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."
At last night's Cinema Society/Allure screening of her movie Margot at the Wedding, Nicole Kidman put on a brave face (and a black Jil Sander overcoat) despite being sick. She apologized, with impeccable politesse, for not shaking hands ("I don't want to infect you"), and kept her arms tightly wrapped around her. "I'm freezing," she said. But a healthier Nicole emerged from her tales of derring-do on the set. "I've been doing most of my own horse-riding," she said of her work on the upcoming Baz Luhrman epic, Australia. "Just recently we ran with over 1,500 wild horses, and we were riding with them. And that's pretty hair-raising." Wasn't she worried about falling? "I just didn't think about it," she said. "I feel confident on a horse." Kidman explained that she's been riding since she was 3. Still, Kidman in a stampede of hundreds of wild stallions? That's like throwing a toothpick into a jet engine. Wonder who insured that? —Darrell Hartman
The curtain rises on an empty stage, set with just one large circular bar in the center, manned by four bartenders dressed in black. The house is empty, so the hundreds of red velvet chairs cast an eerie crimson glow on to the party. Revelers drift in, including the writer Tom Wolfe, Amanda Burden, Moby, P.J. O'Rourke and Atlantic editors. A Boy Reporter and Girl Reporter from New York Magazine drift in. In actuality, they had arrived at the party too early and had to go across the street to get drinks at a noisy club. So they are both a little sheepish. And drunk. The pair begins to look for famous people to interview and spot Mayor Bloomberg, who arrived on the same elevator as drag king Murray Hill.Girl Reporter: Mayor Bloomberg, hello! We write for New York Magazine. Could we-
Mayor Bloomberg: I subscribe to New York Magazine. I pay your salary.
Girl Reporter: Oh, um, thanks! So, we were wondering [Mayor Bloomberg walks away]
Boy Reporter: Good try!
Girl Reporter: Eh, let's get a drink.
Conan O'Brien seemed a little bit worried before last night's "Stand Up for Heroes" comedy show to benefit the Bob Woodruff Family Fund, which he was hosting. "It's little bit different because it's such a serious tone, and if you see my show, you see what I do," he said. "You just do the best you can to walk the line. And my job is to sort of get to the humor and get the show started and walk that line as best I can." If he knew what he was in for, he'd have been a lot worried. Conan's monologue immediately followed a set of videos of Bob Woodruff interviewing injured Iraq-war veterans and a performance by the Marine band. Good thing he had a team of writers to help navigate that tricky situation! Except he didn't, because like everyone else in TV, his writers are on strike. It's a situation that Conan empathizes with, since he was once a writer himself. "The first thing we did in respect is try and shut our shows down and hope it gets resolved quickly before all of us have to start laying off staff," he said. "We've been able to get them about two weeks' pay right now to buy us some time and hope that the WGA can get things resolved with producers in that time. But, you know we're taking it day by day. Everybody in this industry is asking each other, 'What do you think is going to happen? What do you think is going to happen?' and nobody knows." He noted one upside to it all, though: "It's a pretty empty office right now so we've taken to running around it naked." —Amy Odell
At the launch party for DKNY’s fragrance Delicious Night, Lenny Kravitz’s 18-year-old daughter, Zoe, was wise beyond her years when we asked about her wildest night in New York. “I don’t think I can tell you that!” she said, laughing. The SUNY Purchase student was equally mum on what a typically crazy night with her rock-star dad entails. “We make pancakes late, late at night sometimes, and we sing Sly and the Family Stone while we do it.” Lenny, she says, makes great pancakes. “Lots of cinnamon” is his secret. So, we wondered, is it in that giant loft on Crosby — on the market forever, and once occupied by Nicole Kidman — where the late-night pancakes and singing occurs? “Oh, yeah, that’s where the pancakes are made.”—Bennett Marcus
For the past couple of years, Tom Cruise has been cultivating a scary, Scientology-spewing, Matt Lauer–fighting, possibly baby-faking persona. But as we worked the red carpet at last night’s tribute to the actor by the Museum of the Moving Image, we found ourselves quickly experiencing backlash to the backlash. He really is, as they say, a megawatt star. He can still spin liquor bottles like in Cocktail, he told us, laughing heartily to signal how clever he thought we were for asking. “I [recently] went to Croatia or somewhere and a guy asked me to get behind the bar and I was spinning with him,” he said. “I broke a bottle or two. I tried!” With the fans, he’s a tireless hand shaker and picture taker. “I just think it’s manners,” he told us, after being taken away to pose with small children for the fifth time in our conversation. We’ll admit it. He had us at "hello" (well, in his case, "HELLO!").
Outside of Carolines last night, where he was hosting a benefit for scleroderma research, Bob Saget weighed in on the rumors that his former TV daughter, Ashley Olsen, has been dating Lance Armstrong, father of three. How does Saget feel about the huge age and respectability gap between the two? “I like Lance, Lance Armstrong is an amazing guy. Amazing guy!” he said. That’s it? We were hoping for something like, "I hate Lance Armstrong. I should be with Ashley." What gives, Saget? "I apologize," he said. He tried again: "You know Tevye and Golde, they were together 25 years! We’re in a society, I don’t think — you can’t really go by people, you know?" Wha? "I’m not giving you want you want," he said, defeated. "I feel bad about that."
That’s okay, Bob, how about you tell us a disgusting story about Ashley, Mary-Kate, and a donkey erection instead?
At the Glamour Women of the Year awards last night, Stephen Colbert exchanged jabs with honoree Nancy Pelosi. During his (in character) introduction of the Speaker of the House, he could only muster: "I am so honored to be here tonight to honor all of these honorable honorees." ("My writers are on strike!" he cracked, moments later.) Colbert went on to praise Pelosi's fashion — over her politics — calling her "by far the most glamorous Speaker we've ever had" (an accolade that received enthusiastic applause). "Whether she's prowling the Capitol steps in a cream pantsuit, or strutting the halls of Congress in a blue pantsuit, or grudgingly clapping behind the president at the State of the Union in, say, cream pants and a blue pantsuit blazer — she always has the right accessories," he said. "While I may disagree with everything she stands for, I will defend until death her right to" — snapping in a fashion-savvy Z — "MAKE. IT. WORK." Pelosi took the jokes happily, (perhaps she's over the time he kicked her virtual ass on Nintendo Wii?), but she saved a barb for him as he left the stage. "Of all the introductions I have ever received," she said to the comedian, "yours is certainly the most recent." —Ben KawallerRead what Diane Sawyer thinks is the biggest problem facing TV journalism, and other important factoids, in our complete quotable coverage of the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.
Jessica Simpson arrived at the Accessories Council Ace Awards at Cipriani-42nd Street to the ultimate nightmare! She was wearing the same sequined leopard frock as the evening's host, and it was Deborah Norville! Uncool. She huddled in the foyer for a confab with her mother. "Should I go home and change?" Jessica asked, according to a spy who was standing nearby. "Just change in the bathroom stall," counseled Simpson the Elder. "Are you kidding?" Jessica retorted. "I'm going home!" That's right, honey, you're not in Texas anymore. Jessica began stomping toward the door, but was pulled back — either by a rush of self-confidence or a wise PR person — and moments later was marching down the red carpet and presenting an award to the CEO of Macy's. It was the right thing to do, even according to her erstwhile teen-pop rival, Mandy Moore, who says that in the same situation, "I don't think I'd be embarrassed. Hopefully, we'd be rocking it in different ways." Yeah, and they were, because, by the way, Deborah Norville is 49. If anyone was freaking out, you'd think it would be her. But her calm reaction was met with approval by none other than the King of Zen, Marc Jacobs. "If the dress is what determines the individual, then the individual should work more on their character and what they choose to wear," he said. "You know what I mean?" —Amy Odell
Just kidding! He doesn't really. See, when we caught up with the stylist and 'mocialite at the Gay Men's Health Crisis Fashion Forward party, we immediately asked him if the news outlets that enjoy teasing him ever mix up his quotes. "The New York Observer, always, always," he said, rolling his eyes. "I literally could be like 'I love Jesus.' And they'd be like 'I love, dot dot dot, to have sex with, dot dot dot, Jesus' and I'm like, Where did that come from?" We don't know why anyone would ever want to doctor his quotes, because that was his answer to our first question, and as far as we're concerned, he hit it out of the park. —Amy Preiser
Marcus Schenkenberg might get to star opposite Kim Cattrall as Samantha's neighbor in the Sex and the City movie, the underwear model told us last night. "It's me and another guy now and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get it," Schenkenberg said over the noise at the Cavalli Vodka party at Cipriani 42nd Street. Does this mean Smith Jared is finished? "I haven't read the whole script yet," Schenkenberg said. "But Kim had a lot of men I think. She's all over the place. Like me." That's adorable. Schenkenberg wasn't the only celebrity enjoying the designer's new vodka line. Fresh from the removal of her alcohol-monitoring bracelet last month, Eve raised a Cavalli cocktail onstage before decamping downtown to check out the party at the Scores strip joint in Chelsea. Wonderful! A wholesome night was had by all. —Amy Odell
Every time dudes we know get down about their male pattern baldness, we point them to Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: SVU. Meloni, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive, wears his baldness with confidence. He carries his bald head high, as though he sees his diminished pate not as a sign of depreciating masculinity, but as further proofof it. Baldness, we imagine he thinks, is the kind of thing that happens to a Real Man, a battle scar from the war that is life. And when we see Meloni do his squinty, angry, muscley, bald thing on L&O — well, our heart just goes pitter-patter. As it did when we ran into him at the Celebrity Charades event the other night. Although, much to our dismay, he did not look nearly as bald in person. In fact his head looked sort of weird. Like it was made of candy. He was quick to assure us. "I am balding!" he said. "I have makeup on because I’m coming from work, but I have a growing ozone hole here." As we imagined, Meloni was comfortable with the aging process. "You know, I actually feel like I’ve gotten better with age," he said. "I’ve kind of grown into it." We think so too! After all, we suggested, it's been said that balding men have more testosterone. "Nuff said," he said gruffly. "As my friend says, grass don’t grow on a busy highway. I’m a deep thinker." Swoon! —Jada YuanHear trash talk from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bobby Cannavale, and others at the LAByrinth Theater Company’s Celebrity Charades.