New U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Feted at Lavish Hollywood Sendoff

Colleen Bell Headshot - P 2013
Sean Smith/Bell Phillip Television Productions, Inc. via Getty Images

Colleen Bell Headshot - P 2013

'The Bold and the Beautiful' producer Colleen Bell, who is heading to Budapest with her family, received a glitzy sendoff from entertainment industry execs, business moguls and celebrities

The Bold and the Beautiful producer Colleen Bell received a glitzy Hollywood sendoff over the weekend as she embarks on her ambassadorship in Hungary.

The party started out as just a small group of Bell’s friends, but quickly grew to more than 300 attendees, with people flying in from New York, Chicago and Aspen, Colo., to toast the new U.S. ambassador before she and her family head off to Budapest. The diverse crowd included entertainment industry execs, business moguls and celebrities — among them actress Gwyneth Paltrow, billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen, New York Giants owner Steve Tisch, publisher Benedikt Taschen and journalist Maria Shriver.

Amid a weekend packed with A-list parties, culminating with the Golden Globes festivities Sunday, the Bell fete at the family’s historic estate in Holmby Hills was among the most lavish.

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A special cocktail featuring Hungarian paprika was created for the occasion and guests dined on hors d'oeuvres adorned with small paper U.S. and Hungarian flags on toothpicks.

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and wife Nicole Avant (the former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas) slipped out of their own Golden Globes party to attend the soiree.

For the tony crowd, there was a lot to celebrate. Bell’s nomination as ambassador to Hungary had been tied up for months in the Senate amid strong criticism from Republicans who argued that the TV producer, one of President Barack Obama’s top bundlers, lacked the qualifications to hold a diplomatic position in a troubled region.

"We're about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interest," Sen. John McCain argued on the Senate floor in December. "I am not against political appointees.… I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation (Hungary) that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin, and we're going to send the producer of The Bold and the Beautiful as the ambassador. I urge my colleagues to put a stop to this foolishness. I urge a no vote."

Sen. Barbara Boxer came to Bell's defense before the Senate voted 52-42 for her confirmation.

"You would think this is the first time that any president nominated someone that's a political appointee," Boxer said. "Just because somebody is a producer of a very popular show, that doesn't disqualify them. It's ridiculous."

Boxer told McCain: "I could point out people you supported, senator, who perhaps didn't work at all, so let's be clear here. She's an intelligent woman. She knows how to be successful.”