I am on a mission. A ballsy mission. I’ve written a funny script with great roles for Jerry Stiller’s acting family, and I plan to tell him so.
I’m limping to 42nd Street for the gala honoring movie star, director, writer and producer Ben Stiller. My toes are getting shredded by my evening pumps.
I enter a former bank (a party venue befitting our economic tsores) amazed that tickets to this Museum of the Moving Image self-benefit/party/dinner cost a whopping $500 and $2,500.
In the lobby, a blond girl in a big red Marie Antoinette ball gown parades back and forth dragging her train for photographers imprisoned by a velvet rope. “Tinsel, Tinsel, over here,” they seem to be shouting.
Standing behind her, the continuous pop, pop, pop camera flashes rattle my brain.
I recognize the name of a new flower blooming in the Manhattan night, a young girl with family background.
“Please Tinsley, say hello to the New York Observer?” asks a PR woman.
Tinsley wrinkles her nose—no way.
I smile broadly as I spot Jerry Stiller, the shouting star of Seinfeld and The King of Queens. He makes me giggle (bless him, it’s good for my health). But he looks unhappy.
His wife, Anne Meara, walks by me. “I gotta sit down.”
I approach Jerry Stiller. “I’ve got a screenplay,” I shrug apologetically. He sighs, accepting my apology. By his side, a young woman says, and rightly so, “He’s kind of overwhelmed right now.”
“Can I send it to you?”
Mission accomplished. I yearn to flee, but curiosity is my vice. I love to look at faces, even though tonight’s purple light creates dark holes under eyes.
A gigantic screen framed by gold tinsel (a theme?) flashes Ben Stiller photographs. Champagne flows into people seated in the $2,500 seats. I perversely extend my hand to lovely Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, a magazine that gave my last book (which revealed hard-won truths about The Weathermen, the violent left-wing radicals) a sloppy and negative review. Vanden Heuvel is here because she’s heiress to a Hollywood talent agency. Nearby, I spot Linda Janklow, heiress to the Warner Brothers fortune. I like Linda, but I’m exhausted from smiling at Katrina.
Several of the other $2,500 women look alike. It’s not the makeup, blond hair or even similar gowns: it’s the fine hand of plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Baker, who makes women prettier: the first time around, anyway.
I sit with publicist Gary Springer and his children, and to my surprise, someone who’d once worked for me at Warner Brothers. Roger Friedman now writes a good out-and-about column for Fox Internet. He’s great company; we like the same writers. He confides he’s at events like this nightly. “I never go home.”
I’m cranky by the time Ben Stiller finally thanks the Museum of the Moving Image. He’s tired too, but he perks me up—by saying something I’ve never thought about before. By giving me a new hypothesis to test.
“I never saw an unmoving image as good as a moving image,” Stiller says.
My mind races. I guess that’s why kids don’t trample each other to get into the Metropolitan Museum. Ponderous New York Times articles bemoan the death of written words, but who debates moving versus static images? The pros and cons of Van Gogh’s night skies versus Michael Jackson’s moonwalking in Thriller?
Author and journalist Susan Braudy’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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