Jezebel’s Henry Stimler Reveals His Casino Royale-Themed Gala & Favorite Bond Girl

The previews of The Great Gatsby have me totally psyched up. Leo as Gatsby is a big ZOWIE! for me. Baz will understand. I’ve read Gatsby a zillion times. I relish the eternal optimism of the lead, his romance, his insane quest. The parties in Fitzgerald’s great tome – which attract all types, and devolve into the impure-ist bedlam – are the model for my events. The rich hobnobbing with the dressed-up peasants, the debaucherous under-classes worked well for me. Nowadays, nightlife is more segregated. Slumming isn’t the norm for the well-heeled, as most opt for mingling within the same class. The top spots thrive on big bucks and exclusivity as opposed to inclusivity. There are exceptions to this rule: usually the fun night at the usually boring joint. The hoi polloi have been banished to Brooklyn and they thank you very much. 

At Capitale’s Casino Royale-themed gala January 26th with Henry Stimler (Jezebel) and Seth Greenberg (Capitale) at the helm, the price of admission is $125, separating the men from the moochers. Capitale,130 Bowery at Grand, is the perfect setting for such an affair. The building was designed by Stanford White who was murdered by a millionaire who learned of an affair between the architect and his model wife which predated the marriage. Stanford White designed the house where Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald attended those lavish parties that inspired him. Stanford also designed the Arch in Washington Square Park, The Players Club Mansion on Gramercy Park. The old post office on 31st and 8th and tons of other places. He was the epitome of the American renaissance of architecture. His murder at the hand of Harry Kendall Thaw was the "trial of the century.” Capitale is there to behold. Its beauty, timeless. Its ability to host great events, legendary. I think this is an event of Gatsby-esque proportions. J. Bond and J. Gatsby are great icons. 

This Saturday, the Casino Royale Gala will attract the best. There will be gaming tables and a live symphony orchestra and sexy singers who will perform every Bond song. There will be a late DJ set by Antonio de Angelis of Pacha Ibiza. Aston Martins will be parked outside. Shaken not stirred martinis will be  served by gold painted ladies. It’s a costume party and attendees are encouraged to come as their favorite Bond character. They have provided this link for all info and costume concepts. A full 20 percent of ticket sales will go to the Tunnel to the Towers Foundation in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. A VIP table for five people goes for $2,000, for 10 people $4,000. There is a $50 ticket after 12:30p.m. as well. Their last event, “Midnight in Paris,” was all the rage and this looks like tons of fun.

I asked Henry Stimler a few questions.

What will guests see when they attend?
We are going to create a world of all things Bond, from being greeted by Miss Moneypenny, to tarot card readers, gold-painted ladies, Bond ice sculptures, full band, different singers performing all 22 Bond-themed songs, and of course a casino with amazing prizes.

What will they hear?
Well, the band will play during the gambling etc., then for the after party we are flying in Italian DJ Antonio De Angelis with DJ V to spin from 1am to 4am.

The reason for the Bond theme: is it just because it’s plain sexy?
It’s more than sexy, it’s iconic. I love Bond, and think everyone has that fantasy, the opening scene of Dr. No sitting at the table, lighting a smoke, and saying that immortal line, “Well, here you can embrace it, grab your best tux, strap on a Walter PPK (fake on please), and pull off your best ‘Bond, James Bond’ to a beautiful women, and the place will be full of beautiful Bond girls.

Why January 26th?
It’s my birthday on the 28th, so I kinda rolled with that weekend.

What have you learned from your previous event, Midnight in Paris?
Midnight in Paris was a smashing success. Everywhere people went that night, they ran into flapper girls. I ended up at 6am in a top hat and tails and the door guy asking me "what the hell’s with all the 1920s outfits tonight?” New Yorkers embrace themed parties it seems. We put on a big production –  but this one is bigger.

It’s you, Seth Greenberg, and who else?
We always have a team of people, such as Yana Tara, Michael Heller, Gary Quirk, Vito, Matt Esstes, and Vanessa Gil, but it’s just me and Seth for promotion.

Your restaurant Jezebel is providing "bites." Tell me about bites and, while you’re here, Jezebel. Who goes there? Has the kosher cuisine crossed over, and been embraced by non-Jewish patrons?
Jezebel has been a trip. We are seven months in and it’s going great. I think it’s really been embraced by people. You get such a huge mix of people, it really is the melting pot that is NYC. On any given night, you can have your table of 5 Chabad dudes sitting next to two football players with their girlfriends, next to a table of models, then a rabbi and his wife on a date, next to some huge financiers next to Russell Simmons. We have a great new chef, Chris Mitchell, formerly of The Breslin. He is just great.

For Bond, we are going to do a mix of Goldfinger food and Bond-inspired snacks. It’s gonna be very cool and super delicious.

Ok, ok, ok, who’s your favorite Bond? Who’s your favorite Bond villain and your favorite Bond girl?
Sean Connery, hands down, for favorite Bond, the girl in The Spy Who Loved Me, and Goldfinger as my fav Bond villain: "I don’t expect you to talk, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." Classic stuff.

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Tomorrow Night: It’s Midnight in Paris at Capitale

It’s early morning as I write this. I am sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by my puppy and Buster, my cat. The patio door is open. Our eye contact is easily understood as we wink and smile at each other in delight. The air reeks of spring, which has been elusive so far. A hint here and there has left us unsatisfied. We want to toss the cold weather gear into that closet where the cat will sleep on it till late September. There is romance in the air today and romance is all that I will speak about.

An extremely romantical soiree is near. A night for those who believe they are the upper crust, the better half, the enlightened, the enfranchised will be held at the extremely romantic Capitale this Saturday. French Cabaret Dinners is inviting the jet set to a 1920s-themed dinner party called Midnight in Paris, inspired by the movie. Capitale was designed by the infamous architect, bon vivant Stanford White who was shot on the roof of the second Madison Square Garden, a building he designed about a hundred and five years ago. The murder was over a model – Evelyn Nesbit – and the jealous rage her millionaire hubby, Harry Kendall Thaw – couldn’t control any longer. Sanford was a playboy. He built a circular room in his home with mirrors all around and a single swing in the middle. He lured pretty young things to this den and had them swing naked and then did manly things to them. Legend has it that the popular, romantic song "I Could Love a Million Girls" was playing at the time. Stanford designed the legendary mansion, Lands End, on the Long Island Sound which is said to have inspired the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Daisy…Gatsby, F,Scott …It doesn’t get ,more romantic than that. Stanford’s work lives on. He did the arch in Washington Square Park which should be more romantic than it currently is.

I read the following:

"He designed and decorated Fifth Avenue mansions for the Astors, the Vanderbilts (in 1905), and other high society families. His Washington Square Arch still stands in Washington Square Park, and so do many of his clubs, which were focal points of New York society: the Century, Metropolitan, Players, Lambs, Colony and Harmonie clubs. His clubhouse for the Atlantic Yacht Club, built in 1894 overlooking Gravesend Bay, burned down in 1934. Sons of society families also resided in White’s St. Anthony Hall Chapter House at Williams College, now occupied by college offices."

Capitale is wonderful and the perfect setting for this spring fling. There will be a three-course dinner and dancing, and even a late-night smash for those who have other dinner plans. It will have a 1920s feel, and I have been told to leave my Mets hat at home – I’m thinking Brooklyn Dodgers. They were so romantic. I rarely attend such parties, but my friend Henry Stimler is that kind of guy and he is hosting along with Roberto Buchelli, Seth Greenberg, Yana Tara, and that Alacran guy, Arty Dozortsev.

I caught up with Henry and asked him all about it.

Besides dressing like David Niven, what do you do?
I was a private equity chap for nine years, but after the banking crisis I decided to devote myself full-time to the world of nightlife. So besides building my restaurant Jezebel – which should be open in June – I host a weekly live-music night at Winston’s Champagne Bar on a Wednesday night, Yiddish Cabaret at The Box once a month, French Cabaret Dinners at La Petite Maison bi-monthly, and now concept parties at Capitale, our first being a 1920s-themed party called Midnight in Paris.

I’m getting lots of notices about this Saturday’s event at Capitale. What’s this event about ? Who are the players?

It’s getting to that point that people are somewhat bored of the same thing over and over again, sitting and sipping vodka and tonic and making polite conversations – they want to be entertained, Midnight in Paris is a production; it’s going to take you back to that glorious age of live music, singers, dancers, burlesque, flapper girls, jazz, etc. It’s an entire production, and you get to dress like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda – what could be better than that? I have the amazing Seth Greenberg, owner of Capitale, the elegant Roberto Buchelli, Arty of San Anturo, and Alacran as our sponsor and, of course my girl Yana Tara; a rather formidable team, wouldn’t you say, sir?

Capitale is a wondrous building designed by the infamous Stanford White. He also designed the house that The Great Gatsby centered around. Is there a Gatsby-esque era going on now or is it always going on for some, but at times it expands and retreats? Is Stanford White’s Capitale providing the romance needed for a gala event?
I can’t think of a better space then Capitale for this sort of party; from the minute you walk up, its special, and we have added so many things to evoke the 1920s, from the Rolls Royce parked outside, to scenes of Paris – it’s going to be wonderful. As for the Gatsby-esque period, I think it comes and goes and movies bring it back to the forefront; Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris for me and the new Baz Luhrmann-directed Gatsby movie brings it again.

On a broader note: when I see you, I see a bon vivant. Where do you go? And when you "slum," what amuses you?
I go everywhere. Seriously, there is no place that I won’t go check out at least once. But I have my regular haunts; I love the posh lounges like Rose Bar, Provocateur, and Boom Boom Room. I love the rock & roll places like The Bowery Electric and Sons of Essex, when Madame Wong’s was around, that was my home, prior to the now-shuttered Beatrice. I haven’t had a "home" since – Provocateur being my most regular. Hopefully, when Jezebels is open, that will be everyone’s new home. When I slum, it’s home with the GF watching movies. I think tonight we have Chariots of Fire and Casino Jack on the agenda.

Paris’ Palace Hotels Get A Royal Transformation

Le Bristol, Le Crillon, Le Meurice, Le Ritz, and George V don’t just represent some industry- approved pinnacle of excellence; they’re points of national pride akin to the Sorbonne and the Pompidou. They convey the inimitable ability of the French to transcend what is otherwise a mostly banal, unseemly, global race to the top of the luxury market and actually cultivate history through impeccable hospitality. Amenities are just so much stuff—mythology is what makes a hotel grand.

Yet those same storied Paris hotels have been basking in an unofficial but earnest classification unduplicated anywhere else in the world: they were “Palace” hotels, a lofty designation that conjures the opulence of Louis XVI without, until recently, really meaning much. When the decision by the French government came down in late 2011 that the Palace title would be subject to a comprehensive set of criteria, those responsible might just as well have announced that a KFC would be opening in the Louvre. Only Le Bristol, Le Meurice, the Plaza Athenee and, a bit surprisingly, the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme were initially honored with the title. The release of the list conjured a cultural tempest: both Le Crillon and Le Ritz announced two-year closures for the purpose of carrying out extensive modernizations. The legendary George V, which had undergone a complete renovation in the late ’90s, appealed the decision and was admitted.

The point of the whole exercise was to identify the finest hotels in a city where outrageous luxury is merely a starting point, and while many have decried the omissions, there’s no arguing that the members of the inaugural class of official Palace hotels are among the sweetest sleeps on the planet.

No longer able to skate by on history and reputation, today’s Palace hotels have to work overtime to capture the mix of modern amenities and timeless elegance required to earn the designation. Perhaps anticipating such a defining shake-up, Anglo-hearted Le Bristol had already begun facing down such lavishly appointed, foreign-owned new competitors as the Mandarin Oriental and the Shangri-La, as well as the hundred-million-euro update of Le Royal Monceau by Singapore’s Raffles Hotels. Le Bristol had recently scored perhaps the ultimate coup, having been significantly featured in Woody Allen’s dazzlingly reviewed 2011 film Midnight in Paris, all while deftly carrying out a sweeping renovation. Its parade of celebrity devotees (Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio, etc.) were left quite unbothered by it all, as the hotel unveiled the new Matignon wing and the chic 114 Faubourg—a culinary complement to Chef Eric Frechon’s exalted, three-Michelin-starred Epicure restaurant—in 2009, and the Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie in 2011.

The transformation was completed in October with the unveiling of Le Bar du Bristol. Bearing the aesthetic stamp of French superstar designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the hotel’s glamorous new lounge evokes a classical, club-room feel, with an ornate 19th Century marble fireplace, plush leather armchairs, and Thierry Bruet’s Aubusson-tapestry-referencing mural fresco—yet it also cagily plans a rotating series of contemporary works of art and guest DJ appearances.

Perhaps Le Bar Du Bristol’s true stroke of genius was luring talented young cocktail alchemist Maxime Hoerth—who sharpened his skills in swish hotels from Strasbourg to Luxembourg—away from rival hotel George V. His drinks program favors clever re-imaginings of the classics, such as the Bristol Old Fashioned No. 1, which is made with coffee beans and maple syrup.

So the question is: with Le Ritz shuttered, with Eric Frechon now regarded by many as the top chef in Paris, and its movie star and fashion industry following unwavering in their loyalty, could Le Bristol now be regarded as the new benchmark of Paris luxury hotels?

CEO Didier Le Calvez thinks so. “Le Ritz was likely first in the 1990s and Four Seasons George V in the early 2000s,” he says. “But if we consider the investments of Le Bristol’s owners, the hotel has the vocation to be the palace for this decade.”

Like Picasso and Matisse, or Camus and Sartre, it’s one of those grand French contretemps that is likely to carry on in gloriously dramatic fashion.

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William Faulkner Estate Gets Lawsuit-Happy On ‘Midnight In Paris,’ WaPo

The estate of the late novelist William Faulkner was feeling litigious this week. Lawsuits were filed against The Washington Post and Sony Picture Classics, which produced Woody Allen’s film Midnight In Paris, over copyright infringement. 

Sony is in trouble for a line in Midnight In Paris uttered by Owen Wilson, in a script written by Allen which was not attributed to Faulkne. "The past is not dead," Wilson’s character muses. "Actually, it’s not even passed. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party." This is, of course, the famous Faulkner line, "The past is never dead. It’s not even passed" from his novel Requiem For A Nun.

Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed the lawsuit on Thursday, claiming this quote was not fair use. As The Hollywood Reporter explains, the suit alleges:

The use of the infringing quote and of William Faulkner’s name in the infringing film is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to deceive the infringing film’s viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.

Then yesterday, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed another lawsuit against The Washington Post and an advertisers. The Post is getting spanked alongside the Northrop Grumman Corporation for running a full-page ad with a quote Faulkner wrote about freedom, The Hollywood Reporter explains. Faulkner Literary Rights LLC alleges that Grumman ran an advertisement on July 4 which stole the writer’s line "We are free not because we claim freedom but because we practice it."  Faulker wrote that back in June 1956 for Harper’s in an essay called "On Fear: The South In Labor." 

Sony dismissed the lawsuit to THR as "frivolous"; the Post declined to comment.  

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Listen to Woody Allen Plot Out ‘Midnight in Paris’ Almost 50 Years Ago

Midnight in Paris was a batch of fresh cookies for Woody Allen fans waiting for the jittery heeb to get back in winning mode after a few decades of on-again, off-again success. But did you know the idea for the movie may have come before anyone even knew who he was, way back in the swinging ’60s? The Nerdist’s Jake Kroeger calls attention to a track called "Lost Generation" from a compilation of Allen’s stand-up material, recorded almost 50 years ago. In it, Allen describes getting critiqued by Gertrude Stein, getting punched in the face by Hemingway, meeting Dali, looking over Picasso’s paintings and running into F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald on the back end of a bender — a rough handful of plot details included in Midnight in Paris, but without the formal structure. Listen to it after the click, via Vulture.

They’re not really "jokes" so much as "a smart guy talking about how much he’s read," but it’s interesting to consider how long the idea may have taken to turn over in Allen’s febrile mind before it became a movie that would sweep every screenplay award a lifetime later. Almost all of the jokes are contextual, as Kroeger points out, which means that Allen’s had the benefit of playing to English majors for almost his entire life. It also makes you realize that Owen Wilson’s character in the movie was certainly a role Allen himself would’ve played were he a younger man.

2011 Oscar Nominations Go More or Less as Expected

With the speed of a lumbering engine powered by critical hubris and self-importance, the 84th Academy Awards nominations dropped into our newsfeeds this morning with predictable result. Did you know that people liked The Descendants this year, The Artist as well? Brad Pitt and George Clooney scored the requisite Hollywood heartthrob acting votes (they will lose to the no-name French guy who doesn’t talk), while Meryl Streep got her due for sticking around. Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese were also nominated, just like they always are. It’s another Oscar ceremony, y’all!

But not to sound cynical or anything. It’s somewhat surprising, though definitely nice, to see Terrence Malick get official recognition for The Tree of Life, even if there’s almost no way the hype-happy Academy will give their highest awards to a movie with more than a handful of inscrutably artsy scenes. Equally surprising on the other end is the inclusion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a movie that no one seemed to like but not for any inscrutably artsy reasons, simply because it’s kind of schmaltzy and not very good. Why not give the spot to something innocuous like Bridesmaids or even the last Harry Potter movie, if they’re trying to go commercial? Madness, it’s all madness. (I won’t even get started on Albert Brooks’ snub for Drive.) You can look at the important nominees below, or go to the Academy’s website for the full list.

Best Picture
The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Actor in a Leading Role
Demian Bichir – A Better Life, George Clooney – The Descendants, Jean Dujardian – The Artist, Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis – The Help, Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn

Michael Hazanavicius – The Artist, Alexander Payne – The Descendants, Martin Scorsese – Hugo, Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris, Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branaugh – My Week with Marilyn, Jonah Hill – Moneyball, Nick Nolte – Warrior, Christopher Plummer – Beginners, Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Actress in a Supporting Role
Berenice Bejo – The Artist, Jessica Chastain – The Help, Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs, Octavia Spencer – The Help

May Movie Reviews: ‘Last Night,’ ‘Dumbstruck,’ ‘Everything Must Go’

Last Night What actually transpires in Last Night is beside the point. It’s the possibility that something might happen, specifically in the form of extramarital hanky-panky, that creates the bulk of the tension in Massy Tadjedin’s romantic drama. Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael Reed (Sam Worthington) have been happily married for seven years when Michael introduces his wife to his new coworker, an exotic bombshell named Laura (Eva Mendes, once again reduced to a homewrecking fetish object).

While Michael and Laura are out of town on business, Joanna runs into Alex (Guillaume Canet), an old flame for whom she still burns, turning the film into a messy orgy of distrust and betrayal. Sumptuous but slow as woebegone molasses, Tadjedin’s directorial debut is shot through with all sorts of signifiers that suggest longing and distance: lungful cigarette drags, clinking cubes of ice in drained tumblers. A poor man’s Closer, to be sure, but Last Night is also a thoughtful, tangled meditation on the rarity of enduring love. —Nick Haramis

Everything Must Go When Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy gets canned from his job and has a milk-fueled meltdown in Anchorman, it’s supposed to be funny. Ferrell has made a career of playing the despair of emotionally stunted men for laughs, but in Everything Must Go, based on a short story by Raymond Carver, Ferrell’s midlife crisis—emphasis on the crisis—is nothing to snicker at. As Nick Halsey, a downbeat alcoholic who loses his job and returns home to find his worldly possessions scattered across the front lawn—his fed-up wife has cut him off and kicked him out—he’s got nothing to do but drink his days away. His only destination: the gas station for more cans of PBR. (Alcoholism is depicted here with a brutal banality.) This being a movie, Nick must somehow find redemption, however slight. Enter the beautiful-but-damaged neighbor (Rebecca Hall) and a wayward boy (Christopher Jordan Wallace, Jr., son of the late rap icon), who help Nick reclaim his life by cleansing it, in the form of a yard sale. A brief but warm cameo by Laura Dern as an old classmate provides a heartbreaking look at the man Nick used to be, and a hopeful glimpse of the man he could become. —Ben Barna

Dumbstruck Television producer Mark Goffman marks his feature directorial debut with a heartfelt documentary that follows five extraordinary people—amateurs and professionals—immersed in the world of ventriloquism as they prepare for the annual Vent Haven ConVENTion in Kentucky. The generous-spirited narrative allows us to connect with Goffman’s subjects and their emotional attachments to these inanimate dolls, and what feels at first like a Christopher Guest spoof quickly develops into something genuine. Even though Dumbstruck strikes some emotional chords (Wilma, for example, is a loner struggling not to lose her house), there are still moments of genuine comedy that bring to life the original purpose of the art form itself: to make people laugh. —Hillary Weston

L’Amour Fou Pierre Thoretton’s L’Amour Fou honors one of the most creative minds of the 20th century, French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Told through the eyes of Saint Laurent’s devoted lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé, the documentary chronicles their lives together, exploring everything from success and fame to the harrowing reality of Saint Laurent’s drug addiction and depression. Rendered with a patina of opulence, the film’s aesthetic lavishness is undercut by a tremendous sense of despair, mirroring the great dichotomy of Saint Laurent’s disparate lives in and out of the spotlight. —HW