March 25 - April 1, 2002

Photo: Associated Press/Jim Cooper

Ben Affleck: California, Here I Come
Last year, it was reported that Ben Affleck was selling his Hollywood Hills home and had bought a TriBeCa apartment in order to spend more time in New York, but it looks like he’s had a change of heart. He still has the downtown loft, but we hear the Oscar winner has bought Drew Barrymore’s $3 million four-acre property in the Beverly Hills area as well. Barrymore and her ex-husband, Tom Green, put the estate up for sale after the main house was destroyed in a fire last year. Affleck is living in the guest cottage until construction is completed on a new main house. Affleck’s rep declined to comment on the purchase but said the actor is spending most of his time these days in Los Angeles, where he’s currently filming Gigli opposite Jennifer Lopez, and will soon begin shooting Daredevil, in which he will play the comic-book superhero. Affleck is still trying to unload the three-story Hollywood Hills Spanish-style villa, which he put on the market last year for $2.3 million. In the meantime, he’s renting it to his Mallrats and Dogma director, Kevin Smith.

Food Unfit for a Prinze
The five-star Le Meridien Hotel in Cancún, Mexico, may be good enough for most people, but not for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. The couple recently flew to Mexico for two days to promote their Scooby-Doo movie on MTV’s upcoming Spring Break special with co-stars Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini. Before leaving L.A., however, they demanded rooms at the Ritz-Carlton rather than at the Meridien, where the rest of the cast was booked. A source also tells us that Gellar and Prinze refused to eat meals provided during the MTV taping, which took place at a water park. Instead, they had their driver make trips to the Ritz to pick them up some lunch. Total driving time? Two hours, round-trip. A rep for the couple insists that Warner Bros. had allowed them to select their hotel from a list of five choices. The rep confirmed their lunch problems, but explained that they found the theme-park offerings unappetizing. “The talent was told they would be having a catered meal from a hotel,” she explained. “They were offered hot dogs and hamburgers from a snack bar. I wouldn’t eat the food. In fact … the publicist who went with them ended up with food poisoning for two days.” Our insider says the theme-park restaurant menu was more than acceptable: “It was great. Everyone else ate there, except Sarah and Freddie. It was just so annoying.”

Reid My Lips: Get Out
We hear Tara Reid was recently the cause of a barroom shoving match that involved most of her family – and then got them thrown out. At Session 73, a restaurant and club on the Upper East Side, revelers were witness to a scuffle between an unfortunate man – who we’re told was trying to pick up the American Pie starlet – and four men who claimed to be members of her family: father Tom and brothers Tommy, Patrick, and James. A source reports that the venue’s owner, Corby Thomas, first escorted the hapless admirer outside before coming back for the Reid clan. “Tara started protesting, getting in security’s face, and seemed very upset that they were getting thrown out,” says the onlooker. The ruckus quickly moved to the sidewalk, where Reid pleaded unsuccessfully with Thomas to let her and her family back in. “I told her that they’re welcome to come back any other time,” says Thomas. “But their evening at Session 73 that night was over.”

OutKast: Living Up to Their Name
Nightlife promoter Noel Ashman may want to think twice before stepping back behind the turntables at his weekly party at Eugene. Ashman decided to spin at a recent soirée because his regulars weren’t available: Mark Ronson had a gig in Los Angeles, and Mateo had a sprained wrist. Problems started about two hours after Dre and Big Boi and the rest of their rap group OutKast settled into a VIP booth and ordered several bottles of champagne. According to a fellow partygoer, a member of OutKast’s entourage approached the D.J. booth and started yelling, “Put on an OutKast record right now.” Ashman said he’d have to wait. “The guy then pushed Noel really hard,” the spy reports. When Ashman shoved the guy back, two security guards grabbed the burly customer and started for the door. That’s when another member of the entourage jumped in and began yelling at security. Despite Big Boi’s attempt to apologize for his friends’ behavior, the posse were shown the door.

Star Jones Has It All in the Bag
Star Jones has put together the ultimate goodie bag for the 40 lucky ladies invited to her 40th-birthday party in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A tipster sent us Jones’s list of about 40 items for the bags, all of which she got free. The bags will be doled out at the end of the three-day bash, which will also serve as the launch of Jones’s new nonprofit group for women, the Starlet Fund. The freebies include Dom Pérignon champagne, Michael Kors perfume, Sean John silk robes, Armani makeup, Ralph Lauren duffel bags, Kate Spade travel bags, Payless slippers, Burberry hats and umbrellas, Speedo swimwear and sarongs, and copies of Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall’s sex guide, Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm. But at least one company wasn’t willing to part with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise without getting something in return. When Jones asked Safilo, the sunglasses manufacturer, for Christian Dior eyewear, it agreed – on one condition: that she make an appearance at A Night in Venice, the recent Accessories Council fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Jones made good on the deal, and Safilo handed over $8,400 worth of shades.

On the Move: David Chase, Nora Ephron
David Chase, creator and executive producer of The Sopranos, is ready to make an offer no landlord can refuse. He’s on the hunt for a new apartment, and according to our source, he’s told his Realtor that he’s willing to pay up to $20,000 a month. The source says he recently looked at spreads at 610 Park Avenue, the building that houses the famed restaurant Daniel. Chase confirmed he’s looking for a new place but cracked, “I’m willing to pay up to $300,000 a month.” … He might be interested to hear that there will soon be a vacancy at the Apthorp. Word is that Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi are giving up their eight-room apartment at the eleven-story landmark building at Broadway and 78th. The Apthorp – whose celebrity residents have included Conan O’Brien, Cyndi Lauper, and Rosie O’Donnell – has been the epicenter of the struggle between landlords and tenants over rent-control laws. Ephron has never revealed how much she pays but has always maintained that her apartment is not covered by rent regulations. Apartments in the building similar to Ephron’s command as much as $10,000 or as little as $2,000. She wouldn’t say where she and Pileggi are moving.

Heather Locklear’s Queer Longings
Heather Locklear wants her gay TV. We hear that the Spin City star is such a big fan of Showtime’s Queer As Folk that she recently contacted producers to see if they would be interested in creating a guest role for her. A rep for the show confirms that Locklear initiated some discussions, but talks didn’t get far because the current season had already been wrapped by the time she called. However, producers haven’t ruled out Locklear for next year if the show gets picked up for a third season.

Belmont Lounge Owner Checks In
It’s been four years since Belmont Lounge owner Guy Jacobson announced plans to convert the derelict Hotel Regina in the East Village into a more respectable destination, and it looks like he’s finally ready to make good on his promise. The Regina was an SRO hotel that harbored at least two major drug-dealing operations and was being visited by police an average of four times a day when Jacobson bought it in 1998. Renovations are now under way to convert the former tenement, on Third Avenue and 13th Street, into an 80-room European-style boutique hotel with a rooftop lobby, bar, and deck. Jacobson has already opened a brasserie, Cafe Deville, on the site, and the rest of the makeover is expected to be done by November.

Lorraine Bracco’s Subway Stories
Lorraine Bracco raised some eyebrows when she arrived at Columbia Pictures chairwoman Amy Pascal’s recent VIP screening of Panic Room on the arm of MTA chairman James Simpson. The two were spotted holding hands during the post-screening cocktail party attended by the movie’s star, Jodie Foster, and its director, David Fincher, as well as guests like Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Amy Irving, Jonathan Demme, Rosario Dawson, and Joan Lunden. Simpson insists they’re just friends. “We’ve known each other for about a year,” Simpson told us. “I go out with her occasionally. I would tell you if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. That wouldn’t be something to hide.”

Feeding Frenzy: Stephen Hanson’s restaurant empire, which already includes Ruby Foo’s, Blue Water Grill, Isabella’s, Blue Fin in the W Hotel in Times Square, and five others, continues to grow. Hanson tells us he’s teamed up with Canteen and MercBar owner John McDonald to open a Mexican restaurant, Dos Caminos, in September in the space formerly occupied by the Globe on Park Avenue. Hanson says he’s focusing his nationwide search for a chef on the West Coast. Following the opening of Dos Caminos, Hanson plans to open his eleventh eatery, another Ruby Foo’s, also on lower Park.

Risky Business: Serena Bass was recently spotted checking out sex toys with a female friend at the Pleasure Chest, the X-rated boutique on Seventh Avenue South. Bass insists it was a business trip. She was looking to accessorize the staff at her Chelsea Hotel bar, Serena, for the new Monday-night S&M theme party hosted by Angeline de By. Bass took home a bagful of black leather spiked dog collars.

With Catherine Townsend and Aric Chen.

March 25 - April 1, 2002