Liz Smith: The Queen Will Be Amused — If You Spend a Million Dollars to Sleep Where Kate Middleton Did … Bill Cunningham Honored … Stars Gather for “Safe” … Bette Midler’s Picnic!
“EVERY EXTRA buck has a meaning all its own,” said Thelma Ritter in the 1953 film Pickup on South Street.
READING the English newspapers! (And, speaking of extra bucks.)
You can stay for four nights of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Kate Middleton‘s favorite inn, the Goring Hotel, near Buckingham Palace for only a mere $1,598,300 in American money.
“This is a niche product, definitely the most luxurious Diamond Jubilee package on the market,” says the hotel’s spokesman. The package includes four nights in the Royal Suite, where Kate spent her last night as a commoner before marrying Prince William. You will have vintage Cristal champagne, a Jubilee dinner, a chauffeur-driven Bentley, a horse-&-carriage ride retracing the Queen’s original coronation route, and of course, afternoon tea. De Beers will also give you a diamond ring worth the entire package. “So, you get more than your money’s worth,” according to the hotel.
Or, you can negotiate for the less expensive and simple cocktail party in The Goring at several thousand dollars a glass. You get to keep your glass.
“Shucks! I don’t do anything,” he says.
The hottest ticket of the year, so far, socially is about an honoree who doesn’t have a dime, lives in a minimalist way, never brags on himself, travels by bike and stands on street corners no matter the weather, snapping pictures.
He has already been named a “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmark Conservancy. And although he has refused every gift, won’t take a free meal, and insists he hasn’t done anything more than his everyday job — well, by now you probably know I am referring to Bill Cunningham who stars every Sunday in the New York Times.
I imagine the biggies of business, fashion, music, and art talked Bill into this evening on April 23rd because he has lived and kept his records at Carnegie Hall for almost his whole grownup life. So, how could he refuse to let the Board of Trustees honor him with the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel which will bring out the VIP names?
Joan and Sanford Weill … Annette and Oscar de la Renta … Sarah Jessica Parker … Mercedes T. Bass … Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller … Tina and Terry J. Lundgren and Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom are the “lead names” on the handsome invitation asking guests to “Come Dressed for Bill.” ( The onstage entertainment will come from Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo.But it won’t hold a candle to the way New Yorkers dress that night!)
I would have to wear my bicycle clips should I drum up enough dough to honor someone I love and admire as much as Bill. (I am not alone.) Once, when I gave him a Fashion Institute award, he reluctantly rode onstage on his bike, said “Thanks” and rode off.
On the other hand when we named him a “Living Landmark,” he came up on foot and made one of the most eloquent speeches I’ve ever heard about saving New York City’s treasures, buildings, parks, and monuments!
Call 212-903-9679 about tickets which are about as scarce as people who are as ethical and talented as Bill Cunningham of the New York Times.
He is fashion, he is art, he is class, he is excellence!
PARTY ENTRANCE of the week goes hands down to Ice-T and wife Coco. (For those who don’t watch television, Mr. T is the former-rapper-turned-Law & Order: SVU actor. Mrs. T is a monumentally endowed model and reality TV star.)
The couple appeared at the after-party for the new Jason Statham thriller, Safe. Although they spent most of their time sitting down, munching on lamb sliders, French fries and tuna tartare, they were hard to miss.
All kidding aside, The T.’s appear to be quite happy, on their reality show and in real life, too. Ice-T has come a long way from his troubled youth and is actually a nice guy. (Funny, too. During the last presidential election, he announced he would be voting for and endorsing John McCain. He explained that his past criminal activities might hurt Obama. “So I’d rather ruin McCain with my help!”)
This was another of those parties put together by The Cinema Society, that always attracts a young, sexy crowd of unknowns and/or up-and-comers scattered among the instantly recognizable stars. On hand were Marlon Wayans … Rachel Roy … Patrick Demarchelier … Aaron Carter … Padma Lakshmi. The star of Safe, Mr. Staham was there, and what an impressive specimen he is! Statham, once an Olympic diver, became something of a muse for Guy Ritchie, who cast him in a number of those violent, confusing thrillers. (For Madonna, Ritchie conceived a remake of Swept Away. The writing was already on the wall, but Madonna couldn’t decipher it yet.)
Also making an appearance — the apparently ageless Jennifer Tilly. (“That one looks like a young Jennifer Tilly” somebody said, as the actress and her group of friends swept into the Dream Downtown hotel. “That one is Jennifer Tilly!” came the reply from one of Tilly’s pals. Jennifer did not look displeased.)
And former Wizards of Waverly Place actor Jake T. Austin was at the PH-D penthouse, working the room. He’s all grown up and handsome — a Disney boy no more. And he clearly wants people to know it.
I promised the people who crowded into the recent Maria Droste Counseling service gala “Conversation” with the terrific Bette Midler that I’d see to it they would get a chance to see more of Bette, in person.
The mighty Midler is raising money for her New York Restoration Project by giving the 11th annual spring picnic at Fort Tryon Park on the Cloisters Lawn near the Hudson River on May 31st. I’ve been to these picnics and they are always informal and fun.
One year it rained buckets and I sat ankle-deep in water under a tent where Susan Sarandon and I were eating all the hot dogs we could reach. And Bette circulated in waders; a grand time was had by all.
If you want to experience this and also help one of New York’s most important and useful charities – e-mail my PR pals, Anita and Linda or call 212-573-6933. Tickets start at $500.
And you will get Adrian (Entourage) Grenier and Marisa (Oscar-winner) Tomei as Bette’s co-hosts. Love them both! See you there.
This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 4/19/12