Quite a $50,000 all-nighter

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • July 12, 2005

by Karen Feld


Glowing reports have arrived from the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts – a few dozen members have just returned from five days at the White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mandy and Mary Ourisman; former ambassador to Denmark Stuart Bernstein and his wife, Wilma; Norma and Bill Teifel; Marty Alloy and Darvis Clifton joined co-chairs Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser and a few dozen others on this exciting cultural jaunt. Travelers felt it was well worth their $50,000 contribution.

Michael Kaiser

Getting the gold in arts and philanthropy

The group presented the first annual Gold Medal in the Arts Awards at the Hermitage on June 27. Honorees for lifetime artistic or philanthropic achievement were actor Olivia de Havilland (“Gone with the Wind”); Valery Gergiev, conductor of the Kirov Opera and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre; Martha Ingram, who created the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and chaired the Nashville Symphony Board; Dr. Irwin Jacobs, who led the commercialization of Code Division Multiple Access, the world’s most advanced voice and data wireless communications technology, and pledged $110 million to the University of California at San Diego; Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, who donated the new opera house in Copenhagen called The Opera; and Sir Trevor Nunn, who was artistic director of the National Theatre of London and the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years.

Glamour of Imperial Russia

Though the days of Imperial Russia are over, this festival is still a reminder of its cultural heritage. “The White Nights Ball at Catherine’s Palace, a beautiful blue palace, was the most glamorous,” exclaimed Mary Ourisman, a founding member of the International Board. The group enjoyed lunches and dinners at a variety of palaces. Olivia de Havilland, 89, who joined the group from Paris, “kept up with everybody and still tells great stories with lots of drama,” Ourisman said.

Vodka or gin, da. Tea, nyet

A favorite of the group was one de Havilland told at the Yusupov Palace, where she had previously been invited for tea with the Russian royalty who lived there. She described how one woman, when offered tea, said, “I’ll have a vodka.” The next said, “I’ll have a gin.” “None of them wanted tea,” related the actress in her dramatic fashion.

You’re hired … you’re fired!

Young Republicans didn’t waste any time using The Donald’s line “You’re fired!” on former Army intelligence Officer Kelly Perdew, who is now working for Trump after winning the second season of the NBC-TV series “The Apprentice.” Perdew was scheduled to be Master of Ceremonies at the closing Young Republican National Convention dinner at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas on July 10, but he was abruptly canceled by the group at the last minute. Perdew has a reputation for being demanding, and the Young Republicans – the future Karl Roves – found out firsthand.

“I am still unsure of exactly what happened,” Perdew said. “I hadn’t heard anything negative from anyone until about six hours before I was to leave on a red-eye flight for Las Vegas and my management team informed me that I would not be needed. I spoke with [Nathan Taylor, chairman of the YRNC] for the first time only after I had been given the disappointing news. Mr. Taylor had made up his mind and abruptly ended our conversation.” Perdew’s spokesperson, Brian McWilliams, said, “Kelly, a Republican, agreed to emcee the event for the Young Republicans for no fee other than standard coach travel arrangements.”

The YRs would not comment.

Strike a pose for good cause

Tennis champ Serena Williams, who lives in suburban D.C., joins Christina Aguilera, Victoria Beckham, Anne Heche and other scantily clad celebrity women – 44 total – modeling in “Four Inches” (the name “Four Inches” is derived from the four-inch Jimmy Choo heels the women wear in the pictures), the new top-selling photography book. Sir Elton John wrote the intro and proceeds from the $65 hardcover go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The book was originally launched with an auction in London in May that raised $2.3 million for the charity. Then in June, auctions on both coasts – at New York’s Cartier Mansion and in Los Angeles – raised $225,000 and $357,000, respectively.

Feeling the need for speed

Nathan Pritchett, an auto racing fanatic based in Mt. Airy, Md., has been signed to appear on the SPEED Channel’s new reality TV series PINKS. The drag racing show is aptly named because the loser hands over the pink slip – or title – to his vehicle. Pritchett, president of Shocker Motorsports, said: “I’ll race anything with wheels and an engine.” He’ll have that opportunity when his first race is broadcast next month, and he’s scheduled to appear again in the final episode, which airs in September.

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