November 12, 2001

Photo: Kim D. Johnson/AP

Behind the Music With Bill Clinton
Don’t expect Bill or Hillary Clinton to be hanging with longtime supporter and VH1 president John Sykes anytime soon. The former president ripped into Sykes after Hillary was booed by hundreds of firefighters during the Concert for New York at Madison Square Garden on October 20. A friend of Bill’s tells us that Sykes was chewed out backstage just after Bill introduced James Taylor. Apparently, Sykes, whose music network co-sponsored the event along with Miramax and AOL Time Warner, was the one who had convinced the Clintons to take part in the first place. “Bill said, ‘We wouldn’t have accepted your invitation to speak if we had known it would be this uncomfortable,’ ” our source reports. “He said it with real anger and finger-pointing.” Asked why Bill didn’t defend Hillary onstage, the friend said he was too nervous that “a fight would have ensued.” Sykes and some of his top staffers have reached out to Bill to make amends, but they’ve been told to back off. Reps for both Clintons declined to comment, as did Sykes’s rep.

J.Lo House-Hunts for Miami Manse
Jennifer Lopez and her new hubby, dancer Cris Judd, have been house-hunting in Miami. Hotelier Alan Lieberman tells us that J.Lo and her manager, Benny Medina, recently took a tour of a $3.5 million home he owns on Rivo Alto Island. They spent about two hours looking over the 8,000-square-foot, two-story pad, which has seven bedrooms, an Olympic-size pool, and a Japanese garden. Unfortunately, Lopez – who met and married her first husband, Ojani Noa, in Miami – decided that the mostly glass manse wasn’t private enough. “It’s built right on the bay, so anyone with a boat could get really close to the house,” explained Lieberman, owner of the Chelsea, Whitelaw, and Mercury Hotels in South Beach, adding that Lopez is considering a $9 million spread in the Bal Harbor area instead.

Karen Duffy Rescues Firemen
We overheard model and actress Karen Duffy telling friends at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards last week that she housed seven Indiana firefighters at her Greenwich Village apartment for nearly two weeks. Before Duffy took them in, they had been sleeping on West Broadway outside Odeon, using their helmets as pillows. Duffy told us that Sopranos star Michael Imperioli offered to let some of them stay at his place, but the crew wanted to stay together. “They kept the place immaculate, refused to sit on our furniture, and took off all their firefighter gear outside,” she said. “They even made coffee in the morning.”

Galliano – A Luxury LVMH Can’t Afford
When Christian Dior announced that it was indefinitely postponing the company’s sponsorship of a museum retrospective on John Galliano’s work, it blamed the decision on so-called international instability. We’ve since learned it had more to do with the company’s balance sheet. A well-placed insider tells us Dior’s parent company, luxury-goods mega-conglomerate LVMH, pulled the plug on the exhibition (it was slated to open November 30 at London’s Design Museum) in order to cut losses, though Dior had already sunk almost $600,000 into it. Instead, the fashion house will be underwriting a less-glitzy – and cheaper – exhibition on Web design.

Barney’s Goes to the Dogs
Things got frisky at the recent Barney’s party for Sweetie: From the Gutter to the Runway, Mark Welsh’s new book about the fox terrier-miniature pinscher he shares with ex-partner John Bartlett. As Simon Doonan chitchatted with Lucy, the Viscountess Gormanston, his Norwich terrier, Liberace, romantically attacked photographer Francois Dischinger’s terrier. Once Liberace was pulled away, he immediately turned his attention on Sweetie before finally settling for Doonan’s leg. “Liberace got very excited by all the luxury goods that surrounded him,” explains Doonan, “and went on a general hump-a-thon.”

PHOTO FINISH After nine years, celeb photographer Mark Seliger has ended his exclusive contract with Wenner Media – where he shot for all three of Jann Wenner’s mags, Rolling Stone, US Weekly, and Men’s Journal. Now, a source tells us, the shutterbug is in the midst of negotiations with Talk and GQ.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

November 12, 2001