Sounds like Edward Norton (left) and Access Hollywood correspondent Billy Bush are ready for their celebrity death match. Although Norton spoke to practically anyone who shoved a microphone in his face at last week’s premiere of Red Dragon at the Ziegfeld – including George Whipple of NY1, Extra, E!, Entertainment Tonight, and even the raunchy Stuttering John of The Howard Stern Show – when it was Bush’s turn, Norton pointedly ignored him and proceeded to talk to other reporters. As Norton headed into the screening, one of our spies overheard him griping that he doesn’t like Bush, hissing, “I think he’s a jackass.” Norton’s rep says he had to skip Bush because the movie was about to start.
Tyra Banks and her entourage turned Serendipity 3 into an after-hours club on a recent Saturday night. Banks – who arrived at the East 60th Street ice-cream parlor with pal Kimora Lee Simmons and four other friends just after midnight – didn’t approve of the classical music playing in the background. So, after ordering a round of frozen hot chocolates and ice-cream sundaes, she asked the host – minor-league baseball player Robert Benjamin – to put on something a little more upbeat. But his selection was strictly classical, so he ran outside to the street and picked up a hip-hop compilation from a bootlegger. After the restaurant closed at about 1 a.m., Banks and her crew cranked up the music and started bumping and grinding with two Bengali busboys, Mohammad and Anwar, to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” “They were definitely dirty-dancing, and the boys were loving it,” says our tipster. The group kept the party going for more than an hour. But when we caught up with Simmons a few days later at the Barbie as Rapunzel premiere, she apparently had so much fun, the night’s a blur: “I don’t remember that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Pete Sampras has a story to tell. Within days of winning the U.S. Open against Andre Agassi last month, we hear, the 31-year-old tennis champ started shopping around a proposal for his autobiography. “It’s just one long paragraph,” reports a publishing insider who has read the pitch. “If you were on the fence in thinking readers would come to Pete Sampras, this wouldn’t have convinced you.” Although he’s no John McEnroe – whose best-selling memoir, You Cannot Be Serious, retailed juicy tales of temper tantrums, drug use, and a messy Hollywood marriage to Tatum O’Neal – Sampras may have some surprises. After the U.S. Open gave him his first tournament victory in two years, Sampras admitted to having suffered bouts of anxiety when his career fell to an all-time low in June after he was knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon. And he, too, has a Hollywood marriage, albeit a happy one. He and his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson, are expecting their first baby next month. “She lives with me every day,” Sampras told USA Today after the Open. “Trust me, it’s not easy. When you’re struggling, you’re not having fun.”
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs isn’t the only mogul in his family. Coming up right behind him is his own mother. It’s only been about sixteen months since she opened her southern-cuisine takeout and catering business, Mama Duke, in Brooklyn, but Janice Combs is already scouting locations in Harlem for a second eatery. The new place will be a full-service boîte and jazz club. “I want to franchise,” she told us last week. But no, she has no plans to start her own clothing line à la Sean John. “I may do an accessories line, but I leave the fashion to Sean,” she said. But then she added, “Okay, maybe I’ll do a few items here and there.”
Is Britney Spears’s restaurant going bust? Depends on whom you talk to. Brad Gates, the eatery’s second chef since it opened three months ago, told us last week he was leaving after just one month on the job. “There’s no one coming into the restaurant now,” Gates said. “It’s been hard to buy food because they’re not giving me any money.” Furthermore, Nyla’s original manager, Bobby Ochs, is breaking his silence since resigning in early September. Ochs, who is currently in talks to manage the restaurant at the revamped Hotel Monoco in North Miami, claims that the place was already $350,000 over budget on opening day and says he was told that on a recent night, Nyla did only $1,900 in business. Ochs is talking now because he wants people to know that Nyla’s shortcomings have “nothing to do with me.” Nyla’s rep begs to differ, saying that the operation got off to a bad start because of “mismanagement by Bobby, but the restaurant is getting back on its feet.” Spears’s rep says there is no truth to what Ochs says and insists that Nyla is doing “great.”
With Catherine Townsend.