Liz Smith: Harry Benson’s “New York, New York”

And more from our Gossip Girl: Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”… Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin “Spend an Evening” on Broadway … unfreeze your turkey!

“IT DOESN’T suit women to be promiscuous,” said Noel Coward’s Elyot to his ex-wife, Amanda in the play “Private Lives.”

“It doesn’t suit men for women to be promiscuous,” responds Amanda.

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SEEING “Private Lives” on Broadway recently reminded me that I’ve been keeping an Assouline book on my desk for quite some time. It is A Privileged Life: Celebrating WASP Style by one Susanna Salk.

I was just thinking that this is a special book to give the person who has everything for Christmas. This one has a photo of the late C. Z. Guest on the cover, shot by Slim Aarons. She has a little white dog in her arms, naturally.

Just about my favorite photo inside this work of art is one of various colored cloth belts hanging side by side. If that doesn’t spell “WASP” — what does?

As the WASPy side of life is fast becoming a minority, I am really taken with these reflections.

Then there is the coming compendium of glamour and reality titled New York, New York by the gifted photo genius Harry Benson, who will be feted at Tiffany & Co. on December 6th.

This is a work celebrating all the city’s mayors and the state’s governors, major dress designers, its disappearing socialites and even — yours truly eating a hot dog. (Not glamourous! Not a socialite!)

Palm Beach cutie Hilary Ross has written captions and intro for Harry’s book and Jay McInerney did the rest. But, of course, it’s Harry’s photos that knock one out and make this grand work from PowerHouse Books matter.

However, if I hinted to the eclectic international Mr. Benson that he had included WASPs in his book, he’d just laugh and raise an eyebrow, even though he did himself marry a social lioness from Seguin, Texas in his Gigi.

Anyway, Steven Stolman says in his foreword to “A Privileged Life” that “WASP style is an oxymoron.” So maybe I’m beating a dead dog.

Think on it anyway, give a coffee table book for Christmas to the difficult ones on your list. A book full of fabulous photographs is a gift for the ages. It won’t be thrown away. It won’t appear on a small screen that someone is punching as they walk down the street. A book like either of the ones mentioned above is an adornment forever for your apartment, your house or your — stable?

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“BECOME YOUR dreams!” says Ben Kingsley toward the emotional climax of Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.” This is the great director’s first children’s film ever, and his first PG-rated effort in 18 years.

Kingsley is addressing the magic of movies, how we give ourselves up to the fantasies of the screen; and just how important those fantasies are. This sentiment certainly applies to Scorsese himself, a man who worships the art of filmmaking and is dedicated to its preservation.

“Hugo” had its New York premiere on Monday at the Ziegfeld Theater, bringing out Marty and some of his stars — Sir Ben, Sacha Baron Cohen, and two charming newcomers — Asa Butterfield, who plays Hugo Cabret and Chloe Moretz, the girl who befriends him and helps him unravel a great mystery.

Based on the book by Brian Selznick, “Hugo” tells a small, touching tale — a boy, orphaned and abandoned, living behind the walls of a railway station, repairing clocks. He meets Isabelle, who protects him and together they discover a wonderful secret. It’s lovely. Basically it’s Italian neo-realism, no need for whistles or bells. But here we have this little story magnified immensely, huge in scope, photographed needlessly and intrusively in 3-D. This process, which I still feel is a pointless gimmick — as it was originally, back in the 1950’s — might be okay for other movies, but it robs “Hugo” of its intimacy and immediacy. Within the story itself, snippets of great old silent movies are shown — I won’t be a spoiler and reveal why. But the inclusion of these fantastical vintage films seems to mock the ponderous process of 3-D. I am probably alone in this critique. (Although similar murmurings were heard as the audience filed out.)

I can say, with great enthusiasm, that all the performances are marvelous, with a whimsical surprise from Sacha Baron Cohen as the awful railway policeman who captures little runaways and sends them off to orphanages. But perhaps he is not so awful after all? As for the two youngsters, the owl-eyed Mr. Butterfield is great, but maybe too specific-looking. Miss Moretz, only 15, and already possessed of a distinct, precocious allure, might have quite a future.

And I loved the choice of Manhattan’s spectacular, fabled Metropolitan Club as the post-screening party place. With its marble walls and colonnades, high embossed ceilings, velvet-covered steps and intricate chandeliers, it was reminiscent of one of Marty’s most beloved movies, “Age of Innocence.” But the sweeping vistas and the variety of textures everywhere had a distinctly 3-D vibe! The party was great, packed with glitterati, with mountains of food — including sinful desserts — served.

However, the evening’s most striking aspect was that its hostess, New York’s queen of the night Peggy Siegal, had lost her voice. Her legendary, nonstop chatter was silenced. However, she did well with hand-signals and facial expressions, the meanings of which could not be mistaken! A born actress, Miss Siegal.

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IT ONLY GETS BETTER! That’s what’s happening to Broadway this season. I thought nothing could top Hugh Jackman’s “Back To Broadway.” Then “one and onlys” Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin “Spend An Evening” at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It’s wow O wow! all over again. Thirty years ago, the two starred in the original “Evita.” And here they are — often passionately and then again with a twinkle of camp — singing more than thirty famous and some not-so-famous songs from Broadway’s greatest — Sondheim, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Kern, Loesser, Kander & Ebb, and even a song by a gent named Murray Grand. (“New Faces of 1956”) If you are a musical lover with a long or short history to call your own, this is the show for you. And take the young ones as they will, in one night, get a taste of what Broadway does best — musicals performed by two of the most affectionate and appealing stars ever.

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YOUR TURKEY is still frozen?!

According to Peter Snyder of the Hospitality Institute of Technology & Management and USA Today, as well as microbiologist of Rutgers, Donald Schaffner, the USDA’s Meat & Poultry Hotline and the Butterball Turkey Talk-line, it may be safer if it is. (That’s four experts!)

Place your frozen bird, 12 to 13 pounds, on a low wire rack on a cookie sheet with low sides. (So hot oven air can move evenly. Also place it on a rack so air can circulate underneath.) You will have removed any plastic or insides from turkey. Heat oven to 325 degrees; cook for five hours. Don’t change the temperature. This takes about one and a half times longer than cooking a thawed turkey. (Don’t try to deep fry a frozen turkey. Very dangerous.)

If you have a meat thermometer, the finished turkey should be 160 degrees at the breast and l85 for the legs. Enjoy!

2 comments so far.

  1. avatar Dan Patterson says:

    I sure hope the Patinkin/Lupone show is recorded or, preferably, filmed for video release. Anyone know if that’s planned?

  2. avatar French Heart says:

    How to you keep all of this straight?! I don’t eat meat…but thanks for the turkey tip anyway. Never know…I may need to test some Bozo to see if he’s done. ;)