August 20, 2001

Photo: Bettman/Corbis

Richard Nixon’s Untold Tale of the Tape
Being dead has never stopped Richard Nixon from being grist for the gossip mill. We’ve learned that the Free Press has been rushing to put together The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment That Redefined the Supreme Court, a new book by Nixon lawyer John Dean. A tipster sent us transcripts of tapes that Dean uncovered of Nixon talking to Attorney General John Mitchell and domestic-policy aide John D. Ehrlichman about his Supreme Court picks. At one point, Nixon theorizes that appointing a woman to the court would win him needed support, but he moans to Ehrlichman that women should never have been given the right to vote. In fact, he thought women shouldn’t even be hired for government jobs. “The reason … is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional,” Nixon says to Mitchell. “Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.” As for William Rehnquist’s Protestant background, Nixon tells Mitchell to get him “baptized and castrated. No, they don’t do that. I mean they circumci – no, that’s the Jews. Well, anyway, however he is, get him changed.”

Graydon Carter’s Architectural Logrolling
After trying for almost a year to sell his Washington, Connecticut, country house, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has turned to fellow Condé Nast editors for help. On page 178 of the September issue of Architectural Digest, in a section that regularly showcases editors’ picks of multi-million-dollar homes for sale around the world, is Carter’s humble 1773 Litchfield County manse priced at $895,000. Earlier this year the asking price was $995,000, and after AD went to press Carter slashed the price again, to $850,000. The owner’s identity isn’t revealed (all the listings in the section are anonymous), but the two accompanying photos are by Jonathan Becker, a contributing photographer at – you guessed it – VF. Paige Rense, AD’s editor-in-chief, insists she wasn’t playing favorites: “If Graydon was selling a seventies ranch house, I would have to pass.”

Puffy: You Should Be Dancing
As Perry Farrell D.J.’d and Tommy Lee dirty-danced with Prince’s ex-wife, Mayte, at Lotus’s fête following MTV’s twentieth-anniversary party, Sean “Puffy” Combs was happy just watching one of his minions dance at his behest. “I wanna see you dance,” Combs was overheard demanding. “Dance for me.” The guy complied and promptly got jiggy with it. The rap royal had less luck, however, trying to woo an MTV staffer onto his yacht for the weekend. “Sorry,” she said. “I play bingo on Saturdays.”

Palling Around With Gayheart & Ratner
Rush Hour 2 director Brett Ratner and actress Rebecca Gayheart (a.k.a. the Noxzema girl) insist they’re just friends, but appearances would suggest otherwise. Not only did Gayheart show up at the Los Angeles premiere of Rush Hour 2, but the two – who split two years ago after twelve years together – were inseparable during a recent jaunt to New York. A couple of nights after attending MTV’s twentieth-anniversary party, the couple took in the Off Broadway play Topdog/Underdog. Later that night, they were at the Empire movie-theater complex in Times Square, where they checked on opening-night response to Rush Hour 2. The following day, they strolled East Hampton’s Main Street. (Ratner bought Gayheart some goodies at Scoop Beach.) By Sunday, the two were back in the city and spotted at Louis Vuitton on Fifth Avenue. Reps for both say they’re not lovers, just best friends.

A. J. Benza: True Hollywood Story
A. J. Benza is saying good-bye to Mysteries & Scandals. Just weeks after the former Daily News gossip columnist watched his late-night talk show, A.J. After Hours, tank and then found himself banned from the Howard Stern radio show after brawling with “Stuttering John” Melendez, now comes word that E! has put Mysteries & Scandals on hold. “It’s taking a hiatus,” a rep for the show says. Benza has a gloomier prognosis. “As far as I know, we’re through,” Benza, author of Fame: Ain’t It a Bitch, told us. After taping his final episode two weeks ago, a source tells us, Benza thanked his production team with a night out at Deep, a trendy club in Los Angeles. Benza insisted on picking up the $1,500 bar tab.

THEY DO? We hear Anne Heche and her fiancé, Coley Laffoon, will marry any day now. The actress formerly known as a lesbian has been telling friends and family that their wedding will take place somewhere in Los Angeles before the end of August.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

August 20, 2001