DROPPED INTO Le Cirque to see how Sirio Maccioni and his burgeoning Italian family have survived the holidays. Before Dec. 25, the place on Manhattan's East 58th Street was jumping with Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Nancy and Bill O'Shaunghessy, Donald Trump, Robert De Niro, Andrea Bocelli, Ron Perelman, Mary Wells Lawrence, Louise Grunwald, Barbara Walters, Neil Sedaka, Joy and Regis Philbin, and the Fox politico Dick Morris - plus a host of young beauties.
After this yuletide blast of people fighting for tables, Sirio has a big New Year's Eve gala to lay on. But still, he bemoans the fact that NYC restaurants face January, February and March. Meanwhile, the head sheiks of Qatar and Dubai are begging him to come launch Le Cirque in their neck of the Arabian Gulf, and he has a new spot, Maccioni, opening soon in the new MGM in Las Vegas.
Also: Coming up at the Berlin Film Festival, with an introduction by none other than Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, is the brilliant documentary by young Andrew Rossi all about Sirio, Maccioni and Le Cirque. A Table in Heaven has already been seen to acclaim in Toronto and North Carolina. Sirio maintains he had no idea he was being filmed for posterity and was just being himself throughout. (Just being himself is pretty great!) Wait for this one to land somewhere - like on HBO.
Lives of the very rich
Speaking of HBO, on Feb. 9 do huddle around your TV for Bob Balaban's production of Bernard and Doris. The New York Post's Linda Stasi has already raved about this film, but I want to add my two cents.
I knew Doris Duke and liked her very much. But she never had the fine features or exquisite physicality that Susan Sarandon brings to her role as the tobacco heiress who grew up the richest little girl in the world.
I also knew Bernard Lafferty, Duke's butler. I met him by the pool at Elizabeth Taylor's house in Bel Air, Calif., just before he died. In the film, he is played by the more refined-looking Ralph Fiennes (Philip Seymour Hoffman would have been more physically exact). But forget art following nature. Here, art is king, and both Susan and Ralph are super, super, super in this odd drama of how the rich really live.
And if you crave sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll - there is plenty of that, too, in this exotic story directed to perfection by Mr. Balaban.
A party to remember
Nicest Christmas party of the year, or at least the nicest one I was invited to, happened when Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue laid on their annual dinner on Fifth Avenue. How can one quarrel when at one's table sits Alan Alda, one of the most fascinating men in America ... as well as playwright John Guare, who runs him a close second ... as well as the mysterious woman who calls herself Nora Ephron ... add to that The New York Times' obit expert, Marilyn Berger, ... then Mrs. Barry Diller, otherwise called Diane von Furstenberg, whom I've known since she was a teenage princess.
Happy New Year to Phil and to Marlo for her money-raising brilliance at keeping St. Jude's Hospital going for kids everywhere.