Let’s hope Barbara Kopple, the director of ABC’s reality mini-series The Hamptons, is renting on the Vineyard this summer and not the South Fork. Things might get a little too hot for her down at the Blue Parrot, where locals are still reeling from their fifteen minutes of prime-time fame.
“You go for a cup of coffee, people say, ‘Did you see that horrible documentary?’ ” says South Fork publicist Steve Haweeli. “Kopple’s taking a hit like Bill Clinton took a hit. Her reputation is probably never going to be repaired.”
Dan Rattiner, editor of Dan’s Papers, is still fuming. “I know at least fifteen people now who are making their own documentaries about the Hamptons and doing it right!” he says. “One of them is my mother, who’s never made a film before. She had only one word for it: garbage.”
Even the East Hampton Star has weighed in. “Dominating the complaints we have heard is that local people served as window dressing,” it editorialized, adding crossly that none of the film’s stars were “born or bred on these shores.”
Christie Brinkley is one star who should have known better. She hosted a benefit screening of The Hamptons to raise money for her pet charity, Standing for Truth About Radiation, but has been telling friends that she felt betrayed by Kopple’s lighter-than-helium portrayal of her. She is said to be annoyed that a phone chat with Hillary Clinton was left on the cutting-room floor.
Also fed up is Mark Smith, a close friend of restaurateur Jeff Salaway, the owner of Nick and Toni’s, who died in a car crash just hours after being interviewed by Kopple. “It was totally offensive,” says Smith, who eventually took over Salaway’s stake in the restaurant. “When they showed the car being towed away, then the open grave, I thought, Why? If Jeff was still alive, I think he would have felt embarrassed to be in it.”
Even those who got a genuine career boost from the film view it as a mixed blessing. Wainscott waitress turned singer Nancy Atlas, whose gigs Kopple filmed, has seen her Website hits leap from 1,000 a week to 250,000. But not all the traffic was complimentary. “Unfortunately, one of the problems for a singer is that you have to preserve your voice,” she says. “And I finally lost mine about two days ago, just from defending myself over this damned documentary.”