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June 1, 1998

Madonna, John Catsimatidis, Jared Paul Stern, Kathy Bishop, Sarah Ferguson, Dan Greenburg, David Bouley and more . . .

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CATSIMATIDIS TAKES STOCK AT GRISTEDE’S

Sometimes John Catsimatidis puts off till tomorrow what should be filed today. The American Stock Exchange halted trading in Catsimatidis’s Gristede’s on May 4, because the company hadn’t filed mandatory SEC 10-Q and 10-K forms. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 5 that Gristede’s expected to file the late reports within seven business days, but at press time, the forms were still outstanding. So what happened? “We took the extra time, because we wanted to file the Q at the same time as the K,” explains Catsimatidis, who also owns Sloan’s and Red Apple supermarkets. He says that when the public company Gristede’s absorbed parts of Catsimatidis’s privately held companies last November, the complicated so-called reverse merger held up the documents. “We didn’t do anything wrong,” he insists. “The accountants are late; it was more complex than they expected.” But the SEC reports that Gristede’s filed late 10-Ks or 10-Qs at least six times in the past nine years. “And I served detention in high school, too,” Catsimatidis interrupted. “What do you want to do with ancient history?”

DETOUR PRESIDENT THROWS A CURVE

Last Thursday, while the founders of Detour partied at Bulgari on 57th Street to celebrate the glossy’s eleventh anniversary, the magazine’s president, John Evans, was already planning a shakeup. Unbeknownst to the publisher, Luis Barajas, and the editor, Jim Turner, Evans had been meeting with New York Post Sunday features editor Steven Garbarino, wooing him for the editor-in-chief position. “I think with Steve, we can take the magazine to another level,” says Evans, who also recently co-purchased Milton, a bimonthly men’s magazine to be edited by Jared Paul Stern (who won’t be leaving the Post’s “Page Six,” however). When questioned about the changes, Barajas said, “It’s not a good sign that you know before I do. I don’t have a problem giving up my role as publisher, but I definitely will not be reporting to Steven. I created the magazine, and it’s a beautiful magazine. Why fix what doesn’t have to be fixed? It’s not like he’s Anna Wintour or Tina Brown.” Says Garbarino, “I respect enormously what Jim and Luis have done with the magazine, and I think they might actually prefer working with me to working with Anna Wintour or Tina Brown.”

CRISPO FOILS THE BEST-LAID PLANS

Late interior designer Arthur Smith’s will makes his intentions perfectly clear. Smith bequeaths the bulk of his estate to his mother and sister and orders his executors to sellhis apartment on West 12th Street (“even though it is a lovely place to live”). He goes on to suggest that to get the best price on the apartment, “nothing be moved out of it until the sale is consummated, since part of the flair of the apartment is the look and style due largely to the furniture and furnishings that embellish it.” He probably didn’t intend for his longtime companion, Andrew Crispo, to stay on as part of the décor, but that is just what has happened. “Crispo has refused to leave the apartment,” says one source close to the situation. “He’s forced the estate to take legal steps.” Crispo’s attorney, Wayne Greenwald, admits that there were tensions but says that Crispo and the estate “have been having fruitful negotiations,” which may well result in Crispo’s buying the apartment.

MADONNA AND THE ANGRY FACE

Does Madonna like to watch? When she recently arranged to see the quirky cult rock-musical hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a representative for the show kept looking over anxiously to see if the diva was enjoying the avant-garde performance. He was not encouraged. “She just looked like she was hating it,” the spokesperson said. But a few days later, an A&R guy from Madonna’s record label, Maverick, called Hedwig’s general manager to inquire about purchasing the rights to two songs from the show, “Wig in a Box,” a camp ditty performed by a transvestite, and “Midnight Radio,” an homage to women in rock. Unfortunately, the songs were already tied up in a possible deal to sell the entire soundtrack to a different label. “From the look on her face that night, I really thought she was miserable,” the show’s rep says. “But then someone explained to me, that’s just the way she always looks.”

NEXT TIME, SEND IT BY POST

When sending out employment queries, it’s generally a better idea not to use equipment at your current job. So New York Post women’s editor Kathy Bishop learned last week, when she drafted a letter to Harry Evans, vice-chairman and editorial director of the Daily News, on her work computer. Unfortunately, when she thought she had deleted the missive, it was instead forwarded to the layout people and was quickly distributed around the news room. “I hope you’ll think of me as a potential trouble shooter -- to go into, say, the Sunday Daily News and turn it around,” she wrote Evans. The letter also made reference to a “report card’’ that Bishop had apparently sent him critiquing the current Sunday News.She ended with the audacious “And please repeat after me: I do not want your job -- although associate editorial director wouldn’t be too shabby.” Says a mortified Bishop, “I can only assume that there was a computer snafu.” As for her ambitious overtures, she says, “I clearly meant it as an attention-grabbing over-the-top letter. I know it was totally zany. Lots of people explore their options. I’ve had three great years here, and I wanted a new challenge.” The day after the discovery, Bishop resigned. Says editor-in-chief Ken Chandler, “It was a mistake that put Kathy in an untenable situation . . . She made a big contribution to the paper, and we’ll miss her.”

BOOKING FERGIE

Evidently you can never be too rich or too thin or have too many agents. Esteemed ICM agent Esther Newberg nursed Sarah Ferguson’s memoir, My Story, onto the best-seller lists for Simon & Schuster, but it was literary agent Al Lowman who conducted an auction on May 21 for Fergie’s next book. Newberg still represents the duchess, and ICM continues to handle her television spots. But Lowman, who also reps Joan Lunden and Suzanne Somers, was chosen by the licensing firm Momentum Partners because he specializes in the category to which Fergie’s next book belongs: self-help. The final bidders for the book, according to publishing sources, included Simon & Schuster and Judith Regan’s HarperCollins imprint. At press time, the sale had not closed yet.

MICHAEL JACKSON’S NEVER LEVERLAND

It seems Michael Jackson may be one of the few people around who don’t believe all the reports of his financial troubles. According to Caribbean sources, the pop star has just returned from St. Croix, where he has entered into a partnership with Detroit-based casino builder Don Barden to create a massive theme park, one with animals and gambling. Says a real-estate source on the island: “He and his partners have already gone to contract on 600 acres, and they are looking for more land. Michael had never been here before, and he met with some of our local senators and Governor Roy Schneider, then spent over an hour at the casino commission.”

THE ZACK FILES’ OUTSTANDING BILL

Back in the early eighties, Dan Greenburg and Suzanne O’Malley wrote a book called How to Avoid Love and Marriage. Now Greenburg could write a sequel: How to avoid child-support payments. A decision recently filed by a court referee in the couple’s five-year divorce battle says that Greenburg -- best-selling author of The Zack Files, a series of funny novellas named after their teenage son -- owes “child support” of $30,536.97. Greenburg insists he’s no deadbeat dad, arguing that the debt is an old mortgage bill that he’s disputing. O’Malley’s attorney, Susan Bender, “chose to put it in as child support because it makes me look bad,” claims Greenburg. He says that he’s paid all his child support, an amount he places in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Dan Greenburg writes fiction,” counters O’Malley. “I think the courts have been exceedingly clear about his failure to meet his child-support obligations.” Bender says she didn’t pick the wording. “The judge, after five days of trial, made a finding that Mr. Greenburg failed to pay child support,” she says. “Referees can be wrong,” retorts one of Greenburg’s attorneys, Wayne Greenwald, adding that the decision will be appealed.

BOULEY: FIT TO BE TIED

Every breakup has that awkward moment when one person shows up to cart off his or her possessions. Have business partners Warner LeRoy and David Bouley already reached that stage? Bouley, the star chef, was recently spotted in TriBeCa carting off his personal belongings, vagrant-style. Says a TriBeCa spy, “I saw Bouley drive by in this van. All his things were piled out the back, and a bed was tied to the roof.” According to restaurant-industry sources, Leroy, who had been storing Bouley’s possessions in his building while the chef shopped around for new financial backing, gave him an ultimatum: Remove his things or he’d find them on the street. Says the source, “David hasn’t been showing up for meetings, or making a concrete offer to try to buy out his interest. Finally, Warner lost patience.” Neither LeRoy (who still insists Bouley will be executive chef at the Russian Tea Room) nor Bouley would comment on the situation.

ILLMANN’S ONEGIN OFF-AGAIN ROLE

Not everyone’s dancing with joy over at the Stuttgart Ballet. When the world-renowned dance company arrives at Lincoln Center this summer, they’ll be performing without their famed principal dancer Margaret Illmann. Last month, she was slated to star in the company’s version of Tchaikovsky’s Onegin, in Germany, but six hours before her performance, Illmann was informed by the company’s director, Reid Anderson, that she would no longer be dancing that role, starting that night; about a month later, she was told she would no longer be dancing with the company in any role that season. A prominent German dance critic says, “Margaret and Reid recognized each other’s talents, but their personalities could not work together.” Illmann, who is now in Italy performing with the Rome Opera Ballet, says, “I’m so shocked by this, and the manner in which they did this, that I have no idea where my career will go next.” When asked about Illmann’s situation, Anderson said only, “At this point in time, no final decision has been made. Yes, there have been some difficulties, but now we’re in discussions.” If so, not with Illmann. “No one will talk to me directly,” she says. “I’m hearing everything through a third party. I’ve never had any problems with any other company I’ve ever worked with.”

Additional reporting by Kate Coyne.


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