Gossip columnist Liz Smith made her way through the dining room of the Monkey Bar on Monday afternoon, where Harvey Weinstein, Diane von Furstenberg and George Stevens, Jr. were hosting a promotional lunch on behalf of The Artist—the black-and-white silent movie that Mr. Weinstein is gently, persuasively shepherding toward an Academy Award for Best Picture—and surveyed the scene, perched side-saddle in a red leather booth. Ms. Smith, who is supposedly in her eighties, looked a few decades younger in a black leather jacket with white stitching from Carlisle.
She said she’d yet to see the film, an endearingly meta mash-note to Golden Age Hollywood, but admitted that her first-ever movie experience was also a silent picture. “Frozen Justice was the name of it, and it starred Lenore Ulric as a half-white, half-Eskimo girl who kept rushing between the igloos and the lights of Nome,” she noted with the astonishing recall of someone who has written a best-selling memoir (Natural Blonde).
Ms. Smith was just four when she saw the movie, and growing up in Fort Worth, where the Tivoli Theater chain had yet to purchase the requisite equipment for talking pictures. “The movies were the ultimate babysitter, so the maid took me to see it, and I loved it, except when the dogs and the sled fell into a crack in the ice, and I started crying.”
You may have heard there’s a dog in The Artist, too, a Jack Russell terrier named Uggie, who has been ferociously guarding the spotlight like a juicy cut of brisket since his Cannes debut. It’s a task made easier by the fact that his costars, while highly talented, are, you know, from France—as the Coneheads used to say. Actually, Jean Dujardin is; Bérénice Bejo is Argentine. Both attended the luncheon, which was hosted by Dom Pérignon and featured a different vintage (’03, ’00, and ’96) with each course. Director Michel Hazanavicius also showed, as did half the cast of The Book of Mormon and an impressively ecumenical sitcom triumverate: Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown, CBS), Carol Kane (Taxi, ABC), and Dan Hedaya (Cheers, NBC).
Ms. von Furstenberg floated over.
“Well, hello beauty,” Ms. Smith said. “How’s my boyfriend? I sent him a picture of himself with hair.”
“Barry with hair?” replied the designer, who is married to mogul Barry Diller. “That must be a very old picture!”
“I said, ‘You see? You still look better than ever.’”
“I’ve known him 37 years. I’ve never seen him with hair.”
Ms. Smith hedged. “This wasn’t total hair, it was on the sides.”
Ms. von Furstenberg leaned in close. “I told him yesterday,” she said, “‘I’m hosting this event, do you want to come,’ and he said, Maybe. Is the dog coming?’”