Circle of Celebrities

barnaby with a gang in preschool

I’m bold sometimes.  Shameless really.  I had moved with my kids to Santa Monica, just a few blocks from a coveted, very hard-to-get-into nursery school.  Circle of Children.   I knew someone (hadn’t seen him in years) that was famous, actually, his wife was the famous one, and I read somewhere that their kid went to this school.     I totally used the connection, dropping the name at my interview — without permission — and got myself, or rather my son Barnaby, in.  I said I was shameless.  A mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do.  Not only did I use that connection but I revealed to close friends my secret entree into this “private club” of a preschool, and they got their kids in too.

This place totally catered to celebrities, so much so, that when I met a big-name actress at a party, she told me she pulled her son from the school because of the obsequious manner in which famous parents there, including herself, were treated.   And she is really famous, but it sickened her.   And there was a hierarchy; we, the not-remotely-famous, were put in the lower, B group, and not with the A-listers.    The parents of Barnaby’s group were television actors, or people who created TV shows, and losers like me.  Barnaby was an outside kid.  Literally, kept outside.   Inside, with a roof over their heads, were the name kids.   Each morning, I threw on my sweats (confession: I didn’t throw them on, I slept in them), pinned up my hair, applied no makeup and dropped my kid off, having to pass Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks and sometimes Schwarzenegger.   Daily.   Oy, it was annoying.  Your kid is only three or four years old, you can’t just drop him on the corner and say good-bye.  You had to park and walk in each day, passing these people like you were on a studio lot.  Preschool is not AA, I can break anonymity here.  At a certain point each day, the B group got to mix it up with celeb kids, and on one particular day when I went to fetch Barnaby, a teacher pulled me aside.  Apparently Barnaby hit the Hanks kid.  The teacher had both kids in tow.  I looked down at my son and said, “Say you’re sorry to Chester, Barnaby.”  “I’m sowwy, Chester.”  “Great, let’s go.”  I always wanted to get out of there fast.  I felt like we were imposters.

Who are you wearing? Libbie Lane

Who are you wearing? Libbie Lane

The two years had sped by and now I had moved with my kids to the Palisades.  I would carpool to Circle with Rebecca, a woman on my block who had a few kids at the preschool.   Around the time Circle decided Barnaby needed a third year there to fully prepare him for kindergarten (although nothing would prepare him for the nasty kindergarten teacher he ended up with), I went into business with my friend Libbie.  Libbie had started to design a line of dresses that were very unique and made from one-of-a-kind vintage French fabric.  I told her that I felt I could rep the line.  I was probably unqualified for the job, had no experience selling anything … unless you count acting in commercials and selling products by smiling into the camera.   Maybe that does count.

The only place that I thought to sell Libbie’s clothes was at my friend Darlene’s very hip store on Melrose called Comme Des Fous.  But before I could call for an appointment, our mutual friend Kimme, who sold her amazing jewelry there, got the dresses into that store.  I was out of ideas before I started.  Then one day, as Rebecca was picking her kids up after a play-date, I told her how groovy these clothes were and that she should really see the line.  Rebecca, who always dressed impeccably, said she didn’t buy clothes that much, in fact, the cashmere sweater she was wearing was from Costco.   Rebecca promised to call some of her friends.

And call she did.

In just a few weeks time, I was the most popular go-to woman at that fancy preschool.  Word of mouth spread fast among those label-loving shopaholics.   Everyone had to have this new line … and I had the “heroin” they all wanted.  The must-have coat of the season was a swing coat with handmade (by Kimme Winter) enameled buttons.   My all black wardrobe was temporarily replaced by a lot of vibrant colors.  I was suddenly sporting green brocade shell tops with satin cigarette leg pants, hand-painted at the ankle by Libbie herself.  I was dressing clients for the Oscars.  And I myself wore a silk organza pale white skirt to the ground with slits way up the sides and a backless mustard-colored beaded shirt to the Emmy Awards.  The word about Libbie Lane’s line of tres chic grew like Versace-infused wildflower.  Soon, stylists and magazines were calling, all clamoring to get into the private atelier at Libbie’s Beverly Hills home.  Our first big client was Rosanna Arquette and soon it was everyone from Madonna to Salma Hayek.   I guess we could have started a whole new celeb-oriented preschool with the clientele we were getting.

Libbie went from designing clothes to interior design and currently has a line of one-of-a-kind totes.  Everything from white eyelet to French vintage floral silk satin material, all with leather straps.  When John Travolta’s wife saw one of Libbie’s new purses, she just had to have one.  See, things have come full circle — of celebrities.

Oh, one more thing.  Barnaby finally completed his three years at Circle of Children.  Fittingly, in addition to a diploma, he received a video of his pre-K graduation ceremony shot by Steven Spielberg himself.


Fresh Pea Soup Recipe that Speilberg is rumored to love by Ina Garten– not that you should believe everything you read online!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup freshly chopped chives
Garlic croutons, for serving
Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper.

*Puree the soup in batches: place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Whisk in the creme fraiche and chives and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with garlic croutons.


Libbie Lane tote

Libbie Lane tote

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17 Responses to “Circle of Celebrities”

  1. Joy aroff says:

    Really obnoxious!! As a grandmother, could not believe these little tykes were even segregated for graduation from a Pre School. The lower group did not have celeb enough to have the appearance of the head honcho lady. Would never have agreed to such goings on for my unholy six. My kids went to a wonderful little school called Peter Pan on Overland.
    The bags are gorgeous, unique and even useful. Remember Libbie with an IE.

  2. Pauli says:

    Sounds like Barnaby had his own way of dealing with class structure. Great imagery and perfect segue to Libbie’s couture. Yet another well told tale of life in the heart of A Listville. As always, a pleasure to read!!

  3. Joy aroff says:

    Forgot to say, as usual, story was a delight. Also recipe sounds good.

  4. cristi ulrich says:

    Thank God for Huntington Beach!!! Celeb’s are limited to a few!!! Whew!

    Great tale – thanks!

  5. Peter Belanger says:

    I talked to Arnold, Tom, Steve and Rob and they all told me they thought the outside group was the cool group. Honestly, Fredde, write one of those short, tiny books that gets snapped up next to the register; you could sell millions.

  6. libbie aroff-lane says:

    Oh Talented, Brilliantly Clever, Stylish one who just happens to be my BFF.Love that story!!! xxoo

  7. Augie Duke says:

    Beautiful story

  8. robert says:

    girl, i love you more and more all the time.

  9. Debbie Schellenberg says:

    Sooo cute and well told. Write that book Freddie!!!!


  10. Peter Hoover says:

    Hemmiway school ketchum ID Bab’s D son was in the same class as James my oldest. DuPont merial sp hemiway and way to many BH transplants including Demi Moore daughter etc and then there was James. The kid who dad built rich boys toys ( ski lift) and Sheila who was a cashier at the local market. Sorry we were never part of the in crowd but our house was 50 yards away from the base of sun valley mtn and all the kids hung at the hoover’s da casa because dad could get the kids up for first tract and they could play there after the mountain closed. Nothing like being a down and out 3rd generation BH hoot rat who was never on the money train but was a proud first class rat on the derail train .great wakko

  11. Debi Fries says:

    Maternal instinct wins every time. A list or B, there is no greater force to reckon with in the universe. I love that you not only trust that instinct but create opportunities like a true entrepreneur based on nothing more than “channeling” the best teacher in town. You dad Maurice is one proud papa.

  12. Kris Duke says:

    Love the story……and where can I buy the bag??????

  13. gari says:

    loved it fredde as i always do!!

  14. Nina quaranta says:

    Funny post! I remember those days ! Where is Libbie selling these beautiful bags?

  15. kimberly clark says:

    Such an L.A. story! It was like that where Miles and Dylan went to primary school. 14 years of that for us! The good news is, all of our kids had immersion celebrity therapy and hence, could care less. Thank God!

  16. Linda says:

    Does Libbie still make the totes …or design clothes? And the soup does sound good. Another great story …

  17. Linda says:

    Does Libbie still make totes … or design clothes? And the soup sounds good, top. Another great story …

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