The Transom

On the Couch with Gwyneth Paltrow

On Thursday, Feb. 15, The Transom joined Gwyneth Paltrow in her suite on the fifth floor of the St. Regis hotel in midtown …. Don’t get too excited! It was to discuss her latest cause, the Hope Lodge, a new free housing facility on the West Side for adult cancer patients.

Meeting Ms. Paltrow entailed meeting her handlers first: two before entering the suite, and another two that were lurking inside. Ms. Paltrow was seated on a couch, and she had clearly been seated on that couch for quite a while. Her willowy form was embedded in the pillows, her legs perched on a coffee table in front of her. She didn’t move a muscle when The Transom entered the room, and she declined to shake its hand when offered.

“My son [Moses] got me sick,” she explained nonchalantly. Despite or perhaps in defiance of her mysterious and debilitating illness, Ms. Paltrow, 34, was dressed to kill. She wore skin-tight black pants tucked into black patent-leather ankle boots and a form-fitting black blazer. (Later, before presiding over a Damiani International diamond auction benefiting the Lodge—also attended by socialite Tinsley Mortimer—the movie star changed into tights, red pumps, a black skirt and a low-cut black blouse.)

When the conversation turned to the Hope Lodge, Ms. Paltrow sat upright, exhibiting her famously impeccable posture. “My dad had cancer—that’s the short answer,” she said, explaining her support of the 60-bedroom facility, which is scheduled to open this spring on West 32nd Street.

The Transom was curious to hear Ms. Paltrow explain a much-hissed interview that she’d given to a Portuguese newspaper last year, calling the British “much more intelligent and civilized” than Americans. But, surprisingly, she said her remarks had been misconstrued.

“It’s ridiculous that I would somehow say my friends here are uninteresting,” she said. “My friends here are incredibly interesting.” The words seemed to dribble from her mouth. Ms. Paltrow appeared at pains to waste the least amount of energy talking, regardless of the subject. Perhaps she had developed a distrust of the media.

After the apparent misquote echoed ’round the world, Ms. Paltrow said, she was “dismayed to find people congratulating me for saying something bad about America. Absolutely, I love this country. My father always taught me that America was the best county. Of course we have our drawbacks, but we also have a lot of freedom.”

The actress went on to repeat her oft-quoted affirmation that she is a New Yorker “through and through,” adding that she and her rocker hubby, Chris Martin, “divide” their time on either side of the pond.

And her favorite things to do in her favorite city? (Just call us the Transomator!) “I love the theater, and the restaurants, my old neighborhood on the Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill, the park. I love the reservoir—I used to jog around it in high school.” (Spence.)

Ms. Paltrow’s Manhattan bona fides even extend to the next generation. “My daughter [Apple] is currently obsessed with these New York guide books—this one about a rabbit named Miffy, and this other one,” she said. “She’s constantly quoting New York statistics and things. So, you know, even when I’m not here, New York is always with me.” And she is always with us.

Samuel L. Jackson Sings

On Monday, Feb. 19, Christina Ricci arrived at the New York premiere of her new movie, Black Snake Moan, with her longtime boyfriend, actor Adam Goldberg, in tow. While Ms. Ricci posed for photographers, clad in a long, silken, dark-fuchsia gown, Mr. Goldberg lingered by the concessions counter of the Chelsea West Cinemas. Before buying a soda—what, they couldn’t comp him?—he stopped to chat about the Los Angeles–based couple’s favorite thing to do when they’re in town.

“We go wilding,” Mr. Goldberg said. “I’m trying to bring it back. I know that was very big here in the 80’s. It’s sort of an odd, you know—not what you’d expect from a couple as a pastime. But we find it really invigorates the relationship.”

Hilarious! But on to the film, a jolly romantic comedy in which Ms. Ricci’s character, Rae, is left mysteriously unconscious and half-naked on the side of a road, then “rescued” by a passerby, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who subsequently chains her to his radiator. Mr. Jackson also plays guitar and sings four numbers on the soundtrack. “I’ll be at the Grammys next year collecting!” he joked to The Transom.

Mr. Jackson said he had enjoyed the occasional golf game with co-star Justin Timberlake, who plays a boyfriend of Ms. Ricci’s and was nowhere to be found on this evening. But the movie’s producer, Stephanie Allain, spoke affectionately of how the pop singer performed his Saturday Night Live smash “Dick in a Box” for an intimate few at Sundance. “He gets a kick out of that,” she said.

David Foxley

Quote of the Week

‘What is amazing is the idea of this generation
being responsible for creating a cultural icon—
like that we get to do that!’

—Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls) at a fund-raiser for the New Globe Theater

Unfunny Valentine: Scribe Still Smarting From Tumble

Valentine Rei, the Fashion Week Daily reporter who was allegedly jostled by a photographer at the Y-3 show on Feb. 7 and fell off the elevated runway, busting his arm in three places, is back on his feet and ready to start swinging.

“I found out that no one was supposed to be on the catwalk,” Mr. Rei said. The Transom had run into the pale, Moscow-born scribe, who rarely goes out without his younger sister Olga at his side, in the elevator at the St. Regis Hotel a little over a week after the incident. Mr. Rei still looked shaken and was visibly paranoid about anyone bumping into the enormous cast on his left arm. “I’m consulting my lawyers,” he said, his eyes glassy and red. “I still go out, but I’ve been avoiding Nadine Johnson events.”

Guess that means he won’t be making the “Radar lives—again!” party in L.A. on Wednesday the 21st, hubristically scheduled right before the Oscars hordes descend.

“I’m consulting my lawyers,” Mr. Rei repeated. He seemed to shiver—sort of like a white rabbit—as he added that the surgeries on his arm have been very costly. “I’m not a 8-year-old anymore. The bones don’t just grow back.”

He said that he’d received many phone calls of support from “many models who are friends of mine,” among others. Any famous ones? Mr. Rei seemed to misunderstand the question. “Yes, I dated a famous model—but I’m not going to give the name,” he said.

Ms. Johnson had no comment.

Van Winkle Rips! Rapper Vanilla Ice Thinks New York Has ‘Gotten Gay’

Former N.B.A. All-Star Tim Hardaway has nothing on Vanilla Ice. “Too much shit is looking gay—people follow like sheep,” the rapper and Surreal Life veteran, né Robert Van Winkle, said from his Jägermeister-laden table at Stereo in West Chelsea in the wee hours of Saturday, Feb. 17. Dressed festively in a black hoodie and a “Pimps & Hos” baseball cap, he had been flown in from Los Angeles by club owner Mike Satsky to celebrate the latter’s 29th birthday. “I don’t know him from a hole in the ground,” Mr. Van Winkle said a bit ungraciously.

“We have a lot of mutual friends,” Mr. Satsky insisted later.

Whatever. “I think artists need to get more original—which is hard to do, because a lot of shit has been done. But if you got the skill, you better come through. It ain’t about American Idol,” said Mr. Van Winkle, who at 2 a.m. would perform a rendition of his lone hit single, 1990’s “Ice Ice Baby,” which infamously and illegally lifted its beat from the Queen and David Bowie song “Under Pressure.”

The rapper was more original when it came to naming his two children with his wife of a decade, homemaker Laura Giarritta: Dusti Raine and KeeLee Breeze. His inspiration? “Smoking a lot of weed, dog,” he said, grinning. This had little effect on his ambition, however. “I’ve got a lot of shit up my sleeve,” he said, citing a new reality show and some upcoming commercials.

“New York City made me who I am, dog,” Mr. Van Winkle said. “If it weren’t for New York City, there wouldn’t be no rap music. I’ve got much respect for New York, and anytime I get an opportunity to come here, I’m happy about it.”

But …. “New York’s gotten gay, too,” he continued. “I think everything’s gotten gay. It’s O.K.! But I’ll tell you what: I’m only one person! … I’m a jackass, and it’s hard to beat a jackass, because a jackass has no shame. And that’s my $10,000 worth of therapy for you.”

Not Everyone Wants Lunch with Anderson Cooper

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the steely visage of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was peering down from a poster hung on a wall of the Puck Building at a party and auction for Bailey House, a charity for the H.I.V.-afflicted homeless. Mr. Cooper himself was nowhere to be found, but on the block was a future lunch date with him at Gabriel’s that had inspired frantic bidding.

“I think that’s going to be a tough one, with all the gays in attendance here,” said couture potter Jonathan Adler (Top Design), who hosted the event with fellow Bravo star Tim Gunn (Project Runway), adding meaningfully: “There’s going to be a lot of stiff competition.”

Indeed, the winning bid, from British retail executive Oliver Pike, came in at $21,000.

“I think it’s a brilliant opportunity to kind of pick his brain and see, you know, what he’s got going on,” gushed Project Runway eliminee Malan Breton. “He’s a brilliant, brilliant man.”

But Kate McCollough, the sister of Jack from fashion house Proenza Schouler, expressed more interest in dining with soap queen Susan Lucci. “Are you kidding? Lucci!” said Ms. McCollough, wearing a black crushed-velvet dress fresh from the runway of her brother’s show earlier this month.

Half a dozen drag divas from the Imperial Court of New York, a gay fund-raising group, were circulating through the crowd. Empress Gefil Tefish (né Jeffrey Wallach), who stood near the room’s entrance in a flowing, beaded gown, was another person indifferent to the prospect of a meal with the silver-haired fox of cable news. “Sweetheart, listen,” she said, nabbing a tuna roll from a passing tray, “there isn’t any one of these I wouldn’t mind having.”

—D.F. The Transom