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Liz Hurley Bargain Hunts; Janet Jackson's Shaggy Story

 Elizabeth Hurley | Janet Jackson | Bob Dylan | Lizzie Grubman

Liz Hurley Likes a Bargain

Spotted: The fabulous Elizabeth Hurley, incognito, going through the sales racks at Saks Fifth Avenue yesterday. A source tells me that Hurley was picking through the markdowns in Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and all the very expensive big-name designer frocks on the 2nd floor. Hurley sported Prada sunglasses, and a "hot" number — midriff top and jeans. She's a girl on a budget, after all.

On Saturday, of course, Hurley — who presumably makes millions from modeling and, uh, acting — came to the Bridgehampton Polo with very close pal Denis Leary, the comic actor who's now in ABC's The Job. They were there to raise money for Leary's new Firefighters Foundation, which sounds like a worthy cause. Unfortunately, Leary's abrasive style did not mesh well with the tony crowd under the party tent. When it came time to stage the live auction for high-priced baubles, Leary couldn't get the crowd's attention.

"Shut up!" he screamed into a microphone. Three separate times. And no one in particular listened, although there was some hissing. As has been proved lately, no one tells anyone what to do in the Hamptons. The auction proceeded with the loyal few who were up near the stage.

It's unknown whether or not bargain-hunter Hurley bid on any of the items. But judging by the scant amount of clothing she was wearing, I am hopeful that her Saks reconnaissance mission was fruitful.

Janet Jackson Sings 'It Isn't Me' 

New York-born singer Samantha Cole may have her first real break — and she can thank Janet Jackson.

Janet, who's got hits coming out of her ears, recorded a duet with a then-unknown Shaggy in 1998 for the soundtrack to the Angela Bassett movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The song was called "Luv Me, Luv Me."

When it came time for Shaggy to make his first American CD, he wanted to include "Luv Me, Luv Me." He and manager/producer Robert Livingston thought they had the rights to use it and planned accordingly. On Shaggy's Web site, the duet is featured. But Jackson thought otherwise. Shaggy, then, was still unknown. So she pulled her permission.

"She just didn't want to be on the album," Livingston told me in his lilting Jamaican accent. "It was that simple. We can't fight about it. We have to move ahead."

Cole — whose debut album was released on MCA Records last year — stepped in and re-recorded "Luv Me, Luv Me" for the Shaggy album, called Hot Shots. And, of course, a miracle happened: Shaggy's single, "It Wasn't Me," a duet with Ricardo 'RikRok' Ducent, went to No. 1, and the album followed. Shaggy had another hit with his take on Merilee Rush's "Angel of the Morning," and the rest is history.

Now "Luv Me, Luv Me" is being released this week as a single in the United Kingdom, with a new video, and although parent company MCA wanted Jackson (who also records for them, as do Shaggy and Cole), it's too late. So Cole — a knockout beauty from Southampton, Long Island (real Southampton, not socialite) — is about to be heard at last. If the single hits in Britain, Livingston says, it will get its U.S. release.

Bob Dylan Tangled Up in New Album 

Some good news: Bob Dylan will release his first new album since the Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind on September 11. Anyone who appreciated his appearance on the Oscars, performing "Things Have Changed," will be happy to know the new album features that touring band — including Texas keyboardist Auggie Myers. Dylan, who just turned 60, told USA Today's Edna Gunderson that Love and Theft will be "a greatest hits album without the hits." One song is dedicated to Delta bluesman Charlie Patton, who died in the 1930s. Sounds like a winner!

By the way, Dylan has made 42 of his 43 studio albums for just one record label, Columbia. (The exception was Planet Waves, made for David Geffen's Asylum Records in 1973.) It's either a case of loyalty or he really likes the cafeteria.

Anatomy of Gossip: Why Lizzie's Story Keeps Going

Lizzie Grubman's accident victims are, thankfully, home. With their shattered pelvises and legs, contusions and concussions, they've managed to find attorneys, file suits and start counting their winnings.

You'd think Lizzie Grubman's story would be over, at least for now. She's been sliced and diced in the Vegamatic of gossip, and left for table scraps. But no, her enemies are still out there, and they're not going away.

Late last week, when the story seemed to be teetering, it flared again. A columnist wrote that Conscience Point, the club that Lizzie represents and where she mowed the 16 innocent bystanders down, was trying to "separate" itself from the publicist. She would lose them as clients. It was that simple.

The next day, another columnist wrote that this was simply untrue. Good. A war was on.

But how did it happen? Why did it happen? I'll tell you why.

Last week, this reporter ran into the owner of Conscience Point, Jason Strauss, at a party in Manhattan. First of all, you have to know that Strauss, who is co-owner with someone named Noah Tepperberg, looks like he's about 12. When I approached him, I didn't even expect an adult answer. But that's the Hamptons, and the club scene in general. Young kids — he's probably 30 — who mysteriously have lots of money even though they have no job history per se, suddenly owning things.

Strauss told me: "I've been in touch with every one of the victims, I've been to the hospitals and seen them all. I talk to them everyday, with the exception of one who's gone home and is hard to reach."

Clearly Strauss was anticipating civil suits and doing everything he could to ingratiate himself with these people. Frankly, it's what Lizzie should have done from the beginning. But that's another story.

Strauss never said a word directly about Lizzie, but did say, "I'm concerned about everyone in this situation."

When I returned to my table, a local New York publicist who has a full-access pass to a local columnist's pen, buzzed around me like a yellowjacket looking for Smucker's.

He yelled, sharply: "What did he say? I knew it! They're trying to separate themselves from Lizzie! I knew it!" He chopped the air with his hand. "I'm telling you, they're gong to dump her!"

How he'd reached this conclusion, I don't know. But he was certain of it based on my report.

The next thing I knew, the whole thing was in the paper as a fact. I gagged and nearly spit out my coffee when I read it. It was fiction. And what was worse, it was taken from something said third hand, twisted into the publicist's reality and then printed.

Now this story of the club trying to "separate itself" lives: Even though it was never true, it bounces back and forth, constantly referred to. For example: "Conscience Point, which denied it was separating itself from Lizzie Grubman." Get the point? With or without a conscience?

If you're going to rely on "spies" — as in "my spies tell me" — a gossip columnist had better have a really good spy, and not just one who's in it for the leverage. Saturday's Mercedes-sponsored Polo match is case in point.

Anyone who was at the Polo and took the time to examine the displayed cars knew there was a Mercedes SUV there that sold for $72,500. I even reported yesterday that Kate Capshaw Spielberg examined the truck carefully and asked its price.

So, why did a columnist yesterday insist that the SUV wasn't there at all? A "spy," of course, who felt the need to sound knowledgeable about something, phoned the item in. Maybe it's time to get new spies. The SUV, by the way, was quite beautiful and imposing, but no match for my Nissan Maxima GLE. Now, that's a car!

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