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The Envelope: Styles & Scenes

Sorkin gets personal with Dowd

November 25, 2005|Elizabeth Snead | Special to The Times

Move over, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn! Make room for that ultra-modern snap-and-wise-cracking couple, Aaron Sorkin and Maureen Dowd.

Emmy-winning "West Wing" creator Sorkin seemed strangely determined to answer the question/title of Dowd's new book, "Are Men Necessary?" with his stammering, fawning cross-examination of the ravishing redhead at her only L.A. book signing for the Writers Bloc, held Monday at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills.

Sorkin, who started off by apologizing, "I'm not a professional interviewer, but I have to think that my being able to question you in a synagogue full of people is a little nightmare for you," initially seemed focused on Dowd's beauty. He repeatedly asked her to address the fact that people talk more about her looks than William Safire's, to the point that he made Dowd blush and ask him to stop because "You're embarrassing me."

Dowd did try to take control, talking about what Shakespeare could have done with Vice President Dick Cheney; the time she was almost jailed in Saudi Arabia for wearing a somewhat sheer burka; the growing popularity of Barbie, breast implants, Botox and Playboy bunnies, while making intriguing, insightful remarks on the decline of feminine consciousness -- from women fighting for equal rights in the '60s to girls trying to find their "inner slut" today.

But why, she wanted to know, "when women are running four of the six major studios, is Hollywood still making movies portraying women as maids, shop girls, hookers, ghosts and geishas?"

"Don't encourage her," Sorkin warned the wildly applauding audience before patiently explaining, "Hollywood is about what is successful.

"The films that appeal to most women are films like 'Bridget Jones' Diary.'

"Women like seeing films about how hard it is to get a date, then eating ice cream after a bad date and ultimately having a good date. It's women who make these films successful."

Say hi to Brad and Angelina

Ever thought about going to one of Hollywood's big awards shows? You know, getting all duded up and walking the red carpet with the most famous movie and music stars in the world? Rubbing elbows at the after-parties with the winners?

Well, Bluefish Concierge ( can make your dream come true. For a price.

You name the exclusive event, celeb-strewn party or hot international designer fashion show and Chief Executive Steve Sims can probably get you in. He claims to have sold tickets to top awards shows, with prices ranging from $2,500 for back-row seats to $120,000 for front-row spots amid the award winners.

Sims says he's had customers (his big-spender clients have money but not the connections) cough up $50,000 to a quarter of a million dollars for the "total awards package," and "that's not even staying in the penthouse."

Don't ask how he does it. "We have contacts with production houses, show sponsors, film and recording studios. All these important awards shows act so snooty and exclusive. I compare getting access to awards shows to being in 'The Matrix.' You know it's not the real world, but they won't admit it."

Some girl talk with Martin

"CSI: Miami" star Emily Procter was admiring the red carpet-worthy gowns at the Escada Spring 2006 fashion show fundraiser she hosted for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital last week.

The well-attended cocktail evening at Meson G in Hollywood -- which included Amber Valletta, "Lost" star Maggie Grace, Amy Smart, "Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine Heigl, "Nip/Tuck" star Kelly Carlson and January Jones -- was part of Escada's early outreach to place their gowns on nominees and presenters for the upcoming Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Oscar carpets.

When not admiring the designs, Procter talked about her new film, "Big Momma's House 2," opening Jan. 27. Seems the spunky blond had to do a buncha time sittin' around the set with her in-full-out-drag costar Martin Lawrence, who disguises himself as Big Momma again to go undercover in a murder investigation.

"Some days Martin and I would be sitting there together for hours, and I just felt so comfortable with him that I'd talk to him about everything, just like we were really good girlfriends.

"Finally, one day he just looked at me and said, 'Emily, you do realize that I'm not a woman.'

"I said, 'Of course, I do, Martin. But, well, you just look so pretty.' "

Elizabeth Snead writes "Styles & Scenes" as a blog for The Envelope (, a Times website devoted to Hollywood's awards season. She can be reached at elizabeth.snead@latimes.


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