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Serena Thinks Gossip Girl Is Chuck!

Nate and Serena
Since the writers' strike has been keeping us from passing judgment on what's real and fake on Gossip Girl, we took the debate to the street at last night's celebration for the New Old Navy. The minute we saw Chace Crawford and Blake Lively, we of course asked them whether they read our awkwardly obsessive coverage. Both seemed politely interested (though previously unaware) of our weekly recaps. "Oh my goodness! I'm flattered!" laughed Lively, while Crawford asked us to show it to him on the red carpet, and told us that even though he "isn't a big Internet blogger," he'll check it out. OMG! Did you hear that guys? They're such liars. Even we Google ourselves and check to at least page three, and we're not famous. But anyway, we know it's standard stalkee procedure to pretend your stalker has no effect on your life. While talking blogs, we also dug into the carefully guarded identity of Gossip Girl herself. Lively laughed off the rumors of it being Eric, saying "I personally think it's Chuck," and real-life Gossip Girl narrator Kristen Bell took the more cerebral route: "She's just that eminent being in the back of your head, the little devil on your shoulder all the time." It felt like a good high-school gab session when Lively bragged to us about how she's the best Guitar Hero player in the cast (hello! Just like on episode eight!) and her Crumbs cupcake routine ("I cut them into fours and love the peanut-butter and red-velvet ones".) But as it turns out, we aren't the only ones feeling that Serena and Nate are Just Like Us: "While we were on set, these very Upper East Side–ish kids came up to me and said, 'We are, like, you guys, in real life.' But I was like 'I am so sorry to hear that, I would not wish that upon anybody, our lives of debauchery and scandal.'" Wish it upon us, Chace. Wish it upon us every Wednesday night, please! —Amy Preiser Hear more from the New Old Navy Party, with quotes and pictures of Heatherette, Kirsten Bell, and Sophia Bush! And we know you need more Gossip Girl, so just get it over with and click here.

André Benjamin Blessed With Words of Hope From Wintour

At the GQ party for up-and-coming menswear designers last night, André "3000" Benjamin wasn't the musical entertainment, but rather one of the celebrants. His Benjamin Bixby label — a small, American-football-influenced line — made its quiet debut in a hotel room on Tuesday night, and even Her Vogue-ness Anna Wintour came by to offer good advice. "She liked it," Benjamin said. "She was saying she hopes I get the right investors that believe in what I'm doing."

Tina Brown Thinks Bubba Will Recalibrate; Peter Hermann Thinks It's Best to Watch His Sex Scenes in Private

Peter Hermann
When we caught up with Tina Brown at last night's Atlantic dinner and State of the Union–viewing session, we were curious as to what she thinks about Hillary Clinton lately. The senator, after all, is going to be one of the subjects of Brown's just-announced book, The Clinton Chronicles. "I think [her campaign so far] is a complete high-wire, absolutely astonishing, ever-changing drama," Brown explained. "I think a lot of it, too, is a construct as well. Whenever I see so-called Bill Clinton eruptions, they’re not eruptions at all." Man, she's already dissecting them like fetal pigs! Awesome. "I think that he will definitely recalibrate," Brown added. "I think you will probably see less of him in the next two weeks." Elsewhere at the party, Law & Order: SVU heroine Mariska Hargitay lounged with her husband, Peter Hermann, one of the male stars of Cashmere Mafia. So, Peter, what does Mariska think of your steamy Cashmere sex scenes? "We go do other things when it’s on, and then I rewind the DVR and watch them in private," Hermann explained carefully. "Then we talk it through and let it all subside a little bit and then we move on." He laughed then and showed his megawatt smile (Mariska has one, too, but she's not allowed to show it on TV). "We’re working through it." Good for them, but too bad for us. How great would it be if Mariska kicked down a studio door and shoved a 9mm in Miranda Otto's face? We love it when she does that. —Jada Yuan Get more dirt from Andy Borowitz, Bronson van Wyck, and Rick Lazio at our complete coverage of the Atlantic's State of the Union Dinner. Earlier: Tina Brown to Publish a New ‘Chronicles’

Meg Ryan Has Been in the Business for 2,000 Years

Meg Ryan
“I’ve been in the business for like 2,000 years,” Meg Ryan said when we hunted her down her at the Hollywood Life House after-party for her Sundance movie The Deal. Ryan, notoriously reclusive these days, had skipped the red carpet, and to find her we had to slip into the house undetected, evade three bodyguards, several clipboard-toting publicists, and her co-star William H. Macy, and stand for 45 minutes behind a large Chinese urn clutching a giant bunch of flowers while we waited for the precise moment to slip unnoticed into the room she was in. And there we were, face to face with the sweetly smiling blonde we remembered from When Harry Met Sally and other nineties romcoms. She sounded like a crotchety old man. “It’s absurd," Ryan said, of making movies. "It’s an absurd way to spend your time." But, she said, it's also rewarding. "There’s a lot of really great, creative people," she said. "There’s a lot of maniacs, idiots, too.” Present company excluded, we're sure. "I run into maniacs and idiots all the time," she continued, looking at us warily. (We were only kidding about the urn part, by the way.) Ryan excused her exhaustion by saying she had just finished making four back-to-back movies. “After you extend yourself like that, you want to hibernate,” she said. We asked where she would be curling up for the rest of the winter. You know, just in case we needed to get in touch. “I’m not going to tell you,” she said. Then she walked away. —Darrell Hartman

Julie Christie Is on Fire in 2008. Literally.

Julei Christie
Julie Christie, who won her Academy Award in 1965, is having a good 2008, with Golden Globe and National Board of Review wins and an Oscar nomination for her performance in Away From Her. But she’s less lucky when it comes to the little things, like walking, talking, and eating. At the Board of Review awards at Cipriani 42nd Street January 15, she tripped over some wires and fell near the end of the red carpet, in full view of a Spanish TV crew. “I’m blinded by the lights,” she said, laughing. “These things are rather evil. They blind me with the lights, and then they take a picture of me stumbling.” Later, as she accepted her award, a stagehand had to adjust her microphone mid-speech because no one could hear her. And finally, back at her table, a menu fell into a candle, burst into flame, and then nearly dropped into her lap. She gasped and then smothered the flames, but not before another set of papers briefly caught fire in front of her. —Jada Yuan

Alan Cumming, Reporter

We know Alan Cumming has had sex with journalists. But would he ever like to try being a journalist, like Naomi Campbell, who recently interviewed Hugo Chavez for British GQ? "I'd love to ask certain questions to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," he said at the launch of the Italian Commission's Made in Italy ad campaign at the Hearst tower. "I'd like to know where they stand on equal rights for gay people. I'd also like to interview George Bush, just to watch him squirm." (Maybe he could ask him, "You're into your cock, aren't you?") But what about the people who really matter?, we pressed. Which celebrities would he like to interview? "I'd like to find out who all those blonde girls are — there's a whole lot of them who look the same, the ones from The Hills, and that Hayden, um, Pan-i-tare? She's everywhere," he said. "And who's that one, that Kim Ka-shi-shen?" Kardashian? We said. The one who made a sex tape with Brandy's brother and now has a TV show? "Yes! My friend told me she's a skanky whore, and I'm like, 'Wow, she's a lot more interesting than I thought she was.'" Like any ambitious reporter, Cumming would like to land the big story. "I'd love to interview Britney," he said wistfully. Then he changed his mind. "But I'd rather her do it with one of those E! TV people, or Oprah." That's it, Alan Cumming will take care of Hillary and Barack. Let the professionals handle Britney. —Amy Preiser

Heath Ledger Would Have Found Fox News Comments Funny, Friend Says

Brady Corbet
Talk of Heath Ledger's death continues to dominate the Sundance festival in Utah. "It was a terrible place to get this news," actor Brady Corbet, in Park City to promote Funny Games, told us yesterday. "It was supposed to be a time for celebration, and now this town is just abuzz." Corbet, who was friendly with Ledger, says he's been disturbed by the tone of some of the gossip, particularly John Gibson's comments on his Fox radio show. "All this Fox News shit, I couldn't believe it," he said. "It's so shocking and totally unacceptable.… The guy John Gibson should just be fucking shot." Er…right. Let's move off that thought. "The only thing that's charming about it," Corbet continued, "is that I know Heath would have gotten such a kick out of it. 'Oh, you played a gay cowboy so you were condemned to death.' I really think that Heath would have thought that was funny. He would love how it makes them look and how it sheds some light on how disgusting a corporation Fox is." —Steve Ramos

Your Fashion Week Party Guide

Ah, the joy of Fashion Week: the clothes, the models, the celebs...and the parties. Despite what your feet or your liver may say, there's no better way to wrap up a day at the runways (or just fantasizing about them from afar) than by rubbing elbows with A-listers—isn't it about time you met Madonna?—and guzzling free drinks. Always eager to serve, we've got the rundown on Fashion Week's best parties, with something to satiate every taste, from Gucci to the Beastie Boys.

Sundance Snowboarding With Adrian Grenier

Everyone has their reason for coming to Sundance: movies, networking, making money, making off with swag, making out, usually while drunk. But there's also the skiing and snowboarding. It's a rare pleasure to see the celebrity taking time off from promoting his or her movies to hit the slopes, but most do at least once: Woody Harrelson, for instance, has gone snowboarding nearly every day since he's been here. Paris Hilton got in a day of skiing (though she may be a liar about how good she is). And on Monday, Eliza Dushku, Matthew Rhys, and Dave Annable (from Brothers & Sisters) all made valiant attempts to tame the fluffy white beast.

Mo Rocca Dreams of a Psychosexual Thriller Starring Bill Clinton

Mo Rocca
Last night at Joe's Pub, four teams made up of Broadway composers, directors, writers, actors, and assorted other creatives unveiled the works they had produced for the inaugural 24 Hour Musicals, which, like the annual 24 Hour Plays event, requires contestants to prepare a musical from scratch in just 24 hours. We swung by and took the opportunity to ask the punchy participants a question that's been rolling around our heads since Iowa: If the presidential candidates were in a musical, what would it be? "I would do a musical about people that live under the subways, like the subway moles, and I would cast John McCain as, like, the leader of the underground subterranean people," actress Ashlie Atkinson said breathlessly. "And then I would cast Hillary Clinton as a developer who is trying to destroy their oasis." Mo Rocca had other ideas. "I think it would be a psychosexual thriller about Bill Clinton trying to hook up with Michelle Obama," he said. "I'm currently obsessed with Michelle Obama. And, um, I think she's beautiful. I think she's dynamic. I think there will be legions of drag queens soon dressing up as Michelle Obama. She's just a great sort of larger-than-life figure." But what about Hillary? Is Hillary really musical material? "Umm," he paused to think. "She's tough with musicals. Hillary's just not really very…musical." —Amy Odell Click here to see video Mo, Kerry Butler, and others chatting with New York and performing in the 24 Hour Musicals.

Celebrities Skipping Out at Sundance

Adrian Grenier
Hey, have you noticed how the celebrity supply in New York has been depleted these past few days? (Thankfully, we still have Tom Brady wearing a boot in the West Village.) It's because all of the actors and directors are at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. But it seems like even in the celebrity fustercluck that is Park City right now, planners still can't get enough star power to fuel their events. Apparently, Sundance schedules are so jam-packed with appointments, parties, and swag-suite visits that it's no wonder they don't make half the events they (well, their publicists) say they will. Of course, some no-shows you can see coming: Robert De Niro and Quentin Tarantino "expected" at a dinner for 50 Cent sponsored by VitaminWater? Um, sure. And we look forward to seeing Paris at the poetry reading.

Sundance Report: Paris Hilton Dodges Snowballs, Suffers Hookup Amnesia

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton is, of course, the living embodiment of everything cinephiles hate about Sundance. She doesn’t even have a movie in the festival, for one: She says she’s promoting her new flick, The Hottie and the Nottie, which one critic friend of ours described as “as close as you can get to straight-to-DVD without being straight-to-DVD.” More likely, though, she's here to get paid (as the gossip columns claim) to show up at parties, including one thrown this weekend by the folks behind NYC club Stereo, which she fled from in tears before they could get their money’s worth. In a more private moment, she made out with also inexplicably famous Simon Rex at 5WPR’s Escape Mansion, deep in Deer Valley — apparently forgetting, according to a publicist we know, that she’d done the exact same thing at Sundance four years ago, at a Motorola party.

Carl Bernstein: We've Got the Hillary of '92 Back

Carl Bernstein
Plummy with his trademark bravado and bonhomie, Carl Bernstein took the stage at the packed 92nd Street Y last night to talk about A Woman in Charge, his bestselling, closely observed Hillary bio. "The theme of the fear of humiliation runs through her life," he told the crowd, explaining that that's why she resisted investigations into Whitewater, for example, and never told her closest law colleagues in Arkansas that she failed the D.C. bar exam. What's more, he said, her current campaign has found both her and Bill slipping back into their old, unpalatable take-no-prisoners mode, rather than that more supple, negotiation-friendly Hillary that bloomed like a quiet flower in the Senate. "We're seeing a real devolution back to the Hillary Clinton of the '92 campaign," he said. "She's shown a lot of her worst."

‘Gossip Girl’ May Be Over, But Serena and Dan Go On

Serena and Dan
There were socialites and movie stars galore at Chanel's “Night of Diamonds" at the Plaza Hotel last night, but to us, there were only two souls in the sumptuous ballroom: Gossip Girl deities Blake Lively and Penn Badgley, or, as we prefer to call them, Serena and Dan. It's been rumored that the onscreen couple has been dating in real life, and we were relieved to see this seemed to be true, as we try our best to maintain the illusion that characters on Gossip Girl are real. We positioned ourselves uncomfortably close to their table and watched as Serena pirouetted for Dan, her blonde ponytail slapping his face; Dan drummed his fingers while Serena chatted about fashion; and Serena close-talked to Dan between courses. Finally, we got up the nerve to approach them. We mentioned that, you know, some people have commented on whether the show portrayed Manhattan realistically and asked what they thought. "From what I’ve heard, it’s pretty accurate," Serena said. Upper East Side teenagers "really do hang out in the lounges of bars after school." But Dan wasn't so sure. "I would say definitely, um, when my little sister, Jenny, swings from our Brooklyn apartment to an Upper East Side palace in five minutes top — that’s really absurd," Dan admitted. (He actually said, "My little sister, Jenny!" We died.) He must have noticed the crazed fandom in our eyes, because right then he started talking about what the network is planning for the hiatus in order to keep people like us off the streets, or at least from turning to Cashmere Mafia. Starting January 28, he said, they'll be airing the reruns with "extra tidbits" called Gossip Girl Revealed. "It will entertain people who have seen it," he said. "And for those who haven’t seen it, it will be illuminating." —Justin Ravitz Get scandalous hotel memories from Helena Christensen, MisShapes, Julia Stiles, and others at our complete coverage of Chanel’s “Night of Diamonds” at the Plaza’s Grand Ballroom.

Spotted: Blair's Mom!

Blair's Mom
It's been a week since the Gossip Girl season finale, and with no new episodes until God knows when, we don't have much to live for. So when we spotted Margaret Colin, who plays Eleanor Waldorf, at opening night of The 39 Steps at the American Airlines Theatre last night, we almost knocked down a few innocent bystanders to get to her. After gushing like a tween at a Hannah Montana concert about what huge, geeky fans we are, we begged for tidbits to quell our Gossip Girl withdrawal. Colin, who by the way we recently noticed had a bit part as a teacher in John Hughes classic Pretty in Pink, was looking very Upper East Side in a black beaded jacket and flat riding boots. "The girl that my character is based on, she's an extra in the show," Colin said. "She's my assistant in a couple of episodes. We actually use her designs on the show. She's completely delicious — she's like 12." Like a good Gossip Girl tipster might, we kept tabs on the popular kids. Are any of the cast members dating in real life?, we asked. Like, you know, Serena and Dan? "Oh, I wouldn't know, they're not going to tell the mom!" Colin says, throwing her head back and letting out a throaty laugh. "I think they are." —Maridel Reyes

National Board of Review Awards Lacked Writers, Brevity

George Clooney Red Carpet
If ever there were a case to be made for ending the WGA strike before the Oscars, it was last night's lengthy National Board of Review awards gala at Cipriani. The WGA let the awards go on as planned because the NBR isn't televised or otherwise connected with "money-grubbing moguls." But that also meant no TV time limits on speeches. About an hour in Juno's Ellen Page and screenwriter Diablo Cody became heroes for their quickly mumbled acceptance speeches (they were the fifth award of twenty). "We felt bad for just going up and saying a couple of 'awesome's," Cody said during a break around hour four, "but now we realize we were being merciful." Josh Brolin accepted award No. 7 (for Best Acting by an Ensemble) on behalf of the No Country for Old Men cast. "I'm going to take soooo long, because everyone before me took so friggin' long," he threatened, as the crowd let out a great cheer. But the baiting didn't stop introducer Mike Wallace from talking so long he actually had to ask: "Now why am I up here?" The only other hero was an animated George Clooney. Introducing the Coen brothers, he cracked: "These guys hate this kind of shit. They are the worst people you could have seen at this kind of event. It's like March of the Penguins. Ethan won't even talk." Sure enough, Joel and Ethan Coen shuffled up to the stage, grabbed their award, muttered "Thanks" into the mike, and shuffled off. The bit got a big laugh, and suddenly the crowd seemed to get a second cocktail-fueled wind. Which only lasted two speeches of the remaining sixteen. —Jada Yuan Hear more from George Clooney, Diablo Cody, and Ben Affleck at our complete coverage of the National Board of Review awards.

A Designer Explains the Effect of the Writers' Strike on Fashion

Phillip Lim
After the Fug Girls got us thinking about the effect the WGA strike would have on the fashion industry, we caught up with designer Phillip Lim and asked him about it at Repetto's 60th-anniversary party last week. Lim is a well liked, quickly rising designer who has been showing since fall 2005, and is therefore a good example of a designer who is established but by no means on as stable ground as any of the giant houses that have been around for much longer. So what does he think about the strike, which is appearing to affect more and more people as time goes on? "It's about how it trickles down to retailers, how it trickles down to restaurants, how it trickles down to the community," said the bubbly Lim. "They've got to work it out and get on with it. It's almost selfish to just keep on with the struggle." So if it affects everybody, it must be affecting Lim himself, right? "For us, we have a distribution in Los Angeles. Our stores, people we sell to, they're affected by it. So in the end it affects us." And the loss of award shows? "[A presence on the red carpet] boosts business, but we didn't build our business on that premise, so in the end it doesn't hurt us a ton," Lim explained. "We make clothes for the 'everywoman,' you know." Still, we're guessing some other, more gown-oriented designers (Marchesa, much?) would have killed for the opportunity to dress Keira Knightley last Sunday…—Jada Yuan Earlier: No Golden Globes? Now Everything's Fugged Up Related: Mr. In-Between [NYM]

Jesse Jackson Doesn't Give ‘Free Advice’ to Barack Obama

Jesse Jackson
Ever since Obama swept Iowa last week, capping the win with a speech that seemed brushed by MLK's angel wing, we've been wondering what the Reverend Jesse Jackson has been thinking. Sure, the Rev endorsed the guy, but his remarks about Obama have been so lukewarm you have to wonder if the nod wasn't an obligatory matter of brothers supporting brothers. Not to mention that the candidate's camp has never particularly reached out to the Rev. (Could it be all those conservative pundits saying that O's a big hit precisely because he's not Jesse Jackson?) And the Rev's own wife endorsed Hillary. Finally, last night, we had our chance. At the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, where the Rev's RainbowPUSH Coalition and Bombay Sapphire have been hosting a five-day summit on minority business-ownership, the Rev was sitting haggardly (he has the flu) amidst a phalanx of large, suited handlers. Everyone was waiting for Angie Stone to perform. So we approached the Rev and asked if we could briefly interrupt his fluishness. We just had to know what was going on in his head since O's Iowa surge. "It's continuous growth," he murmured in that legendary semi-intelligible voice. "In 1988, we won thirteen states, so we laid the groundwork for change." According to Jackson, Obama once told him that he was a Columbia undergrad in 1984, when Jackson, Hart, and Mondale had a Democratic primary debate there. "That made [Obama] say, 'This was really possible,'" the Rev explained.

Alexandra Kerry Weighs In on Hillary's Tears

Alexandra Kerry
At last night's opening of Julian Schnabel's show at the Sperone Westwater Gallery, we ran into Alexandra Kerry (daughter of former presidential candidate John). She was there with BlackBook founder Evan Schindler, who is now running Tar Art Media, a socially conscious arts-media collective. Kerry is working with Schindler on some projects, including a narrative film of Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, screenwritten by the author's son ("We're doing a reading of it, actually, in February, with Alec Baldwin and Harvey Keitel and Josh Lucas!"). Since Kerry is a woman and political by heritage, we asked her, naturally, about Hillary's tears. "There has never been a politician who hasn't stood onstage and been moved at one time or another and affected by something emotionally," she told us. "I think it is very human and very normal." How reasonable! But surely it was all a ruse to trick us into voting for her? "The kind of pressure that each candidate is under is not something that I think the average person can understand, so I give her the liberty and the freedom to have her moment," Kerry said. "And I don't think that's something someone would act. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who is standing up there and running, particularly in the Democratic party. So I honestly have to say that I don't think it's my place to judge what her motivations are. I mean, it may be completely honest." A-ha! It "may be completely honest." Girl, you've got a future in politics. —Andrew Goldstein

Even Reality-TV Star Robert Verdi Thinks Reality TV Is Bad for You

Robert Verdi
We ran into Robert Verdi, the former Style Network host and ubiquitous E! talking head, at the Louis Vuitton/Richard Prince event at the Guggenheim last night. So, we said, his business must be booming, what with the writers' strike and all. "It's a terrible thing," Verdi said, solemnly. But! "It's really good for people who are in reality, because it's exacerbating our already tragic careers." Unlike Daily Intel, whose life will be left cold and empty after the season finale of Gossip Girl this very evening, Verdi isn't really feeling the loss of any specific programs. "I actually don't watch television," he confided. "I haven't had it for two years. When I did a renovation, I got rid of the television, and I never bought new ones." It was hard living without Oprah at first, he said. But it was ultimately for the best. "This is tragic, but I got to feel lonely, and I'm single so it was a lot of white noise and it keeps you company. I recognize the value of TV for people, but I wanted to avoid the feelings, so getting rid of it was great for me." So what does he do now, if he's not slumped in front of makeover shows like the rest of us? "I read more!" he said brightly. "Or, I count my money and try on my jewelry." — Fiona Byrne