Kate Beckinsale’s Meltdown . . . ABC News’s New Pitch . . . Tarzan Goes Ape

With Deborah Schoeneman

Catch Marc Malkin on The Fabulous Life of Brad and Jennifer, premieringFriday, July 25 on VH1.

Photo: AP Photos

Romantic Comedy: A Public Affair
We hear that Kate Beckinsale pulled out of several interviews that had been lined up to promote her and director Len Wiseman’s new movie, Underworld, because she was afraid reporters would inquire about the on-set affair she and Wiseman had while making the thriller (they’re now engaged after Beckinsale left her longtime boyfriend, actor Michael Sheen, in January). Beckinsale flip-flopped several times over whether to do the September cover of Maxim, which was to be a major part of her media blitz. After several photo shoots were scheduled and canceled, she finally bailed for good. At one point, Beckinsale’s publicist, Lisa Kasteler, was so embarrassed that she sent flowers to Maxim’s West Coast editor, Claudia Nicolayevsky, to apologize. Apparently this wasn’t the first time Beckinsale had behaved badly, and in the end, Kasteler dumped the actress as a client. Even so, we’re told execs at Screen Gems are still pushing to get Beckinsale for Maxim’s October issue.

Courtesy of TV Guide

Model Behavior: Brains vs. Beauty
Travis Fimmel wants you to focus on what’s important. He plays the starring role in the upcoming WB series Tarzan, but the former Calvin Klein model doesn’t want to be typecast as just another beautiful bod. We hear that shutterbug Cliff Watts shot the 24-year-old hunk for a recent issue of TV Guide, but the photos didn’t make it onto the cover. Turns out that Fimmel, in an effort to safeguard his image as a serious thespian, now refuses to remove his shirt during photo shoots. That’s not all. He also demanded that he be shot with his signature blond locks pulled back in a ponytail. Luckily, TV Guide’s editors know what sells. We’re told Fimmel was quite perturbed when he saw the July 12 issue. Slapped on the cover was a a shirtless shot of Fimmel that the mag bought from a photo agency.

Park Views
‘How art thou?” Mos Def asked a pal at the Belvedere Castle on July 15. It was the opening-night party for the Public Theater’s Henry V, at the Delacorte in Central Park, and Def was just getting into the spirit of things. Among the 2,000 who turned out to see Liev Schreiber star as the warrior king—and help raise $1.3 million for the Public Theater—were Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, Julianna Margulies, and Kim Cattrall. Def, who starred in Topdog/Underdog, said he hoped to be part of Shakespeare in the Park in 2004. “Whatever they’ll have me in, I’ll do,” he said. “I’ve been begging: ‘Please, you’ve got to let me do this next year.’ ” Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson said she’d love to get onstage, too: “They just have to add a little R&B.”

Network News: ABC Goes All Out
ABC News is stepping up its fight for celebrity scoops. The news division has teamed with Entertainment Tonight to offer celebrities ET coverage if they agree to do exclusive sit-downs on Good Morning America, 20/20, or Primetime. The decision was made after watching NBC’s relentless cross-promotion of Dateline’s hourlong interview with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, which was conducted by Access Hollywood anchor Pat O’Brien. Ben and J.Lo segments were featured for several days before and after the premiere on Access and Today. “Their message was simple,” an ABC insider tells us. “If the NBC package appeals to your client, then understand that ABC News can also shoot one interview for GMA, 20/20, or Primetime and provide significant play on ET.” ABC, however, will not be using ET correspondents for its news show. News brass think that NBC crossed the line with its Dateline-Access partnership because reporters like O’Brien don’t have to uphold the same journalistic standards. “Everyone feels safe with Access,” one publicist told us. “What are they going to ask that’s so bad?” Meanwhile, we hear Britney Spears’s handlers are trying to land her a guest spot on an NBC sitcom in exchange for a Dateline interview. A Dateline rep insists no such deal will ever happen between a celeb and its news division.

“I went to Wal-Mart for the first time. I always thought they sold wallpaper. I didn’t realize it has everything. You can get anything you want there for really, really cheap.”
-Paris Hilton, on filming her upcoming reality show, The Simple Life.

21 Jump: Number Crunch
The owners of the ‘21’ Club have filed a lawsuit against Ocean’s 21, the Vegas-style restaurant and lounge that opened last May in the downtown space formerly known as Marylou’s. (Before being shut down for rampant cocaine dealing a few years ago, it was a late-night hangout for Jack Nicholson, Bret Easton Ellis, and Jay McInerney.) “The ‘21’ Club is claiming ownership of the number 21, and we sort of think that’s silly,” says Ocean’s lawyer, Randy Friedberg. “But we’re the new kids on the block and we don’t have the kind of money to put toward fighting this.” Meanwhile, ‘21’ Club’s lawyer, Jack Landry, is confident the case will soon be settled: “Ocean’s is taking the ‘21’ out of its name.”

Food For Thought: Morsels of Info
Ladies who lunch must be careful to chew slowly. Just ask Jane Wenner (wife of Jann) and Kate Flax, owner of Kate’s Paperie (and estranged wife of Leonard, the Sam Flax scion). Each of these women recently choked on pieces of meat and were lucky enough to be rescued by people who knew how to execute the Heimlich maneuver. “I really gave it to her hard,” deadpans James White, vice-president of Stribling & Associates, who saved Flax during lunch at Payard last week. Wenner’s savior and personal chef, Rob Miketa, was less forthcoming, but we understand an errant meatball was involved.

Socialite Flips: Lily Safra mints money in Fifth Avenue apartment.
Three years ago, socialite Lily Safra, the widow of banking legend Edmond Safra, bought the fourth-floor apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue, where she lives in the penthouse. Last week, she accepted an offer of about $24.5 million for the six-bedroom floor-through. (She’ll be keeping her penthouse.) But it takes more than money to get past the co-op board, ruled by socialite Jayne Wrightsman. In years past, they’ve rejected Valentino, Steve Wynn, and Libbett Johnson. Broker Sharon Baum declined to comment.

What: The Young Patrons of Guild Hall’s Third Annual East Hampton BenefitWho: Hosted by socialites like Samantha Boardman, Marjorie Gubelmann, Jeff Klein,Lulu de Kwiatkowski, Fernanda Niven (and a lot more, but way too many tomention), the night starts off with a screening of Ashtanga, NY, adocumentary about yoga guru Pattabhi Jois. Gwenyth Paltow, Willem Dafoe andMike D. will be on hand to present the film.When and Where: Screening at Guild Hall (158 Main St., East Hampton) at 8pm, followed bysushi and cocktails from 9pm to midnight at Bamboo (47 Montauk Highway, EastHampton)Tix: Tix: guildhall.org or call (631) 324-0806.

Kate Beckinsale’s Meltdown . . . ABC News’s New P […]