for being a family of collectors, and their trove of Faberge objects includes those wondrous eggs Faberge created for the Russian Imperial Family, so beautifully wrought they take one’s breath away. Now Christopher “Kip” Forbes has written a glorious book about the Forbes Collection filled with photographs of these most exquisite objects — the amazing eggs, of course, but also frames, clocks, snuffboxes, cigarette cases and golden fantasies inlaid with precious gems.
To celebrate the book’s publication, such Forbes family friends as Joan Rivers, Robert Higdon — he’s the Prince of Wales’s man in Washington — and Tom Quick gave Kip a big party at the Russian Tea Room, which seemed like the place to give it in, Russian and all. There were blini and caviar for all, and, nestled in a vitrine, the precious Chanticleer Egg in all its splendor with numerous guards nearby to make sure that nobody would try to sneak it home for Easter. Not that the guests weren’t all nice people but, hey, you never know….
Among the nice people: Sabina and Steve Forbes and three of their beautiful daughters, Catherine, Roberta, Sabina Jr.; Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson; Karl Wellner; Paige Rense; Patricia Patterson; Scott Bessent; Blaine and Robert Trump; Carroll Petrie; Kip’s wife, Astrid, and their stunning daughter, Charlotte, with her husband, Philippe Escaravage; Mario Buatta; Buffy and Bill Cafritz; Nancy Collins; Princess Marianne von Sayn-Wittgenstein; Timothy Forbes; Allison and Leonard Stern; Lisa and Keith Jewell; uncle Wallace Forbes; Veronica Hearst; Archduke and Archduchess Geza von Hapsburg; Lucile and Guy Peyrelongue; Tom Jones; Pete Hathaway; Reinaldo Herrera; Orin Lehman and such Quicks as Christopher, Leslie Jr. and Patricia.

All the heavy corporate types who do so much to support the Metropolitan Opera were there for the Met’s big On Stage at the Met party, which, you will be surprised to hear, is held onstage at the Met. The gala dinner dance honored C. Michael Armstrong, the chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T, for his contribution to the arts, and the co-chairs of the evening were Peter I. Bijur, the chairman and ceo of Texaco; Ralph Larsen, the chairman and ceo of Johnson & Johnson, and Henry M. Paulsen Jr., the chairmen and ceo of Goldman Sachs. With a group like that no wonder the party raised $1.7 million. The radiant creature who chaired the whole pizzicato was Mrs. Ezra (Cecile) Zilkha, the Met’s vice chairman. At least 850 strong, the guests dined and danced on the stage surrounded by the scenery from the Met’s production of “Turandot,” designed by Franco Zeffirelli, and listened to the golden voices of Ainhoa Arteta and Dwayne Croft raised in song. La! Glorious Food did the dinner and Bill Tansey centered the tables with jade, peach and pink glass Bonsai trees under hand-painted rice paper parasols and used embroidered organza overlays on mango, orange and pumpkin tablecloths. Can you remember that?
A sampling of who was there: Albina de Boisvouvray, the Patino heiress; Carol and George McFadden; Bettina Zilkha; Valerie and Donald Zilkha; Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner; the Earl and Countess of Dudley; Daisy and Paul Soros; the William Steeres (he is the chairman and ceo of Pfizer); Doda Voridis; the Joseph Volpes; Helen Gurley Brown and David Brown; Met Chairman James Kinnear and Mrs. Kinnear; Karen and Peter John Goulandris and others just too corporate to mention.

An annual charity do that gladdens the hearts of the local smart set — and their hearts are not easy to gladden, believe me — is the Kitchen Caper, a culinary bash at the Four Seasons to benefit the Irvington Institute.
Because this party always has a theme, this year’s bash was a salute to New York City’s landmarks. What a delicious idea! As usual, the hundreds of guests politely pushed their way, cafeteria-style, through the restaurant’s vast kitchen grabbing at such gustatory delights as giant lobsters, luscious duck, baby lamb and everything in between. And then there are the desserts. For one night at least, those willow wands Tom Wolfe famously calls “social X-rays” don’t give a damn how much they eat. They just tie on their aprons and gobble, gobble.
Everyone knew it was going to be a fun time the moment they entered the Four Seasons lobby to the smell of hotdogs and sauerkraut provided by an honest-to-goodness New York hotdog vendor, talk about your landmarks. Hurrying to fill their trays, they carried them to tables covered in Checker Cab-yellow cloths and subway grid maps and centered with replicas of some of the city’s famed buildings. The Statue of Liberty floated amidst a flotilla of flowers in the restaurant’s pool. David Tutera was responsible for all this scenery, and the piped-in tunes from yesterday and today were piped in by Tom Finn.
The four charming co-chairs of the evening were lovely Lauren Veronis — what would the Irvington Institute do without her? — wearing a springtime, seafoam green wrap dress by Ungaro; her lovely newsmaker daughter Perri Peltz Ruttenberg in Armani; lovely Sale Johnson of the Band-Aid billions, and lovely Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer of the cosmetics billions. Needless to say, these lovely ladies can all afford a square meal.
In the crowd: A dazzling Diandra Douglas dressed by Dolce & Gabbana, who swept in on the arm of Harry Crosby, son of Bing; Gigi and Roone Arledge; Woody Johnson at the New York Jets table; financial news king Michael Bloomberg; Jennet Conant and Steve Kroft; Gerald Levin of AOL Time Warner; Annette and Matt Lauer; Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder; Eric Ruttenberg, Joan and Robert Tisch seated with John Veronis, also at the New York Jets table; Ann and Andrew Tisch at the New York City Ballet table, and the Ziffs, Natasha and Dirk, all fatter today than they were before the party.