'Vanity Fair' Opener for 11th Tribeca Film Festival Pretty Breathtaking

By Ted Kruckel April 19, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

My pal Muffie Potter Aston snapped a shot of the breathtaking entry.

Photo: Muffie Potter Aston

Last year I wrote at length (which makes my editor whine) about the 10th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and how it grew from a post-9/11 cheerleader for struggling downtown restaurants and retailers into a huge cultural festival with tentacles that gripped all of New York City.

The event was founded by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal of Tribeca Films. Bob (I know him a tiny bit and I call him that) told me about his vacation, and then, when he was reminded I am a columnist, I could tell he grew uncomfortable. (Who could blame him?) The only way he'll read this is if I send it to his wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, who, by the way, looked pretty damn great for a new second-time mom.

So this year I am keeping it super-short. (You're welcome, Chad.)

What to do on the opening-night kicker for an 11th anniversary? Last year was when all the bells had to be rung and the whistles blown. Still, it is the opening night of the city's most important film festival—sorry, New York Film Festival, but I'm calling it—and the host is Vanity Fair.

What to do?

Answer: Super-exclusive and understated luxe, but underlined with grand gestures and show-business pride.

The event was held at the top of the stairs of the New York Supreme Court building at 60 Centre Street. To the best of my knowledge, none of the event took place inside. Maybe, if you had to tinkle, they let you in with the caterers. I didn't, so who knows. It was kind of like a porch party, if your porch is really beau majeste.

Off the red carpet, no photographers were allowed. There were a few exceptions; I saw New York Daily News legend Dick Corkery, but flashes were kept to a bare minimum.

(I tried to take pictures. One I got of fellow Penn alum Tory Burch, film-screener queen Peggy Siegal, and socialite Marjorie Gubelmann was pretty good, I thought. But our new bright and picky photo editor Nadia said, “Well, I suggest we not run it.” Luckily, my pal Muffie Potter Aston is better and snapped a shot of the entry which was, oh gee, pretty breathtaking.)

Designed by Basil Walter Architects the event had row after row after row of bulbs blooming in blue and white, fluttering in the breeze. But these weren't your run-of-the-mill French tulips (which I don't think come in blue, now that I think about it). They were lights, the size of a baby's fist, covered in some sort of gel or resin or rubbery stuff that made each one a tiny bit different. About a yard high, they were mounted on thin black rods. The wiring was impeccable, meaning I didn't see any.

We were late, so the teeny-tiny beautiful bits they passed (and passed generously) had become mousse- and crème-based by the time I got there.

A server—my server I guess, Evan Burke—came by and asked to take my empty glass. Could I order whatever I wanted (within reason, I suppose)? I could. And did.

To sum up …

Music: Couldn’t hear any.

Gift bags: None. (Yeah!)

Check-in: Tent. (A little ugly, truth be told, but staff was spot-on.)

Restrooms: Am curious.

The guest list …

Vanity Fair: Graydon Carter, mane still flowing, with wife Anna; Jessica Diehl, fashion/style director, new and mysterious to me; glamorous SunHee Grinnell, beauty, both editor and in person

Actors: Harvey Keitel, with wife Daphna; Oscar-host Billy Crystal (why does he scare me?)

Fashion: Tory Burch, Donna Karan (with a young guy she kept an eye on when he roved)

Socialites: Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, Marjorie Gubelmann

Media: New York Daily News “Gatecrasher” columnist Frank DiGiacomo (wife Sophia in Africa, how cool), photographer Dick Corkery, Peggy Siegal

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