Go-Go in Limbo
When former ImClone chief executive Sam Waksal pleaded guilty last March to conspiring to evade taxes on $15 million worth of art bought through the Gagosian Gallery, a predictable chain of events occurred: The U.S. Attorney’s office sued the gallery’s namesake, Larry (Go-Go) Gagosian, and Vanity Fair assigned a profile.
Months later, the profile, which was written by contributing editor Vicky Ward, has yet to run, and sources familiar with the situation said the magazine is sitting on the piece until it sees which way the wind blows in Mr. Gagosian’s case. Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak confirmed that the publication’s editor in chief, Graydon Carter, was holding the piece until there were further developments in the case. Asked if the magazine planned to drop the story if Mr. Gagosian isn’t indicted by the federal government, Ms. Kseniak said that, at the moment, she didn’t have an answer to that question.
What Vanity Fair ultimately does with the Gagosian story will be watched closely by the art world, given that the magazine’s owner, S.I. Newhouse, is among those who have done business with the art dealer.
Three weeks after Mr. Waksal’s guilty plea, the government filed a suit against Mr. Gagosian and three other prominent art collectors for failing to pay another $26.5 million in income taxes, interest and penalties on art they had bought through a phony corporation. And the day before the feds sued Mr. Gagosian, he sued the government in an attempt to remove liens that the I.R.S. had placed on four multimillion-dollar paintings because of unpaid federal taxes.
Even the silver-haired Mr. Gagosian seemed puzzled about the status of the Vanity Fair piece when The Transom saw him at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala on Oct. 20. “I thought it was running,” he told us with a shrug of his shoulders. “I don’t know what happened to it.”
It was a red-carpeted zoo outside the star-studded Project A.L.S. benefit to raise money to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Oct. 20. Celebrities and press-separated only by a metal partition-were forced to interact without the balm of alcohol, and it was a sad, sad thing to behold.
“And how do you know each other?” one bespectacled female reporter asked Sopranos star Edie Falco, whose date was Stanley Tucci, the balding actor who left his wife and kids for her when they were in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune together on Broadway last year.
“We met while doing a play,” Ms. Falco said, giving the reporter a flinty squint.
“And what play was that?” inquired Lois Lane.
But Ms. Falco’s annoyance seemed minor compared to Alec Baldwin, who was standing a few feet away with his diminutive Asian date, Nicole Seidel, and Mr. Tucci. Mr. Baldwin was enigmatically making machine-gun noises and Mr. Tucci was nodding, saying, “I know, I know.” A photographer screamed at Mr. Baldwin to turn around.
“Hello? You know I’m having a conversation here!” the actor bellowed.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Grey-who for Lois Lane’s information is the daughter of actor Joel Grey and played the hook-nosed “Baby” in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing-was walking down the red carpet almost unnoticed. Ms. Grey got a really good nose job in the early 90’s-are you listening, Lois?-but looks like Jennifer Grey if you squint while shaking your head vigorously side to side. A large, husky-voiced woman photographer stopped the white-lace-clad actress right before she entered the lobby, and then the other cameras swarmed. When the snapping finally stopped, the first photographer loudly declared herself the evening’s Columbus. “I spotted her first! It was me! She almost got all the way in without anyone seeing her!” she said. “Man, I’m good!”
To be fair, The Transom was making a fool of ourselves as well.
We asked the olive-skinned, lethal-browed actress Julianna Margulies if she thought midget Peter Dinklage, the “little guy” who stars in the film The Station Agent, was hot.
“The ‘little guy’?” she said. “Shame on you.”
Then we asked William Baldwin about his hair-which looked long and floppy and not so good.
“I did it myself. Why, is it really that bad?” he said, adding that he’s growing it pre-emptively in case his next part requires longer hair. “But I don’t cut it myself,” he continued. “I go to Super Cuts. Eleven dollars.”
Our chutzpah growing, we then asked Ms. Gray if she ever wished that her Dirty Dancing love scenes with Patrick Swayze had been a little raunchier.
“I’m always a big fan of sex scenes,” she said. “But I had very, very strict rules of what they could and couldn’t show, actually. I was the first person who was really specific, saying, ‘No ass crack, no nipples.’ It just wasn’t appropriate for that movie. It wouldn’t have been good for that audience. But sometimes I’m really in the mood to see that type of thing.”
We suggested that she go see The Cooler, the new Alec Baldwin film that has gotten a lot of notice in the press because of the racy sex scenes between William H. Macy and Maria Bello. And lo and behold, there was Ms. Bello, working her way down the freak fest of behind-the-velvet-rope reporters. She complimented the New York magazine scribe next to us on his torn and tattered button-down shirt. “Very hipster,” she said sweetly. “Like you’re not trying too hard, right?”
Then she opened up to us, so to speak, about the on-screen sex in The Cooler.
“We were trying to figure out how to make it really real, like having an orgasm when the camera is really close,” she said, “and my friend who was standing in the corner said, ‘You know what you should do? Just grab the sheets absolutely as hard as you can.’ So this orgasm that everyone is saying looks sooo real? What I’m just doing is squeezing my hands and going, ‘Eeeeeee!'”
Which was roughly the noise made by Mariska Hargitay, the Law and Order actress and daughter of 20th-century sex bomb Jayne Mansfield, when we so suavely asked: If you could get head from any actor, who would it be?
“What? I’m here with my boyfriend!” she said, backing away from us. “I’m taking the Fifth. I’m not playing this game. It was nice to meet you. Goodbye.”
-Anna Jane Grossman
Jacqueline Anderson left the crowd at the Whitney Museum’s annual benefit dinner with something to remember her by. On Oct. 20, Ms. Anderson, the 27-year-old wife of former museum director Maxwell Anderson, had revelers spilling drinks and dropping canapés down the fronts of their shirts when she attended the museum’s gala-her last event as a potentate there -in a barely-there fluorescent pink sheath. Mrs. Anderson, best known for wearing form-fitting leather catsuits to stodgy Upper East Side social occasions, had been the co-chair of the Contemporaries, the museum’s junior-member group, for the past five years while her husband was director. After Mr. Anderson resigned amid rumors that he’d clashed with the museum’s board of directors-which includes cosmetics magnate Leonard Lauder, socialite Beth Rudin de Woody and financier Henry Kravis-the decision was made to allow Mrs. Anderson to retain her post until the party.
“Last night was my last event,” Mrs. Anderson told The Transom on Oct. 21. In a perky voice, Mrs. Anderson said she was fine with having to give up the position. “The people on the executive committee are all my friends, so I still will see them frequently,” she said.
“THE RUMORS ARE TRUE!” boomed a disembodied voice as Britney Spears bounced onto the stage at Avalon, her meaty thighs shoehorned into a pair of black pleather pants and her short blond hair festooned with hair extensions. It was past 3 a.m. on Oct. 18, and Ms. Spears had made a “surprise” visit to the club once known as Limelight to lip-sync “Me Against the Music,” the new single that features Madonna and an S&M-style video.
In keeping with the faux-fetish vibe, Ms. Spears wore a flesh-colored top that gave the impression that her torso was covered in tattoos. But then she doffed it, revealing a red pleather tank top, to sing a medley of her hits, including “I’m a Slave 4 You.”
Ms. Spears remembered to thrust her hips to the music and strip down once more-to a glittery red bikini top-but apparently not to keep time with the pre-recorded track. Several times, the star’s mouth stopped moving altogether while the proverbial band played on.
Also on stage was 21-year-old married backup dancer and father-to-be Columbus Short, who has been caught canoodling with Ms. Spears. Mr. Short rubbed his body against the starlet’s a time or two but, for the most part, there was little onstage interaction between the two.
Perhaps things had gotten raunchier at Show and Splash, where Ms. Spears had performed earlier in the evening. Each mini-concert was filmed for an MTV special, In the Zone and Out All Night, to air Nov. 15, three days before her latest album is released.
Ms. Spears left immediately following the concert, as MTV employees began herding clubgoers toward the courtyard for interviews. Earlier in the evening, a crowd that included actress Martha Plimpton, Third Rock from the Sun Clydesdale Kristen Johnston, The Music Man’s Craig Bierko and Style Network lifestyle guru Katie Brown had shown up to see the Dan Band, whose front man, Dan Finnerty, is married to actress Kathy Najimy-but none of them stuck around to worship at the House of Britney or appear before MTV’s cameras.
That left the easily cowed civilians. “They kept telling me exactly what to say,” laughed a guy in his 20’s, who declined to give his name for fear that his interview wouldn’t be used for the program. “They asked me how it compared to the bigger Britney concerts I’d been to, and I told them that I’d never been to one of her concerts. ‘Just say that you have,’ they told me, so I did. I said that I loved Britney, and that the smaller venue was better because it was so much more intimate.”
For years, the Halloween party in Greenwich Village has been where all the wild things go on Oct. 31. But Four Seasons co-owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder are hoping to change that. They are planning to host a wild rumpus of a masquerade party in the restaurant’s Pool Room for 160 costumed people willing to pay $250 a head.
“I think I want to be a gigolo. I think I want to dress up like what’s-his-name-the guy in Saturday Night Live,” said Mr. Niccolini. Did he mean John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, The Transom asked him? “Yeah! I want to be a real stud!” Mr. Niccolini replied.
A costume competition will be judged by millionairess Ivana Trump, designer Patricia Field and eternal “It” girls Plum and Lucy Sykes. (According to the invitation, the winner will get a trip for two to Paris and Champagne, France.)
“Ivana is so gorgeous-I’m hoping she’s going to just come in her birthday suit. Grrrr!” said Mr. Niccolini, who was starting to scare us at this point. “I hope she’s going to be very caliente and spicy.”
Fortunately, Mr. Niccolini didn’t say that guests will be asked to throw their house keys into a big bowl. But he claimed the invitation urges guests to “Get tipsy, get happy and get lucky.” (It doesn’t.) Also according to Mr. Niccolini, guests are being encouraged to use fake names. “It’s going to be very interesting for Julian with no names,” Mr. Niccolini said. “I hope not to end up with someone who’s not my wife!”
The restaurant’s publicist, Regina McMenamin, said that for the party, the Four Seasons will be serving four different vintages of Dom Perignon and a 1982 Château Margaux. “It’s an unbelievable vintage,” Ms. McMenamin said. Beluga caviar, black truffles, white truffles, smoked salmon and breast of pheasant will also be served.
Ms. McMenamin will be dressed as Jessica Rabbit-at least, that’s what Mr. Niccolini said.
“And Alex will be Napoleon,” he said, referring to his partner. “Have you ever seen him? All he has to do is put his hand inside his jacket. He looks just like him.” Funny, in the invitation it’s Mr. Niccolini who’s dressed like the little emperor.
Y García Bernal, También
HBO Films’ Oct. 14 screening of Gus Van Sant’s Columbine-inspired film, Elephant, began with talk of another HBO Films release: American Splendor. Addressing an audience at the Tribeca Grand Hotel that included Benicio Del Toro, Moby and Zoe Cassavetes, the division’s president, Colin Callender, mumbled something along the lines of “I shouldn’t be saying this,” then made an appeal to “all the Academy members in the audience” to see HBO Films’ American Splendor before it left theaters, now that the Motion Picture Association of American had banned the distribution of “For Your Consideration” screeners during the Oscar derby.
The ban, which went into effect on Sept. 30, has put a significant damper on the Academy Award strategies of specialty-film company executives such as Mr. Callender, who, in the past, have relied on screeners to keep Academy members aware of their films.
“None of us knew it was coming -none of us,” Mr. Callender told The Transom afterward at a dinner hosted at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side. But, in between goodbyes to his guests, Mr. Callender also said: “I actually think that the people involved in the ban didn’t quite anticipate the ground swell of opinion that arose,” referring to the opposition that greeted the MPAA’s decision and is expected to result in some form of compromise on the issue in the coming weeks. “I think they’ve been taken by surprise,” Mr. Callender said. “Who knows if there’ll be some reversal of the decision?”
When The Transom tried to speak to Mr. Del Toro, who plays a recovering addict in the soon-to-be released 21 Grams, to get his opinion on how the screening ban might affect his chances for a nomination this time around, he declined to be interviewed. And he had the publicist tell us that the actor standing next to him, Gael Garcia Bernal, co-star of Y Tu Mama Tambien, would have no comment either.
Also Hears …
At high noon on Thursday, Oct. 16, a swarm of Birkin-bag-toting, Blahnik-shoe-wearing ladies who lunch squeezed into the elevator of the St. Regis Hotel on their way up to the roof for Japanese designer Chie Imai’s fashion-show luncheon. Between the small talk-“Oh, Marisa, remember me? It’s Virginia from Jivamukti!” one woman was overheard telling another guest-and winks and whispers of “Was that you at Dr. Baker’s I saw last Wednesday?”, not one of the dozen women waltzing into the elevator thought to press the 20th-floor button. The elevator just sat there and sat there, with the women growing increasingly uncomfortable, until one woman with crocheted driving gloves swallowed her pride and did the dirty deed.