May 1, 2000

Leonardo DiCaprio: Model Citizen

Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent real-life role as a White House reporter may not have been one he was born to play (at least Sam Donaldson didn’t think so), but there’s one character he can always fall back on: Romeo. He has been spending a lot of quality time with Brazilian beauty Gisele Bundchen. Barely a week after the Post spotted them together at a New York watering hole, they arrived as a pair at the opening night of the Las Palmas nightclub in L.A. “There was a lot of drinking, a lot of smoking, and a lot of touching,” says an eyewitness, who also saw the two exit the club together. Another spy reports, “They were in a corner in the back totally making out with each other. Leo looked very happy.” A rep for Gisele says her client is just friends with the actor and that her appearance in L.A. was strictly for a Vogue photo shoot. Okay, but why was she with Leo in New York as well? “Leo is friends with all the models,” explains the rep. “He’s a model guy.” Oh, now we get it.

Hide-Hating Hynde Cows the Gap

Looks like Chrissie Hynde won’t be on the chain gang after all. The Gap has informed the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that it will not seek restitution from the singer for her participation in a PETA protest in a midtown store last month. The Pretender was arrested along with three PETA pals for ripping apart leather pants and jackets to protest the Gap’s sale of skins from India, where, the animal-rights group says, cows are cruelly treated before slaughter. “We’re not interested in pressing charges, but if the D.A. does, we’ll cooperate as required,” says a Gap spokesperson. The ruffled retailer, which recently announced it will stop selling leather goods made in India, has told PETA attorneys that it will not send any employees as witnesses, but the case hasn’t yet been dismissed. “I just hope the D.A.’s office doesn’t have a leather fetish,” quips Hynde.

Ian Schrager’s Stolen Identity

It sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone: First Jason Rubell, nephew of the late Studio 54 impresario Steve Rubell, opened the Albion hotel down the street from the Delano, the boutique hotel owned by his uncle’s old partner Ian Schrager. And as if that weren’t close enough, one of Schrager’s Web-surfing employees recently discovered that the domain name is owned by – you guessed it – Rubell Hotels. When he heard that the fellow hotelier owned his digital identity, a spooked Schrager had his lawyers fire off a letter to Rubell informing him that both “Ian Schrager Hotels” and “Ian Schrager” are licensed trademarks that he was quite close to infringing upon. Schrager and his lawyers have not yet heard back. While Rubell failed to return numerous messages we left on his voice mail, Schrager was happy to comment on the situation: “I don’t really know what to make of this,” he said warily, before displaying a more lighthearted take on the situation: “It’s definitely funny.” We definitely agree.

Klein Declines JFK Jr. Tell-All

Author Edward Klein seems to have gotten over his Kennedy fetish. The former New York Times Magazine editor – who has already written two best-sellers about Camelot-related high jinks – has dropped his plans to write a biography of John F. Kennedy Jr. “I pondered it for a long time,” he says, “and did a couple of interviews. I discussed it very seriously with my agent, and we decided jointly that we weren’t going to do it.” Klein was a longtime friend of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and published all the gooey details of her marriage to JFK in 1996’s All Too Human. Two years later, he exposed Jackie’s post-Kennedy private life in Just Jackie. So why the reluctance this time around? “There is a whole variety of reasons that I don’t really want to get into,” he says. Perhaps he got scared off by the sure-to-be-riveting array of personal Kennedy details to be revealed by Richard Blow, the ex-George editor who unleashed his wrath on writers who dared discuss JFK Jr.’s memory in public – and is now working on a book about his relationship with the ill-fated editor-in-chief. Well, we all know the biographer’s credo: Ask not what you can do for the Kennedys – ask what a Kennedy book can do for you.

Time to go Hollywood

Vikram Chatwal often hosts Hollywood stars at his edgy Time hotel – and now he’s looking to put some of them to work. The busy hotelier and co-owner of celebrity hot spot Joe’s Pub has jumped into the movie business. He’s the associate producer, along with Andrew Tilberis (widower of Liz), of a fashion-industry feature entitled Perfume, which stars Jeff Goldblum and Amber Valetta. Chatwal has also recently formed a production company, 5K Films, with New Age guru Deepak Chopra’s son Gotham. The two are co-producing a movie with Guy Ritchie collaborator Angad Paul (an executive producer of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) and another with film-loving fashionista Diane von Furstenberg. Chatwal acknowledges he’s getting into a tough business. “I feel somewhat like a virgin, but hopefully I won’t get screwed too badly,” he says, gamely. In case he does, he still has his growing hotel empire to fall back on – Chatwal has hired British hotelier and designer Anouska Hempel to pretty up his latest purchase, midtown’s historic Lambs Club.

Hillary’s Fence-Mending Campaign

Could Hillary Clinton’s effort to reach out to influential assemblyman Dov Hikind – she visited him at home last week to pay her respects after his father died – actually lead to an endorsement? The conservative Jewish leader says it’s possible. “I’m delighted she’s interested in having a dialogue,” he remarks, referring to another planned meeting after Passover. “My relationship with Hillary is developing.” It’s a change of tone for the outspoken assemblyman, who has long been a vocal critic of Mrs. Clinton – as recently as this month, Hikind said he “may not have a choice” but to vote for Rudy Giuliani, though he now insists, “I really have not made a decision.” Hikind pledges he’ll hear the First Lady out but won’t be swayed by her recent overture. “I will trust her up to a certain extent, like any politician before election time,” he says.

Halo Can You Go?

Los Angeles is such a fun city that its best nightlife has to be imported from New York. Halo owner Karim Amatullah has had his attorney fire off a cease-and-desist notice to some Los Angelinos who’ve been hosting a “Halo” night at a place called Chasen’s. “They’re pillaging,” says Amatullah, who also says that they seem to be ignoring his lawyer’s missive. “I called up pretending to be someone else and they told me, ‘We’re affiliated with Halo in New York but the guys over there don’t have as much pull.’ ” A Halo spokesman fumes, “They ripped off the name, the spelling, even our font!” Chasen’s did not return calls. Meanwhile, L.A. will soon get another of our city’s popular hangouts: Moomba owner Jeff Gossett is scouting locations in the City of Angels. “I think it would be a great place for a Moomba expansion,” he says, “but I haven’t found the right space.” Just make sure you don’t use Halo’s font.

Plimpton Flirts with a Killer

George Plimpton recently missed out on a shot at another great adventure. The Paris Review editor was heading to San Diego to speak at Point Loma College when he was offered a rare opportunity. “A friend of mine told me, ‘I’ve arranged for you to swim with the killer whales at Sea World,’ ” Plimpton tells us. “I said, ‘Wow.’ I’d done that sort of thing before with porpoises, but this was a step up, to say the least.” But when the scribe arrived in California, he was informed that the whales’ trainer had broken his arm, thereby dashing Plimpton’s hopes for a wet and wild time. But if the chance to bathe with the toothy sea mammals comes up again, will Plimpton jump at it? “No,” he says, “no, no. I have no wish to.” We’ll take that as a no.

Ivana Dolling; Blaine’s Ice

LOOKING SWANK: It didn’t take long for the antique diamond choker Hilary Swank sported on Oscar night to find a buyer. A Hollywood source reports that the $250,000 worth of shimmering gems, lent to Swank by celeb jeweler Edward Asprey, were recently snatched up by Terry Semel, former Warner Bros. co-chairman turned Windsor Media, Inc., head. The happy recipient? His wife Jane. When asked for comment, neither Asprey nor Semel were as vocal as Swank was in her acceptance speech – they didn’t say a thing.

MAGIC MONEY: Magician David Blaine will pay you to prove that he’s no Houdini. Blaine plans to encase himself in a block of ice for a few days this fall, but so many people are still dubious about his last stunt – in which he supposedly lived in an underground “coffin” for a week – that he’ll offer $1 million to anyone who can debunk the upcoming feat. His agent promises, “If anyone can prove that he’s not really in there, he’ll give it to them on the spot.” The real trick would be explaining where David Blaine got his hands on a million bucks.

IVANA BE A DOLL: Finally, an Ivana Trump that never ages. The Madame Alexander Doll Company is releasing a sixteen-inch version of the famous first wife – complete with opera gloves. The toy Ivana will be unveiled at the real Ivana’s second annual aids benefit auction at Lucky Cheng’s on May 1st, where the two Ms. T’s will be swathed in matching sarongs by Marc Bouwer. Designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, Tommy Hilfiger, and Richard Tyler have also donated original duds for the auction, which will benefit LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights aids. No word yet if they’re planning a Donald Trump action figure and an army of little divorce lawyers.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

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May 1, 2000