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December 20-27, 1999

David Geffen, Rory Kennedy, Alison Becker Hart, Bill Cosby, and more . . .

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GEFFEN DISCONNECTS THE OPERATOR

David Geffen once thought his life story was fit for a King -- but not anymore. Three years ago, Wall Street Journal reporter Tom King managed to get the media-shy Geffen to pledge his cooperation for the writer's proposed biography of the mogul, with Geffen even handing over phone numbers of his ex-boyfriends and helping to arrange interviews with some of his closest high-profile friends. According to a publishing source, he also agreed to have no control over the editorial content, convinced that King would deliver a delicate portrait and believing that his cooperation would stymie other, possibly harsher profiles in the works. But Hollywood sources say that midway through King's research for the upcoming book, titled The Operator, Geffen turned his back on the scribe and refused to grant King further interviews. Why the retreat? A publishing insider says that when Geffen's friends began reporting their frank exchanges with King back to the DreamWorks partner, Geffen realized that the tome would be more hard-hitting than he'd anticipated. When King showed Geffen a final copy of the work, sources say, "Geffen was furious," and he's been bad-mouthing the book ever since. Ironically, King's coup in landing the usually tight-lipped Geffen caused a bidding war among publishing houses, ultimately netting the writer a royal six-figure advance from Random House. King, reached in Los Angeles, pulled a Geffen himself -- he had no comment.

ANOTHER KENNEDY LANDS IN CUBA

Now that tensions are again escalating between the U.S. and Cuba, another Kennedy presence is being felt on Fidel Castro's soil. Rory Kennedy, the youngest offspring of Robert F. Kennedy, arrived on the commie-chic Caribbean isle last week with her mother, Ethel, in tow, to promote her documentary American Hollow at the annual Havana Film Festival -- just a week after young refugee Elian Gonzales washed up on the Florida shore. Newlywed Rory traveled with husband Mark Bailey to the eleven-day international event in order to exhibit her film, which premiered on HBO last month, depicting life in an impoverished American family. But the young filmmaker is seeking more than just a movie audience: A friend of the Kennedy clan confirmed that there have been discussions regarding a possible rendezvous with the cigar-chomping dictator himself. Although Castro has granted meetings with Rory's siblings Bobby Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and an interview with cousin John Kennedy Jr., no decision for a sit-down with Rory was confirmed. "Fidel has never turned down the chance to meet a Kennedy," says a Washington source. "He's fascinated by the family." The Kennedys plan to stay through the festival -- no word on whether they'll be returning via raft.

ALISON OUT OF THE INN

Alison Becker Hurt's Hamptons expansion has hit some shoals. The restaurateur, who owns upscale eateries Alison on Dominick and Alison by the Beach, branched out to the Inn at Quogue's restaurant this summer. But her relationship with the Inn's owners has unraveled, and Hurt is currently suing the three principals, Hilton Smith, William Murray, and Elizabeth Murray, alleging that they locked her out of the restaurant, refused to give back her belongings, and finally returned only some of them -- damaged. "The whole thing came as a shock to her," says Hurt's attorney, Bruce Levinson. "They used her contacts and then discarded her." He maintains that the Inn's owners are having financial problems and are looking to use Hurt as a scapegoat. "Every week, we get a new list of her supposed belongings -- but they've all been returned," insists Elizabeth Murray. "We are filing a countersuit." According to John O'Connor, attorney to the Inn's owners, his clients have filed court papers alleging that Hurt "wasn't running the restaurant in a responsible fashion from a business point of view. We are in the process of investigating the situation further."

COS SAYS THE DARNDEST THING

Comedian Bill Cosby can still get a rise out of an audience. While dining at posh restaurant Daniel last week, Cosby spied his old pal Anthony Quinn sitting at a nearby table. The two Daniel regulars decided to head back to the kitchen to pay their respects to chef-owner Daniel Boulud. Cosby caught the staff off guard when he burst through the swinging doors and loudly announced, "It's Immigration!" Although workers were at first stunned, "once they realized who 'Immigration' was, everybody cracked up," reports a witness. Says a diplomatic Boulud of Cosby's antics: "He's always doing something hilarious."

With Braden Keil

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.


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