By Olivia Tracey
It’s nice to know, once Christmas and New Year’s are over, that the party scene doesn’t go down the drain with the last drop of Santa’s brandy. Here in L.A. my social diet has been very healthy indeed, thanks to the company of a stylish Hollywood producer, Gary Goodman of Goodman/Rosen Productions.
Our first engagement at Twentieth Century Fox tops my list as THE party of all time. The occasion was the 50th birthday bash for Steve Tisch, the Oscar-winning producer of “Forest Gump” who, might I add is both everyday down-to-earth and delightful. Mind you, there was nothing everyday about the party which ranks more in the heavenly magical domain. First of all, everybody who is anybody was there including countless studio bosses and a stream of famous faces from the ever gracious Sidney Poitier to Dustin Hoffman, Don Johnson, Heather Thomas and one of my favorites, Greg Kinnear, who I so desperately wanted to approach with lavish praise for his performance alongside Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in “As Good As It Gets.” But alas, a rare shyness got the better of me. Of course it was only momentary, and so I returned with renewed courage toward the screen star only to find him moved on and out of sight. Yet another case of he who hesitates and all that.
However, I continued to swan around, sipping the very free-flowing champagne, taking in the style from ballgowns to micro-minis and politely refusing the abundant hors d’oeuvres in an effort to maintain a flat tummy in my own clinging and most unforgiving number. If only I’d laid off the ice cream the previous week! Nonetheless, as the drapes from the adjoining studio were drawn so too were breaths of amazement as the spectacular dining room was revealed, entirely done up for the special occasion in a most appropriate, pre-Valentine, cardinal red. I mean entirely. Everything was red from the carpet, walls and ceiling to the tables, chairs and magnificent rose arrangements. It was truly fabulous and executed with exquisite style by Steve’s charming wife Jamie, whose taste is no doubt as elegant as she is. Indeed, the menu was no less impressive, featuring my all-time favorite lobster as an appetizer, followed by a choice of herb crusted rack of lamb, Chilean sea bass poulet roulade, porcini mushroom ravioli, artichoke and spinach souffle and the best pommes souffles I have yet to savor. Despite my dietary intentions, I couldn’t ignore my calling “Olivia, Thou shalt eat.” And I did!
At the dining table I found myself in the endearing company of the very beautiful English actress, Charlotte Lewis, who also happens to be of Irish and Iraqi extraction. She was with her fiance who no doubt is as generous as he is in love, judging by the substantial diamond marquis solitaire decorating Charlotte’s elegant hand. Also looking good and equally in love was a much slimmed down Tom Arnold with his shapely and very pretty new wife Julie. Thankfully I was spared what could have been one of the greatest embarrassments of my life as Tom, seeming to be looking in my direction winked and flirted, opening out his arms with an invitation to dance. I stared at him perplexed, wondering “why me?” only to be spared potential embarrassment by the gorgeous Julie who happened to be seated directly in front of me and who of course was the real target of her darling’s enticing gestures. He whisked her with full romantic aplomb onto the dance floor as I quietly heaved a sigh of relief, thankful this time for my propensity to hesitate.
Monsieur Arnold also featured on the big screen during the course of the evening, performing a very amusing tribute to the birthday boy. In fact it was a dynamic and explosive evening in many ways, particularly when the gigantic four-tier birthday cake was wheeled onto the stage and no less than the leggy sequin-clad RuPaul leapt out in all his effervescent energy. Then of course the music started, enabling me to dance off the dinner calories to the best motown hits as I took a step down memory lane to my teenage times in the disco-dancing 70s.
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As usual, I was one of the last to leave, but at the very respectable hour of 11:30 p.m. Mind you, I was sure not to forget my token momentos including a glass burgundy heart in a gold embroidered petit sac and a milk chocolate place-name featuring an imprinted picture of a smiling and very cute baby Steve fitted out most appropriately in nothing but his birthday suit. Of course, don’t you know I ate it the next day. I couldn’t resist it on this perfect chocolate-eating rainy Sunday driving to Montecito, by Santa Barbara, for a mini sojourn at the ideal get-away spot of San Ysidro Ranch. Well, what is life for but to be savored whenever possible! As the movie says, “life is a box of chocolates,” there for the tasting.