Kennedys to Taylor Swift: You belong with us
We’ll see how long this lasts, but Kennedy family sources confirm the budding romance between pop superstar Taylor Swift and handsome Conor Kennedy is on the fast track.
“I know it sounds like something made in tabloid magazine heaven,” said a loudly laughing family member Saturday. “But Ethel [Kennedy, Conor’s grandmother] proves she has a great eye for picking a good girl.”
Reported to be the couple’s matchmaker, Ethel Kennedy denied that in a press conference last week promoting an upcoming HBO documentary about her life. But when asked if Swift would become a Kennedy, the matriarch cracked, “We should be so lucky.”
A second Kennedy insider said Swift has impressed every family member who met her. “She’s as sweet and polite as she is talented, and obviously she totally understands all that comes from being in the public eye,” the source said, noting that being aware of the “fame game” helps when one becomes involved with the nation’s most famous political clan.
“That was always a big problem for Carolyn,” quietly noted this source, referring to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wife and her distress about losing her treasured privacy.
† As for the Grammy-winning Swift, both sources made clear that the singer’s excellent manners and what one called her “Southern-style charm” had gone a long way to win her fans within the Kennedy family.
FIGHTING BACK: John Travolta is not taking lightly those allegations about him making sexual advances to masseurs. In court documents filed by the actor’s lawyer, Marty Singer, Travolta denies he came on to ex-Royal Caribbean cruise worker Fabian Zanzi in 2009 — or that he offered to bribe the man with $12,000 to keep it all quiet. The star admits he was on the cruise but denies all of Zanzi’s allegations of misconduct — and is moving to have the lawsuit dismissed and for Zanzi to pay his legal fees.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Chicago butcher Kari Underly — who penned the James Beard-nominated book The Art of Beef Cutting — has partnered with America’s Dog eateries as its celebrity chef of the month, creating a special hot dog for August. Underly’s “Black & Blue” dog is a char-grilled Bill Kurtis Tall Grass Farms wiener with blue cheese and other toppings on a pretzel bun.
Underly also will do a book signing at the America’s Dog location at 26 E. Randolph, beginning at noon Tuesday.
TAKE A BOW: Congrats to everyone involved with Our Town’s Columbia College Chicago — just named one of the country’s top 25 film schools by the Hollywood Reporter. The college was recognized for its cross-disciplinary approach, unique concentrations and such successful alumni as Oscar winning cinematographers Janusz Kaminski (“Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan”) and Mauro Fiore (“Avatar”), writer/director Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and HBO Films president Len Amato.
TAKE NOTE: Nick Jonas upped the ante on the rumors flying about who might join Mariah Carey on the “American Idol” judging panel by tweeting over the weekend that he is indeed being considered for the gig. “It would be a dream if it happens,” tweeted Jonas, who is expected to be officially announced.
† While the pavilion at Ravinia is sold out for Tony Bennett’s Aug. 18 concert — joined by his flame-haired daughter Antonia Bennett — there are still plenty of lawn tickets available.
SEEN ON THE SCENE: Chicago has been chockablock with celebrities in town for Lollapalooza weekend. Hub 51 sightings included “Cougar Town” actor Josh Hopkins and “Gossip Girl” star Jessica Szhor, who also partied at Studio Paris, as did Rose McGowan, David Arquette and his sometimes girlfriend and “Access Hollywood” correspondent Christina McLarty. … “True Blood” hunk Joe Manganiello chowed down both at Paris Club and Joe’s Stone Crab. … The Gilt City party at EnV apartment complex attracted Jenny McCarthy (who also hit RPM Italian), Nadine Velazquez (“The League,” “My Name is Earl”), Bianca Golden (“America’s Next Top Model”) and the band Of Monsters and Men. … Separate RPM Italian diners included Alison Brie (“Community”) and Dave Franco (“21 Jump Street”). … Pete Wentz and Chris Kennedy (a.k.a. Chris Masterston) were spotted at Board Room, taking Twitter-friendly photos of themselves.
REACHING OUT: Among the 500 kids from Pilsen and Chicago Heights on hand at the Rauner YMCA last week to receive school supply kits from the Illinois Currency Exchange Charitable Foundation, there was one cute little girl who asked special guest Mayor Rahm Emanuel to come to her church. Hizzoner immediately said, “You got it. I’ll be there,” and worked out a time for this past weekend.
Also at the event was Chicagoan Nick Butkovich, who made news in June when his pet macaw was stolen out of his backyard. Butkovich is happy he can continue to entertain kids with his exotic birds and is still working with the Chicago police, hoping his beloved ruby macaw named Bufford will soon be returned to him.
HEADING HOME: Popular Irish vice consul Tim Reilly will be feted Tuesday at O’Brien’s Restaurant in Old Town prior to his departure for Dublin, after a four-year tour of duty in Chicago. Among those expected to be on hand to toast Reilly will be Appellate Court Judge Maureen Connors, Irish Fellowship Club president Brian Hickey and Irish consul general Aiden Cronnin.
ONLY BEST WISHES: Things will seem very different at the Sun-Times beginning Tuesday as my longtime colleague and friend Stella Foster begins her well-deserved retirement. Our friendship dates back decades — long before I became a Sun-Timeser, back to when my mother Peg Zwecker was a colleague of Stella’s mentor and boss, Irv Kupcinet.
She kept Chicago well-informed on the doings of both national celebs and Our Town’s major players, but I think I mostly will miss Stella’s Column’s often frank opinions on everything from crime to morality to the personal foibles of those in the public eye.
No question about it, Stella, you were one of a kind — and irreplaceable