October 23, 2000

Glenn: Close to the Serpent

Everyone knows that Steve “the Crocodile Hunter” Irwin gets a kick out of taking his life in his hands, but he evidently enjoys putting celebs at risk as well. At the premiere party for TNT’s Baby, the film’s executive producer, Glenn Close, told us about a recent run-in she had with Irwin while they were filming a remake of South Pacific in North Queensland, Australia. “He let me hold the most dangerous snake on the planet,” she said. The serpent in question, a fierce snake, had to be handled with the utmost delicacy. “He dumped it out of a garbage pail,” said Close. “He knows them so well that he can approach them in a way that they’re okay with.” Irwin did have some very wise advice for the star, however. “He said, ‘If it goes like this imitating deadly snake motion, that’s bad.’ ” Even without Irwin around, filming wasn’t free of animal-consciousness. “We shot in a lagoon where they actually had to set up a crocodile guard – it’s this net they put down,” said Close. “But as one actor observed, how did they know there wasn’t already a crocodile in the enclosure?” No actors were harmed in the making of the film.

Shine On, You Crazy Admen

Some people out there actually don’t want to see Laetitia Casta’s breasts. The ad for Diamond.com currently running in all the magazines that shows the supermodel bedecked only in precious gems is a bit less risqué than its designers had originally planned. After such publications as Architectural Digest and The New York Times Magazine declined to print the ad, computer magic was used to add two extra strands of diamonds to Laetitia’s bosom. Even with the extra coverage, however, the picture is still a bit much for some folks. Last week, after extended negotiations with Diamond.com, NASDAQ refused to plaster the pride of France on its Times Square billboard. The ice dealers didn’t have any more luck getting Casta’s nearly nude image on a billboard at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, or in various locations in Miami and Los Angeles. The Wall Street Journal shied away from the spot as well. A business story about diamond advertising last month discussed the Diamond.com campaign in detail, but editors decided not to show the artwork.

Thurman Barks; Tarantino Bites

It’s not every day that you hear about a famous Hollywood guy paying for a bit role, but then again most thespians aren’t quite like that quirky Quentin Tarantino. At a Christie’s auction hosted by Uma Thurman and hubby Ethan Hawke last week benefiting the charity Room to Grow, the idiosyncratic actor-director shelled out $5,500 for a prize he could have left for someone a tad more needy: a walk-on role alongside Kelsey Grammer on Frasier. The event was primarily auctioning off photographs – including works donated by such celeb shutterbugs as Herb Ritts, William Wegman, and Patrick Demarchelier – but one attendee tells us that “when the Frasier role came up, the bidding started to get really heated. Everyone wanted it.” And Tarantino’s odd buy wasn’t the only surprise. When a technical malfunction prevented one of Wegman’s anthropomorphic Weimaraners from coming up onscreen, Thurman showed the well-to-dos – who included Griffin Dunne and Natasha Richardson – that she knows how to improvise as well as act. “Vanna White, eat your heart out,” the star proclaimed before sauntering through the crowd with the print, adding emphasis with a chorus of sultry barks. Laughs our source, “The bidding definitely got hot then, too.”

Modeling Duo Doing Remodeling

Who says that models aren’t smart and handy? Married Donna Karan-campaign stars Mark Vanderloo and Esther Canadas are budding do-it-yourself real-estate moguls. “They’ve bought three places in three years,” says Halstead Property Company’s Robin Horowitz, who with her broker sister Nancy Horowitz has sold the couple’s three fixer-uppers: a place on lower Fifth, a Gramercy Park penthouse, and a prewar condo on Park Avenue South. But to offset all those movers’ fees, the couple has made a tidy profit on each sale. Their secret? Vanderloo, who was a carpenter before he went pro as a beautiful person, did extensive household remodeling himself. They sold the Park Avenue condo for $1.5 million to the first person who saw it – public record shows that the models had paid just $925,000 for it two years back. The enterprising duo is now looking for a loft.

Bushsters Go for the Gore

Even if you’re for George W. Bush, you could be for Al Gore. At least that’s what some of Dubya’s supporters discovered when they took a poll on rateyourself.com. The test, titled “Which Presidential Candidate Is for You?,” quizzes Web surfers about their opinions on everything from the “death tax” to nafta, then computes how their responses measure up to the runners’ positions. After taking the poll, however, some dyed-in-the-wool Bush boosters were told that their values are actually more in line with the vice-president’s than with those of the Texas governor. In fact, disgruntled Dubya fans were moved to complain to Bush campaign worker Price Roe, who passed their concerns on to rateyourself.com president Amy Frome by e-mail. After taking the poll himself, however, Roe – who declined to comment – got a pro-Bush result. “Clearly it is not 100 percent rigged,” he wrote in a follow-up e-mail to Frome. But was the site set to favor Gore to begin with, or were those perplexed Bushites just … indecisive? A rateyourself.com spokeswoman told us, “If you really know who you want to vote for, there’s just no way you’d come out a Bush supporter when you’re a Gore supporter or vice versa.” Well, it is hard to tell the difference.

Giacchetto Mess Getting Grungier

If you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Dana Giacchetto, you don’t know Dana Giacchetto. The former money manager to the stars is being sued by Bruce Pavitt – co-founder of the Sub Pop record label, famous for grunge acts like Nirvana – for allegedly bilking him out of $250,000. According to a suit filed in U.S. District Court on October 6, Giacchetto persuaded Pavitt to buy $250,000 worth of Ford Models stock through Giacchetto’s Cassandra Group in 1997. Giacchetto, however, allegedly purchased only $200,000 worth of stock, leaving $50,000 unaccounted for. The lawsuit further claims that in 1999, Ford Models was directed to transfer all of Pavitt’s stock to other Cassandra clients, and Ford acquiesced without Pavitt’s consent. Ford is charged in the suit with “grossly negligent and reckless conduct.” Pavitt is seeking $250,000 cash from Giacchetto, or $200,000 in stock or cash from the Ford agency and $50,000 from Giacchetto. A lawyer for Giacchetto and a spokeswoman for Ford did not return calls.

SNL Makes Offer, Rescinds

Jimmy Fallon’s new gig as co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” doesn’t seem to have all in the comedy world reeling with laughter. According to a TV insider, Fallon at first turned down the chance to take over the prized post from Colin Quinn, leaving Lorne Michaels to search for a replacement in a hurry. The source says the SNL producer next contacted comedian Jeffrey Ross, who had auditioned for the gig and enthusiastically agreed to take it. “They asked Jeff to come by SNL to work out the contracts,” the source says, “but he was out in L.A. on business and couldn’t meet with them until the next day.” Which, apparently, was too late. When Ross got back to town, he was coolly informed by SNL that Fallon would be the new anchor. Neither the show nor Ross would comment on the situation, but Ross did say:”I went out for a beer with Jimmy last week, and I think he’s a great guy. And I watched the show, and I thought it was really funny.”

Burnt Offerings at Friars Roast

Not all the folks on the dais for the recent Friars Club roast of Rob Reiner have had glowing careers lately – so, naturally, the comics rubbed their faces in it. The festivities were barely under way when Freddie Roman told Rob “Vanilla Ice” Van Winkle, “Eminem just called … He said he’d give you back your career in eighteen months.” Late Night With Conan O’Brien star Triumph the Insult Comic Dog said he felt sympathy toward Ice, since “we both eat dog food.” The Robert Smigel-controlled pooch then said of Tyne Daly: “The pooper-scooper laws have cost Tyne a fortune for all the turds she’s laid on Broadway.” Of course, you needn’t even attend the roast to get burned. When Billy Crystal was expressing his affection for Reiner, he said, “I love him the way Whitney Houston loves a good Thai stick.” The real barbs were saved for the guest of honor. Adam Ferrara noted that Reiner’s critical catastrophe North “went straight to eight-track,” while Crystal observed that “the us in The Story of Us were the only two people that saw the movie.” Billy himself didn’t get off unscathed. While discussing the lack of star power at the event, roast master Michael McKean smirked, “Billy originally planned to appear on videotape, but circumstances forced him to join us in person.”

Sweet Smell of Marisa Berenson

Not only does Marisa Berenson know how to preserve her legacy as a looker, but she knows how to peddle it to the public as well: She’s developing a new line of anti-aging skin-care products. “I’ve been into holistic medicine since I was young,” she explains. The products will contain ingredients harvested in France only one month out of the year and patented exclusively for her as-yet-untitled line. Berenson also plans to launch a signature perfume – “a special blend I’ve been using forever.” Although the fragrance possesses no anti-aging properties that we know of, Berenson claims that “everyone from air hostesses to cabdrivers stops me to say how delicious it smells.”

Additional reporting by Carl Swanson, David Amsden, and Abbey Goodman.

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October 23, 2000