January 14, 2002

Ben Affleck’s Southern Exposure
It seems like Ben Affleck wants to take a break from the fast pace of Hollywood and New York. We hear that the Oscar winner is looking to buy a home down South. One source tells us he’s looked in Virginia, and another says he’s been spotted making the rounds with real-estate agents in the Savannah area. In particular, he’s shown interest in Tybee Island – about fifteen miles out of Savannah – where his Forces of Nature co-star Sandra Bullock reportedly bought a three-story beachfront compound for $3.8 million. The two came to know the area while filming Forces there in 1998. He’s also checked out at least one property in Bellinger Hill, just across the Savannah River in South Carolina. Affleck is still trying to sell the three-story Hollywood Hills home that he put on the market in February for $2.3 million. At the time, he said he was planning to spend more time in New York, where he owns a TriBeCa loft.

Kathleen Turner Falls Out of the Picture
Things were less than picture perfect for Kathleen Turner after she took a nighttime fall recently in her apartment. The actress was scheduled for a photo shoot for Talk magazine with Alicia Silverstone and Jason Biggs in conjunction with their upcoming Broadway run of The Graduate, but just hours before the session with famed fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky, she called to cancel. A source tells us Sokolsky was first told that Turner would be late because her face was swollen as a result of some sort of accident she’d had the night before. Turner asked that only the right side of her face be shot because her left side was bruised, so Sokolsky’s crew began rebuilding the set in order to accommodate her request. An hour later, Turner’s people called to cancel the shoot altogether, explaining that Turner actually had stitches on her face. “We first heard her face was swollen, then we heard she had stitches,” our source tells us. “It was very strange.” Turner’s rep confirmed the canceled shoot but insisted there’s no mystery: “She slipped and fell and hit her mouth on a table. She had a couple of stitches on her bottom lip.” The stitches were removed a couple of days later, and the shoot was rescheduled.

Dan Rather, Journalist and a Gentleman
Dan Rather doesn’t mind helping out the competition. The CBS News legend was waiting to board a plane for the U.S. at the Bagram air base when he overheard CNN reporter Patricia Sabga and her camerawoman, Margaret Moth, asking one of his staff if he had happened to see a CNN truck that was supposed to have picked them up for their 90-minute drive to Kabul. Rather not only directed one of his drivers to take Sabga around to the three checkpoints guarding the air base to look for the CNN truck but also sent his translator with her. While they waited for Sabga to return, Rather played host. “He kept asking Margaret if she wanted water and Power Bars,” an onlooker reports. “This is a time when things are so competitive and journalists aren’t really nice to each other. Most people in the media wouldn’t do this.” When Sabga returned with her truck (it had been delayed at a checkpoint) and offered Rather her thanks, he just smiled and said, “I’m sure you would do the same for me.”

Spacey, Hallström Kick Behr Butt
There was definitely no Hollywood-style pampering going on when director Lasse Hallström relocated the cast and crew of The Shipping News to the small Newfoundland town of New Bonaventure (population 75) for two months. Jason Behr, the young hottie from TV’s Roswell who plays Dennis Buggit in the movie, had to shack up with co-stars Scott Glenn, Pete Postlethwaite, and Rhys Ifans. “It was sort of like a frat house,” Behr tells us. “We had one phone, one answering machine, one TV, and one couch.” They spent most of their free time playing Ping-Pong and hanging at Rocky’s, the one local watering hole. “Kevin Spacey taught me how to take a nice ass-whupping in Ping-Pong,” Behr says. But it was Hallström who really got cutthroat about the sport: “One night, Lasse walked in and said, ‘Ping-Pong! I have, how you say, a killer slice.’ He gets up there and you see this very calm and very passionate man turn into this Viking. His pirate roots came up for blood, and he kicked my ass.”

Things Are Shaping Up for Alexis Stewart
Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexis, is back in the gym business. She sold her East Hampton Gym in April 2000 to fitness trainer Bruce Cotter, but now we hear that she has partnered with Cotter and they’ve bought the American Fitness Factory gym in Sag Harbor from real-estate developer Patrick Malloy. Cotter told us that the 13,000-square-foot space is being completely renovated and will open in the spring with a new line of cardiovascular equipment, a yoga studio, and day-care facilities. Members of the much smaller East Hampton Gym will be able to upgrade their memberships to use the new gym for a yet-to-be-determined fee.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

January 14, 2002