May 21, 2001

What’s Next, Gwynnie? Strippers in Love?
If Gwyneth Paltrow ever needs to moonlight, she may have found the perfect place last week. The Hollywood darling showed up at everyone’s favorite pleasure palace, Scores, on Monday night with a few male buddies and enjoyed the bevy of bare-breasted beauties as close up as the law allows. Rather than sit way over in the club’s famous Champagne Room VIP area, the comely lass found a spot right in front of the stage in full view of all her fellow erotica enthusiasts. According to one very talented performer, Paltrow was a class act all the way, treating her pals to table dance after table dance. “She was so pretty,” the dancer gushes, “and so nice.” While the women of Scores knew exactly who they were dancing for, the maître d’ wasn’t quite so savvy. When Paltrow arrived at the East Side ogle joint, the usually keen-eyed gatekeeper asked if she had come to audition.

Did You Use the Same Trick to Make Kim Basinger Disappear?
Whoever said chivalry is dead was absolutely right – at least where Alec Baldwin is concerned. Guests attending the recent Broadway premiere of 42nd Street were slightly embarrassed for the mysterious blonde who accompanied the recently separated actor to the black-tie opening. It seems Baldwin – who was surrounded by the likes of Liza Minnelli, Rosie O’Donnell, Tony Randall, Donald and Ivana Trump (separately), Robin Byrd, and all the resulting paparazzi – apparently did not want to be seen with his date. Eager to take to the Ford Center’s red carpet by himself, Baldwin, we hear, shooed the unfortunate girl off, requesting that she busy herself by picking up their tickets. “She was literally standing in the corner holding the tickets while he walked down the red carpet – alone,” notes one bemused observer at the event, hosted by Harry Winston and Gotham mag. Baldwin’s rep did not return repeated calls for comment, but we hear he did allow his date to sit next to him during the performance. Meanwhile, Darren Star, Chris Noth, and Cynthia Nixon were lucky to even get seats. Apparently the trio was held up on the set of Sex and the City and, like all sensible New Yorkers, realized their best bet at rush hour was to go underground. In full regalia, the glamorous group was seen humbly straphanging before emerging into the spotlight. Welcome to the real New York.

How to Protect a Miramax Secret
Say what you will about A. J. Benza (pictured), but he knows which side of his bread’s got the butter. When we ran into Benza at the party for his new Talk Miramax Books tome, Fame: Ain’t It a Bitch, we asked the former Daily News gossip columnist if he could explain the virtual love affair between Harvey Weinstein and the press that seems to have developed over the past year or so. “When I had my column, I never gave Harvey negative press,” he said. “I took care of him.” Why, you may ask, would a journalist tend to the public image of a studio head and publisher? It’s as simple as could be. “I always knew I’d do a book with him,” Benza told us. “I always knew that if it was written the right way, he’d make a movie out of it.” Indeed, Miramax secured the film rights to Benza’s effort just a few weeks ago. “I had a lot of shit on Harvey,” he continued, “but I would never hurt the guy. Never. He knows that.” Looks like our movie will be showing only in hell.

Nazi Costume Unsettles Actor
Not everyone in show business has Mel Brooks’s knack for getting a laugh out of Nazis. Stanley Tucci (pictured), who stars as Adolf Eichmann in the upcoming HBO flick Conspiracy, tells us he got physically ill the first time he put on Eichmann’s SS uniform. The movie tells the story of the 90-minute luncheon meeting in a mansion outside Berlin in 1942 where the “Final Solution” was set in motion. According to Tucci, when he arrived at that very mansion in his Nazi outfit, the experience was just too much. “Crossing the campground, my stomach just turned over,” he says. “I saw all the military vehicles, and I suddenly got sick to my stomach.” In fact, the uniforms proved to be trouble for many of the German extras. According to a source close to the film, the Teutonic thespians were nervous about wearing Nazi garb and giving the infamous salute, since both are illegal in Germany. Tucci says the experience was no picnic for his co-star Kenneth Branagh, either. “We talked about how we felt so empty and so frustrated,” Tucci relates. “There was nothing to connect to emotionally, because there was something missing in these people. It leaves you feeling very uncomfortable and unsure of yourself as an actor.” Conspiracy debuts on May 19.

Is Channel 2 Two-faced?
We hope WCBS newswoman Annika Pergament’s guest role as a news anchor on The Sopranos prepared her for real-life shiftiness. It looks like WCBS will not be renewing her contract when it expires in June – despite indications to the contrary. A station insider has sent us a copy of a letter from Channel 2 general manager Tony Petitti, addressed to Pergament and dated March 13, that gave “formal written notification of Station’s desire to continue to utilize her services after the expiration” of her contract. In addition, the letter forbade her from negotiating with any other station. However, just three weeks later, Pergament was informed by her agent that the station had changed its mind and, adding insult to injury, husband and WCBS reporter Michael O’Looney was told the next day that he’d also be dumped when his contract expires in September. Pergament confirmed receipt of the letter, commenting only that she wasn’t given a reason for the change of heart. “I’m baffled, but am looking forward to moving on to something better,” she says. A station rep explains that “another opportunity came up that we decided to pursue,” and that the language in the letter “is part of our standard boilerplate for contracts.” Looks like it’s time to call in Tony . . .

He Saw Them Standing There
Just when you thought every last possible scrap of Fab Four memorabilia had been bought and sold, a little more turns up. Later this year, the Pop International Galleries in SoHo will hold an exhibition of 23 color photos of the Beatles that have been hidden away ever since they were shot in 1968. The lucky photographer, Tom Murray, tells us he was a shutterbug for the London Sunday Times when a pal of his called saying, “I’m shooting this band today. You should come along.” When Murray arrived at the location in London, he relates, “I saw George Harrison standing there and I thought, Holy shit, it’s the Beatles.” Murray spent the day getting shots of the boys at play, one of which shows Paul McCartney nearly falling off a rooftop above the Thames with John Lennon reaching out to save him. The negatives, however, went into a drawer and remained there for nearly three decades. When Murray finally got around to having his negatives appraised, Christie’s pegged the value at $2.3 million. Although the exhibition won’t happen until at least June, the prints can be viewed by appointment. They’re expected to go for $1,800 apiece. Plus tax, man.

Gramercy Park Wars, Part II
The internal feuding at the National Arts Club we recently reported about rages on. You’ll recall that a fringe group of members – who’ve now dubbed themselves Concerned Artists of the National Arts Club – has been mounting a freakish campaign to stop the NAC’s lawsuit against Gramercy Park Trust, which alleges that a group of high-school students was forced to leave the greens on the basis of race. “Stop the lawsuit for the Blacks!!!” demands one recent unsigned missive that was sent to NAC members. The Concerned Artists charge that NAC president Aldon James is frittering away funds and giving special privileges to “the Jews who whisper into aldon’s sic ear.” But their racist antics don’t stop with mere letters. Harlem Opera singer Bridgett Hooks was about to open the club’s annual meeting with a song recently when, according to James, several Concerned Artists began to boo her and scream “Sit down!” “It’s sad,” he says. “I don’t understand it.” Club member Alexandra Styron, daughter of William, tells us there may be real issues regarding the NAC management that should be addressed, but that the fringe group’s actions “are just so appalling.” James says he has no intention of debating the disgruntled, since “you don’t have hissing matches with snakes.” Nope, that’s our job.

Does Tommy Lee Measure Up?
If you think larger-than-life bad boy Tommy Lee doesn’t care about length, think again. Security guards at Ian Schrager’s hyperstylish Hudson Hotel were alarmed recently when they noticed a suspicious-looking man wandering about the courtyard at two in the morning with a tape measure. Turns out it was just the rocker’s bodyguard, who was taking down the dimensions of some daybeds his boss found so exquisite he wanted them made for his own home… . Meanwhile, the beds will be hopping at another Schrager joint this week as the Paramount celebrates its tenth anniversary. In addition to the standard dinner, cocktails, and Samantha Ronson D.J.’ing, the midtown hotel will be providing suites for private slumber parties equipped with M&Ms, pajamas, and PlayStations. Among the lucky recipients of keys that night are heiresses Casey Johnson and Paris Hilton, MTV House of Style host Molly Sims, and Kim Stewart, daughter of Rod. Anyone up for a game of spin the bottle?

Additional reporting by Aric Chen.

Contact the Intelligencer here.

May 21, 2001