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October 16, 2000

Alec Baldwin, Jackie Chan, Barbra Streisand, Ingrid Casares, Hillary Clinton, and more . . .

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Baldwin: No Fox News is Good News

Time passes, the seasons change, and Alec Baldwin is still angry at the mild-mannered folks at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. This time, however, the focus of the actor-activist's rage is not the New York Post. In a letter to the East Hampton Star, Baldwin lashes into the Fox News Network, claiming it "provides employment to those who would otherwise be overlooked by more legitimate broadcasting outlets." The September 28 missive indicates that Baldwin's ire was brought on by Fox News's saturation coverage of his alleged threat to leave the country if George W. Bush is elected. Baldwin asserts in the letter that he merely made an "offhand" crack back in 1992 about George Bush Sr., and that Matt Drudge, "conservative talk radio hosts," and Fox News had intentionally misrepresented the facts. Baldwin goes on to say that Fox "operates like the Izvestia of the Republican National Committee" and then implies that there really was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" behind the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. A spokeswoman for Fox News says, "It is obvious Mr. Baldwin has too much free time on his hands and is in dire need of a boost to revive a staggering career. We wish him luck." We faxed Baldwin's rep asking why the thespian didn't just let the whole thing drop already, but our query went unanswered.

Jackie Chan's Sobering Film Experience

Dimension Films spent roughly $10 million getting Jackie Chan's 1994 Hong Kong classic The Legend of Drunken Master ready for its U.S. release, and Mr. Chan was glad to get the help. At the flick's premiere party last week, we asked the action star if he was concerned that American audiences might bristle at the idea of a hero who's at his best when blotto. "I was a little bit worried," he told us, explaining that the movie parodies a fighting technique known as drunken boxing, in which the combatants' loose style makes them appear inebriated. "In Asia, everybody knows drunken boxing," Chan said. "They know the history. But do Americans understand? Do they get the humor?" In fact, editors at Dimension must have been pretty certain that U.S. film-goers wouldn't find the final scene too amusing: "They cut out the original ending," Chan told us. "It showed me going crazy because I drank too much." But Chan said that he welcomes such Americanizations: "When one of my movies comes here, I always trust American editors and marketing, because I don't know America." If only Luc Besson felt the same way.

On A Clear Day, You Can See Temple Emanu-El

Toward the end of her final concert on September 28, Barbra Streisand's inter-song prattle turned to her $9.5 million apartment, which has been for sale for over a year. Right before she sang "People," she asked the crowd, which included Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse Jackson, Billy Crystal, and Barbara Walters, "Anyone want to buy a Central Park West penthouse? A triplex? I got one, fifteen rooms. Call Douglas Elliman." The next day, her broker, Dolly Lenz, got over 500 calls from as far away as Seattle and Germany. "And it was Rosh Hashanah!" Lenz exclaims.

Ingrid Casares's Switch-Hit Meal

Ingrid Casares seems to be about as dedicated a vegetarian as she is a lesbian. As if it weren't shocking enough when the club girl announced she was pregnant, her culinary request after giving birth last week to her son Nico was a Cuban midnight sandwich -- with ham. (Her rep confirms she's returned to eating meat.) Munching on the once-forbidden snack, the source says, Casares telephoned close pal Madonna to banter about whose newborn was cuter -- they settled on a draw -- and who had the most excruciating labor (Casares won, having just spent fifteen hours bringing her son into the world via natural childbirth, while the pop diva delivered hers by cesarean). Though some new mothers desire private time to bond with their newborns, Casares is clearly too accustomed to the limelight: She turned her hospital room into a mini-lounge, inviting about fifteen of her closest friends to ogle her little miracle.

Hillary Squeezes Bill In

Hillary Clinton may be putting politics before pleasure these days, but at least she'll be eking out a little time for her hubby on their upcoming twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. While the senatorial wannabe will be spending a good part of the evening of October 11 fostering her Manhattan connections at a party Denise Rich is throwing to honor Mikhail S. Gorbachev with the G&P Charitable Foundation's Angel of Peace award, a political source tells us she does, in fact, have more romantic plans for after the minglefest. The tipster says she's meeting Bill for a late-night rendezvous at Le Cirque 2000. A campaign spokeswoman didn't return calls, and the restaurant would neither confirm nor deny this report.

Julian: The Color of Flattery

Designer Alexander Julian is pioneering new frontiers in the art of buttering up the media. The menswear maven, who began releasing his own collections of linens and furniture in the nineties, is getting ready to launch a line of house paints called Alexander Julian at Home. And just in case the paints fail to get the proper attention, Julian is naming one of the colors after House & Garden editrix Dominique Browning. The vibrant shade of blue, called Dominique, was inspired by Browning's famously bright eyes -- not to mention the influential person they're attached to. "I was shocked and very touched," Browning tells us. "I've got to paint a room that color." Asked if Julian's dedication will have the desired effect, Browning says, "We cover what he's doing in general, so if we do cover the paint line, I won't be mentioning the Dominique paint." Well, we've already taken care of that.

Sad Finish for Hartford Saga

Once among the richest men in America, Huntington Hartford is spending his twilight years in a depressingly common fashion. The 88-year-old A&P heir and longtime patron of the arts -- who blew much of his fortune living the high life -- has been moved to a nursing home in Goshen, New York, after recently breaking his hip. According to Baird Jones, who co-hosted parties with Hartford for years, many of the heir's well-wishers have been unable to pay him a visit or even send a kind word. "The worst part," Jones tells us, "is that Hunt still has a ton of friends and no one from the family has made any effort to contact them, so they call his old house in Brooklyn and the phone just rings through. No one has heard anything about what's going on for six months. Hunt has been completely isolated." Hartford's ex-wife, Diane Hartford, confirmed the move, saying, "It's really very sad," but declined to comment further.

Lotus Takes a West Coast Position

Trendy East meets trendy West: The owners of Lotus -- David Rabin, Jeffrey Jah, Mark Baker, and Will Regan -- are joining forces with L.A. impresarios Brad Johnson of the Sunset Room and Mark Geller of the News Room. The six partners are close to a deal on a Beverly Hills location for their latest project, a restaurant-bar on Camden Drive across from Mr. Chow. Johnson, Rabin, and Regan have teamed up on another project as well: the V Bar in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, due to open next month. The partners hope to fashion a hip little lounge that defies the existing gaudy Las Vegas aesthetic. Meanwhile, Jonathan Morr, the owner of Bond Street and Republic, has quietly been building another nightspot, at 419 West 13th Street. Tentatively named Bernard, it should debut later this month. Morr is also taking Bond St. on the road: He has signed a deal with Andre Balazs to open one in his second Standard Hotel in downtown L.A., due this summer, and next month he'll open a Miami branch in his own Townhouse Hotel. And as if all this news didn't already have your assistant frenziedly updating your Palm Pilot, Sushi Samba is opening a second location later this month, in Time Cafe's old spot on Seventh Avenue South, and a third, on Lincoln Road in Miami, in December.

Voice's Wong Note; The Best Vote

AD HOC: The gang at The Village Voice know what their politically sensitive readers will find offensive -- that is, once L.A. Weekly tells them. The Voice had approved, received payment for, and scheduled to run in last week's issue an ad for Mr. Wong's Kitchen, a popular Internet cartoon by the guys behind South Park in which an Asian-American caricature dishes vulgar insults. But the paper got cold feet and pulled it at the last minute after hearing that scores of Los Angelenos considered the ad -- designed to look like a menu offering such delicacies as "Moo Goo Gai Panda" -- well, tasteless. "We just felt it was offensive and hurtful to the Asian community," says a Voice spokeswoman. "Our readers don't have to agree with everything we publish, but we don't want to offend them." A spokeswoman for Icebox.com, which runs Mr. Wong, says, "Our marketing department is quite unhappy."

BOOTH, THEATER: With all the drama surrounding the upcoming elections, it was only a matter of time before Broadway got in on the action. The Virginia Theatre, currently hosting Gore Vidal's politically charged The Best Man, will be installing an authentic voting booth in the lobby this week, giving ticket holders a chance to cast their ballots in both the presidential and the Senate races. Although the votes won't count in the actual election -- no, it's not a way to get out of waiting in line November 11 -- it will give theatergoers a way to work out their voting arm. The booth will be in the theater for two weeks, and to lend as much credibility to the gimmick as possible, a member of the Board of Elections will be tallying the votes daily for a poll. Given how well the show is doing, the prank could generate as many as 16,000 responses -- a respectable figure for a company not affiliated with CNN.

Additional reporting by Carl Swanson, David Amsden, and Abbey Goodman.

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