February 4, 2002

Photo: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

Nicole Kidman: Fit to Be Tied
If seeing Nicole Kidman tied up and having rough sex in her new movie Birthday Girl isn’t steamy enough, just wait until you see what’s on the DVD. Director Jez Butterworth tells us it will probably contain even racier moments between Kidman and her co-star, Ben Chaplin, who plays a bank clerk who buys a Russian mail-order bride (Kidman) over the Internet. “We kind of pushed it a little too far,” Butterworth said. Chaplin told us at the movie’s premiere last week, “Jez cut a lot of the really kinky S&M stuff.”

Usher: Belongs in the ’70s
Usher is a huge fan of That ‘70s Show, but he thinks there’s room for improvement. “There’s never any black guys on the show,” one of our spies overheard him telling ‘70s star Ashton Kutcher during Clive Davis’s J Records party after the American Music Awards. The obvious solution? Usher himself. “I’d wear a fake ‘fro wig, tight bell-bottoms – anything,” said the Grammy-nominated R&B crooner, who has starred in films like The Faculty, Light It Up, and Texas Rangers. But he was perhaps a little too eager, offering to come by the set the next day to start work. “You can’t just swing by and get added,” Kutcher said. “That’s not how it works.” But like true Hollywood types, the two programmed each other’s numbers into their cell phones and promised to be in touch.

No Room for the Inn at Schrager Empire
Ian Schrager’s plan to build his much-hyped Frank Gehry-designed hotel at Astor Place probably won’t happen. Schrager tells us that after September 11, Cooper Union – owner of the Astor Place parcel – balked at his demand to renegotiate the lease. A spokeswoman for Cooper Union says bids are being accepted to lease the land, now a parking lot. “I would still be prepared to go forward, but under a different financial agreement,” Schrager said. The hotel was to be designed by Gehry after the original designers, Prada store architect Rem Koolhaas and Tate Modern designers Herzog & de Meuron, parted ways with Schrager in June. Schrager says if Astor Place doesn’t work out, he may ask Gehry to work on the hotel he’s developing on Bond Street. In other Schrager news, lawyers for his former partner, Rande Gerber, recently fired off a letter demanding that Schrager stop using the name Whiskey Bar at the Paramount Hotel, insisting Gerber holds the rights to the name and that it’s causing confusion with his new Whiskey watering hole at the W Hotel in Times Square. Schrager’s attorney says Gerber never owned the name, but that Schrager will stop using Gerber’s Whiskey logo.

Nick Nolte Goes On Panty Raid
No one ever accused Nick Nolte of being shy. Recently, at Suite 16’s Monday-night burlesque party, the wacky actor hopped onto the stage, where he did some bumping and grinding in a cage with three scantily clad women known as the Bombshell Girls. He even hung upside down in the cage. Before leaving at about 4 a.m., Nolte forked over $40 for underwear belonging to a Bombshell Girl who goes by the name Lady Ace. She didn’t give him the ones she was dancing in, but insisted he have the pair she wore during the day.

Fight night: Robert De Niro and Benjamin Bratt had ringside seats to a bloody brawl recently at Raoul’s. A customer walked in with two female friends and sat at a table without a reservation. After the maître d’ asked them to leave, the man starting throwing punches. As several waiters dragged the guy kicking and flailing through the crowded boîte, several diners – including De Niro and Bratt, who were at separate tables – applauded. Unfortunately, a waiter was left bloodied when a window was broken, and by the time the cops arrived, the man had fled.

Night Moves: Harrison Ford and Minnie Driver aren’t commenting on the state of their relationship, but one of our spies spotted the two strolling arm-in-arm on a recent Friday evening on Second Avenue, stopping to check out the menu at Marguerita, and then continuing on their way.

Dinner Time: With Hairspray as inspiration, director John Waters has teamed with architect David Rockwell to create a table surrounded by a twenty-foot-tall wall of wigs for diffa’s Dining by Design benefit on February 5 at the Hammerstein Ballroom. But the night’s most risqué spread will be offered by event designer Avi Adler, whose centerpiece for the Taittinger champagne table will be a well-muscled young man wearing only a G-string and gold body paint.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

February 4, 2002