"I don't have a thing to wear. Don't drive up. I must see you see you! Love, Cher."
This was the handwritten, personal invite from her to the celebratory party at TAO cafe on West 16th Street last week. It made me laugh because the last two lines are straight from the Bette Davis movie, "The Letter."
Cher is a major, knowledgeable movie maven. Her new CD is titled "Closer to the Truth."
TAO had just finished being decorated only hours before. It looked great, but the new plaster and paint may have given a few contact highs. The place was packed with Cher fans and media. (Cosmo's Sergio Kletnoy, Alicia Quarles of CNN and AP, People magazine, etc.) The invite said seven, but no one expected the star to show up at that hour. Such promptness would be almost indecent!
Cher wasn't really late by "icon" standards. Around eight she "swanned" in, surrounded by a couple of tough guys and her admirable press rep Liz Rosenberg. (Why any star repped by Liz R. needs anyone or anything more formidable than this whimsically glamorous protectress, I've no idea!)
Cher was wearing something black and glittery.
She appeared inside a tiny roped-off VIP area, but as soon as she began talking about the wonders of her new album, which has several marvelous ballads, the star was pulled from my grip. "She'll be back in a second, but has to do her stuff up front!"
Well, Cher did her stuff, which was in keeping with her longtime aura, and was fairly prosaic. Then -- whoosh! Out the door! I enjoyed a few rare moments of aloneness after many civilized sit-downs with her, so one couldn't begrudge her moving on.
Cher and Liz Rosenberg have been working like Trojans (or Spartans) getting the word out on the new CD. On this one, the Oscar winner displays not only her booming, unchanged voice, but she has the aforementioned ballads that should put fans on the floor.
It's always nice when a real artist lets you in on their inner-tender thoughts reminding one that "Oh, she can really sing!" Cher looked fresh and adorable in a wavy just-touching-her-shoulders hairstyle. I know you're all saying, "It's a wig!" But it seemed real to me.
The gang at TAO included gorgeous drag queens and unbearably hunky go-go boys. Some were dancing in the balcony overlooking the big room, but they were called down to liven up the party. They did! (One of the cross-dressers was a dead ringer for the iconic pin-up, Bettie Page.)
All in all, a typical icon's night out in NYC. Cher is the one and only and she turned up and turned the place upside down.
Last week I went to the Marriott Marquis for "Rosie's Theater Kids," a benefit celebrating the 10th anniversary of a Rosie brainstorm, which has joined with New York's public schools to teach hundreds of kids how to break into show business -- particularly theater. This is a great charity doing so much good for New York. The event also honored the great documentary filmmaker, Sheila Nevins of HBO. A beautiful woman if there ever was one.
Ran into author Delia Ephron whose autobiographical book "Sister Mother Husband Dog" is a landslide memoir and also glimpsed Marlo Thomas, Phil Donahue, Cynthia McFadden, Cindi Berger, Dana and Mike Goldstein, Leslie and Dan Ziff and Joe Armstrong and others richer even than they.
Rosie's kids danced and sang and Rosie told us all about her life, hiring, firing, fame and being fired from Oprah's OWN Network. And she included her wife Michelle and how she now has an 18-year-old son at the Citadel. Her version of his innocent sex life when his girlfriend stays over was simply hilarious.
Rosie opined that she had a new baby girl because with only teenagers in her household, she'd forgotten how much she loved children.
I found out I was a co-chair of this event, even though I had forgotten it and I accepted my congratulations with goodwill. I had a fabulous escort in the Landmarks Conservancy's Scott Leurquin and sat next to the Wall Street Journal's social columnist Marshall Heyman. Rosie conducted her own open auction and raised more than $100,000 for tickets to send kids to Broadway shows.
Other celebs like Uma Thurman, Fran Drescher, her ex, Peter Marc Jacobson, B.D. Wong, the "Orange girls," Samira Wiley and Natasha Lyonne of "Orange is the New Black," Mia Farrow's handsome son, Ronan Farrow and Rob Shuter were on hand.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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