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September 4, 2000

Michael Madsen, Puff Daddy, Johnny Depp, Rick Rockwell, and more . . .

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Michael Madsen's Lake of Discontent

Michael Madsen plays seedy characters so convincingly, it comes as no surprise that he's been accused of being one in real life. Last year, the gruff-voiced actor accepted $25,000 to consider starring in writer-producer Peter Tsadilas's first film, Lake Success, and agreed to return the sum if, after reading the screenplay, he declined the role. Now a fed-up Tsadilas says he intends to file a suit against the thespian in order to get him to refund the money. But did Madsen actually turn down the part? Madsen's lawyer, Harmon Kaslow, refuses to give back the cash, saying Madsen hasn't nixed the project but is awaiting a new version of the script. Kaslow adds that Madsen sent a letter of intent and it's now up to Tsadilas to negotiate the financing. Tsadilas's attorney, Mark Stumer, retaliates: "How can my client expect to attract backers by saying that Madsen is kind of interested in the picture?" And as to the script, Stumer claims, "We sent Madsen numerous copies of the rewrite and have yet to hear a response. All he's done is delay the progress of this film. If he won't refund the money out of court, I'll sue him and get it that way."

Who Wants to Beat on a Millionaire?

Oddball bachelor Rick Rockwell has finally discovered his true calling -- getting kicked around by a woman. Now that Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? is but an irksome memory, Rockwell is stepping into the kickboxing ring with a very lucky contest winner. Aspiring actress Marni Rosenthal, 23, will face off against Rockwell at Crunch on Lafayette Street this September 23 after winning the honor over 160,000 other hopefuls in an online contest sponsored by the fitness center and DiMassimo Brand Advertising. "He seems like an okay guy, but he would obviously benefit from a good ass-whupping," Rosenthal tells us. The starlet has been in an intensive kickboxing class for the past year and a half and says that years of dance training have given her "a lot of strength in my legs." For his trouble, Rockwell will receive $20,000 to donate to the charity of his choice. Rosenthal won't get any money, but her reward is clearly priceless.

Dance-Hall Daze: Copa Eyes Studio 54

The party could soon be over at the Copacabana: the Latin dance club is losing its lease at 617 West 57th Street. The real-estate giant Durst Organization is planning to tear down every structure on the block to put up a telco hotel and two commercial towers; company honcho Douglas Durst tells us he hopes to start the project within the next year. But Copa owner John Juliano isn't giving up his cash cow so easily. Reps for the club are frantically searching for a new locale and have set their eyes on none other than Studio 54, hoping to rent the historic nightclub after the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Cabaret closes up shop. A source close to Studio 54 confirmed that scouts from the Copa have "come in and looked at the place," but added that the Roundabout has the option to keep the space even after Cabaret closes. Is Juliano worried? "Yeah," he says. "It couldn't have happened at a worse time."

Puffy Makes the Scene -- Again

Our nominee for most supportive mogul of the week? Puff Daddy, of course. With the entire Bad Boy Entertainment clan out at the Hamptons' Synergy Spa for a five-day retreat, a source tells us, R&B vocalist Carl Thomas was feeling a little left out on the night of his breakout concert at Madison Square Garden last Saturday. So Bad Boy boss Puffy made an impromptu break from the retreat and hopped a helicopter back to Manhattan to play cheerleader at Thomas's show. It was a busy day for the hip-hop entrepreneur, who had led his troops through a mandatory morning session of drill-sergeant-style aerobics (where he barked commands and wore fatigues) and then, after jetting back that night, put on a freestyle show of his own. You mean he can rap, too?

Man Ray To Emigrate

The space that once housed hot-for-a-moment 147 -- the Chelsea eatery set in an old firehouse on West 15th Street -- has recently been leased to the hip folks behind Man Ray, the Parisian restaurant backed by Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, John Malkovich, and Simply Red front man Mick Hucknall. According to Thierry Klemeniuk, an owner of the Paris spot, the restaurant (not to be confused with the late Eighth Avenue restaurant of the same name) will open in November and serve French and Japanese cuisine in "an Algerian Art Deco décor." Hucknall has already signed on to help finance the venture, but whether the boldface investors on the other side of the Atlantic will join remains to be seen. "I can't tell you for another two weeks," says Klemeniuk.

Additional reporting by David Amsden.

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