OVERPECK: NO MORE HORSING AROUND
New York’s equestrian elite are finding the conditions at Overpeck Riding Center, an exclusive riding facility in New Jersey, less than stable now that president Paul Novograd has lost his lease. Bergen County officials say Overpeck has fallen into serious disrepair since Novograd, who also runs Manhattan’s Claremont Riding Academy, took it over ten years ago. According to Overpeck instructors, Novograd has turned the ring into a “danger pit” for riders, instructors, and horses. “The footing is awful – the ground is way too hard. Horses are skidding and pinning people underneath,” says one stable insider. Another pro was recently kicked in the head by an unmanageable pony and suffered permanent hearing loss; two other instructors recently suffered a concussion and a knee injury, respectively. After problems at the facility were detailed in the Bergen County Record, Novograd wrote a rebuttal letter to his clients, pointing out numerous improvements he’s made and boasting of his excellent safety record. Novograd considers the complaints smear tactics orchestrated by those hoping he’ll lose the Overpeck lease – namely, David Boley, the former head instructor who recently resigned. “I believe that a deliberate campaign is being waged to malign us,” says Novograd, who did not bid at all for a lease renewal. (Rusty Holzer, who put in a bid to gain control of Claremont in 1996, recently placed the highest bid of $266,000 a year for Overpeck; neither Holzer nor Boley could be reached.) “If we didn’t run a safe operation, we never could have stayed in business all these years. I am appalled,” says Novograd. “This is why people prefer animals.”
LAW AND DISORDER AT NYU
The students at New York University’s law school are already learning a thing or two about how rules can be bent. When the results of the housing lottery were announced earlier this month, all eight of Dean John Sexton’s second-year teaching assistants came out in the top thirteen, guaranteeing them housing and a first crack at the coveted nicest rooms. Some of the less lucky students raised eyebrows and questions – and it turns out that the lottery was, in fact, rigged. Marguerite Sharkey, who runs the school’s housing department, admitted that her office “bounced” Sexton’s TAs to the top of the list, on the grounds that they needed to be close to the school to keep up with the dean’s demanding schedule. She told the school paper, The Commentator, that it was a “mistake” and “an embarrassment” that “will not happen again.” Says Sexton: “I didn’t know, and the students didn’t know,” although he said his TAs had joked about the coincidence to him after the results came out. The dean remained judicious, saying about the incident, “We all make mistakes” and “it won’t happen again.”
CINDY’S NEWS; HARVEY SUES
CINDY SWITCHES: Gossip addicts may have to change their morning routines this summer. Dish diva Cindy Adams recently lunched with ABC chairman Roone Arledge at Picholine; the two are in discussions about Adams changing channels, leaving behind her weekly appearances on NBC’s Today show and appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America three times a week. “There have been a lot of meetings, but nothing has been finalized yet,” says Adams. “So far, I’ve had a lot of nice lunches.” But Adams is already getting to know her potential studio-mates: “Next up, I’m having lunch with GMA anchor Lisa McCree,” she reports.
BOESKY’S DEED:Harvey Keitel, who led the fight to get the perc-using dry cleaner out of the storefront of his North Moore Street condo, has quietly sold that loft. Ivan Boesky’s daughter, Marianne, now owns the apartment, which Keitel held title to for almost three years but never moved into. Which doesn’t mean that he’s not fighting with his contractor over the place: On February 18, Keitel’s attorney, Tom Harvey, filed suit for $75,000 with interest, alleging that Martin Grady Contracting “failed to perform any renovation or construction work at the apartment.” This was after Keitel had delivered a $125,000 check up front for the work (of which Grady returned $50,000), the suit alleges.
MANAGER SHEARED: Harry Shearer’s small role in Jim Carrey’s upcoming The Truman Show morphed into a Details feature when the actor, most famous for playing Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, penned a set diary. But despite all the exposure Shearer has been getting – he also plays an anchorman in the upcoming Godzilla – he’s just fired his longtime manager, Harriet Sternberg. Sternberg evidently incurred her client’s wrath when she conveyed both the producer’s and her own dissatisfaction with Shearer’s Details diary, which included droll asides about his Teamster driver, the lack of 24-hour room service at his hotel, and the difficulties of flying into Seaside, Florida. “When people start complaining about the food that’s outside of L.A. and New York, what can I tell you?” says peeved producer Ed Feldman. “I didn’t lose any weight on location.” Shearer insists that his manager’s reaction to the Details story was not “a factor of any significance” in his decision to leave Sternberg. “I had twelve years with Harriet, and I wish her well,” he adds. Sternberg refused to comment.
THE LAST WORD: The late Hill reporter Sandy Hume had just finished his first feature for George magazine before his February 22 suicide. The topic? Bill Paxon. Hume, the 28-year-old son of Fox News’s Brit Hume, made news last year when he broke the story that the Buffalo congressman was part of a group trying to oust House leader Newt Gingrich. Hume’s recent work on former congresswoman Susan Molinari’s husband analyzes the congressman’s political origins and future, according to George senior editor Richard Blow. “It is more or less finished,” Blow confirmed. “We really haven’t come to a decision about what to do with the story, because we’re all still in a state of shock, frankly. When the time comes to make that decision, we will of course want to talk to the Humes and respect their wishes.”
HAIR TODAY, COVER TOMORROW
The recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue may have featured models posing with their athlete-superstar husbands, but not all of the bikini-clad beauties have such prominent spouses. Heidi Klum, the issue’s comely 23-year-old cover girl, is married not to a celebrity but to a low-profile Manhattan hairstylist she met through friends. Last summer, Klum wed Ric Pipino, a fortyish Australian who works at the chic Warren-Tricomi salon. “Well, it’s hard to find a straight hairdresser, you know,” says Edward Tricomi, the salon’s co-owner, who describes the mustached Pipino as having a “Three Musketeers vibe.” Apparently, appearances don’t concern the couple much. “They’re not the typical model pairing, thank God,” says Tricomi. “Ric is just a great guy – he’s the Spanky of our gang. They really needed each other.”
A VICIOUS CIRCLE AT CHANNEL 5
There will be fewer nosy reporters for Rudy Giuliani to worry about at this year’s Inner Circle dinner. The purpose of the annual fête is to bring together reporters and politicians, but this year the correspondents at WNYW-Channel 5 won’t be getting that chance. The station’s news director, Gail Yancosek, has invited only behind-the-scenes staff to attend the dinner this week, denying tickets to on-air talent such as co-anchors Rosanna Scotto and John Roland. “There’s a tremendous amount of anger in the newsroom over this,” says one studio insider. A spokesperson for Yancosek said she has a “policy” to use all public events as “a thank you to behind-the-scenes personnel.” Scoffs another set-side source, “What about a thank you to the people in the newsroom?” Yancosek may have less than altruistic motives; one of her invitees is Ron Magocsi, a WNYW engineer who also happens to be her boyfriend. “So now she’s invited some of his engineering friends so he won’t feel left out,” says another insider. “She has no idea what she’s doing. This is just another sign that she doesn’t have a clue.”
A SQUALL HITS HAMPTONS REAL ESTATE
El Niño’s storms are of more than passing interest to Carl and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. When Jim Brady asked Barbaralee whether her oceanfront home was still standing, she “shuddered visibly” and said, “I can’t even talk about it,” according to Brady’s report in Crain’s New York Business. The New York Times’s Long Island edition reported that the Spielvogels’ Southampton mansion was “among the hardest hit” in the recent storms. But Gil Flanagan, a lawyer who works for the Spielvogels, insists that a thirties bulkhead protects the dunes in front of his clients’ home. The issue is currently a hot topic in the Hamptons, since the Spielvogels had just negotiated to sell their home for about $13 million when the storms hit, according to local sources. And the coverage that followed came before the buyers – Paris-based John and Louise McBain (who founded Hebdo, an international chain of classified-ad publications known as shoppers) – had closed on the deal. Now the entire matter is with the lawyers, according to one source close to the deal. Flanagan, citing a confidentiality clause in the contract, refused to discuss it at all; neither the Spielvogels nor the McBains returned calls.
CARTER’S PROVIDENTIAL ROMANCE
Can Pamela Harriman’s shoes ever be filled? Her last squire, J. Carter Brown, evidently has moved on: The former head of Washington’s National Gallery of Art is now seeing the rich divorcée (and former House & Garden editor) Nancy Richardson. The new couple have had lunch at Sag Harbor’s American Hotel and gone to parties together, social sources report. Now the betting is that Richardson will quickly try to unload Napier House, the historic $1.1 million Sag Harbor mansion she bought just last year and was planning to restore. “She’s been seeing Carter Brown for about four or five months,” reports one of Richardson’s friends. “I can’t imagine he’d have any part of Sag Harbor.” Brown (of the Brown University Browns) summers religiously in Newport, Rhode Island. But Richardson’s real-estate agent insists that her Sag Harbor house is not on the market – yet.
Additional reporting by Kate Coyne and Emily Spilko.