The set: the icy chill of a tented quarter-mile hallway leading to the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center on March 24.
The story onstage at the Met: love, identity confusion, and some cross-dressing in the 19th century. Met director Bartlett Sher has described "Le Comte Ory" as "a place where love is dangerous. People get hurt."
"That can be very funny and very painful," quips Sher.
Let the media coverage begin!
The Obama-appointed ambassador, a font of Indiana-spun charm, is a formidable advocate of biodiversity, a former environmental lawyer, and an entrepreneur. At her current post, when she isn't glued to her BlackBerry or being whisked off by her security detail, she spends 16 hours a day at chess like diplomacy.
Friday afternoon, a breath of jungle steam greeted RSVIP as the cabin door of my Taca Airline flight opened at San Jose International Airport. After a bumpy, 20-minute taxi shuttle through gumdrop volcanic hills, we puttered up to the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazu, a chichi suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica. A cacophony of parrots in palm fronds screeched overhead. A five-story lobby and a kickboxing session at the spa overlooked two attractive pools with a throbbing water feature. Views were complemented by an, ahem, $41 Mexican buffet and a Factory Steak and Lobster restaurant with tables facing the pool. A nearby mall boasts a Givenchy boutique, but good luck crossing the street at rush hour.
The Backstory: I won't give the year, but in High School, back in Falls Church, Virginia, Cohen introduced me to his close friend, then known as Julie (nee Smith), a sweet redheaded sophomore. We went on exactly one date, Homecoming. Bruce was always the hyper-organized one, who made all the posters for class elections. At Yale, we were in the same film class. As RSVIP practically lives on the red carpet, I have run into both him and Julie (now Julianne Moore) every few months over the past 20 years.
And on Oscar Sunday, Februry 27, true to his word, Cohen invited RSVIP inside the world's largest red-carpet media bubble.
The tent for the Film Independent Spirit Awards was a white plastic Quonset hut the size of an office complex. A crane huddled beside the white plastic structure that rippled in the wind. But apparently it was strong enough to hold the man standing on it three stories in the air, drawing a rope over the top.
Driving wind cut across the choppy surf, accumulating fine sand on the cement bike path. In our bones, we could feel the raw, salty proximity to the briny sea. One foreign female journalist in a short black sequined dress had goose bumps on her legs that resembled hives.
Waiting while staffed dried rain that had poured into the tent the night before, the press struggled for an hour in the bitter chill.
By 11:00 a.m.,the gray carpet arrivals corridor was flanked on one side by metal stanchions and a thousand journalists. Open at both ends it had flaps cut into the side facing the Pacific, creating a mild wind-tunnel.
"I love the weather," said director John Waters, above, a host at previous events, wearing Comme des Garcon and pants decorated with camouflage paint. "It's like a face lift." Actor Rainn Wilson, too, said he was relaxed "not to be hosting this time."
RSVIP received the most extraordinary invitation from Trident Vitality as a part of Vanity Fair magazine's Campaign Hollywood. It was sent by express mail to my office in a mirrored box that will end up on a shelf at my house.
Thanks to the impressive physical invite, RSVIP had meant to stop by the West Hollywood event, ending at 6:00 p.m., but got caught up with work. The party launched the new Trident Vitality flavors. And the box also held a supply of Trident Vitality gum, which does have delicious flavor. But, sadly, a turn in the weather and traffic made the timing impractical.
On Friday afternoon, with only two days before the Academy Awards, the sunny weather we had been enjoying took a turn for the worse. With chilly temperatures and driving rain, Soho House, with its underground garage and sparkling penthouse views on Sunset Boulevard, called.
The Fourth Annual Women in Film pre-Oscar cocktail party began at 5:00 p.m. on February 25. As RSVIP arrived, we spotted Amy Sacco, a tall, blond diva of New York night life, leaving the underground parking structure at 9200 Sunset Boulevard. She was likely beginning her day.
When yet another special Amy, Amy Adams from "The Fighter," above, climbed out of her black town car, she was fighting with her clingy black dress.
The fabric had gathered static and had ridden up in the car. And she repeatedly pulled it down and flattened out wrinkles before facing the phalanx of photographers.
At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 24, RSVIP took a quick right off Sunset Boulevard up the palm-lined driveway of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and an efficient attendant in a polo shirt commandeered my rental car.
Downstairs, by the leafy patio, a slenderized Jennifer Hudson had her adorable baby in tow during arrivals at the 2011 Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood Awards luncheon. Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Viola Davis were also being honored.
"This is very important to me," Davis, right, told RSVIP concerning the event. "Black women need to be acknowledged as often as possible," she said. "There's the business of deprivation of roles, and even when we've done roles, they often seem to be roles that aren't fleshed out."
Wednesday evening, the black-and-yellow Bugatti Veyron, a bumblebee of a race car, parked daily outside of Bijan on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and, emblazoned with Ettore Bugatti's initial logo, "EB," was drawing crowds as usual.
In the plush interior of Solange Azagury-Partridge, a gem of a jewelry store, just down the hill, a glam Katharina Harf, near right, was hosting cocktails for DKMS, a center which has registered 2.6 million bone-marrow donors worldwide.
Colorful rings that resembled lips glimmered in a glass display case. And Zooey Deschanel, above right, in a Valentino dress with a glittering gold pattern soon joined the party. Over wee hors d'oeuvres in puffed pastry, wine and sparkling water, Harf mentioned that she founded DKMS in Germany after losing her mother to leukemia.
Nonetheless, a brave cab driver agreed to head for JFK, and American Airlines was still flying. In fact, the flight landed at LAX in plenty of time for RSVIP to drive a rented Chevy HHR directly to the airport in Santa Monica to catch the Cartoon Network's Hall of Game Awards, taking place that afternoon at Barker Hanger.
Bleachers facing the Astroturf arrivals carpet were filled with shrieking tweens, and on the tail end of the NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, the Hall of Game Awards, hosted by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, included numerous famous athletes and child stars.
A low-key Drew Brees, left above, wearing dark blue jeans, mentioned to Luxist that he has two sons at home, "a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old." Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers wore a black ring, edged with diamonds, with Roman numerals on it. We asked if it was his prize from the Super Bowl. "This is my wedding ring," answered Jennings. "I don't even know if that ring is designed yet."
Kiefer Sutherland and his delightful gal pal, Siobhan Bonnouvrier, a fashion editor at Allure, were squeezed into one corner. Author Simon Doonan and his boyfriend, Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, chatted with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelo. Iman, looking as youthful as the first day she arrived in New York, stood catty-corner beside designer Tory Burch.
Linda Wells, Allure's alluring Editor in Chief, later seated beside the Beckhams at dinner, dinged her glass and made a speech about "loving" her 20th-anniversary cover girl, Victoria Beckham. Did RSVIP mention that the steaks were enormous and delicious? Fun fete.
The sexiest scene RSVIP noted was backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger show on Sunday, right, where the well-known new youth models, Arizona and Jordan, among many others, had their hair wetted as jugs of water were poured over their heads into a large plastic trash can backstage before they began drying their own tresses.