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July 12, 1999

Jack Rounick, Rupert Murdoch, Spike Lee, Tina Brown, Donald Trump, Stevie Wonder, and more . . .

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MORTON'S NOT SOLOW ON THIS DEAL

How could the same house have been sold to two different people at the same time? It happened in East Hampton last year, when Hard Rock entrepreneur Peter Morton agreed to pay about $10 million for an oceanfront home near Kelly Klein's and Steven Spielberg's. Manhattan builder Sheldon Solow bought the same house for $4.9 million three days later. Huh? Morton, buying from Dr. Gary Feldstein, signed not a traditional contract but rather an agreement to buy once Feldstein had title. It turns out that Feldstein himself had bought the house from Jack Rounick for $7 million in a complicated deal that allowed him to live in the house while he was paying for it. But when Rounick heard about Feldstein's plan to flip the property to Morton, according to a source close to the imbroglio, he got "mad." So this past August 13, Rounick signed a contract with Solow to sell the house for $4.9 million (which was about what Feldstein owed Rounick at the time). Signing that contract, charges Morton's attorney, Errol Margolin, was like "buying a lawsuit." Make that three lawsuits: Feldstein sued Rounick and Solow to get title (an action still pending in state court); Solow tried to have Feldstein evicted in landlord-tenant court (a case he gave up); and, most recently, Solow sued Morton in federal court (also pending). Tensions are so high that retired judge Armand Araujo has been assigned to sit in on depositions among the warring moguls. Now Solow has the deed, Feldstein has the keys -- and it's up to the judges to decide how to get both components of successful home ownership into the same pair of hands.

EXPENSIVE TALK, CHEAP TALK?

FAVORITE SON: In case you still haven't heard enough about the .44-caliber killer, Spike Lee's Summer of Sam may spawn even more Son of Sam-related matter. David Berkowitz has granted only two television interviews to discuss the 1977 serial murders, and now various cable and home-video companies are hot to buy them. Maury Terry, the freelance journalist who conducted the interviews in 1993 and 1997, says that he and former Post reporter Wayne Darwen, who co-owns the rights to the 1993 sessions, have already cut a 90-minute product from their material and are fielding offers. Terry wouldn't comment on the specifics of any offers but did say that "the interest has been respectable."

START ME UP: Former Details man Michael Caruso is now a consultant on the first issue of Tina Brown's Talk. While many writers around town are grumbling that Talk is cheap, with a top rate of only $2 a word, one publishing source insists that Brown is spending money as she usually does, even sending a manuscript out to Caruso's house in the Hamptons via car service. Caruso wouldn't discuss that, but he's eager to let us all know how "exciting" it's been to meet "the terrific group of young editors" at the start-up. "Besides," he adds, "this is a good way to make sure that I get invited to the party" -- wherever it is.

MURDOCH BREACHES OWN SECURITY

With a multibillion-dollar media empire, one could expect a little recognition, but that wasn't the case recently when Rupert Murdoch tried to walk into his own New York Post offices. According to an eyewitness, Murdoch attempted to enter the building a mere five minutes into the late shift -- when all employees are expected to produce I.D. -- and found himself waylaid by a particularly zealous security guard, whom one Post staffer calls "a notorious stickler." When the hypervigilant sentry barked "Do you have I.D.?" a stone-faced Murdoch replied flatly, "I have six floors." The undeterred watchman still refused to let Murdoch pass until a perceptive bike messenger clued him in, saying, "Dude, that's Rupert Murdoch!"

WILL KERZNER TRUMP WYNN?

Now that he's going head-to-head with big spenders Donald Trump and Steve Wynn on Atlantic City's boardwalk, Sol Kerzner isn't cutting corners for his opening salvo. The casino mogul, whose empire includes Connecticut's Mohegan Sun and South Africa's Sun City, will unveil the result of his $50 million face-lift of the Resorts Atlantic City casino with a July 10 gala costing upwards of $1 million. Oprah Winfrey, David Blaine, and Bridget Hall are expected to be among the 1,200 guests Kerzner is flying to the shore in a fleet of a dozen helicopters as well as several private planes. For entertainment, a source close to Kerzner says he got Stevie Wonder (pictured, right) to play the gig for a significant sum. A.C. old-timer Donald Trump voices nothing but best wishes for the upstart contender: "It's great that Sol's coming," says Trump. "I'm happy he'll be my neighbor at the Taj Mahal."

Additional reporting by Ian Spiegelman.


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