February 7, 2000

Penn a Stone’s Throw From Fight

Oliver Stone’s hackles are up – again! When the director crossed paths with surly thespian Sean Penn at L.A.’s trendy Sunset Room recently, the two came so close to blows that Penn’s wife, Robin Wright Penn, had to play referee. It started when Stone spotted a producer friend lounging nearby and got up to say hello. The scene quickly turned tense when Stone noticed Penn, who has repeatedly called Stone a “pig” since the two filmed U-Turn together, seated next to the producer. According to an eavesdropper, the Sweet and Lowdown star turned sour, firing off a snide remark about the director. Stone snapped back, saying that he had no desire to be in the same restaurant with Penn, let alone at the same table. The onlooker reports that the fracas then almost turned physical, and that the two were thisclose to fisticuffs when Wright jumped up and separated them. Stone was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the quarrel, refusing to comment, while Penn, on location in Canada, couldn’t be reached. Guess this means there won’t be a U-Turn 2.

Celebs Duke It Out Over Swank Dress

Golden Globe winner Hilary Swank aced almost as much competition for her dress as for her Best Actress award. Fashion insiders say the Boys Don’t Cry star’s stylist spotted a sheer, sequined Randolph Duke gown at the designer’s showroom months ago, and a delighted Swank announced her intention to wear the frock at the L.A. event. Then Charlize Theron’s stylist visited the popular showroom, looking for something the actress could wear to dazzle the same red-carpet crowd, and snatched up a similar sequined see-through number. A Randolph Duke employee pointed out that Theron’s choice had already been worn at a high-profile awards show – Frasier star Jane Leeves was seen in it at the Emmys – but Theron was undeterred. Swank cried foul, insiders say, when she found out that Theron’s Duke duds would resemble hers. “I hope you’ve taken care of the Charlize problem,” a somber Swank told Duke at a fitting. A showroom staff member sheepishly called Theron’s camp and asked if the starlet would change her choice, reminding her that Leeves had worn the gown and suggesting a darker color. No way, said Theron, who called Duke on his cell phone and personally told him that she wasn’t giving up the sexy threads. “I don’t care who wore it before. There’s no way they’re going to look as good as me,” she snapped. Thankfully, the crisis was averted when Swank’s crew, noticing the sheer gown was showing a bit too much of the actress, ditched it for a Versace. Fortunately for Swank, the Versace gowns worn by Winona Ryder and Elizabeth Hurley looked a bit different. Whew.

Paul Allen’s Psycho Connection

Don’t filmmakers read the Wall Street Journal? The troubled screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho – recently slapped with an NC-17 rating – has hit a new obstacle. Months ago, director Mary Harron was advised by lawyers to change the name of the character played by Jared Leto – originally called Paul Owen – when they couldn’t get a release from a New Yorker with the same name. Movie sources say the absentminded lawyers came up with a new choice: Paul Allen. Unaware of the significance of that name, Harron breathed a sigh of relief – but not for long. The Sundance festival screening created confusion among audience members, who thought that perhaps the film, which is set on the dark side of the financial world, was referring to the very real co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen. So now Harron is mulling whether to dub in a third name or take her chances that billionaire Allen, with his very expensive lawyers, won’t mind his name’s being dropped in a movie about a Wall Street serial killer.

The George Has Many Faces

Can ex-Money man Frank Lalli do for George magazine what Tina Brown couldn’t pull off at Talk? Lalli’s reworking of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s glossy debuts with the March issue and will feature a multiple-picture cover. According to publishing sources, when it was pointed out to Lalli that even Brown couldn’t make the many-faceted cover work, he boldly replied that she just hadn’t executed it correctly. In the meantime, editors at the mag were left scrambling when Lalli pulled musician Bono from the main photo on the cover for March – which is slated to be a music-themed issue – in favor of a sexy portrait of potential presidential candidate Donald Trump and his then-girlfriend Melania Knauss. “You know, because of Donald’s close ties with the music world,” cracks one source. When Trump and Knauss broke up, the magazine had to scramble to do a pricey reshoot of Donald solo, a decidedly less alluring option. Of course, Trump is now back with his Slovenian mannequin. But will the mag bank on the relationship enough to restore the original shoot? When called, Lalli declined to comment.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

February 7, 2000