It was late when Oprah spoke, but she was worth the wait

Celebrity News

May 22, 2007|By Liz Smith | Liz Smith,Tribune Media Services

I KNOW you're missing The So- pranos and you'd rather be home in bed in your jammies!" Oprah said at the Waldorf.

Well, when New Yorkers put on black tie/big gowns to trek out on a Sunday, the mainstay speech by the evening's honoree has to be damned good! Fortunately, Oprah Winfrey paid off, giving it her all when the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity gave her its award.

Although it was 10 minutes after 11 p.m. when the program finally offered up the divine Oprah, she was worth the wait. Her speech about reaching inside oneself to find out what one has to give the world was ultra Oprah at her best. She is one of the most inspired and incredible off-the-cuff speakers of our time.

Before that came Itzhak Perlman, Jessye Norman, the Young People's Chorus, the Empire Brass Quintet, Leonard Riggio, Marion Wiesel, a film about Oslo, Norway, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Ted Koppel and Sidney Poitier.

And though I arrived at 6:30 as advised, dinner wasn't served until 9 p.m.

Never mind -- adding the time it took to get ready it was only about six hours of one's life. What did we care? My grand table boasted the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, moviedom's Sydney Pollack, the youthful-looking Lisa and Dustin Hoffman, Time's Rick Stengel, the charming Ms. Couric herself, able PR guy Matthew Hiltzik and Iman and David Bowie, surely pop culture's most civilized and wonderful couple.

Irregardless, as they say in Texas, Oprah put the cherry on the Sunday.

Her life in pictures

Sat down the other day for a frozen margarita in midtown's El Rio Grande with Gigi Levangie Grazer. Her fictionalized life is about to bow with the delightful Debra Messing as the star. So how does Debra's creator, the real-life Gigi, come across? Well, like some popular young star herself. She reminded me a lot of one of my favorites, Sandra Bullock. With her dominating big brown eyes and red hair, Gigi is a great-looking, happy, positive and self-defined package.

Her 16 years of being with movie hotshot Brian Grazer had suddenly ended in a six-week separation from which she recovered by having him come home to her and their four children. In the aftermath, she wrote her Starter Wife book and a sitcom from that is now happening on the USA Network come May 31.

Star power

"George Clooney incarnates our muddled nostalgia for Hollywood's golden age; owning every sterling quality we associate with male screen icons ... he's shrewd, he's virile, he's merry, and the camera loves him with the devotion of a headwaiter rushing over to light a billionaire's cigar."

That's Tom Carson in the new GQ, describing our contemporary and most fascinating male movie star. No, Clooney's not the one who can always "open" a film like gangbusters, but he's got more glamour and heart than most any other guy in the business.

In praise of Clooney, the writer refers to Brad Pitt's persona as "zonked" and to Tom Cruise as "The Talking Sparkplug." Will Smith, currently the man with the golden box-office touch, is spared any negative comparison to George.

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