December 8, 2003
AND BENJAMIN NUGENT
Bush-Bashing Writ Long: Carter Fired Up
After months of editorializing about the war in Iraq (interrupted by brief outbursts over Starbucks or the smoking ban), Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has found a broader platform from which to publicly excoriate the Bush administration. Our spy reports that the tweedy editors at Farrar, Straus & Giroux plan to publish an anti-Bush book by Carter in the spring. Carter also seems to be increasingly demonstrative about his other favorite subject—the Times reported last week that the Bloomberg administration has given him numerous kicks in the Savile Row pants for smoking-ban violations at 4 Times Square. But we’re told that the Fourth Estate’s resident tobacco evangelist continues to fight the law, despite the law’s annoying insistence on winning. At one point last week, reports from inside the Condé Nast compound indicated that not only was Carter still smoking, but Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens was “smoking in the VF offices at this very moment!”
An Irish Sister Act
Bono, Aidan Quinn, Holly Hunter, and Helena Christensen may have added star wattage to the premiere of In America last Monday night, but the film’s young heroines stole the show. Irish sisters Emma and Sarah Bolger, who also play sisters in the film, flashed wide grins for the paparazzi at the party at Café St. Bart’s. “Bring it on!” exclaimed Sarah, 12, who sang “Desperado” (which she does in the movie, too) for the crowd. Emma, 8, bounced around, high on her newfound fame. That concerned Paddy Considine, who plays their father: “You’ve got to be careful,” he said with his little co-stars out of earshot. “It’s overwhelming enough for an adult, and this fuckin’ game can swamp you!”
Bianca’s Gas-Masked Ball: Bold Mold
Bianca Jagger’s apartment may be decaying at a slightly faster rate than the social cachet that accompanied her divorce settlement. A spy reports that Jagger recently waltzed into Cipriani downtown for lunch with Manolo Blahnik wearing a gas mask (is that Chanel or Vuitton, darling?) and complaining about her moldy digs. She was also photographed in the mask for a Post story about her $20 million lawsuit against her building, which is suing her for refusing to pay her $4,600-a-month rent since April. Jagger, who’s been living in a hotel, didn’t get much sympathy from Blahnik until she mentioned her ruined Halston gowns. “Then he perked up and offered some dry-cleaning tips,” our spy says.
“I find what’s going on in Iraq more compelling than Michael Jackson. It’s extraordinary they’re the two lead stories on any given night on the national news.”
John Lithgow, on competing current events.
Vogue’s Little Helper: Didion On Drugs
We’ve often quipped that we’d be able to work at Vogue only if heavy drugs were involved. Little did we know. In the upcoming issue of Black Book magazine, Joan Didion discusses her days at Vogue before the newhouses bought it in 1959 and turned it into a book of pretty ads peppered with evil necessities like articles. “They had a nurse, Miss K, who every morning would line up little paper cups of phenobarbital for you if you came in nervous,” Didion tells writer Meghan Daum. Vogue’s spokesman assures us that heavy barbiturates are no longer distributed in the office-dollhouse. “We’ve moved on to Starbucks,” he says. Didion also says the work atmosphere was much more “Mother Mine” than Mommie Dearest. “The personnel director of Condé Nast would stop me in the hall to ask me if I’d called my mother,” she says. “And if I said, ‘Not since last Tuesday,’ she’d say, ‘Come into my office right now and call her.’ ” (Awww . . . )
Muffin Meltdown!: Contessa Closes
What will Sunday mornings in East Hampton be like without a sighting of Steven Spielberg and his brood rustling through the muffins at the Barefoot Contessa? The shop is now closed indefinitely, and its namesake owner, Ina Garten—who rented her Über-deli to some former employees seven years ago but wrested it back after they nearly succumbed to competition from upstart Citarella—is looking to lease the space to another business. But the rampant Gucci rumors aren’t true. (We asked. Garten denied.) Meanwhile, Martha Stewart had better watch out. Garten, who also has a Food Network show, is building a TV studio and test kitchen (for cookbooks) down the block to further expand her Barefoot brand.
Naked Roof Party: Shooting (Up)
You know your party is a success when a naked guy on drugs is dangling from your roof. (All right, so it’s not everyone’s benchmark, but we’re thinking of using it for the upcoming office Christmas festivities.) Writer Nicollette Ramirez’s recent birthday party at the studio of artist Uri Dotan hit that particular party milestone after photographer Spencer Tunick arrived and suggested that guests disrobe and assemble themselves on the roof for a “private artwork.” (Tunick is best known for persuading large numbers of gullible people to lie down naked in public places, like Grand Central—see above.) One overenthusiastic participant shot up and hung precariously from the ledge. “Choose life!” offered a helpful onlooker. “It was not hot,” reports one of a handful of partygoers who remained fully clothed. “For every attractive woman, there was a pear-shaped man with, well, a baby carrot.” Asked about the event, Ramirez said, “You want some real intelligence? I’m Larry Gagosian’s lover.”
First Wife’s Clubhouse: Bloomberg’s ex to buy a pricey downtown pad.
We hear that Mayor Bloomberg’s ex-wife, Susan Brown Bloomberg, 53, is negotiating to buy a $6.5 million penthouse at the newly converted 225 Lafayette Street. (Had we known that marrying and divorcing the mayor came with such perks, we’d have done it ourselves.) The 2,767-square-foot loft (which brokers say is overpriced) features three bedrooms and a terrace. Brown Bloomberg, who was married to the mayor for nineteen years before they divorced in 1993, also lives with their equestrian daughter, Georgina, on a 26-acre Westchester estate.