Countdown to Bliss

John Sloss and Kathryn Tucker

Met: Sept. 10, 1996

Engaged: May 18, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: July 20, 2002

John Sloss was cross. It was the L.A. premiere of David Mamet’s American Buffalo , and the filmmakers had thanked a lot of people at the screening, but not him-the executive producer! “I was sort of stomping around in a huff ,” he said.

Kathryn Tucker, an aspiring actress, noticed the sulking, hulking, gap-toothed Mr. Sloss at the after-party, where they were seated at the same table. “I left that night thinking, ‘Oh, what a dreadful guy,’ because he kept complaining about how nobody appreciated him,” she said. “He sat down at the table and was just like, ‘Poor me, poor me, poor me me me me !’ And then my friend and I left later and I was like, ‘You know, I bet I’m going to marry that guy.’”

They ran into each other again the next night at a party at a director’s house in Culver City. (“We can’t name names,” said the couple.) Mr. Sloss was getting sloshed. “I kept trying to walk away from him, and he kept trying to follow me!” said Ms. Tucker, who is 32, strawberry-blond, busty and button-nosed.

“That’s not true,” said Mr. Sloss, 46.

“It’s so true. It’s absolutely true!” said Ms. Tucker. “I couldn’t shake him.”

After the party, they wound up with a bunch of other guests at the Viper Room, the nightclub where River Phoenix met his untimely end.

“John got really drunk and asked me my sign,” said Ms. Tucker. “I said I was Aquarius, and I said, ‘What’s your sign?’ He said Taurus, and I said, ‘Oh, my mom’s a Taurus,’ and he goes, ‘Oh my God, we’re meant to be together in some Freudian zodiacal way, because my father’s an Aquarius and your mother’s a Taurus!”

“Which, of course, proved to be the case,” said Mr. Sloss.

Ms. Tucker played hard to get at first-”I thought he was too old for me,” she said-but when he called at 3 a.m. that night, she consented to a decorous breakfast meeting. The next night, he took her to hang out with the director Edward Burns. “I thought it was a brave move, because Eddie is, you know, a good-looking guy, and he was single and much closer to my age than John is,” said Ms. Tucker. “But I’m not into pretty boys who want to be movie stars. I’m into smart men. I was into John.”

The next week, while traveling abroad for business, Mr. Sloss called to tell her that he was “deeply and irrevocably in love” with her. “I was given to hyperbole,” he said.

Originally from a hick town in Pennsylvania, Ms. Tucker was at a turning point in her life and had started to tire of the Hollywood scene. “Now I find it really treacherous and boring,” she said. “But when I first got there, I was like, ‘ Wow !’”

She’d been dating a famous rock star-”I can’t name names,” she said-but it hadn’t ended well. It didn’t take much to cajole her to move east to Manhattan, where Mr. Sloss’ entertainment-law practice is based. She gave up acting and began a second career writing screenplays and, with his blessing, executive-producing Stevie , a documentary about a child molester by the director of Hoop Dreams. He’s an executive producer on Tadpole , the chick flick of the moment. When he proposed, it was en route from Cannes to Paris. They are hitting their showbiz groove … together.

But sometimes even their 3,400-square-foot Greene Street loft isn’t big enough for the both of them.

“His reputation is that he’s one of the toughest negotiators in Hollywood, and I deal with that in our relationship every day, which is really hard,” she said. “It’s like we decide where we’re going to have dinner, and he’ll come up with an entire psychological-warfare game to decide whether or not we’re going to get Chinese or Italian, you know?”

Mr. Sloss likes his bride-to-be’s “feisty” quality. “She gives as good as she takes,” he said, “and with me, it’s not easy.”

They’ll be wed at their sprawling country house in Germantown, N.Y. Ms. Tucker will wear a crocheted Vivienne Westwood gown and a 2.6-carat, emerald-cut diamond in a platinum setting that she picked out herself. A lot of fancy Hollywood people are coming, but …

“We can’t name names,” said the couple.

Ari Ackerman and Mandee Heller

Met: July 1996

Engaged: Dec. 23, 2001

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 25, 2002

Instead of a stuffy rehearsal dinner, this dark-haired, athletic couple is going to have a “Camp Day” upstate, with s’mores and a tug of war.

You might call the groom, Ari Ackerman, obsessed with camp. He grew up in Manhattan and was shipped out of town for 11 consecutive summers. After Duke and business school, he started a Web site called Bunk1.com that lets parents log on and, as he puts it, “experience the magic” of their kids’ camp experience through photos and newsletters.

He first met Mandee Heller at a pool party. He was shooting hoops; she was lounging around in a blue bikini. “Wow, who’s that cutie?” thought Mr. Ackerman, all but panting. She found him “factually attractive” as opposed to “debatedly attractive.” But they didn’t really get past “Hi.”

The following December, he saw her again at a mutual friend’s holiday party-”I remember thinking, ‘Oh! That’s the cutie from the pool!’” he said-and this time they wound up together later at Le Bar Bat on 57th Street.

“We started kissing on the dance floor,” said Mr. Ackerman, 31.

“We completely clicked,” said Ms. Heller, 29. “I was completely smitten. My friends told me not to get my hopes up because he might not call, but I was pretty sure he would. He was very sweet. He took me home in a cab.”

“We made out the whole way in the cab,” said Mr. Ackerman. “She gave me her number, and I said, ‘If I don’t call you, it means I lost it!’”

He called the next day, like a good Boy Scout, and they embarked on a romance that includes frequent outdoorsy, healthy activities, like softball games. “I usually play catcher,” said Ms. Heller, who went to Penn as an undergrad, has a degree from the Harvard Business School and runs Wfn.net, an online women’s financial network. “Ari’s the pitcher, and it’s kinda fun because the catcher and the pitcher have a lot of communication, and he knows he can run and catch the ball from home plate, and I’ll move out of the way and there’ll be no problem. “

The couple both live near Union Square but held off on moving in together. Mr. Ackerman observed that his sweetie was “incredibly supportive” and “loves to organize.”

“She’s like my little camp counselor,” he said. “My own personal camp director.”

Forty-nine months into the relationship, she was visiting his parents’ house in West Hampton when she found a trail of Cheetos, her favorite snack food, leading up to a hot tub on the roof. Awaiting her was a little laminated folio enumerating 49 reasons that Mr. Ackerman loved her and 49 promises he was making to her, as well as a smattering of candles, two flutes of champagne … and one sparkling emerald-cut diamond ring.

“We made a mess!” he said with evident satisfaction.

Erin Trowbridge and Jonathon Mintz

Met: April 1992

Engaged: Jan. 1, 2001

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 1, 2002

Erin Trowbridge was a farm girl from Indiana, studying women’s issues at Sarah Lawrence and a bit out of her element. On her first date with Jon Mintz, an indie-film key grip whom she’d met at a party on the Upper West Side, she was delighted to discover that he too had read Theater of the Oppressed , the Brazilian Marxist political-theory manifesto. “I took myself very, very seriously,” said Ms. Trowbridge, 31, a delicate-featured, winsome blonde, “but Jon didn’t mind. He laughed at it and made me laugh at it, too.” He didn’t mind paying for dinner and movie tickets to The Player , either. (Ms. Trowbridge had been planning to insist that they go Dutch, but had figured she’d only need to bring $20-you’re not in Indiana anymore, honey!)

“I had a feeling that I’d never had before,” said Mr. Mintz, 36.

They got serious pretty quickly, but after Sarah Lawrence, Ms. Trowbridge attended the Columbia School of Journalism, landed a gig as a traveling correspondent for The Earth Times , a policy publication, and decided that a serious relationship was baggage she didn’t need.

“I missed her constantly ,” said Mr. Mintz. “For the first three years after we broke up, I think I thought about her every 10 minutes. Ten minutes would go by and I’d think, ‘Oh! I didn’t think about Erin!’” He’d call her voice mail repeatedly, just to hear her on the outgoing message.

But their relationship remained pretty healthy, considering. She’d blow into town and they’d have dinner. Once, she was totally freaking out about a press conference with Yasir Arafat, and he stayed up till 5 a.m. giving her a crash course on Middle Eastern affairs.

By the fall of 1999 she was tired of globe-trotting, had resettled in Manhattan and decided she’d like to get back together with Mr. Mintz. She invited him over for a viewing of Camille Claudel , the lusty Gérard Depardieu–Isabel Adjani film about Rodin’s lover and fellow sculptor-and you can guess what happened next.

Soon they were sharing a one-bedroom on East 12th Street and plotting a wedding with an East Village theme, a “weekend of urban adventure” that will culminate when they smoosh pumpkin cake with edible wildflowers in one another’s faces at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Norfolk Street. Ms. Trowbridge’s 1920′s-style dress, modeled on that of the victim in the movie version of Death on the Nile , is being made by a guy who owns a fetish shop on St. Mark’s Place.

“Knowing Erin is knowing a range of human experience that I could never know any other way,” said Mr. Mintz, who’s assistant-directing Corn , a movie that he describes as Erin Brockovich meets Rosemary’s Baby . “I would need to be able to read all of literature, see every play and experience all of fine art. It’s strength, it’s pride, it’s jealousy, it’s passion .”

“He sees the world in this way that makes it livable for me and enjoyable for me,” said Ms. Trowbridge, who now works at the U.N. doing communications in the development program. She’s wearing a diamond that her late father bought her mother on his tour of duty in Vietnam. Mr. Mintz had it set in a platinum “tension mount” that clasps it with 12,500 pounds of pressure.

“I thought it was an accurate reflection of our relationship,” he said.

You can reach the Love Beat via email at engagements@observer.com