Coats, keys and dubious intel

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • December 07, 2005

by Karen Feld

International foreign policy group Le Cercle met at the Madison Hotel last weekend. The group, headed by Lord Lamont of Lerwick, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, meets twice a year. Its membership list is secret, but Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of Saudi intelligence and the new Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., was at its summer meeting in Paris, and the heads of MI-6 and French, Italian, Swiss and Romanian intelligence agencies are regular attendees.

Retired Washington diplomat Kempton Jenkins was spotted after Le Cercle dinner meeting the other evening looking for his trench coat, which had disappeared along with the car keys in its pocket. Another trench coat, with empty pockets, had been left in its stead. Frustrated, Jenkins finally took a taxi home. In the morning, outside the Madison, he found a $20 ticket on his car and a sheepish Robert Bork, who had spoken along with a former deputy CIA director at an off-the-record meeting the evening before, wandering the hotel trying to locate his coat and return the one he had walked off with.

Redford the outdoorsman – or too much hand-shaking?

Robert Redford, after being the center of attention at the Kennedy Center Honors all weekend, was spotted at the bar at the Mandarin Oriental having a nightcap with his family late Sunday evening after the festivities. Photojournalist Carrie Devorah snapped some shots of the actor and is convinced that his hands show signs of psoriasis, the annoying and chronic inflammatory skin disorder. “I can’t touch that. It’s a personal thing, not something he would discuss,” Redford’s publicist Allen Eichorn of PMK told me. “He shook a lot of hands. Maybe his hands are dry and chapped from outdoor activities.”

Clash of the A-list titans

A cold war – some called it World War III in Washington’s top social circles – seems to have broken out Friday evening. There was quite a bit of overlap on the guest lists of two simultaneous A-list parties: Catherine and Wayne Reynolds held their dinner at the Kennedy Center; and Buffy and Bill Cafritz had their party at the Madison Hotel. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and his wife, Abigail, and former Kennedy Center Chairman Jim Johnson and his wife, Maxine, managed to make appearances at both.

Chats at Cafritz bash

Buffy Cafritz surprised hubby Bill with a dance band that only played his favorite music from the ’40s and ’50s. Each guest received a facsimile disc made of chocolate. Former Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher was back in town and had this advice for President Bush: “Hang in there.” … Former Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., acknowledged that outgoing Virginia governor and presidential hopeful Mark Warner “is getting more charisma.” … Talker John McLaughlin said it was like two nuclear reactors going off at his table with his wife, Christina, and the vivacious Terre Blair (composer Marvin Hamlisch‘s wife), just back from a month in Peru. … We wonder what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Buffy Cafritz’s dinner partner, whispered in her ear all evening. … Others enjoying the elegant dinner-dance: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, actors Ron Silver and Michelle Lee, Mayor Anthony Williams, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson with his wife, Suzanne, and Bush 41’s national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft.

Bennett’s double blessing

And another party on Friday evening: Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Black Entertainment Television hosted this one at the Italian Embassy for Tony Benedetto (the singer’s birth name, which means “blessed one”). The Italian ambassador was in New York, and the embassy staff seemed more excited about seeing Kennedy than Bennett. Bennett was amazed when his pal the senator surprised him with a musical satire of his hit songs. “He even sang in tune,” Bennett told me, grabbing both my hands. Bennett was genuinely happy to see old friends and enjoyed the weekend as much as anyone. As a double honor, he was thrilled that the renovated Smithsonian American Art Museum accepted one of his paintings.

Brokaw and CBS?

“CBS takes the high road,” said producer George Stevens Jr. when asked whether retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw‘s tribute to Redford would be cut from the 28th annual Kennedy Center Honors, a CBS taped-for-TV special which airs Dec. 27.

“I think it’ll be OK,” Brokaw said after the show. “Les Moonves told me, ‘We’re hoping to get you on CBS.’ ” Moonves, who has both business acumen and a creative side, has been credited with the network’s success and is rumored to be launching his own cable network.

Bromley consults in Napa

Stan Bromley, 61, who was a popular figure when he ran the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, has shelved his pranks and retired as regional vice president and general manager of the Four Seasons San Francisco after 40 years in the hotel business. Not ready for full retirement, Bromley will be advising William Harlan, owner of Meadowood, the Relais & Chateaux property in the Napa Valley, on an expansion of the resort. It’s likely to become a hot destination for Bromley’s D.C. wine-drinking fans.

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