Survivor sweeties Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich made it clear from the moment of their televised bethrothal that they would have a hard time deciding where to settle, as he hails from Massachusetts and she from Pennsylvania. But that may be coming to an end: The lovebirds tell us they’ve been looking at properties in – drum roll please – Florida. Seems they’ve been renting a vacation home there since the Survivor: All-Stars finale, and they are excited about how far their million-dollar-plus winnings could go compared to the sky-high prices of the Northeast. “(We) could buy (a house) that’s right on the beach,” Amber says of Florida. “So that’s what we’re thinking about doing. We like it down here.”
Inside Celebrity Poker
Who’s the best-looking star? The most talented? The most successful? All these questions are up for debate. But which star kicks the most butt in poker? That one gets answered weekly on Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, and we are hooked. The best part? The winnings go to the stars’ favorite charities. We sat down with West Wing star Josh Malina, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, to get the scoop.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes moment we won’t see on TV?
One really funny thing that delighted me was Maura Tierney played, from ER, and she took a little bit of convincing to decide to play. She walked by and, not for anyone’s benefit, I heard her sigh and mutter under her breath, “Why did I do this?” It was just so cute. It was Maura talking to herself. “What did I get myself into?” And then she went out there and played great.
Can you tell us about your poker-playing history?
I started to play in college and would play with friends. I was a winning player then – however, I’m not sure how good the other players were. And then when I graduated from college I met (West Wing creator) Aaron Sorkin and we became buddies over weekly or sometimes twice-weekly poker games over at his place in Manhattan. And that’s where I started to take it serious.
Is it true that you used to play poker to pay your rent?
That might be a slight overstatement, but there were definitely times when the acting work was slow and I supplanted my income in a big a way and paid rent on poker winnings.
Any advice for aspiring players?
If making money is your primary goal (aside from the social aspect of the game), then you’ve got to work at it. You’ve got to read books about poker, you’ve got to observe. Especially when you play with the same people year after year. It really plays to observe their habits and their behaviors.
Too Tough to Die
Rumors about punk icon Johnny Ramone being close to death have been greatly exaggerated. “I’m feeling much better now and any other reports were premature,” the former Ramones guitarist, who has suffered from prostate cancer and was hospitalized in Los Angeles with an infection in June, tells us. “I have a personal trainer coming to my home three times a week to help me get my strength back.” Ramone is also working on his memoirs, which will be co-authored with journalist Steve Miller, and looking for a publisher. “I will tell both my own story and the straight story of the Ramones in this book, with all the rough edges attached,” he says. “There will be no whitewashing in this book and there will be no warts covered.”
Caught in the Act
• Anna Paquin, sporting au naturel wet hair and no makeup, with husband-and-wife actors Phoebe Cates and Kevin Klein (and their two kids) and the producers and director of the new film The Squid and the Whale, at a pre-shoot party at Manhattan hotspot Vela.
• Judy Reyes (Carla on Scrubs), talking to a salesman at the Apple store in New York’s SoHo.
• Q-Tip, at New York’s Diner 24, ordering a slice of key lime pie to go. Our spy spotted him eating the slice in his car, and then, a few minutes later, going back into the eatery and ordering a second slice.
• Eric Clapton, Carson Daly and Gisele Bundchen, separately, at the Strip House in New York’s Greenwich Village.
• By MARK DAGOSTINO, MARGI BLASH and ANDREA BILLUPS