It's not so easy to get three major stars together in one room, but it happened last night at Vince and Eddie's restaurant on Manhattan's West Side.
That's because Oscar winner Frances McDormand ("Fargo") hosted a little get-together for her friend, Oscar winner Holly Hunter ("The Piano"). The occasion was to toast Hunter for her role in "Thirteen," the Fox Searchlight film that has gotten people talking.
"Fran" and Holly would have been the central topic of discussion but for the sudden arrival of beaming newlyweds Julianne Moore (four Oscar nominations so far) and her husband, director Bart Freundlich. If you don't know, the couple got married over Labor Day weekend after seven years and two children together.
"We finally knew it was right," quipped Julianne, who showed me her platinum-and-diamond wedding band and her engagement ring that has their two kids' names — Cal and Liv — carved into it.
"Bart actually asked me last January," Julianne admitted. It was her second marriage, so she didn't want to rush into anything.
The couple got married in the garden of their West Village home, but are now relocating to another apartment "so the wrecking ball can come in."
Renovations on their house will take a year, which is better than the two-year schedule that plagued neighbor Liv Tyler.
As for a honeymoon, the couple just returned from a few days away. Any changes for the bridegroom?
"I'm shaving my beard closer," Freundlich said, stroking his beard.
Julianne, I can tell you exclusively, will retain her last name. Her kids, one of whom starts school next week, will stick with "Freundlich."
The Hunter crowd, meantime, was also surprised by former tennis superstar Billie Jean King, whom Hunter portrayed in a cable movie. Other guests included actors Bob Balaban and Matt Dillon. Indefatigable New Yorker writer Lillian Ross, looking younger than ever, also made an appearance, as did, of course, Catherine Hardwicke, the writer-director of "Thirteen."
"She's off to the Deauville Film Festival on Friday," said her publicist. "Right after Diane von Furstenberg makes her some clothes. She just fell in love with her."
Hardwicke, who really should be proud of "Thirteen," told me that even though she was no longer dating production designer Seth Reed, whose teenage daughter Nikki co-wrote and stars in "Thirteen," she's still friends with him and his ex-wife, whom Hunter plays in the movie. (This is a very California thing.)
"In fact," she said, showing off her braids, "Nikki's mom just did my hair the other day."
Big news late yesterday in the record business. Universal Music Group's Def Jam label had its payout of $132 million to TVT Records reduced by more than half, to $53 million, by Judge Victor Marrero in U.S. District Court.
Judge Marrero's decision to halve the original settlement came with a silver lining of sorts. He knocked down the amount that Def Jam chief Lyor Cohen — who's had hits with J-Lo and Ja Rule, Ashanti and others — was supposed to pay TVT out of his own pocket from $56 million to $3 million.
Def Jam said in a statement that they still intended to appeal the remainder of the verdict "and continue to be confident that it will be overturned on appeal as it is not supported by the law or the facts."
Cohen, of course, considers this a victory. He's right, although Universal/Def Jam — which is in the process of being sold with the rest of the Universal assets to General Electric/NBC — is still on the hook for a hefty $52 million.
This is not small change. In order to appeal the judge's decision and the previous jury verdict, Universal will have to post a bond equal to that amount. This they will have to explain to the Peacock leaders without ruffling feathers.
Writing in two 100-page decisions — one for liability and the other for punitive damages — the judge however called Def Jam's actions "shabby and deplorable."
Nevertheless, he writes "reasonable people would differ on whether, in the light of all the Defendants' offenses, the wrongs they committed were sufficiently shocking and contemptible to merit, as a calculated response, the size of the penalties the jury actually assessed."
In English, Def Jam acted very badly — but not so badly that it was worth the jury's fine of $132 million.
This stems from the story I told a couple of months ago regarding Cohen and rapper Ja Rule's old act, Cash Money Click. A jury found that Cohen and Universal executives lied about whether they'd agreed to let Ja Rule and partner Irv Gotti resuscitate a recording they left behind at TVT years ago.
The jury found that Def Jam (Cohen, et al) conspired to cost TVT millions and block the release — after Cohen had agreed to it.
This is still a blow for Cohen, who is in the middle of renegotiating his own deal with Def Jam, which itself is on the down side of a sales cycle and not having the hits of two years ago.
Meanwhile, TVT is having the biggest moment of its life on the charts with two hit albums, including one by the group Dashboard Confessional.
And so the case is over. Or is it? The big question now is how Universal/Def Jam's new owners will view of all this, and how they will respond to appealing this still-huge verdict.
Many thanks to the New York Observer for crediting our story about movie producer Howard Dratch suing Kevin Costner over "Open Range"
And we are assured that today's Page Six column in the New York Post accidentally omitted our credit from their lead story about the Scientology "spirituality contract." It was the lead story exclusively here yesterday.