Anderson Cooper, the Muppets make a fundraiser gala great

Sherrie Westin's smash-hit Sesame Workshop annual bash at Cipriani 42 Street gets our vote as the benefit that most benefits its generous donors. The evening, with Anderson Cooper and the Muppets hosting, let people go home at 9:30 p.m. My date whispered to me that he had seen there "every important person I've ever known in New York!"

The evening was inspiring, with an emphasis on how Sesame Street helps millions of children in India to better preschool education. Since one out of every six kids in the world lives in India; this is really something! I sat with the chief honoree Dick Parsons of Time and I wish this inspiring guy was not retiring. ... Ran into the delightful Lee and Bob Woodruff at a birthday party in Le Cirque's divine bar and they're creating a gourmet, military-themed dinner at the N.Y. Athletic Club for the Marine Corps Council, happening June 30. This helps U.S. forces with Traumatic Brain Injury, such as Bob suffered while covering Iraq for ABC. Tickets are $350 at Bob and Lee are one of New York's most engaging couples and so dedicated to helping others.


More happenings

Posh people will get to break bread with Michelle Obama at an exclusive supper in Calvin Klein's apartment on June 17. The Vogue fashionista crowd is hot into this event, a fundraiser, of course. ... Some big names are found at the Booth Theater these nights applauding the incredible actor Laurence Fishburne in his one-man triumph Thurgood. To name a few - Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Keanu Reeves, Charlie Rangel, Rita Moreno, Anne Archer, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Judith Jamison. Mr. Fishburne is up for a best-actor Tony and he'll continue to show us America's most unusual Supreme Court Justice through Aug. 3.


Show stoppers

Speaking of actors - stopping traffic on Lexington Avenue at the front window table of Swifty's last week were three of the best women in show biz - Christine Baranski and Gina Gershon from Boeing Boeing and the great Livia of TV's I, Claudius, one Sian Phillips, who is seen nightly onstage at Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Christine said she'd take a brief leave from her Broadway hit to open the movie of Mamma Mia! in London at June's end. Gina, who came here direct from making Love Ranch in Nevada with Helen Mirren told me all about that. This cult favorite of the underground hit movie Bound, said she needed "a vacation." And Sian said she is eagerly awaiting ex-husband Peter O'Toole's memoirs, which are coming soon. When Liaisons closes on July 6, she'll return to England, where, she said, "I'll just hunker down and wait for incoming!"

The pits

Variety's Peter Bart reports "tough times" in L.A. for writers, actors, even for stars! "The numbers are heading south. The writer who got $500,000 for his last script will now be offered $300,000. The star accustomed to 10 percent of the gross is settling for 2 percent. Agents, renowned for their toughness, are going home at night totally depressed."