Inventing L.A.

As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted...

The dynasty that used to own the Los Angeles Times could all agree, for a change, when it came to “Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times,” a two-hour documentary that had its world premiere at the Lobero Theatre during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

"It was quite superb," gushed Missy Chandler DeYoung, the Carpinteria-based ex-wife of Otis Chandler, who took the reins at the broadsheet in 1960 and made it into a Pulitzer Prize winning publication.

“It was very warts and all,” she continued, “there had been many problems, but when the family sold the paper it brought us all together.”

Missy, who was married to Otis for 30 years and had five children with the redoubtable matriarch Dorothy Chandler's son, organized a family get-together of nearly 30 relatives and friends, to see the highly entertaining film by family friend, Emmy Award winning Peter Jones, who spent three years on the project.

"Everybody saw the writing on the wall in 1990," says Missy, who threw a bustling bash at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum after the premiere. "The conservative members of the Chandler family were running the show and they brought in people who sold off assets to keep the Times going, including all the old paintings and the hugely successful book companies.

It was all very sad.

"I'm an outlaw in the family, but what really hurt me the most,” she said, “was that everybody who worked there felt like part of a big family. It was a really great paper, but everything has changed....I had a wonderful life married to Otis at 19 and wouldn't have traded it for anything."

Missy's son, Harry, also gave the film, which will be shown on PBS in due course, a decided thumbs up.

He tells me his first book, "Dreamers in Dream City," a coffee table tome featuring photos of Hollywood icons over the years, including Ronald Reagan, Howard Hughes, and Amelia Earhart, will be out in due course...

Wigged Out

Kate Winslet may be known for her period pieces, but the Oscar nominee for "The Reader" says she hates wearing wigs.

"They're very uncomfortable and you literally feel out of touch with your own head," Kate, 33, told me at a party at Diani after her film fest interview with "E.T." staple, Leonard Maltin, at the Arlington.

"When I did 'The Reader' and ‘Revolutionary Road,’ I couldn't bear the thought of yet another hairpiece and told them to just cut my hair any way they wanted to and dye it instead."

The actress, however, has kept all the wigs from past productions and brings them out at Halloween with her director husband, Sam Mendes, and their son, Joe, 5, and her daughter, Mia, 8, from her previous marriage.

Baked in the Cake

Oscar nominee Meryl Streep will be filming in Montecito, along with local resident Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin (whose brother Billy Baldwin recently purchased a home in Montecito) next month, I can exclusively reveal.

The tony trio are starring in an as-yet-unnamed romantic comedy, produced by two of Hollywood's most prolific producers, Scott Rudin, 50, and Nancy Meyers, 59, who has written the script and is directing the project.

Rudin is no stranger to working with Streep, having produced "Marvin's Room" with Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio in 1996, and "The Manchurian Candidate," which co-starred Denzel Washington, in 2004, as well as other projects.

Two recent hits were the 2001 award winning film "Iris" with Dame Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent, and the highly acclaimed "The Queen" three years ago, which won Dame Helen Mirren an Oscar.

Meyers' credits as a writer, director and producer are no less impressive.

She directed the charmer "The Holiday" with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, as well as producing "Private Benjamin" with Goldie Hawn in 1980 and "Father of the Bride" with Martin in 1991.

"Meryl will be playing a successful, published baker-chef," says my Hollywood mole.

Rolling in dough, no doubt...

Momma’s Boys

"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest's NBC reality show "Momma's Boys," which was shot in a Montecito mega-mansion last summer, got less than stellar ratings when it ended its six-show run last month and a second series would seem to be in doubt.

The series, which centered on a group of mothers choosing the perfect woman for their complacent sons, made what was described as a "mediocre" debut, with the finale getting less than five million viewers, making it 17th among the network's top primetime shows.

"It combined elements of “The Bachelor” and “Jerry Springer,” and clearly had problems finding a major audience," says my Burbank mole.

Calls to Ryan Seacrest Productions in Hollywood were not returned...

Party in Pink

It was the mad social swirl when billionaire Herb Simon and his wife, Bui, threw a cool two-hour bash at Pinkberry, the new oh-so-trendy frozen yogurt emporium on State Street, on Saturday.

Herb is an investor in the 72-strong chain that stretches from California to Manhattan,

Miss Pinkberry herself, L.A.-based Korean entrepreneur Shelly Hwang, who founded the company four years ago, joined in the fun, complete with a discotheque, as would-be customers, who couldn't get in, were given free samples of the green tea and pomegranate delights.

Rob Lowe, who stars in the ABC show "Brothers & Sisters," did a couple of stints on the sidewalk posing with fans, while others, such as statuesque editrix Gina Tolleson, with her three-year-old son, Luca, and Jelinda DeVorzon just, appropriately enough, chilled out.

John Cleese, who happened to be walking by, looked suitably bemused by it all...

Ranch Romance

Acclaimed British actor Gary Oldman, who tied the knot with his girlfriend, brunette jazz singer Alexandra Edenborough in our Eden by the Beach in the New Year, is drawing comparison with another celebrity coupling, that of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

After their ceremony, Oldman, 50, and Edenborough, 31, headed for dinner at San Ysidro Ranch.

In one of the 20th century's great love stories, Olivier and Leigh wed at one minute past midnight on New Year's Eve 1940 at the tony hostelry.

In a further coincidence, Oldman was introduced to his bride by producer Douglas Urbanski, who lives in the Oliviers’ former home in Beverly Hills...

Pilgrimage to France

Robert Holmes Tuttle, who with his former-lawyer wife, Maria, owns a beach house in Carpinteria, got a stay of execution as the U.S. ambassador to London's Court of St. James's.

But the reprieve, I gather, was only for six days, which enabled him to host the annual Pilgrims' dinner for high-powered Americans abroad.

It seems that new president Barack Obama wanted all of his predecessor, George Bush's ambassadors out to coincide with his inauguration, when normally London envoys have stayed on for up to six months.

Now, I gather, the couple are planning to move to Paris for six months to realize Robert's long-held ambition to learn French...

Music, Please

Michael Tilson Thomas, the acclaimed music director of San Francisco Symphony, lived up to all expectations when the orchestra hit the Granada Theatre, part of CAMA's always interesting arts program.

Thomas, who has been with the symphony for 14 years and whose conducting technique often reminds me of the late Leonard Bernstein, started the show with his own composition "Street Song for Symphonic Brass," before tackling Haydn's Symphony No. 60 in C Major and Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, a particularly thrilling and enlightening work.

It all ended in a well deserved standing and rapturous ovation...

No less entertaining was the Santa Barbara Symphony with its "Festa Italiana!"

Maestro Nir Kabaretti was clearly in his element with a host of works by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky and, of course, Puccini.

All, I might add, conducted without a score in sight, as is often the case when the Florence-based baton waver conducts...

On a personal note

I mourn the death of James Brady, who died last week at his Manhattan home, aged 80.

Jim, the former publisher of the fashion bible, Women's Wear Daily, and editor of Harper's Bazaar, was responsible for my move to the U.S. in 1978 to become gossip columnist on Rupert Murdoch's Star magazine after working on the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail in London covering the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee.

Brady was a prolific writer, contributing columns to Parade magazine and Advertising Age, as well as churning out numerous novels, many of them on his experiences as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War.

Jim also edited New York magazine's "Intelligencer" column, for which I was a contributing editor, and also helped to give birth to the New York Post's wildly popular gossip column, “Page Six,” in which I am frequently mentioned.

He defined life in New York and the Hamptons, and as syndicated gossipeuse, Liz Smith, put it so succinctly: "He was a throwback to the Damon Runyon days of newspapermen."

A great character, indeed...


Miley Cyrus at Whodidily Cupcakes...Dennis Miller and Paul Walker at Margaret Huston's new State Street eatery, Jane....Society doyenne Beverley Jackson at Tre Lune.

Pip! Pip! for now