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STARS COME OUT FOR CHARITIES

I went with the redoubtable Peter Brown, who knows everyone who has ever been anyone since the advent of the Beatles, to a marvelous Library Lions night at the New York Public Library last week.

This annual event grows more "first-rate" as the years of the library's revitalization (begun under Brooke Astor, Richard B. Salomon Sr., Andrew Heiskell and Vartan Gregorian) surge on. Now sponsored by Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Princess Firyal and Lionel Pincus, Louise and Henry Grunwald, Catie and Donald Marron, and Liz and Felix Rohatyn -- it just hums with a kind of simplistic elegance.

Samuel Butler and Paul LeClerc tapped the grand theater lady Marian Seldes as their mistress of ceremonies, and not since Ethel Barrymore staggered Broadway has there been a grander dame than Marian. She was superb in voice and gesture introducing the new lions -- the modest conductor James Conlon, the ravishing opera star Renie Fleming, social historian and academic Henry Louis Gates Jr., and The New Yorker's editorial genius, David Remnick.

The library kept its evening fast and fascinating. Glorious Food's smoked salmon Napoleon appetizer was to die for. And Gayfryd Steinberg and David Monn had, pro bono, turned the Bartos Forum into a forest of birch trees and glitter. It was a fabulous night!

The new Civil War! The East and West coasts break off from the red states and form their own more perfect union made up of intellectuals, show-biz and poor folks. (I guess you think I'm kidding, but, no, there's lots of ideological "carrying on" going around these days. This office is on the receiving end of missives, faxes and e-mails wanting me to remind everybody that almost half of the country doesn't agree with the other half. Oh, I thought that truth was self-evident!)

Wednesday night after Sen. John Kerry conceded the election to President George W. Bush, a gang of New Yorkers put on black ties and best bibs and drifted into the Plaza for the New York Conservancy's Living Landmarks dinner. Many of the notables confided to me that their hearts weren't "in it," but they couldn't just hunker down and stay home after their whopping defeat. So they all put on a game face, and what do you know? By evening's end, people were in a more jovial mood. They had seen the giant George Steinbrenner made into a Living Landmark, and he quietly handed the Conservancy a generous check for $100,000 to protect city landmarks and buildings.

They had seen a glamorous Barbara Walters introduce George and her friends Linda and Mort Janklow ... They screamed as top cop Ray Kelly received the Lew Rudin Award from Beth Rudin DeWoody ... They applauded a song done to a turn by new landmarks Candice Bergen and Marshall Rose. ("You gotta win a little, lose a little, and always have the blues a little, that's the story of, that's the glory of love.") Now Feinstein at the Regency and the Cafi Carlyle will be calling to book this married duo ...
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