A Party That Crossed Party Lines


The Scene: Norman and Lyn Lear hosted a sit-down dinner for 100 people Friday night at their hilltop home in Brentwood in honor of retired Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee. Bradlee's memoir, "A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures," was published this month by Simon & Schuster and is currently at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Who Was There: The guest list crossed party lines and mixed media freely. Attendees included Bradlee, his wife Sally Quinn, Mayor Richard Riordan, Marvin and Barbara Davis, Grant Tinker, Mike Medavoy, Steven Bochco and Barbara Bosson, Alan King, Rob Reiner, Ed Begley Jr., Robert Graham and Robert Sam Anson, Howard Springer and Susan Estrich. The Lears' 11-month-old twin girls made a brief appearance, looking swank in black velvet party dresses trimmed with rhinestones.

The Mood: The Lears were consummate hosts. Throughout dinner each Lear made the rounds, checking with each cluster of guests while still having the good grace to visibly enjoy themselves. Norman did not merely walk from table to table. He danced his way to and fro. After dinner, he cried out, "Don't go away. We've got some dancing, some booze, some cigars." As a result of his infectious elan, the dance floor was packed for the band's renditions of old standards and current tunes.

Chow: Trays of tuna tartar, caviar, shrimp and smoked salmon made the rounds before a four-course dinner of crab cakes and Caesar salad followed by goat cheese ravioli, a herb-crusted fish in curry sauce and a dessert trio of berry sorbet, chocolate cake and pecan tartlets.

Quoted: Rob Reiner said, "It's great to be here honoring Ben Bradlee, who is almost single-handedly responsible for causing every public figure grief from 1972 on."

Toast: Alan King offered up a deadpan paean to the guest of honor. "I've followed his career as a young athlete, as a Rhodes Scholar and as a New York Knick." "That's Bill Bradley," someone called out.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Bradlee, who has always been far too busy a newspaperman to worry about fame, accepted the acclaim with aplomb. "You know what honorhea is? I'm suffering from a terrible case of it."

Grace Note: When the party broke up at midnight, the usual chariots began to arrive at valet parking--Lexus, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln, Lexus. . . . So, when the electric Volkswagen pulled up, we wondered who would be getting into it. Why, Ed Begley Jr., of course.

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