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Pillow Fights, Reality Show Proposals And Philanthropy!

Originally Posted: April 06, 2010

Jennifer Tuesday

Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa sold one of their side-by-side homes in nearby Wellington horse country. (PatrickMcMullan.com)

Southampton - My plans for a quiet holiday weekend in New York were quickly unraveled the moment I stepped off the Hampton Jitney and was caught in a swirl of camera bearing foreign tourists that seemed to flood the streets around Murray Hill right up to The Empire State Building. I quickly dumped my bags and headed down to what I thought would be more peaceful surroundings, the Union Square Farmer's Market which this Saturday resembled the Souk in Morocco. The only thing missing was a little man in a fez.

Simon Cowell uses upcoming wedding for promotion. (simoncowell.com)

Suddenly, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me and that it was snowing - but it wasn't snow but goose feathers as I learned. At the far end of the park thousands of hipsters from all over were bashing each other with pillows while bemused police watched to stem any more violent outbreaks. This, I found out, was the fifth annual pillow fight orchestrated by word of mouth and Facebook postings and it wasn't only in New York that the bedding was flying, pillow fights all slated at the same time were going on from Ghana to Tokyo. Millions were working out their aggressions with a good natured whacking. Clearly, the organizers request for foam pillows went unheeded as Park Avenue was quickly coated in downy white feathers. I ran into a Walgreen's and bought a pillow and joined the melee. How exhilarating to bash and be bashed by total strangers and everyone laughing uproariously. Better than therapy!

While I was deliriously whacking folks, the world kept turning and my in box was filled with hot tips from folks who clearly had nothing better to do on Easter weekend but dish the dirt.

From my friends at the Palm Beach Daily News a/k/a The Shiny Sheet, the Bible of the PB elite, I learned that Hamptons regular visitors Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa sold one of their side-by-side homes in nearby Wellington horse country to Daniel and Ellen Crown - major philanthropists for such as Lenox Hill Hospital. The home is in the heart of the posh Equestrian Club Estates which seems a little odd until you recall that The Boss's daughter Jessica is quite the rider and has competed in the Hampton Classic for a number of years. At least, she's just a short walk to the stables.

In what has to be one of the most skin-crawling pairings of headline seeking wannabe reality stars comes the news that Michael Lohan is pitching Hollywood suits on a new reality show: "Celebrities" that would feature Jon Gosselin's ex-girlfriends who would travel across the country in a motor home. Seems Lindsay's father thinks he could score big time by packing "stars," including former Gosselin one time sweeties Kate Major and Hailey Glassman into an RV and sending them on the road. Maybe some of Tiger's gals could join the party!

Brooke Shields will host a special evening honoring women. (PatrickMcMullan.com)

Also not one to shy away from controversy or miss a soundbite is "American Idol's" caustic judge Simon Cowell who really knows the value of publicity. Media Bistro's PR Newser Joe Ciarallo, who always gets the real skinny on TV doings, says Cowell is pulling out all the stops for the upcoming U.S. launch of the British singing competition show "X Factor" - even using his upcoming wedding to make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy to promote the show.

Joe reports that sources told CBS News the wedding will wait to coincide with the launch of "X Factor." One insider noted of the savvy $$$ conscious X Factor creator (which is making him gazillions) is the king of spin and knows that a great love story will help sell the U.S. version. I don't care how big her ring is this is just "Ugh."

Brooke Shieldswill host "Shine On! Celebrating 125 Years of Women Making Their Mark"

On a brighter note, I hear that one of our favorite East End mommies and movie stars, Brooke Shields will host "Shine On! Celebrating 125 Years of Women Making Their Mark" with special musical performance by Aretha Franklin sponsored by Good Housekeeping at City Center this week. Meryl Streep, Kristen Bell, Laura Benanti, Fran Drescher, Kelli O'Hara and many more will participate in an unforgettable evening of performances and tributes saluting the extraordinary influence of American women over the past 125 years. This star-studded gala will benefit the establishment of the National Women's History Museum in Washington, DC.

Longtime Gossip Queen Liz Smith who has done more to spotlight the cause of literacy than any government program pulled together all the troops at media watering hole Michael's Restaurant for a little kick-off cocktail reception to toast this year's Literacy Partners honorees Barbara Taylor Bradford and Robert Bradford who will be lauded at the organization's big fundraiser May 10 at Lincoln Center. Munching on caviar blintzes were dozens of East Enders including Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" fame and her husband author Aaron Latham, Martha Stewart, Jane Friedman, Ellen Scarborough, Donald and Barbara Tober, Muriel Siebert, Ben and Elke Gazzara, Marty and Cornelia Bregman, Duane Hampton, Hannah Pakula and scads more.

Lesley Stahl joins Liz Smith to celebrate Literacy Partners. (groovymalin.com)

Southampton's Jean Shafiroff will host a luncheon at Le Cirque to kick-off the campaign for "An Enchanted Evening" the Southampton Hospital's 52nd Annual Summer Party of which Jean is chair this year. Southampton neighbor Chuck Scarborough will emcee and Robert S. Chaloner, President and CEO of Southampton Hospital is the guest speaker. The campaign is well underway with Shafiroff having already sold over 20 tables - and the party isn't until August! Funds raised will go to the recently dedicated Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department.

More good news in the world of philanthropy! Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute in the South Bronx founded by Sag Harbor's Chris Norwood is one of only 18 organizations worldwide selected by the MAC AIDS Fund for a special initiative to strengthen programs that address women's AIDS risks and vulnerabilities.

The MAC AIDS Fund, supported by sales of VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lip gloss, is the largest non-pharmaceutical corporate AIDS donor in the world. To highlight the launch of the women-focused initiative, the company named both Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper as MAC VIVA GLAM spokespersons.

Health People will use its $100,000 grant to train teams of peer educators who will assure that women with HIV and AIDS are connected to life-prolonging medical care and other services.

Scarlett Johannson. (scarlettjohannson.org)

Bronx women now account for 26 percent of the city's deaths of women with AIDS even though they only constitute 21.5 percent of women with HIV/AIDS. "Unfortunately, city AIDS services have been removed from the Bronx and many community programs shut down," said Norwood, founder and Executive Director of Health People. "Women are just getting lost - as shown by the fact that their portion of AIDS deaths is increasing again. We are really grateful that the MAC AIDS Fund grant will so directly enable us to focus on saving lives. It has been very sad to see the Bronx lose significant progress in helping women with AIDS."

To date the MAC AIDS Fund has raised more than $160 million for AIDS services worldwide and in the United States. "I think it's absolutely insane that some people have fewer rights than others, and I'm grateful that MAC has decided to focus on women while I'm a VIVA GLAM spokesperson," said Lauper.

Health People, founded in 1990 to train women affected by AIDS to become local educators, has also used its powerful peer educator model for men's AIDS programs, diabetes prevention, and asthma self-care. In 2005, Norwood was one of 1,000 women from around the world selected for a special Nobel Peace prize nomination honoring women's local work.

And there is good news for the arts community as well. Though the auto industry has been decimated and portfolios have sunk, The Ford Foundation announced this week an unprecedented grant of $100 million to support the construction, maintenance, and enhancement of arts facilities nationwide over the next decad. The plan, called the Supporting Diverse Art Spaces Initiative, is the largest commitment the foundation has ever made toward the development of arts buildings. Through the program, the foundation plans to encourage the construction of affordable housing for artists near these spaces and to spur economic development in surrounding areas.

Just in time for Earth Day, a New York City landmarked building that once housed such renowned artists as Mark Rothko and Fernand Leger which is now home to Green Depot, an eco-friendly supplier of cleaning and home building products, is now New York State's first LEED platinum rated retail property. Green Depot will receive the highest possible LEED award for encouraging sustainable practices and materials at its 3,500-square-foot location at 222 Bowery. The landmarked 222 Bowery was the first YMCA in New York City. Green Depot renovated the space over a six-month period and eventually opened the flagship for business in March of last year.

After an extended visit to New Zealand, award winning film maker and gorgeous personality Anna Rose Wilding has returned to New York for a special screening of her film "Buddha Wild" organized by KEA New York in Manhattan on early May. "Buddha Wild" has become a big hit on the festival circuit and has been picking up awards all over. Meanwhile, Anna is taking meetings here with creative investors and the film community for her next film, "Too Hot for Lemonade." She's also scouting branding opportunities in clothing and music. Anna recently completed a film on celebrated artist Russell Young who was featured at the Keszler Gallery in Southampton last year. Joining her in the quest for industry support is Rose Ganguzza as her executive Producer on her film "Counterswirl." Rose recently made "New York Love You" with Scarlett Johannson and Natalie Portman.

Changing of the guard in Washington! The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Board of Directors has elected philanthropist and finance mogul David M. Rubinstein as its new chairman. He succeeds East Hampton's Stephen A. Schwarzman. Chairman of the Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private-equity firms, Rubenstein has served on the Center's board since 2004 and has given the facility $3.5-million in that time. Along with supporting numerous other cultural ventures in Washington, he is vice chairman of the board at Lincoln Center and leads the New York venue's fund-raising drive.

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