April 13, 1998


Alison Spear is leaving town. Sources close to Spear, whose husband, Carlos Gomez, has been charged with embezzling $10 million from Citibank, say that she is packing up her New York and Hamptons homes and moving to Miami along with her two children. Although she’ll commute to an office she’s maintaining in New York for her interior-design-and-architecture practice, she’ll spend half of her time in Florida. Says a source, “It will be better for the children: Alison’s family is there, and they will be around all their cousins.’’ Although Gomez is not moving, Spear is not going forward with divorce proceedings, the source says, for fear that the development would hurt him during a trial. Says the source, “The guy ruined her life, but it wouldn’t look good for him if she divorced him now.’’ Spear declined to comment.


It’s hard to keep things in order when you’re juggling more than one piece of prime real estate in Manhattan. Just ask rapper Sean (Puffy) Combs, who was holed up with his girlfriend in one of his city retreats while a wild party was under way in another. The party at Combs’s Murray Hill pad lasted from late Sunday night till about 7:30 on the morning of Monday, March 30, when the cops came to break it up. The police were responding to a complaint that a 26-year-old woman wasn’t being allowed to leave the party. A 40-year-old, 250-pound male was apparently preventing her departure by blocking the exit. She left with the men in blue – and declined to pursue charges, so there was no arrest. A spokeswoman for Combs says, “I know for a fact that Puffy did not have any parties over the weekend.” Officer Olga Mercado of the New York Police Department says that police records don’t include guest lists.


Allegations of sexual harassment may not have brought Paula Jones satisfaction, but they got results for an intern at the American Enterprise Institute. The conservative think tank summarily fired maverick journalist Michael Fumento after an intern complained about his conduct toward her. “When you want to get rid of an employee for whatever reason, you use sexual harassment, because everyone apart from the president of the United States is absolutely terrified of that,” charges Fumento. He says two AEI officials confronted him with five of the woman’s claims: that he asked if she was Irish; that he startled her with a Weekly World News picture of a 400-pound Hillary Clinton; that he joked about his cat in heat; that, while holding a banana, he repeated Mae West’s joke “… or are you just happy to see me”; and, finally, that he asked her to go with him to a Scottish bagpipe festival. “My reaction was, ‘Yeah, I did all that. I don’t see that I did anything wrong.’ They said, ‘Well, obviously we disagree with you. You’ve got 24 hours, pack up and go.’ “ This isn’t the first time Fumento has been mired in controversy: When he published The Myth of Heterosexual aids in 1990, he was fired from the Rocky Mountain News. “Basically,” says Fumento, “I just didn’t fit in with their very staid corporate environment,” adding, “The idea of me sexually harassing anybody just makes me sick to my stomach.” AEI vice-president David Gerson declined to comment, explaining that, as a matter of policy, the institute does not discuss personnel issues.


Club owner and restaurateur Nell Campbell may be saying good-bye to one important person in her life, but she’s about to say hello to another. Campbell is currently entangled in a touchy situation with E&O and Kiosk partner Lynn Wagenknecht. According to Wagenknecht, she and Campbell are “still partners, but we are currently in discussions regarding the fair separation of some of our combined interests.” The two women have long had conflicting opinions about the business. “Campbell and her boyfriend had a certain way they wanted to manage their restaurants, and it was different from my style,’’ says Wagenknecht. Word is she was not pleased, for example, when Campbell’s boyfriend, third partner Eamon Roche, began scheduling strippers to appear at Kiosk twice a week. Wagenknecht would only say that she hopes things can be resolved amicably: “I don’t want this to reach intense legal proportions.” And these days Campbell undoubtedly has more important things to think about than legal wranglings: She is now seven months pregnant with her first child. Campbell did not return calls.


Betty Knight Scripps just won a round in court. Last week, the 72-year-old widow of newspaper heir Edward W. Scripps was granted her motion to toss out the $50 million lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by her son Barry Scripps. Barry, 53, had accused his mother of taking advantage of his father’s illness to sell the Scripps League of regional newspapers to the Pulitzers for $214 million. When Barry had asked his mother about sale rumors, she had flatly denied them in a note that read, “Your fears about rumors are not justified. Get rid of your fears.” Her court papers denounce Barry’s suit as “the ingratitude of a privileged son.” The privileged son’s attorney, Natasha Lisman, says he is now giving “serious consideration to an appeal.” Barry’s brother, Edward Scripps III, has joined him in another case in Palm Beach – to contest their father’s will. Scripps left his entire estate to a charitable trust and to his widow, who – five months after his death – married a 54-year-old investment banker.


He may be contributing to the new, improved Times Square, but Frank Gehry won’t be adding any class to Atlantic City. Las Vegas hotel magnate Steve Wynn, set to break ground on a new resort and casino complex in New Jersey this fall, had been talking with Gehry, who’s currently designing Condé Nast’s new building, and architect Philip Johnson about co-designing the site. But now Gehry, who reportedly brought Johnson into the deal, is backing out. “Steve, Frank, and their friend Charlie Rose went to Bilbao together and discussed some hypothetical ideas for the project,” says a representative for Wynn. “But when it came time to schedule actual dates, the time frames didn’t work out.” Gehry’s office declined to comment on the project or the architect’s reason for withdrawal, but for now Johnson is still on board. Wynn’s office confirms that the nonagenarian is still “very much part” of the deal, adding, “They’re in a meeting together as we speak.” A spokesperson for Johnson’s office said, “We are not at liberty to discuss the status of this project.”


Are the goth-rock revival’s days numbered? Marilyn Manson, who inspired scads of kids to dress up in dreary black medieval garb, is giving up his macabre image and planning to embrace the glam-rock look epitomized by David Bowie. “Glam rock is what inspired Marilyn to go into music in the first place,” says a representative at Manson’s record label. “He’s embodying that with a style change.” Manson’s new look began when he spotted an homage to Bowie in the window of a Los Angeles vintage-clothing store, the Wasteland, complete with a mannequin clad in a vintage $800 Pucci unitard. “Marilyn came in and asked to purchase the leotard as part of his new look,” says a store regular, who adds that Manson also spent more than $3,000 on white furniture from the store “because he’s redoing his house entirely in white.” As Manson gathered together his glad rags, wearing “huge Claudia Cardinale sunglasses,” he reportedly commented, “I’m going to become Ziggy Stardust.” Wonders the shopper: “What’s going to happen to all those little gothic Satan worshipers now?”


TEACHER’S PET: Though she recently applied for – and did not get – the post of welfare commissioner in Westchester, Ruth Messinger hasn’t stopped looking for new career opportunities. Among the ideas Messinger’s been tossing around since losing to Rudy: a move to academia. Although Messinger recently lunched with a dean from the New School for Social Research, nothing’s panned out yet. “I have talked to the New School about different opportunities,” she reports, “but no one’s offered me a position.” In the meantime, Messinger is working the inside track: “I have enrolled in two photography courses at the New School, since I’ve got the free time,” she says.

THREE PRODUCERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR: Now that Jane Rosenthal of Tribeca Productions has signed on with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall to produce a movie on the fugitive financier Robert Vesco, can Robert De Niro be far behind? Rosenthal, who runs De Niro’s production company, says she’s “passionate” about the project, which is based on Ann Louise Bardach’s Vanity Fair story about the pioneer Wall Street raider who became a fugitive rather than face SEC charges or answer questions about his $250,000 cash contribution to Richard Nixon’s creep fund. De Niro bears an uncanny resemblance to Vesco, who’s now in a Cuban prison, and one source close to the project insists that De Niro wants to direct as well as star in the movie. But Rosenthal cautions that the producers need to find a screenwriter before they decide on a director. Stay tuned.

Additional reporting by Kate Coyne.

April 13, 1998