Frankie Rayder may make millions modeling for fashion houses like Chanel and Michael Kors, but she was working gratis last week, hawking boyfriend Roman Coppola’s new wine, RC Reserve. During a gathering of about 70 people at the Roxy Suite in Radio City Music Hall to celebrate the launch of the $56 Syrah (made at the Coppola family’s Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery in Rutherford, California), Rayder was the perfect hostess. “Who needs a refill?” she asked, open bottle in hand. “I did have a job before modeling, you know,” she told us. “I worked at a golf course in Wisconsin on the eighth hole. I served beer and, like, Snickers.” Rayder also served up a friend during the party. Winona Ryder was sipping on bubbly when photographers zoomed in for a shot. Rayder quickly snatched the champagne flute from the actress’s hand and passed her a glass of Coppola’s vino. “She’s allergic to wine,” Rayder said with a laugh. “But don’t tell anyone.” Rayder also let her competitive side show. When socialite Patricia Kluge’s new Virginia venture, the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard, was brought up, Rayder sniffed, “I wouldn’t drink wine from Virginia.” A rep for Kluge dismissed Rayder’s jab, saying that Kluge was encouraged to start her business by California wine king Robert Mondavi.
They’re not exactly Laurel and Hardy, but Mike Wallace and William Styron have quite a shtick going. During a recent luncheon at the Explorers Club, the 60 Minutes newsman couldn’t stop poking fun at the Sophie’s Choice novelist, who came into the city from his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. Styron asked Wallace if sars was as serious as the news was making it out to be. “Very,” Wallace said. “All the cases in the U.S. have been found in Connecticut.” Another tablemate tried to talk about the disease, but Wallace interrupted her and cracked, “Don’t say any more, because you know he’s going to wake up tomorrow and think he has it.” Styron didn’t miss a beat: “I probably already do.” A few minutes later, Styron, whose best-selling Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness chronicled his crippling 1985 bout with suicidal depression, said he was heading to California soon for a speaking engagement. “We’re talking about mental health,” he said. “You know, crazy people.” Wallace, who also has spoken publicly about being treated for depression, delivered the punch line: “It takes one to know one.”
Another Hollywood deal has been struck at Elaine’s. First-time director Elia Zois, 37, recently persuaded screen legend Kirk Douglas to make a cameo in A Spy Story—his CIA thriller about a mind-control drug, set to start shooting in the fall—over dinner at the famed Upper East Side watering hole. (A Spy Story was co-written by Zois and his father, Christ, who also co-wrote Jersey Guy, opening this week.) When Zois first met Douglas, the actor told him he’d heard about Jersey Guy. “That blew me away,” says Zois. “I said, ‘Mr. Douglas, I can’t help but laugh; you are this giant of American cinema!’ And he said, ‘Everyone’s got to start somewhere.’ ” Ray Liotta and Michael Caine, meanwhile, are considering full-fledged Spy Story roles, says Zois, who felt “a common ground” with Liotta, since they both grew up in Jersey. Zois wants Liotta to play a doctor. “He’s usually the mob guy, but this is a nice departure,” Zois says. Liotta has possible scheduling conflicts, but the Zoises are more confident that Caine, whom Elia met at the actor’s birthday party, will sign on to play a CIA agent.
It’s been two years since Jeff Gossett closed the onetime trendy Moomba without warning his investors, but his lawyer says he still needs more time to prove he doesn’t owe his backers money. New York investors Rick Savitt and Gary Luciani had been trying for more than a year to collect at least their original $40,000 investment from Gossett before finally filing a lawsuit against him and his Los Angeles chef, Frank Falcinelli, in November. (Savitt, Luciani, and several other investors also claim that Gossett owes them $200,000 in licensing fees for opening the L.A. Moomba in March 2001; it quietly closed about eighteen months later.) But on April 2, Gossett’s lawyer, Mitchell Mandell, wrote a letter to Savitt asking him “to please bear with me a bit longer” because compiling Gossett’s paperwork “has been, and continues to be, far more time-consuming than originally contemplated.” Even so, Mandell didn’t seem too concerned last week. “I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit,” he told us. “We answered the complaint and denied all the claims. I don’t think it will go to court.” An investor who requested anonymity says Gossett has “skipped town” and is living out of a backpack. Mandell insists that Gossett is in California but declined to tell us where. Meanwhile, many of Moomba’s other New York investors—AOL head Bob Pittman, ketchup heir Chris Heinz, and Compaq’s Ben Rosen—are sticking by two of their fellow Moomba-mates, brothers Andy and Chris Russell. They backed the Russells when they opened TanDa, an Asian-fusion restaurant on Park Avenue, last year. And they didn’t walk away from the two when TanDa closed in February. We’re told that Pittman, Heinz, and Rosen were largely responsible for helping raise the $300,000 needed for the Russells to reopen the place in March as Sage, an American bistro.
The party’s over for Alan Wilzig. The onetime Hamptons party monster tells us he’s moving out of the Water Mill castle he and his brother, Ivan, built in 1997. The 13,000-square-foot estate became known as the East End’s answer to the Playboy mansion, luring everyone from Donald Trump to Carmen Electra with its seventies-style disco and Italian opera piping through underwater speakers in the pool. Alan, chairman and president of the family-owned Trustcompany Bank, tells us that he and his fiancée, Karin Koenig, have bought a $4.35 million, 6,600-square-foot townhouse in Tribeca. “It’s time to start making little Wilzigs!” he says. Alan sold his 50 percent share of the castle to Ivan for about $1.7 million.
Howard Stern sidekick Stuttering John (a.k.a. John Melendez) recently purchased a 2,000-square-foot Chelsea loft for $960,000. Though he starred in the reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! and is famous for asking intrusive questions—he once asked Gennifer Flowers if she and Bill Clinton had ever had a threesome—Melendez wanted to protect his privacy by not commenting on the deal. His broker, Chris Leavitt of the Corcoran Group, also declined to comment.
In 1985, John Riggins was a running back with the Washington Redskins when he shocked the justice system—and just about everyone else—by approaching Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor at a Capitol Hill party and oozing, “Loosen up, Sandy, baby. You’re too tight.” He then proceeded to fall asleep on the floor. Well, O’Connor may be happy to hear that Riggins is now a crime fighter. On April 2, the fiftysomething former football star, who made his name with the Jets, walked into the living room of his West 39th Street apartment and found a burglar trying to make off with his housekeeper’s wallet. A tipster tells us that Riggins chased the culprit into the lobby, where a glass door was shattered duringa brief struggle. Riggins eventually tackled the intruder and held him bythe legs until the police arrived. Two days later, the building’s board of directors sent a letter to residents warning them to be careful about whom they let into the building. But instead of detailing the lobby mêlée, the letter simply said that Riggins was able to “persuade” the intruder “to wait for the police.”
It may not be so quiet on the East End this summer after all. Patrick Robertson, former manager of Southampton’s Jet East and Conscience Point, recently took over Bridgehampton’s Wild Rose bar, which he’s turning into a bar and lounge called Boutique. In Wainscott, Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva of Butter are in serious talks to take over operations of the restaurant at Star Room. Speaking of Star Room, fitness guru Radu won’t be returning there this year. Radu taught classes at the restaurant during its off hours last summer, but in June he’s opening his own place, Radu’s Physical Culture, in Southampton.
Director-restaurateur Bob Giraldi, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Phil Suarez’s former partner, is moving in on his old friends’ new turf. Just blocks away from Vongerichten and Suarez’s 66, Giraldi (who helmed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video) is opening an upscale version of his Nolita eatery Bread on the corner of Church and Walker streets. “I’m not looking for another star chef in my life!” he told us. Meanwhile, David Bouley’s first cookbook, East of Paris: The New Cuisines of Austria and the Danube, will finally be published in November—about a decade after he inked the book deal. And it looks like Cafeteria may see some competition. Alex Freij, the executive chef and owner of industry (Food), is opening Diner 24 on 15th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Iman’s modeling career is supposed to be over, so we were surprised to see the 47-year-old Somalian stunner in H&M’s new ads. “Richard Avedon was shooting it,” Iman told us. “I don’t want to model anymore, but Avedon asked me to do it.”
What: MCC Theater’s Spring Gala, with appearances by Benjamin Bratt, Julianna Marguiles, Martha Plimpton, and Kathleen Chalfant. The night features a performance of Miscast, a hysterical musical revue in which Broadway stars like Kerry Butler, Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Gasteyer, Jackie Hoffman, and Lillias White sing show tunes from roles they would never have. Where: The Supper Club, 240 W. 47th St. When: Monday. April 28, starting at 6:30 For tix: 727-7722