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Lucky for Him, His Son's in the Director's Chair

May 05, 1999|Irene Lacher

In the film industry, where much is not as it seems, we were reassured to find that film image is backed by reality--Franco Nero still has blue eyes.

He was flashing them Saturday evening at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where the L.A. Italian Film Festival gave him a lifetime achievement award for a career that has spanned 130 leading roles, mostly in Europe.

No. 131 is a cynical lawyer in "Uninvited," an independent film that just wrapped on Long Island. Nero didn't get the job because of his blue eyes, but it didn't hurt to have connections. The director is his son, Carlo Redgrave Nero, who's making his first feature. Also in the film is Carlo's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, who plays a teacher.

"We're very close friends," the senior Nero said of his former love. He said they were both on their best behavior on the set. "We were very professional. We followed Carlo's advice. He's very sensitive."

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Who says L.A.'s art world is nothing like New York's? Last week's launch of the Grant Selwyn Fine Art gallery in Beverly Hills was so packed with art lovers that the place resembled the subway at rush hour.

OK, so it looked more like the Paris subway, the art-filled Louvre's stop in particular. The gallery's inaugural show in Los Angeles--hosted by partners Marc Selwyn and Anthony Grant--included work by such marquee names as Brice Marden, Dan Flavin, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.

Mingling in the light-filled space designed by Santa Monica-based museum architects Frederick Fisher & Partners were collectors, dealers, artists and museum folk, including John Baldessari, Eileen and Peter Norton, Philip and Beatrice Gersh, L.A. City Councilman Joel Wachs, and L.A. County Museum of Art Director Graham W.J. Beal and President Andrea Rich.

Not bad for a city deemed an iffy art market when the decade dawned. Major L.A. collectors have been notorious for going to New York for big art purchases, but the 1995 influx of New York art titans PaceWildenstein, Larry Gagosian and Sotheby's demonstrated that plenty of serious L.A. buyers believe there's no place like home. Selwyn and Grant took the market's pulse in positions at PaceWildenstein and Sotheby's.

"The serious collectors generally know enough to distinguish quality, and they're very happy to buy it on either coast," said Selwyn, the gallery's West Coast partner. "It's never been a problem. On the other hand, the neophyte collectors sometimes need to validate their purchases by buying in New York."

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Peninsula Hotel General Manager Ali Kasikci obviously could stand the heat, because he didn't get out of the kitchen. The five-star hotelier entertained his peers at a weekend of high-powered networking hosted by Mobil. The oil company, which publishes travel guides, gave out awards to 44 five-star hotel and restaurant winners--including the Hotel Bel-Air, the Beverly Hills Hotel and L'Orangerie--at an elaborate black-tie dinner Friday serenaded by Gladys Knight.

How does a five-star hotelier entertain a five-star crowd?

"We start working nine months ahead of time," Kasikci said over a Sunday-morning coffee klatch with Mobil exec Robert O'Leary and Dallas' Mansion on Turtle Creek chef Dean Fearing.

"Three months prior, we planned what time the last cup of coffee would be poured and how long each award would take, using a stopwatch. At one point, we were running 20 minutes late, but we finished nine minutes early."

Irene Lacher's Out & About column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Page 2. She can be reached by e-mail at socalliving@latimes.com.

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