December 4, 2000

Andrew Gives Times Photog the Royal Treatment

Prince Andrew may maintain a squeaky-clean image, but sometimes even a prince can have a less-than-photogenic day. On a recent visit to New York, the once-randy blue blood attended an event at the Rainbow Room hosted by the Royal Academy of Arts. When famously courteous photographer Bill Cunningham, known for his work in the New York Times’ Style section, tried to snap the prince’s picture, Andrew’s behavior turned less than princely, according to an academy insider. “He was really rude to Bill, very brusquely demanding privacy at this not-so-private event and complaining about being photographed.” According to the source, the academy, royal or not, delights in Cunningham’s coverage and was so concerned with his treatment that it quickly penned an apology to him. Though an academy spokesperson denied knowledge of the incident, Cunningham confirms that he got a note, but said it was “because I came too late for the photo op and thus wasn’t able to get Prince Andrew’s picture.”

Clinton Teaches Swinging at Night

Bill Clinton isn’t merely the most entertaining president we’ve had. He’s also the ultimate golfing pal. Legendary record producer Jimmy Jam tells us he got to know the casual Clinton – is there any other? – when the two played eighteen holes at Hillcrest in Los Angeles recently. “He’s the perfect little golf buddy,” says Jam. “If you hit a bad shot, he’d put another one down and say, ‘Let me show you what you did wrong.’ ” And in case the president’s advice wasn’t good enough, they brought along former pro Amy Alcott, since “he likes to learn while he’s playing,” Jam says. Since Jam had taken the day off from working on Janet Jackson’s next album – which he hopes to complete by March – he took the opportunity to get a presidential message to the pop star through an e-mail pager: “He said, ‘I love her! Tell her I’d love to meet her sometime.’ ” Always the avid player, Clinton was not distracted from his game when evening crept in. “By the time we got to the eighteenth hole,” says Jam, “the Secret Service guys had their flashlights out and we’d just hit our balls and say, ‘Sounds good.’ ” Even under those circumstances, Clinton emerged victorious.

All the Art That’s Fit to Print

Is it a coincidence that two of the subjects profiled by Brooke de Ocampo (pictured) in her new book, Bright Young Things, have the same artwork in their New York apartments? Upon close inspection, it appears that both Nicolas Berggruen and Karen and Ferdinand Groos have identical Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings. The one in Berggruen’s bachelor pad is not identified because it is in the background, and the Groos’s version is credited as simply “a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.” So, is one the original and one a print, or are they the same? A rep at Assouline, the book’s publisher, asked if we were insinuating that the art was placed there specifically to perk up the apartments for the photo shoots. She said it, we didn’t. She then went on to point out that one is framed and one is not, and that these two parties are “victims of liking the same art.” And that’s the worst kind of victim to be.

Carlisle: Still Got the Beat

Plenty has happened to her since standing atop a waterskiing pyramid in the Go-Go’s “Vacation” video, but just when you thought you’d seen the last of Belinda Carlisle, you’ll be seeing a lot more of her. A music-industry source tells us that Carlisle shot a spread for Playboy last week. Although Carlisle’s rep refused to confirm the story, the rep did crow that the magazine has been “after her for years.” Playboy is in denial as well, saying that it does not comment on upcoming pictorials, though it did fess up to talks with Carlisle about lending her body to the mag. You go-go, girl.

Shelby Bryan: Hassled by the Man

Anna Wintour might want to pick up the check next time she dines out with boyfriend J. Shelby Bryan. The telecom tycoon, who recently resigned as CEO of ICG Communications, owes more than eight grand in back property taxes. According to an announcement for the 1999-2000 Suffolk County tax-lien sale published by treasurer John C. Cochrane in the East Hampton Star last week, Bryan neglected to pay his tax last year. If he fails to pony up the $8,364.16 by December 14, the treasurer’s office told us, a lien will be taken against Bryan’s home on Lily Pond Lane – where he has such swank neighbors as Martha Stewart. This unfortunate turn comes just days after Bryan’s company was forced to file for bankruptcy, even as the mogul was negotiating his divorce from his wife, Katherine. A spokesman for Bryan says simply, “Those taxes have already been paid.” The treasurer’s office, however, sticks to its numbers, adding that a charge of 10 percent has already been applied to Bryan’s debt and that another point will be tacked on if Bryan doesn’t pay by December 30.

Literati Gripe, Grin at Awards Ceremony

As part of our ongoing attempt to fulfill our cultural mission, we breezed by the National Book Awards at the Marriott Marquis and asked some of the finalists about the meaning of literary awards. Fiction-prize hopeful Alan Lightman – whose novel The Diagnosis was beaten out by Susan Sontag’s In America – said he was glad that the winners would be announced before dinner this year instead of after, because “at least we can eat dinner and not puke on the table.” Even before nabbing the award for young people’s literature, Homeless Bird author Gloria Whelan was doing her damnedest to remain gracious: “It’s been so much fun that I can almost, almost say I’d be just as happy for any of the others. Almost. I can’t quite get it all the way out.” One person who really understood what being a writer is all about was the evening’s emcee, Steve Martin, who told the audience that since publishing his first novel, “I get seated at restaurants with people who haven’t picked up a check in twenty years.”

Brokaw’s New Mirror Image

Tom Brokaw has found the spot for his dream house, but there’s a little thing standing in his way. According to real-estate insiders, the NBC “Nightly News” anchor has been trying to buy a large parcel of waterfront property on prestigious Mirror Lake in the Adirondacks, which used to be summer home to such upscale clans as the Whitneys. Unfortunately, there’s a small home with a five-year, $150,000 lease sitting on the land, and try as he might, the newsman doesn’t seem to be able to make a deal with the renters. “It’s really odd, because the deal is worth millions, and here’s this relatively minor sum, but it’s holding everything up,” says the source. When the firm responsible for the small lease was contacted, representatives told us that they had indeed “heard” that Brokaw was looking in the area. They also added that “Tom Brokaw is just another name to us up here.” The vast property he covets is currently owned by Art Lussi, who lent it to the Clintons when they visited the area. Perhaps Brokaw should appeal to Hillary to get those pesky tenants off his spread.

A Tangled Web for Jennifer Grey

After suffering the ups and downs of fame, Jennifer Grey is certainly a trouper – but she leaves the truly grueling work to others. At the premiere of Miramax’s Bounce, the lovely Grey told us about a particularly harrowing shot in her upcoming flick Revelation, co-starring Tim Curry. “I have a scene where I’m tied to a divan and this Rasta guy is pulling up my shirt, dumping a shoebox full of spiders all over my stomach,” she said. “These were real spiders. They were brought in from some special place where they had supposedly been de-venomized.” After Grey finished describing her “horrific” experience, we asked what had gone through her mind at the time – and then the truth came out. She laughed, confessing, “I was thinking, ‘Thank God I have a body double!’ They put plastic spiders on me just in case the real ones hadn’t been fully de-venomized.” The prop mistress, however, got the real thing. “She wanted to do it,” Grey insisted. And how did the lucky woman land that gig? “I had to find someone whose stomach was close to mine, so I auditioned everyone,” said Grey. Surely, the thrill of a lifetime.

O-Town: Slippery When Wet

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without some shenanigans from all those precious boy bands. First, havoc struck the set of O-Town’s first music video last week. The boys from Clive Davis’s new label, J Records, were filming a dance scene for the video of their single “Liquid Dreams” – which is set to air on ABC and MTV this week – when a technical snafu caused the set to flood with water. According to a source close to the band, the boys and their comely dancers suddenly found themselves up to their waists in the drink and filming had to be stopped. “The dancers were falling on their asses,” said the source. “It also became a little too sexy – it was the ultimate wet T-shirt contest.” Meanwhile, the Backstreet Boys were breaking hearts at the LIFEbeat World aids Day 2000 concert at the Beacon – by failing to show up. The band was slated to be the surprise guest of the evening, assisting Carson Daly with the heady task of introducing 98 Degrees to the screaming fans. But they canceled out at the last moment to attend their own record-release party. So where was ‘N Sync in all this?

HAMPTON EX FILES: This summer looks to be a particularly heated one in Montauk, and we haven’t even consulted our almanacs. According to real-estate sources, Sandy Brant has just purchased a 120-year-old Stanford White house from Dick Cavett for close to $5 million. Entertainingly, it sits just doors away from Paul Morrisey’s home, which Sandy’s ex-husband Peter Brant happens to rent each summer with his professionally stunning second wife, Victoria’s Secret model Stephanie Seymour. Should make for interesting mornings at the Farmer’s Market.

Additional reporting by Paige Herman and Abbey Goodman.

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December 4, 2000