On shooting the queen and fabulous fashion: The Gabby Guy goes to the Common Wealth Awards and glams it up at Fashion Night Out.
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Sharing the Common Wealth
A militia of orange highway cones and several black-and-white police vehicles, lights flashing, were the first things former “Delaware Tonight” anchor Nancy Karibjanian and ourselves noticed as we entered the Hotel du Pont. Fire drill? Bomb scare? Presidential—or vice presidential—visit?
As we reviewed our prepared questions for the press conference with this year’s PNC Common Wealth Awards laureates, we wondered who paid for the enhanced security for writer Salman Rushdie (award for literature) and how Sir Rushdie must feel knowing his presence requires so much extra preparation, not to mention constant looking over his shoulder since the release of his controversial “The Satanic Verses” in 1988.
Another question we probably wouldn’t ask (professional politeness trumping personal pique) was for famed photographer Annie Leibovitz (mass communications), whose recently reported financial problems prompted us to wonder if she had any immediate plans for the $50,000 in prize money that she, Rushdie, actress Laura Linney (dramatic arts) and humanitarian Greg Mortenson (public service) each received.
We didn’t ask, but in trying to find a Delaware connection to the four, we asked Annie about Tiaragate, the press-born name for her photo session with Queen Elizabeth in March 2007. The palace asked Leibovitz to take photos for the queen’s visit to the States. Leibovitz asked HRM if she’d mind trying a few shots without the crown. The queen appears cloaked in a cape, staring somberly, silver hair unadorned. The New York Post wrote that she resembled “George Washington crossing the Delaware.”
“What do you think of these comments?” we asked, but before answering, Leibovitz claimed a connection to the state with a crowd-pleasing, “We used to go to Rehoboth when I was a child.”
She then called the “nasty Post’s” comment “colorful,” then quickly elaborated on her fondness for the British and the queen. Leibovitz credited “Mum” for her “liking people” and being “more interested in who they are than what they do.” “I even liked Richard Nixon,” Leibovitz said.
It seems as though Laura Linney’s performances resonate in just about everything we’ve ever seen, from HBO’s “John Adams” to the major motion picture “Lorenzo’s Oil.” Linney is the super-industrious actor and producer who has won two Emmys. We asked Linney about wrapping up her Broadway run of Donald Margulies’ “Time Stands Still,” which addresses one’s responsibility to his or her community and the world, and what it felt like to be recognized for meeting and surpassing those responsibilities in her personal life. “Like squeezing a watermelon into my head through my ear,” was her reply.
Greg Mortenson, recently famous for building girls’ schools in Pakistan through Pennies for Peace, related two thoughts with Delaware connections. On the recent Race to the Top grant, “It’s important that rural as well as urban (educational) successes get noticed,” he said, and on Delaware’s anti-smoking campaign, “I’d hire non-smokers.” Mortenson’s story is truly inspiring. See his international best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea” (2006) and his latest, “Stones Into Schools,” for much more.
Rushdie requires an entire issue to acknowledge his vast accomplishments. Not surprisingly he was eloquent and entertaining. Surprisingly, he was funny, recounting his days at an English boarding school and the three things a newbie student must not be: foreign, smart and bad at games. “I was all three. Of “The Satanic Verses,” one former teacher asked, “How did a nice, quiet boy get into so much trouble?” Judging by all the orange cones and police cars, it looked like a bit of trouble still followed him.
Following a quick refresher, the fabulous foursome fearlessly fulfilled their obligation to meet and greet with each of the 200 VIP ticket-holders. My favorite morsel, plucked from the Du Barry Room: Gerret and Tatiana Copeland telling Ms. Leibovitz about their collection of outré (he’s an Annie fan), and their sponsorship of an upcoming performance by the Russian National Orchestra for Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow—as arranged by the Copelands’ friend, Sophia Loren.
Page 2: A Most Fashionable Affair