June 4, 2001

Hunky Actor Hates “All You Publicist Whores”
To all the lovely ladies of New York: Aaron Eckhart doesn’t like you. The Erin Brockovich star – who will appear next fall with Gwyneth Paltrow in Possession – was hanging out at a Hugo Boss flagship-store party last week when an attractive young woman made the mistake of asking him if she’d seen him somewhere before. “If you don’t know who the fuck I am, you don’t have the right to ask me,” Eckhart snapped. When the stunned partygoer walked away, someone told her who Eckhart was, and she foolhardily returned to him, saying she’d actually had a business dinner with the actor and In the Company of Men director Neil LaBute several years back. “If you approach me,” Eckhart told her, “you need to have a reason.” Having not insulted his innocent victim quite enough, the actor added, “I hate all you publicist whores.” The gal, now in tears, informed him that she was neither a publicist nor a whore and that she had been supportive of his and LaBute’s careers before they were famous. “I’m not Neil LaBute’s little bitch,” yelped Eckhart. “Why don’t you call the New York Post and tell them what an asshole I am?” Oh, allow us.

Grisham: Read the Book, Skip the Movie
Will the latest adaptation of John Grisham’s best-seller The Runaway Jury ever see the light of day? Not if the cantankerous novelist has any say in the matter. Five years ago, the author received a reported $8 million for film rights to the book, and both Ed Norton and Gwyneth Paltrow were slated to star. However, the project was stymied twice when two directors – Joel Schumacher and Philip Kaufman – quit in succession, and now it seems current director Alfonso Cuarón is having his own troubles. We’ve received a copy of a six-page rant from a roused Grisham, apparently sent to the filmmakers, lambasting the current screenplay, complaining of “needless subplots,” “cheap thrills,” “cheap gimmicks,” “dumb cop scenes,” “bad dialogue that’s painful at times,” and parts that are so ridiculous they “show nothing but contempt for the audience.” Asking such questions as “Why is everyone in this script utterly stupid?” and “Has anybody read the book?,” Grisham concludes with a terse “There is nothing redeeming about this script.” Except, uh, that it’s based on his novel.

Tough Guys Don’t Get Offstage
Even if you’re one of the country’s greatest living writers, you’ve got to try to keep it short. At a reading to kick off the recent New Yorker Festival, the audience erupted in applause as Norman Mailer concluded a tale about an infamous TV appearance with Truman Capote and Dorothy Parker. As an assistant came onstage to deliver Mailer’s two canes to him, however, the 78-year-old announced, “I hope you clap as hard for my next story.” When that tale, from Tough Guys Don’t Dance, ended, the assistant returned with Mailer’s canes, attempting once again to help the writer off the stage. “There’s time for one more, isn’t there?” Mailer asked his bemused followers as the helper once again slinked off with the walking sticks. The legend received more royal treatment later that evening at New Yorker fiction editor Bill Buford’s Gramercy Park apartment, when he alone was allowed to partake of Buford’s scotch while lesser scribes such as Martin Amis, T. C. Boyle, and Salman Rushdie had to make do with beer and wine. Even later in the night, Mailer was tossing back a few with superagent Andrew Wylie at Da Silvano, when he suddenly achieved superpowers, boldly charging to the bathroom without the assistance of his trusty canes. No applause followed.

When Synergy Goes Bad
The Synergy Spa at Sundance seemed like such a good idea: Rent a house; charge beauty, fashion, and liquor companies to host parties there for celebs; then sit back and watch the onslaught of free publicity. But, as we reported several months ago, things went horribly, horribly wrong. First, the house, rented from former Bloomingdale’s honcho Marvin Traub, was practically trashed by partygoers. Now Spa organizers and former house sponsor Lalique – the world-renowned crystal maker – are battling over $185,000 worth of figurines, vases, and other shiny, happy baubles. According to a Lalique head, this past winter, the company put down a wad of cash to host a shindig at the house. “Then just before our event, Synergy sent a bouncer to demand that we pay an additional $20,000 to use the space, or the party was off,” she fumes. In order to avoid an A-list embarrassment, a frazzled company rep wrote a personal check for the amount, only to stop payment the next day. “Lalique knew weeks in advance about the bill and didn’t want to pay for it, and then they bounced a check on me,” counters Synergy organizer Cygalle Dias. So, according to one insider, “Synergy put the Lalique in storage as collateral.” Dias denies she laid a finger on the crystal. However, when asked if they received everything back, Lalique responds, “We haven’t done a complete inventory yet.” Let’s hope they won’t be counting broken shards of glass.

Green Not Green Enough?
So, has Mark Green really gotten too conservative? Ralph Nader seems to think so, and – surprise – he’s not afraid to say it. We hear the former presidential candidate has been openly criticizing the mayoral hopeful amid reports that Green has been trying to distance himself from his former boss. At a recent fund-raiser for the New York State Green Party (no relation), attendees – including Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas – held a moment of silence as Nader recounted a private discussion during which he encouraged the once-radical Green to take on the city’s subsidy of the stock exchange. Nader recalled Green responding that obstructing a major industry in one’s city would amount to political suicide, to which Nader retorted, “That’s not the Mark Green I remember.” Through a spokesperson, Nader confirmed the incident and, just for contrast, informed us that Green was once a “great admirer” of former Michigan senator Philip Hart, who challenged that state’s auto industry. Green’s rep responds, “Mark is a citywide official who is of course concerned with the economic health of the city, and the financial community, including the stock exchange, is essential.” We guess that means his ticker, if not his heart, is in the right place.

Latest From WSJ: The Rodent Index
Reporters aren’t the only things darting around the Wall Street Journal’s offices. We hear the daily’s newsroom has been beset by an epidemic of crumb-gathering, book-gnawing, nest-breeding mice. A panicked internal e-mail that found its way to New York describes the skin-crawling rodent infestation, and staff members are being implored to adopt hygiene and organizational habits that will, among other things, allow custodial staff to “clean the carpet of any mouse excrement and urine.” Other emergency measures include the scheduling of “cleanup weeks at the end of every quarter so things don’t get this bad again.” Now if they could just get the rats off the editorial page . . .

WWD, Meet Your Competition
News flash: Online magazine Fashion Wire Daily will soon be joining Tic Tacs, key chains, and tabloids at the supermarket stand. A rep for American Media – the publisher of The National Enquirer, Star, Globe, and Weekly World News – confirms that the company signed an agreement last week to publish and distribute a print version of FWD. This comes less than a month after former FWD president Marshall Lester filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the company for back pay and expenses (although with billionaire Ron Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Group as one of its primary investors, FWD can’t be too worried). A company mouthpiece tells us the hard copy of the daily is coming out as a weekly and will be “a high-gloss magazine catering to the working woman, and it will have a level of attainment to it.” We’re sure it will knock our socks off.

Forgione Food Fight at Forest City
We were informed that restaurateur Larry Forgione (pictured) and hotel developer Forest City Ratner were having problems, but we had no idea it was getting so ugly. Forgione – who owns the Above and Manhattan Prime restaurants at the Forest City-owned Hilton Times Square and Embassy Suites at Battery Park City, respectively – claims he’s being pushed out by the developer. “Forest City is attempting a hostile takeover of my restaurants,” he claims. “After a year of hard work, both are doing really well, and so now Forest City has decided they want the restaurants to themselves.” Forgione followed with a list of allegations too serious to print. In response, Forest City Ratner sent us a biting statement claiming that Forgione mismanaged the restaurants, followed by an even longer list of accusations. Until the dispute is resolved, the restaurateur has agreed not to set foot on either premises.

Can Fashion Save the GOP?
We already have a billionaire media mogul and a former truck driver running for public office. So why not a clothing retailer? We’ve learned that Peter Elliot (né Eliot Rabin) – owner of several eponymous upscale clothing stores on Madison Avenue and in Southampton that attract such clients as Tom Brokaw, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Matt Dillon – has been in discussions to make a bid for civil servitude. “It’s been suggested to me by the powers that be that I run for political office in New York to strengthen the Republican ticket,” Elliot confirms. But Michael Bloomberg doesn’t have anything to worry about. “Frankly, I would be more interested in public advocate than mayor,” the suit-meister reveals. Our suggested campaign slogan: A Kiton cashmere jacket in every closet.

Additional reporting by Aric Chen.

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June 4, 2001