September 21, 1998


The mayor may be banning one of his own alimentary pleasures for a change, namely the smothered steak and collard greens at Sylvia’s uptown. City Hall sources say Giuliani is so outraged by what he considers Sylvia’s sponsorship of the “Million Youth March” that he’s promising never to eat at the famous soul-food stop again. But what sponsorship is Rudy talking about? “I’ve never sponsored anything,” says owner Sylvia Woods, who knew nothing of the mayor’s threatened ban. “I would hate for the mayor to even think for one time that we were upholding anything negative.” While it’s true that Khallid Abdul Muhammad held a press conference at the popular Harlem eatery on August 28, Woods is quick to point out that the restaurant was also used just days later by a multiracial coalition that publicly rebuked Muhammad (a conference he promptly crashed). Sylvia’s manager Clarence Cooper says it’s all a misunderstanding and that they neither support nor condemn any organization that rents their space. “Unfortunately, we were used as a building which serves the public,” he says, “and now we have to take the heat.” A spokesman for Mayor Giuliani says, “I haven’t heard anything about it.”


Reporters reporting on other reporters has become a growth industry – one we’ll happily add to by reporting on the latest in the game of musical chairs for media columnists. At the beginning of this month, the Daily News hired Celia McGee away from the New York Observer. Starting September 21, she’ll take over the media column Keith Kelly wrote before he jumped to the New York Post. (Meanwhile, over at the Times, Alex Kuczynski will start the media beat next month.) “Celia’s a very gifted writer and an aggressive reporter, and it’s going to put us way out in front,” boasts her new boss, Daily News business editor Scott Wenger. Observer editor Peter Kaplan didn’t know he was losing McGee until New York called, but he quickly wished her “congratulations” and said, “It’ll be a fun autumn.” Elizabeth Manus took over McGee’s publishing column at the Observer this spring, when McGee graduated to features.


FATHER KNOWS BEST: Even the richest man in the city doesn’t always get his way – right away. Ron Perelman had enrolled his youngest daughter, Caleigh, in an exclusive private school last semester. But the tot, whose mother is the beautiful Patricia Duff, was assigned to the afternoon session of pre-kindergarten at the tony school. That schedule didn’t work for the family, according to one source close to the situation. So the Revlon king tried to get his daughter transferred to the morning session, according to several sources, but the school couldn’t accommodate him: The class was already full. Whereupon Perelman took his little princess out of school altogether and hired private tutors for the semester. This semester, according to an inside source, Caleigh is enrolling at the same school – for the morning session.

VIRGINIA BOUND: When Bill Paxon told the Washington Post about the big new home he and Susan Molinari just bought in Alexandria, Virginia, he left out one salient detail. Paxon and Molinari bought the five-bedroom Colonial from one of D.C.’s preeminent liberal lawyers, Paul Reichler, who represented the Sandinistas while negotiating a cease-fire with the contras in Nicaragua ten years ago. Reichler, for one, was happy to sell out to the Republicans, reportedly for more than $500,000. “This is a house, not a political issue. They made the best offer,” laughs the lawyer. “They behaved honorably and decently in the course of the negotiations, and I have no problem whatsoever in selling the house to them.”

IMAGE IS ALL: Who said those folks at Industria Superstudios were shallow? Not content simply to host fabulous fashion shoots and throw glamorous parties, they’ve now graduated to academia. Industria’s Alina Lundry just sent out a slick brochure for Milan’s Universitˆ dell’ Immagine, an almost-university thought up by the superstudio’s president, Fabrizio Ferri. Explaining that “image is the form of communication, language, and literature for the next century,” the brochure offers students a degree in Taste Enhancement (“the external influences on the building of taste”), Perfume Science (“relationship between brand and smell”), and Body Awareness ("observing other’s body postures”) – all for just 16 million lira (around $9,300) for the first year. Those who stick it out to year two get a price reduction to 14 million lira. “U.I. does not grant a diploma with legal value,” Lundry’s brochure acknowledges, “but, above all, helps students to retain a cultural background.” The kind that makes it possible to throw fabulous parties, presumably.


In the end, James Caan didn’t get the part, but he could write a screenplay about what happened when he looked into it. Caan was being considered for a role in Oliver Stone’s look at pro football, On Any Given Sunday, which begins filming in Miami this fall with Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Lauren Holly, Edward Burns, and Sean “Puffy” Combs. A script was sent to Caan’s agent, Jim Berkus at UTA. The problem was, Stone obsessively guards his work, numbering every script that’s sent out. So when another UTA client came in for a reading having seen the entire screenplay, a furious Stone was able to trace the leak back to Caan. Berkus, who had apparently made a copy for himself and sent the original to the agency’s library, insists Stone’s casting agent never mentioned the need for super-secrecy. Stone’s spokeswoman, Pat Kingsley, says that “Oliver does not know who gave out the script, whether it was Berkus or Caan. But it was Berkus’s responsibility.” She adds that the director initially decreed that he wouldn’t work with any Berkus clients (who include Jim Carrey and Martin Lawrence). Berkus says he then called Stone to apologize, and that it was “all talked out in a very nice way.”


The loyal customers of Mortimer’s are determined not to respect the last wishes of Glenn Bernbaum, who died last week. “He wanted the door to that restaurant closed the minute he died,” reports the late restaurateur’s lawyer, A. Richard Golub, who in Bernbaum’s will was given the job of shuttering the place. Golub performed his task admirably – and he’s been hearing from the restaurant’s regulars ever since. “I’d love to continue the legacy of Mortimer’s,” says perfume maven Gale Hayman, who celebrated her marriage to Dr. William Haseltine at the famed Lexington Avenue bo”te. Mario Buatta says he’d even be willing to put up some money to keep the place going. “It would be nice if we could set those people who used to work for Bernbaum up in business,” says the King of Chintz. Ma”tre d’ Robert Caravaggi and the other longtime Mortimer’s staff members chose not to comment, but another insider said, “We’d like to keep the restaurant open, and I believe that Mr. Bernbaum’s friends and clientele also feel that way.” “I don’t know if it’s legally possible,” counters Golub. “But if it is, I would do everything I could to facilitate it.” Meanwhile, Judy Peabody will be meeting this week to see about rescheduling Bernbaum’s annual AIDS fund-raiser, Fte de Famille, which had been set for October 1.


The chemistry between Fox on Entertainment’s Dana Kennedy and Bill McCuddy turns out to have been the combustible sort. According to Fox insiders, the co-anchors’ relationship was fraught with tension, and their fragile rapport finally came to an explosive halt after the show was canceled last week. In terms of experience, Kennedy, a former Entertainment Weekly reporter, has it over McCuddy, a onetime adman and stand-up comic who landed the gig after winning a talent contest. But, says a colleague, Kennedy “would outwardly try to be McCuddy’s best friend, and then she’d turn around and backstab him. She was always bitching about him.” Last week, the two went for drinks at Langan’s after they were given news of the cancellation, and Kennedy let loose on the street outside the bar. “She really lost it,” says the insider, who says Kennedy’s booming voice directed a string of expletives at McCuddy, who remained calm through the barrage. The co-hosts smilingly deny both the street fight and the strained relationship. McCuddy says they got along “terrifically” and confidently predicts the show’s return. “The show is canceled,” counters a Fox spokesperson. “It did not fit in with the new hard-news format.” As to McCuddy’s feelings after the public browbeating? “If I’ve been a gentleman so far, I’m not going to dignify it with a comment now,” he says. “Besides, she could probably take me in a bar fight,” he says, his stand-up days showing.


He’s back. Just when you thought there were no more New Age revenues to exploit, Deepak – he’s dropped the Chopra for now – has re-emerged as a hipper, black-T-shirted guru with his sights set on the musical world (and he’s getting a little help from his closest celebrity friends). A Gift of Love (Rasa Records), due to be released on November 3, is “a musical tribute to the act of love” featuring such in-touch-with-their-sensual-side contributors as Madonna, Demi Moore, and Debra Winger, along with Blythe Danner, Goldie Hawn, Martin Sheen, and others (including Deepak himself). The participants are bent on creating an aural “experience of ecstasy” by reading aloud the poetry of Rumi, a thirteenth-century Persian mystic – all to a groovy, ambient trance beat. Deepak hopes the album will (a) help replace the “missing love” in peoples’ lives and (b) chart. And if all this ambition should raise any qualms about the guru’s self-actualization, rest assured. After being billed as the “Johnny Cash of the New Age world,” Deepak took issue: “Better-looking,” he observed. But of course.

Additional reporting by Ian Spiegelman.

September 21, 1998