August 21, 2000

Casper Van Dien Gets a Mouthful

Casper Van Dien knows that an actor’s most important tool is minty-fresh breath. While shooting a steamy promo for the NBC soap Titans with Yasmine Bleeth, the young thespian displayed a single-minded obsession: “They’re on this daybed, and he keeps yelling out, ‘Binaca! Binaca! Binaca!’ ” an on-set spy tells us. According to the tipster, when a staff member offered him an Altoid, Van Dien demurred, explaining, “It’s just not the same.” Apparently, the star knew what he was doing; he and Bleeth got along so well that “when the director yelled ‘Cut,’ ” says the source, “Casper looked up from the bed and said, ‘I can’t!’ ” Before the shoot, Van Dien’s oral obsession had been the cause of even more high jinks. Because filming was done in the ultracostly Mozart room of the Dorothy Chandler house in L.A., all involved were admonished not to touch the furnishings, which once adorned the composer’s study in Austria. Van Dien, however, stuck a piece of well-chewed gum right on an end table. After receiving the evil eye from a crew member, the actor – whose rep denied this story – exclaimed, “I was going to pick it up!” Sure you were, Casper.

Chambers Runs Waters’s Stills

Never mind all those stuffy old masters at Las Vegas’s Bellagio: Manhattan’s own Chambers Hotel has John Waters. The David Rockwell-designed 56th Street site – slated to open in October – has acquired a series of Waters’s photographs for its permanent art collection. The group of photos, titled “Hit Your Mark,” was shot by the director in 1998 while he was making Pecker, in which Edward Furlong played a young oddball who becomes the darling of the New York art scene. If you don’t recognize Furlong and the rest of the cast in the artwork, that’s because Waters – currently in town to promote his latest flick, Cecil B. DeMented – snapped pictures only of the actors’ feet and the masking-tape “marks” they stood on. Waters’s dealer explains, “His photographs have the rigor of formal abstract painting but also capture the linoleum floors, stained concrete, and rugs of the makeshift film sets of the films that this transgressive artist is known for.” To us, they just look cool.

Debra Messing’s Grace-Less Style

Will & Grace star Debra Messing doesn’t mess around when it comes to her Emmy dress. According to a fashion source, the actress’s heart was so set on wearing a Vera Wang burgundy gown to the September awards show that upon learning that the designer might be unable to jet out to Hollywood in time to custom-fit the frock, her stylist began a campaign to entice local designers into creating a similar gown. The source says the stylist contacted such notable L.A.-based designers as Richard Tyler and Bradley Bayou in hopes that they could cut the garment. While Wang wouldn’t comment, Messing’s rep deems the story false, saying that the design evolved from a sketch that Messing and Wang worked on together. “The dress Debra will wear to the Emmys is a total Vera Wang original,” she says. The flack denies Bayou was involved at all, and says that Tyler was brought in only to help answer “a minor fabric inquiry.” We’re sure she’ll look lovely.

O.G.’S Hit For Cash at Book Bash

Victoria Gotti may have three novels to her credit, but her friends from the old neighborhood are still trying to get used to the infamously lackluster quality of book parties. At the celebration for the author’s latest tome, Superstar, at Baldoria last week, several nattily suited gentlemen patiently gave their drink orders to the bartender, only to discover that they’d missed the open bar by a minute or less. “They were all these big toupée-type guys right out of central casting from The Sopranos,” says a witness. “They’d been tipping pretty big, but the bartender wouldn’t cut them any slack.” According to the partygoer, one “absolutely hairy” Gotti associate muttered, “This never would have happened in John’s day.” And there’s nothing funny about that.

KYLE SAYS “I MIGHT”: It’s almost a case of life imitating art. Kyle Maclachlan – whose character on Sex and the City has just gotten engaged to Kristin Davis’s Charlotte – has given his real-life sweetheart, publicist Desiree Gruber, a diamond ring. “It’s a pre-engagement ring. We’re thinking of actually getting engaged around Christmas,” says the statuesque brunette, who represents Naomi Campbell and Ian Schrager. Maclachlan had previously been involved with a string of high-profile women, including Lara Flynn Boyle, Laura Dern, and Linda Evangelista, before meeting Gruber at a chiropractor’s office last year. Looks like they’ve worked out their kinks.

Additional reporting by David Amsden.

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August 21, 2000