November 29, 1999

Jewel In The Rough

Jewel isn’t always a gem when the music stops playing, according to some insiders at CNN. They claim that the young diva, who was recently at Showbiz Today to sing a few songs from her new CD, Joy: A Holiday Collection, hit a sour note with a cleaning man. During a break in shooting, Jewel ran to the bathroom, but the peeved porter asked her to wait outside for five minutes. According to two station insiders, an irate Jewel asked, ” ‘How about I piss down your throat?’ ” But the singer has a different version: “He said, ‘I will mop, and then you will pee.’ I said, ‘Are we negotiating? How about I pee and then you mop?’ I thought I was being cute and defusing a situation,” she explains. “He was offended.” He walked out of the bathroom, and a grateful Jewel thanked him. “He said, ‘You are thanking me for nothing. You will pee in my mouth before you pee in here,’ ” the singer says. “He repeated it twice. I was shocked.” Jewel goes on to say a passing supervisor fired the cleaning man – but a station source says he was just dismissed for the day and is still under contract to CNN. The CNN insiders maintain that Jewel said the offensive line first, which the cleaning man then repeated back. We say both sides should clean their mouths out with soap.

Another Focus For Crawford

Balancing modeling, matrimony, and mothering may come easy to Cindy Crawford, but she’s having less of an easy time with her acting career. It was almost a year ago that Crawford’s scenes were shot for her second stab at the big screen, The Simian Line, a multi-couple romantic comedy. But after director Linda Yellen and her producers held a focus-group screening of the film, which stars such other big names as William Hurt, Lynn Redgrave, and Harry Connick Jr., they found something was missing – with Crawford’s role. So they scheduled a reshoot, which took place about three weeks ago in Manhattan. Producers of the project swear this is the last take, and according to associate producer Judith Zarin, the problem had nothing to do with the Über-model’s acting ability. “It was more of an additional shoot than a reshoot,” she insists. “We created scenes to expand Cindy’s character.” Now, if they can just expand her range.

Armani Show Looks To Be In The Black

The Guggenheim in black? With all seven stories of Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiral slated to be given over to Giorgio Armani’s sleek designs from October 13, 2000, until January 10, 2001, one idea under discussion is to showcase the designer’s “non-color palate” by painting the rotunda black, according to an art-world source. French architect Jean Nouvel and American director Robert Wilson are designing the show jointly, but their plans have “not been determined yet,” insists a Guggenheim spokesman. If the black-out sounds
familiar, it’s because the designer has done it before, draping the soaring, frescoed, colonnaded hall of 55 Wall Street in black for his Emporio Armani show in April 1998. While Armani can be expected to take a keen interest in the retrospective’s design, what he’s not doing is sponsoring it. According to the spokesman, the museum is now “looking at an array of outside corporate sponsors.” The Guggenheim has made big bucks recently by marrying art and fashion; it entered a five-year, $5 million partnership with German designer Hugo Boss in 1995, and the sponsor of last year’s blockbuster “Art of the Motorcycle” show was clothier-to-the-masses Banana Republic. But what corporation will pony up the cash to celebrate a fellow corporate giant?

Madonna Can’t Master Her Own Domain

She has embraced erotica in the past, but Madonna may soon express herself by suing a pornographer. Attorneys for the pop diva are threatening legal action against notorious Internet porn peddler Dan Parisi, who owns the domain name – and until recently was running it as a sex site. Parisi is famous for his porn site, which gets hundreds of thousands of visits a month, many from unsuspecting surfers hoping to reach the site of the slightly less sexy presidential residence, located at the similar-looking Madonna, through her lawyers at Proskauer Rose LLP, contacted Parisi this past spring asking to purchase, and when he declined, the attorneys warned him they were determined to seize the cyberhandle one way or another, according to Parisi lawyer Michael Calvey. Parisi shut down the Website but kept the name for himself, claiming he plans on giving the dot-commodity to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, a health facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, after recently noticing that Parisi still hadn’t transferred ownership to the hospital, Proskauer trademark attorney Brendan J. O’Rourke called Calvey to make another pitch, and was once again turned down. Calvey won’t reveal how much money Madonna’s camp offered, and when asked about the legal wrangling, Madonna spokesperson Liz Rosenberg said only: “There is no lawsuit at this time.”

Adler’s Book Is Talk Of The Town

Don’t invite Renata Adler and Adam Gopnik to the same pen gala. A few galleys of Adler’s new book, Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker (which Simon & Schuster is publishing in January), were sent out last week. Adler writes that during the long search for a successor to editor-in-chief William Shawn, his loyalists Lillian Ross and Jonathan Schell took to calling editor Gardner Botsford “Hitler” and his wife, the writer Janet Malcolm, “Lady Macbeth.” But Gopnik, the art writer who was brought into the magazine by Shawn’s eventual successor, Robert Gottlieb, gets the brunt of Adler’s scrutiny. According to the book, he’s forever polling his mentors – MOMA’s Kurt Varnedoe, Gottlieb, and the photographer Richard Avedon – to ask whether he should take over for Robert Hughes at Time or John Russell at the New York Times. Adler calls Gopnik “the editorial counterpart of publisher Steve Florio,” accusing him of taking credit for a “small discovery” he made as a student that was actually part of another student’s doctoral dissertation. Gopnik also “let it be known,” according to Adler, that the long memo current editor-in-chief David Remnick sent to S. I. Newhouse to get his job was actually written by Gopnik and editor Henry Finder. “I haven’t seen this book; I really can’t comment,” says Gopnik, who denies any implication that he’s a plagiarist. Says Remnick: “First and foremost, I trust Adam Gopnik – both as a writer and as a friend. Secondly, the conversation as it is in this galley rings false and/or confused.” Simon & Schuster has already gotten a letter from New York Times Book Review editor Chip McGrath denying some of Adler’s reporting. The section he objected to has been taken out of the book, but the publisher’s spokeswoman insists that only “normal changes” are taking place, although she does confirm that new galleys will come out soon.

Being (A Fictional) Susan Orlean

The Edmund Morris disease is catching: All writers seem to want to put themselves in their stories these days. Charles Kaufman – the red-hot scribe of Being John Malkovich – was hired by Jonathan Demme to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief for the screen. Kaufman’s just handed in a script called Adaptation, about a writer who’s hired to do a screenplay based on Orlean’s book but hits a major case of writer’s block. In the process, he becomes obsessed with Orlean from her book-jacket photo. The script “could be called Being Obsessed With Susan Orlean,” reports one source who’s read it. And it’s also attracted Malkovich director Spike Jonze, who has just signed on. Orlean says she was given the script over lunch by some apprehensive producers, who did their best to prepare her. “They handed it to me delicately and said, ‘Call immediately after you read it,’ ” she says. “So I decided to torture them for a day.” Should Michelle Pfeiffer, say, play her in the movie? “I hope they get an actress who’s gorgeous but not too gorgeous,” says Orlean. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life having people say, ‘Oh, I expected you to look a little bit more like Bridget Fonda.’ “

Will Gmhc Get a New Lease On Life?

The staff keeps changing at Gay Men’s Health Crisis – but maybe the real problem is its real estate. The group spent $12.5 million two years ago renovating the twelve-story building it rents in Chelsea. But when faced with a $3.45 million deficit in July, then-director Joshua Lipsman announced plans to sublet four or five stories to save an estimated $500,000. That still hasn’t happened, despite the fact that one floor has been vacant for some time and several others are currently being cleared. “We’re in the midst of our negotiations,” insists landlord Frank Ring. Evidently, they’ve been in the midst for some time; asked when the talks began, Ring laughed and said, “You mean the last time? We have ongoing negotiations.” Meanwhile, GMHC’s communications director, Marty Algaze (onboard for seven weeks), says that the new financial officer (six weeks) has been “working very hard on this stuff.” But neither he nor Ana Oliveira – who replaced Lipsman as director two weeks ago – has yet found a suitable subtenant. Five stories in Chelsea, anyone?

Artist Pays Dues; Rudy’s Sad News

BANK ROLES: Just because he’s become a director doesn’t mean Julian Schnabel has forgotten who buys art. The painter is working on his second movie, an adaptation of the late gay Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas’s memoir, Before Night Falls. Johnny Depp and Sean Penn are the stars, and Manuel Gonzalez has a supporting role. Who, you may ask, is Manuel Gonzalez? To art-world insiders, he may be more important than Depp and Penn: He’s in charge of Chase Manhattan Bank’s corporate art collection and has been for twelve years. “No, this is not a new career, and yes, I had a wonderful time,” Gonzalez says with a laugh.

RUDY EATS OUT: Looks like it may be curtains for Rudy Giuliani’s favorite haunt. Coopers Classic Cars & Cigars, the midtown joint where the mayor frequently dines on grilled-chicken Caesar salad and lights up a few stogies, has been put on the block. Says a City Hall insider: “I know the mayor will miss it. It’s been his great little oasis.” Owner Elliot Cuker, who also owns a vintage-car dealership, has been buds with the mayor for a long time. In fact, nearly twenty years ago, he sold the pre-Donna, hot-rodding Rudy a sleek silver Porsche 911. Cuker says that after only two years, he’s given up on the restaurant business. “I just lost my heart for it,” he admits. “It’s time to do other things.” Perhaps a little campaign cruising with his political pal?

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

November 29, 1999