March 2, 1998

Maybe Senate hopeful Chuck Schumer should stick to shaking hands and kissing babies. At a recent gathering of the Queens Gay and Lesbian Democrats, Schumer exploded after being asked about his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act, which states that the federal government will only recognize heterosexual marriages. When James Reilly, a gay man in his fifties, explained that he and his longtime partner feared they would one day be placed in separate nursing homes since they have no legal status as a couple, Schumer “totally lost control,” says the soft-spoken Reilly. “He kept shouting, ‘after all I’ve done for you people, you people keep harassing me because of this one damn issue.’” Matt Foreman, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, present at the event, took Schumer to task. “I told him he needed to respond in a sensitive manner and show some respect and compassion for that man’s emotions,” says Foreman. Schumer’s apology – when it finally came, about twenty minutes later – “was qualified and couched,” says Reilly, “like ‘I’m sorry if it seemed like I didn’t understand your concerns.’” Responds Hank Morris, Schumer’s spokesman, “Chuck has spent his career fighting for gay rights, from writing the hate-crimes law to creating housing for aids victims. He simply wanted to discuss those issues as well. And when’s the last time any politician said they were sorry – whether in twenty minutes, twenty days, or twenty years?”

Every dog is supposed to have its day, but don’t tell that to Champion Dachsmith Love’s Ajax and Champion Dachsmith Love’s Diomedes. The two dachshunds didn’t even get their fifteen minutes at last week’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show – even though their humans, archaeologist Iris Love and columnist Liz Smith, hosted a dog party at Tavern-on-the-Green. Love and Smith were among a group of owners who thought their dogs were in when the checks for their entry fees were cashed. Then, just days before the show began, they discovered their dogs weren’t registered after all, evidently because of a clerical error. “It is disturbing that the most prestigious dog show in the world would have entries handled this way, and that a result is for several of the top dogs … to be absent,” one disgruntled owner wrote to the show’s superintendent. Chester Collier, the head of the Westminster Kennel Club, was the stickler who wouldn’t let the dogs in even when the mistake was discovered, according to one insider. Love is particularly upset for Ajax, her retiring champion. “He never even got his last show,” she says. Neither Collier nor representatives for the Westminster club returned calls.

They may be getting ready to compete for readers, but right now the folks behind Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine have only the sincerest forms of flattery for one another. When ESPN created a prototype for its new sports title – set to debut on March 11 – it featured three spreads of sports photographs on the opening pages, before the table of contents. “The idea is to capture the reader immediately, with stunning photographs,” explains an ESPN spokesperson. But before that idea could see the light of day, Sports Illustrated hit the stands February 9 with an issue featuring … three double-paged sports photos placed at the beginning of the magazine. Coincidence? ESPN staffers didn’t think so – “let’s just say it’s very interesting,” says one insider – but they’re undaunted. “We remain committed to showing sports in a different light,” says the ESPN spokesperson. A Sports Illustrated rep sees the similarities in a different light. “Their prototype idea was identical to our Olympic Preview issue from two years ago, when our new editor, Bill Colson, first used that photo format at the beginning of the issue. He did it two years ago, and has been toying with that element ever since.” Responds the ESPN mouthpiece: “This incident doesn’t concern us anymore. We’re concentrating on the launch.”

A/X TO THE LETTER: Wonder how Giorgio Armani landed that $3 million Central Park West penthouse in a building so tony it wouldn’t even entertain Mariah Carey’s application? The designer went all-out on his co-op board application, submitting reference letters not only from Liam Neeson (who lives in the building), Lauren Hutton, and Jonathan Tisch but also from those who really know his business, like Condé Nast chieftain S. I. Newhouse, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, and Liz Tilberis of Harper’s Bazaar. The letters evidently worked: Armani just got approved.
CINDY’S LINE OF CREDIT: Who says Rudy Giuliani doesn’t have a sense of humor? Not Cindy Adams. The Post columnist told Cristyne Lategano that she’d be sending a $500 check in to Mayor Rudy as an advance against future jaywalking tickets. Lategano reported back to Adams that the mayor thought that was “hilarious.” Adams has been crusading against midtown’s pedestrian barricades, which force her to cross five streets on the two-block walk from NBC to Le Cirque. “I hate being in this pedestrian prison,” says Adams. “I have almost gotten to the point where I would have voted for Al Sharpton.” But the canny columnist tempers her tantrums against the mayor. “I always say, ‘Our Lord High Emperor, the Commandant of New York,” explains Adams. “I treat him in ultra-respectful terms, so he doesn’t make me a citizen of Bulgaria.”

Barry Manilow isn’t the only disco dinosaur heading to the Great White Way. Seventies siren Donna Summer is hoping to bring a new musical, Ordinary Girl, to Broadway next year, after a fall tryout on the road. The show, which Summer co-wrote and plans to star in, is “about following your dream,” says Summer’s rep. “It’s loosely autobiographical, because the message is that if you have a talent, you have to be true to it and be empowered by it.” Audiences shouldn’t hope for a show-stopping finale of “She Works Hard for the Money.” Ordinary Girl will feature twenty new songs, “but they’re still vintage Donna.” Summer, who is apparently committed to the show for a yearlong run, is still scouting for a producer.

The latest trend among New York’s gossip elite seems to be impending motherhood. Hot on the heels of Daily News columnist Joanna Molloy’s pregnancy comes word that The Post’s Jeane MacIntosh is six months pregnant; the father is an Australian from Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Quips MacIntosh: “I’m spawning a hybrid tabloid warrior.” MacIntosh’s bundle of joy, a girl, is due at roughly the same time as Molloy’s baby, a boy, fueling speculation about a possible future dream team of dish. MacIntosh isn’t the only “Page Six” alum with a new project on the way. The column’s former writer and editor, Susan Mulcahy, has signed on as the new West Coast editor of Self. “I’ve done everything – newspapers, the Internet, living in a trailer in Oregon, you name it,” says Mulcahy, who founded the Internet gossip site Mr. Showbiz. “Finally, I’ve found a job that will pay me for going to yoga class.”

Never give a top banana second billing. When Mike Wallace was recently slated for the late slot of The Charlie Rose Show, he did some fast talking and got the segments switched. While Charlie Rose interviewed Henry Kissinger, Richard Holbrooke, Michael Bloomberg, and Barbara Franklin on the International Monetary Fund’s efforts to cope with Asia’s economic crisis, Wallace was listening in the green room. On the way into the studio to tape his segment – a discussion of The Gay Metropolis with the book’s author, Charles Kaiser, and former mayor Ed Koch – Wallace told Rose how boring the first panel had been. “Well, I’ve seen a lot of boring 60 Minutes segments, too,” Rose jabbed back. When the segment was over, Wallace started needling his host again. “All right, Wallace,” said Rose. “Just this once, I’ll let you produce my show.” Rose reshot his transitions and flipped the order for broadcast. Rose explains that he’s got “huge respect” for Wallace: “You just say, ‘Dear God, please let me be like Mike is when I’m 80.’”

The martini-swilling crowd at the Royalton was in for more than the usual rubbernecking when Eric Douglas, troubled brother of Michael Douglas, was caught up in a fracas in the hotel’s chic Vodka Bar. When Eric arrived at the hotel a few weeks back to meet his attorney, Allan F. Friedman, a bartender ran over and, according to Douglas, violently attacked the actor. “Both of us were completely sober,” Friedman insists. “But this guy grabbed Eric, shook him, and started shouting these accusations – that Eric always caused trouble and was no good – and told Eric to step outside with him.” Douglas refused and took a seat. Says Friedman, “It made me cry. Honestly, I was driven to tears.” After the incident, Douglas and Friedman wrote to the Royalton’s proprietor, Ian Schrager, “denouncing this man’s behavior and demanding a retraction of his accusations.” Friedman says he then received “an anonymous phone call, giving me the address of the bartender, and telling me to ‘get that bastard.’” While Douglas hasn’t resorted to street justice just yet, his patience is wearing thin. “Between bartenders and airline hostesses – enough’s enough,” he protests. “I’m really sick and tired of being punted like a football.” A spokeswoman for Schrager pointed out that any complaints would automatically be directed to Brian McNally, the bar’s owner. McNally said he had no knowledge of the incident.

Additional reporting by Kate Coyne and Emily Spilko.

March 2, 1998