July 18, 2012
Bandleader Alex Donner has been performing all over the world with his orchestra for nearly 25 years. A native New Yorker, he started out as a divorce lawyer and decided he'd rather work with people on a happier day in their lives: their wedding. After some big gigs as a wedding singer, he broadened his horizons to major events and celebrity clients. Now he heads up Alex Donner Entertainment, a company that focuses on providing entertainment for your special event. On the eve on his milestone anniversary, he spoke to us about his favorite gigs and his upcoming performances.
You're about to celebrate your anniversary with several performances in the Hamptons. What’s up first?
ALEX DONNER: We have a benefit for the Southampton Animal Shelter; it's our tenth time playing [the event]. It's the biggest party in the Hamptons for a great cause.
How do you keep it fresh after performing ten times in a row?
AD: Well, it's ten times over 20 years, so we develop different songs, we grow with the times, and play more popular music like Lady Gaga and Usher and all those things—in addition to old-school, Motown, and big band songs, etc.
You've performed for everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Katie Holmes to Queen Noor of Jordan. Looking back on your career, what have been your favorite shows?
AD: I've enjoyed them all. There's that magical moment ‘where the cake rises,’ as they say, and that always makes you happy.
AD: Versailles was a highlight. Jimmy Buffett was a guest and got up and performed with us. He said, ‘I’d like to do “Margaritaville,”’ and I said, ‘Okay, as long as you sing “Mack the Knife” with me.’
Which charities are closest to your heart?
AD: I love the Morris Animal Foundation. I played for them last year and did a 20 minute medley of all animal songs and I put the band in animal masks.
Favorite standards to sing?
AD: My biggest song now that I do is “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
What song is most requested?
AD: "I Will Survive," "Sweet Caroline," "In the Mood," "Dynamite," and some Lady Gaga songs.
Do you live in the Hamptons?
AD: I live in the city, but my parents had a place in Quogue for 30 years, so I spent lots of my time there. I have a lot friends in the Hamptons. I do get to travel around the world, but in my opinion there are no better beaches than the Hamptons.
July 17, 2012
Debra Halpert, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, and Samantha Yanks at the Hamptons Clambake
The Crackup: Countdown to Gatsby and the 2020s
The 1920s may have been roaring, but Montauk was seriously overheated this weekend as The Ronjo Motel has now been updated and converted into the chichi Montauk Beach House. For the grand opening of its members-only beach club, the hotel hired Paul Oakenfold, one of the most popular DJs on the planet, to spin on Saturday night.
Blame East Hampton town supervisor Bill Wilkinson and his, ahem, “pro-business” stance, tantamount to Biff Tannen running Hill Valley in Back to the Future. He has transformed the sleepy getaway into a kind of Pleasure Island.
Mid-weekend, I ran into a nightlife reporter who was staying at The Montauk Beach House, and she quietly mentioned she was nervous to drive through town for fear some reveler would step in front of her car at 55 mph on Route 27.
I drove with caution to the luxe Hamptons magazine clambake at the Montauk Yacht Club on Sunday, where I ended up sitting with Kelly Killoren Bensimon and Ramona Singer and her pretty plastic surgeon friend.
But en route to Montauk a car gunned by my mine and barely missed oncoming traffic. A mile later we were both inching past a fresh accident. Four crumpled cars spun out as if they were beer cans tossed from a car window. Smoke rose from the hood of a car that had pulverized a telephone pole. A tall man lay face down on the ground. The victims and their cars were circled by other motorists, who had stopped to phone 911. Police and fire truck sirens pulsed throughout the rest of the drive to Montauk. It was a passage plucked out of The Great Gatsby and the 1920s, which so happens to have been the advent of the party age in Montauk.
Friday, Dispatches celebrated the centennial of the birth of Jackson Pollock at a fundraiser for the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center at ArtHamptons 2012. Held in a field at Nova’s Ark, the tented art fair included a photographic reproduction of the paint-splattered floor at Pollock-Krasner House. Lest we forget, Pollock was on his way to The Creeks, now owned by Ron Perelman, when a drunken crash ended his life on August 11, 1956.
Jean Shafiroff and Angela Hearst at the Parrish Art Museum's Midsummer Party
Saturday night, Dispatches attended what may well be the final Midsummer Party at the old-school Parrish Art Museum space on Jobs Lane in Southampton. Fingers crossed, the new Parrish, in a field on Route 27, will be completed by next summer. The head-spinning list of art-world notables in the grassy tent with a tree growing through it included Beth Rudin DeWoody, Ed Moses, Donald Sultan, Christophe de Minil, Chuck Close, Dorothy Lichtenstein, and Eric Fischl.
Dispatches then switched gears and gunned it for the Further Lane estate of Bill and Michelle Nuti. (Bill is the CEO of NCR and chairman of Sprint in East Hampton.) It was a battle of the Further Lane estates as I passed a Gatsby-esque fête at a friend’s white wedding cake of a historic house with golf carts and a van working the long, circular drive and Further Lane. A half-mile down Further, I spotted a behemoth tent in Nuti’s colorful gardens.
Ne-Yo was seated in a booth with George Lucas and his beautiful wife, Melanie Hobson-Lucas. And just hours before Knicks point guard Jason Kidd crashed his Escalade into a Water Mill light pole and was arrested for an allegedly high blood alcohol level, he ponied up and bought four balloons to help kids in foster care. Ne-Yo’s Compound Foundation is run by his hot mom H. Loraine Smith. Hence, Lucas, who was honored, gave a shout-out to black moms, such as Loraine. “I know, I married my own six years ago," he informed the crowd, which included Paula Abdul.
July 16, 2012
Lucy Kazickas and her dog, Ziggy, at her Amagansett home
Occupation: Cheesemonger, Lucy’s Whey
When did you start coming to the Hamptons and how has it changed since then?
In 1955, when I was 2. For me, there have been two ‘no going back’ moments of change. The first was in 1968, the year the LIE extension was finished—the traffic mushroomed overnight. The second has been slightly more gradual, but just as impactful: The loss of small, one of a kind, locally owned shops. East Hampton Village has lost its uniqueness.
Do you have an inner circle or group of friends that you hang out with most often?
I live and have a business here so I have friends from many different circles; through our kids and school, through building CMEE (Children's Museum of the East End), yoga, work, etc. If I can ever find a moment to hang out, I usually find my friend Dianne Ryan at Lazy Point and we go paddleboarding or horseback riding through the hills of Montauk.
What are your East End traditions or must-dos every summer?
Early morning swims with everyone (all house guests and kids included) and then back to the house for blueberry pancakes, Champagne, and orange juice.
Who throws the best parties?
Where do you go for a drink and what’s your usual?
I'm constantly searching for who can make the best negroni. Alas, no one has been able to beat Billy the bartender at the former Exile in Amagansett. He's moved to New York.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in the Hamptons?
My mother's clam chowder.
Where do you go to totally unplug?
My terrace. It overlooks a horse farm with views of the ocean in the distance.
What’s your summer anthem?
The birds at 5 AM. They chat up a storm, each trying to outdo the other. It's a riot.
What’s the last thing you bought in the Hamptons?
Can't remember. Shopping for things other than food and flowers is way down on my list of things to do—as one can tell by my wardrobe!
Last night of the summer, where can we find you and what are you doing?
On the day after Labor Day, one can feel the whole town breathe a sigh of relief. I pick up some luscious, ripe tomatoes , slice, and toss with olive oil, vinegar, chopped onions, and basil, parboil some Silver Queen corn, get a crusty baguette, some cultured butter with sea salt, and a mellow, chilled white wine, put my feet up, and think back over the summer memories.
What’s the difference between a true Hamptonite and a weekender?
I'm not sure who a "true Hamptonite" really is, but I would say that those that have the chance to spend more than just a weekend here might have a slower pace and enjoy being at home with family and friends. Those that are just here for the weekend might be looking for more excitement.
July 13, 2012
Sunset reflection.—Ariel, Bridgehampton
July 13, 2012
Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
What: Join ArtHamptons and the Pollock-Krasner House in celebrating the centennial anniversary of the East End’s own Jackson Pollock’s birthday. Guests commemorate the legendary career of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists while viewing an exceptional photography exhibit of the painter working in his studio. Special guests and a live performance bring added excitement to the evening, which benefits the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center.
When: Friday, July 13
Where: Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark Project, 30 Millstone Road, Water Mill
Parrish Art Museum
What: The Parrish Art Museum has held its Midsummer Party for more than 40 years, making it the museum’s longest-running benefit event. Last year, it raised more than $675,000. This year is exceptionally special, as it is the last year the benefit will be held at the Museum’s current location on Jobs Lane. The museum anticipates 500 dinner guests and 600 attendees at the After Ten party, among them many of the East End’s art collectors, artists, socialites, entertainers, philanthropists, and business leaders.
When: Saturday, July 14
Where: 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton
Pianofest Scholarship Fund
What: “We Love a Piano” is a benefit party supporting the talents of young musicians participating in Pianofest, which runs throughout the summer and is directed at enhancing the abilities of a small group of exceptional musicians. Broadway star Melissa Errico and her father, pianist Michael Errico, perform at the musical celebration while cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served in the museum’s garden.
When: Saturday, July 14
Where: Southampton Historical Museum, 17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton