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Nancy Reagan brings new energy to fundraiser for husband's library

The Baltimore Sun

Had a fab chat recently with Nancy Reagan, my own personal favorite first lady of the many I have known. The most "real," the most "human" of them all, with no political agenda, she was in town for the fundraiser Mayor Mike Bloomberg tossed for the Reagan Library at his eastside townhouse last week.

The last time I'd seen Mrs. Reagan was at her husband's funeral in Washington and then my heart ached for her. She was grieving, exhausted and seemed very frail. But now she has bounced back. We had a good gossipy talk and she seems full of energy. Because I had dined the night before our talk with some of her Republican admirers, the philanthropists Ted and Vada Stanley of Sutton Place and Connecticut, I was able to truthfully say we had all just been speaking of her with affection and admiration.

When Bloomberg rose up at his dinner the other eve, he said at one point, "It's all about money!" This caused some of the invitees to flinch slightly, wondering what might be asked of them for the Reagan Library. Then Bloomberg announced that they'd already raised $2 million and "That's enough for any evening!" I am told the dinner, which included high rollers such as Boone Pickens, was geared to end early for Mrs. Reagan's sake. But she stayed on and was one of the last to leave. So applause, applause!

This and that

Why don't you shut up?" King Juan Carlos of Spain asked Venezuela's wild man Hugo Chavez at the Chilean summit recently. ... How popular the Spanish are now! (See the aforementioned king's quote.) And so there's excitement that Spain's Queen Sofia will come here Nov. 29 to honor Bill Clinton and Penelope Cruz at the Gold Medal Gala for her Spanish Institute. None other than Oscar de la Renta chairs this happening at 583 Park Ave. ... Dame Helen Mirren arriving in New York City on Dec. 2 to promote her movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, in which she co-stars with Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Ed Harris. Wow! What guys! Helen just beat out Kate Moss in the list of Britain's best-dressed. Helen credits Rachel Fanconi and Alicia Lombardini with her "look," but I think she was stylish from the get-go.

Applause for Depp

First peeks at the movie version of Sweeney Todd leave people gasping and saying Johnny Depp is sure to get another Oscar nod for playing Stephen Sondheim's razor-wielding killer, "the demon barber of Fleet Street." Will a younger audience go for this classic musical-almost opera? Well, I hear there is so much Tim Burton-directed blood, guts, gore and action that they will! Depp has long-been regarded as one of Hollywood's best and most unusual leading men. (And he has been box-office gold ever since Pirates of the Caribbean.) In Sweeney, there's great acting as well from Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen round out the cast. Depp was nervous about singing because, Burton explains: "It's like casting a porno movie, having people sing. They feel they're being asked to take their clothes off."

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