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'Batman' back in action

Liz Smith

"By the way, Batman, have you seen billionaire Bruce Wayne lately? He doesn't answer the phone at his stately manor."

That was actor Neil Hamilton, who played the eternally clueless Commissioner Gordon on the classic TV series, "Batman."

TV NOSTALGIA fans rejoice! The complete "Batman" TV series is finally out in gloriously remastered Blu-Ray.

The show, which starred Adam West as Batman as Burt Ward as Robin, ran only three seasons (1966-68.) Its self-aware, campy cultural impact was significant, if brief.

Along with the "Pow!" "Bam!" graphics, "Batman" was a stop-off spot for stars such as Vincent Price ... Zsa Zsa Gabor ... Ethel Merman ... Shelley Winters ... Cesar Romero ... Burgess Meredith ... Frank Gorshin ... Tallulah Bankhead. And of course the various femme fatales who played Catwoman -- Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether. (It's always a battle between fans as to who the "best" Catwoman was. I say, they were all great!)

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Michael's restaurant in New York on West 55th Street. This place continues to make people feel good over where they get to sit," say I.

You can't hear yourself think most lunch days at this popular outpost in the East and you might have to go all the way out to their Santa Monica version to do business. But, in any event, at Michaels, everybody is talking at once and not listening.

I love Michael McCarty and his general manager Steve, and I can usually find my pals, Joe Armstrong, the "Mayor" of Michael's, or David Patrick Columbia of the New York Social Diary, in residence at their chosen tables in front. (Do people in the hinterlands care about a cafe's birthday? Nah! But they like to read about it the same as when Walter Winchell went to the Stork Club and Dorothy Kilgallen went to El Morocco, in the old days.) I can leave a message for Joe, or a book for David at Michaels and they'll eventually get it. These two disparate guys show up almost every day.

One of my vivid memories is of sitting with Fox titan Roger Ailes in Michael's. Our lunch was interrupted time and again by hefty, formidable guys who came timidly up to Roger and asked him for a job, or apologized to him for choosing CNN or HBO, instead of his Rupert Murdoch-owned TV network. People like to gripe about Michael's but rarely do they really stop going there.

I went myself mid-week to hug Michael and Steve and to ensure that "my" table is safe when I want it. I don't deserve "my" table? But don't tell that to the powers that be.

HERE'S real news. I raved several years ago about author Hilary Mantel's intelligent and brilliant book, "Wolf Hall" and its sequel, "Bring Up the Bodies." (This is the story of Henry VIII and how he destroyed lots of people, chiefly his wife, Anne Boleyn, and including his advisor, the wily Cromwell!)

Critics have acclaimed Ms. Mantel's writing and work and now I see the Royal Shakespeare Company is bringing their production of "Wolf Hall: Parts One and Two" to Broadway for 15 weeks only. All I can say is why are they giving us such a short bit of happiness? It is described as "Two Majestic Plays. One Royal Event." And you better get ready for this March 2015 happening. The New York Times' feared and fearless drama critic Ben Brantley has, of course, already seen this in London and pronounced it "edge-of-your-seat theater."

New York Stage and Film is holding a "Winter Gala" because they think winter has already arrived.

On November 16, a Sunday, the Plaza Hotel will be the scene of a salute to 2007 Tony-winning director Michael Mayer. He is, in case we've been under a rock, the entrepreneur of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." He has won just about everything the theatre, opera and TV have to offer.

Also honored is an all-time favorite of one and all, the theater press agent Rick Miramontez, who, just this year, had Tony-winning shows such as "Kinky Boots" ... "Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" ... the Carole King musical "Beautiful" ... and many more to his credit. One of the cutest, most friendly and enthusiastic men I've ever known.

Names behind this event fill the page and require no explanation. You could type in http://www.newyorkstageandfilm.org and see if there's any more room. Then get out your iPhones and autograph books and join.

WE MADE a lot of nice, generous, charitable and distinguished New Yorkers into "Living Landmarks" at the New York Landmarks Conservancy blowout at the Plaza Hotel last night. This is the most "fun" event over which I try to preside annually.

The Conservancy doesn't cure the sick, research the poor, do for children or any of the other things we all count on in what's left of civilization. We just try to preserve New York's special buildings, churches, synagogues, post offices, neighborhoods, unique houses and atmosphere. We are determined and hope never to see what happened to glorious Penn Station again. (It was torn down and discarded after I arrived here in 1949.) It is the Conservancy's best reminder to be ever diligent.

So after saving the Plaza Hotel Ballroom, we meet there annually to honor our betters. This year we named food expert Gael Greene and her Citymeals-on-Wheels ... Dr. Mitch Rosenthal of the anti-drug Phoenix House ... Jordan Roth, head of the Jujamcyn Theatres, and his mother, the elegant producer Daryl Roth ... businessman and print tycoon Mort Zuckerman ... and Leonard Lauder, who is the man of the hour with his many dramatic and generous gifts to New York and the world.

And I want to salute the Conservancy's Peg Breen, who has been in the papers all of 2014 saving, doing, fighting, influencing the destroyers to leave New York be and preserve it. She made many friends and a few enemies for the Conservancy.

She is a great New York treasure.

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)

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