"Terrible is the temptation to do good!" wrote Bertolt Brecht.
Oh, fap, to the Tony Awards, the great Bette Midler must have said at the end of last week. Although she wasn't nominated for her performance in the one-woman play by John Logan -- "I'll Eat You Last" -- the divine one scored twice in one 48-hour period.
(She is "sold out" of tickets through her closing date of June 30, unless she should decide to extend.)
And, on her rare night off, Bette presided in person at her New York Restoration Project's 12th annual spring gala on the grounds of Gracie Mansion.
This turned out to be the perfect beautiful Manhattan spot for such a party, which offered as "entertainment" only the joy of seeing Bette gyrate in person and make a few wisecracks, hearing her emcee Judy Gold try to top her, readings of two poems -- and the rest of it was raising gobs of money by inference and auction. (Usually this is about as much fun as going to the dentist, but in this case it was hilarious because it succeeded so well and went so fast.) This fabulous project to beautify New York has planted 745,000 trees in the city, tried to replace trees lost in Hurricane Sandy, and on this night earned itself $1.2 million.
The stars of this "show" were two guys, not Bette. Between them, they raised $500,000 in a matter of minutes -- and I do mean adroit Sotheby auctioneer Hugh Hildesley and NYC's very own Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On his way out of office, the mayor is more ubiquitous and outspoken than ever. When the auction showed a moment's hesitation, Mike jumped up again to his feet and excoriated the seated who were noshing away on Glorious Foods. They stopped eating and promptly donated more money till he seemed to be satisfied and went back to his seat by Diana Taylor.
Meanwhile, actress Parker Posey of those hot Christopher Guest movies and fashion first gentleman Tim Gunn added a little class by reading two short poems, and stars Bernadette Peters and Katie Couric circulated, making friends. Michael Kors, seldom seen by the cognoscenti, also lent his star fashion presence, as well as did philanthropist Ann Ziff, singer Roseanne Cash, decorator Mica Ertegun, and the theater's Enid Nemy and Margo and Jimmy Nederlander. The co-chairs, Cynthia and Dan Lufkin couldn't be present but sent along their best!
I like Bette's project almost as much as I like my own pet charities and I was happy to see this beautiful outdoor picnic succeed under the guiding hands of Buckley Hall Events, where Linda and Anita are more like mother hens than moneymaking organizers and party-givers.
I'm not really a believer in astrology, but feel it's my duty to warn you that our pal Shelley Ackerman of website http://www.TheAesthete.com warns us to be very careful on June 8. She says we'll be asked "to hit the refresh button on the way we think, speak, and get from A to B."
"Neptune, the planet of fog, deception and substance abuse, will station retrograde so we have to watch where we are going with great care, and politicians need to be careful opening their mail."
People are talking about attorney James Goodale's call for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder in the Daily Beast at the end of last week.
Writer Goodale who has represented The New York Times in the past, says this all comes from his chapters on President Obama in his new book "Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles."
A READER named Melissa Winters gave me a big kick by telling how she saw "The Great Gatsby" in which a 6-foot-4 Robert Ryan starred as a dark mysterious character. He watched his big parties through sheer drapes over French doors. He was quiet, communicating with few people.
Then, Melissa read the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. But she could find no trace of Robert Ryan playing "Gatsby." Finally, she discovered that what she'd seen was an old TV "Playhouse 90" presentation. (In this version, Daisy Buchanan was played by Jeanne Crain.)
So, this solves the mystery of another fine actor playing Gatsby.
I've told you before about writer Tania Grossinger -- and now her "Memoir of an Independent Woman: An Unconventional Life Well Lived" is out. In it, she tells how she surprisingly became a Grossinger, overcame her childhood anti-Semitism, knew Betty Friedan up close and personal, spent some years working for Playboy, grew up as a pal to baseball's Jackie Robinson, worked for Israeli tourism and learned to forgive herself. Fascinating life!
For 50 years the magnetic Robert Morgenthau has been a leader of the Police Athletic League , which has the acronym PAL. It becomes a word with meaning for New York' s children and their friends, the police!
Now the former Attorney General, his vice chair Robert J. McGuire, his president John Osborn and the police commissioner Ray Kelly are gathering to honor the governor of the state of New York - Andrew Cuomo - on June 10. This will happen at the Pierre Hotel and you can bet your life every candidate for mayor of New York will be there.
That alone will make a rare crowd. It is being called The "Superstar Dinner." Contact PAL at 212-477-9450, ext. 355.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)