July 31, 2000

She Won’t Wear His Name Anymore

Tommy Hilfiger’s company stock isn’t the only thing in his life that has seen healthier days. According to a fashion-world source, the all-American designer is separating from his wife, Susie. While Hilfiger has spent the better part of the nineties making his name-emblazoned stars-and-stripes-wear a billion-dollar business, his wife has led a quieter existence, joining her husband at the occasional fund-raiser and paying homage to the venerable Best & Co. department store by producing a line of children’s garments in the same name. Whether this difference in lifestyles caused the rift we can only guess – neither Hilfiger would comment.

Penn Slays Dick in Assassination Flick

Sean Penn may be getting older, but his penchant for playing basket cases shows no sign of waning. The actor’s next role will be that of an unemployed furniture salesman with a hankering to kill the commander-in-chief in writer-director Niels Mueller’s The Assassination of Richard Nixon. Producer Cary Woods tells us that Penn’s character is based on the real-life story of Samuel Byck, who lost his job in 1974 and coped by planning to hijack an airplane and crash it into the White House. “Niels has edited all these snippets of Nixon from actual newscasts where he is looking right at you,” says Woods. “We’ll put them together so it seems that Penn feels Nixon is taunting him as he goes mad.” And if that tale isn’t strange enough, Woods’s next project will be a Liberace biopic directed by Phil Kaufman, who helmed The Right Stuff. “We want to make sure we get a star that can do justice to the size of Liberace,” says Woods. “We’re considering everyone from Nic Cage to Robin Williams to Tom Cruise.” Isn’t Cruise a bit too butch for the part?

Spa Spat Turns Litigious

Nightlife impresario Steve Lewis – currently appealing a one-year sentence on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics at the Limelight – might soon be spending even more time in court. In 2 It Media event planner Amy Balsam says she’s filing a breach-of-contract suit against the Spa nightclub (where Lewis is creative director) for the last-minute cancellation of a charity event in May. The event was to be a fashion show in conjunction with Tear Sheet magazine, with a portion of the evening’s proceeds going to Road Recovery, a nonprofit anti-drug group. Lewis doesn’t deny putting Balsam and a slew of designers and models out of the club just hours before the show was to begin, but he lays the blame squarely on Balsam. According to Lewis, Balsam demanded that Spa provide sound equipment not specified in their contract and became abusive toward club staff when Lewis wouldn’t pony up. Balsam contends that her requirements were explicitly laid out in the contract and that it was Lewis who lost his head. Both sides agree that many of Balsam’s guests were eventually admitted to the club, but Balsam and the founder of Road Recovery, Gene Bowen, claim they haven’t seen a penny from the door. Responds Lewis: “If they say I took any money, that’s slander, and I’ll sue.” After all, what’s one more lawsuit?

Maximum Threat to 2000 Prez Race

With the possibility of this presidential election’s being the most mind-numbing in recent history, the gang at Maxim magazine intend to liven things up. Acting managing editor Andrij Witiuk will officially announce his independent bid to be the most powerful man in the free world this Wednesday. Witiuk – a former Marine who once worked as a coordinator for the Walt Disney Catalog – plans to crash both the Democratic and the Republican National Conventions to promote his write-in campaign. “I’m going to stay in it to the very end,” Mr. Witiuk tells us. The candidate’s entire platform is laid out in the upcoming issue of Maxim, but we were lucky enough to snag the first interview: Does Mr. Witiuk have any family history of dementia? “I’ll have to check with my researchers.” What does he consider to be the most pressing international threat? “The French-Canadians. Let’s just say I have plans for a winter palace.” Drugs? “Not now, I’m driving.” Ralph Nader, watch your back.

Real-Estate Mogul Goes Hog-Wild

Laurence Gluck, head of real-estate powerhouse Stellar Management, has added another lucrative grab to his 4 million-square-foot portfolio. Gluck and his head of acquisitions and partner, Robert Rosania, signed a contract and put down a hefty deposit last week on 1370 Sixth Avenue, the skyscraper at 56th Street known by most as the home of the Harley-Davidson Cafe. The deal was orchestrated by Doug Harmon, the prolific broker who helped Gluck snatch up Leona Helmsley’s Park West Village for a reported $120 million in January. Though Gluck wouldn’t give us an exact figure, he would say the edifice fetched over $100 million.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Brooke Gosin.

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July 31, 2000