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May 18, 1998

Kathy Sloane, L.L. Cool J, Minnie Driver, Clifford Streit, David Geffen, Al Roker, Nan Kempner and more . . .

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SLOANE LOAN COMES BACK TO HAUNT

Political socialite turned real-estate maven Kathy Sloane is getting a lesson in finance -- namely, that debts have a long shelf life. Sloane, the wife of former Louisville, Kentucky, mayor Harvey Sloane and now a prominent luxury-apartment broker at Brown, Harris, Stevens, is facing a lawsuit alleging that she owes $194,180 to a Louisville clothing store, according to a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal. Florence Hytken, owner of the local Hytken's, died recently, and in the wake of the store's closing, her estate has uncovered a 33-page bill totaling that amount owed by Sloane. The bill tallies purchases she made, on store credit, from 1978 to 1991; Sloane apparently racked up $125,000 in clothing between 1985 and 1988 alone. "She was thought of as a very prominent customer who eventually would pay," says an attorney for the Hytken estate. Sloane responded to the article with a letter claiming that the store never offered proof of purchase but that she had tried to settle the matter four years ago. The store is asking that Sloane be forced to repay the debt and 8 percent annual interest accrued since the time of the purchases. An attorney for Sloane says he expects the matter to be settled shortly, potentially because of a statute of limitations. "It's been a long time since the Sloanes lived in Kentucky," he says. It won't be the first time Sloane has faced down a debt: A suit filed in New York last year alleged that the Sloanes owed the estate of another prominent Louisvillian, Mary Bingham, a wealthy socialite, $100,000 in personal loans. "There were divergent opinions as to the nature of that money, whether or not it was a gift," says Sloane's attorney. "But the matter has now been settled."

STARLETS CONFRONT THE NAKED TRUTH

Even Meryl Streep wouldn't go this far in the name of method acting. After selling the rights to her script Let's Talk About Sex to Fine Line for an impressive $4 million, actress-director-writer Troy Beyer promptly headed to Miami with co-stars Rande Ingerman, an Italian actress, and Friends regular Paget Brewster, to start filming. Beyer thought it would be a good idea for the three lead actresses to live together for two and a half weeks in a cramped apartment, to foster the feeling that they were close, lifelong friends. But when Brewster arrived at the apartment, Ingerman decided to really strip away all pretenses. "The doorbell rings, and Rande starts ripping off her Gucci," says Beyer. "I said, Rande, what the hell are you doing?' and Rande just said, This is the real me, no egos, just the bare bones.' " But Ingerman got a shock of her own. "Paget just took one look at Rande naked and started stripping down, too. Then they both looked at me," says a wary Beyer. "I said no way, I know both of you just fine, thanks." After some "naked bonding," the two women got dressed and the trio headed to Denny's. "We'd had enough flesh for one day," says Beyer.

WOODSTOCK ROCKS ON FOR AL ROKER

Woodstock is still giving Al Roker bad flashbacks. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the festival of love in 1994 gave rise to a flurry of improbable lawsuits, one of which is threatening Today's funny weatherman with a court date soon. Roker was getting his picture taken backstage at about the time that bassist Rob Wasserman (Bob Weir's partner) claims he tripped over a tent rope and broke his arm, resulting in a $10 million lawsuit that's scheduled to begin in Manhattan's State Supreme Court on May 18. Last year, the concert promoter subpoenaed Roker, who showed up for his deposition as scheduled. "They weren't there," sighs Roker. Explains the promoter's lawyer, Alex Drago, "We never heard from him, so I assumed he wasn't going to show up." Wasserman's lawyer, Lee Bantle, says he may still subpoena Roker, but the weatherman can't imagine his testimony will have much impact. "I don't really remember much, other than being glad to get out," says Roker. "Getting muddy and jumping into a mosh pit doesn't seem like my idea of a good time. Had I done so, there probably would have been other litigation."

POOL SINKS DOWN; NAN SPRINGS UP

SINK OR SWIM: It looked like the pool at Chelsea Piers was about to take the term deep end to a new level. According to a source within the complex, at its western tip the pier was slowly sinking into the Hudson from the weight of the pool, which contains more than 100,000 gallons of water. "We have done some structural work to reinforce the substructure,'' admits Harvey Spevak, general manager of Chelsea Piers Sports Center, which opened three years ago. "I don't have a comment on the time frame, but we knew we had to do some work and we've done the work accordingly. There are no safety issues. Our members are our No. 1 priority."

NAN-SENSE: No one was surprised that Nan Kempner showed up at Liz Smith and Parker Ladd's Literacy Partners gala last week even though she'd just had hip-replacement surgery six weeks earlier. "I could be home and make myself miserable," laughed the indefatigable socialite. "This way, I'm out and making everyone else miserable." But she did surpass expectations when she hit the dance floor with her date, man-about-town Johnny Galliher. "I lurch a little bit, but my leg is really doing very well, isn't it?" said Kempner. "They're not used to doing hips on people who came straight to the hospital from the yoga class."

L.L. COOL J: ACTING BY OZ-MOSIS

His sitcom In the House may not have made him a star actor, but L.L. Cool J isn't sitting around waiting for parts to come to him. Instead, the rapper recently called the casting directors of HBO's gritty prison series OZ and expressed his desire to appear in an episode. The drama's creator, Tom Fontana, was delighted to write a part with the musician in mind, although the character he created, Jiggy Walker, turns L.L.'s nice-guy image on its head. "Jiggy is in jail for manslaughter, but while he's there, he reveals that he's the crack dealer for the state's governor," says Fontana. "High jinks and hilarity ensue." Members of the show's cast had no problem adapting to their special guest star, but they did have to make one minor adjustment. "It never occurred to us that he has a real name," says Fontana. "So when he asked us to call him James, we were all a little taken aback. I never thought of him as a Jim." (In fact, his nom de rap stands for Ladies Love Cool James.) Jim's episode will air in July.

MINNIE'S NO MOUSE WHEN PRESSED

Warning to Minnie Driver: Not everyone sitting next to you in downtown restaurants is in your circle of friends. Last Tuesday night, Driver was making out with her new boyfriend, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, between courses at Veruka. As luck would have it, a tableful of media machers were dining near the smoochers. "You couldn't send a tip sheet out and get more press," reports one eyewitness, who says a rare mix of editors and reporters from CNN, Quest, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, Cosmo, New York, and The New Yorker were avidly following the passionate performance. Producer Clifford Streit thoughtfully sent Driver a warning note. "Dear Minnie and the Foo Fighter," it began. "Sitting opposite you are . . . " and he listed eight media affiliations. "And me, Clifford," the note ended. "P.S. Which Foo Fighter are you?" As soon as Driver was able to tear herself away from her beau, she walked over to Streit's table to say she didn't care who saw her NC-17-rated performance. "What is this, a press cluster-fuck?" Driver asked Streit, according to several other diners. But Streit insists that Driver "couldn't have been nicer."

GEFFEN'S BIG APPLE BARGAIN

Trust David Geffen to find a real steal, even in this real-estate market. The baby-faced billionaire needed a New York crash pad while his apartment on Fifth Avenue is being redone by Charles Gwathmey, a project that's expected to last until October. Rather than officially sublet a suitably grand Central Park West apartment, Geffen just borrowed one from his buddy Steve Jobs. The San Remo co-op Jobs owns is said to be very quietly on the market for $15 million or so. Jobs, whose home base is in Palo Alto, never actually moved to Central Park West, although he reportedly spent $15 million on his I. M. Pei renovation. In fact, according to real-estate sources, the five-plus years Jobs spent on construction inspired the San Remo to limit future renovations to a mere 120 days.

TRAVELER MIFFED OVER RAJ REDUX

Its motto may be "Truth in travel," but these days CondÈ Nast Traveler is waging a campaign for truth in advertising. Last year, the magazine featured a spread depicting a model standing in the doorway of a raj's palace in Udaipur wearing a long gown and posing with her arms outstretched. Imagine the staff's surprise when Traveler's sister publication Vogue hit the stands this month featuring an ad for the design label St. John, in which a model appears in the same doorway, in the same pose, wearing a similar gown. "We were totally ripped off," snaps one Traveler insider. "This isn't about Vogue -- this ad is running everywhere." The magazine's publisher, Lisa Henriques Hughes, is more diplomatic: "I'm flattered but flabbergasted. I just wish they'd advertise with us, in that case. It seems odd to drag a fashion crew around the world to duplicate something and then not support the magazine you're duplicating." Kelly Gray, president of St. John, says the Udaipur jaunt is merely a coincidence. "To be honest, we don't read Traveler," she says. As for the identical pose, Gray explains, "anytime you stick a model in a low, arched Moroccan-style doorway, she's going to put her arms up like that." Quips the Traveler insider, "Yeah, right. And I have an identical twin wandering around somewhere that I don't know about." Gray now admits she's gleaned some inspiration from the contretemps. "We never used Traveler for location ideas before," she says. "But now that this has been pointed out to us, we'll be following them more closely."

Additional reporting: Kate Coyne


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