The Transom

Algonquin

Go-Round

What fresh hotel operator is this? The Denver, Colo.–based

real-estate development company Miller Global Properties has signed a

conditional contract to buy the onetime haunt of writer Dorothy Parker and her

vicious circle, the Algonquin Hotel, for between $41 million and $42 million,

according to sources close to the situation. If the deal goes through, Miller

Global will become the Algonquin’s sixth owner, and its second in six years.

The hotel, which is located on 44th Street between Fifth and

Sixth avenues, has been on the market since January 2001. The sources said its

current principal owner, the Dallas-based Olympus Real Estate Partners, showed

the property through Eastdil Realty, the exclusive adviser to Olympus, to

almost 20 interested parties. The asking price, according to one source: $50

million.

That same source said that

Bernard Goldberg, who owns the Mansfield, Wales, Shoreham, and Roger Williams

hotels in Manhattan, had signed a letter of intent to buy the Algonquin, for a

price “in the mid-40′s,” just before Sept. 11. But after the terrorist attack

on the World Trade Center and the bad hotel business that followed, that deal

fell through.

Olympus, the real-estate arm of the leveraged-buyout firm Hicks,

Muse, Tate & Furst, purchased the Algonquin in 1997 for $32.6 million.

Real-estate sources told The Transom that the company has put approximately $7

million into renovations, including the addition of eight rooms and one suite.

Olympus also made an effort to capitalize on the hotel’s

considerable literary history. In the late 20′s and early 30′s, the hotel

became a daily hangout for Mrs. Parker, Alexander Woollcott, Edna Ferber,

George S. Kaufman and other writers and wits who became known as the Algonquin

Roundtable. The 1998 renovation included the refurbishment of the oak walls in

the Rose Room, where the group used to meet and “The Spoken Word,” a series of

readings, continues to meet on Monday nights. In October, the hotel and The Times Literary Supplement will

jointly celebrate their 100th birthdays.

Despite these efforts, however, the hotel never managed to

recapture the fizz that Mrs. Parker and her cohorts brought to the place. While

a drink at the Algonquin continues to be on the to-do list of any Bennington

graduate with literary aspirations, the publishing scene has long since

dispersed. In the 90′s, it was across the street at the Royalton’s ’44′

restaurant where then– New Yorker

editor Tina Brown liked to hold serial meetings. More recently, the publishing

crowd has opted for the titanium-walled Condé Nast cafeteria or the

ambition-soaked atmosphere at Michael’s.

One source familiar with the situation said that if the deal is

finalized, the Algonquin will be Miller Global’s first hotel acquisition in New

York. As a result, the source said, the company is in talks with management

groups-including the Kimpton Group, Lowe Enterprises’ Destination Hotels and

Resorts Inc., and Tishman Hotel Corporation-that could operate the Algonquin on

its behalf.

Clark Hanrattie, a New York–based managing director of Olympus

Real Estate, declined to comment on current negotiations or confirm the

interest of Miller Global Properties, but explained the company’s eagerness to

sell.

“The money that we manage is really designed to acquire and

reposition real estate within four to six years, and we’re pushing five to six

years in the ownership of the Algonquin …. We are really at the point now where

we have accomplished our business plan.”

Which reminds us of something Mrs. Parker once said: “If you want

to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

– Rebecca Traister

Elisabeth,

Alone

Gentlemen, start your pickup lines. Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord is

single!

The whine from New York’s social grapevine is that the

22-year-old socialite and daughter of accessories designer Barry

Kieselstein-Cord has been dating Adam Dell, baby brother to computer magnate

Michael Dell, since she parted with her boyfriend of two years, investment

banker Stanley Shashoua.

Reached by phone, Ms. Kieselstein-Cord denied that a romance was

blossoming between herself and Mr. Dell. “Adam Dell is a family friend. He and

I are both from Texas, and I have a limited number of friends from home,” she

said. “I am not ready to date anybody. I was in a relationship for two years,

and I still think of Stanley. He is my heart and soul. But I felt that we both

needed a break, and it didn’t have to do with a third party.” (At press time,

Mr. Shashoua could not be reached for comment.)

Ms. Kieselstein-Cord said she had actually tried to leave Mr.

Shashoua seven times in the past, but that she “would break up with him for a

grand total of five minutes, because we really do adore each other and we

couldn’t stay apart.”

But this time, she said, it’s for real. Two weeks ago, she moved

out of the Upper East Side house she shared with Mr. Shashoua. “That was the

moment of final justice. The spaceship landed. The mothership checked out,” she

said, even though the breakup has left her feeling “like an albatross with one

wing.”

Now, Ms. Kieselstein-Cord said she has thrown herself into her

work, while Mr. Shashoua has been “partying and hanging out with

I-don’t-know-who.

“I basically installed a Murphy bed in my office, and he

[Stanley] was at an Oscar party,” she noted with a tight laugh. “He’s only 32,

so he probably has some wild oats to sow. And he’s sowing a lot. I don’t know

how far he’s spreading his seed, but hopefully he’ll keep his head about him

and maybe someday we’ll get back together.”

In the meantime, Ms. Kieselstein-Cord isn’t exactly behaving like

a shut-in. On April 2, the day she spoke to The Transom, she was planning to

attend the premiere that evening of Robin Leacock’s socialite documentary It Girls , in which she is prominently

featured. She also said she’s being approached by “the most fantastic,

interesting, beautiful boys, who seem to be coming out of the woodwork.” Still,

she added, she “can’t get used to the idea of kissing somebody [else]. I’m

still kind of ooky about it.”

Though Ms. Kieselstein-Cord

claimed to have initiated the breakup, she said speculation about her and Mr.

Dell had her worried that Mr. Shashoua may be getting the wrong impression

about her brave new life as a bachelorette. “I think he’s been fed a lot of

false information. His friends are probably saying that I’ve moved on,” she

said. “Serena Boardman told me that the general consensus was that he was more

in love with me than I was in love with him, and I don’t know where that comes

from.”

She did confess, however, that over this past weekend, she has

developed a “teeny-tiny crush” on someone whose name she wouldn’t divulge.

“It’s just like a twinkle in my eye,” she said. “When I was with

Stanley, I was making him tuna-fish sandwiches every day. I’m sort of

Supergirlfriend, like a soccer mom with how much I take care of him, so it was

really a major lifestyle change.”

When The Transom suggested that it sounded like Ms.

Kieselstein-Cord could really, really use

a torrid fling before the inevitable return of Stanley and his tuna-fish

sandwiches, the socialite broke into embarrassed laughter.

“Oh no, I’m not a fling-er. It’s great just to have a crush on

someone. It’s a big step. I’m such a dork.”

– R.T.

SSSSuspicious

Ever wonder how, post–Sept. 11, the airlines single out certain

passengers to be searched at the gate? It may not be their thick-soled shoes or

Moussaoui-an scowls that make them subject to extra scrutiny. It may be their

ticket.

The Transom has learned that certain boarding passes issued by

major airlines at New York–area airports are flagged with a special code-four

consecutive S’s-that indicate a passenger should be searched at the gate.

On a March 15 United Airlines flight from Newark to San

Francisco, for example, the boarding passes of several searched passengers bore

a box enclosing the letters “S S S S” near the upper right-hand corner of the

ticket. Another passenger whose driver’s license had expired was told at the

security checkpoint that she would have to undergo a gate search. The security

agent then wrote four S’s on her boarding pass in pen before letting her pass.

The woman was searched at the gate.

Though the code indicates that at least some of the airlines are

attempting to be more vigilant about just who travels on their planes, some

skeptics contend it’s too obvious and could easily be skirted by terrorists.

Eric Schmeltzer, a spokesman for Representative Jerrold Nadler of

Manhattan, told The Transom that he recently inquired about the matter with a

friend of the Congressman who works at the Federal Aviation Administration.

“What I found out,” Mr. Schmeltzer said, “according to our contact at the

F.A.A., is there are a number of carriers that do mark boarding passes with

some sort of indication that passengers with that boarding pass will be

searched.” He added: “It’s not all carriers, and it’s not all airports, but

they did confirm it is a number of them.”

Mr. Schmeltzer said his contact at the F.A.A. explained that the

marks on the tickets are there to prove that airlines are not stopping

passengers based on race and ethnicity. “The computers do pick randomly,” Mr.

Schmeltzer said. The S-boxes on boarding passes keep an official, written

record of who was stopped and prove, Mr. Schmeltzer said, “that it was totally

random.”

The F.A.A. is not entirely in the driver’s seat on this issue,

however. The Transportation Security Administration-which, like the F.A.A., is

part of the federal government’s Department of Transportation-has also played a

role in determining security policy. Mr. Schmeltzer said that current safety

procedures leave decisions about how to mark boarding passes “up to the

individual airlines. There is no uniform procedure.”

A spokesman for United Airlines declined to comment on the

matter, but he did say that the airline “would be following T.S.A. policy on

that.”

T.S.A. spokesman Paul Turk

also declined to comment on the S-boxes. He said the computer security system

“identifies individuals for cause who will receive additional attention, and it

also identifies people at random, and that is done so that there is no bias by

race, sex, religion or means of dress-so that anyone boarding the airplane does

have a chance at being a random selectee.”

Though Mr. Turk would not confirm the existence of particular

marks on boarding passes, he did say that one reason for such markings could be

“deterrence. If you don’t want to chance somebody finding it on you, you

shouldn’t bring it on the plane.”

But Mr. Schmeltzer called the S-code “obvious” and said, “I think

there may be better ways to do that, so that it doesn’t alert a potential

terrorist that they will be stopped so they can drop their weapons.”

Mr. Schmeltzer didn’t say whether Mr. Nadler is planning any

action on the issue right now. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with

federalization” of airport security, he said .

-Ian Blecher

Swag

the Bastard

Director John Waters knows the latest techniques in exacting

revenge on difficult movie stars. Mr. Waters hosted the 2002 I.F.P./West

Independent Spirit Awards on March 23 on the beach at Santa Monica, Calif., and

in his opening monologue he told the celebrity publicists in the crowd: “If

you’re handling a star that gets on your nerves, swag the bastard.” The

director of Hairspray and Pink Flamingos went on to describe a

strategy wherein, “at the end of your hellish press day, the press agent rushes

back into the hotel suite just after the star leaves, empties the mini bar,

steals the liquor, breaks some furniture, stains the sheets with chocolates and

gets out quickly. The studio will fume at the hotel’s padded bill. The gossip

about the star’s alcoholism will begin. His or her sex life will be besmirched

by the maids. And the offending quote-talent-unquote will never be the wiser.”

Mr. Waters also encouraged the gathered quote-talent-unquote to

star in the porno-knockoff versions of their highbrow movies. He then reeled

off a number of titles, including Up in

My Deep End ; In the Bedroom, Nude;

Things in My Son’s Behind; and L.I.E. Down , which would be the X-rated

versions of respectively, The Deep End , In the Bedroom , Things Behind the Sun and L.I.E.

“I think I’ll take John’s advice,” Steve Buscemi said when he won

the Best Supporting Male Award for his performance in Ghost World . Mr. Buscemi said he was going to reconsider the offer

he got “for Goat World .”

-Frank DiGiacomo

Debbie Does Broadway?

There’s still no official word on the future of Debbie Does Dallas , the musical, which

had three workshop performances on the weekend of March 29 at the Jane Street

Theatre. The hotly anticipated production of the 1979 porn classic about

high-school cheerleaders earning money the old-fashioned way was a sell-out hit

at August’s Fringe Festival, where it was picked up by the Araca Group, one of

the producers of Urinetown .

The Jane Street readings were pretty swanky in comparison to most

bare-bones, folding-chairs-in-rehearsal-room workshops. Debbie ‘s penetration-free performances included props- bananas! giant candles! -cheerleading

costumes and some sort of steam machine.

The sold-out crowds included Next

Stop Wonderland actress Hope Davis, who dates Debbie actor Jon Patrick Walker; the actor and director Joe

Mantello, who is directing the Araca Group’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune in August; Arija Bareikis

from the recently canceled The American

Embassy ; and Rent director

Michael Grief.

The Saturday-night crowd was

served free keg beer before settling in for the two-hour, intermissionless

performance. They whooped appreciatively when the house manager suggested that

they “turn their cell phones to vibrate !”

Conceived by Susan Schwartz, Debbie Does Dallas is an adaptation of

the 1979 X-rated Bambi Woods vehicle, which focuses on virginal Debbie Benton,

who wants to travel to Dallas to become a Cowboys cheerleader but doesn’t have

enough money to get there.

When she tells her friends on the local pep squad about her

dilemma, they suggest getting jobs for a series of lecherous men in town. In

the staged production, songs substituted for action in several scenes, such as

the one involving the local candle-store owner, Mr. Hardwick. After catching

one of his teenage female employees engaging in a bit of wax-assisted onanism,

he sings:

Masturbation’s natural

Masturbation’s fun

Everybody’s doing it

You’re not the only one.

The narrative of the stage show follows the movie

faithfully-don’t ask The Transom how we know this, we just do-and Debbie Benton

eventually parts with her purity (and her quarterback boyfriend) in order to

make a buck.

The show’s message is summed up in the following lyric:

There are different ways to

get to the top of the pile

At least my way makes me

smile.

On Monday, April 1, the Broadwaystars.com Web site posted word

that rehearsals would start on April 29, there would be a “tentative preview”

on May 23, and the show would open in mid-June at Jane Street.

But Clint Bond Jr., head of the Araca Group’s marketing team,

denied that those dates were solid and reiterated that the Araca Group, which

will be the show’s main producer, was still in discussion about the future of

the show and wouldn’t know anything for several days.

By Tuesday, April 2, Broadwaystars.com had retracted its post

about Debbie dates, at the request of

the Araca Group.

The show’s publicity representative at Boneau Bryan Brown also

could not confirm the Jane Street Theater dates and said only that “they are in

conversations about it. It probably will move forward and will happen in the

spring.”

– R.T.

Speaking

of Ooky …

“Dating? No. Well, what’s dating anyway?” Butch Patrick

stammered. It was the afternoon of April 2. Mr. Patrick, who played

widow-peaked Eddie Munster on the TV series

The Munsters from 1964 to 1966, was asked whether the rumor was true that

he and actress Lisa Loring, who portrayed Wednesday Addams on The Addams Family during the same years,

had entered into one of those Ripley’s

Believe It or Not romances akin to Barry (Greg Brady) Williams dating his

television mom, Florence Henderson. “She’s a girl, she’s my friend, we spend a lot of time together,” Mr. Patrick said.

“Is she a girlfriend? We’re not exclusive like that.”

Ms. Loring, who was spending

the day with Mr. Patrick, agreed: “We’re really good friends.” Mr. Patrick did

confirm, however, that they have “kissed.”

The pair met 12 years ago through Paul Peterson, a mutual friend

who runs a support group for child stars to make sure they don’t end up like

the Diff’rent Strokes kids. The

pressures on child actors brought Mr. Patrick and her together, Ms. Loring said.

“You have to learn to be an adult at an early age. I’m friends with quite a few

child stars from that period-I’m not free to say their names.”

In 1997, as a publicity

stunt, Ms. Loring and Mr. Patrick even staged a mock wedding in Pittsburgh. “A

local D.J. showed up as the Pope to marry us. Five thousand people were

there-we even had rings made,” Mr. Patrick said. “It was great.” At the time, Mr.

Patrick was dating someone else. That all ended just before Christmas 2001,

however.

Which makes Mr. Patrick available for the first time in seven

years. Ms. Loring-who spent the 80′s living in New York and playing Cricket

Montgomery Ross on As the World Turns -is

now single as well. That may explain why they’ve been seeing a lot of each

other lately. “We did the Big Apple [Comic] Convention together. We do radio

interviews all over the country together,” Ms. Loring said. “Not only do they

get Eddie Munster, they get Wednesday Addams! People get a real kick out of it.

When they meet both , the combination

is just so great. The series were shown at the same time. Two television icons,

we play off each other very well.” They’re promoting Club One 51 together on

April 3, and then they’re heading to Vegas to do some appearances at the Club

de Soleil, where Mr. Patrick is the talent-promotion coordinator.

“We have Jerry Mathers too,” Mr. Patrick said.

-I.B.