January 19, 1998

If you thought star-struck fans were primarily 17-year-old girls, think again. Eugene Anderson, the seventysomething name partner at Rudy Giuliani’s old law firm Anderson Kill & Olick, is obsessed with Matt Damon’s new film The Rainmaker. “He is a rabid fan,” says a spokesman for the firm. “Oh, God, it’s true,” Anderson gushes. “It’s sensational! It’s the story of my life!” The film involves a young lawyer, Rudy Baylor, who takes on an evil insurance company and wins the love of a fair heroine. Anderson, whose firm handles primarily insurance litigation (and who married a former client in such a case), is so enamored of the film that he requested that his entire team of litigators see it, then write critiques of it. He’s also made up buttons proclaiming I AM RUDY BAYLOR for his entire staff. “Every client who comes into his office is given a copy of the book,” says the spokesman. “He’s even got a jacket that says RUDY BAYLOR on it.” Explains one lawyer at the firm, “If you haven’t dealt with insurance companies, Gene’s attitude could seem … intense. But we’ve all been there. I see it as a positive thing.”

Timing really is everything, as Norman Pearlstine and Nancy Friday discovered at the party they threw for director James Brooks on December 18. The dinner was an elaborate affair in a private room at Le Cirque 2000 with 75 guests, six courses, and a live band, Night Flight. But the soup – which was the fourth course, after a lobster salad, risotto with truffles, and a fish appetizer – wasn’t ladled out until 10:30, and by that time many of the guests were leaving. Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols, Lauren Hutton, jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris, and Cynthia and Graydon Carter were among those who skipped out before the main course. The guests who remained (including Time’s Walter Isaacson and Jim Kelly, as well as Tina Brown and Harry Evans) consolidated tables, moving from eight down to four for the lamb entrée and dessert. One departee joked about making up survivor T-shirts (WE MADE IT TO THE FISH COURSE). But Pearlstine insists it was “a great party” for his old friend (Brooks introduced Pearlstine to Friday). “Should I have had five courses instead of six? I guess,” says Pearlstine. “As you’d expect the week before Christmas, some people left earlier than others. But a fair number of people were there at midnight, and the band was still playing.”

Some managers at trendy downtown spots get to do more than just seat their star clientele. According to restaurant-world insiders, Moomba frontwoman Jaycee Gossett, a pretty blonde who celebrated her 20th birthday last week, has been spending a good deal of time with Val Kilmer, and the actor has been a constant fixture at the West Village eatery of the moment. Neither Kilmer’s representative nor Jeff Gossett, the restaurant’s owner (and Jaycee’s brother), would comment.

NO RUSH MARRIAGE: Russell Simmons, head of Def Jam and Rush Communications, and 22-year-old model-college student Kimora Lee are scouting locations for a summer wedding in the Hamptons. Simmons, 40, proposed to Kimora on New Year’s Eve, and the two would already be married if the nuptials, originally meant to be held in St. Barts aboard Puffy Combs’s boat on New Year’s Day, hadn’t been derailed when the boat’s overworked staff mutinied. According to Simmons, “We were having parties every night – dinner for 40, lunch for 50 – and none of them were planned in advance. The captain finally threw us off the boat. At least now we have time to really plan the thing.”
FOUND IN TRANSLATION: All those who pitied poor Kota Ishijima – Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu’s Japanese translator, who was unceremoniously dumped last month in a highly publicized affront to Irabu – need only shell out a few hundred dollars to make his day. He’ll be working at the Old Homestead, the West Village steakhouse famous for its $150 kobe steaks. The restaurant’s owners thought the translator would come in handy with all the kobe-loving Japanese businessmen they expect as customers, both in New York and in Las Vegas, where they’re opening a second steakhouse. He may now be gainfully employed, but Ishijima is still smarting from the blow: “I am angry at George Steinbrenner – I can’t believe I still call him Mr. Steinbrenner,” Ishijima snarled to restaurant execs who tracked him down in Tampa. “Being let go two weeks before Christmas hurts.”
LYNCH PINS: Bill Lynch, a deputy mayor in the Dinkins administration and now a vice-president at Ron Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes, lost 90 pounds while he was suffering from kidney complications. “I went through hell in the last six months,” he says, “but now I’m feeling fine.” Lynch is back at work and has even appeared on New York 1 recently, but he needs dialysis three times a week. As soon as his doctors began talking about a kidney transplant, both of Lynch’s children volunteered their organs, according to a source close to the family. Now Lynch’s son, Bill Jr., is undergoing tests to see whether he’d be a suitable donor. His father sounds guardedly optimistic. “We’re taking it one day at a time,” says Lynch.
NEW FISH TO FRY: A former midtown financial institution is getting a new lease on life. Roberto Ruggeri, owner of the Northern Italian bistro Bice, is eyeing a West 52nd Street site, previously a bank, for a new specialty fish restaurant. “It’s in the planning stage” is all Ruggeri will offer about negotiations to take over the building.

Italian designers have become a bit cautious when in Miami. Earlier this month, a CBS news producer and his friend were asked to evacuate an elevator in the Delano when Giorgio Armani stepped on. According to the newsman, a hotel security guard escorted the designer onto the elevator and then very politely asked him and his friend to step off. “You want us to leave?” asked the guest at the deluxe hotel. “Yes,” said the guard, “this is now a private elevator.” The producer and his pal complied. “I looked Armani in the eye. He was clearly uncomfortable, but he certainly knew what was going on,” the newsman adds.

Steve Brill’s new media magazine, Content, isn’t starting up till June, but it’s already making waves with journalists. After luring Lorne Manly from the New York Observer, Brill got an angry phone call from Observer owner Arthur Carter. “Friends don’t hire their friends’ help,” Brill claims Carter yelled. “How would Cindy Brill feel if Linda Carter hired your nanny away?” Brill responded by letter on January 5, accusing Carter of treating the hire “as some sort of violation of an honor code among barons,” adding, “It’s admirable that you continue to fund the Observer. But that doesn’t mean you own ‘the help’ or have rented their integrity.” Although the Observer office signed for the hand-delivered letter last Monday at 11:35 a.m., Carter says he never received it. He confirms that he and Brill discussed Manly but denies any hostility on his part, insisting, “I never raised any issue… . I never use the word nanny, so that’s not my comment.” Meanwhile, Manly’s successor on the media beat has already been chosen: in-house reporter Warren St. John.

Sometimes even the most romantic efforts don’t pan out. When department-store heir Jonathan Farkas proposed to long-term girlfriend Somers White, he was somewhat surprised that she turned him and the ring down. Determined to make a heartfelt appeal, he called his pal Bobby Short and asked him to serenade Somers over the phone, a gesture Short’s made before for other friends. “Bobby is wonderfully understanding,” confides Farkas. “We decided upon ‘I Can’t Get Started.’” According to Short: “I announced myself and then I sang my song. It was very sweet and she thanked me.” But even with the help of Short’s romantic croonings, the relationship didn’t pan out, and the couple hasn’t spoken since. At least, says Farkas, “now I can move on, knowing I did everything I could.”

“I don’t think we need to get yet another lawsuit going,” said Don Imus, interrupting a producer’s lewd joke last year. The suit Imus foreshadowed arrived December 31. Marilyn Hobbs, a legal assistant in Chrysler Corporation’s patent office, filed a $10 million suit against Imus, his producers, and his many corporate bosses for libel, slander, and defamation. Imus and his cohorts had called Hobbs a “dingbat,” a “hag,” “dumb,” “ridiculous,” and “stupid” on the air while making fun of Hobbs’s letter to Imus’s publisher complaining that the talk jock had misused Chrysler Corporation’s registered trademark “Jeep” in his 1994 novel, God’s Other Son. Hobbs’s papers charge that Imus even “imputed unchastity to her, on-air, by referring to her as ‘skank.’” Hobbs, who is not a public figure, had “no expectation that she was going to be ridiculed and denigrated on a national broadcast,” explains her attorney, Jason Hardiman. Imus did not return calls.

Additional reporting by Kate Coyne.

January 19, 1998