Ten Minutes With Christine Baranski
Christine Baranski has won Tonys, Emmys, and now stars on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” but would like to be known as auction chair of the Housatonic Valley Association, a position held for 20 years by Diane von Furstenberg. “HVA does so much to protect our land and educate kids and adults about the beauty around us,” she says. The auction takes place November 21 at Washington’s town hall (hvatoday.org).
How does an event in a small town hall in northwest Connecticut get such an A-list of celebrities and auction items?
You have people living in this beautiful part of the world to get away from it all. And they want to see the natural beauty preserved and will do what they can. Oscar de la Renta is involved, Travel + Leisure editor Nancy Novogrod, French Culinary Institute founder Dorothy Hamilton, actress Julianna Margulies.
And on a fall Sunday afternoon—in a somewhat low-key event. Is there anything else like it?
There really isn’t. It’s a fun event. And it’s for everyone in the community. Barry Diller and Oscar with people from the community who care deeply about where they live. It’s right before Thanksgiving. People dress up, or come in their country-like clothes. I wear heels, because people think of me as a high-heels kind of person. This is bigger than all of us.
Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg has put her stamp on the event. Is she a hard act to follow?
Oh, my God, yes. DVF is now a fashion empire and a driving personality. She has done her part, and I find it daunting, but she won’t go away, even though she is passing on the title.
What are the challenges to keep it going, to avoid it getting stale?
You always fear a donation burnout, but that hasn’t really happened. I’m not sure we’ll ever go back to the days of the Nineties. But people really look forward to it, and want it to get ever better. There are fabulous prizes and trips—safaris, Oscar’s place in the Dominican Republic, dinners.
Are you going to bid on anything?
Well, I’m a hard-working actress, you know, but I do have a hiatus so I might raise my paddle for a little trip.
How much of a difference does this auction make?
It makes a huge difference. It is crucial—HVA covers a huge area.
How much of your self is in the Diane Lockhart character on “The Good Wife”?
There is a lot of her in me. She is hard working and fought a long time to get where she is in life. I love that she is this liberal character. This is a really important, fabulous role. She is a terrific example of a very successful woman over 50. She’s not some horrible woman who’s just drinking and obsessing about clothes and men, which is what so many female characters are these days.
How did you end up in New Preston?
Well, my husband inherited his childhood home in Bethlehem, where he’s lived since 1949. He came here as a child with his brother and mother. We had our wedding party there, and just love it. Raised our kids there. We just moved to New Preston ten years ago—when a friend told me about a great house on Lake Waramaug.
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