With Deborah Schoeneman
They’ve posed in very little for everything from FHM to Vanity Fair, but Nicky and Paris Hilton have frozen out E! According to sources, the hard-partying hotel heiresses have refused to cooperate with an upcoming E! True Hollywood Story about them. Nicky says E! reps have been calling her house, but she doesn’t understand why they want to chronicle her (short) life story. “I’m 19 years old; I just started my career,” says the budding handbag designer. When she first heard about the show, she didn’t even believe it: “I thought it was a joke—I thought someone was trying to be funny.” Nicky also has faith that her friends will respect her wishes. “I don’t think anyone close to me would talk,” she says. An industry insider confirms that the show is in the works and will air in the next couple of months: “There’s no script yet or an exact air date, but it’s definitely happening.” Maybe the girls just don’t want Paris to have any competition for The Simple Life, her reality-show version of Green Acres airing this summer.
Norman Mailer Strikes the Empire
We hear that Random House is scrambling to publish Why Are We at War?, a 128-page quickie paperback by Norman Mailer that stems from his recent essay in the New York Review of Books. In the piece, Mailer accused President Bush of waging war against Iraq not because of homeland security or the desire to bring democracy to the Middle East but because of his ambition to build an empire. A Random House rep confirms the project is happening. The book is being edited by David Ebershoff, who inherited Mailer after Ann Godoff was fired last month. No release date is set, but Random House hopes to have it in stores by the first two weeks of April. Price? A mere $7.99.
Rob Marshall Misses the Hamptons
When director Rob Marshall says he never expected Chicago to be as big a hit as it is, you have to believe him. He thought he’d have so much free time once the movie was released that he rented a house in the Hamptons for January, February, and March. Alas, he’s been able to spend just two days on the East End this winter. “I didn’t assume people would want to give us all these awards all over the country and Europe,” Marshall recently told one of our tipsters. But he admits all the plaudits—the movie’s up for thirteen Academy Awards and has already taken in more than $100 million at the box office—have softened the blow of missing out on the house. “It was probably a total waste of money,” he said, “but I shouldn’t be so troubled, right?” As for the short time he spent in the Hamptons, sources tell us that most of it was spent looking at places to buy with his partner, John DeLuca. Marshall’s rep confirmed they’re shopping around, but not just on the East End: “They want a country house, but that means anywhere outside of Manhattan.”
Ian Schrager’s Odd Homage
Should Ian Schrager welcome Miami residents Audra and Mark Cherry to his hotels or take out a restraining order? You be the judge. The self-described Schrager fanatics have named their 1-month-old daughter, Hudson, in homage to Schrager’s Hudson Hotel. Her middle name is Sky, as in the Hudson’s terrace bar. When the Cherrys—who have never met Schrager—recently checked into the Hudson, they told staff members about their baby and that she was conceived at the hotel. Baby Hudson was issued a VIP card for all Schrager hotels, which entitles her to upgrades and access to the bars (when she’s 21, that is). The couple also decorated their Florida home with furniture designed by—who else?—Philippe Starck, Schrager’s hotel designer of choice, and they brunch every Sunday at Schrager’s Delano or Shore Club. Schrager is more than flattered. He cracked, “I’m looking forward to meeting her brother—Delano.”
Ivana’s Masked Beau to the Rescue
Chivalry hasn’t died. At least when it comes to Ivana Trump’s boyfriend, Rossano Rubicondi. The couple recently had a day of massages and facials at the new Spa 64 on the Upper East Side. Their massages took place in the same room, but they were separated for their facials. Suddenly, Rubicondi heard his girlfriend groaning in the next room. He bolted from his chair—his creamy mask still on—to see what was wrong. Turns out Trump was moaning from pleasure from the face-and-scalp massage, our spy reports. An embarrassed Rubicondi made his way back to his room. And to show how much she enjoyed herself, Trump tipped each of their masseurs and facialists with a $50 bill.
Lumet Goes Straight to Video
Legendary film director Sidney Lumet is going into the music-video business—but it’s not exactly MTV. He told us he’s directing a music video of American tenor Neil Shicoff singing an aria from La Juive, the 1835 Fromental Halévy opera about a Jewish girl and her father who are sentenced to death when she falls in love with a Christian duke. Lumet joked that this new project isn’t that much of a departure from his usual work. “I always get involved with old Jews,” he cracked, “and here I am again with a leading character who’s an old Jew, written by an old Jew.” Producers hope to get the video aired on classical-music television shows in the U.S. and Europe. It will also be used to promote a documentary about the opera being filmed by Paula Fisher’s Millennial Arts Productions.
WRITING MIKE: Mayor Bloomberg may have to start spending more time at Gracie Mansion—we hear he’s writing the foreword to a coffee-table book about the mayoral manse. Slated for publication next winter by Rizzoli, the 208-page book with 155 photos will be written by former New York Magazine editor Ellen Stern and will feature the mansion’s recent $7 million face-lift by Bloomberg’s personal decorator, Jamie Drake.
Ephron Seeking Norton to Be Like Mike
HBO is working on a movie about the life of the late Pulitzer Prize–winning Daily News columnist Mike McAlary, who died of cancer five years ago at 41. Nora Ephron has written the screenplay and will co-produce with Laurence Mark, and sources tell us they’ve already approached Edward Norton, their first pick to play McAlary. “Edward and Nora have spoken about it,” a source says. “She gave it to him. It’s a great script. But everything is really preliminary right now.” McAlary was a sports reporter in Boston and at the New York Post before joining the News, where he won a Pulitzer for a series of columns about Abner Louima. His 1997 Esquire story about Vincent LaMarca, a New York detective who discovered that the chief suspect in a homicide he was investigating was his son, was turned into a movie, City by the Sea, starring Robert De Niro and Frances McDormand. McAlary also wrote three nonfiction books and was a contributor to this magazine. We’re told Ephron started working on a script about two weeks after he passed away and has had the full cooperation of family and friends.
Michael Richards’s Reality (Show) Bites
While Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s failed sitcom from last year, Watching Ellie, is being revamped and will start airing again next month, another Seinfeldian is also hoping to reinvigorate his TV career. We hear Michael Richards, otherwise known as Kramer, has been shopping around a quirky reality show in which cameras would follow him around and film some of his daily encounters. His agent, Andy Cohen of ICM, tells us it’s not a reality show à la Anna Nicole Smith, because it won’t focus on his day-to-day life but would be limited to comic encounters (i.e., visiting a doctor or getting his car fixed). Cohen says Richards is in final talks with a cable network—but one top Hollywood exec who has seen a pilot of the show thinks it’s a clunker, and just a rehash of the Kramer character. The pilot includes Richards suffering from poison oak and getting a bee stuck up his nose while hiking. “He goes to a grocery store and tries to get ointment,” our source reports. “He walks up to the counter and some guy yells at him for cutting the line, but he’s like, ‘I need something for my face.’ He gets some white pasty ointment and he puts it all over his face . . . Then he gets back into his car, and he’s in a convertible, and something flies in his face, so then he can’t see and he almost crashes. It goes on and on. It’s horrifying.” Cohen says what our source saw was real: “All he planned on doing was going hiking.” He adds, “It’s hard to describe because it’s different. Charlie Chaplin worked without scripts. Larry David works without scripts. They just have scenarios.”
Bob Kerrey Stumps for the New School in Nebraska
Bob Kerrey is putting his money where his mouth is. The former U.S. senator and governor of Nebraska is using his own money to advertise the New School University, where he’s been president for more than two years. Kerrey tells us that he never thought of advertising in Omaha Central High School’s student newspaper, but then he got a call from one of the students there. “She told me she was trying to get us to advertise, but no one was returning her call,” Kerrey says. By the end of the conversation, Kerrey agreed to buy—at his own expense, not the New School’s—a $1,000 ad: “I was so impressed, I couldn’t say no.” But he was only willing to go so far. “As soon as I said yes,” Kerrey says, “she tried to get me to go with the $2,500 package. She’s pretty good. Too bad we don’t have a business school, because it sounds like that’s where she should be going.” As for the ad, Kerrey hopes its sarcasm won’t offend Nebraskans. “Become the New York intellectual your parents always warned you about,” the ad reads. It features an illustration of a father and mother talking to their kids about the school. The caption reads: “ ‘School in New York? Philosophy? Media Studies? You’ll think we’re morons by Thanksgiving,’ said Dad.”