If only life could imitate art, what great fun presidential politics would be.
That's the verdict from Monday night's party at Chasen's, launching Steve Sohmer's novel of presidential politics with all the 1940ish hoopla Hollywood still ascribes to the political genre. So you got red-white-and-blue everything--banners, buttons, even a round paper disk carrying the novel's name, "Favorite Son," and the printed identification "Bookmark."
Substitute agents for the professional pols who hang around nominating conventions and you get the picture. Also the picture on how important the party was, although the real way to tell the event's importance was that Chasen's two princes of protocol, Tommy Gallagher and Ronnie Clint, were both on hand carving and kibitzing.
And, just like politics, one got speeches. Thankfully short but telling ones.
As when Bantam publisher Steve Rubin identified Sohmer as "as close as we can get to a Renaissance man in Hollywood," listing his credits as a TV executive, a motion-picture studio president, a movie producer and the author of a miniseries. (Listen, it's Hollywood. It's not like Renaissance man equals classics scholar.)
"But you know, Sohmer is the kind of guy who actually reads or something," one primo agent explained, saying he'd rather not use his name with that kind of quote. Indeed, only a few of the couple hundred people who crushed in around Chasen's monstrous buffet had read the book.
One who did, power-agent Phil Gersh, was enthusiastically talking to his wife Bea about the book and the lavish party, kidding that "the publisher is paying for it, and they do it real well."
Agents and Agents
Agent Norman Brokaw was more than enthusiastic (since his William Morris agency handled the book). Among other agents (hey, they need a plug, too, and not many of the promised stars showed up) were superior-agent Jeff Berg and New York transplant Ron Bernstein; also a nice touch for any party, a studio head, 20th Century Fox's dapper Barry Diller. Sohmer had worked many years as an NBC exec, and so it was natural that NBC's Brandon and Lilly Tartikoff host the event. Tartikoff said he was surprised that the book was 484 pages, since Sohmer wrote only a few words at NBC--like "Be there," and "Let's all be there," the network's slogans.
Sohmer, who also was president of Columbia Pictures "for one minute," said he was overwhelmed at the early success of the book, and that when it was chosen as a Literary Guild selection, he called Rubin and said, "We're either the smartest or two of the luckiest Jews in New York City."
After the speeches, the party continued. And then everybody got to go home--at a real political convention, one gets to go to the nearest Holiday Inn.
WHO WAS THAT MAN?--Wait, wasn't that the junior former Gov. Brown, Jerry himself, minus his beard, in his favorite of haunts, Lucy's El Adobe? Yes, indeedy, but we've no idea if the shaving precedes a return to electoral politics.
TREAT OR TREATS--SPRINT's first-ever Halloween Costume Gala netted $480,000, all of which will go to benefit special preventive research, intervention and new technology for children at UCLA. Kudos to SPRINT founder and president Nina Lief.
BIG TIME--The State of Israel and its friends in the fashion industry of California get together Nov. 15 to salute the May Co. at the Century Plaza. Kenneth F. Sokol will accept the Israel Peace Medal at the event, which is chaired by Alan Kantrowitz and Alan Klein . . .
Please save the date Jan. 18 when the Women's Division of Israel Bonds celebrates the 40th anniversary of the State of Israel with a party already shaping up as a showstopper. It's chaired by Barbara Belzberg and Linda Rosenberg and has as its theme "The Best of Israel--the best of Robinson's." To be sure, details will follow . . .
And don't forget the annual Hurrah Dinner, benefiting the Center for Public Affairs at USC, set for Nov. 23 at the Century Plaza . . .
Best plans sometimes go awry, so don't expect Kris Kristofferson at the Refugees International benefit Saturday at the Coronet. He's gotten stuck shooting a film, organizers tell us, but they do indeed have Spalding Gray and lots of other talent--and are a class act to let the word out before the curtain goes up.