The reverberation of dinner chimes echoed through the stairwell of the Plaza as a tardy Shindigger rushed up the steps to the 28th Annual Guild Hall Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards on Monday evening. And there we found what we like to call a “celebrity boil,” as a multitude of cameramen and reporters besieged a trio of thespian besties: Sarah Jessica Parker, hubby Matthew Broderick and the evening’s performing arts honoree, Nathan Lane.
While the petite and camera-ready SJP graciously posed and purred in her vintage Oscar de la Renta dress, her husband looked on sheepishly and Mr. Lane seemed somewhat overwhelmed.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Mr. Lane told Shindigger about starring in the upcoming production of Douglas Carter Beane’s new play, The Nance, which begins previews on March 21. “We’re now going in our fourth week of the rehearsal.”
Would the legendary comedic actor be taking refuge from the Broadway stage this summer in the Hamptons, we wondered?
“I’m not going to be getting out there a lot,” he replied. Right now, he was simply enjoying the moment. “I actually didn’t even know [Guild Hall] gave awards. I didn’t know I was up for one!”
Lifetime achievement awards sound stuffy. And yet this affair was anything but. Snatching a glass of cabernet sauvignon, Shindigger assessed the environment of high-society doyennes and dapper men. The energy was regal, but loose. The profound waft of money in the room was overpowering, but inclusive. These were the mighty East Enders—patrons of the arts—and they were beyond marvelous.
Better yet: they knew it!
As the first course was served, the evening’s master of ceremonies, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Marshall Brickman, welcomed Lorne Michaels and Dan Aykroyd to the stage in order to present the lifetime achievement award for visual arts to John Alexander.
“Don’t let that East Texas accent fool ya,” joked Mr. Aykroyd, handing over the prize to the American landscape artist. “John is one of the most intelligent and sensitive, semi-articulate Texans on the planet.”
The razzing continued as writer/critic Ken Auletta presented the honor for literary arts to biographer Walter Isaacson.
“He’s also a little weird,” Mr. Auletta began. “He only urinates once a week … He owns 15 identical suits and one tie.” (Setting the record straight, Mr. Isaacson told the crowd that “only about a third of that was true.”)
During a pause for dinner, Shindigger decided to wander the ballroom. We interrupted Carl Spielvogel, who was lecturing Cristina Greeven Cuomo about the greatness of America and the importance of international diplomacy.
“I have been going to the Hamptons since I was the premeditated thought of my parents,” giggled Ms. Cuomo, the editor in chief of Manhattan magazine, patting her tiered-lace Chanel dress. “Southampton is my hamlet! I love it out there.”
Of everyone present, Ms. Cuomo confessed that tonight she was most excited to be in the company of Mr. Michaels. “I’m a huge closet comedy fan. I love everything he does. 30 Rock—I can’t believe it’s over! Devastating,” She said, adding that her soon-to-launch glossy rag, Beach, is “going to have a great sense of humor.”
Before Shindigger could table dance anymore, Mr. Brickman was back at the podium. “I’m Nathan Lane. Don’t fuck with me! I’m a professional,” he teased, before recalling several entertaining experiences with Mr. Lane from their time spent working on the commercially successful disaster that was The Addams Family. He then handed the stage over to Tony-award winning director Jack O’Brien, who delivered a less profanity-laden introduction and presented Mr. Lane with his plaque.
(Meanwhile, Shindigger noticed an exceedingly late arrival, as the endearingly lissome Blythe Danner slipped her way to a head table.)
Rounding out the awards, Alec Baldwin presented a special award for leadership and philanthropic endeavors to former investment banker, American Ballet Theatre trustee and Guild Hall chairman Melville “Mickey” Straus, whom power publicist Peggy Siegal described as “the bravest person in the room.”
“He’s the most loved,” she said.
Shindigger passed on dessert but eagerly refilled our wine, as our tablemate, gala co-chair and c/o Hotels owner Jenny Ljungberg, explained one of the organization’s goals moving forward.
“[We want] to get a younger crowd to come to Guild Hall,” she said. “It has sort of a stuffy connotation and a stuffy feel, even though their offerings are anything but stuffy.”
To help further Ms. Ljungberg’s cause, Shindigger approached Ms. Parker and demanded to know if she had introduced her little ones to Guild Hall.
“We try to see and do as much as they offer, as much as life with children allows,” she said.
As the night was coming to a close, Shindigger swung by the bar for a final refill. Ms. Danner had the same idea, and so we asked why she had been so late.
“I was doing an Actors Fund benefit,” she explained with a smile. “I was the stage manager of the first act of Our Town, and then B.D. Wong is the second, and S. Epatha Merkerson is it in. She’s wonderful! We were laughing and laughing and having a good time, but I was able to slip away.”
We then babbled on about her summer plans and her return to Broadway. “I took over for Estelle Parsons,” she told us. “I’m going to be Matthew Broderick’s mother. It’s a whole new cast!”
Which sounded like nice work, if you can get it.