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April 16, 2001

Meg Ryan, Alec Baldwin, Elton John, Anna Wintour, Barry White, and more . . .

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She's Just Another Boldfaced Liar
Just when gossip maven Jeane MacIntosh thought she was out of the game, they pulled her back in. Little more than a year after leaving the New York Post's "Page Six" -- boldly stating that she would never write gossip again -- MacIntosh has signed with Fairchild Publications to write a twice-weekly column on fashion-industry gossip for Women's Wear Daily's Website, which launches in May. In a Harper's Bazaar feature about her five-year stint at the tabloid, MacIntosh proudly predicted, "I will never have to write the words 'Sean "Puffy" Combs' again." Now, the scribe admits, "he has that clothing line, so I guess I'm screwed." Adding to the fun is the fact that before her "Page Six" run, MacIntosh worked as a DNR writer at Fairchild, where she had "many a set-to" with current editorial director Patrick McCarthy. "When I was in Patrick's office to sign the new Women's Wear contract," MacIntosh relates, "I told him that I seemed to remember something about not letting the door hit me on the ass on the way out the last time I was there. Patrick brayed." As for being back among the scandal fiends, MacIntosh says, "Obviously, the world cannot exist without gossip, and neither can I." Ah, finally a little truth.

Meg Ryan's Friend, Pal, and Best Buddy
Could broken hearts be bringing Meg Ryan and Griffin Dunne together? Since Dunne's recent breakup with buxom model Sophie Dahl and Ryan's single status now that Dennis Quaid and Russell Crowe have both jumped ship, we hear the two have been doing the dinner-and-a-movie routine. Conveniently, Ryan is in town shooting Miramax's Kate & Leopold. So, uh, is it time to alert the photographers and start having them followed? "We're just friends. Friends go to the movies together," said the actor-director and son of Dominick when we caught up with him at a preview of Bridget Jones's Diary. A rep for Ryan also says the two are "just longtime friends," although a source close to the pair tells us "they are adorable together." When you're ready to break any news, kids, you just let us know.

As If Footloose Weren't Enough
Now that Disney has its furry friends dancing and singing on Broadway, the only logical theatrical evolution would be . . . a musical from MTV? A source tells us the network is working on an agreement to co-produce a theater-district version of bare, a pop opera that debuted last year in L.A., directed by Kristin Hanggi and written by Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere Jr. A music-channel rep would not confirm the rumor but informed us that "there's no deal in place" before making sure we knew how to spell Hanggi's name. It sounds like kids who've by now outgrown The Lion King can look forward to bare's open depiction of teen sexuality and its questioning of Catholicism. We, however, can't wait for the big tap number with Kurt Loder.

Food Fight!
Sometimes ink is thicker than blood. When Times food critic William Grimes recently reviewed the restaurant Marika, he heaped praise on the interior but was so critical of the fare as to suggest that the choice of chef, Joel Somerstein -- who just happens to be the stepson of co-owner Marika Somerstein -- was not the wisest business move. After being "stunned" by the review and that comment in particular, co-owner Don Evans says, "Joel and I have decided that it's best to move on." So the owners have snatched up Neil Annis, the assistant chef de cuisine from four-star Lespinasse. Undoubtedly, the food will improve -- and we hope we can say the same for family relations. . . . In other restaurant news, those East End regulars mourning the loss of gay mecca Club Swamp and the Annex Restaurant can breathe easier. As first reported here several weeks ago, the club will reopen this season as SWA (as in "sway"), and now we've learned that the Annex Restaurant will be reincarnated as Star Room under the direction of chef Kevin Penner, formerly of Della Femina. Our only question: What, exactly, is gay food?

Life Before Rent
With Rent celebrating its fifth anniversary, fans of Jonathan Larson's La Boheme-ian rock opera will soon get to see new work from the playwright-composer posthumously. Tic, Tic . . . BOOM, a musical Larson wrote from 1989 to 1991 (the year he began work on Rent), will hit the Jane Street Theater next month. The three-character show deals with an early-mid-life crisis Larson experienced upon turning 30, just before finding out that four of his best friends had contracted aids, which was the inspiration for Rent. Victoria Leacock, who is co-producing the show with A Class Act producer Robyn Goodman, had worked with Larson for ten years before he started writing the musical that exploded in the mid-nineties. "Since Jon died in 1996, not one person has contacted the estate about doing any of his earlier work," says Leacock. "I just looked at his dad and said, 'You know what? I'll do it.' " Previews begin May 23.

Alec Baldwin's Really Wireless
Alec Baldwin has finally managed to attract an audience. The actor recently gave a performance on Lafayette Street worthy of a true Hollywood diva, reports a witness, in which he feverishly destroyed his cell phone before a crowd of horrified onlookers. For reasons unbeknownst to us, Baldwin commenced the hissy fit by throwing the offending device against a wall. Not satisfied, the source says, Baldwin proceeded to stomp it with his tasteful brown shoes, bellowing, "Fuck! Shit! Fuck!" Says the witness, "People were literally backing away from him. It was like, 'Okay, this man is clearly insane.' " Fortunately for those watching the crusading thespian's curbside antics, Baldwin's fury rained down only upon his phone. Having rendered the communicator harmless, Baldwin -- whose rep did not return repeated calls -- picked up the pieces and quietly walked away. "What was so weird," says the tipster, "was to see a celebrity acting like a maniac." As far as we're concerned, that never loses its charm.

The Strange Scent of Anna Wintour
Next week, when Anna Wintour co-hosts the premiere of Moulin Rouge, the much-hyped movie musical starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, she'd better Scotchguard her snakeskin. We hear members of animal-rights group PETA will descend on the pelt-promoter's party to distribute samples of a fragrance they've named for their favorite target. Called Anna Wintour VISCERA (an acronym for "Vixen, Impaled, Stomach, Carcass, Entrails, Rotting, Aroma"), the odeur, says a group spokesman, is a blend of "clandestinely collected samples of Anna's venom, her secret witch's brew," with a faux-maggot in every bottle. An attached sample-card spoof features a photo of a skinned mink and the tagline, "It Brings Out Your Animal InStinks." While Wintour's rep offered no comment, that doesn't mean she won't strike back. You may recall that in 1997, when PETA protested outside of a Vogue party at Balthazar, the notoriously chilly editrix delivered a snack from the kitchen to the group of puppy-huggers: a platter of rare roast beef.

Still, He'll Always Be Sir Elton to Us
Could Elton John be more gay? The knighted pop star was recently on a shopping spree at Barneys with his boyfriend David Furnish and a phalanx of bodyguards when a starstruck shopper approached and gushed, "You are a musical god!" Before the flamboyant Brit could utter a word, Furnish corrected the fan with "That's goddess." According to an eyewitness, John and Furnish bought about $10,000 worth of Issey Miyake, Commes des Garcons, and Yohji Yamamoto, among other labels. While the queen of pop chose his clothing without trying anything on, Furnish was a bit more careful. Not bothering with those stuffy old dressing rooms, he doffed his pants for all to see in order to slip into some prospective items. Goodness, what would Eminem think?

The Unpleasant Burn of Barry White
Soul singer Barry White will shill only so far. When the seventies crooner joined such musicians as Liz Phair, De La Soul, George Clinton, and Iggy Pop to shoot the now-famous iTunes commercial for Macintosh, the director asked him to deliver the tag line "It's your music. Burn it on a Mac." According to a witness, White pondered the request for a moment, then responded in his cool baritone, "No, I will not say that." Says the source, "We were all a little taken aback." Later in the shoot, the director was seen whispering to White -- whose manager denies this story -- after which the singer finally agreed to utter, "It's your music." The negotiated line, however, never made the cut. Also lost in the editing process was a bit in which Iggy Pop -- who rarely ceased tongue-wrestling his young, statuesque girlfriend through the course of the day -- and Ziggy Marley revisited David Letterman's doomed "Oprah-Uma" gag. "It was really funny," insists the source. Sure.

Additional reporting by Aric Chen and Seth A. Gladstone.

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