August 27, 2001

Photo: Reuters New Media Inc./Corbis

Britney and Eminem: Tales Out of School
Eminem almost got away with publicly dissing Britney Spears, but in the end, Bloomingdale’s came to her rescue. As we recently reported, Bloomies execs had nixed at least two of Eminem’s ideas for his back-to-school store windows because they included tasteless commentary about Spears and Christina Aguilera. But when Eminem reps unveiled the rapper’s window on August 8, there was an Eminem dummy standing near a wall scrawled with for a good time, call britn … Within hours, Bloomingdale’s demanded that the not-so-pretty words be covered up by an Eminem poster. In other hip-hop and department-store news, Sean “Puffy” Combs had planned to launch his new Sean John men’s underwear and loungewear line with a ten-minute fashion show outside Bloomingdale’s Lexington Avenue entrance on August 22, but the city turned down the permit request because of worries about traffic snarls. “We offered to beef up security and have more traffic officers there,” a rep for the clothing line said. “We were going to pay for all of it.” But the show will go on – inside the store.

More Inn-fighting Between Ian Schrager and Rande Gerber
The ongoing feud between hotel guru Ian Schrager and his former protégé Rande Gerber is heating up again. Gerber tells us that in December he will close down the Whiskey Bar at Schrager’s Paramount Hotel and reopen it as a 9,000-square-foot nightclub at the W Hotel in Times Square. Last year, after a nasty legal battle that started when Schrager accused Gerber of passing company secrets to W owner Barry Sternlicht, Schrager paid Gerber $1 million to buy him out of his bars at the Mondrian and Morgans hotels. Gerber held onto the Whiskey, however, with the option of closing shop with 60 days notice. Gerber’s plan now is to open the W’s Whiskey just one day after he moves out of the Paramount. “I’m really happy it’s ending,” said Gerber. “It was sweet while it lasted. But it’s even sweeter now.” Schrager tells us he’s “thrilled to be getting the bar back” because it means he’ll be able to connect the watering hole to the Philippe Starck-designed supper club he intends to open in the Paramount’s basement, in the same space that once housed the Diamond Horseshoe, the legendary forties nightspot owned by showman Billy Rose.

American Pie Star Bigg-Foots His Way Into Theater
American Pie II was the No. 1 movie in the country on its opening weekend, and star Jason Biggs certainly did his part. At the Kips Bay theater on opening night, one entire row was roped off and guarded by ushers at the sold-out 8:30 showing. “They just kept saying, ‘You can’t sit there,’ without saying why,” one of our spies reports. “People were getting pissed off.” But once the lights went down and the promos started rolling, about ten people filed into the seats. Biggs, along with his blonde female companion, sat smack in the middle. About five minutes before the movie ended, Biggs tried to sneak out, but he was followed into the lobby by autograph-seeking fans. Meanwhile, downtown at the Quad Theater in the West Village, about 150 audience members checking out the new gay comedy All Over the Guy were treated to an impromptu appearance by an Oscar winner. After the movie, writer and co-star Dan Bucatinsky stood for a Q&A session. When he introduced his co-star Adam Goldberg, bolting down the aisle came Gwyneth Paltrow, who announced, “Adam is stuck in L.A., so I’ll be Adam today. Ask me any questions you want.”

Home of the Flame-Broiled Tofu Wrap?
If Chrissie Hynde could have it her way, Burger King would be known for more than just hamburgers. The Pretenders front woman is demanding that the fast-food chain begin catering to vegetarians like herself. BK recently offered Hynde $65,000 to use the Pretenders’$2 1979 hit “Brass in Pocket” in an upcoming television and radio campaign. But Hynde, who will be honored by peta at its Humanitarian Awards gala at the Waldorf-Astoria on September 8, isn’t biting. “I feel that killing animals for any reason, except in self-defense, is wrong,” Hynde wrote in a letter to BK’s CEO, John Dasburg. “So I won’t allow any Pretenders music to be used to promote meat. Let’s talk when Burger King launches a veggie burger.”

Queen of Mean Eyes Empire
A forthcoming book chronicling the history of the Empire State Building has some unflattering things to say about Leona Helmsley, who with Peter Malkin controls the building under a lease expiring in 2076. No surprise there. But it turns out that visitors to the landmark building will have to wait at least until that lease expires before they’ll be able to buy the tome, Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal and the Battle for an American Icon, by Wall Street Journal reporter Mitchell Pacelle, at the building’s gift shop. A source tells us the tchotchke emporium in the eighty-sixth-floor observatory canceled a November launch party with publisher John Wiley & Sons after a higher-up in building management told its tenant of more than twenty years that hosting such a fête “could be detrimental to their relationship.” Helmsley’s rep insists that the publisher never got back to them after being given a rundown on the costs of having such a party. The store confirmed that it won’t be stocking the book and nervously declined to comment when asked for a reason. The building rep insists management “is not involved in deciding which merchandise is sold.”

Kenneth Cole’s Texas Ad Massacre
Kenneth Cole seems to have learned just how easy it is to mess with Texas. The left-leaning designer was recently told that the four ads he had proposed for the baggage-claim-area carousels at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were rejected by airport management. “The airport has standard rules: no sex, no nudity, no booze, no cigarettes,” a rep for the company that owns the carousels explained to us. However, the latest in Cole’s series of socially oriented marketing campaigns doesn’t offer up any such material. The spots feature pithy comments on gun control, cloning, George W. Bush, and AIDS. (One ad shows two models on a track field with the scoreboard reading “AIDS Cases: 57 Million Infected, 0 Cured.”) “We didn’t realize they were so touchy,” says a rep for Cole. Less touchy are La Guardia and Honolulu airports, where the ads got the green light. Funny enough, one Cole ad that was finally accepted in Dallas reads, “Everyone Has Baggage.”

Mary J. Blige’s Shady Business
Mary J. Blige’s new CD may be titled No More Drama, but she’s not practicing what she preaches. The hip-hop diva managed to brush off fans and media alike at a recent party and fashion show celebrating the new showroom for Safilo, the eyewear manufacturer responsible for making Gucci, Diesel, Christian Dior, Valentino, and Kate Spade shades. Blige arrived with an entourage of about ten, made a quick loop around the party, and then parked herself in a corner of the showroom, surrounded by burly bodyguards. Safilo staffers were told that she wasn’t doing any media because she hadn’t known the fête was a press event. “We went near them and I said, ‘Do you mind if we get some shots?’ ” one TV producer told us. “Then they just made a wall around her. We couldn’t get any shots of her.” Unlike fellow partygoers Aida Turturro and Kate Spade, Blige didn’t stick around for the fashion show. She took off as soon as she got her complimentary sunglasses. Safilo execs didn’t mind, however. “She’s a little shy,” a Safilo rep said. “I was just happy for her to be there.”

I Am Baldwin, Hear Me Roar
Alec Baldwin just can’t help himself when it comes to public outbursts. The actor and soon-to-be ex-husband of Kim Basinger was spotted near the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater at about 10 p.m. on a recent Friday arguing vehemently–not with his current flame, Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis–but with a mysterious leggy brunette who looked to be in her late twenties. “They were in a heated discussion,” an onlooker reports. “Alec was like, ‘If you want to leave, then let’s just go,’ and then tried hailing a cab. It was very loud.”

MAGIC BUS: As New York reported two weeks ago, the Wetlands Preserve is closing its doors to make room for luxury condos, but at least the music club’s beloved 1967 VW microbus will live on. The nonworking bus–which has been parked inside Wetlands since it opened in 1989–will be donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland soon after the club’s final blowout on September 15. “I’m like a proud father,” owner Pete Shapiro tells us. “That bus has seen more than 10,000 shows, and this is what she deserves.”

VIDEO MADNESS: No, Luther Vandross doesn’t have a thing for NYPD Blue’s Garcelle Beauvais, but he sure seems obsessed with her. Not only does Beauvais star in the video for the crooner’s new hit, “Take You Out,” but we hear he’s already signed her on to star in the video for his next single, “Can Heaven Wait.”

L.A. STORY: Designer Jeremy Scott isn’t officially moving to Los Angeles until the fall, but he’s already making himself right at home. Scott tells us that this week he’ll be photographing his first fashion spread in several Hollywood homes for the upcoming Taittinger champagne-inspired holiday issue of Fidget, the artsy fashion quarterly.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

August 27, 2001