Kim Devore/Entertainment Writer


    If you want to throw a successful party, there’s no better mix than celebrities, shopping and champagne. No one knows that better than the folks at the Los Angeles Antiques Show because that’s what makes their opening night gala one of the best invites of the year.

    Once again, the Barker Hanger will be transformed into an elegant indoor garden packed with top-quality paintings, furnishings and object d’art from the country’s leading galleries and art dealers. The event is expected to raise $1 million for the Women’s Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Barbra Streisand has been seen checking out period pieces and aficionados like Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Martin have been known to make a purchase or two. How about you? The Gala Preview takes place on May 2. The show is open to the public Friday through Sunday.


    Wine lovers, design divas and 1,300 food fans jammed into Santa Monica’s Museum of Flying for a lazy afternoon of sipping, savoring and splurging. Proceeds from the 11th Annual Wine Tasting & Auction go to the AIDS support program LA Shanti. Swarms of smartly-dressed gents and able-bodied women elbowed their way from station to station, where one could sample everything from Malibu Estates vino to James’ Beach tuna tartare.

    Laura Innes of “ER,” Emmy-winner Megan Mullally and interior guru Christopher Lowell were among the celebrity minglers. Sought-after auction items like a golden retriever pup and an African safari helped raise $145,000 for the organization.


    Barbra Streisand is embracing a new man-Bill Maher. The Malibu diva is a fan of “Politically Incorrect” and wants to see the embattled show stay on the air. Ms. B. made an appeal to network brass saying the program provides an important dialogue and “dialogue is the foremost foundation of democracy.”

    Speaking of dialogue, don’t blabber about blubber in front Pierce Brosnan. The bondman took time out from filming his new flick “Die Another Day” to lash out at Japan’s return to commercial whaling. Brosnan pleaded with the Japanese government to “stop this madness before it’s too late.”

    Billy Bob Thornton, meantime, has a critter crusade of his own. The zany star, who has a well-known fear of antiques and the color orange, is apparently petrified of reptiles as well-especially the toe-nibbling Komodo dragon.

    Billy Bob has had it up to the gills with the overgrown lizards and wouldn’t mind seeing them all exterminated. B.B. says the Komodos keep him up at night and “more than anything else on earth, they represents evil.” Hmmmm … when’s the last time he visited the executive suites of a major studio?