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August 2, 1999

Bono, Russell Simmons, Tina Brown, Harvey Weinstein, Caroline Hirsch, and more . . .

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ABRAHAM, MOSES, ISAIAH, BONO?

First Sinead O'Connor became a woman of the cloth. Now another Gaelic rock star is bringing the Bible to the masses. In a partnership that practically defines the term creative synergy, U2 front man Bono will write an introduction to the Book of Psalms in a new paperback edition of the King James Bible due out November 1 -- All Saints Day -- from Grove/Atlantic. The edition, which assistant editor Brendan Cahill modestly calls "the most radical repackaging of the Bible since Gutenberg," will also include authors E. L. Doctorow on Genesis and Thomas Cahill on Luke. The Psalms introduction features Bono revealing (in his elliptical stream-of-consciousness style) the spirituality that has fueled religious-themed U2 songs like "40." Specifically, Bono describes a lifelong obsession with Psalm writer (and proto-rocker) King David: "At age 12 I was a fan of David, he felt familiar . . . like a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious and he was a star . . . the Elvis of the Bible, if we can believe the chiseling of Michelangelo (I still can't figure out this most famous Jew's foreskin)." Mysterious ways, indeed. What's next -- The Edge on the Koran?

CUTTING-EDGE TINA'S TWENTY-YEAR-OLD NAME

For all the talk about Talk, no one's yet mentioned the fact that Tina Brown's much-hyped new magazine is borrowing an old title. An ill-fated "Talk" magazine was published in 1979-80; eerily, Caroline Kennedy -- with the cover line the "KENNEDY CURSE": IS IT STRIKING THE KIDS? -- appeared on the January 1980 cover. Donovan Communications was behind this general-interest women's magazine. "They thought they were going to make a quick buck," explains one source who worked there. Instead, they ran out of money and pulled the plug in August 1980. The last issue was edited by Charla Krupp, now Glamour's beauty director. "I don't even think it ever hit the newsstand," says Krupp, who was then in her twenties. "I was going to send this issue to Tina Brown, saying, 'I hope your Talk does better than mine.' " Brown and her Miramax partner Harvey Weinstein got a letter last October from a former publisher of the long- quiet "Talk." Their lawyer wrote back explaining that the trademark had been abandoned, silencing the publisher yet again.

DID FUND-RAISING DELAY JFK'S FLIGHT?

According to financial-world sources, it may have been not only Lauren Bessette's prolonged meeting that delayed the fateful trip with John Kennedy Jr. to Martha's Vineyard, but also talks John had with Goldman, Sachs that Friday. Kennedy was meeting with bankers to raise funds for George; because things were going well, the conference dragged into the evening, and he had to call Carolyn and change their trip. Says the insider: "One man there was practically hysterical, saying if the talks hadn't dragged on, John wouldn't have had to fly at night." A spokesperson for Goldman, Sachs said she could not comment on the situation.

KIMORA MAY ROUND OUT SWIMSUIT ISSUE

Sports Illustrated has expressed interest in having model and host of OneWorld Music Beat Kimora Lee pose among the bathing beauties of next February's swimsuit issue, according to fashion insiders. The only catch is, they had better hurry onto the beach: Lee, recently married to hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, is pregnant. The magazine has used a slightly pregnant Rachel Hunter in a past issue, but, says a Sports Illustrated spokesman, "to the best of our knowledge, we have never used a visibly pregnant model." Still, the magazine, which would not confirm any details about the issue, has not withdrawn interest in an expectant Lee. "They've given us a date, but it's not all solid yet," says Lee's manager, Bethann Hardison. Lee and Simmons are getting ready for parenthood on other fronts too: They've just bought a $3.5 million, 11,000-square-foot condo downtown, a duplex penthouse with two terraces. Industry sources say that Linda Stein was their broker, but she declined to comment.

RUBY FOO'S (TIMES) SQUARED

Like Ruby Foo's? Good, 'cause there are more of them on the way. Steve Hanson (Blue Water Grill, Atlantic Grill, Isabella's, etc.) is rolling out his pan-Asian concept, and he has just signed a deal on the first of the new locations. This fall, Ruby Foo's Times Square will open on Broadway between 49th and 50th Streets, in the space previously occupied by Comedy Nation. Hanson also plans to open in Boston and Washington, D.C. Caroline Hirsch, whose Carolines on Broadway comedy club will remain open on the floor below the street-level Ruby Foo's, will stay on as a limited partner in the new restaurant.

Additional reporting by Ken Frydman and Jared White.


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