How can you top a night when Clooney and Willis hug you?

CELEBRITY NEWS

April 08, 2008|By LIZ SMITH | LIZ SMITH,Tribune Media Services

Of course, the most brutish part of my job is having to sit with men like George Clooney and Bruce Willis for dinner. But somebody has to do it and that lucky somebody is sometimes me.

The other night in 21, after the feisty Leatherheads movie premiere at MOMA, Oscar winners and glamorous VIPS were mixing it up with millionaires and their rich wives. Nay, some were billionaires! I did spy David and Julia Koch, Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson, Woody "he owns the Jets" Johnson and Suzanne Ircha, Samantha Boardman and Aby Rosen, Jeanne and Herb Siegel and John and Susan Gutfreund. The star himself never sat down but stood in the same spot in one of the dining rooms, welcoming all comers, laughing and scratching for two hours.

This party was celeb to the max with that eternal sex symbol Candice Bergen, and Marshall Rose, a buoyant Katie Couric with her new boyfriend, Brooks Perlin. Karen Zucker allowed her NBC titan hubby to sit on my left with his BlackBerry aglow. (When I told him that NBC, now rising again, needs to bring me back in order to seize and hold their increasingly older audience, he jotted a note on his French cuffs!) Introduced to director Steven Soderbergh, I told him I knew all about him, but Clooney had asked me never to print any of it. He said, "And I know all about you, too!" Daunting, that!

Also the gorgeous star Julianna Margulies, actress Karen Duffy, who was handsome in a raincoat, and the talented Ellen Barkin. Let's add NBC's Ben Silverman, Hollywood's rebel prince and this year's Oscar winner for No Country for Old Men - Joel Coen, ABC's Sherri and David Westin, Diana Taylor, sans the mayor of NYC, Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson, Harvey Weinstein and his bride, Georgina Chapman, and one of Clooney's inner circle, Richard Kind, who will bow at Lincoln Center in Candide this very night.

And now for the piece de resistance. I had a really good talk with Clooney before this party started. We fell into each other's arms still commiserating on the death of our mutual friend, Ann Richards.

George said he has the Tom DeLay pinata Ann had made for him as a gift the last time we'd all been together at Sardi's. He said, "It's hanging in my bedroom. My God, wouldn't she have been a pistol in this current election? It would have been catnip for her. What would she be saying about Hillary, Obama and McCain? There is nothing I love better than somebody like Ann who had developed into a real character, who was a real one, unique and combative. I loved that woman."

My best moment? Standing in an embrace with the one and only Bruce Willis. He said, "Liz, I feel that my entire life up until this moment has crystallized and come to fruition since I met this woman." (He indicated the gorgeous model Emma Heming, who he introduces to everyone as "my girlfriend!') When I agreed that she was very beautiful, he said, "No, that's not it. She is beautiful inside. I am so happy."

Somehow I guess a party where you're kissed by George Clooney and Bruce Willis is not exactly hardship duty. And I apologize to all the women out there who are rightfully envious. These two top my list! They are both truly good human beings and very thoughtful, civilized guys.

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