May 22, 2000

Ol’ Blue Eyes: One More For the Road?

You’d think putting up a statue of Frank Sinatra in Times Square would go over nice and easy. But the area’s Business Improvement District is fighting the Giuliani-administration plan, insisting the city’s proposed location for the tribute (near where Sinatra first performed) would have a monumental impact on Great White Way events. “That place is so precious to us,” says Brendan Sexton, president of the Times Square group. The BID is balking because the statue is slated to be installed on the traffic island between West 43rd and 44th Streets, where, they say, it would interfere with organized spectacles like Broadway on Broadway. Their proposed compromise to city officials? Make it a movable structure, so it can be shuttled out of the way when necessary. “Times Square is at the point where every free scrap of ground is priceless,” says Sexton. “Mobility would certainly help.” Now, there’s a moving tribute.

Rappers Delight Ozzy Osbourne

A lot of rappers have become giants by covering rock tunes, so it was only a matter of time before rockers started breaking out their own versions of hip-hop songs. Loud Records – the label behind Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun, and Mobb Deep – is putting the finishing touches on Loud Rocks, an album in which some of the hardest-rocking bands in the business cover the label’s most popular raps. Heavy-metal godfathers Black Sabbath (with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne) contributed their take on Wu-Tang’s “For Heavens Sake.” Fans of Sugar Ray can hear the band pulling off Tha Alkaholiks’ “Make Room,” while Everlast returns to his hip-hop roots with Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Part II.” The album won’t be out until late August or early September, but eager fans may be able to get a live preview of the material. Loud CEO Steven Rifkind says he intends to get the bands from the album to perform their rock-rap hybrids on as many of the summer’s major tours as possible. “We’re going to pitch this like a beast,” he tells us. That rules, dude!

Larry Forgione: Desperately Seeking Servers

Faced with the city’s skilled-labor shortage, new restaurateurs have been boldly raiding their competition – and now the Old Guard is playing the same no-holds-barred game. A glad-handing recruiter working for American master Larry Forgione’s latest two culinary ventures was spotted roaming Rue 57 like one of Forgione’s famous free-range chickens, looking to pluck staffers to work in soon-to-open nosheries Manhattan Prime and Above. The cheeky interloper passed out invitations that read, “Larry Forgione cordially invites you to a complimentary cocktail party to preview the career opportunities coming soon,” and requested that recipients “bring a résumé.” When managers at the French brasserie got wind of the enlistment campaign, they asked the recruiter to halt. He did – but apparently didn’t realize he wasn’t exactly welcome to stay. Says one incredulous manager: “He went downstairs and had a drink in our salon – so we told him to go home.” Forgione insists he doesn’t know anything about it. “I don’t think we’re participating in any outrageous moves,” he says. “We have 250 new employees, and we haven’t stolen anyone.” Maybe he could just shift staff from his soon-to-be-closed restaurants, the Coach House and Rosehill.

Indie Producer Eyes Flesh Flick

Boys Don’t Cry co-producer Christine Vachon is moving on to the really important stuff: gay porn. Vachon’s indie studio, Killer Films, has signed on to executive-produce The Fluffer, a flick that will look at the gay-adult-entertainment business in much the same way The Player treated mainstream Hollywood. The film will be co-directed by none other than legendary porn helmsman Wash West – the man behind the award-winning skin flick Naked Highway – and Richard Glatzer, who directed 1994’s art-house movie Grief. In The Fluffer (the title refers to the person on-set whose job is to arouse the leading man), Beverly Hills 90210 heartthrob Scott Gurney plays a straight guy who wants to be a legitimate actor but soon finds himself playing roles of a different sort. The cast includes actress-rocker Debbie Harry (pictured) as the manager of a strip club where Gurney’s girlfriend works, plus cameos by rocker Ké (currently a sensation in Europe) and Lou Grant’s Robert Walden. Shooting starts next week in L.A.

A Sharp Observer at Village Voice

Village Voice Media president Art Howe was probably happy to get his hands on what was inside one local derelict’s pants – since it was his laptop computer. According to a company insider, the Voice’s executive offices have been the site of a little crime spree lately. About a month ago, Voice Media CEO David Schneiderman’s laptop was snatched from his office in a daring daylight burglary. Two weeks later, a would-be thief got past the front-desk security guard at the paper’s Cooper Square digs by posing as a messenger. When the bandit returned from his brief trip to the lefty weekly’s posh, camera-surveilled executive wing, the guard observed him “stuffing something under his shirt and into his waistband,” says the source. “It turns out the dude’s got a laptop in his pants.” There was also a mouse cord running down his pants leg. Howe did not return calls.

Taking a Chance on Dove

Model Georgianna Robertson is proving she’s more than just a pretty face: She also has a great eye. When the mannequin spotted an original but unauthenticated Picasso drawing at an arts-and-crafts auction, she snatched it up for a mere $900. Unfortunately, the auction houses and Picasso experts who examined the sketch – an early rendering of the artist’s Dove of Peace design – were far more dubious. “They said, ‘Forget it. It’s not an original,’ ” Robertson’s fiancé, Joakim von Ditmar, told us. For a more discerning judgment, the pair had to go all the way to Paris, where, according to Von Ditmar, none other than Picasso’s daughter Maya – an expert on her father’s work – made a positive I.D. But even that didn’t get the art world banging on Robertson’s door. “No one has been able to put a value on it,” says Von Ditmar, “because they don’t have anything to compare it to. Without that, no one wants to insure it and you can’t sell it.” The would-be treasure is currently awaiting posterity in a vault.

Maser’s Latest Fashion Trend

Photographer Wayne Maser’s eye for fashion editors is quick to wander – from one masthead to another. According to a fashion-world source, the shutterbug recently split with Sarajane Hoare, Glamour’s fashion director-at- large, whom he had been dating since the two worked together at Harper’s Bazaar in the mid-nineties. And just days after the breakup, he was snuggling up with someone else. The source says that after Maser dropped in at the Metropolitan Pavilion last week in support of Hoare’s Condé Nast-sponsored photo exhibit, he abandoned the festivities in favor of an intimate rendezvous at Da Silvano with Jane magazine contributing editor Sciascia Gambaccini – who just happens to be the ex-wife of design guru Fabien Baron, a close friend of Maser’s. Maser and Gambaccini were spotted cuddling by fellow fashionistas who had stopped by the trattoria for a post-party nightcap. Reports the source, “With all the fashion types who eat at Silvano’s, acting as close as they were acting is like coming out in public.” When asked about the situation, Hoare said only, “I wasn’t upset at all that Wayne left my show.” Maser, for his part, refused to comment.

Political Pairs; Neuwirth Cares

JUST DO IT, HONEY: Hillary Clinton isn’t the only political mate who’s been inspired to run for office in New York. Businessman Paul Bader, who will marry congresswoman Nydia Velázquez later this year, has thrown his hat into the ring for the seat soon to be vacated by 39th District councilman Stephen DiBrienza, whose term expires in 2001. Like Hillary, Bader says he’s learned a few things from his politically savvy partner, pointing out that Velázquez served on the City Council earlier in her career. “I’m trying to use all her experience as an advantage,” he says. Bader will use his own experience as well – he once volunteered as DiBrienza’s campaign coordinator.

WEEP LIKE A BEBE: Bebe Neuwirth recently proved that playing the emotionally vacant Lilith on Cheers was nothing more than acting. While emceeing the Victim Services’ Champion Awards Lunch last week, an event honoring Law & Order: Special Victims Unit creator-executive producer Dick Wolf and Verizon Wireless CEO Dennis Strigl, the actress became so choked up after hearing a tale about growing up in a violent household that she could barely continue the show. Neuwirth, unable to speak without her voice cracking, was forced to take some time out to regain her composure before introducing the startled audience to the event’s next speaker, Gloria Steinem. When the famous feminist finally came onstage, she took a moment of her own to applaud Neuwirth’s honesty. Guess sisterhood is powerful.

GREAT LATIN WAY: The next hot import to reach our shores from South America will be not another Brazilian bombshell but the biggest Argentine craze since steak. Buenos Aires tango impresario Juan Fabbri is looking to bring one of his sizzling dance palaces to New York. According to a source, Fabbri – who owns the two leading tango clubs in Buenos Aires, Club Almagro and El Morocco, as well an all-tango cable station – has set his sights on leasing or buying a place in the heart of the theater district, close to Restaurant Row.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

May 22, 2000