A gazillion people showed up at Rockefeller Center last night to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the annual tree-lighting ceremony, and the dawn of what we truly believe is the most wonderful time of the year: the season in which tourists wait in long, miserable lines in order to fall on their asses and slide embarrassingly across a cold sheet of ice. As the lights twinkled in the night sky, Josh Groban, whose holiday album Noel is No. 1, thanks to Oprah, was feeling philosophical. "Every year I kind of say to myself, 'What a beautiful tree,'" he told New York. "It's great that it's on display, but I mean the tree doesn’t know that that's the best it is ever going to look. It’s just a living thing. You know?" —Catherine Coreno
At last night's Snowflake Ball to benefit UNICEF, we asked everyone awkward questions about the future to prepare them for their holidays with nosy Aunt Susan. DavidLaurenBush, are you getting engaged? ("I don't know!" laughed the Lauren half of the socialite organism). Maggie Betts, will your dad, Roland, have a job for his BFF George Bush when he retires the presidency? ("I don't think he'll need one," said Maggie, who was arm in arm with Barbara Bush herself. "But I think my dad will give him anything he wants!"). When we got to Margherita Missoni, we couldn't think of anything tough to ask her, so we threw her a softball. What do you love about New York City? "I'm not in love with New York right now," she said. "I'm thinking of moving back to Europe." Oh, no! Is it because they shut down SocialiteRank.com? We'll try to write about you more, we promise! "I'm not sure if I'll go back to Italy. Maybe London or Paris. I long to be back in Europe," Missoni explained. "I've been in New York four years. I miss my family and everything. I wasn't born in America, and I loved it — it was great when I first came here. But after four years it's like " Missoni didn't finish her sentence. She said she preferred how everything in Europe is close together, but we weren't listening anymore. All we could think of was, with Margherita gone, there will only be 49 other top-tier socialites for us to care about! —Amy Odell
The Independent Feature Project’s seventeenth annual Gotham Awards were at Steiner Studios last night, and Jada Yuan took a video crew all the way to the Brooklyn Navy Yards to chat up the indie elite on camera. Kyra Sedgwick was impressed by how fancy the event had become, while Jeffrey Wright extolled the virtues of Brooklyn. Maggie Gyllenhaal talked real estate, Emile Hirsch discussed survival techniques, and Juno star Ellen Page revealed a onetime Brooklyn job that will be familiar to many. Oh, and see Jason Reitman threaten Judd Apatow!
Video Party Lines: IFP Gotham Awards
“You know, I host a show about crime,” said CourtTV’s Jami Floyd, leaning in very close to Javier Bardem. “I’ve interviewed serial killers. You’re the only one who ever gave me nightmares.” The actor managed a polite smile. The official purpose of yesterday’s lunch at The Four Seasons, hosted by Miramax president Daniel Battsek, was to honor Bardem and Josh Brolin for their performances in the Coens’ No Country for Old Men (and, one assumes, to kick-start the Oscar buzz). Its unofficial running refrain, however, was people coming up to Bardem and telling him, by way of compliment, that he made them shit their pants.
When we saw Eliot Spitzer last night at the Kids in Distressed Situations gala, we were relieved to see that in person, his hotness remains undiminished. We asked him what he thought of being a sex symbol, and (get this) we actually made him blush. Victory! "That's, uh, wow, maybe you should ask my wife that," Spitzer smiled. "It's news to me. But I will take it as a compliment." Laughing, Mrs. Spitzer grabbed his arm and crowed, "I agree! I agree!" [Ed. Note: Man, what a bitch.] Anyway, we thought we could throw him off with our flattery and blatant flirtation so we might get a real answer to our next question, which was, what does the governor really think of how Hillary handled the questions about her stance on Spitzer's driver's-license issue? She did, after all, stick up for him at first and later sort of slink away from her position. "I think she has been exactly right," he said. "We need a national agenda on immigration that will address these issues." Damn, a slick non-answer. Kind of like the ones Hillary gave when asked about him. In politics, does that make them best friends? —Shira LevineEarlier:Eliot Spitzer: Hot or Not?
Alan Cumming is such an, um, Man About Town, we almost totally forgot he was married! He got hitched to his artist boyfriend, Grant Shaffer, in January in London. "We got married there because it’s legal, but we live here," he told us at the International Emmy Awards gala on Monday. They're very happy. "We had our first cooking lesson in our home the other night," he said. "This man called John came around and taught us how to make salmon with beets coulis and everything." But don't be lulled by the warm homey stories. Cumming is still not an entirely domesticated beast. Five minutes later, he was telling us all about his mile-high experiences. Yes, there's been more than one. “I always think the pressure on planes gives you a hard-on,” he mused. “My friend I was just working with said that when he goes to sleep, he always puts the table out in case he gets a hard-on whilst he’s asleep. That’s a very good tip for your readers if they want to avoid embarrassment on a plane.” And just in time for the holiday season! —Bennett MarcusSee Al and Tipper Gore, Robert DeNiro, and Gloria Reuben at our complete coverage of the International Emmy Awards.Earlier: Who Had Sex With Alan Cumming?Who Hasn't Had Sex With Alan Cumming
Evening, Upper East Siders! So last night we went to Central Park North (a.k.a. 110th Street) for Esquire's fête to honor Bill Cosby at the mag's swank bachelor pad. Much as we love us some vintage Dr. Huxtable, last night was all about Gossip Girl, and the chance to talk to Jessica Szohr, who plays Vanessa. Yes, that's right, Dan's annoying friend who likes to enter his room through the window. Come on, we're not in Dawson's Creek here, Vanessa! First and foremost, we have to point out that Jessica Szohr is not as terrible as her character on the show. Last night, she was wearing a very nice simple black sweaterdress and tights and had really red lipstick on. Unless Vanessa gets a job hosting at the Waverly Inn, we know she's not gonna be rocking a simple black dress anytime soon. Which brings us to our first question. What exactly is Vanessa's deal? Why does she dress like an extra from a New Kids on the Block video? Thank God we had Jessica to break it down for us!
What is Stephen Schwartz doing in his downtime with the stagehands on strike? Getting an education. The Broadway composer and lyricist told us he's still working on an opera (commissioned in 2006) to premiere in Santa Barbara in 2009. "It's like going back to graduate school a little bit," Schwartz said at the Enchanted premiere at the Ziegfeld last night. Schwartz revealed to us, for the first time, that the opera is called Cluelessly and Recklessly, and it is a psychological thriller. He said he adapted it from the British film Séance on a Wet Afternoon and is getting used to composing for singers who don't use microphones — for him, the biggest departure from his Broadway work. "Like in Wicked, you know, the orchestra's just playing away. Or in Enchanted, the orchestra's just playing away and you turn the mike up and you hear the singers over the orchestra. In the opera you can't do that. So you have to make sure there's space for the singers. So that's a different way of thinking about writing." This is Schwartz's first opera. "That's why it's so foolish for me to be doing this!" he said. You call it "foolish"; we call it "the only good theater news we've heard since the stagehands' strike began." —Amy Odell
Hordes of rich famous people arrived at the Lexington Avenue Armory last night to shop Seventh on Sale, where money spent on donated designer goods goes to charity. Among the first to arrive to get the good stuff were Gayle King, who brought walking shoes in her purse to change into post–photo op, and Tommy Hilfiger, who was there to shop for his girlfriend. "I could shop, but I don't know what I would buy," Hilfiger said. "I'll buy whatever she wants." Gossip Girl Blake Lively planned to call her business manager to find out her spending limit. Looking adorable in a bright-yellow dress, she was jumping up and down with excitement when we asked her what she wanted to buy (a handbag! Oh, to be a pretend-teenager again). We detained her for a bit more dish about how she researched for her role on the greatest show of all time. She said Gossip Girl's creator Josh Schwartz recorded interviews with real-life Upper East Side girls. And she got to listen to the tapes! Which story resonated most? "One of the girls, her father was a big investment banker or something. And he was in a meeting with another man, and this man was going on and on about this hot young girl that he'd been dating and hooking up with. And it ended up being this investment banker's daughter," Lively said. "She got in a lot of trouble. The guy was like 42." Gasp! Ewww! What happened to the guy? "A slap on the hand basically." Um, thank God we have the show, then, where something like that would be rewarded with a slap and a hand job. From a teenager. —Amy OdellTo find out what Marc Jacobs, Parkey Posey, Dita Von Teese and more said at Seventh on Sale, read Party Lines.Related:‘Project Runway’ Scores a Touchdown With New York Giant Michael Strahan [Vulture]
Earlier:The entirety of our giddy Gossip Girl coverage
At Charles Grodin's book party at Le Cirque on Wednesday, we stopped by to ask former governor Mario Cuomo if we could have a word. Cuomo began by introducing us to his dinner partner. "This is Sandy Frucher," he said. "Of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Just made a big deal. NASDAQ is buying them out, and that's like a $700 million deal. And even he's here!" His mind wandered. "Who took my wine?" The wine was located. We figured it was as good a time as any to ask the tough questions. Who were his presidential picks? "I think Hillary wins the Democratic primary. I think Romney wins the Republican primary," he said. "I suspect and I hope this is not true: That neither Hillary nor Romney is going to be such a towering figure that it will preclude third people from coming in."
Don't feel bad if you've ever called P.J. O'Rourke a shithead. It's not so far from the truth. On November 8, O'Rourke showed up at the bash for the Atlantic Monthly's 150th anniversary with a giant scab on the bridge of his nose. "I've been waiting all night for someone to ask me what happened!" he told us. So? While cantering around a friend's polo field in Virginia, says O'Rourke, "my horse, Pronto, and I had a kind of parting of ways … He simply came to a stop and I did not." O'Rourke went flying. "It was a one-point landing, face first," he says. To add insult to injury, O'Rourke's friend had just fertilized the field. "Most of this scab is from me scrubbing the stuff off," O'Rourke explained. "I essentially fell face-first into shit. It was a classic situation: 'With this much shit, there must be a pony around somewhere.' And there was!" —Jada YuanEarlier:The ‘Atlantic’ 150th-Anniversary Party: A Play in One Act
Christopher Hitchens may not have expected to snag a National Book Award last night (his atheist screed God Is Not Great lost to Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA in the nonfiction category), but he was in high spirits nonetheless when we caught up with him near his second-row table at the ceremony. He offered to pour red wine into our glass as well as that of a high-ranking female Kirkus editor. We both declined, as we already had other drinks in there. Apparently, his self-improvement efforts for a Vanity Fair article hadn't gone so far as quitting drinking, though he did report he hasn't smoked a cigarette in six weeks. "I'm almost 60, and I should have quit years earlier," he said, before lecturing us about the fact that, "for fuck's sake," the little buggers are evil. When we told him we felt mildly uncomfortable in his presence the day after reading about his thorough waxing for that article (in a procedure he referred to as "sack, back, and crack"), he turned to the Kirkus editor and said, "Want to feel?" She didn't see how she could turn down the opportunity. The Hitch unzipped his fly, we stood guard, and she reached in. We can't personally vouch for what happened in there (and we're ashamed to say we demurred when he offered us a grope), but the editor speculates that he's been doing some post-article maintenance down there. "As smooth as summer cherries," she said. Looks like the Hitch truly is a changed man. —Boris KachkaFor more National Book Awards coverage, including pictures and quotes from Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen and more, read Party Lines.Earlier:At Last, Christopher Hitchens Describes His Infamous Waxing
Alanis Morrisette, in from L.A. for the Adrienne Shelly Foundation benefit, had loose blonde curls and a West Coast attitude toward the writers strike. "I support writers in being compensated well, so I'm all for it," she said. She'd even support a songwriters strike, if anyone felt like starting one. "I'm on one right now," she laughed. It's true, we haven't heard anything from Alanis in a while, although Jagged Little Pill remains inescapable. How does Alanis cope when that song she supposedly wrote about the guy from Full House comes on in a public place? "Whenever that happens, I look up to see if anyone's staring at me to see if I should feel awkward," she said. "After that, I hightail it out of there." It's fine when she's not around, though. "If it's playing and a family member or loved one hears it, I tell them it's my way of saying hi to them when I'm not around." Aw. That's sweet! So next time we hear her screaming, "Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?" over the speakers at the gym, we'll know that it's just Alanis sending her regards. —Amy Preiser
NYU alum Alec Baldwin arrived at the Totally Tisch Gala celebrating his alma mater but failed to give any face time to the intrepid Washington Square News reporters asking for tales from his undergrad experience. Luckily, he stopped to chat with us, though only by mistake. We asked him what might happen if his telegenic family had to resort to a House of Baldwins–style reality show when the writers strike ended all scripted programming. "You've got to be kidding — you're with The New Yorker?" he stammered. Nope Alec, New York. "Oh, that makes more sense." Um, thanks? "Well, I would be the neat one," he starts, grinning at the self-appointed casting. "My brother Daniel would be the one that we have to leave the key under the mat for, because he'd be coming home late at night. My brother Billy would be the diplomatic one, and my brother Stephen would be holding bible classes in the living room every Sunday." It came out a little too quick, causing us to wonder if maybe he's been spending some time thinking about this already. We know we have. — Amy Preiser
Last night at the opening of Chopard boutique on Madison Avenue, we ran into Maggie Gyllenhaal, who recently moved to Park Slope, where she has clearly contracted a full-blown case of Brooklynitis. "I like it a lot," she rhapsodized about her new neighborhood. "It really does feel like a different place, like a different city." Yeah, yeah, yeah. The air is cleaner, the sun brighter, the birds chirpier, we know. “What’s nice about it is that you have access to New York City" — she gestured to the party that was going on around us — but “New York City more and more doesn’t feel like somewhere you should live. I mean, I love New York, and I love to come to New York, but I’m glad I don’t live there anymore.” Hm. Last time we checked, Brooklyn was still part of New York, but okay. But it's not all organic muffins and baby disco for the Gyllenhaal-Sarsgaards. There is one drawback: Apparently, even the boroughs have paparazzi. "I was surprised to find that there were a few," she told us. Ha! Well, rest assured, Maggie. They probably won't be able to afford to live there much longer, what with all the movie stars moving in and all. —Bennett Marcus
Give Ricki Lake, newly slim former talk-show host and 39-year-old mother of two a glass of wine, and she's as flirty as a co-ed in Cancun. “How old are you, are you even old enough to drink?” she asked us at the recent Wine Spectator–sponsored “Women in Wine” breast-cancer fund-raiser in Atlantic City. “Feel that,” she said, indicating her thigh. “I just shaved, and it feels so good. Doesn’t that feel soft?” We obligingly copped a feel. My, it was soft, we thought. Then an image of a placenta-filled bathtub shot into our mind, and so we removed our hand and took a long slug of wine. Uh. We nervously mentioned something about natural birth. "I’m fascinated with the world of birth," Ricki enthused. "I love the rite of passage, no matter how a baby comes into the world and a woman becomes a mother, whether it’s vaginally, C-section " Here our eyes glazed slightly over, so we tried to change the subject. How about Robin Leach? He's put on a little bit of weight. "I'm not commenting on that," Ricki responded, and soon enough the conversation dried up. Later, at the after-party, we saw her cavorting merrily with an unidentified, unshaven young suitor. We can't help but wonder if she used one of the other pickup lines she tested on us: “I’m not even wearing a girdle!” —Darrell Hartman
Marc Jacobs's svelte physique is not the result of his skills in the kitchen. We asked the designer about his cooking repertoire at the Out 100 awards gala on Friday, and it turns out it's, well, fashionably slim. "Cook?" he asked. "I make tuna salad. It's not really cooking, but I chop the spring onions and the celery very, very well, and I put it with tuna fish and mayonnaise and pepper. And that I do extremely well. More than that, I can't do." Marc attended the party on the arm of his on-again-off-again boyfriend, Jason Preston. We asked what Preston contributes, and the Louis Vuitton creative director just guffawed. "Jason? Do you cook?" he asked, turning to Preston who shook his head. "No, he doesn't cook," Jacobs told us, laughing harder. "We eat out a lot, and we have room service a lot." Oh, silly us. We thought Jason was the room service! —Bennett MarcusRelated:Tan, Trim & Rehabbed Marc Mark II [NYM]
More Party Lines photos and quotes from the Out 100 party: Kelly Rowland digs gay people, and Tori Spelling on being a married gay icon.
Robin Williams was in rare (okay, typical) form last night at the premiere of his new schmaltzy caper, August Rush. In it, he plays a Fagan-like proprietor of an abandoned theater, home to a gang of musical orphans (really). We asked him if he ever played a musical instrument in real life. “Yes,” he said, “and I've been asked to stop.” Turns out he spent some time playing the sax: “I did a black blues-player set,” he said; then he turned into a black blues player: “Man, you just gotta relax! You gotta make love to it, don't hurt it, you know?” But his favorite music, he said, is the music of New York. "Look around you," he exclaimed. "It’s like Gershwin flowin'! It’s got music, girl, everywhere. Uptown, downtown” — he turned into a feisty Latina. "Hola, mira, Mami. You got this thing, and it just keeps you movin’, ju know? You gotta have it, Papi. You know, leesten, leesten. Iss all crazy! You got to have music! And then you have the Russian clubs in Brooklyn" — with this he made some Russian-seeming sounds — "and Jewish music, Vhot, music!? It’s klezmer, what! Music to flee by! That’s why we take the skin off our penis — you gotta move! You can’t travel with that! Then you get in a cab" — he made some high-pitched wailing sounds — "Can you turn the radio down? Osama, please." At this, the publicist began pulling him away, either because she felt enough was enough with the ethnic stereotypes or because the screening was about to begin. In his wake, however, there was a chorus of laughter. —Ben KawallerMore Party Lines quotes and photos from the August Rush party: Keri Russell's an instant cello virtuoso; Tamara Tunie philanthropically screws over her relatives.
Danny DeVito had six limoncellos before finally tumbling out of the Friars Club's 50-year anniversary last night, but when we caught up with him, he was clearheaded enough to teach us a little bit about the many uses of his signature liqueur. As an aperitif: "A little vodka, a little limoncello, some soda water, and you have a good time." When you're feeling toasty? "It's real nice straight, ice cold." For colder nights? "You take a nice cup of mint tea, and you put two shots of limoncello in it, and it'll really make your night." But while Danny's shilling booze, what does he think of where his former Twins co-star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, ended up? "I'm waiting for him to become the senator, so we can do Twins II: Twins in Washington." Amazing. Twenty years later and Twins jokes still kinda make us giggle. —Amy PreiserRelated:Danny DeVito Teaches You How to Pour His Limoncello [Grub Street]
“My name’s Frank Gehry, and my buildings don't leak," announced the architect at last night's Guggenheim International Gala. He was referring to the lawsuit filed against him by MIT last week, which says that flawed design enabled mold to grow, leaks to spring up, and drainage problems to occur in his $300 million Stata Center. It had been in all the papers. "Why do the press want to tear down success?" he wondered later. Hm. They're just jealous? That's what people always tell us, anyway. But why is it that Gehry is always so controversial? For instance, he is often credited with the so-called Bilbao Effect, where museums across the country and around the world have begun expanding their buildings with costly, high-profile expansions and new satellites. He shakes this off. "I didn’t make the word the 'Bilbao Effect,' the reporters did that, as they created the word 'starchitect' — reporters did that," he said. "Reporters now try to tear people down for being part of the 'Bilbao Effect' or being 'starchitects.' I’m not a starchitect."