Susan Sarandon knows how to find good help — but she didn't learn the tricks until too late. "By the time I finally realized how to spot a good nanny, I didn't need them anymore," the actress said January 30 at a star-studded screening of her new HBO film, Bernard and Doris, in which she plays heiress Doris Duke (Ralph Fiennes stars opposite as her controversial flamboyant butler and caretaker). Her au pair advice? "Don't pick someone you want to hang out with," she said. "Pick someone that has a way with kids." And make sure they can deal with boundaries, especially in a busy world where staff can seem like part of the family. "Some people can adjust to that, others just completely lose their discipline." Finally, pick the right person for the right phase in your kid's life, like when Sarandon and Tim Robbins were raising two young sons Jack and Miles and she hired "a young gal with a lot of energy, as opposed to somebody very sedentary." With the kids getting older, the Oscar winner has less help — a housekeeper, but no publicist, assistant, chef, or chauffeur. "My kids are on their feet, taking the train," she said. "If they're privileged, they don't think it's the norm." —Justin Ravitz
Ben Affleck slipped out of the premiere of his Gone Baby Gone to go watch the Red Sox game. (Ben says he left because he gets nervous during his screenings. Cindy Adams thinks he's getting "gorgeouser and gorgeouser"). Fifty of the world's greatest chefs are having dinner tonight at Le Bernadin to celebrate the book My Last Supper. Le Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni shelled out $7,000 for a 1.1-pound Italian white truffle. Tim Robbins had his birthday party on Tuesday at the Beatrice Inn. Barneys creative director Simon Doonan thought Phillip Bloch had gone blind, though he was actually just preparing for a movie role.
For the second season in a row, John Varvatos debuted his new collection at the very top of 7 World Trade Center, which boasts a spectacular view of Manhattan and a moving perspective on ground zero. Many of the guests were unable to keep up the usual routine of schmoozing with their fellow fashionistas, instead wandering over to the floor-to-ceiling windows to take a look.
Canarsie: Home of the new Canarsie History Museum! [Brooklyn Record]
Greenpoint: Christmas decorations, 'Point-style (right). You should have seen the crèche. [New York Shitty]
Park Slope: Need another reason to mock the Slope? Festivus Party. Go. [Brooklynian]
Red Hook: The waterfront tries on the nuclear-wasteland look. Strictly temporarily, of course. [Curbed]
Union Square: A resounding "no" to a seasonal (in the Shake Shack sense, not the Per Se sense) restaurant. [The Villager]
Presented without further comment from this week's Entertainment Weekly, about the forthcoming Die Hard 4:
When Bruce Willis and his longtime producing partner, Arnold Rifkin, were marooned in Manhattan on September 11, the two took a somber walk down a muted Park Avenue. Along the way, a young fan spotted Willis and shouted, "Where is John McClane when you need him?!" "What I realized," says Rifkin, "is people wanted to see John McClane again."