Elton invites 500 pals for drinks and dinner
One of these days, Elton John is going to really surprise his guests by throwing a party featuring Jell-O salad, Ritz crackers and onion dip. But probably not anytime soon. Meanwhile, on July 5, for the third annual White Tie and Tiara Ball to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the singer invited 500 guests to his Old Windsor, England, estate and treated them to gondola rides in his pond, musical performances including his and jazz singer Diana Krall’s, crystals strung in the trees and a lavish spread (Chopard jewelers footed the estimated $700,000 tab). Guest Sarah Ferguson, pointing yonder, noted, “I just live over there, so it was easy” to drop by. Said Mick Jagger, who brought daughter Elizabeth, 17: “I like coming to this and seeing people I don’t see often.” Guests, who included Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet and Sean “Puffy” Combs, paid $1,400 a plate, which combined with an auction raised $1.54 million, thanks in part to Spacey’s winning bid (much to rival Hugh Grant’s disappointment) of $120,000 for one of the final cars off the Mini Cooper production line. Of course, raising money was the point of the event, says John’s partner David Furnish. “The fact that it’s a great party is a bonus. I’m exhilarated.”
A Dress That Will Live in Infamy
Monica Lewinsky’s blue frock—you know, the one that almost cost Bill Clinton his job—could command up to $2 million if put up for bid, says one auction expert. Not bad, considering she paid about $50 for it at the Gap. The dress, finally returned to Lewinsky in the last month by the Independent Counsel’s office, is “an extraordinary relic,” says Gary Zimet, who runs the collectibles Web site momentsintime.com. But Richard Wilson, who owns a mail-order celebrity memorabilia business in Maryland, says it’s worth only $100,000 to $150,000—unlike the outfit Marilyn Monroe wore while singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy, which sold for $1.26 million in 1999. Alas, Lewinsky, who once said she’d burn the dress if it were returned, isn’t likely to be spotted at Sotheby’s with her souvenir. “She is not planning to sell it,” says Lewinsky’s rep Juli Nadler. No comment on whether she’ll finally get it dry-cleaned.
Making Room for Daddy
Call it Pop pop: Opening for ‘N Sync at some concerts this summer is the accurately named Not So Boy Band, composed of four older guys including Joseph Fatone Sr., father of ‘N Syncer Joey Fatone. How did this happen? In 1999, an Orlando radio station held auditions for a boy-band spoof; Fatone the Elder, who years ago sang in a doo-wop group called the Orions and later made his living as a telephone operator, showed up and made the cut. “In no way, shape or form were we good” in the beginning, says Fatone Sr., 54. But a year later the foursome, who have some musical background, decided to get serious. Joey Jr. eventually helped the band land some giant venues, including his own tour. Says Fatone Sr.: “He told me, ‘Listen, Pop, what have you got to lose?’ ” Now coiffed and choreographed like pros, the Not So Boy Band often elicits squeals of the appreciative variety from their audiences. “My son is an angel,” says Fatone. “I lived a dream through his eyes. Now he’s passed the gift back to me.”
They Got Bette Davis’s Prize
Fasten your seat belts: On July 19 Christie’s auction house in New York City expects bidding for Bette Davis’s Best Actress Oscar, which she won for 1938’s Jezebel, to reach $250,000. The statue was put on the block by former Davis assistant Kathryn Sermack, but part of the proceeds will go to the Bette Davis Foundation, which helps fund struggling young actors. Other items in the 290-lot auction include Greta Garbo’s notebooks, a suit worn by Marilyn Monroe and more Davis paraphernalia, including clothing, scripts, books, photographs—and ashtrays.
Not Kosher in Cairo
For contestants on Egypt’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, there’s an extra edge to the question, “Is that your final answer?” Issuing a fatwa, or religious edict, against the show, the Grand Mufti at Al-Azhar, an esteemed Islamic university, ruled that Millionaire contestants are violating the Koran’s laws on gambling. Regis Philbin, the series’ American host, had no comment. Meanwhile not many appear to be taking the ruling very seriously—perhaps because, so far, there is no official punishment for either viewers or contestants.
For Gwyneth’s Fans, the Star Treatment
On location in Charlotte, N.C., shooting her upcoming comedy Shallow Hal, Gwyneth Paltrow impressed the southerners by pouring on her own charm. While listening to a radio show one morning, the actress overheard the deejays ridiculing their producer Ryan Johnson, 23, for failing to hook up with the Hollywood crowd. “This will teach you to make fun of Ryan,” Paltrow, 28, said in a phone call to the station. “We’d love for him to come over. We’ll take good care of him.” On the set, “Gwyneth came right up to me and gave me a big hug. She was as cute as could be,” says Johnson. “Gosh, I haven’t been that bug-eyed since I was 8 or 9.” Equally enamored was baker Jyoti Friedland, who was impressed by Paltrow’s request to make the 24 chocolate cakes needed for a scene—sans milk, eggs and sugar. “Gwyneth’s a big vegetarian and so am I, so I understand,” says Friedland, 47. “She was so happy, she gave me a big hug.” Local nail technician Noma Behdani did not say she received a hug—hey, there’s only so much love to go around—but she did get a dose of girl talk with the actress while giving her a French manicure. “She wanted to know all about my family,” says Behdani, 44. “It was like talking to a friend.” That night Behdani “rented all of Gwyneth’s movies,” she says. “My family was so excited.”
Smith Gets a Cash Call
It has been a deflating few months for Anna Nicole Smith. In January a Los Angeles judge determined that she was entitled to $475 million—half the estate of her late husband, billionaire J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995 at 90 after marrying Smith only a year earlier. But in March a Houston jury found in favor of Marshall’s son Pierce, the other beneficiary of the estate. Now Smith, 33, has been ordered to pay $541,000 in court costs. “It’s time for Smith to pay up and move on,” said the younger Marshall of his former stepmother. At least the former Playboy Playmate will be left with clothes on her back.
Who: Gymnast Nadia Comaneci
What: Face Forward by makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin
Why: I’m really into makeup. I’m curious about what other people are doing and what they look like.
with Al Jardine
Original Beach Boy Al Jardine sued his surviving bandmates for $4 million on June 29, claiming they won’t let him play under the band’s name. (Mike Love now tours with replacement Beach Boys, while Brian Wilson performs under his own name.) It’s the latest legal wrangle affecting the group, whose members seem to have spent more time together in court than in concert. Love’s lawyer will ask that the suit be dismissed as frivolous, while Wilson says, “For years I have been involved in litigation. I would rather be making music.” Jardine, 58, gave his side to Scoop.
Why did you sue?
They sued me first—about three years ago—for using the Beach Boys’ name I helped to create. I’m simply asserting my rights. I have no personal issues with these guys, whom I’ve worked with for almost 40 years.
So you’re as much a Beach Boy as Brian or Mike?
My family, my mother in particular, borrowed $300 to finance our first recording session. That’s how far back this goes.
Who’s the bad guy here?
Brian’s handlers have insulated him.
They don’t want him to be a Beach Boy anymore. They don’t want him to be associated with anyone that has something to do with the original band.
Are you angry with Brian?
I’ve always had deep gratitude for Brian. Ironically, I was working with Brian’s daughters [Carnie and Wendy] in a band affectionately called Beach Boys Family and Friends—until they sued me for that name.
Isn’t that a little uncomfortable?
Carnie and Wendy are very sympathetic to my situation. I explained that I’m not suing their father. I’m suing a corporation that their father is a part of.
Is the new band, Al Jardine’s Family and Friends, fun, fun, fun?
Quite frankly, we may be the best representation of [Beach Boys] music out there today.
ON THE BLOCK
With an asking price of $50 million, Andy Warhol’s old Montauk estate, built in 1931 for heirs to the Arm & Hammer baking soda fortune, remains the talk of Long Island’s celebrity-filled enclave. Once a summer retreat for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and other friends of the artist, who died in 1987, the oceanfront grounds feature five houses, a garage and a stable on 5.7 acres—bordered by 50 acres of protected wetlands. Neighbors include Paul Simon and Dick Cavett. The current owner, director Paul Morrissey, bought the place with Warhol for $220,000 in 1971.