Here’s a fun “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” report! Renowned Dallas hostess (and author of a book on the subject) Janelle Friedman spent last Saturday night in the Hamptons, aka the East End (of Long Island.) The storied setting is, by any measure, the premier second home location on the East Coast. Friedman was a guest author at the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night, August 13, joining literary icons, international celebrities, and a host of reading fans in a lavish fundraising book fair benefiting the East Hampton Library.
How did this come about?
Several months ago, she and her husband, attorney Larry Friedman, were dining with college friends who now own a home in the Hamptons. The wife of the couple asked if she could send a copy of Friedman’s book on entertaining, You Are Invited: How to Plan Everything from Intimate Gatherings to Texas-Sized Parties to Hampton resident Alec Baldwin, who is the founding honorary chair of Authors Night and would be curating the list of book writers invited in this year’s event.
Guest author spots at the prestigious fundraiser are quite coveted, and Friedman expected nothing to come of it. “I didn’t think anything more about it,” she admitted,“until I got a call from Alec Baldwin’s assistant saying my book had been chosen.”
Of course, she said “yes.”
About 100 authors, including the likes of Douglas Brinkley, Erica Jong, Robert A. Caro, Mary Higgins Clark, and Nelson DeMille were invited to sell and sign copies of their books for more than 2,000 guests. Ina Garten was Friedman’s next-door neighbor — well, sort of — author tables were stationed alphabetically, so Friedman landed right next to the Foot Network superstar and cookbook author she adores. She was thrilled to meet Gwyneth Paltrow, too. “I’m a huge fan of Goop,” she said, referencing Paltrow’s lifestyle blog and product line.
Other observations she shared:
“I enjoyed participating as much as a guest, as being there as an author. It was so much fun! Alec Baldwin was so nice. He asked about our kids and spent quite a lot of time talking with us. Our daughter went to NYU, where both he and his wife went. Christie Brinkley is as beautiful in person as she is in magazines. Dick Cavett was a lot of fun. He’s an incredible entertainer. Dr. Ruth Westheimer (the sex expert) was a riot. She is 88 and so with it. Just adorable.”
And, what about the Hamptons? “It wasn’t what I expected,” said Friedman, “There are quaint little towns that look like they’ve stayed just as they were years ago. We have a second home in Malibu. I guess I was expecting it to be more like that,” she admits, laughing.
Friedman is quite accomplished. The mother of six and grandmother of two, she manages Friedman & Feiger LLP, her husband — Larry’s, law firm — is very active in philanthropic work in Dallas ,and founded Essential Energy, a 500-member women’s business networking group that hosts four large-scale speaker talks per year. Her book, You Are Invited: How to Plan Everything from Intimate Gatherings to Texas-Sized Parties (Reedy Press; October 2015, $35) chronicles many of the fabulous parties she’s organized over the years in her varied roles, and provides tips for hosting gatherings large and small, from envisioning the big picture of a party down to the last detail of invitations, menus, decorations, and entertainment. The book is available locally at Barnes & Noble bookstores and Tootsies in Preston Center — that is, if you weren’t able to make to Authors Night in the Hamptons this year.