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May 29, 2000

Lenny Kravitz, Gina Gershon, Courtney Love, Barry Scheck, Spike Lee, Rudy Crew, Estella Warren, Britney Spears, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and more . . .

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Lenny's Latest Love

Has Lenny Kravitz found his newest American woman . . . in Gina Gershon? Music insiders say the singer and actress were inseparable backstage at Wango Tango 2000, the annual multi-act Los Angeles concert where Kravitz was one of the performers in a lineup that included Marc Anthony, Brian McKnight, and Sugar Ray. "They were cozying up before and after his performance," says a concert insider. But the chummy couple did separate when Kravitz was approached by a TV crew, causing the unusually camera-shy Gershon (who has recently been linked to artist-socialite Damian Loeb) to duck out of sight, only to reunite with him later, in his dressing room. Perhaps they were just reminiscing about their common past -- they both graduated from Beverly Hills High School.

Guggenheim Chief's Need For Speed

It's good to have friends, especially when you're the lead-footed director of the Guggenheim Museum. When Thomas Krens was arrested on a recent weekend for speeding on a suspended license in the quaint hamlet of Williamstown, Massachusetts, he called someone who was sure to understand his predicament -- the director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Joseph Thompson. Krens phoned Thompson at home that Saturday afternoon from the Williamstown police station, looking for a ride. "He said, 'You're never going to believe this,' " Thompson tells us. Although Thompson recently wrote to The New Yorker expressing dismay that Krens had referred to Mass MoCA as "part of the Guggenheim," he didn't take advantage of his pal when he needed a favor. "I didn't negotiate any deal," he says, "though it might have been a good idea." Krens, who is scheduled for a trial in July, declined to comment.

Courtney's Love of Hollywood Drama

Courtney Love's hissy fit at last week's Digital Hollywood conference looked more like acting than like angst. According to one witness, Love's antics during her keynote address -- taunting the paparazzi, storming off the stage twice, and branding her lawyer Ken Hertz a "sleazebag" in front of the audience -- seemed as staged as her half-clothed dives into mosh pits. "She's like someone from the WWF," quips another attendee. "She likes to bait people for fun." One of the shutterbugs present offered his own take: "It looked to me like Courtney was performing some diva act and getting off on it." Even Love's rep hinted that the shenanigans ended up fitting into some kind of master plan: "Whatever it looked like onstage, she wound up getting $100 million worth of Internet offers." Could this just be another stunt? No, says the flack, "I stood there collecting the cards."

Barry Scheck: Defender of Love

NBC's chief legal correspondent, Dan Abrams, was recently on the receiving end of a scolding from his old friend Barry Scheck, but it had more to do with a woman than with any point of law. "Scheck had talked to someone I know about setting me up with a former student from his class at Cardozo Law School," Abrams told us at the launch party for manhattanfile.com at the Sports Club/L.A. Abrams, however, never called the woman, and the next time they met, the journalist got an earful: "We were outside the Justin Volpe sentencing hearing when Scheck comes up and points his finger in my face, saying very passionately, 'You're an idiot!' I'm thinking, Okay, what did I do wrong now? I was expecting to get another Barry Scheck lecture, but it turns out it was about a woman I didn't call." According to Abrams, the high-intensity lawyer summed up his feelings by saying, "She's too good for you anyway. She's better than you!" Scheck contends that he merely called Abrams "foolish" and that it was Abrams's own mother who'd set up the date. "Dan has a policy of never dating anyone his mother recommends. In this particular case, I happened to know that he was being silly, because the woman is fantastic." Oh, Barry, always the romantic.

Spike Lee Goes Undercover

The D.E.A.'s most successful -- and controversial -- informant may soon achieve celluloid fame. Spike Lee's 40 Acres and a Mule production company is currently in talks with West Coast indie house Proud Mary Entertainment to make a film based on the adventures of undercover operative Andrew Chambers, says an insider close to the deal. Chambers's sixteen years with the D.E.A. delivered more than 400 arrests to the agency and reportedly earned him about $2.2 million. The source describes Chambers as "a black James Bond" -- and he's been in nearly as much hot water as 007 lately, with accusations of perjury forcing prosecutors in Florida to drop several of the cases in which he's testified. Spike Lee isn't the only person intrigued by Chambers's escapades, which are the subject of an upcoming biography by journalist Brian Karem as well as a segment on 20/20. According to the source, rapper Ice Cube is interested in being attached to Lee's project, and onetime Sopranos scribe James Monos is considering writing about Chambers as well. One way or another, crime still pays.

Chancellor's Home For Sale

The Board of Education may soon get a little windfall from the real-estate market. Political insiders say the Board of Ed has quietly begun entertaining offers for the chancellor's residence in Brooklyn Heights, most recently occupied by Rudy Crew, who turned in his key in March. Last week, workers were spotted at the State Street residence loading up a flatbed truck with furniture -- owned by the city -- from the home's parlor floor. One hungry buyer has apparently offered to top the highest bid -- whatever it is -- by $200,000, and the townhouse is estimated to bring anywhere from $1.5 million to $2 million. The desired sale is no loss to new chancellor Harold Levy, who is clam-happy with his Upper West Side apartment. Board of Education president Bill Thompson has been eager to sell the Brooklyn property -- he reportedly said that he wants the board to cash in while the housing market is hot, and to provide the chancellor with a housing allowance instead. But Thompson's assistant Eduardo Castell denies that prospective buyers are already being considered. "They're not showing the site," he insists. "At this point, no formal resolution or proposal has been presented to the board."

Estella Gets Cast on the Sly

Because the world as we know it may very well end in a nightmare of brimstone if supermodels stop becoming actresses, the comely Canadian Estella Warren is pitching in and doing her part. In the wake of the strategic alliance between Next Models and the Endeavor talent agency, the mannequin has just been cast in the Sylvester Stallone flick Champs. But don't let the title mislead you -- this won't be Rocky redux. The Renny Harlin-directed movie, reportedly set to shoot in Toronto and Chicago, is about not boxing but race cars. And before you ask whether this is a good career move for the Chanel No. 5 girl, think of how well Nicole Kidman survived Days of Thunder.

Prince: Now You See Him, Now . . .

The artist once again known as Prince celebrated getting his name back from record-company overlords (he'd stopped using it because Warner Bros. owned the publishing rights to it until the first of this year) by tossing a star-studded bash for himself -- which he promptly ditched to party privately with on-again-off-again wife Mayte in her midtown hotel room. Although he seemed to play down his marriage at a press conference earlier that day, saying, "We're still good friends. She does her thing, and I do mine. And sometimes we do our thing together," they were certainly doing something ensemble that evening. The elusive pop star showed up briefly -- and tardily -- at his party at Veruka, although Hugh Grant, Clive Davis, and John Leguizamo had already given up waiting for him and left. The diminutive rocker then greeted actresses Amanda Peet and Holly Robinson before mysteriously vanishing for nearly two hours. A source close to Prince says the disappearing act was due to a sudden need to see Mayte, a need that was apparently satiated by 3:30 in the morning, when Prince returned to Veruka alone.

Britney's Cabbie; Aman to Miami

OOPS! . . . I LOCKED US OUT: She sold 12 million albums, but Britney Spears can't get a ride. The teen temptress was partying with actress Melissa Joan Hart at Spa last Tuesday when her chauffeur sheepishly hit her with some bad news: He had locked the keys in the car. The driverand Britney's bodyguard scratched their heads for nearly an hour, and even some passing police officers joined in to help, searching behind wheel fenders of the black SUV in an attempt to locate a hidden key. Finding none, Spears and company were forced to settle for some less flashy wheels -- they hailed a cab.

MIAMI BALI HIGH: Adrian Zecha, who two years ago resigned as head of Amanresorts, the ultra-opulent chain he founded in 1987, is taking his love of luxury to South Beach. The 67-year-old hotelier is working with Metropolitan Development Group, a Manhattan-based developer, on a boutique condominium-hotel where he plans to create a serene Balinese atmosphere similar to that of his mystical resorts. While the hotel is still nameless, Zecha does guarantee five-star service. Just what all those poor South Beachites need: a little more pampering.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

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