At "21" last Tuesday, it was a case of multiple events. Newt Gingrich graciously held the door for me as Joan Didion stood in the foyer of the legendary restaurant. I wondered was this Grande Dame of Letters going to his book party on the second floor? No, she went straight to the third, to a princely luncheon for "The King's Speech." Director Tom Hooper stood, clinked his glass embossed with a big D for DeLeon Tequila, host of this grand occasion, his new film already touted as a sure Oscar contender if not win for Best Feature and Director. Noting how pleased he was to be greeting us, he reminded everyone that the Duke of York before he became King George VI, the subject of his movie, could not get out the words of a simple two-word toast. All he had to say was, "The King." Holding up his royal quaff, Hooper added two more: "Colin Firth."
Indeed, Firth, the handsome actor who played Mr. Darcy, wooed Bridget Jones, and starred in last year's Tom Ford movie debut, "A Single Man," commanded court over a table that included Christine Baranski, Harvey Weinstein, Stephen Daldry, and Candice Bergen. The buzz: he will win for Best Actor, and should have for last year's film about a gay man's grief over the death of his lover. In "The King's Speech," he reddens as if to explode stammering through his words. He has the audience in tears.
The night before, his co-star in the role of Queen Mother, Helena Bonham Carter held court at another soiree sponsored by DeLeon at the refurbished swank 44 at the Royalton Hotel. Introducing her at the Ziegfeld screening, Hooper had called her a genius, and truly in this role she grounds the volatile relationship between the king and Lionel Logue, his speech coach, a commoner who becomes his friend (a deeply-affecting Geoffrey Rush). Eve Best, who plays the movie's scandal-ridden Wallis Simpson chatted with Stella Powell Jones, granddaughter of Harold Pinter. Director Amir Bar-Lev talked about casting his next film, a biopic about Jerry Garcia. Many eyed the elegant DeLeon bottles with their heavy intricately crafted silver stoppers hoping to spirit the smooth liquor into the night.
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