August 28, 2000

Mort Zuckerman’s Austin-Like Powers

Austin Powers would be proud of the way Mort Zuckerman is handling his divorce. Just a week after splitting with Whitney curator Marla Prather, the Daily News publisher was making the scene in Los Angeles flanked by an ex-flame. He was escorted by Bianca Jagger to a Sunday-afternoon media party thrown in Malibu by NBC News vice-president David Corvo and his wife, New York Times writer Michele Willens. A witness at the mingle-fest – which was attended by the likes of William Baldwin, Washington Post publisher Donald Graham, and Ron Silver – reports that Bianca “was really on Mort’s arm, close enough that there was plenty of whispering going on.” Bianca remained latched to Zuckerman into the night, when the two went together to a soirée for People for the American Way at the Century Plaza Hotel. A source there tells us that Bianca remained Velcroed to the new bachelor while Zuckerman furiously worked the party, reluctantly unfastening herself only when it was time to call it a night. But Zuckerman slams the reports as ridiculous and insists, “We were just a couple of old friends chatting.”

Hearst Returns to the Masses

Being a former revolutionist-fugitive-heiress isn’t as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be. Patty Hearst should know. The one-time Symbionese Liberation Army moll (pictured) was treated like a common prole when she arrived at Lotus for Paper magazine’s party honoring John Waters’s Cecil B. DeMented. Although the doormen let such automatically recognizable luminaries as Fran Lebowitz and gallery owner Tony Shafrazi slip directly into the VIP area, Hearst was stopped in her tracks. “But I’m in the movie,” a witness quotes her as saying. “I’m an actress.” The velvet-rope men, however, “were completely incredulous toward her claim,” says the source. “They pointed her upstairs where all the losers were, and she started going up. That was a painful vision.” As Hearst disappeared among the mass of humanity, one of the doormen was heard to utter, “There’s no way that woman is an actress.” The reformed revolutionary did eventually gain access to the VIP area, and a rep for Paper maintains that the mix-up at the door could not have been the magazine’s fault since it didn’t hire any security for the party. Lotus co-owner Jeffrey Jah insists that the gatekeepers in question were hired by Artisan Entertainment – which distributes DeMented – whereas an Artisan rep lays the blame on the restaurant. Makes us wish we’d been brainwashed.

Sorvino’s Wide Array of Talent

If you’re working with an actor as big as Paul Sorvino, some accommodations must be made. When the robust thespian had trouble squeezing himself into the driver’s seat of a Cadillac while shooting the mobster comedy Plan B with Diane Keaton in Brooklyn recently, a crack team of crewmen were called upon to jury-rig it. “He kept complaining, ‘I can’t drive like this,’ ” a witness reports, “but the seat could only go back so far.” Eventually, says the source, “they had to unhook the front seat from its tracking and wedge it back with apple boxes.” Sorvino, an amateur opera singer, was otherwise in high spirits, alarming his colleagues by occasionally belting out arias at the top of his lungs. He even took time to give acting pointers to a few tyros. “These guys were supposed to be cutting off his thumbs,” says the source, “and he was telling them, ‘That’s not acting! Don’t feel it, just be it!’ ” Sorvino’s rep, Leslie Sloane-Zelnik, explains the trouble with the Caddy thus: “It isn’t surprising. Paul’s like six foot two – he’s all leg.” As for his impromptu vocal performances, “I sat through one of his concerts once,” she says. “He’s actually pretty good.”

Every Step He Takes…

If you’ve always wanted to get inside Sting’s home, perhaps you should consider learning the Lambada. Just ask Leandro Carvalho. The Equinox instructor, known around town for his “Brazilian Groove” class, stumbled upon some luck in L.A. recently when he was introduced to Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler. After meeting Carvalho, Styler asked the professional hip-shaker if he wouldn’t mind dropping by the couple’s Malibu residence to give a private class to their 16-year-old daughter, Mickey, and “a few friends.” But Carvalho was aghast to see, arrayed in the sand upon his arrival, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Bjorn Borg, and John McEnroe. Nervous, he pulled himself together long enough to lead the fearsome foursome through a conga-line of kicks and shimmies. No word on whether Sting found the class as titillating as Tantric orgasms, but he did find it pleasurable enough to invite Carvalho to hang out backstage at a concert he was performing the same night.

Comp Snafu Rocks McCartney Benefit

What if you threw a celebrity studded fund-raiser and nobody came? That’s the plight that recently befell the Garland Appeal. The breast-cancer foundation of Paul McCartney’s late wife, Linda, failed to raise a single penny after an alleged software glitch at promoter Glenn Mercante’s office. Mercante and his partner in Thunderclub Event Marketing, Gerardo Velez – better known as a onetime Jimi Hendrix drummer – were expecting upwards of 4,000 paying spectators at Roseland last week to see an invitation-only concert featuring such diverse performers as Simon LeBon, Nile Rogers, Leslie West, and Latin legends Chico O’Farrill and Eumir Deodato. But barely 1,000 turned up. “I was totally perplexed how a show of that magnitude could bring in only 1,000 people,” Mercante told us. He later figured out that nearly every one of the 5,000 invitations sent out was marked with the wrong address. When he transferred his database from Microsoft Word to a program used to print labels, Mercante claims, a glitch in the program coupled names with the wrong addresses, dooming the event. Mercante says those who did show up found out about the concert by word of mouth, and insists that he covered his expenses – about $40,000. He asks, “Can you imagine what a major screw-up this was?” Only if we try very hard.

Sisqó’s Silicon Surprise

Because we won’t rest until every last celebrity on earth has a stake in Silicon Alley, this just in: Rapper Sisqó (pictured) – the “thong-thong-thong-thong-thong” guy – has just signed on to be the spokesman for ClickRadio. Fans of the agile blond rhymer can expect to see him on plenty of future advertising for the digital radio service, which listeners customize by downloading music from the Internet or CD-rom. Any forthcoming Sisqó songs will be available to ClickRadio subscribers along with the entire catalogues of Universal and BMG, the first major record labels to link up with the company. As far as corporate suits, ClickRadio vice-president of entertainment Bill Freston has recently snatched up key personnel from his own brother, MTV head Tom Freston. So far, three former VPs from the network’s music-and-talent division have all made the leap to cyberspace. We hope none of them are still on speaking terms with Carson Daly.

Judge Throws “Pit Bull” a Bone

Pit-bull lawyer Judd Burstein has been tossed quite a treat. After losing a high-profile $732,000 case last year that Rommy Revson, millionaire inventor of the Scrunchi ponytail holder, filed against her former attorney, whom she accused of overcharging her, Burstein was doubly dogged when Judge Denny Chin slapped him with a $50,000 fine for excessively aggressive “Rambo lawyering.” Though Burstein coughed up the 50 grand, he immediately filed an appeal, which was just decided in his favor. The accused attorney now faces a retrial against Burstein and was ordered to reimburse his adversary $50,000 plus interest. While one might presume that Burstein would be giddy at this victory, think again – he’s written Judge Chin a letter demanding a public apology. Says Burstein, “Just because someone dons judicial robes, he still has an obligation to correct past wrongs.” Judge Chin had no comment.

Switching Geres; Mickey’s Mansion

Talk about a high-flying celebrity. A few of the weekenders who ventured from East Hampton back to Manhattan last Sunday via seaplane didn’t notice anything unusual about their flight until a curiously familiar voice circulated through the cabin claiming to be the plane’s pilot. The travelers were astounded when the cockpit doors flew open to reveal Richard Gere. But don’t worry: Despite the awful box-office performance of his new movie Autumn in New York, Gere hasn’t given up his day job. He was just getting a private tour of the cockpit.

ROURKE’S “BORDELLO”: When Mickey Rourke moved out of the Upper West Side apartment he’d been renting for the past decade, it took only one hour for Citi Habitats to find an eager soul to take the actor-pugilist’s place. Newly installed in the 73rd Street one-bedroom is a Texas businessman. The lucky longhorn is paying $5,200 a month for the 1,200-square-foot digs on the parlor level of a nineteenth-century brownstone, which has been home not only to Rourke but to Harrison Ford as well. The new tenant will be saving some money by keeping Rourke’s quirky décor in place. A visitor who’s seen the apartment likens it to “a New Orleans bordello,” because of the preponderance of velvet, satin, and silk in varying hues of red and purple. Meanwhile, no one seems to know where Rourke has gone, but we’re told they adore him in France.

RAINED OUT: It’s not often that lack of rain ruins a weekend trip to the Hamptons. Actor Jeremy Piven was all geared up to attend the Mercedes-Benz Formula One kick-off party last Saturday in Bridgehampton, figuring he’d be able to break from filming Miramax’s Serendipity with co-stars John Cusack and Bridget Moynahan. However, since his scenes can only be shot in soggy conditions, Piven was stuck in New York awaiting the downpour that the heavens failed to produce during the week.

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Brooke Gosin.

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August 28, 2000