Friday, November 30, 2018

Wednesdays at Michael's by Diane Clehane

Lunch with Vicky Tiel & Jean Shafiroff

Vicki Tiel, Diane Clehane & Jean Shafiroff
Click images for full-size views

Oh, Michael’s, how I have missed you. It’s been over a month since I’ve been at 55th and Fifth for my regular Wednesday lunch because I’ve been sequestered in my office working on a top secret new project. (I can’t wait to tell you about it!) It felt like a homecoming walking into the dining room this week as I made the rounds catching up with the regulars and hearing the latest buzz from some of my favorite movers and shakers. That’s what I love about this place. It’s like a private club without the pesky dues. (A weekly serving of the Dover sole doesn’t cost nearly as much as a membership to the much less interesting Core Club.)

I was joined today by Vicky Tiel, the fashion industry legend whose life needs to be made into movie right this minute. The American born designer launched the mini skirt in Paris in the swinging sixties (I bet you thought it was Mary Quant did that – Nope!) when she opened a boutique on Rue Bonaparte with her Parsons classmate Mia Fonssagrives (whose parents happened to be model Lisa Fonssagrives and Irving Penn). In December 1964, Johnny Carson invited Vicky and Mia in their mini dresses on the "Tonight Show".

Vicky then met Coco Chanel who became her mentor. (More on that later). Oh, and Vicky was great friends and business partners with Elizabeth Taylor. Vicky married Elizabeth’s make-up artist, her first husband, Ron Berkeley. She’s been married three times and is now happily the wife of Mike Hamilton, a fishing boat captain.  See I told you. It’s a role Cate Blanchett was born for!

More info/purchase

Vicky invited me to lunch to talk about her fabulous new book, The Absolute Woman. I was up late into the night finishing it the day it arrived. Told in a very unique ‘girlfriend’ tone, the book is one-half memoir and the other a guidebook on female empowerment (with some great health and fitness advice thrown in for good measure). There’s also charming sketches of Vicky’s clients including Jean Seberg, Christie Brinkley, Oprah, Goldie Hawn, Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker among many other luminary ladies of today and yesterday that introduce each chapter. “I wrote the book to tell women there’s a life part-two job,” Vicky told me as we settled in for our chat. “Life starts over again at fifty.”

We were joined by Vicky’s new client, philanthropist and author (Successful Philanthropy) Jean Shafiroff, who is also one fascinating woman. Jean is a tireless champion of many different causes and organizations (the night before she’d just hosted a party for the Red Cross in her Manhattan apartment) and is a fixture on Manhattan’s benefit scene. There are literally thousands of stunning images of her on Getty and Patrick McMullan. (The woman can’t take a bad picture.) Vicky and Jean met not long ago (but neither can remember how) and now, after decades in the couture business, Vicky has decided to design exclusively for Jean. Not a bad decision considering there isn’t a woman in New York City who is photographed in couture gowns more often than Jean. Today, Jean was wearing an exquisitely tailored red dress by Alexander McQueen that I have seen on Kate Middleton. Instead of a fascinator and clutch, Jean accessorized hers with a matching crimson colored Hermes Birkin bag – and an orthopedic boot that she is wearing while she recovers from a recent mishap at her home in Southampton. (The night of her Red Cross party, she wore a gown over the boot so as not to draw attention to it. “I didn’t want to talk about it all night!” she said.)

“If you want to attract a man, wear a red dress!” proclaimed Vicky who was wearing a red wrap dress of her own design when Jean arrived. There’s a chapter in Vicky’s book that goes into this in more delicious detail.

Once we ordered lunch (Dover sole for Vicky and me; kale salad with grilled shrimp for Jean), we got down to business. I was first and foremost intrigued by Vicky’s close friendship with Elizabeth Taylor. “She was my business partner,” Vicky told me. “She didn’t want money, she wanted dresses for life – and that extended to her daughters.” Those caftans (“They showed off her bust”) and many of the Oscar winner’s most memorable looks were Vicky’s designs. Elizabeth returned the favor by teaching Vicky all about “feminine power.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? “The number one thing I learned from Elizabeth was marry the man who loves you the most,” says Tiel. “Don’t chase after men.”

And speaking of unforgettable dresses, Vicky designed one particular dress that has had an incredible life of its own. Remember the spectacular red gown Julia Roberts wears in “Pretty Woman” in that scene where she is getting ready to the opera with Richard Gere’s character and he snaps the jewelry box on her gloved hand when she reaches in for the diamond and ruby necklace? That’s Vicky’s dress. It turns out the costume designer of the movie bought one and had it remade to Julia’s exact measurements and voila – an iconic fashion moment was born. Fred Heyman put the red dress in the window of his Beverly Hills boutique and pretty soon every A-list actress is town was wearing it. (That was back in the day when it wasn’t scandalous to wear the same thing someone else had been seen in.) “The Pretty Woman” dress sold exclusively in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus for thirty-two years (which is a record for the company).

I was surprised to learn that having been both a couturier and an HSN brand (and still is – her signature fragrances are best sellers) that except for her couture creations for Jean, she’s not interested in designing anymore. “It’s over!” she said. And, it seems that isn’t the only thing that Vicky is done with. “The [fashion] magazines are over! Conde Nast is over! Life is about what’s next.”

The conversation took a bit of a U-turn (Sorry, but some of the best parts are OTR) when Jean mentioned she might be going to London next week to attend a party for Prince Harry honoring his work with wounded service personnel. Most of you already know when I’m not at Michael’s it’s all royals reporting, all the time with me so, my ears perked up. We all exchanged our theories on the latest news about a possible Meghan-Kate feud. Not surprisingly, Vicky had an intriguing royal connection herself.

“Elizabeth was friends with the royal family – [Queen] Elizabeth and [Princess] Margaret. They would come to Elizabeth’s suite at The Dorchester,” said Vicky. “Elizabeth hated snobs,” says Tiel. “She thought everyone was someone you can talk to. At dinners in her suite, she’d seat her driver next to Princess Grace and they would dance. Everyone would dance with everyone. This was in the sixties and she taught us to see everyone as equal. She believed in civil rights.”

Then, like her book, Vicky veered off into another topic entirely talking to me about how important it is for women to feel empowered and strong and also regaled me with tales about her Chinese doctor who has cured people of serious ailments using herbs. “I never get sick!” she told me. All of this in her book as well as chapters entitled “Happiness is a Choice,” “The Ten Points of Feminine Power” and “The Power of Philosophy” – Vicky is a believer in “doing nothing” when something bad befalls you. She’s a firm believer in not getting down and dirty trying to get even. “It’s a form of Buddhism,” she explained. Her motto: “I don’t dance with crazies.”

I got the feeling I could have sat there and talked all day to Vicky and still not heard enough about her extraordinary life. She told me she pored “everything I’ve learned in my fifty-three years in fashion and beauty” into her new book and after reading it, I can’t imagine she left anything out. She is currently at work on her third book – a timely tome for men because “men need help too.”

As we finished up our cappuccinos, when I thanked her for a lively lunch, Vicky said, “Thank Coco Chanel, she’s the one who told me I’d be better off doing perfume. Coco paid for our meal!”


Seen & Heard Around the Room

Discovery’s president and CEO David Zaslav with Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff and Kerry Kennedy on Table One … Mickey Ateyeh with fashion guru Hal Rubenstein who was trying out a fabulous new business idea on a few of the dining room’s savviest media mavens like Euan Rellie, who was lunching on Table Eight but stopped by to say hello and offer some sage words of advice… Paul and Ed McDonnell on Table Three.

What were Tommy Hilfiger and former J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler talking about on Table Four? Inquiring minds want to know … Marketing man and political analyst Robert Zimmerman on Table Five … Dr. Gerald Imber and ‘The Imber Gang’ at their usual perch on Table Six … On the way out the door, I stopped by to chat with The New York Post’s media man Keith Kelly and Tom Allon. I complimented Keith on his story written with colleague Alexandra Steigrad about the rumors swirling about Anna Wintour’s future at Conde Nast now that Bob Sauerberg, its chief executive for the past eight years is exiting as it merges its US and overseas operations. With Sauerberg, who has always been the Vogue editrix’s staunch supporter out of the picture, rumblings about Wintour’s exit are growing louder. Seems the folks at Conde Nast didn’t love the story. Hmmmm.

Moving on … Joan Jakobson on Table Eleven … Amy Kliger who was kind enough to introduce me to author Deborah Burns whose new book, Saturday’s Child, is getting great buzz when I stopped by Table 14 for a quick chat … It was also good to catch up with Galerie’s Cindy Lewis and Mallory Andrews on Table 15 … We didn’t see Author Wednesday Martin, but we’re told she was on Table 20.

See you at Michael’s next week!

Monday, November 26, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

What a Novel Idea!

Marine Serre's bra fastening jumper is one of many fabulous novelty sweaters in the market, $554
More info/purchase - click images for full-size views

They say beauty is skin deep but ugly goes right to the bone and that perfectly describes the “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” which have become somewhat of a ‘thing’ in recent years.  Even the Royal Family has gotten into the act. Well, ‘figuratively’ speaking.



In 2016 Madame Tussaud’s in London unveiled a special holiday collection featuring eerily lifelike wax figurines of the Royal Family (minus Megan of course), each one clad in a horribly atrocious Christmas sweater (Queen Elizabeth wore one with the likeness of one of her precious Corgis). It was all done for charity: Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day, to be exact.



Last year, Jimmy Fallon celebrated the 12 Tonight Show episodes before Christmas by giving away one hideous Christmas sweater every night until he went on vacation.



Whoopi Goldberg launched a collection of “Ugly Christmas Sweaters" for Zappos in 2017 and she reprieved it for this holiday season. She said she has always loved and worn them because they make her happy and she prefers to call them ‘funny’ rather than ‘ugly’. There are 16 designs made of wool, alpaca, cashmere, and cotton, in expanded sizes for men, women, and kids, priced from $79 – $129. In true Goldberg style, she always wants to be politically correct and all-inclusive thus, the Hanukkah and Kwanza versions.

Like beauty, ugly is truly in the eyes of the beholder. What is hideous to one may be beautiful to another; it’s all subjective. But while there is no way anyone could possibly find cartoonish Christmas sweaters attractive in any way, I suppose I can understand their campy appeal. And let’s not forget the upcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, May 9 through September 8, 2019 (though, don’t expect any of the aforementioned sweaters to be included).

This has been a season of exemplary knitwear and there are a myriad of truly fabulous sweaters in the market. If you want something novel and festive, without the kitsch and camp, these are some of the standout novelty sweaters available; a mix of current and vintage pieces. In the case of the latter, what makes them even more special is that they are one of a kind :



Sonia Rykiel’s red and blue virgin wool contrast neck jumper has a ribbed stand-up collar and extra-long sleeves, $414. More info/purchase



Valentino’s black and white virgin wool ribbed knit jumper has a roll neck, long sleeves, and features a scalloped intarsia design, $745 (reduced from $1490). More info/purchase



Sacai’s color-blocked black wool turtleneck is layered with a white cotton poplin shirt, combining two classics in one, $623 (reduced from $890). More info/purchase



MSGM’s multicolored wool blend sweater features a ribbed hem, ribbed cuffs, and a paneled color block design, $373 (reduced from $745). More info/purchase



This signature Hermes Scarabees et Pectoraux black silk and tulle scarf sweater from the 1970s is a rare find, $650.  More info/purchase



Kenzo’s wool-blend beige crewneck pullover features a detailed whimsical embroidered “Eye” accented with a felted wool center with multi-colors of silk threaded embroidery, $885. More info/purchase



Comme des Garcons’ textured patchwork sleeveless cardigan from 1999 is colorful and versatile (can be worn in a number of different ways) and could not look more of the moment, $320.37. More info/purchase



This iconic Kansai Yamamoto 1980’s multi-colored wool pullover with an embroidered “leopard” is accented with gold lame, and a rare find, $1885. More info/purchase



Missoni’s ‘Pheasant Novelty’ sweater from the 1980s is a bright, warm, fun piece that will instantly brighten up the colder months, $875. More info/purchase



This vintage 1990’s Yohji Yamamoto off-white heavy knit sweater has an eye-catching Mondrian motif, $1967.33. More info/purchase


Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons’ highly textural shaggy gray wool sleeveless sweater is from the 1999 fall/winter collection, $490.37. More info/purchase



This John Galliano Vintage multicolor cotton-wool blend knitted sweater with removable sleeves features a high standing collar, three-quarter length sleeves, a slim fit, straight hem, ribbed design and a striped pattern, $538. More info/purchase



This CalvinKlein205NYC cream, black, and red dense wool sweater is knitted in Italy. It features artwork by Andy Warhol and is illustrative of Creative Director Raf Simons’ long-standing admiration for the late artist and his company’s ongoing partnership with and the Andy Warhol Foundation, $1300. More info/purchase

There’s not a dull one in the bunch and they are all perfect for celebrating the holidays at home (yours or someone else's). Their novelty is unlikely to wear off!





- Marilyn Kirschner

Friday, November 23, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

Combat Ready!

Jimmy Choo Hatcher black grainy leather combat boots with crystal detail, $1195
More info/purchase

Happy Holidays! Whether you are getting ready to fight your way through the department stores, the malls (heaven forbid), the crowded city streets, or the airports, let’s face it, life is a battlefield! There is no better way to prepare yourself for the tasks that lie ahead than by donning a pair of combat boots. This is a season where boots reign and some of the best just happen to be lug-soled and military inspired. But that is perhaps the only thing that ties them together because within this category there is a wide variety.

Some of the boots are relatively flat and some are heeled (for those who refuse to forfeit height). Some lace up, others zip, and a few do both. They come in a range of colors including black, white, red, brown, and camel. There are solids and patterns, and they are made of leather, suede, canvas, velvet, metallic, and haircalf. They are available low (ankle length), high (to the knee), and mid-calf. Some are plain and some are fancy. And for those who ‘fancy’ logos, those exist as well. They are available at all price points and many are currently on sale.

Click images for full-size views:


These are some notable examples, from the least expensive to the most expensive. Zara studded leather ankle boots, strap with micro-stud details, pull tab back, $83.80 (originally $119). More info/purchase


Zara leather platform boots with elastic inserts at sides $90.30 (originally $129). More info/purchase



Marc Fisher LTD. Waren round toe lace-up leather boots with side buckle and 3-inch chunky heel, $229. More info/purchase



Marc Jacobs Bristol combat boots in red leather with round toe and low blocked heel, $200- $395 (depending on which size you order on Amazon Prime). More info/purchase



Stuart Weitzman Elspeth mid-calf leather lace- up boots with quilted leather tongue and signature metal squares. It is part combat, part sock boot, and available in both black and white, $488.60 (reduced from $698). More info/purchase



Marc Jacobs Ryder white leather combat boots have a 1-inch platform lugged sole and 3.5-inch heel, $495. More info/purchase



Stuart Weitzman Shackleton lace-up combat boots in hickory suede with 2.8 inch covered heel, $523 (reduced from $698). More info/purchase



R13 Tartan canvas ankle boots with red stitching on lugged platform sole features a zip fastening in back, $547.50 (reduced from $1095). More info/purchase



Proenza Schouler Tiger-print calf hair ankle boots with side zips, $597.50 (reduced from $1195). More info/purchase



Prada glossy black patent-leather lace-up ankle boots have a side zip for easy access, $825 More info/purchase



Versace Medallion lace- up white calf leather combat boots feature the company’s signature Medusa head medallion trim, $957 (reduced from $1595). More info/purchase



Valentino Garavani VLTN black leather combat boots have chunky soles and a graphic logo printed in stark white lettering, $1095. More info/purchase



Jimmy Choo anthracite metallic grainy leather Cruz flat boot with crystal detailing, $1350. More info/purchase



Roger Vivier Viv Rangers crystal embellished paneled leather and suede ankle boot, $1875. More info/purchase



Chanel dark green, khaki, gold, white tweed and suede calfskin combat boot with signature pearl buttons and chain trim, $1950. More info/purchase

Regardless of whether or not you are in a ‘combative’ mood, with any of the above, you can effortlessly go through the paces of your life in ‘Kick-Ass’ high style.





- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New York Fashion Cool-Aid by Laurel Marcus

John Varvatos Shares Secrets on Brand Building at FGI Tastemakers Breakfast

Nick Sullivan & John Varvatos
Photo: Laurel Marcus - click images for full-size views

"Building a brand should be evolutionary, not revolutionary," said menswear designer John Varvatos during FGI's Tastemaker series breakfast yesterday at the Cosmopolitan Club. Esquire's Fashion Director Nick Sullivan joined him on stage gently posing questions that were meant to make you feel like you were eavesdropping on two industry insiders literally "talking shop."

"DNA is everything," Varvatos continued. "It's the brand's personality-- in Europe, it's referred to as the 'perfume of the brand.' You have to keep reinventing yourself and reinvigorating yourself. Some brands make a lot of noise then move onto something else. It's important to build a client base, hopefully with some loyalty there. My job is to continue to deliver with long-term building not just in the moment."

Breakfast
Photo: Laurel Marcus

The Detroit native who started his brand nearly 20 years ago acknowledged that it was easier when he began his business -- before the immediacy of what's being shown two seasons ahead on the runway.. "The consumer doesn't move as fast as the industry would like," he said. Since designers are always working two seasons ahead, data from the present season as well as selling and style reports of things that are trending are one thing, but instinct is still important. "You have to have the gut for what's next, to know when it's time to move on. Maybe the market is getting saturated (with a trend), and a year from now it's not going to be as vital as you think it's going to be."

 Amy Rosi & Marylou Luther
Photo: Laurel Marcus

When Varvatos came up through the ranks at both Ralph Lauren and then Calvin Klein, he was not thinking that he would create his own brand. In 1990 while working on designing men's underwear for Klein, he happened upon one of his moments when "a light bulb went off," resulting in the creation of the iconic jersey boxer brief. As the story goes, Varvatos had amassed a collection of flea market finds including "old underpinnings and vintage long underwear, the kind with the buttons on the front," which he thought would be cool to show under a coat on the runway. Trying them on the models, he got an idea -- "let's cut them off."

Varvatos brought Calvin in who got "super excited," and showed them to David Geffen who he had just had lunch with. Geffen mentioned that Mark Wahlberg (then "Marky Mark") "would be hot in them" -- that is how a legend was born. "We did them in different lengths. Once our marketing department got involved, there were billboards on planes flying across the Hamptons. It became one of the most, if not the most copied styles in menswear. We should have registered it," he added.

Ana Martins (AMPR Public Relations), David Swajeski (Onerock, Director) ), Tom Morrissey (band Killcode), Alexandra Abshere (TrueFacet), DC Gonzalez (band Killcode)
Photo: Bruce Borner

Varvatos is credited for having done one of the earliest collaborations in the early 00's with Converse, pulling the shoelaces out, grabbing a roll of nearby elastic thereby creating a prototype lace-less shoe. "We worked with Converse for 15 years during which millions of these were sold. Later Converse took the design and "whored it out," yet Varvatos is still doing his own version under his own label. Of course, you can't talk about the designer without touching on his love of rock music which is such a large part of his brand. Growing up in Detroit in a tiny three bedroom bungalow, seven people to one little bathroom, he would often escape into the basement with headphones. He listened to international music on the BBC and was a "passionate Rolling Stones fan."

"I followed the style of the musicians whether it was Keith Richards' scarf, Jimi Hendrix's boots or Iggy Pop's leather jacket. Detroit is not a fashion place -- I started working in retail to look cool for the girls. It soon became an addiction -- I need another new sweater or jacket -- they already saw that one," he joked. Varvatos was soon recruited to open a store in Grand Rapids in which he developed a merchandising style that set it apart. In the mid-1980's, when he was in his mid-20s, he was approached by the Ralph Lauren team to head up Midwest sales for the brand. Next, it was on to New York where he became head of sales merchandising. By his late 20s, he decided he wanted to be a fashion designer, but thoughts of having his own brand were still many years away.

In 1998 another "light bulb moment" occurred when Varvatos looked around the New York City store windows only to discover that "everything was black nylon. I thought it's time to do something different." He contemplated starting his own brand but didn't want it to look like either Ralph or Calvin, as others who had left had done knock-off versions. "If you really think that you have something new to say you have my blessing," said Calvin Klein.

Music played a huge role in the brand's aesthetic with many musicians gravitating to the Varvatos brand. Since 2005 Varvatos pursued and used an artist or band for his ad campaigns -- now he remarks, the artists come to him. He recently started his own record label on Universal called "Big Machine Records" to promote up-and-coming artists.

When the historic Bowery space which held the club CBGB's became available, Varvatos had another "light bulb moment"-- he couldn't let something so special become a Bank of America or a Duane Reade. Against everyone's advice ("I'm laying on the railroad tracks for this one," he said) one of his stores is currently occupying the previously rundown location. The space even includes a live performance space to honor the building's legacy. "It feels like a museum," said Varvatos of the store. "We've had musicians play -- it's changed the path of who we were and enhanced the credibility of the brand from a music standpoint. I still get goosebumps when I go there, and we do live shows."




- Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Friars Club Honors Billy Crystal in Star-Studded Evening at the Ziegfeld Ballroom

Rob Reiner, Joe Torre, Jordin Sparks, Billy Crystal, Rinaldo Nistico, Alan Zweibel, Bob Costas and Josh Gad
All photos Lieba Nesis - click images for full-size views

The Friars Club held its Award Gala honoring the 70-year-old comic Billy Crystal with the Entertainment Icon Award on Monday, November 12, 2018 at 6 PM at the Ziegfeld ballroom. The sold-out dinner with tickets starting at $500 and reaching up to $50,000 was a major happening although there were a number of prominent no-shows including Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Fallon, and Martin Scorsese.

The venue

Crystal is only the eighth person in the Friar's 114-year history to receive this tribute and he joins an illustrious group of past honorees including Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant, Tom Cruise, Tony Bennett, Martin Scorsese, and Frank Sinatra.  There were also awards given to Rinaldo Nistico for his outstanding contributions to the Friars and Alan Zweibel for being voted "Friar of the Year".

Lieba Nesis and Billy Crystal

The Friars Club is a private club in New York City founded in 1904 that hosts celebrity roasts and is comprised of mostly comedians and actors.  Previous members include Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Alan King, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis.  Recently, the Friars has experienced a host of financial problems as well as a sexual harassment suit bought by a former receptionist.  However, this night was unsullied by any external unpleasantries as guests enthusiastically enjoyed the entertainment and speeches.

Dick Ebersol

At one table was the elusive Meg Ryan, who refused to be photographed, seated with Katie Couric and Rob Reiner with Billy Crystal nearby surrounded by Robert De Niro, Crystal's wife and his extended family.

Joe Torre, Robert De Niro, Deana Martin, Bernie Williams, and Rinaldo Nistico

Talk show host Larry King started the evening off by presenting an award to Deana Martin, daughter of Dean, by declaring that she was representative of the fact that nepotism wasn't a bad thing if backed by talent. Deana Martin thanked Larry and his caregiver and joked that her award from the Friars was the most well-hung thing at the club not including Milton Berle - who I learned this evening was well endowed.

Larry and Shawn King

King also contrasted honorees Billy Crystal and Rinaldo Nistico saying Billy was a Jew from Long Island while Rinaldo was an anti-Semite from the Bronx; Billy's autographed picture is featured in restaurants whereas Rinaldo's picture is displayed for skipping out on checks.  Despite these insults,  Rinaldo held his own in a room full of comedians as he thanked both his parents who are still alive and said this award was especially meaningful since he was receiving it on the night honoring Billy Crystal.

Jamie deRoy, David Steinberg and Brynn Thayer

Comedian Lewis Black, who also counts Crystal as an inspiration, remarked that he was glad Larry King was present because he wanted to know if the shit Larry was shilling on television really worked.  He then said presenting an award to his friend Alan Zweibel was the lowest point of his career with an admission that Zweibel was the person you want sitting at your table at all times.

Marvin Scott, Bernie Williams, and Lorri Scott

I am still trying to figure out why every comedian's name is Lewis, Alan, Richard or Black making it difficult to keep track of who's who. Zweibel who is an American producer and has worked on such productions as Saturday Night Live, PBS Great Performances, and Garry Shandling's Show and wrote the memorable sketches of Samurai for John Belushi and Roseannadanna for Gilda Radner was greeted with loud applause. Zweibel recalled selling jokes at the Friars in 1972 for $7 a piece with his first joke being how do Hasidic men have an orgy? with the women on one side and the men on the other.  His next joke which he sold to Rodney Dangerfield for $10 was along the lines of my mother wouldn't breastfeed me because she only wants to be friends.

Paul Shaffer

Zweibel, in the only Alec Baldwin joke of the night,, said he had to leave since he asked Baldwin to save his parking spot and wasn’t sure how that would turn out. Larry King then remarked that Alan's speech was so long three Friars had died in the interim. Having people appear via film is funny and effective; however, when there are too many no-shows you begin to wonder why a big star akin to Billy Crystal can't get people in person. It was funny to have Scorsese remark on film that he should have cast Crystal in Taxi Driver and Goodfellas instead of De Niro, or to hear Jon Lovitz flush the toilet when speaking on camera, or to watch Mel Brooks call him one of the most talented little Jews to live - but I kept wondering why these people weren’t there.

Dominic Chianese and Eleanora Pieroni

The last straw was when he had the ubiquitous Keegan Michael Key appear on screen someone who is hardly even known by the vast majority of the public-honorees should be careful when overusing film especially when it adds time to an overly long program. Nonetheless, the entertainment was great with Paul Shaffer singing "Sex Machine", Jordin Sparks wowing the crowd with her incredible vocals and Smokey Robinson sexily chanting "Fly Me to the Moon".

Jane Hanson and Katie Couric

Katie Couric gave one of the most biting and vitriolic toasts I have heard even at the Friars Club where she said De Niro gets sent bombs whereas Crystal makes movie bombs; the room looked like a colonoscopy waiting room with guests equally enthused at attending; Larry King got paid $180 for his last gig which will be reduced to $43 in his next divorce; and this was like covering the Olympics except at this event they conducted drug tests for Crestor and Cialis. The crowd was in shock as Couric lobbed one insult after another saying she loved interviewing Crystal about the meaning behind "City Slickers 2: The Legends of Curly's Gold" and that she and Crystal were still pretending to be relevant.  Couric then said she was leaving because she heard Crystal had to take his fourth pee.

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan gave a similarly puzzling speech as she remarked it was impossible to be Crystal's friend as they just wave across red carpets or pass by each other's tables the way Hollywood types do. When Ryan heard about Crystal's charity work she said she thought wow he is a good actor. Ryan concluded by saying he is a true mensch and she could never fake it with Crystal - alluding to her scene in "When Harry Met Sally."

Rinaldo Nistico and Joe Tacopina

Following an auction where a Baldwin piano on which Frank Sinatra played and a lunch in LA with Crystal and Reiner each fetched $50,000, comedian Robert Klein, in one of the funniest bits of the night, joked that Jews buried their dead so quickly he was afraid to take a nap in front of his relatives. Another less effective presenter, Robert De Niro, used the evening, as he always does, to disparage Trump by calling him the jerk-off in the White House and the buffoon-in-chief. Hijacking a celebration of your friend to air your own political grievances is classless.

Robert Davi and Carol Alt

De Niro said Crystal had the soul of a comedian and giving him this award was more meaningful to him than receiving it 5 years ago. It wasn't until 11:15 PM that Crystal took to the stage joking that he had grown a beard during the endless evening. Crystal said when he saw all the movie clips the only thing that came to his mind were residuals. He said this was one of the highlights of his 45-year career as his father would bring home comedy albums when he was a kid.

Mike Tadross, Ralph Compagnone and Georgia Witkin

Crystal kept asking Larry King if he was okay and if both of his lungs were functioning properly as he mimicked Muhammad Ali whom he had the opportunity to perform in front of at the Plaza Hotel and who remained a close friend of his for forty-two years.  He thanked his wife Janice and said he was appreciative for his four grandchildren since they gave him a second chance to screw things up and said his wife was his co-star in every movie since she auditioned his lines with him each time.

Bo Dietl and Mike Tadross

Crystal thanked De Niro for improving his acting technique in each scene they starred in together and said the aura of The Friars has awed him since he was a young child. At the end of the night, guests headed to the Friars club to dance, drink and recount the "good old days" when Sinatra, Martin, and Sammy filled the hallowed halls with irreverence and ribaldry.





- Lieba Nesis