Friends and friction: what went down at Paul Holmes' 60th birthday bash

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Simon Dallow, Paul Holmes and Mark Sainsbury at Paul Holmes' 60th birthday. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Simon Dallow, Paul Holmes and Mark Sainsbury at Paul Holmes' 60th birthday. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

He may be hailed by the nation as a legend, but to us, his good friends, he's just Paul and it was a privilege to join him on Thursday night to celebrate 60 glorious years.

Guests were greeted at the door of Tribeca by waiters bearing Moet-laden trays; canapés of prawns and lobster were passed around, and air kisses were exchanged like social currency. But, like the man himself, drama wasn't lurking far behind.

Former deputy prime minister Don McKinnon was there with his wife Clare de Lore. John Hawkesby was minus MIKATE, who were noticeably not invited. TRN colleagues were there, fishing buddies, farming mates, neighbours, long-time family friends and a cousin from Hawkes Bay who sang Happy Birthday soprano-style.

Jenny ("Snake Hips") Shipley looked fantastic. So did David Henderson's 21-year-old girlfriend Alex Scott, wearing a crotch-grazing mini in beaujolais burgundy with a matching Louis Vuitton bag. His ex - Rochelle - squeezed herself into some spray-on pants.

Annette Presley wore gorgeous LV pumps, but was last seen looking rather worse for wear and being carted out of the venue. Mind you, with the liquor flowing all night (the champagne bill was $5K alone) a lot of people would have been nursing sore heads on Friday.

Simon Dallow gate-crashed the party and channelled Jerry Seinfeld in jeans and trainers. He displayed a lot of vigour and enthusiasm, not seen since his legendary performance at last year's Qantas Awards. At times he played bartender, chivalrously topping up the ladies' empty glasses. I overheard him in conversation with South Islander Phil Smith, who asked if he'd seen the news about the flooding in Queenstown. Dallow shot back: "Doh! I read the news!"

Many guests made speeches about the birthday boy. Q&A producer Maryanne Ahern revealed Paul's fondness for books about hot sex in the tropics.

Mark Sainsbury described the man as a brilliant broadcaster.

"Everybody loves him, which makes it tricky for everyone who follows him".

Dallow trumped that: "This guy changed the paradigm of New Zealand broadcasting. It was all about Paul. It was about ideas we hadn't seen before. At the time I thought his ideas were endless. He has been a mentor to me. He told me in my first year that I was doing a good job and I've never forgotten it."

Meanwhile, some of us will never forget the brouhaha that embroiled over single man Simon that night. At one point, he held court in the corner like the king of the playboys with both Gilda Kirkpatrick and Wendyl Nissen vying for his attention. It quickly turned ugly.

Nissen, volunteering sex advice to the eligible bachelor, piped up patronisingly: "Simon, you should find a nice woman... like Gilda".

Mrs Kirkpatrick, who was sitting nearby, took serious umbrage with the remark. She stood up and faced off.

"Hey bitch, what are you implying? I'm a happily married woman!"

Nissen half-heartedly tried to explain she meant no offence, but Gilda wasn't having a bar of it. The battle lines were drawn and the war was on. All attempts by mutual friends to calm the heated tension proved fruitless. Dallow sat there bemused that a brawl had erupted over him.

"You were flirting with my husband two years ago!" Nissen hissed.

"Who's your husband?" Gilda seethed.

Paul Little stood by looking sheepish. The scrap had no happy ending and both women left huffing inexorably.

The following morning Nissen was heard on NewstalkZB declaring she'd had an altercation the night before that she didn't regret it.

This will be a scrap, well worth tuning into.

- Herald on Sunday

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