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Fancy Fete Work

July 12, 2002|GINA PICCALO AND LOUISE ROUG

It was a fairy tale, Malibu style: The sun sank into the ocean while men in tights wooed glittery nymphs on a makeshift stage at one end of the tennis court. About 100 guests, supporters of the American Ballet Theatre, gathered at the $30-million palazzo of Howard and Nancy Marks, once owned by late Herbalife founder Mark Hughes. The lush setting included a rose garden, a swimming pool overlooking the ocean, and a handsome catering staff on walkie-talkies. Guests mingled among cascades of white and pink roses and glowing paper lanterns.

Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber sneaked in between two pas de deux, distracting a row of women, who whispered to each other. Later, a slightly defensive Crawford told a guest: "We didn't miss it--we watched from the sidelines." The supermodel was being watched, too. "Boots?" one woman exclaimed cattily. "She's Cindy Crawford. She can get away with boots," replied her friend. (Crawford and the dancers wore Escada, courtesy of the fashion house. One publicist revealed they all fit a size 6, prompting a couple of women to marvel at the true meaning of 6.)

After the performance, former junk-bond king Michael Milken chatted with the host, Howard Marks. So, what had precipitated their involvement with the ballet? Their wives, they said, almost in unison. And, added Milken, his daughter wanted to become a ballerina.

At dinner, a couple of dancers ate, while at one table, talk turned to corporate scandals. Georgina Parkinson, a former ballerina with the Royal Ballet of London, now a ballet mistress for the ABT, described having witnessed some of fallen Tyco chief executive Dennis Kozlowski's lavish lifestyle--the yacht, the oceanfront Nantucket property, the 5th Avenue apartment, the art collection. "You knew something was wrong," she said.

As the evening drew to a close, Susan Jaffe, recently retired ABT dancer, waited for her driver. She'd returned her borrowed dress and had changed into a simple top and skirt. "I've turned into a pumpkin again," she said, and headed into the night.

Hanks on the 'Road'

Tom Hanks was at his merry best Wednesday night. He was the first to arrive at the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences theater in Beverly Hills for the local premiere of his new film "The Road to Perdition." It was the third opening for the picture in two weeks and Hanks and co-star Tyler Hoechlin were the only stars from the movie to attend. In the film, Hanks stars as a hitman for the Irish mob in the early 1930s and Hoechlin plays his son.

Director-producer Sam Mendes; Paul Newman, who stars as the Irish mob boss and adopted father to Hanks' character; Jude Law, who portrays a press photographer-turned-mob hitman; and Stanley Tucci, who plays an Italian American mob boss, had other commitments.

But Hanks, who turned 46 on Tuesday, carried the evening with no signs of press weariness. He volleyed questions with humor as Candice Bergen and William H. Macy made their way into the theater behind him. When a KCBS reporter quizzed him about the Oscar buzz surrounding Hanks' performance in the film, he joked, "It's only July," looking at his watch. "We've got to see how many people are going to fork over ... the nine bucks to see the movie." As he walked past a reporter for the TV Guide Channel, Hanks quipped, "Why does TV Guide need a channel? Is the TV Guide Channel listed in the TV Guide? The media is beginning to feed on itself."

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