March 27, 2000

Fight Fans to Prissy Pugs: Stuff It

A real-life boxing match seemed like the perfect centerpiece for the party Stuff magazine threw at Daylight Studios last week to celebrate the unveiling of artist Sandor Szenassy’s heavyweight-boxer portraits. But when guests of the booze-’n’-babes mag, expecting blood, saw the two fighters merely prancing around like Lords of the Dance, they were the ones who got violent. The liquor-and-testosterone-fueled crowd began hurling insults – and debris – into the ring as NABA super-middleweight champ Steven Frank and IBF light heavyweight John Scully timidly toyed with each other. One disgruntled fight fan even had to be restrained by friends when he tried to get into the ring, still clutching his beer. “The fighters went in with the idea that this was an exhibition match and they could just dance around a lot,” says executive editor Mike Hammer. “But by the third round, they got wind of that vibe you’re talking about.” Indeed, the mob finally stopped booing late in the third when, as one witness says, “the black guy Scully started pounding the shit out of the white guy Frank.” How to explain Scully’s sudden fury? “Someone told him Frank was badmouthing Kathie Lee Gifford,” says Hammer. “Scully takes America’s sweetheart very seriously.”

Life’s Been a Drag For Queerdonna

Madonna impersonator Queerdonna’s size-discrimination suit against United Airlines is finally going to court after more than three years, and the drag queen says it’s not a moment too soon. “I just wish the whole thing was over,” says Queerdonna, né Gregory Gostanian, who alleges that in 1996 a U.A. security guard demanded he leave a San Francisco-bound plane minutes before takeoff for being too fat. When he refused to deboard, the 500-pound-plus Gostanian claims, the guard threatened him with arrest and announced, “There’s fat, there’s obese, and then there’s you.” Gostanian says the incident was such a blow to his self-esteem that he hasn’t performed his act since: “I used to think the audience was laughing with me, but then it started to feel like they were laughing at me.” The alleged incident also left Gostanian with a paralyzing fear of public transportation, which he claims he’s just starting to get over after three years of intensive psychotherapy. His lawyers won’t say how much he’s suing for, but Gostanian insists he isn’t in it for the money: “I’m not asking for $10 million or anything – that would be ludicrous.” The case goes before a Queens jury in June. United did not return calls.

Puffy Combs’s Ex Files

Sean “Puffy” Combs must feel pretty secure in his relationship with Jennifer Lopez. Just days before he was publicly professing his undying amour for J-Lo at a London press conference, the beleaguered rap mogul was spotted happily squiring his onetime girlfriend Kim Porter (the mother of his son Christian) at a Centro-Fly party last week. One witness described the pair as looking “cozy” in the well-guarded central champagne bar. “They pretty much kept to themselves,” says a reveler. But Puffy’s spokeswoman insists he’s not fanning any former flame. “Puffy and Kim are great friends, and anyone that suggests something more is inaccurate,” she says.

Age Before Booty in Times Square

World Wrestling Federation honcho Vince McMahon has met his most fearsome enemy to date: Rudy Giuliani. When the mayor heard about plans to launch a nightclub for people 18 and over in the WWF’s Times Square restaurant, he threatened to pile-drive the place. “Giuliani thinks that letting in 18-year-olds will undo everything he’s done in Times Square,” says a club-world source. “It’s smack in the middle of his prize jewel.” According to the insider, Giuliani’s people have warned the would-be disco barons that at the first sign of ungentlemanly behavior, “we’re going to bust you from A to Z and back again.” When asked about sending Rudy into attack mode, a WWF flack said cautiously, “The WWF is still in the talking stages about the club component. Whatever we do, we’ll proceed responsibly and take all of those things into consideration.” A spokesman for Giuliani says the mayor has no comment on the matter.

Song VS. Dance at N.Y. State Theater

A nasty catfight has broken out between the lithe dancers of the New York City Ballet and the plus-size singers at the New York City Opera over the planned renovation of Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater, where both companies perform. According to a theater-world insider, the point of contention between the prima donnas is whether the new design – estimated to cost $200 million – will include a center aisle dividing the orchestra seating. The sopranos and tenors are demanding the aisle, while the ballerinas are, for whatever reason, dead-set against it. “Fight really isn’t too strong a word for it,” says the source, who described the lack of a center aisle as “ridiculous,” adding, “you have to climb over a hundred people if you want to get out of there.” A spokeswoman for the opera says she knows nothing about the theatrical warfare, and a ballet rep explains, “We’re working congenially with our colleagues at the opera to explore different options. We’re nowhere near decision-making time.” The lack of a central escape route has irritated State Theater-goers for years, but perhaps the ballerinas prefer a captive audience.

Lauren Nets (Michael) Gross

Controversial Model author (and former New York contributing editor) Michael Gross seems to have one fan left in the fashion world: designer Ralph Lauren. Sources say Lauren has agreed to cooperate with a new biography by Gross tentatively titled American Dreamer. Gross reportedly received a mid-six-figure sum for the book, which will be published by HarperCollins late next year. It will be the first biography about the designer since 1988. Sources say Lauren approached Gross to write his life story a few months ago. Gross agreed on the condition that he retain editorial control. “I’ve asked him whether I would find any skeletons in his closet,” says Gross. “He said quite confidently that there weren’t any. But he also seemed quite willing to let me look.”

New Line But An Old Idea

One of Hollywood’s brightest screenwriters may be in danger of plagiarizing … herself. Two years ago, Addis Wechsler and Associates tried to option Molly Gunn, a script written by Julia Dahl based on Allison Jacobs’s story of a young socialite who goes broke and is forced to become a nanny for an 8-year-old girl, as a vehicle for the agency’s then-client Claire Danes. But Jacobs, who owns the script, had already optioned the rights to Fisher Stevens’s GreeneStreet Films. Nearly a year later, it was reported that Danes would be starring in New Line Cinema’s Conjugating Niki, Robert Collector’s script about – you guessed it – a society girl who goes broke and is forced to take a job in the Hamptons looking after an 8-year-old girl. And in case the stories weren’t similar enough, New Line recently hired none other than Julia Dahl to rewrite its version, now called Conjugating Kate, though Danes dropped out of the project later. Reps for New Line and Julia Dahl declined to comment, and Fisher Stevens said only, “We’re just trying to get our movie done really quickly.” Maybe if he moves quickly enough, New Line can hire him to produce its movie too.

Tse What?; Marcia’s Moveable Feast

Sour Note: Even before legendary musician Gil Scott-Heron was arrested on drug-possession charges for the second time in just over a month, his friends and family were desperately trying to arrange an intervention – to no avail. A source close to the man behind “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” says some of Scott-Heron’s cronies in the music world were standing in the way of his recovery. “Some of the people who surround Gil continue to make money off him,” says the source. “What makes it so difficult to help him are all these music whores who fear losing his friendship by confronting him. His real friends are more concerned with saving his life.” Scott-Heron was arrested in Harlem last week for cocaine possession, the New York Post reports, following a February bust in which he was charged with drug possession while cops were arresting him for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend. The musician’s lawyer firmly maintained Scott-Heron’s innocence in both cases.

Surface Gets Deep: Tse Cashmere is bracing for some Surface warfare. Surface magazine has slapped the fashion company with a lawsuit, accusing it of swiping its logo for use in print ads. TSE had been advertising in the San Francisco- based glossy, but late last year, Surface staff members discovered the “TSE Surface” print campaign in other media outlets using a typeface strikingly similar to the mag’s. Surface insiders grumble that the magazine has been fielding phone calls from befuddled readers inquiring about a possible TSE-and-Surface promotion, and that their cease-and-desist requests to the cashmere house have been ignored. “Whether the infringement was conscious or not, we will protect the brand,” warns Surface attorney Stewart Rich. A TSE rep refused to discuss the matter but faxed this terse statement: “We are in discussion with Surface Publishing to resolve the differences.”

Kramer At Sea: Who would ever guess that Channel 2’s political pit bull Marcia Kramer is really a romantic at heart? She and her husband, New York Post managing editor Marc Kalech, had their first date at Rockefeller Center’s Sea Grill in 1996 and have dined there frequently ever since, always sitting in their special place, table No. 7. “As they became lovers, we became friends,” sighs executive chef Ed Brown. When the two heard that the restaurant was being renovated (it reopened this month), they asked to purchase their favorite table and chairs. After they’d forked over a few hundred, the deal was done, and Brown gave the sentimental couple a set of Sea Grill dishes. “We now have our shrine to the Sea Grill,” trills Kramer, “and they even threw in the tablecloth.”

Additional reporting by Suny Sehgal.

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March 27, 2000