April 17, 2000

Bijou On the Run From the Law

Working alongside repentant ex-cons Robert Downey Jr. and Mike Tyson didn’t have such a positive effect on Bijou Phillips – there’s a warrant out for her arrest. According to Los Angeles Municipal Court records, the barroom-brawling vixen, who’s currently starring in James Toback’s Black and White, was ticketed last August for a hit-and-run accident in the Valley. When the 20-year-old Phillips, who has reportedly sliced off a stranger’s fingertip with a cigar cutter and stabbed a friend in the recent past, failed to show up for her November 17 arraignment, a warrant was filed for her arrest with a $15,000 bail (which she could likely afford since cashing in on her svelte frame by posing in Playboy last month). While LAPD cops have every right to nab the wild child anytime they please, they’ll probably wait until she’s naughty again, sources say, because of the department’s heavy volume of unsolved crimes. Whether Bijou will fess up or keep on ducking the law, we’ll never know – she refused to comment.

Sweet Deal Splits Allen, Doumanian

A little movie about the blues caused quite a bit of gloom between Woody Allen and his longtime producer Jean Doumanian. According to a Hollywood insider, the seeds for the recent breakup of Allen and Doumanian were sown last year when Sony Classics offered a mere $2.5 million for domestic distribution rights to Sweet and Lowdown – a picture in which Doumanian’s financier boyfriend, Jaqui Safra, had already invested $30 million. Although Safra did eventually make his money back, when he learned about the Lowdown deal, he decided that Woody’s next film, Small Time Crooks, would be the last one that got his money – largely because Doumanian had already signed on to produce it. Doumanian did negotiate for another Allen project, the insider says, but Safra was now opposed to Allen’s demands. “Woody wanted much, much more than Jaqui would ever pay,” says the insider. As for Doumanian’s post-Woody career, her production company has just struck up a deal with Sony Classics to distribute Just Looking, Jason Alexander’s new directorial effort. Doumanian’s spokesman would say only that his client and Allen are still close friends – and Allen’s rep said the same thing.

Sharon Stone Lies Low With Hubby

Sharon Stone has been keeping a low Hollywood profile since last month’s controversial sale of the San Francisco Examiner – the newspaper husband Phil Bronstein works for. Stone was a surprise no-show at the Academy Awards ceremony this year, and Tinseltown sources say the turmoil at the paper, where Bronstein is executive editor, is the reason Stone’s been toning down the glam life. Bronstein has no love for the new owner, local publisher Ted Fang, and like much of the Examiner’s staff, he’s been looking to jump ship. Says Bronstein, “I think it’s unlikely that I’ll be working for the new owners of the Examiner.” It couldn’t have helped that Fang’s free local newspaper has for months been hammering Bronstein with a mocking comic strip entitled “Mr. Sharon Stone.” Insiders say the actress is staying close to her husband as he figures out his next career move, which some expect to be a jump to the competing Chronicle, owned by the Hearst Corporation, former owner of the Examiner. But Hearst may not welcome Bronstein with open arms: His boardroom brawl with a former mayoral candidate ended up costing the former owners a reported $1 million to settle. Stone’s publicist denies that she ditched the Oscars to hibernate with hubby: “There was no reason for her to go this year,” the rep insists, pointing out Stone’s lack of nominations.

Plaza Hotel: a Room With P.U.?

The Plaza hotel stinks, say its neighbors. Residents at 21 West 58th Street say it’s bad enough living next door to a hotel’s garbage-pickup site, but that the Plaza’s refuse has the added benefit of being “cooked.” The problem, according to the ad hoc “Stinky Plaza Committee,” is that when sanitation workers carry hotel garbage to their truck, much of it falls through a grate in the sidewalk and into a superhot Con Edison electrical-transformer vault that gets things putrefying in a jiffy. “As soon as the weather gets warm, it becomes unbearable,” says building resident Beverly Stowe. “This scent wafts through our lobby and you literally have to hold your nose.” The problem, residents say, began a few years ago when the Plaza moved its disposal area to a loading dock behind the vent. Resident Kenny Schaffer says he has complained to hotel management ad nauseam, to no avail: “They promise big changes, but they won’t even sweep up the trash.” The Plaza’s general manager, Gary Schweikert, places the blame squarely on the faceless minions of Con Ed: “Despite our best effort to be a good neighbor, we are not allowed access to that area and must rely on the local utility to clean it up. The question is really Con Ed’s response time.” A Con Ed spokeswoman says the company’s “open to working with the Plaza to find solutions.” A safer bet for residents might be to purchase a gas mask.

Hillary Mulls Mosaic Move

Is candidate Hillary Clinton backing away from attending an Arab group’s charity fund-raiser because she fears the loss of Jewish support in her Senate race? The First Lady agreed to be the “honorary chair” for next month’s Washington, D.C., gala thrown by the wives of Arab ambassadors – but she still hasn’t agreed to show up. The invitation is splashed with the names of numerous benefactors, including Kuwait Petroleum, Saudi Aramco, Texaco, and Chevron, and lists Mrs. Nazek Rafic Hariri, wife of the former Lebanese prime minister, as an “honorary patron.” An event rep says Mrs. Clinton consented to chair the Mosaic Foundation soirée (which benefits Save the Children’s Arab programs) “way before” announcing her Senate bid, prompting some to wonder if Hillary’s hedging is the result of her politically disastrous smoochfest with Suha Arafat last year. One source says the Clinton camp fears alienating Jewish voters because “there’s a perception that she’s pro-Arab. Her people believe it’s a distortion, but they don’t want to feed into that.” Clinton spokesperson Lissa Muscatine would say only that the busy candidate can’t be everywhere: “She is honorary chairman of many events, most of which she doesn’t go to, because she obviously couldn’t go to all the events which bear her name.” But a Mosaic coordinator remains hopeful: “We haven’t been told no yet,” she says.

Real Simple’s Complex Woes

Things have gotten pretty complicated for Real Simple editor Susan Wyland. The first issue of the personal-homemaking magazine has gotten reviews as bad inside Time Inc. as outside, sources at the company say. Ann Moore, president of the People Magazine Group, is said to be particularly unhappy. “Ann Moore wants Wyland out, even though she hired her,” says one source. Shortly after the magazine appeared, Wyland was spotted crying in Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine’s office. And since Life magazine was killed, its editor, Isolde Motley, has been talked about as Wyland’s probable successor. Through her Life spokesperson, Motley acknowledged the rumor (“it’s come up more and more”) but says “it’s absolutely false” that she’s taking the job. In the meantime, the creative director, Robert Valentine, who made the mag look real confusing, has been replaced. And Pearlstine, who sources say didn’t have much to do with the first issue, is now working with Wyland closely. Pearlstine was traveling when New York called, as was Wyland. Moore defends Wyland: “My confidence in Susan’s abilities has never been in question,” she says. “I’ve seen Susan’s second issue. It’s even better than the first.” In any case, Wyland’s defenders note that first issues are always difficult: “Look at Entertainment Weekly’s first issue,” says one. But EW’s founding editor was pushed out shortly thereafter. “Whoops, that’s a bad example,” says the source.

Disney Shy on Bullock Flick

If you didn’t even notice that Sandra Bullock and Liam Neeson were starring together in Gun Shy just two months ago, their co-star Oliver Platt thinks he knows why. “Disney flushed it,” he told Intelligencer wearily at the premiere party for Joe Gould’s Secret at Gallagher’s Steak House recently. “They never really released it.” Asked why Disney wouldn’t get behind the comedy about a DEA agent (Neeson) who attends group therapy and the nurse (Bullock) who falls in love with him when she gives him an enema, Platt shrugged. “They just didn’t get it.” The Sopranos-esque flick did get a good review in the New York Times, so Platt remains hopeful, predicting, “It will find an audience on video.” Disney reps declined to comment.

Cyber De Niro; Gumble’s Snarls

BOBBY HOPS ONLINE: Robert De Niro is taking his love of all things urban to cyberspace. The actor has just joined the board of advisers at a hip-hop site called Onelevel.com. The dot-com is already affiliated with rappers such as Heavy D and Q-Tip, but a spokesman for the site says De Niro will “help develop contacts in the film industry,” adding, “Who has better contacts?” Also onboard is Steve Stoute, the Interscope Records honcho last seen taking a beating from Sean “Puffy” Combs. But what interest could the venerable De Niro have in an Internet venture for twentysomethings? “He thinks hip-hop is the next big thing,” explains the rep. We heard that somewhere, too.

BRYANT GRUMBLE: Is the writing on the wall for Bryant Gumbel’s CBS morning show? That’s the impression given by a story in the upcoming issue of Brill’s Content, which quotes top CBS affiliates griping about the grumpy golfer’s fast-tanking numbers. “It is not like a golf game,” says one, “when you want your score to go down.”

Additional reporting by Carl Swanson, David Amsden, and Suny Sehgal.

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April 17, 2000