May 28, 2001

It’s No Party Dating Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s been exhibiting some erratic dating patterns of late, so here’s a little warning for her potential amours. A friend of Hewitt’s ex-boyfriend, LFO front man Rich Cronin, tells us their two-year relationship ended last month because Hewitt is “very insecure and very jealous.” According to the tipster, Hewitt – who’s been linked of late with The Full Monty’s Patrick Wilson, The Music Man’s Craig Bierko, even Alec Baldwin – is so attached to her mother that the starlet has spent only one night sleeping under a different roof in the past year. “He had to sleep in the same house with her mother all the time,” says the source, adding that there’s very little chance the actress was ever romantic with Baldwin, since “her mother would never allow her to be with such an older man.” Mom aside, we’re told the green-eyed monster played a prominent role in the relationship’s demise. “One time Rich was leaving an in-store appearance and got into a van with another woman,” the source relates. “Love flipped out and made a scene, wanting to know who the woman was.” Turns out the sexy stranger worked for Cronin’s record label. While Hewitt’s reps declined to comment, Cronin told us, “All I can say is that we’re no longer together and that I need to focus 100 percent on my new album.” It’s all about the art with these kids.

The Oldest, Most Lecherous Living Senator
After nearly a century of slapping down liberals, hippies, peaceniks, and the like, Strom Thurmond still has an eye for the ladies. The oldest living senator was making his way through the Capitol at lunchtime recently when one lucky visitor caught his eye. “He was coming out of the elevator and could barely walk, so two people had to prop him up,” says an eyewitness. The 98-year-old Thurmond then stopped in his tracks, eyed an attractive blonde, and, with that uncanny, rare smile of his, uttered, “Oh, look at the pretty girl!” Needless to say, onlookers were horrified. “My jaw dropped,” says the source. “I couldn’t believe this geezer was using what little strength he had left to stare at her up and down! She was so embarrassed.” Reports confirm the visitor was not Anna Nicole Smith.

Sopranos Punk Aborts Strangling
The onscreen violence in The Sopranos’ final episode of the season was only slightly more gruesome than some of the antics viewers didn’t get to see. We were chatting up Jason Cerbone, who plays Jackie Jr., when he told us about an incident in which he unintentionally pulled a Mafia-style move on Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who plays Meadow Soprano. “We had this romantic scene on her bed in her dorm room where she falls asleep with my scarf around her neck and I’m supposed to try to pull it off her,” Cerbone tells us. Unfortunately, the garment had been rigged so that it would stay put no matter how much force the actor exerted. “I was going easy at first, but then the director started telling me to pull it harder,” Cerbone relates. “So I started pulling harder and harder and I can see that I’m choking the poor girl, but she didn’t want to break character and no one else could see what was happening because the camera was on my face.” Finally, Cerbone decided that the delicate Meadow had taken enough abuse: “I just said, ‘All right, that’s it. I gotta stop.’ ” Wise decision, guy.

Grace Jones Wobbles, But She Won’t Fall Down
Apparently Grace Jones really needed some R&R when she checked into a hotel spa in Naples, Italy, recently. When the eighties oddity hobbled into the lobby at 4:30 in the afternoon, a horrified onlooker was shocked by her disheveled state. “She showed up in a bathrobe, shower cap, and sunglasses, and was moving really funny,” says the eyewitness. “She looked bugged-out and completely out of it.” According to the source, the Studio 54 relic – who was arrested then acquitted on drug-possession charges in 1990 – was so discombobulated that signing her name in the guest registry seemed an impossible task. “She looked at the pen like a space cadet and insisted her assistant sign in for her,” our source adds. Her lawyer first confirmed Jones was in Naples at the hotel in question for a performance at nearby Pompeii. Then he denied it, insisting she was in Cannes instead. “I don’t believe she was intoxicated,” the attorney continued. “I mean, Grace is Grace, you can say whatever you want about her. She denies the rumor.” As if to prove that indeed we could say whatever we wanted about Grace, he then claimed not to represent her, referring us to another rep just before supposedly forgetting the name when we asked him to repeat it.

Quelle Horreur! Affleck Wears Banana
Just what would force a jet-setting celeb to don a $30 sweater? Allison Janney, the Emmy Award-winning actress of The West Wing, arrived in New York from the West Coast recently for tapings with Conan O’Brien, Rosie O’Donnell, Charlie Rose, and the Today show. But unfortunately, we hear, the star realized she had everywhere to go but nothing to wear, and scrambled to pull together a wardrobe that included shoes, handbags, and clothing from none other than Banana Republic. Also falling back on the available-on-every-corner clothier was Ben Affleck, whose luggage was lost on a recent trip to Toronto (it’s nice to know that happens to celebs sometimes, too). Affleck’s folks quickly assembled a few outfits to keep the clothing-challenged actor dressed from our very own Rockefeller Center outlet, and we hear the Pearl Harbor hunk even paid full price. Eat your heart out, Donatella.

Broadway’s Itchy New Horror
If you’ve ever wanted to see a mohawked freak do the Time Warp while wearing just a sock on his genitals, you may be in luck. We’ve learned that Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (né Michael Balzary) has been in discussions with Broadway producer Jordan Roth about taking over the role of Riff Raff in Broadway’s Tony-nominated revival of The Rocky Horror Show (which has already bagged Saturday Night Live comedienne Ana Gasteyer for the role of Columbia). Although reps for both Flea and the show insist nothing’s confirmed, Roth says the rocker’s portrayal of the musical’s henchman “would bring fresh energy to the role and bring in people who aren’t traditional theatergoers.” Let’s just hope the new crowd doesn’t wave lighters during the ballads.

Jeez, Seen The Producers Yet?
Being one of the country’s top playwrights just gets so damned wearisome. When we swung by the premiere of the Showtime original movie Sister Mary Explains It All, Christopher Durang told us all about it. “As I’m getting older, I go through periods of getting tired of theater and I just can’t go to shows for a while,” said Durang, who penned the black comedy starring Diane Keaton, Laura San Giacomo, and Brian Benben. When we asked Durang to name even one truly daring play produced on Broadway in the past ten years, he took a long pause and then responded, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I have an answer to that question,” before adding that he did enjoy Proof. So what the heck’s become of the theater? “Broadway’s more commercial, blah-blah-blah,” Durang deadpanned. When asked what inspires his often disturbing work, the writer told us, “It’s a cumulative kind of anger. I’m not quick to anger as a person, but I’m also not quick to forget.” You’re all alone in this town, pal.

Star Trappings Silence Big Mouth
The thorn in Star Jones’s side has finally been removed. The co-banterer of The View – with Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Lisa Ling, and Joy Behar – has been complaining repeatedly on the morning coffee klatch about her Upper East Side apartment: the noisy kids running down the hallway, the havoc that construction across the street has brought into her life (we can only assume she’s referring to the recently completed Sotheby’s headquarters that faces her building). Now the professional talker – who recently ranked number one on peta’s worst-dressed list for proclaiming the first thing she’d save from a fire is her mink – is moving out, with all her furs and her impossibly large shoe collection. Jones’s rep confirmed the move, but denied both the aforementioned complaints. Note to new neighbors: Soundproof your walls now.

HAMPTONS HEAT: Prepare to program your cell phone. We hear former Spy Bar and Chaos creator David Sarner is teaming up with real-estate broker David Workman to open a new restaurant and lounge next month in Southampton called Cabaña. The hot-spot-to-be features a pool area, an interior courtyard, and an atmosphere that’s decidedly more sedate than Sarner’s Manhattan nightspots. So why is the nightlife kingpin launching a “lounge” instead of a club? Perhaps the Hamptons zoning board could tell you the difference . . .

FAUX FUR: Sure, it seemed slightly insane when Council of Fashion Designers of America president Stan Herman was hawking stuffed animals on QVC, but look who’s laughing now. We hear Random House is coming out with four books based on the chenille baron’s wildly popular Nubbies, a collection of cuddly bears, kitties, puppies, and bunnies he’s sold for the past six years by the tens of thousands. But don’t expect to get an autographed copy for your tot when Herman passes out the CFDA awards next month – the books aren’t due till next spring.

Additional reporting by Aric Chen.

May 28, 2001