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A Content King and Fashion Queens

Feb 10, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Paley CenterFor a little more than 12 hours last week, The Insider fluffed up and made like an entry-level socialista/fashionista, a sort of Holly Goheavily.
After a late night Thursday at the picket-free Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for a tribute to Viacom and CBS Corp. Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone to benefit the Paley Center for the Media, it was off the next morning to the Fashion Week tents in Bryant Park for the highlight of The Insider’s winter: the taping of the presentation of the finalists’ collections for “Project Runway.”
The Redstone tribute was a workmanlike evening hosted by Charlie Rose, who stepped in when original host Jon Stewart begged off.
The official reason was that Mr. Stewart was writing for 11 since the Writers Guild of America members on his staff were still on strike. The Insider wants to believe that and not the scuttlebutt that he didn’t want to chance an encounter with WGA picket lines. Either way, Mr. Stewart might be interested to know that Mr. Redstone’s “We both seek the same goal” comments about the three-month standoff were neither remarkable nor enthusiastically received.
Mr. Redstone’s ruminations and reminiscences, on tape and on the stage, supplied the bulk of the tribute. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman also spoke on his behalf at the dinner and in the tape that included comments from former President Bill Clinton, CBS President-CEO Leslie Moonves and former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons.
Paley Center
But, truth to tell, the only times the room felt and showed the love was when the ineffable (and unplugged) Tony Bennett reminded the crowd that Mr. Redstone’s MTV revived his career—and that Mr. Bennett had left his heart in San Francisco—and when CBS News eminence grise Bob Schieffer took the stage with the twangy Honky Tonk Confidential, which includes backup singing from Mr. Schieffer’s assistant Kaylee Hartung and her former college roommate Megan Hunt.
The crowd got into the boot-scootin’ song “TV Anchorman” and Mr. Schieffer’s introduction of it as being “dedicated to you but, in the true tradition of the industry, it’s all about me.”
The Insider particularly appreciated the song written for Mr. Redstone, because Mr. Schieffer frontloaded a whole mess of references to stones (“There are rhinestones and gallstones”). He wound up by rhyming “Tom Cruise,” whom Mr. Redstone did not keep, and “CBS News,” which Mr. Redstone did. Mr. Schieffer even managed to work in the oft-referenced story about the hotel fire Mr. Redstone survived in his pj’s: “You survived because you hung in.”
Speaking of ruptured professional relationships, Mel Karmazin, who took over Sirius Satellite Radio after losing a power struggle with Mr. Redstone at Viacom, earned major points for due diligence and supportive presence as a Paley Center board vice chairman Thursday night.
You couldn’t pay The Insider enough to let those kind of bye-byegones be bygones—well, you could try ….
The fashions ran the gamut from the belle-of-the-ball gray gown that Paley Center President-CEO Pat Mitchell picked up at Miriam Rigler on East 60th Street, where samples are tailored to customers; to the turquoise classic worn by “Good Day New York” co-anchor Jodie Applegate, and the one-shouldered Grecian-style column that set off Kay Koplovitz’s winter tan.
Fast-forward through an hour each of recorded “Lost,” “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” and four hours of sleep to the superlative fashion show put on by “Project Runway,” which has finalists (plus red herrings) put collections on the catwalk at the end of Fashion Week in New York for the Bravo hit’s finale.
Project Runway (Bravo)
The event has gotten so big it graduated from the small, intimate tent it played in for the first three seasons to the biiiiig main tent in which some 900 guests had assigned seating and the photographic crews stood behind the upper rows.
Attending were Bravo and NBC Universal executives and advertisers, of course. There were Bravo reality alumni and “Project Runway” returnees (Season 3’s Laura in an unflatteringly box-pleated cocktail dress of her own design), and contestants’ friends and family (wild child Christian’s not-at-all-fierce mom, Joy, charmed everyone who chatted with her while waiting to get in).
Also there: Bravo Media and Oxygen Media President Lauren Zalaznick, who has reached haircut heaven, with her willowy, self-possessed daughters. Mom and daughters were wearing the outfits they’d worn at the elder daughter’s recent bat mitzvah, which makes them fashion-forward -and -backward at the same time, doesn’t it?
There are now so many kids in the audience (and in the know about every twist and turn of the competition) that New York City should declare a “Project Runway” holiday each Fashion Week. Case in point: NBC VP Elena Nachmanoff’s daughter Frances and son Spencer. They know their “Project Runway” (Frances has even learned how to make clothes herself) and they, like The Insider, came away from Friday pulling for Jillian to be the winner. Mom is thinking it will be Christian.
The judging began two or three hours after the collections were shown Friday and probably didn’t wrap up until the wee, wee hours of Saturday. Victoria Beckham, otherwise known as Posh Spice, joined designer Michael Kors, Elle editor Nina Garcia and model-host Heidi Klum as the guest judge for the finale.
Posh’s entrance threw people inside the tent into a star-struck tizzy. Two observations: She was neither as dead-faced nor as skeletal as she looks in photos.
So now we wait until March 5 to learn who wins “Runway” Season 4.
Will it be another variation on the enfant terrible? Christian’s designs are built for pictures, not people. Rami, the obsessive draper, should have been cut the week of the WWE diva challenge when he produced a pink number that looked like a truncated peignoir from the Mamie Van Doren collection.
On the nice side, there’s the tattoed Sweet P, who got awfully deep into mauve and gold but then hit home runs with an olive, all-but-backless gown and an update on black velvet pants and white shirt for evening.
There’s Chris, gawd love him, the pageant-queen designer who was cut and then resurrected when illness knocked out another contestant. His were the most touching remarks, as he marveled at the moment he was experiencing after a long time of living his life one day at a time. He turned out a number of ensembles that would have been terrific if they hadn’t been trimmed in hair weaves. Yes, you heard The Insider correctly. Hair. Shuhhhhh-der. But you had to love that big, glitzy medallion circled with safety pins on the back of his own jacket. Talk about pizzazz.
But mostly there is Jillian, the delicate flower child-like designer with time-management issues. Her collection, with its Breck Girl-Meets-Mad Max look, had winner written all over it.
Or so it would, um, seam to The Insider. Anyone want to bet otherwise?

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