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July 16, 2001

Joan Collins, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Rosie O'Donnell, Damien Hirst, Julie Andrews, and more . . .

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Joan Collins: Charity Begins at Home
Somebody needs to tell Joan Collins that Dynasty was canceled in 1989 and it's time to drop the Alexis Carrington Colby act. Collins recently agreed to attend Christian Dior's party for its new men's fragrance, Higher, after event planners promised her some free designer goodies. However, only hours before the bash, Dior's people got a call from Collins's assistant, Stella Wilson, warning them not to look for her boss because she had been rather underwhelmed by the $350 saddle bag stuffed with about $600 worth of beauty products. "Joan was told she'd be getting the bag, but then Wilson said, 'This wasn't what Joan had in mind, so she won't be joining you tonight,' " our snitch reports. When we reached Wilson she at first explained that Collins was miffed because she had thought she would get to pick something out herself -- from a catalogue. Then Wilson called back to re-explain that Collins didn't have the time to go, so she returned the bag. Meanwhile, Moby and Jet Li arrived promptly. Moby asked Dior to make a donation to Human Rights Watch in return for his appearance, while Li requested that a check be sent to the Children's Organ Transplant Association.

Puff Daddy's Sunken Treasure
If only Sean "Puffy" Combs had been wearing a Timex during his recent cover shoot for the September issue of Details. Instead, the hip-hop impresario was packing a $150,000 diamond-encrusted watch courtesy of a Manhattan jeweler, and when he hopped into a water-filled bathtub for a shot with a topless model, he neglected to take it off. Guards handling the insured $750,000 worth of jewels loaned for the shoot didn't realize what had happened until it was already fully submerged. But according to our spy, neither Combs nor anyone in his entourage -- which included a personal chef, stylist, assistant, manager, creative director, at least two bodyguards, two members of the band Total, and random friends -- flinched. One even told the guards not "to alarm Puffy. It's already wet, just let him keep it on." They immediately demanded the watch, but it was too late. The timepiece wasn't tickin' and was overnighted to a jeweler for repair.

Rosie's Staff Tackles Weighty Issues
While it's unlikely that Rosie O'Donnell will be putting out a swimsuit issue of her new magazine, Rosie, that doesn't mean she wouldn't like to have a more beach-friendly figure. Since April, O'Donnell, members of her staff, publicists from PMK (the P.R. firm that reps the talk-show titan), and other industry types have been corralling around a conference-room table every Wednesday at O'Donnell's 30 Rockefeller Center offices for hour-long Weight Watchers meetings, which include the requisite weigh-in. One staff member -- who has lost almost twenty pounds -- reports, "Put Rosie in a room with her comedy writers and a bunch of women who have food issues, and of course it's going to be very funny." O'Donnell's not around for the group's summer session (she's spending her hiatus at her home in Miami), but she calls in via speakerphone and has meetings scheduled until Christmas. The group's total weight loss so far: 350 pounds.

Damien Hirst Has a Cow
Damien Hirst is destined to be one of the greatest artists of all time -- or at least that's what he seems to think. The English bad boy made this abundantly clear outside a party at the forty-ninth annual Venice Biennale honoring Brazilian artists Ernesto Neto and Vik Muniz. According to our spy, the affair was so jam-packed that many attendees -- including Hirst -- had trouble getting in. Of course, Hirst is not one to be left out of a good party. In front of a crowd of onlookers, the artist engaged in a heated exchange with the doorman, finally proclaiming, "I'm Damien Hirst. I'm the next Picasso!" A rep for Neto insists that the Picasso comment came not from Hirst, but from one of his friends who, for some unknown reason, was pretending to be Hirst throughout the evening. Hirst eventually did get into the party to celebrate with Neto but, oddly enough, Muniz was among dozens of people who were turned away.

Is Meg Ryan Back in the Crowe's Nest?
Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan just keep us guessing. The two -- who split in December after a whirlwind six-month romance that started on the set of Proof of Life -- were spotted making a midnight trip to Russell's room at the Mercer Hotel last week. "They got out of a Suburban," reports our spy, "and headed straight for the elevators." Curiously enough, Ryan wasn't with Crowe at the wrap party for the Oscar-winner's A Beautiful Mind at Lot 61 a few nights before. Crowe spent most of the time sipping his imported Melbourne Bitter beer (cases of the Aussie brew, not available in the U.S., were always on hand during the filming of the movie) but did make a speech thanking cast and crew for their work. No one seemed too thankful for the female comedian Crowe personally hired for the night. One guest actually left with her preteen daughter after the jokes got to be too raunchy. "She pretty much bombed," says the partygoer. "It was really inappropriate."

Annie Get Your Coupons
No doubt 39-year-old actress Crystal Bernard can afford most anything she wants, considering she's worked in Hollywood since she was 17 (TV's Happy Days, It's a Living, and, most famously, Wings), but that doesn't mean she can't appreciate a good bargain. "I was at Duane Reade buying a box of Luna Bars and a clerk said, 'You could've saved $6 if you had a Duane Reade card,' " Bernard, who recently replaced Reba McEntire in Broadway's Annie Get Your Gun, told us. "I said, 'Give me that sucker.' Now I have a Duane Reade discount card." But the strongest evidence that this Texas native is still a little bit country is that she refuses to splurge on shoes. "I was going to do the Today show, but I didn't have time to get some black shoes, so I said to an assistant, 'Could you get me some black shoes?' " Bernard recalls. "And she said, 'Should I go to Gucci?' and I was like, 'Go to Payless.' "

Hugo Boss Sticks to the Party Line
It's no secret that Marty Staff, the 50-year-old bleached-blond, tattooed president of Hugo Boss USA, loves a good party. In fact, the Hugo Boss flagship store has already hosted eighteen events since it opened just two months ago. But are all the good times worth the trouble, not to mention the money? At the most recent fête, for artist Jeff Koons, a would-be shoplifter tried to make off with a $25,000 crocodile coat. "Our security team caught the thief very quickly," a Boss rep tells us. "They dealt with him, and no charges were pressed." At the same shindig, a $1,595 backgammon set was damaged after someone spilled vodka on it. And that's not all. The ground floor's pristine white limestone tiles have had to be refinished many times for "several thousands of dollars," the rep said, after being stained by olives, cigarettes, and even rose petals that were showered onto revelers one night. Staff doesn't seem to care, though. At yet another party, he proclaimed, "I am obsessed with making these events fun and crazy and different."

Andrews, Houston Duet Together
Julie Andrews hasn't sung in public since her vocal cords were severely damaged during a 1997 operation to remove a cyst. But that didn't stop her from dueting with Whitney Houston on the set of The Princess Diaries, a Houston-produced film starring Andrews as a European queen who discovers she has an American granddaughter. The two sang "Happy Birthday" to director Garry Marshall. "How many directors get that?" Marshall bragged to us. "Oliver Stone probably has men with guns singing, Steven Spielberg has robots doing it, and Barry Levinson has bundled-up people from Baltimore singing. Forget that. I got Julie and Whitney." Actually, we're beginning to think Marshall may be a bit obsessed with Ms. Andrews. Not only did he see her eleven times on Broadway in My Fair Lady in the fifties, but he and his wife now live in the Los Angeles house that Andrews and her husband, Blake Edwards, lived in while she was making Mary Poppins.

Leonardo DiCaprio's Tale of the Tape
Does Leonardo DiCaprio still hold the same sway over his prepubescent female fans as he did during the height of Titanic mania? If so, we may soon see legions of Acutane-addled teens putting tape in their hair. Last week, DiCaprio and his girlfriend, Brazilian bombshell Gisele Bundchen, were spotted rummaging through a sales bin full of discounted hats at Urban Outfitters in SoHo. No big deal, until DiCaprio started to undo his ponytail in order to try on a few. "His hair was duct-taped into a ponytail!" our spy reports. "He started pulling at the tape and ripping it out of his head. It was gross."

NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS: Unless you're flying East Hampton Airlines, you can forget about finding the Wall Street Journal in Wainscott on Monday mornings. The airline buys up all the Journals at the local Hess station to distribute on its flights. Hess employees have asked East Hampton Airlines' Cindy Herbst to leave at least a few copies, but she says it's not her problem: "If the items are for sale, I should be able to buy them."

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.


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