June 10, 2002

Ellen DeGeneres Stages a Comeback
Ellen DeGeneres wants Anna Nicole Smith. The comedian says that if her upcoming talk show were launching today, she’d want the hillbilly hottie as her first guest. “Did you see her on Larry King last night?” DeGeneres asked us from her L.A. home last week. “She was fantastic.” For now, DeGeneres is concentrating on her comedy tour, which comes to Avery Fisher Hall on June19. Local-television-station managers have been in the audience listening to her every word. “I don’t think it’s an audition so much as it is are assurance that I’m not some big scary gay-agenda woman,” she says. Right now she welcomes any advice on doing a talk show. “I’ll even talk to JerrySpringer,” she says. “I’ll be like, ‘What can I do to never be like you? ‘But if I ever get desperate, I could be a guest on his show. I have a lot of stories to tell-that’s for sure.” She’s also going to be quite careful when she takes questions from the audience. She famously addressed a female fan “sir” during the taping of her HBO special, Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning:“I had done shows where there have been women who looked so much more like men than her. There have been facial hair, pork-chop sideburns. But why did I have to do that when I was taping for HBO?”

Nicole Miller: Why Is PETA Pelting Me?
Perhaps Nicole Miller should have a talk with Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, and Jean Paul Gaultier, since she seems to think that animal-rights activists are ganging up on her simply because she’s a woman. West Village resident Krista McGruder recently sent an e-mail to Nicole Miller’s corporate e-mail address expressing her dismay over Miller’s remark, published in Fur World, that fur is a “comfort fabric.” A reply cameback to McGruder – signed by “nm public relations” – saying, “DanMathews – PETA – is a gay activist targeting women while leaving his buddies alone. What about Louis Vuitton and Gucci.” Though Dan Mathews, PETA’s mediadirector, is gay, he insists he’s never let gender get in the way of PETA’s protests. And he has been arrested at Lagerfeld’s New York office and at Dolce & Gabbana’s boutique in Milan. Miller claims she doesn’t know who sent the e-mails since her company policy is to not respond to such correspondence. “This is something that fell through the cracks,” she toldus. However, Miller doesn’t disagree with the content, insisting she hasn’t seen any evidence that PETA has gone after her male counterparts. “We’re just a silk-dress house,” she told us. “Why are they going after me? I don’t have a fur license. I feel like I’m being harassed.”

Cuomo: Taking It to the Streets
Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo has turned to Loud Records president Steven Rifkind’s marketing firm, SRC Marketing, to help reach young urban voters. Rifkind’s “street teams” tour malls, high schools, and college surging young people to vote (for Cuomo). “It’s just traditional street marketing, like promoting clothes and music,” our source reports. Oddly, Cuomo’s rep denies that Rifkind is working for the campaign. Odder still, Senator Charles Schumer has quietly contacted Rifkind even though he isn’t up for reelection for another two years, and his rep also insists no one in his office has talked to Rifkind.

Robert Hughes Critiques Balthazar
Time art critic Robert Hughes is moonlighting in the restaurant business. Hughes is writing a book about Keith McNally’s Soho brasserie, Balthazar. The book, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2003, will feature recipes along with Hughes’s take on how the eatery works. “I wanted someone who wasn’t a food writer but who likes food,” McNally tells us. But, he warns, Hughes shouldn’t quit his day job just yet: “He’s come up with some really bad ideas of how to run the restaurant.”

Food Network
Samantha Boardman is thinking about doing the Atkins diet. The doctor-socialite has talked with Dr. Robert Atkins about taking over his practice, the Atkins Center, on East 55th Street. “They are moving forward on her working with him at the center and ultimately taking over if and when he retires,” a rep for Atkins tells us. She still has two more years of her residency at New York Hospital’s psychiatric department.

Chelsea Morning
Sex and the City star Kyle MacLachlan and his new bride, publicity powerhouse Desiree Gruber, are in talks to buy a $1 million apartment in the Chelsea Mercantile, the same Seventh Avenue hot spot where Penélope Cruz is renovating a pad for a fall move-in date.

Get Physical
Judith Regan doesn’t deny that she and her pal Bernard Kerik, the former top cop, work out at the gym together, as we wrote last week, but she did voice-mail us to clarify matters a little: “Marc Malkin, this is Judith Regan. I read your item in the ‘Intelligencer’ column and I just want you to know that I am deeply insulted because I do not bench 70 pounds; I bench 135 pounds. And I was not humming along to a song blasting in the gym by Destiny’s Child – by the way, my authors – I don’t really hum along to any songs at the gym.”

With Catherine Townsend.

June 10, 2002