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May 8, 2000

Billy Baldwin, Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thornton, Joe Pantoliano, Fernando Ferrer, Steve Dunleavy, Corey Feldman, Kim Basinger, and more . . .

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Billy Baldwin's Online Adventure

Leonardo DiCaprio isn't the only hunk in Hollywood with an eye for serious journalism. Long Island thespian Billy Baldwin (pictured) has signed on to a still-unnamed Website being launched by Novix Media, the company run by Michael Berman, co-founder with John F. Kennedy Jr. of George magazine. Baldwin tells Intelligencer, "I'm going to take the lead on a channel geared towards making politics more edgy and fun for young people." The blue-eyed actor says he'll be a sort of anti-Dick Morris, writing articles, conducting interviews, and moderating chat rooms in order to show Gen-Xers that public policy is just as thrilling as a blockbuster shoot-'em-up. There has, however, been one unforeseen cause of stress at the new gig: Working with a team of youthful cybermillionaires is a bit intimidating for the 37-year-old Baldwin. "Here I am feeling pretty young," he admits, "and then I walk into a room filled with 20-year-olds running a multi-multi-million-dollar venture." We know just how you feel.

Jolie and Thornton: All The Pretty Spouses

Angelina Jolie has finally located a man she finds more kissable than her brother -- and appears to have made it legal. According to West Coast insiders, the always astonishing 24-year-old Oscar winner may have pulled her greatest shocker to date: quietly eloping with All the Pretty Horses' Billy Bob Thornton. Jolie, who has been filming Dancing in the Dark with Antonio Banderas in Mexico, has been spending her spare time at the West Hollywood hotel where Thornton lives. According to one movieland source, the pair quietly slipped away for a few days during a filming break, and when they returned she began shopping for a home -- which she referred to as a "wedding present" -- to share with her 45-year-old boyfriend. Marriage is getting to be a bit of a habit for Thornton; this would be his fifth. He recently startled Tinseltown when he abruptly broke off his engagement to Laura Dern, for whom he had left his most recent spouse. Soon thereafter, the much-tattooed Jolie was spotted sporting a brand-new billy bob on her biceps. Spokespeople for Jolie and Thornton could not be reached for comment.

Gotham Box Slugfest

Two of the city's hottest aerobics instructors are duking it out over the name "Gotham Box." Ary Nunez and Rique Uresti, who teach high-powered martial-arts-based classes at the Equinox clubs in New York and Summer Kicks in East Hampton, have both been teaching Gotham Box since they met two years ago. But their once-friendly relationship is unraveling. Uresti says he taught the class first, and came up with the name. "I brought Nunez into Equinox. We planned to trademark the name together, but when I gave the application to her to mail, she must have removed my name," he says. "I think she was upset that I was getting more attention." Not so, says Nunez's attorney Jeffrey Schreiber. "Ary was using the name Gotham way before she met Rique; we have documentation. She let him use it at first, but then they disagreed about their techniques. When he suggested they trademark it together, she refused. It was her name." Uresti received a cease-and-desist letter from Nunez, and changed the name of his class to Metro Morphosis. "I could call it Kibbles & Bits and people would still come," Uresti insists. But then he registered the domain name gothambox on the Internet, and Nunez slapped him with a suit. Those they teach are praying for a peaceful settlement. Quips Summer Kicks' Pat Grantham, "I just hope they keep the kicks and punches in the classroom."

Matrix Villain is Out of the Picture

Matrix star Joe Pantoliano may have lost a game of hardball against Warner Bros. Pictures. Though his bad-guy character, Cypher, was killed off in last summer's high-tech blockbuster, the film's producers were more than happy to resurrect him for the next two installments. Unfortunately, Pantoliano tells us, "I think I might have blown it." We ran into him at the premiere party for New Line Cinema's Frequency at Guastavino's the other night, where he said, "They offered me $6 million to do parts two and three, and I just turned them down." Why on earth would a character actor refuse a part in what is sure to be a pair of box-office monsters? "I wanted $7 million," he said. When we expressed our sympathy, Pantoliano urged, "Write to Warner Bros.!" We'll get right on it.

Ferrer Gets Aide for 2001 Mayor Bid

Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer is reaching for the heavy ammo in the battle to become mayor. Hotshot Democratic Party consultant David Axelrod has just joined Ferrer's 2001 mayoral campaign, which is bad news for Public Advocate Mark Green, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and Comptroller Alan Hevesi -- Ferrer's likely opponents in the upcoming Democratic primaries. Axelrod has won sixteen of the eighteen mayoral races he's worked on, and the current mayors of Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Houston all had the benefit of his counsel in their winning campaigns. Though headquartered in Chicago, Axelrod is no stranger to New York. He was born and raised in Stuyvesant Town, worked for the New York State Democratic Committee in 1994, and helped elect State Comptroller Carl McCall in 1994 and 1998. "I think it's pretty obvious that Freddy brings some unique and valuable assets to this race," Axelrod tells us. "He presided over the revitalization of the Bronx from a period of desolation to growth." Wonder what Rudy Giuliani would have to say about that.

Dunleavy Counsels Ex-Child Star

Steve Dunleavy doled out a little career advice to Corey Feldman recently. When the former child star and the veteran Post reporter appeared together to discuss "Second Chances in Hollywood" on the Fox News Channel's The Full Nelson, it didn't take long for things to get ugly. Their fellow panelist Jess Zaino -- host of pseudo.com's "Starfreaky" -- tells us that Dunleavy got things rolling by telling Feldman to "get a job driving a truck or something." Feldman was on top of the world as a kid, starring in such hits as Stand By Me (and Friday the 13th Part IV) until a drug problem knocked him out of the Tinseltown spotlight. "He's been clean for seven years," his manager, Beverly Strong, tells us, "and his work is impeccable." Dunleavy was unavailable for comment, but as for his suggestion that Feldman take up a career in the transportation industry, Strong says, "Maybe he's just an unforgiving type of person. Maybe he's never fallen off the wagon." What wagon?

Sony Online Moves; Staff Stays

If you hear your office is moving, you'd better hope you don't work for Sony. Earlier this month, honchos at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles decided to close the New York office of Sony Online Entertainment -- a team of about 80 people who maintain the company's Internet presence and develop interactive technology -- and move the operation to San Diego. According to an SOE insider, the execs assured the legion of shocked staffers that jobs in San Diego were available for anyone who wanted one. But when a team of suits arrived here from L.A., they decided, as a source at Sony Pictures put it, "that we really didn't need all these people." Of the 80-person staff, 50 were canned outright, while an advertising team of 25 is slated to remain in New York. But a lucky handful of techies will be able to stave off the unemployment line for a couple of months, finishing up an interactive version of Jeopardy! One more thing to thank Alex Trebek for.

Brasserie Vs. MTA; Kim Vs. Sick Snake

BRASS BANS BRASSERIE: The MTA has been getting weirdly territorial. Restaurant Associates recently promoted its new Brasserie restaurant with ads placed over Lexington Avenue subway entrances. The signs used the familiar Kermit-green No. 6 train logo and directed diners to "midtown's downtown restaurant." But after letting the ads hang for two weeks, the MTA ordered them removed. Was it a bias against the new boîte? No; it seems they found the signs confusing. An MTA spokesperson claims, cryptically, "It wasn't the best way to get to the No. 6 line." Says an incredulous R.A. rep, "We only put them where you could get the 6 -- that was the whole idea." Kevin Perlmutter, of ad agency Hampel Stefanides, which worked on the launch project, isn't happy. "I don't know who to be pissed at, Eller Media who sold them the space or the MTA," he says. Maybe they should switch to taxi tops.

BASINGER SNAKE ACHE: On the shoot of Kim Basinger's latest film, I Dreamed of Africa, in Kenya, production was temporarily halted -- not because of any Hollywood-style tantrums but rather to accommodate a sick serpent. "Once in a while you are delayed because an actor is ill," says producer Allyn Stewart. "But we were slowed one day because a baby python got a tummyache and was too sick to film." Conservationist Kuki Gallmann, on whose book the movie is based, had a far more serious problem with snakes: Her 17-year-old son, Emmanuele, died after being bitten by a puff adder. Basinger says that confronting the wilds of Africa "changed my life. . . . We fought tick fever, surrounded by elephants, lions, spitting cobras, and gigantic pythons." Basinger adds, "It was like being in the Wild West 200 years ago!" Elephants in the American West? You learn something new every day.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

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