August 14, 2000

Al Goes Hungry at the Mercer

Most people don’t have trouble finding something to eat at the Mercer Kitchen, but then again, most people aren’t Al Gore. The vice-president was breezing through town last week when his motorcade made a spontaneous pit stop at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s sleek downtown eatery. A staff member of the politician’s approached one of the managers, explaining that a famished Gore was outside in his car hoping a simple lunch could be whipped up in a jiffy. The executive order? A standard tuna-fish salad and some diet-friendly chocolate dessert. Unfortunately, such items as tuna salad – prized as they may be in the Corn Belt – are not abundant in the Mercer’s kitchen. The manager politely explained this to the go-fer, suggesting some nearby spots to quell Gore’s growling stomach… . And in other Vongerichten-related news, the chef is taking his culinary wizardry to Paris. He recently signed a lease on a Right Bank space adjacent to Christie’s, where he plans to open Taboo, a casual French-Asian place. Is he worried about taking on the world’s capital of cuisine? “No way,” he says. “After all, New York is the food capital, not Paris.”

Lisa Ling Views Writing Gig

Lisa Ling will soon have to work afternoons. The View’s Gen-X representative has just signed on as a contributing editor at USA Weekend, the syndicated newspaper insert that claims a readership of over 40 million. Ling’s last print-media gig was for the New York Times Syndicate last year, but she dropped it after just a few articles because “they only wanted me to do ethnic issues.” This time, Ling says, she’ll be writing on everything from voter apathy to exile groups in America raising money for foreign wars. “It will give me a chance to do some journalism, which is what I was doing for seven years before The View,” she told us from the Republican National Convention, where she was researching her apathy piece. What will Ling’s morning-talk family think of her moonlighting? “I think they’ll be proud of me,” she says. “I hope they will be.”

Bret Easton Ellis Evades History

Bret Easton Ellis has always had a knack for getting press, but young writers looking to hitch their wagons to his publicity mule should look elsewhere. The American Psycho author tells us he is refusing to cooperate with an oral history of his life and work being written by fellow Bennington alum Jamie Clarke. According to, Clarke intends to interview such literary folk as Tama Janowitz, Jay McInerney, and Joan Didion. So why won’t Ellis touch the project with a ten-foot pen? A friend of his tells us, “He just isn’t in the mood.” But another tipster says that Ellis was put off when he found out that a character in Clarke’s upcoming debut novel, We’re So Famous, is Brian Metro – a character from Ellis’s The Informers. More bad news for Clarke (who could not be reached for comment) comes from an editor at a top publisher who’s been pitched the project: “We saw the proposal and we were like, ‘No. It does not make any sense to do this,’ ” says the insider, explaining that Ellis is too young for his bio to make a good read. “The literary biographies that work are about the range of a person’s life. Unless you’ve got a writer in an older stage, it’s hard to see any evolution.” Well, we’re sure Clarke will dig up something.

Drew Star Saved From Sitcom Hell

Add The Drew Carey Show’s Craig Ferguson to the list of people who survived exposure to a member of the Osmond clan. At the premiere party for Fine Line Features’ Saving Grace – in which Ferguson stars as a gardener who grows pot to help a cash-strapped widow – we asked the actor to describe the most desperate thing he’s ever done for money: “I did a sitcom for Disney with Marie Osmond and Betty White,” he told us. “That’s pretty desperate. Actually, I liked Marie and Betty, but the show was truly awful.” The little masterpiece Ferguson referred to was called Maybe This Time, “about two old bags and a bloke,” the Scotsman explained. As for his current sitcom, Ferguson says, “I have two seasons left on my contract, and then I’ll be done.” He quickly amended that statement with “I’ll do it as long as Drew does it – he’s my mate.” In Hollywood, fidelity is everything.

Dive Bar Gets 60 Minutes of Fame

For a couple of guys who come off preternaturally uptight on the air, 60 Minutes co-editors Mike Wallace and Steve Kroft sure know how to unwind. Last week the CBS veterans joined most of the show’s staff at Hogs & Heifers, the divey meatpacking-district saloon, to celebrate the birthday of Wallace’s assistant, Morgan Hertzan. Proving that he hasn’t been irrevocably hardened by years of journalism, the octogenarian Wallace generously ordered in a couple of pizzas for the horde of young revelers before calling it a night. Kroft stuck around, enjoying the company of some giggly young ladies who introduced him to the phenomenon known as the kamikaze shot.

Additional reporting by David Amsden.

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August 14, 2000