I loved watching Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia’s eyes light up as we approached Hearst Castle and he viewed it for the first time. He knows castles. No matter how many times it’s viewed, it still inspires—the magnificence, majesty and sheer audacity of vision…especially set among the 83,000 unspoiled acres of land, still populated by descendants of William Randolph Hearst’s original zebras and boars. And so, it was with great reverence and appreciation that the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation held its 8th Annual Benefit, hosted by Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney (fresh off the California book tour for his
acclaimed Bright, Precious Days). The Castle was donated by the Hearst family to the state of California in 1957, but private funds must be raised to cover the preservation and restoration of its contents. At the silver screen–themed dinner in the Castle’s Refectory, the ladies channeled Audrey, Rita and Lauren, and the men were all James and Cary, except for Jamie Figg, who sported a full-on Lawrence of Arabia robe, which he later peeled away to reveal a more traditional dinner jacket. Tony Peck wore a plum velvet Huntsman jacket, inspired by his father, Gregory, who was often a guest of Mr. Hearst’s. Tony and his lovely wife, Paula, were off to Rome, where Roman Holiday, and Gregory’s centennial, will be celebrated with a public screening of the film on the renovated Spanish Steps. At dinner, Jay advised, “It’s safe to drink the wine,” which was supplied by Greg Brewer of Brewer-Clifton and Hilliard Bruce Vineyards. Joe Tobin, the foundation’s president, toasted all, and told us being in the Castle “makes me want to build something.” Inspiration abounded, helped by Zang Toi’s beautiful clothes (whose sales were donated to the foundation) and the showstopping Zang necklace Anne sported, landing her somewhere between Audrey and Nefertiti.
Guests swapped their opera pumps for boots for the Cowboy Cookout that night. Patrón tequila was served in dangerously generous jars, Brian Nova’s band got us on our feet, and the auction raged, with Pierre Lagrange’s donation, a Huntsman bespoke suit, sold twice. Among the glittering, line dancing guests: Justine and Robert Bloomingdale, with son, James, and daughter-in-law, Natalie; Kathy and Greg Hampton; Hearst sisters Patricia Hearst Shaw and Vicky Hearst; Alison Mazzola (who masterfully, as always, organized the whole shebang); as well as Ebs Burnough, Randy Harris, George Farias, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Sharon Bush, Peter Thomas Roth and Brooke Mueller, Diana Lands and Trip Haenisch, Maisie McInerney, Lydia Hearst Shaw Hardwick, Josh Flagg, Kick Kennedy, Remar Sutton and Wendy Stark.
There are things to celebrate in New York, too, notably Richard Cohen’s new book, She Made Me Laugh, My Friend Nora Ephron. Nora, famed for her Oscar-nominated screenplays, not to mention novels, plays, and legions of fans, both personal and public, was Richard’s best friend. Holly Peterson, Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson, also his closest friends, gave him a book party. Richard thanked his hosts: “Holly is a creative and wonderful hostess, as are Pete and Joan, who have hosted Patricia [Duff] and I many times. And they have made the world a better place. As they say in Greek, Pete, L’chaim.” Guests concurring included Mort Zuckerman, Ken Auletta and Binky Urban, Susan Mercandetti and Richard Haas, Liz Smith, Eddie Hayes, Jacob Weisberg, and Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos. Richard told us, “I felt strongly if you write about Nora, you have to honor her with honesty, good humor and in my case, love. I missed her all the time I was writing, and I have missed her every day since. Many in this room knew Nora. She brought us together once, and she brings us together still.”