Isn’t it Tisch? Odd Bedfellows Denise Rich and Elie Wiesel Hype Hotelier’s New Book
“Hey, that’s Elie Wiesel,” said NYPD detective turned big-time security consultant Bo Deitel. Mr. Deitel was standing by the bar during the party for Loews Hotel chief executive Jonathan Tisch’s new book, Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough, at the Four Seasons on the evening of Wednesday, March 7. The wiry-haired Nobel Prize–winning author was a few feet away with his wife. “He’s one of my idols,” Mr. Deitel said.
The Transom concurred, mentioning Mr. Wiesel’s recent brush with a lunatic in a San Francisco hotel elevator (not a Tisch hotel, thank gawd).
“What? Get outta here!” exclaimed Mr. Deitel. “I didn’t hear about that. That’s my business.”
“There was no coverage because I declined every interview,” Mr. Wiesel said moments later. “I am a writer and a private person, but also I don’t want to give this guy the attention.”
“Part of our assessment of these hotels is the vulnerability assessment,” Mr. Deitel said. He was wearing a dapper gray suit and a well-maintained 10 o’clock shadow. “A lot of time, we’re finding out people from within are your biggest problem …. Security is someone who can effectively combat someone who has a weapon—i.e., a knife or a gun. We don’t deal with the big-bouncer people. What we want to do is eliminate the problem. A security professional, former law enforcement, can sense a problem—it’s a sixth sense that they have in their mind—see someone acting stupid, acting fidgety. Where you look around the room at one person who’s acting very abnormal, that’s the person you key on to make sure that they don’t get to your principal.”
The room was crammed with would-be “principals” such as Barry Diller and Steven Rattner, who were chatting intently in a corner, as magnates will. Mr. Deitel’s sixth sense, however, appeared to be focused on the various delectable hors d’oeuvres that were making the rounds.
“These contracts come down to the bottom line, dollars and cents,” Mr. Deitel said. “You get what you pay for. I always get this: ‘I want the best security guard for the cheapest price.’ That’s, uh, uh—what’s that word when it’s stupid? Whenever Jonathan has a problem, he calls us up.”
Mr. Deitel said that Donald Trump, another client, also insists on top-notch security.
“Especially in the post-9/11 world,” the evening’s honoree said later, “when people leave the safety and security of their home, they expect us, as the hoteliers, to make sure that they’re in an environment where they feel very comfortable. It’s just one of the reality of today’s world.”
“He’s definitely an amazing person—very original,” trilled songwriter Denise Rich of Mr. Tisch. “I’ve never seen a title like that. It makes me want to buy the book and find out what it’s all about.”
Lessons From Sessums! Celebrities Celebrate Celebrity Journalist
Writer Kevin Sessums is still smarting over the negative notice that his memoir, Mississippi Sissy, about growing up gay in the American South, got in The New York Times Book Review. “I don’t understand making a name for yourself just being mean, to get back to Norah Vincent,” Mr. Sessums said at Indochine on Monday, March 12, at a party thrown for him by friends Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller. Mr. Sessums has made his name as a friendly confidante to the stars, for years at Vanity Fair, currently as a contributing editor for Allure. “Some people criticize my stories because I’m not mean, but I’m not interviewing Nazi scientists,” drawled the glabrous author. “You have to seduce them, and they seduce you. There’s sort of this courtship that goes on, almost like a marriage. And then you sit down and you have to divorce them. It’s an oxymoronic term, ‘celebrity journalist,’ because if I thought of myself as a journalist, I’d have a real inferiority complex. What I do is much more. I know how to write a sentence, and I know about the arc of narrative. I’m unintimidated by fame. But I’m not a journalist.”
Fellow not-exactly-a-journalist Dominick Dunne, still at Vanity Fair, praised Mr. Sessums’ affability and wit. “He’s funny and he’s fun to be with,” Mr. Dunne said. “What can I say? He has a way of intimacy with people. He doesn’t say, ‘What happened on the set today?’ He reveals a lot about himself, and they reveal a lot about themselves in return.” (Mr. Sessums on one of his subjects: “I loved Angelina Jolie … if I were straight, I’d be elbowing Brad Pitt out of the way, but maybe that’s because she’s a top.”)
Designer Calvin Klein was standing at the bar wearing a scarf, blazer and gold-rimmed glasses. “I’ve known Kevin for a long time,” Mr. Klein said. “I discovered Miami at a time when he was leaving and we were both in the same building. And no, I will not give you the address!”
Standing away from the mass of fame frottage surrounding copper-haired actress Julianne Moore was the comedienne Sandra Bernhard. “I think he knows a lot of people, and he’s very personable and kind of gets inside people’s heads,” she said of Mr. Sessums. “And I think he understands celebrity.”
Ms. von Furstenberg, meanwhile, was flying around the cramped restaurant in a big, loose, Pucci-like silk bag that was drawn tight at the waist, neck and arms, trying to get guests to sit down. “Today, we celebrate him as a literary person,” she crooned of her honoree. “He wrote [Mississippi Sissy] with his blood and his heart and his soul, and I think it’s wonderful.”
Mr. Sessums’ parting bon mot: “Read my book! Go on Amazon.com, ’cause I want a Top 10 book right between Barack Obama’s Bran Diet and Suze Orman’s Lesbian Love Affair.”
Maury and Connie Have Tips For Tiki: Don’t You Go Changing
Husband-and-wife TV veterans Maury Povich and Connie Chung, who were also at the Jonathan Tisch book party, have some sound advice for retired running back turned on-air personality Tiki Barber.
“Don’t change a thing,” Mr. Povich said.
“Right,” Ms. Chung said, nodding.
“Don’t let them model you,” continued Mr. Povich. “Don’t let them change you. Just be the way you are right now.”
“You know, Walter Cronkite gave me the best advice when I got the job to co-anchor the CBS Evening News: ‘Be yourself,’” Ms. Chung said. “And we all love Tiki, so he should be himself, too.”
“It’s something that I found a passion for about six or seven years ago,” said Mr. Barber of his interest in broadcasting. “And I kinda took my hits—I did the slow thing; I didn’t want to jump right into the big screen and the spotlight. I worked at WFAN overnights at 10 o’clock and got up in the morning to do WCBS, just so I could build credibility. And I built some plateaus that I’m now standing on as I get to take the next step to NBC.
“It’s been something that’s been in my mind, to set myself up to the next thing always, because what you are doing very rarely lasts forever—especially in the National Football League,” he continued. “If you’re not preparing for your future, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. So I was always preparing for the next thing.”
There was a time when Mr. Barber had contemplated acting as his next thing. “I did it a couple of times in Off Off Broadway, and it was very challenging,” he said. “My next step may be in business or politics.”
In the meantime, he said he looks forward to learning from his new mentors, including NBC Universal C.E.O. Jeff Zucker, Today co-host Matt Lauer and HBO sports commentator Bob Costas.
“I think Tiki’s a natural star, a great performer on the field,” Mr. Zucker said. “I think he’ll be a great performer off the field for us.”
Close to Chew: Dionne Warwick, Ashford and Simpson Honor Harlem School of the Arts
On Monday, March 12, a cadre of African-American power-brokers gathered at the Supper Club on West 47th Street, including Monica Azare, a senior vice president at Verizon, actress Tamara Tunie of Law & Order: SVU and Isisara Bey, vice president of corporate affairs for Sony Music. The occasion, a fund-raiser for Harlem’s much-lauded School of the Arts, honored alumnus Ray Chew, the boyishly handsome musical director of Showtime at the Apollo.
Sporting a freshly shaved scalp and dressed in a custom-made navy suit by Ruben’s London, Mr. Chew mingled in the crowded lobby before dinner. Near the bar, the lithe and elegant Ms. Tunie was holding court. A neighbor of the art school, she waxed poetic about its power to inculcate the younger generation with a sense of “how critical art is to human development.” The Transom, however, was more interested in the fitted black blazer that was accentuating her tiny waist. Whose was it, we asked? “I don’t know,” Ms. Tunie said, “But since I bought, it’s mine.” Amen to that!
The evening was M.C.’d by Harry Smith, anchor of CBS’s Early Show, who commenced the festivities by making kissy-faces at featured performers Dionne Warwick, the singer and Psychic Friend, and her fellow R&B legends, husband-and-wife songwriting team Nicholas Ashford (wearing an ill-advised set of glittery black trousers) and Valerie Simpson.
After the herb-encrusted salmon and mashed potatoes had been cleared, Ms. Warwick took the stage, clad in a white pantsuit with a lapel that looked like it’d had an unpleasant encounter with a BeDazzler. “I finally managed to get four days to myself—this would have been the fourth,” she said, before training fond eyes on Mr. Chew and singing a sweet, slow rendition of “Close to You.” “If it had been anybody but Ray, this night would have been without Dionne Warwick.”
—Orli Van Mourik
Just Joey: Former Britney Spears Stylist Goes Solo
Four years ago, waaaay before Britney Spears’ meltdown, the singer’s erstwhile stylists Joey Tierney and Tanya Tamburin formed a fashion company called Joey and T, built primarily around revealing skirts. Ms. Spears attended their first show, but failed to hoist the brand to retail success.
Not long afterward, it turns out, the two stylists quietly parted ways. “We just peaked,” Ms. Tierney said over the phone on Monday, March 13. “I’ve been working with so many other people, learning and growing.” She moved from New York back to L.A. and began styling for the red carpet and commercials, and her solo, eponymous line will debut at L.A. Fashion Week on March 16. “The line is not celebrity-based,” Ms. Tierney said emphatically. “It’s about patterns and well-crafted pieces—no smoke and mirrors. The inspiration was somewhere in between Helmut Newton and Bianca Jagger. It’s a high-end, full line: It’s Chantilly lace and it’s leather, Italian wool, and it’s cashmere and silk.”
Ms. Tierney doesn’t miss the spotlight of celebrity association. “The line is dedicated to my grandparents,” she said. “But I am grateful to Britney—she gave me my first big break.”