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June 14, 1999

Anna Wintour, Wyclef Jean, Gwyneth Paltrow, Martha Stewart, Nita Lowey, Pat Boone, I.M. Pei, George Michael, and more . . .

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RE-FUGEE ALL-STAR REFUSED ENTRY

Hip-hop nightspot Baby Jupiter has grown so shabby chic that merely being one of the hottest acts in the business isn't enough to get you through the door. When Fugees member Wyclef Jean showed up recently, the club's infamously hard-eyed doormen demanded I.D. and turned the rapper away when he couldn't produce any. "They have such assholes working there," fumes an eyewitness to the snubbing who commends Wyclef's cool. "He didn't get mad," she says. "He just hung around outside talking to people." As the crowd on the sidewalk thickened around Wyclef, partiers inside Baby Jupiter began to wave at him through the club's glass front. "Everyone started flipping out," says the witness. "They were all saying, 'Oh, my God, that's the guy from the Fugees!' " After about an hour, a doorman finally took notice and invited the patient rapper inside. Baby Jupiter owner Gary Auslander says he's sorry about the incident, adding, "They're really cracking down on bars lately, so we have to check everyone." In fact, Auslander admits he nearly spurned an I.D.-less Gwyneth Paltrow last month when he failed to recognize her. "I hadn't seen Shakespeare in Love," he explains.

ROCK OF (OLD) AGES

Kindly Pat Boone is taking up the plight of the sort of fellow musicians who these days are associated with the word hip only when it's followed by the word replacement. Boone has launched the Gold Label, to which he plans to sign only artists above the age of 45. "My dream has been to have a roster of legendary artists who have been overlooked and neglected by record companies," he says. Middle age is not the only criterion, however: Gold Label artists must have at least two gold records. Sha Na Na and Jack Jones have signed on, and the label's currently in talks with Eddie Fisher and Steve Lawrence. But wait -- there's more: A Gold Label spokesperson says that "the ink's about to dry" on contracts for Robert Goulet and the Mills Brothers.

STATEN ISLAND'S CHINA SYNDROME

The nation's first authentic Chinese Scholar's Garden hasn't even opened yet -- and it's founders are already being accused of historical revisionism. The garden, which opens on June 10, includes a lotus pond, a "Billowing Pine Court," and a "Court of Uncommon Reeds," all painstakingly re-created in the Staten Island Botanical Garden. But during the fourteen years it took to complete the $5.2 million project, its lead architect, Demetri Sarantitis,was callously shunted aside, his friends say. "They don't seem to want to acknowledge his work," one friend explains. "Demetri's not looking for money. He'd like to be invited to the opening and listed on the program." Instead, Staten Island Botanical Garden head Fran Huber seems intent on stressing the garden's Chinese roots, crediting the late architect Gongwu Zou as the designer. The New York Times even ran a photo of Chinese artisans posing with I. M. Pei. (Although the famed architect was not involved in the project, his stepmother, Aileen Pei, did help raise money for it.) Huber calls Sarantitis the city's "consulting architect" and says he simply worked on the infrastructure. "But what you see," she stresses, "was all done by the Chinese." Sarantitis, she adds, "wrote me a letter of complaint about six months ago. I don't know what's going on." Sarantitis agrees that he collaborated closely with the Chinese, but insists that he was always the "lead architect."

WINTOUR OF DISCONTENT?

After a series of teasing half-blind items in the tabs, Vogue editor Anna Wintour's love life is fast becoming a public drama. According to publishing-world insiders, the svelte, perpetually sunglassed editrix had been seriously seeing a millionaire Democratic fund-raiser for more than seven months, a none-too-secret dalliance that has raised eyebrows all over town. Though some say the affair recently ended, legal sources report that Wintour's husband, David Schaffer, a child psychiatrist, has finally met with a lawyer to discuss ending their crumbling marriage. Now, though Anna and David have been making weekend pilgrimages with their children to their Belleport home, sources say they usually bring friends along to buffer the tense atmosphere. "I have no plans to get divorced, and I hope Anna has no plans to get divorced," says Dr. Schaffer, who denies that he has seen a lawyer. Wintour declined to comment, but her spokesman, attorney Ed Hayes, says, "I am the only lawyer retained by this family, and I promise you that I'm not doing a divorce. They're together, they love their children, and they're going to stay together." But many observers aren't convinced. Says a Vogue insider, "The affair is all anyone can talk about."

THE BLOWUP AT THE BREARLEY SCHOOL

The Columbine tragedy has unnerved parents all over the nation. That's one way to explain the panic that's been set off at the Brearley School, where some parents are up in arms over a particularly imaginative sixth-grade clique. The girls, some of them the offspring of extremely prominent parents, came up with a literally fantastic way to end the school year, worthy of a Heathers sequel, according to one parent. The idea was that they'd all go to bed at the same time and "dream a collective dream" to destroy the school and wreak revenge on their classmates on June 3. "There's a cult called IFFL, pronounced if-full," says one Brearley parent, "and we heard this wild story that the school was going to be blown up on June 3." But the rumors of a blue-tunic mafia are dismissed by another school parent, who reports that "there are some concerns some sixth-grade parents had about a group." The clique, according to a third involved parent, is mean and exclusionary, "a slightly worse version of what happens consistently at this age." This parent adds that the girls have a private sign language, taunt their peers, and "cast spells on children they dislike." School administrators phoned the ringleaders' parents and met with them to discuss the brouhaha. The parents' position was that "their children are simply natural leaders and imaginative," sources close to the situation say, but they were concerned "that other kids and parents were upset," and "put a stop to" the misunderstood activity.

BLONDIE'S AXMAN HAS A NEW BELLE

Just because there's a Blondie reunion doesn't mean former lovers Debbie Harry and Chris Stein will be reigniting the old flame. The band's 49-year-old guitarist has just married Barbara Sicuranza, a Queens-bred actress 24 years his junior. Three months after they met at a club downtown, the couple tied the knot in a small ceremony in Las Vegas and were on opposite ends of the country the very next day -- Stein playing a concert in L.A. and Sicuranza performing in I'm So Relaxed at SoHo's HERE performance space. The newlyweds could not be reached for comment.

MARTHA STEWART'S OPERATIC EXIT

When Martha Stewart takes to the stage, she turns into The Ice Woman Cometh. At least that's one reviewer's take on Stewart's performance at a recent dinner party thrown by framer-to-the-stars Eli Wilner -- a high-spirited affair complete with belly dancers and opera singers. But when tenor Matthew Lord called on Stewart to be his Mimi while he sang an aria from La Bohème, the Kmart queen looked as comfortable as Monica Lewinsky in a vegan restaurant. "She was the ultimate ice princess," says one dinner guest of Stewart's dour demeanor. "Martha is not a funzie. She was like, 'Get me out of here.' " But Lord denies any bad karma. "I'm kind of intimidating-looking," he says, and adds that he looks like a biker with a shaved head and goatee. Of course she was "a little embarrassed" at the beginning. "I don't know her from Adam, but she was sweet and a very good sport."

A DOV BRANCH FOR NITA LOWEY

Congresswoman Nita Lowey is a popular woman these days. Eager to to jump-start his "Anyone but Hillary" campaign, Assemblyman Dov Hikind persuaded Lowey to be the guest speaker at the June 13 dinner for his new United New York Democratic Club. And before she took herself out of the running for the Senate primary last Thursday, Lowey had accepted his offer. Her decision to run for re-election to the House hasn't dissuaded Hikind. "Nothing changes, as far as I'm concerned," he says. "The problem is Hillary . . . and hopefully someone else in the Democratic Party will step forward." Does he still expect Lowey to show for the dinner? "We still would love to have her," says Hikind. But the event has always rankled some Democratic Party stalwarts. "A strengthened Dov Hikind is a problem for all progressive people," says one party regular of the assemblyman, who was acquitted last year on bribery charges. "He's trying to cleanse himself, and so she would be a very important part of his strategy." Lowey's spokesman would say only that she hasn't yet had a chance to reevaluate her campaign schedule.

MOVING PROBLEMS; PROBLEMS MOVING

FURIOUS GEORGE: Can George Michael fill the space left behind by the recently retired Wayne Gretzky? Nope. Now that Gretzky and his wife are moving to California, the penthouse apartment they rented in the East Sixties overlooking Central Park is up for grabs, and a real-estate insider says Michael's bid of more than $3 million "just wasn't enough." Guess Faith's not all it's cracked up to be.

FUN WITH DICK AND NEIL: Andy Dick and Vince Neil, workout partners? Unlikely, maybe, but the two have been on side-by-side treadmills of late at Pacific Athletic Club in L.A. Turns out the former NewsRadio star and the Mötley Crüe lead singer are both enrolled in Promises, the Malibu-based rehab program that is popular with young Hollywood, including the likes of Charlie Sheen and Christian Slater. "It's pretty funny to see them," remarks one observer. "They come in on buses, basically stand on the treadmills, and periodically stop their 'cardio' to go outside and smoke."

Additional reporting by Ian Spiegelman.


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