November 15, 1999


Looks like Rent may soon be forced to compete for the rock-and-roll-musical audience. A revival of the sixties hippie musical Hair is currently in the works, and according to a theatrical source, International Management Group, the show’s producer, has been talking to rock stars about playing the leading roles. A national tour is being planned, and while no dotted lines have been signed, the source reports that both Alanis Morisette and Lenny Kravitz have shown interest in lending their trademark sounds to the peace-and-love filled score. An IMG producer denied the reports but did confirm that top rockers are being roped in and that Madison Square Garden is a possible arena of choice. But with Kravitz’s Jimi Hendrix wardrobe and Morisette’s naked-as-I-wanna-be new look, the two do seem perfect for the play.


When Chris Rock got word that the Ku Klux Klan was planning its recent pep rally in New York, television sources say, the caustic comedian wanted to show up – with his HBO camera crew in tow. The technical staff at his hit talk show, however, had other ideas about covering the potentially inflammatory event: Fearing for their well-being, they told Rock they wouldn’t go. An HBO spokesperson did not deny that the battle of wills took place but said only: “The show looked into booking a couple of crews. When it was found that no crews were available, the idea was not pursued any further.” Unsurprisingly, the techies guessed well – the emotionally charged event ended with three injured officers, seven arrests, and a flurry of thrown rocks, batteries and golf balls.


Exactly what Steven Spielberg knew and when he knew it was the question after news circulated that the Academy Award-nominated writer Paul Attanasio had withdrawn from a planned Charles Lindbergh project. Spielberg bought the rights to A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the famous aviator before reading the book, and the story making the rounds last week was that Spielberg turned cold on the project once he realized exactly how anti-Semitic Lindbergh was. “He did buy the rights to the book before reading the manuscript,” confirms Berg, “because I was still working on it.” But the writer adds that Spielberg always knew about Lindbergh. “When he and I first met, topic A was anti-Semitism,” says Berg. “And I would say that topic Z was anti-Semitism as well.” Another source close to the project explains that Attanasio, who wrote Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco, wanted to write a character-based drama, while the director of Schindler’s List wanted more of “a spectacle.” Spielberg is now talking to Menno (The Color Purple) Meyjes about taking over the project, according to two other Left Coast sources. Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy confirms that a new writer will be signed up, although nobody’s “locked in yet.” What Hollywood writer is ever locked in?


Bill Bradley really is doing unexpectedly well in New York state – now even avowed conservative William F. Buckley is talking about contributing to his presidential campaign. William and Pat Buckley regularly invite editors to dinner at their Upper East Side maisonette. Last month, when New York Times Book Review editor Chip McGrath was among the party, the correct usage of the word comprise was debated. Buckley argued that four platoons comprised a battalion, while McGrath insisted that a battalion comprised four platoons. The bet: a dollar. “He was right,” admits Buckley, who did a computer search the next day. “I looked up the word comprise, and there are about 800 usages – none of which were mine,” continues the National Review editor, who promptly sent McGrath an e-mail admitting defeat. “I e-mailed back and suggested that he could just send the dollar to the Bradley campaign,” says McGrath. “I doubt he did, actually.” He hasn’t – yet. “I’m still trying to figure out how to donate to the Bradley campaign without getting on the Bradley list,” says Buckley, before inspiration strikes. “If you send in the dollar, I’ll repay you.”


Now that Martha Stewart has a good fortune, she must be in want of a husband. That truth is universally acknowledged by Jane Austen-reading gossip columnists, one of whom recently suggested Dr. Sam Waksal as her potential mate. Waksal didn’t bring Stewart to Beth Rudin de Woody’s party for the Kosher Sex rabbi last Tuesday. In fact, when asked whether his reputed paramour wasn’t actually involved with Microsoft exec Charles Simonyi, Waksal nodded – before catching himself and saying, “I don’t discuss my personal life.” News of the romance between the Seattle-based creator of Microsoft Word and the East Coast style doyenne first broke in the Seattle Times on September 19, 1997. “Martha and I are good friends,” the Hungarian-born Simonyi told the paper. “We discuss modern architecture, modern art, and the coming cyber-economy.” They were a couple on the White House’s official guest list of its dinner for Hungarian president Arpad Goncz this June, and a month later went together to Joel Silver’s wedding in Venice. She helped to remodel his $10 million home (he can reportedly water the lawn from his bed), while he’s been credited with increasing her computer literacy. Romance and an IPO? It’s a good thing.


Rockefeller Center’s recent retail boom means that when the big Christmas tree is flicked on this year, some invited guests won’t have their customary prime viewing space. Sources say the widows and children of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty will lose their sweet spot near the rinkside action because the area that the group used last year was recently leased to J.Crew. Instead, the location will be downgraded to the less exciting lobby of 45 Rockefeller Plaza, where the group will be unable to see any of the goings-on in person (closed-circuit monitors will feed them the visuals). A coordinator with the Uniformed Firefighters Association confirmed that they were told they’d get a smaller space and were asked to keep their numbers down, but were not told about the blind spot – “that’s for sure.” Sources say landlord Tishman Speyer, in an effort to keep spirits high at the Siberian locale, is tossing a party for the crew complete with face painters, magicians, and Santa himself. Later, the hosts will herd out the kids and parents to watch the tree-lighting part of the ceremony. Regardless, the UFA coordinator was still appreciative of the owners’ hospitality. “At least it’ll be warm,” she said.


VIEW OF A KISS: It seems Lisa Ling may like kissing girls even more than Calista Flockhart does. When chatting with her fellow galpals of The View about the slender Ally McBeal star’s now infamous on-air smooch with Lucy Liu, Ling made her point by planting a wet one on the lips of co-host Meredith Vieira. And it began to look like more than mere hype at a party for the Yankees the other night. Ling and her other co-host, Star Jones, turned heads at Veruka when they leaned over the lap of the insistently heterosexual Kevin Spacey for a lighthearted smooching session. Owner Noel Ashman, who was sitting nearby with Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, and the World Series champs, enjoyed the intimate tête-à-tête. “After they kissed, Kevin Spacey was so excited he asked them to do it again,” he says, “and they did.”

TAILORS OF HOFFMAN: As if you weren’t envious enough of the millions movie stars rake in, it appears they get benefits you might never have considered. Take Dustin Hoffman, who was recently spotted purchasing a heap of women’s clothing at Katayone Adeli, the pricey Bond Street boutique. As an employee folded up his clothes, an eavesdropping shopper was surprised to hear Hoffman ask for “the same discount I got last time.” As the salesperson began wrapping his packages, she smiled and said, “Oh, the employee discount.” A spokesman for the store confirmed that Hoffman was a “good shopper,” but when asked about the exchange, he insisted it was “just a joke” before clamping down with the bureaucratic “We do not comment on clients that visit and shop at our store.” Mannequin Naomi Campbell also left with an armful of clothing, apparently purchased at full price.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

November 15, 1999