Just to take your minds off the impending primaries, here's more royal news. Although co-host Dr. Armand Hammer was missing from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Wednesday night, "called away on urgent international business," Arco's Lod Cook, his wife, Carole, and former Ambassador Walter and Lee Annenberg kicked-off UK/LA. If you are still not sure what those initials stand for, then you are spending too much time following candidates.
UK/LA is a three-month cultural arts festival, with a little business thrown in, supporting and importing British culture and goods to Los Angeles. It includes the visit to L.A. and hereabouts of the Duke and Duchess of York (which has stolen the spotlight in a move that could be likened to the crown wearing the prince).
The British Roster
The partying at LACMA kicking-off the celebration had some strong representation from the United Kingdom even though Sir Antony Acland, British Ambassador to the United States, was ill. British Consul General Donald and Elizabeth Ballentyne (UK/LA was their brainchild) were nonetheless joined by Norman H. and Sadie Lee. He is the honorary chairman of UK/LA 88 Inc. (The Annenbergs are honorary co-chairpersons of the UK/LA 88 Festival.)
Michael and Pat York were there, as was Emma Samms--and Joan Collins in a great little hat. She was exhausted, she said, from spending the entire week on the "Dynasty" set in a courtroom scene--which "looked just like the courtroom I was in last Monday, only I made money from being in the set's courtroom."
No doubt about it, the impending arrival of the royals has hyped what could have been a somewhat Chamber-of-Commerce convocation into a massive media and cultural assault. One insider said that the organizers had pushed hard for the Duke and Duchess, knowing their tremendous popular appeal.
As one familiar with the royal family--and the visit--pointed out, the difficulty these days for the younger Windsors is to walk the "fine line between becoming closer to the people, while still retaining the dignity of royalty."
Ah, and close is what everyone wants to be.
Lod Cook was thrilled that all the $10,000 tables at the Feb. 28 gala at the Biltmore were sold--"only a few $5,000 tables left," he cautioned. (That's a special evening, since Cook's and perhaps L.A.'s favorite charity, Save the Books, will receive half the money raised.)
And, those $10,000 tables will be in close proximity to the royal couple.
The hottest ticket has to be an invitation to the Royal Yacht Britannia, where Andrew and Fergie will turn the tables March 3, and entertain the government officials who have opened the doors to the city, county and state for them. The royal dinner will be preceded by a royal reception for dozens of the cultural and business types who are making UK/LA happen. (This includes a local celebration of English culture, including Gordon Davidson's direction of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," for the Music Center Opera, and Jonathon Miller rejoining his "Beyond the Fringe" partner, Dudley Moore, directing him in "The Mikado." And, of course, the LACMA exhibit of expatriate David Hockney, which happily coincided.)
Colonial political news at the kick-off event: Councilman John Ferraro presented a city proclamation to Annenberg, kidding that the British came to America "400 years ago--that was the year that Mayor Bradley was elected mayor." Annenberg picked up a citation from the County Board of Supervisors, but, surprisingly, none of the five showed up to the event. Certainly present was county protocol chief Sandra Ausman with her husband, Shell. (Sandra is putting together a lavish lunch for the royals at LACMA.)
But here's the ticket no amount of elective power can buy--Lee Annenberg is hosting a dinner for the royals (a la her annual New Year's Eve party) at their Rancho Mirage Estate. As usual, it will be very private, and limited to the fewer than 100 who can be seated in gracious splendor among one of the country's great private art collections.
The food from Somerset, the usual LACMA caterer, was its usual tasty stuff--but the water served was so bad that some diners claimed it was straight from the nearby La Brea Tar Pits. This prompted the Los Angeles Theatre Center's Bill Bushnell to say that on Feb. 23 "Cat's Paw" would go into rehearsal--and it involves a terrorist "whose cause is clean water."
And, on other water matters, what if it rains, Dorothy Hebner asked Norman Lee at dinner. "I've embargoed it until after UK/LA," he said, smiling.
Royalty does have its privileges.
LET'S MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR--The tickets for the March 1 American Ballet Theatre Gala--chaired by Doug Cramer, Lilly Tartikoff, Judy Ovitz and Herb Ross--are going for $350 and $500 each. Small prices to pay for what promises to be a star-crammed party at the Shrine and of course, lots of money will go to the ABT, since it's being underwritten by Movado and Moet & Chandon are doing the champagne dinner following the performance.
SURPRISE--Isn't that state Sen. Art Torres' snapshot (uncaptioned) in the ad in this week's People magazine, with the heading "Can you find the chiropractic patient?"