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George Christy 11-27-2009

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Pretty Young Things paraded and posed with hands on hips in their borrowed finery for the paparazzi along the red carpet during the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 30th anniversary fannybumper in downtown Los Angeles.  You don’t believe for a minute, do you, that these beauties wear their own gowns to these red carpet rodeos?  Thank you, Signore Armani and Signora Versace, Signore Dolce and Signore Gabbana, and so many other brand-name designers for this generosity.  Nor are our luxury jewelers left behind.

The gala premiered the exhibition of 300 works from 200 artists in the museum’s collection of 6,000, raising $4 million.  Drinking from the cup of culture  were Eva Mendes, Gwen Stefani in torture-chamber footwear, Carey Mulligan, Marisa Tomei, Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale, Zoe Saldana soon to be seen in James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar, Neil Patrick Harris with David Burtka, Christina Ricci, stylist Rachel Zoe, Rose McGowan, Kate Bosworth, Chloe Sevigny, Elizabeth Hendrickson.   Where was our go-everywhere Sharon Stone?   Whoever organized this paparazzi promenade sadly bypassed – in fact, ignored? – the artists whose oeuvres have given luster and credence and infinite value to this comparatively new museum.   Other than Andy Warhol, whose fame has lasted imperiously and rightfully longer than his requisite fifteen minutes, we’re curious to know how many, if any, artists these young beauties are familiar with.  David Hockney?  Jeff Koons?  Ed Moses?  Ed Ruscha?  Billy Al Bengston?  Jackson Pollock?  John Baldassari? Takashi Murakami?  Interesting for bets to be taken?  Our suggestion for those who’d like to be indoctrinated into the art scene.  Tune in to the Molly Barnes Art News radio show on KCSN-FM (88.5) on Sunday nights from 7:30 PM to 8 PM.  Herself an art dealer, Molly’s been interviewing artists and dealers for four years.Darting in and out like peacocks were Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.   After admiring a Mark Rothko painting, the good-looking and talented twosome split from the madding throng of 1,000 to attend a wedding.    Gossip persists that Mamacita Angelina may adopt a baby from Syria without Brad to add to their international family of six – we bow to Angelina for wanting to give another destitute child a better life, and for the vast monies that she and Brad contribute to charitable causes.  She’s spoken out against Barack Obama’s presidency for focusing on “welfare and handouts,” instead of a commitment to education and rehabilitation.     Joining Hollywood’s frosting-on-the-MOCA-cake were Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and mate Lu Parker, the mayor declaring MOCA “a great institution.”  Bolshoi Ballet members danced while Flavor-of-the-Moment Lady Gaga, donning a Frank Gehry chapeau patterned after the Disney Concert Hall, crooned.  Painted bubble-gum pink, her Steinway grand piano was dotted with flurries of blue butterflies by Londoner Damien Hirst, whose works command astronomical prices.  The piano fetched $450,000 at auction.  Not long ago, Damien’s diamond-encrusted skeleton skull fetched $100 million.  Having spent its $38 million endowment, MOCA was rescued with a $30 million gift from Eli Broad, our Los Angeles cultural saint.  His foundation recently built and financed the Broad Stage, a fine addition in Santa Monica (with free parking!).   Currently, England’s Globe Theatre is performing Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost through Sunday at the Broad (pronounced brode).    Detroit-born Eli is see-sawing between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica politicos about building a museum to house his magnificent collection of contemporary art.   Apparently, Beverly Hills is less welcoming than the city of Santa Monica.  Go figure.Any opera with Placido Domingo, our artistic director for the L. A. Opera, is a command performance for operaphiles.   Placido is starring as the defeated Ottoman Emperor Bajazet in George Frideric Handel’s not-often-performed Tamerlano, which premiered in London in 1724.   Considered one of the first great tenor roles ever composed, the heroic Bajazet, Placido finds, “is ideal for my voice.”   He believes it has a key element in common with one of his signature roles, the title role in Verdi’s Otello.  “Another great death scene,” he adds.  “While in real life, I’m upbeat and like to enjoy life, on stage I’m a masochist … the more I suffer, the better I deliver on my music and feelings.”  Performing with Placido were these brilliant young stars.  Bejun Mehta is Tamerlano; Patricia Bardon (Andronico); Sarah Coburn (Placido’s daughter Asteria); Jennifer Holloway (Princess of Trebizond Irene); and Ryan McKinny (Irene’s escort).   All in glorious voice.  William Lacey conducts, albeit the production designed by David Zinn is icily minimalist, with low-key direction from Chas Radez-Shieber.    A generous gift from Pennsylvania-born Barbara Augusta Teichert financed this L.A. Opera production, which runs through December lst.Premieregoers included Lenny and Bernie Greenberg, who underwrite operas; Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley; the eminent cardiologist Dr. Harold Karpman, also a major opera benefactor, with wife Molinda, celebrating her birthday this week.   Harold’s distinguished composer daughter Laura Karpman has been commissioned by the L.A. Opera to create a multimedia work based on L.A.’s first freeway, the 110.   Laura enjoyed huge success this year at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl with her oratorio based on Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama, sung by the infallible diva Jessye Norman.Among the first-nighters were Rhino Records founder and CEO Steve Nemeth and fiancé Blake Lindsley, with their marriage scheduled for early next year, L.A. Opera board president Marc Stern with wife Eva, Patricia Kelly, Katie and Arpad Domyan, beautiful Naz Nourafchan, whose beautiful daughter Alexandra manages filmmaker and designer Tom Ford’s West Coast Office.  More about the genius of Tom and his debut film, A Single Man, which opens December 11th, in a forthcoming column.  Jay Weston escorted Patty Eisenberg, and informs there’s high interest in his remake of the 1959 bewitching romantic comedy, Bell, Book and Candle, based on John Van Druten’s Broadway hit.    Richard Quine’s film featured a superb cast: Kim Novak, James Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, Janice Rule, Elsa Lanchester, and Pyewacket, the cat named after an Egyptian queen.  (At one time, Van Druten had five shows running concurrently on Broadway.) Jay, who commissioned the splendid updated screenplay for Bell, Book and Candle, shares his Beverly Hills apartment with a feline also named Pyewacket.   His update’s a welcome relief from the dysfunctional families and global destruction on our screens for those of us hungering for more fun in the cinemas.   Cross your fingers that this winning film soon will be made, and my ideal picks for the leading roles are Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant.   And Jay’s cat, of course.   Are any agents listening?

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