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As Days Of Summer Unfold, New Projects For Familiar Faces

Originally Posted: July 15, 2009

Jennifer Tuesday

Katie Lee Joel checking out sites for a new burger and shakes joint. Image courtesy of Google Images

Southampton - Here's an update on some of our local friends whom you won't be seeing sipping cocktails at Sunset Beach or popping into Bridgehampton Polo this season.

I hear that recently separated Katie Lee Joel is really taking to single life in the city. She loves her new digs in Greenwich Village and is already looking at sites in the area for a new burger and shakes joint. The hangout will feature the patty melt - the grilled cheese sandwich burger for which she won last year's New York Burger Bash.

Lance Armstrong is another face that will be missing from the Hamptons and NYC scenes. You might remember that in between break-ups and make-ups with Sheryl Crow he dated a few local lasses. As well, you probably know he is currently working towards winning his eighth Tour de France title. What you haven't heard is that for the final stage he will ride a special bike decorated by internationally famed artist Damien Hirst. The final stage of the race due to finish July 26 will see Armstrong aboard the Hirst bike to promote the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization established to give inspiration and empowerment to people with cancer through education, advocacy, public health and research programs. The bike reportedly features a butterfly design. Don't expect to see this bike on e-Bay, I am sure some smart collector has already made a huge donation to Lance's foundation so that he/she can pedal in grand style.

Lance Armstrong competing in eighth Tour de France competition.

I was so saddened to learn of the unexpected death of the brilliant party planner Robert Isabell who was found dead in his magnificent Greenwich Village townhouse last week after he failed to arrive in the South of France for a party for Ann Cox Chambers. The city medical examiner's office said he died of natural causes. Robert had spent the July Fourth weekend in the Hamptons with friends who were shocked to hear the news. Hotelier Ian Schrager was among the last to see him. Robert who was only 52, and had a strong relationship with the Kennedy clan. He designed the weddings of John Kennedy, Jr. and Caroline Kennedy and the funeral of their mother, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. He handled the most exclusive events around the world from the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute to the weddings of Middle Eastern royalty to lavish at home bashes for the crème de la crème in the Hamptons and New York.

He was an amazing talent with an adroit skill at working with the demands of the very rich without ever losing his cool. He made everyone feel welcome in his soft spoken manner and left us all with great memories of unforgettable fetes. One year he created an enormous wreath of noble fir dotted with 1,500 lights dipped in blue gel for Christmas at the Clinton White House and conjured a Greek temple on a London estate for the wedding of Marie-Chantal Miller, the daughter of the billionaire Robert W. Miller, to Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Anna Wintour remembers friend party planner Robert Isabell.

For the fifth-anniversary party of Vanity Fair, he turned an unused ballroom into homage to the Copacabana, complete with gold spray-painted palm trees and a saxophone choir wearing gold Louise Brooks wigs. In a statement, Anna Wintourfor whom he had created at least 30 events, stated "He was the first one that all of New York society went to for a wedding, for a gala, for a private party. If you could afford him he was a magician. All the great society hostesses - Pat Buckley, Annette de la Renta- used him, and because they used him, all the others wanted to use him."

The parties will be a little less glittering without Robert to oversee each and every tiny detail. A long-time friend of both Jackie Onassis and her great friend Bunny Mellon, he spent many weekends with Mrs. Mellon at her farm in Upperville, Virginia, where he will be buried.

Summer was in the air this week as Hamptonites Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict pulled together another of their fab private screening parties. Their Cinema Society, which has been hosting screening of new films for a diverse mix of Hollywood and young society types, joined with Brooks Brothers & Cotton, to host a screening of "500 Days of Summer." The film was the breakout hit at Sundance, and has been receiving universal raves.

Daniel Benedict throws a screening party.

The screening was at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, followed by a party outdoors in the Yard of the SoHo Grand Hotel.

This party drew more than the usual number of Tinseltown's younger set as word has spread in the industry about their hip after parties. Among the clamoring crowd who joined Cinema Society founders Andrew and Daniel were the film's co-star Geoffrey Arend, the film's writer Michael Weber, Anna Wintour, Leighton Meester, Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men"), Kelsey and Camille Grammer, Tom Cavanagh, Ralph Macchio ("Ugly Betty"), Ben Shenkman, Bebe Neuwirth, Noah Bean ("Damages"), Nico Tortorella and Sara Paxton (CW's "The Beautiful Life"), Ashley Springer, Hilary Rhoda, Nina Dobrev ("Vampire Diaries"), Morena Baccarin ("V"), Paul Iacono ("Fame"), EJ Bonilla ("Guiding Light"), Jake Hoffman, designers Rachel Roy and Jason Wu, Bee Shaffer, Amy Sacco, Laura Brown ("The Fashion Show"), Leigh Lezark (MisShapes), Olympic medalists Jason Rogers and Tim Morehouse, Lorenzo Martone, Jessica Joffe, Sam Shaffer, Kathryn Neale, Allison Sarofim and Brooks Brothers' Arthur Wayne.

We haven't seen our favorite Aussie on the East End this summer but I hear that Nicole Kidman, her hubby Keith Urban and their baby Sunday Rose were in Rhinebeck, New York over the 4th of July weekend for the wedding of director Griffin Dunne to the beautiful Australian film and magazine stylist, Anna Bingemann. There were 80 guests, many from Down Under, and the most literary and celebrated of these was the groom's famous father, writer Dominick Dunne.

Ralph Macchio attends Tribeca party.

The site was Griffin's weekend home in Rhinebeck on the Hudson. Ladies were in summer evening attire; men in linen suits, blazers and ubiquitous white trousers. The bride and groom set the joyous tone by dancing, á la Fred and Ginger, to great applause out of their front door down a green hillside to an ancient tree where the ceremony took place.

Liev Schreiber was there with his Australian film star fiancée, Naomi Watts, Nicole and Anna's great friend. They had their baby boy, Samuel with them. Uma Thurman carried the flag for America, Sacha Baron Cohen was with his Australian wife, Isla Fisher. They also had a babe in arms. Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborah Lee were also on hand. Following a glorious tented dinner, there were fireworks over the Hudson River.

Pool Parties And Summer Fêtes
On Hill Street, Dede Gotthelf owner of The Southampton Inn welcomed Real Housewives star Ramona Singer and Liz Derringer who hosted a lovely poolside birthday party for fashion expert and TV personality Katlean de Monchy which quickly grew to a joint celebration for Sara Herbert Galloway, Maria Rivero and Lynn Dawson. As it turned out all these gorgeous gals shared the same natal day! No problem there was plenty of cake and cool cocktails to go around.

A highlight besides the glam crowd mingling poolside was the appearance of singer Adrianna of the famed Kid Creole and The Coconuts. Adrianna who was married to Kid has a hot single zooming up the charts and serenaded the birthday girls in German!

Dontella Versace designs new tote bag for charity.

The best part of the afternoon however was running into the statuesque young singer/actress Knoelle Higgenson, the daughter of Vy Higgenson the well known radio personality turned theatrical producer. Back in the 1980s Vy and her husband Ken produced one of off-Broadway's longest running hits, "Mama, I Want to Sing" which launched the career of young Desiree Jackson who went on to a successful recording career managed by Patti LaBelle. Vy was pregnant with Knoelle at the time and years later Knoelle would reprise the role Desiree had created in a revival of the hit musical. Now Knoelle tells me they have just completed a film version to be released by Fox in the coming months.

Director Charles Randolph-Wright has assembled a stellar ensemble for this touching story including Billy Zane, Ben Vereen, Kim Porter and Lynn Whitfield, one of my favorite actresses plays Amara's mother. Knoelle has a small part in the film. She also appeared on stage this week at the NAACP Centennial Celebration for a distinguished audience. Also performing at the 100th Anniversary celebration was Sag Harbor's young dynamo Dylan Collins.

Across the pond, Sir Elton John held his 11th annual White Tie & Tiara Ball to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Held at his Windsor mansion, "Woodside", the party featured entertainment by Justin Timberlake and attracted guests such as Sam Taylor Wood, Damien Hirst, Elizabeth Hurley, Kate Beckinsale, Shirley Bassey, Lily Allen, Natalie Imbruglia, Geri Halliwelland Erin O'Connor.

Nicole Kidman attends wedding for fellow Aussie.

The annual ball has raised over $50 million since its inception, with last week's event raising $8 million. Sir Elton reportedly was told about the death of Michael Jackson during the evening, and dedicated a version of "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" to the late King of Pop.

Yes I know you don't need another tote bag but now along comes Donatella Versace with a version that will be hard for anyone with a heart to resist. It's one new bag purchase that comes guilt-free.

As part of the new global initiative Art Unites, a collaboration between Versace and the Whitney Museum of American Art's education department, Versace donated canvases and art supplies to nearly 500 children in the U.S. and 900 children in China through two charities, the Starlight Children's Foundation and the Red Cross Society of China Jet Li One Foundation, respectively.

Based on a theme of friendship, the artwork created by the children will be printed on one-of-a-kind Versace tote bags to be sold worldwide starting in October, through Versace boutiques and online with the Gilt Groupe. Retailing between $200 and $250, 100 percent of the proceeds will be given to the two charities.

Both charities utilize art therapy; in the case of Starlight, to raise the spirits of seriously ill children and their families, and with One Foundation, for the psychological recovery of children affected by the earthquakes last year in the Sichuan province.

"When I visited the first children's center we helped open last year at San Jiang, in the Sichuan province of China, I spent time watching the children drawing and helping them with their work," said Versace. "It was really fun, and I could see how art has helped these kids in their recovery from the trauma of the terrible earthquake that struck the province in 2007."

Come September for Versace's Spring 2010 show, one winning bag from each charity will be featured on the runway.

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