January 10, 2000

Martha Dresses Up Gates’s Windows

Is Martha Stewart giving up hawking her homewares to sell software? Last month, the doyenne of domesticity reportedly performed an on-camera audition to be the official spokesperson for the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system, which goes on sale in February. According to Hollywood insiders, the audition was a spoof, commissioned by Microsoft as a holiday gift for Bill Gates and shown at a December 15 gathering of the company’s board members. Also participating were Anthony Michael Hall, who played Gates in last year’s Pirates of Silicon Valley (and who says he’s maintained a relationship with the magnate despite his less-than-kind portrayal), who was reportedly joined by rotund rocker Meat Loaf and Will & Grace star Sean Hayes. “It was a fun kind of promotional gag,” says Hall. It’s nice to see that despite Gates’s legal troubles, the Microsoft gang is maintaining a sense of humor.

Cipriani And Post Get Off On Wrong Foot

The Ciprianis have never been known for accepting criticism graciously – after writing a less-than-glowing review of Harry Cipriani, former New York Times critic Bryan Miller was famously banned from Cipriani-owned eateries – and it’s reassuring to see that nothing has changed. When New York Post restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo handed out a zero-star critique of the recently reopened Rainbow Grill, nominating owner Giuseppe Cipriani for the post of “Public Enemy No. 1” and likening the restaurant to “an airport lounge” with food that would “embarrass a Mulberry Street tourist trap,” the wrath of the culinary clan was sparked. Cuozzo received an e-mail days later from family patriarch Arrigo Cipriani, which read: “Dear Mr. S Cuozzo, Please help me complete my files on food critics. I hope you will answer my question. Did you or did you not masturbate while writing the review on our Rainbow Room? It reads like you did.” Explains Giuseppe, “My father is a guy who says what he thinks, but I believe his letter was written with humor, as was the review.” Cuozzo’s response to the allegations? “I never discuss my methods.”

Next Year In Orlando

Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave. It’s hard to imagine what the notoriously anti-Semitic entertainment mogul would have made of Michael Eisner’s latest publicity stunt. On December 15, during the Orlando convention of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Disney staff held a seminar on how to transfer the Magic Kingdom’s utopian principles to the synagogue. According to the convention’s brochure, “Disney staff members will share management techniques that synagogue leaders can apply to congregational life.” When asked about the similarities between a billion-dollar international fantasy land and Reform Judaism, a UAHC spokeswoman stressed that the $85-per-person panel discussion was “insignificant” compared with the conference’s more serious themes but did admit that Disney provides a “friendly and welcoming environment, which is how we want to run our congregations.” Do we see mouse-eared yarmulkes in the future?

Triplex Trouble; Rudy’s Dream Team

Home Fires: Does Saul Steinberg have more allegiance to his brother’s ex-wife than to his own sibling? The chairman and CEO of Reliance Group Holdings recently relieved brother Robert of his position as president of the company. But now that Saul’s giant 34-room triplex – formerly owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. – is up for sale for a reported $40 million, which lucky Realtor has snagged the listing? None other than Robert’s ex-wife, Kathy Steinberg, of Edward Lee Cave.

Heads Up: Now that Hillary Clinton is in the race, it appears Rudolph Giuliani is starting to feel the heat. An administration insider reports that the mayor has been rounding up a cadre of confidants to compete with Hillary’s press-savvy vocal hit men – Harold Ickes, Mandy Grunwald, and James Carville. Though no one would comment officially, Rudy’s list is said to include the likes of former congresswoman Susan Molinari, Congressman Vito Fossella, and Liberal Party boss Ray Harding. The source explains that it was Giuliani-campaign executive director Bruce Teitelbaum’s shaky showing against Grunwald on Meet the Press that sparked the roundup. Snipes the source, “Bruce is well intentioned, but he’s overmatched by Hillary’s talking heads. We need a flamethrower.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Bass and Suny Sehgal.

January 10, 2000