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August 9, 1999

Tom Duane, John Travolta, Lil' Kim, Jean Doumanian, Sex and the City, Don Hewitt, and more . . .

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UP, UP, AND AWAY WITH JOHN TRAVOLTA

John Travolta is flying high professionally these days. But in Dark Harbor, Maine, where the peripatetic actor keeps a home, he's being criticized for flying too low. Just before sunset last Monday, his Boeing 707 was "strafing" the island -- flying so low that it bothered the neighbors. "It was only about 200 feet above the island," estimates one resident, who adds that it created "a terrifying sound" as it circled the island four times. "The first time, it was just barely over the treetops," the source adds. The incident prompted a lot of talk in the tony island's summer colony of residents, which includes Auchinclosses, Rothschilds, and Dillons. "Everyone was saying what terrible taste he was showing, flying so low just after John Kennedy's death," the source says. Travolta's publicist declined to comment.

BIG NOISE OUT OF LIL' KIM

Residents of the sedate gated community of Oak Trail Road in Englewood, New Jersey, aren't hip to the hip-hop lifestyle. According to neighborhood insiders, complaints have been voiced at the homeowners' association about noisy partying in the townhouse owned by rap star Kimberly Jones, a.k.a. Lil' Kim. While the property's management company, C&R Realty, wouldn't comment, the rapper's business manager, the aptly monikered Jennifer Smash, claims that her client and "entourage" are too busy working in Lil' Kim's studio to be disturbing the peace in northern New Jersey. "You know, there are other musical artists living around there," says Smash. "It must be them."

DUANE'S OUT-OF-DATE FILING SYSTEM

A pesky little detail from a long-ago campaign is coming out of Tom Duane's closet just in time to embarrass the state's Democratic Party. Back in 1994, when Duane unsuccessfully challenged Jerry Nadler for Congress, he never sent in the final form to clear up his campaign filing with the Federal Election Commission. The FEC has sent Duane's office a series of letters requesting the paperwork, followed by several "failure to file" notices over the past four years. "But we have not heard from him at all," says FEC spokeswoman Kelly Huff. "We haven't heard from him since March 1995." That'll probably change soon, given Duane's new job: co-chair of the state senate's Campaign Finance Committee. "Thanks for the reminder," Duane's chief of staff, Andrew Berman, says, explaining that the FEC's letters went to an old campaign address and that the paperwork will be cleared up pronto. "Tom's a little more focused on beginnings than on endings," says Berman.

BOBBY ZAREM'S WEAK HANDSHAKE

Maybe Woody Allen should consider writing a legal drama next. His producer, Jean Doumanian, is already collecting material for it. Depositions are now being taken in a lawsuit filed against Doumanian last April by producers Web and Rob Stone, who allege that she cut them out of a movie deal after they brought her the script. Now she's facing another legal threat, from former friend Bobby Zarem. He claims Doumanian promised a one-year contract -- at $8,500 to $10,000 a month -- to handle P.R. for her company, which is financed by her boyfriend, Jaqui Safra. "We handshaked on it," says Zarem, adding that the deal was confirmed on three subsequent occasions. "From then on, Jean said, 'Well, Jaqui's the one who committed to you. Get the money from him,' and Jaqui said, 'Oh, don't be silly -- Jean's the one who's supposed to sign the contract.' It never happened." Zarem's meeting with his lawyer now, citing Francis Ford Coppola's successful case against Warner Bros., which was also based on an oral commitment. "And he got an $80 million settlement," Zarem says. "I'm sympathetic that Bobby Zarem is in need of money," Doumanian retorts. "But this is a completely fabricated story."

SEX AND THE FERRY; QUICK TURNAROUND

FERRY TALE: Why bother schlepping to the Hamptons when you can get to Staten Island in about fifteen minutes? That's what the folks who produce HBO's Sex and the City figured when they trooped across the river to shoot a Hamptons show in the outer borough. This episode of the HBO series is set on the East End, and according to one show insider, "the beach in Staten Island looks shockingly like the beach in Southampton." Except Staten Islanders are probably better mannered.

RICH SWITCH: 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt needs his space. The crusty muckraker just purchased the property adjoining his sprawling Bridgehampton beach house, making him the proud owner of about 360 feet of prime oceanfront property, according to East End insiders. Hewitt did not return calls.

Additional reporting by David Amsden.


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