It seems that a certain potential future leader of the free world can’t keep a secret. In a continuation of their very Demi Moore–Bruce Willis split, Kimora Lee Simmons planned a surprise 50th-birthday party for her hip-hop-mogul ex, Russell Simmons, at Gustavino’s last night. How Kimora expected to keep the party under wraps (especially when she’d invited the press) we have no clue. But Russell was in the dark, we hear, until Saturday night, when Hillary Clinton almost blew it.
“I was at the Black Caucus sitting next to Hillary Clinton, and she said, ‘I can’t make your birthday party,’” says Russell. Kimora tells us that the senator was genuinely upset and that her staff had simply neglected to tell her the party was a surprise (which we’re sure bodes well for the next time she’s having tea with Ahmadinejad and blurts out, “Oh, poop! I can’t make it to that sneak attack on Iran!”). Luckily, says Kimora, “Russell got confused. It’s easy to confuse Russell.” He thought Clinton was referring to a different party that had been canceled. Kimora then told him to come to Gustavino’s to present her with an award for accessories, and cut off his BlackBerry and cell-phone service for good measure. Russell walked in the door and, he says, “I was totally shocked!”
Clinton didn’t know about the surprise performances, so those went off without a hitch. Patti LaBelle made Russell’s night, singing “If Only You Knew” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and telling him that she likes him better than Kimora’s new paramour, Djimon Hounsou. Musiq Soulchild did a terrific set, with future tourmate Alicia Keys sitting in the audience and singing along to every word. And LL Cool J threw it down in a tux. “This is my first time getting my hotel-lobby piano-man thing on,” he said, before ripping off everything but a tank top drenched in Moët Chandon. Brett Ratner admitted he’d paid for the party, for lack of being able to think of a present Russell couldn’t buy for himself. The X-Men director even went the extra mile of taking his goddaughters, Mika and Aoki Lee Simmons, home to bed. Russell, who’s headed to Mexico for his actual birthday on Wednesday, was pleased with the party but says 50 “feels like 49, except they said I’m now eligible for some retirement benefit. I said I’d rather not know about it.” Kimora, stressed throughout the evening, seemed pleased in the end with the party’s loving, familial vibe. “Hillary Clinton tried to blow it up,” she said. “But it turned out okay.” —Jada Yuan
Update: A Kimora rep tells us that it was she, not Ratner, that paid for the whole party (but she’s not mad, Brett! Don’t worry!) and that she took her daughters home to bed. We totally wish Kimora was our mom.