Denise Rich Partied on Night of the Pardons  |  Oscar Nominee Turns Down Spielberg  |  New Warners Head Is a Double Dipper   

Denise Rich Partied on Night of the Pardons 

The talk is that  Denise Rich was at the White House on January 19th around 5:30 p.m. with  Beth Dozoretz — her pal and  President Bill Clinton’s. The time was supposed to be about 5:30 p.m. They were said to be lobbying Clinton for  Marc Rich’s now controversial pardon. 

But photographer  Joan Jedell says otherwise. Jedell, publisher of the  Hampton Sheet magazine and a ubiquitous figure on the New York social scene, saw Rich at 9 p.m. in New York. Jedell photographed her. 

Denise was a guest at the luxe Manhattan home of  Laura Steinberg, ex-wife of financial mucky muck  Saul Steinberg. According to Jedell, who snapped the pics you see with this column, Denise "was in a great mood, very happy. She was even on her way to another party after this one. She didn’t say anything about having been in Washington. She said she’d just come back from Aspen." 

Denise — this column reported last week — had spent the Christmas holidays in Aspen with Dozoretz, chatting with Clinton from there. 

Other guests at the Steinberg party included  Madeline Paulson, widow of the founder of Gulfstream Jets, as well as Steinberg’s buddy antiques dealer  John Hobbs Elizabeth Fekkai (ex wife of hairdresser  Frederic) and man about town  Jeffrey Steiner

This would dispute the accusation that Denise — who is certainly not innocent in this scandal — wasn’t lobbying Clinton for her ex-husband’s pardon in the last hours of the president’s administration. Could she have been in Washington at 5:30 p.m. and in New York three and a half hours later ready to party all night? I guess so, but it seems unlikely. And as one observer put it, "Denise would have bragged about being at the White House only one hour earlier. She couldn’t have helped herself." 

Since the pardon scandal broke, by the way, Denise has hardly been a shut-in. In addition to hosting a blowout last week at a local nightclub, she has also attended several parties — including another one at Steinberg’s on February 7th, sources say. 

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of talk about the weird tongue-in-cheek piece about Denise’s songwriting abilities in this week’s  New York Observer. Although she’s often described in news accounts as a "songwriter," Rich does not actually play an instrument well, according to at least one former collaborator I’ve spoken with. She also doesn’t read music or write in music notation. "She’s good with lyrics," says my source. Rich, it should be noted, never writes alone, but has writing "sessions" with established songwriters. Then she publishes the finished product and pockets the publishing fees. Stupid, naïve, innocent — these are things she ain’t by any account. 

Oscar Nominee Turns Down Spielberg   

Javier Bardem, the Oscar nominated star of  Before Night Falls, turned heads last night in Elaine’s, the great New York watering hole. 

Bardem, who is from Madrid, is in town to talk to producers and directors about new movie roles. He’s a big star in Spain, but the 33 year old actor is just making his way in Hollywood. Nevertheless, he told me, he recently turned down Steven Spielberg for a part in  Minority Report

"Meeting Steven Spielberg was an amazing and great experience," Javier said. "He is so real and unpretentious. He said to me, 'I made a movie with Tom Hanks about World War II,' as if I didn’t know. He was very gracious." 

Still, Bardem — who’s the dark horse in the Best Actor Oscar race — didn’t think a part in  Minority Report, which stars  Tom Cruise, was right for him. "It’s an action movie," he said. "And I’m too fat to hang from cables!" He was joking about his weight, but Bardem does not care much for action films apparently. He’s looking for a serious role to follow up his stunning turn as Cuban poet  Reinaldo Arenas in  Julian Schnabel’s masterful achievement. He just hopes Spielberg calls again. 

And don’t think his fellow Spaniards are blasé about Bardem’s Oscar nomination. "In Madrid, it’s like I’m an Olympic athlete. They come up to me on the street and say, You have to win for our country! I try to tell them, it’s not such a big deal. It’s not like I’m saving lives." 

On a personal note, I haven’t seen such a little stampede in jaded Elaine’s in a long time. Everyone wanted to meet Bardem, and he obliged his new fans before returning to his hotel, jet-lagged. He needed the sleep. Today he faces the women from  The View  on ABC. 

New Warners Head Is a Double Dipper 

Maybe it’s me, but I do think it incredibly strange: yesterday’s reports that WB Network head  Jamie Kellner was moving up in the new AOL/Time Warner structure didn’t even mention that Kellner owns 9 WB-affiliated TV stations. 

In fact, neither  The New York Times nor  The Hollywood Reporter stories came close to touching on this odd business. Kellner (who once ran the Fox Network pre-1993) is credited with marrying Warner Bros. together with its TV stations and then providing them with shows. 

It’s just a coincidence, I guess, that he personally owns 9 of their stations under the name Acme Communications. The stations are in St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Green Bay, Knoxville, Dayton, Springfield (IL), and Ft. Meyers, Florida. 

Interestingly, when AOL/TW started going through painful layoffs last month, the WB was the only part of the company that didn’t suffer. "The WB Network will not lay off any of its 350 employees," Kellner told  The Hollywood Reporter on January 18th,, adding that the company is already "lean and efficient." 

Meanwhile, CNN, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Records all had devastating cuts. 

Stories about Acme being a money loser, which ran in trade magazines in February, credited Kellner with being the CEO of Acme, but did not mention that he was the head of the WB. The Santa Ana, Calif.-based company claimed losses of 32 cents a share in 2000, vs. 29 cents a share in 1999. 

Acme’s annual report states: "Mr. Kellner’s ownership and position at the WB Network could create conflicts with his position with us if our interests differ with those of the WB Network. The WB Network requires him to recuse himself in all transactions between us." 

Is Kellner two different people? A Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? I’m stumped. Nothing really explains this disconnect. But now that he’s CEO of Turner Broadcasting System overseeing the Time Warner cable networks (including, shockingly CNN) and the WB, it will be interesting to see how or if Acme benefits from this change.