East 66th Street, Tom Freston’s townhouse. “Arianna’s the most protean person around,” said Ed Kosner, of Arianna Huffington. “Look it up. Not protein.”
The former Daily News editor in chief was leaning on a rail, waiting for his wife. He blogs for Ms. Huffington’s Huffington Post. “It’s fun.”
“She’s very inventive and very intelligent and has good English education,” said Mr. Kosner. “I think she has always been fearless, from the first time she came to New York. I don’t think she’s changed any—I mean, her politics have oscillated around.”
“There is not a correlation between being fearless and having your politics change or not change,” said Mr. Kosner.
The party was mainly restricted to the second floor of the four-story manse. It once belonged to Andy Warhol. Hi, Barry Diller! “You know, the thing is, about this Web thing, is, you know, all of it is word-of-mouth,” Mr. Diller said. “There’s virtually no marketing—so when you have a real voice, then you really do resonate.”
He couldn’t quite put his finger on what exactly her voice was. “She’s always had important people who like her.”
Tom and Kathy Freston like her. Earlier this month, after 26 years at what is generally called Viacom, Mr. Freston, then CEO, was abruptly handed his walking papers.
“Tom, I need to talk to you this week,” said Charlie Rose. Sumner Redstone, Mr. Freston’s former boss, was soon to be a guest on his show.
“I told him that when you consider what’s going on there and how Sumner Redstone is behaving, I think he’s lucky to be out of there,” said P.R. king Bobby Zarem. “He said the amount of money he got wasn’t as large as it was said to be.”
The amount of money Mr. Freston received in severance was said to be $60 million.
“Tonight’s about Arianna,” Mr. Freston said over and over again.
But later. “Since this happened, I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” he told The Transom. “We’re going to Asia for a couple weeks.”
“I have much more time for traveling now,” he said.
The house was lathered in worldly artifacts as well as pictures of his two sons.
“One of my sons is a senior in college. He’s working on his thesis and too busy to hang out with me. The other one’s a junior in high school. You know, when you’re a junior in high school, you’re not exactly excited to hang out with your father.”
Mr. Freston said he’s still been too busy lately to look at Ms. Huffington’s Web site. His wife blogs there. He hasn’t given any consideration—“not a thought”—to taking up blogging himself.
Lynn de Rothschild made a speech about Ms. Huffington from the staircase. “I’ve known her for a long, long time, through different generations. Through each of her lives, she has always been this perfect creature—and the fact that fear was behind all of it is kind of stunning to me.”
Ms. Huffington made a short speech. “You know, Socrates, my compatriot, says that courage is the knowledge of what is not to be feared,” she said. “And so often we are afraid of shadows. And for me, the only way I could write this book is by being raw, intimate and vulnerable. So wait until you get to the sex chapter.”
Later, Ms. Huffington removed her heels, as she often does at parties. At 57, few things scare her anymore, she said. “I’m terrified of curling my eyelashes. I think that I’m going to poke my eye.” She said she was recently struck by fear when her daughters—she has a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old—began tossing around the term “friends with benefits.” “They’re too young to know anything about ‘friends with benefits’!”
She declined to comment on the fear involved with her 11-year marriage to millionaire former Congressman Michael Huffington—who came out as a bisexual shortly after their divorce. “He’s a great father and a great friend.”
She said she is certainly not afraid to take another whack at love.
“Arianna doesn’t need any advice from me,” said Ms. Freston, who is a self-help author and a spiritual counselor. “She’s a star in life and she’s a star in love.”
Nine p.m. The lights flicked on and off. Ms. Freston shook hands as guests filed out. She appeared stressed; there were hushed apologies.
Apparently, there had been some unpleasantness with a blogger who had been taking pictures of the Freston home.
Reached on Monday night for comment, Ms. Huffington did not side with her fellow bloggers. “Yes, there is a difference between fearlessness and foolishness. That was not appropriate—to take pictures of what is on people’s desks. There are certain conventions to be followed; that was not some public place. There are certain unstated rules.”
She said Mr. Freston had already gotten over the incident by the time he sat down for dinner later that night.
Ms. Huffington’s book— On Becoming Fearless—was, you might by now imagine, organized around a theme. Could she imagine tiring of the word fearless at some point?
“No, never,” she said. “I will continue talking about fearlessness until an epidemic of fearlessness has spread across the country.”
“I don’t leave the house much anymore,” said Billy Bob Thornton at the School for Scoundrels after-party at the Stone Rose on Monday night. Mr. Thornton, now 51, dressed all in black, said that his wild bachelor days are over. He said he rarely leaves his hotel room now when he’s in town. In School for Scoundrels, he plays a confidence coach who advises geeks on how to get girls. In reality, Mr. Thornton said, “I have only bad advice.”
Nowadays, he’s focusing on fatherhood. His daughter, Bella, just turned 2. And yes, he and his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, have discussed getting their tots together for a play date. “She’s all over the world, you know. But someday we’ll get them together.”
Nearby, Kristian Laliberte, an events coordinator/men’s buyer, was checking out the men on the new Gotham mag list of “NYC’s 101 Most Eligible Bachelors.”
He marked off all the dudes he knew to be gay. “Like, half of these guys are gay,” he said. He’d put stars next to 27 of the pictured bachelors he knew to be gay—including himself. He was amused by the straight-laced answers that many of his fellow gays had offered as their “relationship deal-breakers.”
“If she doesn’t pass the ‘mother test’” was P.R. maverick Jonathan Cheban’s deal-breaker. Over that, Mr. Laliberte had scrawled three stars.
He also wrote “SO GAY” next to Mr. Cheban’s picture.
Doesn’t anyone talk about bisexuals anymore?
Anyway! Actress Sarah Silverman is also in Scoundrels. She said that Jon Heder, who plays one of Mr. Thornton’s girl-phobic students, is actually quite a smoothie. “He’s really cool; he’s an open book.” She particularly admires how he handles being a Mormon. “He’s so cool about it. And you know, he can’t swear because of his religion, so he would come up with some really creative ways to get around it. One time we were all joking around, and he came out with the word ‘ball-meat.’”
She gestured at her crotch. “You know, like meat from your balls.”
Last Friday afternoon, Jennifer Meyer, Tobey Maguire’s very pregnant wife, had a leisurely lunch with a blond girlfriend at the Beverly Hills eatery La Scala.
“She’s so loud,” said an eavesdropper at the table next to Mrs. Meyer’s. “She was like, ‘My doctor says I need to eat all the carbs!’ She ordered a chopped salad with grilled chicken and a plate of pasta Bolognese.”
“She was giving advice to her friend,” said the source. Ms. Meyer looked gorgeous in a long black dress. “She was saying how she and Tobey were doing so great, and how they go to therapy and it helps so much.”
Ms. Meyer, 29, and Mr. Maguire, 31, got engaged earlier this summer.
“She said she could tell Tobey’s gonna be an amazing father, because no matter where he was, he always found time to fly home and check on her,” said the source.
But life isn’t all beer and skittles for Ms. Meyer. The couple is conflicted about what to name their baby girl. “She said she likes guy names that also work for a girl, like Cameron. But Toby doesn’t like that. She also said she likes old-fashioned names like Evelyn, but that Toby didn’t like those either.”
The oldest daughter of Universal Studios C.E.O. Ron Meyer and a jewelry designer by trade, Ms. Meyer did most of the talking during that lunch, said the source.
“She was like, ‘I feel so bad for all our friends who have no direction and don’t know what to do with their lives.’ Her friend was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ Then Jen was like, ‘I’m so happy I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life.’ And then her friend was like, ‘Yeah, me too!’”
It was a meeting of worlds last Wednesday at Asprey, the oh-so-English specialty boutique, currently in temporary digs on 57th Street, where the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust held its annual pre-gala cocktail party.
“We celebrate the Anglo-American association,” said executive director Dorothy Kauffman. Her dress was vintage Pucci. “It belonged to my mother, so it’s very special for me to be wearing it tonight.”
The Royal Academy was founded in the 18th century, the American Associates in 1983, as a “respectful nod to each other across the Atlantic,” Ms. Kauffman said. “The spoken word is deeply impactful. We”—Americans and English—“share a common language and cultural heritage. We can read each other’s novellas, prose and poetry and get it.”
Ms. Kauffman is fluent in French; her husband of 13 years, Stephen Hollowell, an Englishman, is proficient in German.
Before moving to the U.S., Mr. Hollowell worked as a detective in England. In his youth, he was a headbanger—“Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd”—but without the telltale long hair. “I had short, short blond hair and the bovver boots,” he said. He sounds a bit like the actor Bob Hoskins. Standing one flight up on a balcony overlooking the store’s entrance, he wore spectacles, a gray suit, a patterned tie and a shirt in ultramarine blue, from Asprey.
“All the women were all over him and all the men sort of stayed back,” he said, describing the scene when a group of American Associates on a tour of London scored an audience with His Majesty Prince Charles. “So my wife said, ‘I want to introduce you.’ I said, ‘Nah, you don’t have to introduce me.’” Ms. Kauffman insisted, and Mr. Hollowell acquiesced—but with one non-negotiable condition: “I am not bowing.” The two men made each other’s acquaintance. “Prince Charles said, ‘Oh, very lovely to meet you.’ And I said, ‘Hey, how’re yah doin’?’”
“It’s a great honor to be called upon to be a figurehead, I guess—to spearhead something that’s so culturally important, especially when New York City is, in my opinion, the cultural star in this country of ours,” said Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Christopher Meloni. He, along with his wife Sherman, was playing host at a gala for the New Globe theater at Valentino last week.
The barrel-chested construction worker turned actor was dressed more like he’d been spending time with the Queer Eye squad. Earlier that day, he’d been given a Valentino makeover. He was wearing: a black velvet blazer (“Touch it, it’s soft!” he said; it was pretty soft); a “lilac” dress shirt; some shiny slacks.
“It’s nice,” he said. Valentino had pledged to donate 10 percent of a week’s sales to the New Globe cause—and one velvet blazer. “I fuckin’ better be able to keep it! I mean, I came in and got fitted,” Mr. Meloni said. “No, but this jacket isn’t going to fit anyone else. Between these shoulders”—big and broad—“and my little ass”—heck of a waist line!—“no one’s gonna be able to wear this.”
Russell Simmons and Mr. Meloni’s partner in sex-crime prevention, Mariska Hargitay, dropped in for some lightning-fast photo ops. The initiative to build a modern version of the London Globe Theater on Governors Island has relied heavily—almost exclusively—on the generosity and spearheading gusto of celebs like Mr. Meloni.
“In this day and age, you almost need a few celebrities to get people to pay attention,” said Mr. Meloni. Almost? Anyway. “New York is about culture, not war museums.”
Jane Krakowski, of Ally McBeal and now of 30 Rock, said that as an actress, supporting the New Globe was a no-brainer: “It works twofold—it would be a great thing for New York, and also maybe we can get hired there one day as well.”
Sadly, none of the stars made their way to the after-party at Bungalow 8. Club owner Amy Sacco is also a New Globe “friend” and was happy to host another of Ms. Romer’s parties. The evening’s auction had raised $35,000, but event organizers still weren’t totally satisfied. “I was really hoping Ralph Fiennes would make it,” said one.