COLUMNS

Diplomat, writer heed cats’ counsel

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • December 14, 2005

by Karen Feld

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Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy asked syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer why – after having interviewed political leaders, including Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat and Hosni Mubarak – she wrote a book on cats, “When Cats Reigned Like Kings.””I got quite tired of human beings,” said Geyer, who calls Egypt the Vatican for cats. “The Egyptians believed that cats had a spirituality.”

The two discussed the nature of cats at the Egyptian Embassy Monday evening at a party in Geyer’s honor. “Cats look at you,” said the ambassador. “What’s missing when people communicate is looking at one another and understanding

others.”

Feline savvy: Cads to cats

Fahmy asked Geyer to choose three politicians or issues and put herself in the place of a cat. “What do you see?”

“Cats are observant,” replied Geyer. “That’s why Egyptians saw the spiritual side of the cat. If a cat looked at the American administration today, he would think: ‘Those people are not covering their tracks. They’re not being wise. They could easily be eaten up by dogs.’ ”

Secondly, Geyer said, “The sultan of Oman would be a ruler. Cats would approve of him. He won the civil war in Yemen. Cats like that kind of strategy.” Thirdly, “Cats would think that Vladimir Putin is short-sighted today, taking over all the NGOs and independent organizations. Cats are in it for the long run. If they want, they can get the best attention and the best

love.”

Kitty’s ‘Governor Darlings’

Kitty Carlisle Hart, 95, told fans at the Corcoran last week, “I’m better-looking now than I ever was.” Perhaps best remembered for her TV game-show one-liners on “To Tell the Truth,” Hart has retained her looks and quick wit. She’s been a longtime arts advocate and served five governors in New York, beginning with Nelson Rockefeller. “I called them all ‘Governor Darling.’ ” None seemed to mind. She said that Gov. George Pataki recently told her: “When you don’t call me ‘Governor Darling,’ I’ll know you’re slipping.”

Her long-lived secret

When asked which decade she remembers as the best of her life, Moss Hart‘s widow quips: “Tomorrow.” Her secret to longevity? She practices her scales at the piano for a half-hour each day. And she even performed a number backed by Washingtonian John Eaton on the piano.

Prince-ly advice

Tony Award-winning producer/director and 1994 Kennedy Center honoree Hal Prince is known for changing the American musical. He said at the Kennedy Center in an arts conversation with Michael Kaiser on Monday evening, “I learned from [George] Abbott and [Jerome] Robbins – the two directors I produced for.”

Prince contrasted the way he and Stephen Sondheim work: “Steve writes everything in pencil with a big eraser. I write everything in ink and can’t get rid of it.” Prince calls himself “pragmatic.”

Musical vs. opera

He talked about the difference between directing a musical and an opera: “In an opera, the composer is dead.” Today, he’s found not only good composers, but talented book writers. “There’s more talent who sing, dance and act. Now everybody does everything,” said Prince, “thanks to not-for-profit theaters who are seeding the next generation of artists.”

Dumbed-down audiences

“It costs so much that we’ve dumbed down the level of the audience,” lamented Prince. “We never would have done ‘West Side Story’ today.” Currently, he’s working on two new shows. One he describes as a quirky Alfred Uri script, called “Love Music,” and the other a Joseph Roth novel called “Paradise Lost.”

Tune talks to the animals

Broadway dancer/choreographer Tommy Tune has canceled his performances at Strathmore later this week so he can star in and direct the musical “Dr. Dolittle.” The Pointer Sisters will fill in.

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