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Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe Split: Witnessed

Reese & Ryan | Studio 60 | Idi Amin Eats Death's Lunch; London's Fab Fest

Reese and Ryan Split: Witnessed

I hate to say it, but I actually witnessed the split between Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon. The Hollywood couple officially called it quits Monday.

But two weeks ago, they came to the opening night party for Ryan's performance in Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers." It was not a pretty scene. Reese was packing away cosmos and chatting happily with just about anyone, but it was clear she was peeved about something.

The party took place in the rooftop penthouse suites of the Soho Grand Hotel, and what I saw next was something I decided not to print at the time. The couple went out on the roof terrace and had a knock-down, drag-out fight. It looked like something from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

My line of vision was partially blocked by a big exhaust pipe, so at different times during the fight they were obscured. But then Ryan would appear, disgusted, on one side of it, and Reese on the other.

Suddenly, Reese stormed back inside, crossed past me and headed for the elevator. Ryan followed in hot pursuit. Thus, their security guards assigned for the night went running after them, thinking that they were leaving.

After a couple of minutes, though, clearer heads prevailed. The couple came back from the elevator with security in tow. Perhaps they'd forgotten that many members of Ryan's family, including his grandmother, were still in the room, oblivious to what was going on.

All of this was alluded to in our Oct. 17 column. I referred to their marriage as "tempestuous," trying to err on the side of good manners. It was obvious from their heated exchanges that the couple was in trouble. But no one really knows what goes inside a marriage; maybe fighting was part of their deal.

In retrospect, however, Ryan and Reese already knew it was over when they came to the "Flags of Our Fathers" party. They had already committed to it, and Phillippe's family wanted some kind of celebration.

The sad thing is they are both nice people. But they are also young; Ryan is 32, Reese just 30. They could never have calculated her stratospheric success.

But actresses tend to hit their stride early, with tougher times after 40. For men, it's the opposite. In five years, Ryan could be a perennial best actor nominee.

But the early 30s — with the exception of Leonardo DiCaprio, thanks to "Titanic" — is the hunker-down time for most young actors. They're too young for the good roles and too old for the teen ones.

I'm sure the tabs will be full of stories of infidelity. This column has already gotten calls about it. But I think, in the end, there are no villains for Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon. It was just too much too soon.

GE Chief Wright: 'Studio 60' Should Stay

NBC Universal/GE/Vivendi chief Robert Wright thinks his network’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” should not be cancelled.

“We have too much money invested in it,” he told me last night at the big benefit dinner for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation.

Wright knew that this column reported — and still stands by — the talk of imminent cancellation of Aaron Sorkin’s hour-long drama about the making of a comedy series. But Wright seemed to have the opposite view.

“We’d never get that kind of cast together again,” he said. “I think it will go on.”

Those words should be heartening to Sorkin and Co., but it’s not clear whether they are realistic. Last night, NBC didn’t even show “Studio 60,” opting instead for an episode of the hit "Friday Night Lights," which usually airs on Tuesday.

Considering that yesterday was the start of the ratings “sweeps” month, this scheduling change didn’t show much confidence in “Studio 60.”

Of course, it’s also a bad sign that the network had initially planned to air a “Studio 60” rerun last night. That they didn’t have enough episodes to reach the first week of sweeps is a little alarming. It bears all the signs of the late “West Wing,” when Sorkin was habitually late turning in scripts.

But back to the event: Wright and his wife, Suzanne, attended the Nordoff-Robbins dinner because they created another organization, Autism Speaks, in 2004 when their grandchild was diagnosed with being on the “spectrum.”

“There are autisms,” Suzanne stressed to me, because there are so many different manifestations of this frustrating challenge.

And there were lots of folks at the Roseland Ballroom with connections to autistic children, hoping to raise money for research and programs.

Like the Wrights, many of them had a lot of clout. For example, the terrific rock band on stage was led by Jamie Dolan, whose father, you may know, owns Cablevision. For several Rolling Stones songs, vocals were provided by actor John Ventimiglia, aka Artie Bucco of “The Sopranos.”

In the meantime, the 700 guests got to chow down on food prepared by dozens of famous New York restaurants, and were also able to meet their chefs.

Le Bernardin, The Four Seasons and the Brasserie were among those represented, the latter thanks to chef Franklin Becker, whose son is autistic.

Becker is a hero among the parental community in New York. The opportunity to have him cook in someone’s house was auctioned off for thousands last night.

But with all those celebrity chefs, which table had the longest line? Why, Katz’s Deli from Houston Street. The chef told me he’d brought 150 pounds of the legendary deli’s famous pastrami. It’s a good thing, too, because it went fast.

And here’s the New York irony: At the very next table, restaurant Beppe was serving a pork-and-apple chutney sandwich. Beppe is such a good eatery, but location is everything.

Idi Amin Eats Death's Lunch; London's Fab Fest

“Death of a President,” a docudrama in which President George W. Bush is assassinated, had a tough weekend. It cleared $281,000 in 143 theaters, according to boxofficemojo.com. On the limited-release circuit, it was beaten handily by "The Last King of Scotland," which played in 50 fewer locales but took in $50,000 more.

It’s reassuring that people would rather see Idi Amin whoop it up in Uganda than watch George W. Bush get mowed down …

Five of the following nine acts will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year: Chic, The Dave Clark Five, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith, The Stooges, Joe Tex or Van Halen.

I love Chic, but they ain’t rock 'n' roll. Neither is Grandmaster Flash (Chic, on the other hand, might get in because everyone loves Nile Rodgers).

The Ronettes means Ronnie Spector, ex-wife of Phil Spector (who incidentally hates her, is awaiting trial for the murder of another woman in California but still exerts a lot of influence with the Hall of Fame).

Several years ago, Phil brought his assistant, Michelle Blaine, daughter of drummer Hal, to his post-party at Giambelli’s. Now he’s suing her for allegedly stealing from him. We miss you, Phil! …

Joe Tex is dead, and sadly, the Rock Hall doesn’t care for R&B anymore, let alone dead R&B, although I will vote for him. Still absent, shamefully: Billy Preston, Mary Wells, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Chubby Checker, The Moody Blues, Todd Rundgren, Yes and so on …

We’ve left the London Film Festival, which is still going on. Our thanks to the festival organizers and Premiere PR. They all did a great job. The festival was run smoothly, with none of the angst and unearned tussling that permeates some others (hello Toronto).

On Saturday, not only did we get that premiere of “For Your Consideration,” but it was preceded by a screening of “Borat.” Yes, I’ve seen "Borat" three times. I’d like to see it three more. The audience, by the way, got the jokes without any trouble …

My old friend Bernice Kanner has died of an aneurysm. She was 57. Bernice wrote the advertising column "On the Avenue" (meaning Madison) at New York magazine from 1981 to 1994 when new editor Kurt Anderson fired her and a bunch of the veteran writers and editors, mostly women, by fax.

Bernice’s columns were one of a kind, and you always learned a lot from them. She was one of a kind, too, and will be sorely missed …