"Charity begins at home!" some wise philosopher once said. In this particular case, charity is home!
I went to a fundraiser last week for The Neighborhood Coalition where they had a "live auction' and guests began offering up huge sums of money just to get it to end! They raised a considerable sum with this uncomfortable "blackmail."
It's one thing to have a quick five-minute auction. But 40 minutes is beyond the pale. However, many needy adults and children find homes and shelter as a result. So it's hard to quibble when so many of the needy haven't a roof over their heads.
This event was in The Boathouse where the food is excellent, and one overlooks the Central Park Lake with gondola rides. My fellow honorees were the charming maestro Cathy Blaney of Bloomberg Philanthropies. She also heads the WTC Museum. She was honored along with Dr. Mary White, a veritable saint and care provider/researcher/HIV fighter.
These women practically have wings, so I hid my little horns and pretended I was in their class, accepting accolades along with them.
I loved seeing the producer Fran Weissler, who now has "Pippin" hot on Broadway. And my obstreperous pal Mickey Ateyeh, who admired the beautiful Angela Cummings earrings I was wearing. (She gave them to me!) And I had fun with photographer Patrick McMullan.
I was asked to this event by Samuel Peabody, an old-fashioned gentleman, and he was with his health activist daughter Elizabeth and our friend from the Landmarks Conservancy, Scott Leurquin. I had a very good time helping in the fight to bring shelter to those who need it.
I congratulated the Shelter gang for their magnificent work and I tried not to bring down the tone.
I did tell a story that I love. Many years ago when the Rothschilds were momentarily driven out of France and had to operate their banks from NYC for a while, I was seated next to the elegant Baron Guy de Rothschild at a charity dinner. The vaunted, elegant Baron asked as the main course was served, "Miss Smith, explain why we are here? What is this event?"
I explained that the dinner was a fundraiser and people paid a great deal for tickets to benefit a charity. I told him that the U.S. government had more or less gotten out of the charity business and it had landed on the private sector.
The baron was amazed. He exclaimed: "The French would never do a thing like that!"
So, I congratulated the nights' elegant and very nice and generous crowd that they were not French and they had worked hard and made sacrifices of time and money to fill the gap. And this is a process that I thoroughly approve of and support. And you should, too, once you choose the charity of your choice, or one that means something to you.
And believe me, The Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter is a good choice.
Or are you just living for yourself?
I WAS SITTING AROUND a recent Sunday and happened on a festival of Reese Witherspoon movies.
I looked first at "Walk the Line" where she plays June Carter and I didn't intend to stay with it, but I did, to the very end. Then that segued into "Sweet Home Alabama," which somehow, I had never seen, or didn't remember.
Reese just got better and better. Finally, I treated myself once more to the often-seen "Legally Blonde," which I have never forgotten because my pal actress Holland Taylor has an important role in it.
But the orgy of gorging on Reese had its effect. She is a wonderfully compelling actress. She paid her dues, suffering a great deal of embarrassment because of the recent DUI incident, and deserves to be "forgiven" by a public that has probably had a much messier life than the usually circumspect Reese.
As for her acting metier -- seldom has the Southern girl been played more convincingly or with more spirit than by Reese Witherspoon. And she wasn't a bad Becky Sharpe in "Vanity Fair," either. (I interviewed Reese for that one, and came away impressed by her composure and no-nonsense attitude.)
She has a movie out now called "Mud," which remains to be seen and four more on the way. A major movie talent!
I got quite a kick this week because the two New York tabloids landed at my door. (Yes, I still pick up newspapers to read them!)
The New York Daily News critic Joe Neumaier had a headline "It's a 'Star Trek' into greatness!" And following this rave, which was encouraging when it comes to the brand-new "Star Trek Into Darkness," came The New York Post's Lou Lumenick with his totally opposite headline "Lost in Space." He didn't like the movie one bit. He wrote "What the 'Trek'! The limp plot of this silly new sequel has its phasers set to dumb."
So more than ever, you have to go and make your own judgment. I am predicting a big hit no matter what critics say. After all, in real life we have the actual spacecraft "Kepler" malfunctioning, probably delaying more examinations of outer space.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
Sweet Charity ... Sweet 'Home' Reese ... Dueling 'Star Trek' reviews
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