March 11th, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
by David Patrick Columbia
The calendar was full last night on the social side of New York. All kinds of things going on. Over at Sotheby’s on York and 72. Guild Hall was holding its Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner, celebrating an “Evening of Artistic Achievement." They were honoring Blythe Danner (for Performing Arts), Philippe de Montebello, the former longtime president of the Metropolitan Museum, for Visual Arts; Barbara Walters (need I say more?), and Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder who were given a Special Award for Leadership and Philanthropic Endeavors.
Then, over at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle, The Women’s Project Theatre were holding their Women of Achievement Awards Gala, with special guests Veanne Cox and David Hyde Pierce with a special Tribute to Dorothy Fields (“I won’t dance Madam, with you; My heart won’t let my feet do things they should do…”) – the great Dorothy Fields.
At the same out over at 583 Park Avenue, The New York School of Interior Design honored Mariette Himes Gomez and Charles Jencks at their annual Spring dinner.
And where was I? I was over at Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Frederick P. Rose Hall The Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770, was hosting its annual Order of the Golden Sphinx Gala, honoring film producer David Heyman.
You know about Hasty Pudding… or you’ve heard of it. I had; and knew very little otherwise. It’s Harvard social club (The Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770) for students that comprises three entities: the Hasty Pudding Club, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and Harvard Krokodiloes undergraduates and alumni. It’s very prestigious, and several presidents have been members and some very great American theatrical and film talent once belonged, when they were students.
The evening’s emcee was Andrew Farkas, the real estate executive who is a Harvard alumn and a member of Hasty Pudding. Mr. Farkas has a bright and outgoing personality and as an emcee you could almost believe he was in show business himself. A jolly good fellow, he set the tone for the evening which reflected the fraternal jocularity (which never gets old despite itself) of the club and its members and its honorees. In other words, there we were sitting in that wonderful amphitheater overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park South to the east with most men in black tie, and quite a few “actors” in colorfully glamorous drag and the emcee roasting the honoree, and it was Harvard in New York too.
Andrew Farkas, the night's emcee, opening the evening.
You know what I mean? I actually chose to attend that particular event last night because ... I’d never been to a Hasty Pudding event and wondered what it was like.
Well, it was like I said: Jocular, fraternal, affectionate, fun and roasty.
Mr. Heyman if you didn’t know is an enormously successful film producer -- Harry Potter series, Gravity – which won seven Oscars this year, and several others. He’s been so successful in his filmmaking career that he probably can’t believe it himself (he comes from a film producing family so he knows the score and its unevenness). But they had, at the end of the evening, a vid of Sandra Bullock sitting in her car putting on lipstick with her kid sitting in the car seat next to her, and while looking in the mirror at her lipsticking, says, “so who is this David Heyman? Everyone says I know him. Sorry, I never heard of him, what can I say?” Very believable and very funny. Like the whole evening.
David Heyman receiving his "Golden Sphinx" from Andrew Farkas.
Making his acceptance speech (brief).
The awardee with his Gold Sphinx. The awardee's parents Norma and John Heyman.
It was just this side of a send-up, except it wasn’t. It was affectionate and celebratory, and Mr. Heyman himself (who was attending with his mother and father, Norma and John Heyman and his brother) acquiesced with amused dignity. Both parents are in the business: Norma is an actress and producer (Dangerous Liaisons), as is John who has produced several films (including The Go-Between) and television programs, and is also a talent agent.
I had actually met the Heymans several years ago when JH and I were in Abu Dhabi at the Festival of Thinkers, and since then I’ve often seen them around New York dining out or at events. I knew vaguely about their careers but was not aware of how productive and prolific they’ve been, along with their son (he and Sandra Bullock coincidentally share a birthday, 7/26, as do I with them but with a twenty-year difference in age).
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals at work.
David Heyman’s “acceptance” was serious and modest, and keeping with the tone of the evening. It was basically a love-in for a good time. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals members added the punch and dash and jazz. Completely unexpected was the highlighting of this organization’s serious endeavors. Besides its distinguished clubbiness and theatricals and the talents which have sprung forth from it, its members are deeply and actively involved philanthropically assisting children and individuals of the community through direct service and fund-raising.
The Order of the Golden Sphinx gala was produced by Amanda Lipitz Productions and written and composed by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde: The Musical, The Explorers Club) and Larry O’Keefe (Legally Blonde: The Musical, Heathers: The Musical), both alumni of the Pudding, all performed by Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Harvard Krokodiloes undergraduates and alumni.
Andrew Farkas in introducing David Heyman's award reminded the audience that one Golden Sphinx award outweighs Seven Oscars!
A closeup of the award.
The Order of the Golden Sphinx, named for a traditional symbol of The Hasty Pudding Institute, is the highest honor bestowed by the Institute and recognizes individuals in the entertainment industry for their extraordinary contributions to the performing arts. The recipient represents the Institute’s mission to support and foster the performing arts within its membership, at Harvard, and the community at large.
A wonderful evening in the Big Town. And ... cocktails, dinner, presentations, acceptances, along with dessert (Hasty Pudding, what else ...?) and and a show, we were out of there at nine o’clock! How could it go wrong?