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December 24-31, 2001

Will Smith, Liza Minnelli, Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, Tara Reid, Uma Thurman, and more . . .

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Mariah Carey: Out of the Picture?
Mariah Carey had to go without listening to her own music at Joe's Pub last week. During rapper Mos Def's birthday party, Carey asked to hear some tunes from her latest album, Glitter, but D.J. Beverly Bond had to break the news to her that she hadn't bothered to bring the CD to the club. At the same party, a friend of Carey's insisted that a photographer in the lounge erase all the digital images he had taken of Carey dancing and drinking Cristal until four in the morning. Which reminds us: A couple of weeks ago, one of our tipsters told us that Carey was approached by a young male fan after having dinner at Cafeteria. Just as Carey agreed to take a photo with the fan, one of her burly bodyguards jumped in the way and reminded Mariah, "Remember, you can't take any pictures."

O-Town Singer Goes Good Will Hunting
O-Town, the J Records boy band made famous on the Making of the Band television series, is used to being chased by awestruck fans. But it was O-Town's Trevor Penick doing the chasing recently -- after his idol, Will Smith. While riding in a limo to a Planet Hollywood luncheon honoring New York City police officers, Penick heard that Smith was on his way out of the party. The driver raced through traffic, arriving just in time for Penick to meet Smith. Smith's assistant then invited Penick to Sony honcho Howard Stringer's VIP screening of Ali that night. Penick rejiggered interviews he had scheduled in order to attend the screening but never asked where it was being held. After many frantic phone calls to Sony staff, Penick found out where it was (Sony Lincoln Square) and was able to get to the theater shortly before the film started. But he and fellow O-Towner Ashley Parker Angel were turned away because their names weren't on the list. Fortunately, as Penick and Angel were about to head back to their hotel, Smith's assistant saw them and pulled them into the theater as the lights were going down. We're happy to report that they had no problem getting into Stringer's after-party at Tavern on the Green.

Liza Minnelli's Unlimited New York Engagement
Liza Minnelli just can't stop celebrating her engagement to showman David Gest. Just days after the New York Post reported that Gest proposed, our spies spotted them with friends at nightclub One51. Minnelli danced to hip-hop in the club's VIP room until 1 a.m. A week later, she and Gest hosted an engagement party into the wee hours at her East Sixties apartment for more than 100 people, including Tony Bennett, Ben Gazarra, and Michael Feinstein. Last week, it was off to Bergdorf Goodman to get her hair done at the John Barrett salon. A tipster tells us that Minnelli was so overwhelmed by paparazzi when she was leaving that she waited in the store's security offices until things calmed down. Minnelli confused staff members when she said she had never been to Bergdorf before. "This place is marvelous," she said. "I must come back." Minnelli should know the shopping emporium quite well. Not only is she a regular at John Barrett, but she filmed a scene there for Arthur, in which she played a waitress caught stealing neckties. Minnelli's rep insists she knew where she was: "She was stormed by a lot of photographers. She was frightened." A few days later, she and Gest were spotted with models Marcus Schenkenberg and Carmen Kass at about 1 a.m. listening to D.J. Stretch Armstrong spin at the Tribeca Grand.

Leo Loosens Up in L.A.
Will the last celebrity to leave please turn out the lights . . . Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger, and Tara Reid enjoyed themselves so much at Motorola's holiday party at the Highlands nightclub in Los Angeles that they failed to notice that the party ended at 2 a.m. Even as the lights went on, the bar closed, and the D.J. was packing up, the three continued dancing. DiCaprio -- who actually talked to strangers and even posed for pictures with them -- had been on the dance floor for at least 30 minutes with a gaggle of gals (girlfriend Gisele Bundchen wasn't there, but his rep assures us they're still together) when Ledger joined the group. Reid, who apparently couldn't keep her eyes off Ledger, danced with them for a bit but spent most of the time watching from the sidelines. "There was no question Tara's interest level in Heath was piqued," says our spy. FYI: It hasn't been all play and no work for DiCaprio. The actor, who drives a gasoline-electric-hybrid Toyota Prius, recently sent out an e-mail to millions of his fans and environmentalists urging them to help block legislation that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A New Face at Details; a Wintour Party for Vogue
Lately we've been inundated with tidbits from the magazine world. Here are a few of the more interesting ones. Details deputy editor Andrew Essex is getting some major face time in his magazine's February issue: He's written a piece about his new chin-enhancement surgery. The sliding genioplasty -- performed by his oral-surgeon father-in-law about a month ago -- increased the length of his chin by about ten millimeters. . . . Maxim editor-in-chief Keith Blanchard almost didn't make it to his recent Today show appearance. Blanchard was refused entry into the studio by security guards when he arrived with a chain saw under his arm. A producer had to hightail it to the lobby to convince guards that Blanchard wasn't a threat and that the chain saw was one of the many products he'd be featuring in his segment with Bob Costas on holiday gifts for men. . . . Manhattan File editor-in-chief Cristina Greeven could have given her readers an exclusive look at her wedding to ABC News hunk Chris Cuomo, but she got a better offer from Vanity Fair. "The whole idea is to promote one's product," Greeven tells us. "Doing it in Vanity Fair helps Manhattan File. By doing it in Manhattan File, that wouldn't help so much." . . . Vogue editrix Anna Wintour obviously has completely changed her tune about Sex and the City. As we reported this summer, Wintour was skittish about allowing the show to shoot at her office. But she did allow at least one episode -- in which Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw gets a job there -- and now we hear that Parker will be on the cover of the fashion bible's February issue, which hits stands at about the same time that the fourth season of Sex debuts. And speaking of Wintour: Guests at Vogue's holiday party, thrown at Wintour's Sullivan Street townhouse last week, couldn't stop ogling the buff male wait staff, but they were not -- as rumor had it -- Abercrombie & Fitch models.

Expect to See More of Stephanie
Next summer, Peter Brant and his supermodel wife, Stephanie Seymour, won't have to rent Andy Warhol's Montauk estate -- owned by Paul Morrissey -- as they've done for the past three years. Sources tell us that they've bought a $6.5 million home in Sagaponack. Zoning regulations restrict the couple from building out on the four-bedroom home, but they can build up one story, a real-estate insider tells us. They'll have to do that if they want an ocean view, since the house, according to one source, sits behind a dune.

Woody Allen's New York Story
The American Foundation for AIDS Research won't be honoring individuals the way it usually does at next year's fourth annual Seasons of Hope gala. Instead, the event -- hosted by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick -- will feature celebs reading works about the spirit of New York written by authors and playwrights including Woody Allen, Terrence McNally, Tony Kushner, Dominick Dunne, Adam Gopnik, John Guare, Michael Cunningham, Pete Hamill, Liz Smith, and Candace Bushnell. We got a sneak peek of Allen's work, in which he recalls going to London to promote The Curse of the Jade Scorpion just five days after September 11. Allen writes that he was praised by many for actually making the trip, but jokes, "I of course neglected to mention that I had taken a private aircraft with only my family aboard and yet still to be safe, I had run background checks on my wife and children."

Uma Thurman: Baby Doesn't Need a New Pair of Shoes
Uma Thurman made shopping for the woman who has everything a lot easier at her recent baby shower, an afternoon soirée held at the Flatiron tearoom T Salon. The actress, who is expecting her second child with hubby Ethan Hawke in early January, asked invitees to make donations to Room to Grow -- Julie Brown's charity for underprivileged children -- rather than bring a gift. The 50 guests -- including pals Natasha Richardson, Marisa Tomei, Diane Sawyer, and Katie Ford, who arrived on RollerBlades -- raised $25,000. Despite pleas from her friends, Thurman kept mum on the sex of her baby. She admitted that she and Hawke know whether it's a boy or girl, but everyone else will have to wait.

CURTAIN CALL: Wilson's Bar & Grill, the legendary live-music club on the Upper West Side, is closing its doors. "There was nothing that I could do," owner Debbie Wilson was overheard telling Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels during an SNL after-party at Wilson's on December 8. "The landlord wants control of the corner back." Wilson confirmed that she was shuttering on February 1, when her 21-year lease expires. After two decades of hosting Sunday-night open-mike parties -- Madonna, Prince, and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs have all been repeat performers -- Wilson says that she's taking her part-time music-management business full-time. She's already signed dance band the Stingers and singer Gavin DeGraw.

POLO PUNIM: At a holiday party for Ralph Lauren's employees last week, staff members were treated to a private screening of Ocean's Eleven at the Ziegfeld Theater. But just in case they missed their boss's mug all over the company's ad campaigns and on a giant portrait in the lobby of their Madison Avenue headquarters, we hear, they also received chocolate bars with a grinning image of Lauren on the wrapper.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.


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