When the New York Post identified publicist Lizzie Grubman’s front-row companion at the Feb. 10 Alice Roi fashion show as her “new love,” they apparently hadn’t checked with his wife.
Ms. Grubman attended the show in a “Love” T-shirt and sat next to a man whom the Post referred to as “a financier named Jeff.” The blurb went on to quote a “pal” as saying that “they met through friends and have been quietly dating.”
“Jeff” is Jeffrey Tognetti, a day-trader from Rockland County who has been married for eight years. When reached for comment, Ms. Grubman said that she and Mr. Tognetti were just “very close friends” and that she didn’t “even know his last name.”
Ms. Grubman then confirmed that Mr. Tognetti was “an investment person” and reiterated that “he’s a special friend.” When The Transom asked her whether Mr. Tognetti’s marriage crimped the specialness, she said: “No, no, we’re not dating.”
Mr. Tognetti said he hadn’t seen the Post item, though he confirmed attending the Alice Roi show with Ms. Grubman, whom he called a “friend.”
“We’re not dating in any way, shape or form,” he said. His wife was yelling in the background. “See, now look what you did!” he told The Transom. He said he’d been to parties with Ms. Grubman, but had never “gone out and about” with her. He urged the public to “take [the Post story] with a grain of salt.”
Ms. Grubman and Mr. Tognetti certainly have something in common–indictments. Ms. Grubman is about to face trial in Suffolk County on charges that, in July 2001, she ran over 16 patrons of the Conscience Point Inn nightclub in Southampton with her father’s S.U.V.
Mr. Tognetti was convicted in January 2000 on charges of securities fraud. Then a trader with Edge Money Management, he was found guilty of using over $1 million that he’d raised to start his own firm for personal purposes. His investors included the late musician Victor Borge. Mr. Tognetti did not receive jail time, and told The Transom that “the judge in my case felt as if I was wronged.”
– Rebecca Traister and Ian Blecher Minghella’s Mountain When 48-year-old British director Anthony Minghella began his adaptation of Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain , you got the feeling he was keen on doing a real American movie. “I’m going to take a year writing,” he said at the time, “and I’m going to visit North Carolina!”
For Mr. Minghella, this was exotic. His epochal Miramax hits, The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley , were filmed on location all over Italy and Northern Africa, from Trieste to Tozeur, Tunisia. Truly, Madly, Deeply was set and filmed in London and Bristol. The only American film Mr. Minghella has made is Mr. Wonderful , a romantic comedy starring Matt Dillon that grossed $3 million.
Cold Mountain should do better. It was a New York Times best-seller for 82 weeks, it won the 1997 National Book Award, and it’s not even snooty and elitist like The Corrections . It’s about a soldier from North Carolina who was hurt in the Civil War–a 19th-century war in which the British hardly participated.
Recently, though, film-industry insiders have said that Mr. Minghella is planning on shooting the movie in Europe–possibly in England, where he owns a farm. A rep for Miramax, which is co-producing the project, confirmed that sites in Europe are “under consideration. There has not been any decision yet.” The rep didn’t rule out North Carolina as a possibility. A decision will be made “over the next few weeks,” he said.
–I.B. Crazy Ladies’ Night
During his Feb. 13 shows at Town Hall, after playing his song “Grey Gardens,” pop folk singer Rufus Wainwright, son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, said, “That was dedicated to Edie Beale, who died a couple of weeks ago. And she was the star of Grey Gardens. ” Grey Gardens is the 1975 cult documentary about “Little Edie” Beale and her mother, “Big Edie,” two cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who lived in resplendent squalor in East Hampton. Mr. Wainwright paused for a brief moment of silence before moving on by saying, “O.K., whatever.” A few minutes later, Mr. Wainwright made another dedication, “The Consort.” “This is for Princess Margaret,” he announced. (The Queen’s sister died on Feb. 9.) “It’s crazy dead ladies’ night!”
Steve Lewis at Club Fed
Nightclub director Steve Lewis, a veteran of Danceteria, Palladium, the World, Limelight, Tunnel, Red Zone, Life and Spa, was a little surprised to read on Feb. 10 that he was in jail. The New York Post ‘s Neal Travis had run an item saying Mr. Lewis–who was convicted in 1999 for conspiracy to traffic narcotics at the Tunnel–had “surrendered to the feds to begin serving a year’s sentence.”
Which will happen, but not until the end of February, when he goes away to a minimum-security “camp.” “He hasn’t gone in yet, I know,” Mr. Travis said. “He’s surrendered and he’s given them where he wants to go. I said he surrendered to them, which he has. He turned himself over to them.
“And then my sources thought he’d go in quickly. He surrendered on Feb. 4. He has sort of nominated where he’d like to be sent. They’ve said, ‘Well, there’s three federal prisons, think they’re all in the South.’ So he hasn’t gone inside yet, but he’s given up and he’s going to go; they’re now dickering about where he goes.”
Reached by telephone on Feb. 12, Mr. Lewis sounded upbeat, but, he said, “it’s nothing to celebrate.”
But Mr. Lewis’ conscience is pretty clear.
“I didn’t want to tell lies to save my ass, even against somebody as evil as Peter Gatien,” he said. “What was required of me in any of these scenarios was to admit my guilt. No matter what happened, I refused to do that because I’m not guilty of the crimes that I was accused.”
His sentence is a year and a day, but he will be eligible for early release.
“I think this’ll be a good experience, and I’m looking forward to getting out,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’m not unhappy. Maybe two minutes just before they pull the plug I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God.’ But right now, I’m kind of looking forward to the experience. A lot of people have gone to jail and come out pretty good, you know? Ian Schrager and Steve [Rubell] did all right.”
So how will he pass the time?
“I think I’ll write. I write a lot. I’m really looking forward to having real sleep for the first time in about 20 years. I’m known for staying up for 20 hours a day; I’m a workaholic. Maybe in a situation like this I can actually take a few deep breaths. Hug my pillow and watch TV. I never watch TV; I guess I’ll have plenty opportunity to do that. I’ve never seen TV shows like Cosby or Laverne & Shirley or Friends or Seinfeld . I’ve always been working. So I’m going to watch TV, I think. I’m really looking forward to embracing the medium.”
Mr. Lewis said he didn’t think he’d write a book. “I think that’s a cliché. I’ve been working on screenplays, and I’m actually acting right now in some movie [ A Day in the Night ], playing somebody similar to myself–a little bit more evil, I think. I wrap my part–I think I get killed–tomorrow or the next day.”
So there’s an up side to the experience?
“I’ve come out of this with great relations. I tell you, I go into this feeling good.”
Mr. Travis is not so sure. “Did he tell you he’s also flat broke?” he said.
Scent of Carolina
On Valentine’s Day evening, Carolina Herrera, of the namesake uptown brand, launched her new fragrance, Chic, at the New York Kunsthalle, a nonprofit cutting-edge art-exhibition space on East Fifth Street. In the entrance hall was a long red carpet lined on both sides by television monitors showing Ms. Herrera’s latest collection. Guests rose in the elevator and found themselves in a loft-like space covered with red-themed art: Ms. Herrera by Andy Warhol, a nice big Rothko that’s on loan to the Kunsthalle collection.
Ms. Herrera’s name was beamed in red letters on one of the white walls. Here and there, red boxes of perfume lay on white blocks. The scent of white flowers–Ms. Herrera’s scents are white flowers–floated through the air as Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey made for the canapés. Nearby, however, a different scent reigned, kindred to the nicotine section at the Subway Bar: Under a plastic canopied verandah, guests huddled with cigarettes in the cold. Amid the potted plants, Ms. Herrera herself, next to her daughter Carolina Adriana, puffed away.
“I wanted to have the feeling of summer in the middle of winter,” Ms. Herrera explained to a chilled Transom. “And also, people can come out and smoke and have a different atmosphere.”
Let’s not kill all the lawyers–just the ones who aren’t funny. Both Lisa Bloom and James Curtis, the hosts of Court TV’s Closing Arguments , each came up with a decent lawyer joke at the party that the cable channel and Ms. Bloom’s mother, attorney Gloria Allred, threw for the anchors at Nirvana restaurant on Feb. 7. Mr. Curtis offered his during his remarks to the crowd, which included attorney and Court TV personality Ed Hayes, author Dominick Dunne and CNN newscaster Paula Zahn (who narrowly avoided her former boss, Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes). “They say that a bunch of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean–what do you call that?–is a good start,” Mr. Curtis said. But then he ruined the punch line by claiming that Court TV’s attorneys were exempt from this rule. Ms. Bloom gave The Transom hers in person: “If a lawyer falls into shark-infested waters, she doesn’t get bitten. Why not? Professional courtesy.” Ba-da-bump!
The Kingdom and the Shower At around 2:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, epic nonfiction prose writer Gay Talese, 70, natty, trim–in a fedora and tweedy suit–walked into the Equinox gym on Lexington Avenue. Though consumed by a book on China, Mr. Talese has lately been spending an hour and a half at the gym each day. “I live a block away,” he said. “I get on the bicycle and read The New York Times –usually with an eye on CNN. For years, I went to the Vertical Club to play tennis; then they changed the name to the L.A. Something Club, and they took away the tennis courts to make room for more profitable gadgets. So I quit and joined Equinox.” After his workout, Mr. Talese went with his wife to see Gosford Park and dined at Elaine’s.
The Transom Also Hears…
… Be Like Bruce! Bruce Springsteen fans who have lost track of the boundaries between themselves and their rock hero will want to check out the Kristen Ann Carr Fund’s annual Winter Semi-Formal on Feb. 23 at the 200 Fifth Club in New York’s Toy Building. One of the items that will be offered at the event’s silent auction is a replica of Mr. Springsteen’s 1952 wood-finish Fender Telecaster guitar, autographed by the Boss himself. Tickets are $110 and can be purchased at www.sarcoma.com or at the door for $10 more, and proceeds will be donated to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for the fight against sarcoma.