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Mayor Bloomberg hosts event at City Hall to thank fundraisers

The Baltimore Sun

You gave Barack Obama a breakfast, Mr. Mayor, but you're giving us a lunch!" said I to Mike Bloomberg, adding, "And we're not even running for anything."

New York's popular mayor played host in City Hall's beautifully redecorated Portrait Gallery to thank a gang of us for raising $800,000 via the annual Fete de Swifty. This money goes to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, which establishes domestic violence centers.

The mayor was his genial self. And I don't quite know how to put this, nobody would confirm it, but I have a definite feeling that next March, he will announce he is running for president and he'll do it at the exact moment when the country is totally fed up with what they've been getting for the last year. He'll be fresh. The rest of them are already tired.

Queen of actresses

Went down to the East Village to have a brief visit with Dame Helen Mirren, who was perched there with her fabulous penthouse view ready to take off for a promotion trip to London. Her new adventure movie with Nicolas Cage, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, is an exciting departure for the vivacious Brit who has portrayed three different English queens in the past decade, as well as being the voice of The Queen in two animated films (Prince of Egypt and The Snow Queen). "I can't go on being royal, can I? Have to have a little sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll in my acting life!" said Helen.

I asked if she'd take a sleeping pill for the flight. "No, not long enough time to sleep," said the woman who is on top of the world since winning the Oscar for The Queen plus Golden Globes for The Queen and HBO's Elizabeth I. She also took the Emmy for Prime Suspect. She has received many other awards.

Such honors still happen every other day or so for this incredible British actress, whom most Americans had never heard of until PBS offered up her fabulous Prime Suspect detective series a few years ago. But this wonderful woman has actually been living in America with her husband, director Taylor Hackford, for the past 20 years off and on. They also have homes in L.A., London, and now in the heel of the Italian boot. Soon Helen travels to New Mexico to join Taylor, who'll direct her in a film called Love Ranch. The dame who has interpreted England's two great queens will play ... a madam.

Helen gave me tea from a blue-and-white teapot, the full set with creamer, sugar and teacups. I was also offered scones, jam and little sandwiches. And there we were, me in my usual whatever, and Helen wearing sweats without a speck of makeup. She said, "I usually just have tea in a mug but I wanted to impress you." We exchanged all our still-girlish secrets and gossip of the movies and theater. She lavished praise on, variously, Frank Langella, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, and many others we both admire. She is generous toward all her fellow actors.

The best thing of all was receiving her new book, a handsome volume titled In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures. This is already a smash hit in Great Britain, and Simon & Schuster will bring it out in March. Crammed with photos and candid opinions, it is an unusual work of art.

Just like Helen Mirren!

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