"Charm ... If you have it, you don't need to have anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have." -- J.M. Barrie.
WELL. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has plenty of "else" to fall back on -- his career, his money, an apparently happy personal life ... and lots of charm. Maybe it doesn't always come across on TV, but in person he is one of the most delightful men, and a witty, articulate speaker. All those qualities were in the fore the other night when Bloomberg made a few well-chosen remarks at the mammoth 25th anniversary celebration for Manhattan's famous salmon-colored newspaper, The New York Observer.
The event, thrown by (who else) Peggy Siegal, began at 6:30 p.m. and the mayor was supposed to speak at 7 p.m., but the crush of the famous from the worlds of media, film, stage and the just plain rich and gorgeous kept pouring in at an alarming rate. The Four Seasons restaurant, which seemed pleasantly cool at 6:30, was an oven an hour later. But nobody seemed to mind. Well, maybe the men did, mostly in business suits. Women were less confined in cocktail dresses of varying lengths and decolletage, not to mention ever-more-towering heels.
Eventually, however, after brisk remarks by the Observer's handsome and remarkably youthful publisher Jared Kushner (He took over the paper seven years ago at the age of 25 -- and he looks 23!), Bloomberg praised The Observer, despite, he said, "Its tendency to sting; and that's OK to do, but not to me!" He also pointed out a number of the guests, whom he felt were quintessential New Yorkers, including movie mogul Harvey Weinstein: "I just slipped Harvey my script, 'Bloomberg on Bloomberg.' Harvey, have your people call my people!" After a few more remarks, Bloomberg was off, doing mayoral things, one assumes. "Go have drinks and eat now," he said before leaving the podium.
"Hmmm, is that it?" said one guest as Bloomberg was hustled out. The response: "What did you expect? Belly dancers?"
Given the size of the crowd, one wasn't sure if everybody listed as expected to attend actually showed up. But here's a small taste of the impressive roster: Commissioner Ray Kelly, Ivanka Trump (Mrs. Jared Kushner), Donald Trump, as confidently ebullient as ever (he arrived with Miss USA Nana Meriwether. (More on her later!), Ashleigh Banfield, Peter Cincotti, Ed Kosner, Julie Baumgold, Tiki Barber, Dan Abrams, Mariska Hargitay, Matt Lauer (the subject of so many rumors these days), Steve Tisch, Spike Lee, Joanna Coles, Blake Lively, Carolina Herrera, Liz Cho, Linda Wells, Simon Doonan, Tom Hooper (still stunned by the success of his "Les Miserables"), Michael Shannon of "Boardwalk Empire" fame, soon to play a cold-hearted contract killer in "The Iceman" (not that he's so nice on his HBO series), Harry Belafonte, Cynthia McFadden, and -- well, you get it. It was definitely one of those 'if they dropped a bomb" nights.
KATIE HOLMES arrived and was immediately mobbed. She handled it beautifully, and looked terrific. Much healthier than during the traumas of the quick dispatch of her marriage to Tom Cruise. The gay divorcee indeed. She has a definite Kate Middleton air to her, as well.
Christine Baranski, taking a day off from shooting "The Good Wife," was a vision in red, and fell into the arms of her old friend, writer/director/producer Linda Yellen, whom she worked with back in 1980, on the harrowing Arthur Miller TV special "Playing for Time." Christine and Linda talked about old times and new, and both raved over Vanessa Redgrave, who starred in that movie. "I can't believe she is still at it," said Baranski. "And still so brilliant, still giving every ounce of herself to her roles. She is so committed and uncompromising." Christine added, "Can you believe it, she's going to be playing Beatrice in 'Much Ado About Nothing' with James Earl Jones, in London. What a woman!" (Miss Yellen is readying a big-screen movie about two of the most glamorous and mysterious movie goddesses of all time. Shortly, I'll tell all on that.)
Christine also revealed that come spring she'll appear in an "Encores" production of the musical "On Your Toes." She said, "I'll be so thrilled to sing and dance again. All this lawyer stuff (her role on "Good Wife") can get rather dry."
Rex Reed looked good, though he complained of computer and blogging issues. Since my own computer and its various mysteries are the bane of my existence, I could only laugh.
Katie Couric arrived, looking sensational in black pants and a tight black leather jacket, which she promptly peeled off to reveal remarkably well-toned arms. Nothing extreme, just right, as Goldilocks said.
Roger Friedman, New York's best entertainment reporter, came in backed by a blaze of flashing lights. When somebody said, "What was with all the lights when you walked in?" Roger said, "Oh, it was just the cops looking for me!"
BUT WITHOUT a doubt, the most eye-catching sight of the night was Nana Meriwether, Miss USA. This towering beauty wore a one-shoulder aqua gown and carried a pink embroidered evening clutch. Her hair cascaded down below her shoulders. Martians couldn't have missed this girl. She is delightfully friendly, down to earth and wonderfully composed. She was accompanied by her press rep Matthew Rich, who said, "Her reign ends in June and she still hasn't had a good scandal." He gave her a mock-accusing look, "Must you be so nice?" Nana laughed and said to me, slyly, "I don't think my boss, Mr. Trump would appreciate that. But when I have my first scandal you'll be the first to know!"
She joked about all the lush parties, famous people and perks she has enjoyed. "Oh, do I have to meet President Obama again? ... Where's my car? ... Who's carrying my luggage? ... Where's that Perrier water?!" She threw back her head, laughing lustily, "I hope I haven't become jaded, or too used to it."
Miss Meriwether studied pre-med and was a top volleyball player before friends convinced her to enter the pageant. Now, with her royal duties winding down, what does the future hold? "Hmmm, well, pre-med, volleyball, this," she said, indicating the star-studded room. "I don't know."
Acting? (Even if she can't act, just looking at her onscreen would be worth a $12 ticket) "Well, maybe. I don't know, there was all that pre-med."
"Honey," I said, "You don't really want to spend your life filling out insurance forms, do you?"
She laughed again. I see movies in her future.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)