The push to capitalize on Paris Hilton’s porn-meets-prime-time notoriety continues apace. Sources tell The Transom that Ms. Hilton’s management firm, Untitled Entertainment, is talking to Guess? about featuring Ms. Hilton in an upcoming ad campaign for its clothing. “We do have an offer, but I have no other details,” said Ms. Hilton’s manager, Jason Moore, who declined to comment any further on the matter. A source within Guess? sounded flummoxed by the question, but replied: “Nothing’s been decided for the 2004 fall campaign” -which would be the next ad campaign on the company’s agenda-“and no one from advertising has been talking to Hilton.” A call to Guess? co–chief executive Paul Marciano was not returned.
Although Ms. Hilton, star of Fox’s The Simple Life and a green-hued porn film you may have heard about, is a tad bonier than the curvaceous models (Shana Zadrick, Anna Nicole Smith, Claudia Schiffer and Laetitia Casta) who have graced past Guess? ad campaigns, her bad-girl image jibes with the clothing company’s porn-lite ad campaigns.
Meanwhile, though Ms. Hilton’s younger sister Nicky seems to be taking steps to distinguish herself from her sister-dyeing her hair a chaste brunette, for instance-she too seems to be interested in piggybacking on Paris’ highly elevated image. Nicky has signed with a different management firm, Handprint Entertainment, run by J. Lo’s former propaganda minister, Benny Medina. Nicky’s ambitions aren’t as apparent as her sister’s, but judging from a sit-down late last year between the sisters’ respective management firms, she may be flirting with becoming an on-air personality. According to one source close to the negotiations, Handprint was interested in putting together a one-hour special-which the Fox Network was apparently interested in airing-in which Nicky interviewed her sister Paris. The source said that the payday mentioned was approximately $1.6 million to be split by the sisters. But the source added that the idea was eventually vetoed when it ran into resistance from the Hiltons’ father, Rick Hilton, among other family members. Nicky Hilton’s manager, Paul Fisher, said he wouldn’t “deny or confirm” the story. Mr. Moore declined to comment, and a Fox publicist did not respond to our e-mail queries.
A Boob for Bill
It almost felt like the 90’s again when Gennifer Flowers filled the Supper Club with bawdy songs and naughty references to Bill Clinton during the Jan. 25 performance of Boobs! The Musical: The World According to Ruth Wallis.
For those unfamiliar with Wallis, she was a the supper-club singer and songwriter from the 50’s who specialized in such euphemistic songs as “Johnny’s Got a Yo-Yo,” “Queer Things Are Happening” and “The Dinghy Song.” She was “a sensation overseas and in Canada,” but relatively unknown in the U.S. Ms. Flowers, on the other hand, caused quite the stir in America back in 1992 when she announced that Presidential candidate Bill Clinton had been pollinating her for the last 12 years.
And though Ms. Flowers had, according to The New York Times, insisted that the tune “Bill” (sample lyrics: “Somewhere in every lady’s life / Is a guy named Bill …. Somehow you’re sure that you’ll forget / But you never will / So you grow up and marry / Tom, Dick and Harry / But you always remember Bill”) be removed from the show, she still managed to offer up a few winking references to her much-Billyhooed past. In the song “Love Is for the Birds,” she crooned: “Once I loved Billy, now we’re far apart.” And in the unrelated ditty “Drill ’em All,” Ms. Flowers impersonated a young Arkansas minx who’s had her heart broken by Billy Bob Jack, a drill-happy “lyin’ cheatin’ oil man” who sounded like an amalgamation of Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. He had “the biggest rig in Texas” and “he hit on everything that would sit still, and even some that didn’t.”
Boobs! isn’t so much a musical as a series of Wallis’ songs strung together with incongruous choreography and strange outfits. (In one song, a “cat” is portrayed by a woman wearing a Bride of Frankenstein wig, a fabric sack and a round blue cushion sewed to her butt.) And despite the musical’s A Current Affair– meets–Delta House title, the half-full audience was decidedly older than The Transom expected to find: mostly middle-aged types wearing bifocals and thick, cable-knit turtlenecks.
And after talking to a few audience members, one thing became clear: They had no idea that Ms. Flowers-the Gennifer Flowers!-was performing in the title role.
“That was her? I didn’t even realize it!” said Bobby Diamond (“Like the ring!”), a 49-year-old North Carolina resident who was in town for the weekend. “Heck of a voice!” he added.
“She’s not even in the program,” noted Malcolm Cohen, who had attended the show with his wife, Susan. Actually, her bio was printed on a small insert, stuffed inside the old program, which still listed the name of her predecessor. “I don’t think most people knew it was her, so I don’t think people got the references to Bill. If her presence had been clearer, I think there would have been a better reaction from the crowd.”
“There’s been exploration,” Suzanne O’Malley said when The Transom asked her if her new book, Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates, had gotten any interest from Hollywood. Ms. Yates is the Houston mother who drowned her five children in the family bathtub two years ago-subject matter that doesn’t quite jibe with Hollywood’s rose-colored view of reality. But given Charlize Theron’s recent rocket ride to acclaim and awards playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos, those boundaries are a-shifting, and so The Transom asked Ms. O’Malley to humor us and name her dream cast as she attended the publication party for her book on Jan. 20 at the home of Susan Calhoun and Charlie Moss.
“I think that Julia Roberts has a smile that’s similar to Andrea’s,” Ms. O’Malley said as former Daily News editor Ed Kosner, ad man and restaurateur Jerry Della Femina, his television-personality wife Judy Licht and photographer Jill Krementz milled about. “And for Rusty, I think of everyone’s favorite actor-” She stopped and fluttered her hands as the name of the actor she had in mind escaped her. “From Apollo 13,” she said, throwing out a clue.
Tom Hanks! A fitting choice: Mr. Yates works at NASA.
Ms. O’Malley was undecided about whether she’d have a place in the narrative. “That’s something I would solve when I sat down to write the script,” said the former scriptwriter for Law and Order, who went down to Texas intending to spend four days covering the Yates case but stayed for two years. “I’d have to sit down and figure out, ‘Is there a journalist in this story, or does the story tell itself in a different voice?'”
She was more certain about whom she’d want to play her if the situation required it.
“There’s no doubt about it,” said Ms. O’Malley, a tall, slender brunette with regal bone structure and expressive eyes. “Let’s see if you can guess-people often say I look like her.”
Though The Transom couldn’t think of her name at the time, we guessed Anne Ramsay, who played Helen Hunt’s sister on Mad About You.
“Well, yes, ” she said, clearly disappointed. But then she decided to give us the answer: “Meryl Streep!” she said, brightening at the prospect that the Oscar winner might play her. “Without a doubt, Meryl Streep!”
And Ms. Streep can sing! Which is good, because shortly after our conversation with Ms. O’Malley, The Transom ran into Mark O’Donnell, who wrote the musical Hairspray and is currently adapting another John Waters film, Cry-Baby, for the stage. Could Ms. O’Malley’s book be adapted to the stage as a musical, we asked him? “Maybe one of those movies of the week or-you know what? Maybe an opera!” Mr. O’Donnell said. “When a woman kills her children, only the most cynical would see the humor. But, I mean, those people down on Avenue A will try anything. To them, Valley of the Dolls is elementarily hilarious.”
Since tangling with liberal model Lauren Hutton at Atlantic Monthly’s Jan. 20 State of the Union dinner at the Sony Club, Georgette Mosbacher has said that she felt like she was “in the lion’s den,” but one of the evening’s hosts, extremely social fund manager Boykin Curry, actually searched the city looking for other conservatives to invite.
“The New York Times and Daily News-and now Bill O’Reilly on Fox-are making much of poor Georgette Mosbacher being surrounded by hostile Manhattan Democrats and liberal Eastern Republicans,” said Mr. Curry, who is a moderate Democrat. “But I did try hard to get more conservatives. It is hard in New York!” Mr. Curry said he invited Ann Coulter, but she said she “would need a taster …. Only Georgette was brave enough to go it alone,” he added.
Bowling for Jenifer
On Jan. 22, Project A.L.S. raised more than $300,000 for its cause by getting a bunch of celebrities to go bowling. The Mets were there; so were a smattering of The Sopranos’ cast. But Jenifer Estess-who had founded the nonprofit with two of her sisters, Valerie and Meredith-was not. She had succumbed to the disease on Dec. 16.
“This is the first charity event that she’s not at, which is really sad,” said actor Fisher Stevens, a producing partner at Naked Angels, the theater company he co-founded with Jenifer. “She made fun and made light of everything. Throughout six years of the disease, she was able to find the humor in everything: the fact that she couldn’t move, the fact that she couldn’t walk, her weight. She was fearless.”
The actor Richard Kind (Mad About You, Spin City), whose wife, Dana Stanely, is executive director of Project A.L.S., recalled that when Estess was diagnosed with A.L.S., “the doctors told her, ‘You’re going to die in five years. Just go home, max out your credit cards, get fat, eat hamburgers, because you haven’t got a prayer!’ And she said, ‘Screw you, Doc! I gotta go find a cure for this thing!'” Mr. Kind explained that in six years, Estess brought the disease-which previously had been dimly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease-to the forefront of social consciousness, inspiring both a CBS TV movie, Jenifer, and an HBO documentary, Three Sisters: Searching for a Cure. “And she raised-literally-$21 million dollars,” Mr. Kind said. “She did in a fraction of her life what we all, in our lifetime, hope to accomplish.”
“For me right now, Jenifer’s everywhere. In every bowling ball, every bowling shoe!” Valerie Estess said amid the sound of clattering pins. “Jenifer is still here, and in her name and in her memory, we’re going to be fighting until we put some meaningful medicine into play. As a family of sisters, we all understood that if one of us were to go down, the rest just keep fighting. This disease is going down!”
So, The Transom asked, did Jenifer like to bowl? “Oh, come on! Jenifer bowled!” Ms. Estess laughed. “You know, [if] you’re from Harrison, N.Y., you bowl!”
But if you’re Mets owner Fred Wilpon, you don’t, even if your team is hosting the event. “No, I’m a watcher!” he told us, wiping at the lapels of his sharp navy suit. “I just got sprayed with beer,” he explained.
Mets captain John Franco had just finished filming a segment for a local NBC affiliate, at the end of which he turned around and bowled a perfect strike on the first try. “I’m pretty good,” he admitted. “About a 175 average.”
Among the Sopranos actors strutting about were Michael Imperioli, Steve Schirripa and Tony Sirico, who looked like he’d walked right off the set in his black sport coat and matching shirt, which was opened to reveal a few sprigs of gray chest hair. A pinkie ring completed the outfit.
Vincent (Big Pussy) Pastore had opted not to bowl. “No, actually I’m bettin’!” he said. “I’m betting on Johnny Franco’s team. That’s my boy over there! Oh, I can’t tell you how much, because I’ll probably get locked up. But I’ve got a lot riding.”
This month, there will be no wicker horses in the windows of the Madison Avenue Hermès store, home of the $6,000 Birkin bag and the coveted orange-and-brown bow. In place of the buttery leather saddle draped with a cashmere throw is a large photograph of two lonely women standing on either side of a beam on a bleak subway platform-part of an exhibit of Bruce Davidson’s photographs from the new edition of his book Subway being shown in the store’s gallery. Just one flight above the shelves of $400 pastel towels, $3,500 plush bed throws and foot-long baby robes selling for $1,050, Mr. Davidson’s images of broken subway windows, children clutching their prizes from Coney Island and tangles of hands on top of each other gripping subway poles arrest the eye of anyone who can make it up the steps to the top floor without fainting first from the $13,000 price tags on the alligator-skin bags below.
The Jan. 22 unveiling of Mr. Davidson’s work drew Lord and Lady Albemarle, author David Halberstam, club kid Richie Rich, actor Marisa Tomei and Norman Mailer’s son, John Buffalo Mailer. “To me, this is the Hermitage, not Hermès,” said Mr. Davidson, who wore a bright orange dress shirt with gray pants. “You can find a Hermès bag on the subway, truthfully-everyone rides the subway. Maybe even Martha Stewart takes the subway. I mean, she will soon!”
The evening’s D.J., Fab Five Freddy, in a black leather jacket and matching cap, said that Hermès was “pretty clever” to house the photographs. “It’s very New York, very urban, and then it’s artistic. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of [Bruce’s] other work, but he’s like pretty, pretty super-duper amazing with what he does. So this is a nice marriage, and it gives their brand, in my opinion, some sense of reality.” Fab Five Freddy added, “Now if I could just get a free Birkin bag for all that.”