Buying a birthday gift for that someone special can be difficult for anyone – but it poses a special challenge for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. “I don’t know what the hell to buy her,” Simmons tells Daily Insider about his wife, former model and Baby Phat founder Kimora Lee. “She’s got a few Bentleys. She’s got all the jewelry. She buys her own stuff. She likes a lot of toys.” So what’s he going to do for her 29th birthday, coming up May 4? He’s going to fly a planeload of her friends, including best pal Tyra Banks, to London for the Prince’s Trust Urban Music Festival May 8 and 9. “Prince Charles asked me to be the ambassador” for the event, Simmons says. “We’re bringing a bunch of people, whoever she wants. I’m chartering a 46-seater plane. It’ll be a good time in England. We’re going to have a big party.” As for Simmons himself, don’t plan on spending a fortune for his birthday (Oct. 4). “I own that luxury watch company, Grimoldi, but I wear a Timex,” he says. “I’m just different. I had a lot of junk already. I’m junked out.”
What was it like kissing Mary-Kate Olsen for the movie New York Minute? It was, well, complicated, says actor Jared Padalecki. “I’m taller than Mary-Kate, so when it comes down to do the kissing scene, they’re like, ‘Let’s bring in the box that’s 2 in. and take off your shoes and let’s angle your faces like this,’ ” he tells us. “It’s like you’re in a wax museum posing. But when you see (the kiss) onscreen it looks great.”
As the host of IFC’s Dinner for Five, actor-director Jon Favreau has broken bread with the likes of Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner and P. Diddy – but the best storyteller by far is ?? “Hands down, Burt Reynolds,” he tells us. “He had the most stories that span the most generations, from Brando to Paul Thomas Anderson, because his career spans meeting Brando as a young studio contract player.” An example: Reynolds “told a story about pissing on an old studio boss’s grave with Clint Eastwood. He and Clint got fired by some old studio boss way back when. (The two actors) met each other again and went and pissed on his grave together.” Ah, memories.
“Here’s a kinder, gentler Rosie.” That’s how Rosie O’Donnell was introduced before she took the stage at New York’s Marriott Marquis hotel to lead a charity auction benefiting the Toys ‘R’ Us Children’s Fund. Still, “that doesn’t mean I’ll be kinder or gentler when I ask for your money,” she told the group. And she wasn’t – but with O’Donnell onstage for the sixth year, the auction raised $500,000 (a children’s birthday at the Toys ‘R’ Us store in Times Square fetched $100,000). “I’ve always been very kid-oriented,” the comedian, who has three adopted children, said. “A lot of people have told me that once they have their kid, everything about a child affects them in a different way, but that’s happened to me throughout my life.” O’Donnell, who joked with the audience and had them laughing through the auction, put her money where her mouth was: She matched a $25,000 bid on a Vera Wang package.
• By SUSAN MANDEL, MARK DAGOSTINO, KC BAKER and DIANE HERBST