Like me, you may have not thought much about Elizabeth Hurley, the baby boy she just had, and why she had it. She wasn't married to the man who she says is the father: a man I've never heard of particularly, named Steve Bing. He's described in the British press as an "American millionaire." But who isn't?
Now Bing says he wants a paternity test. Most men would be flattered that Liz Hurley said she slept with them, let alone claimed they impregnated her. So what gives? What's Steve Bing so huffy about?
Turns out Mr. Bing is the scion (you only get that if your parents are really, really loaded) of hugely, fantastically rich people.
Ironically, Steve Bing's family founded something called the Bing Nursery School at Stanford University. Yes, while Mr. Bing approaches fatherhood with trepidation, the fact is that little Damian is set as far as education goes. According to its Web site: Bing Nursery School "was constructed with funding from the National Science Foundation and a special gift" from the Bing family. It was designed as a laboratory for quantitative research in child development, a place for qualitative child study, and a base for psychology classes…"Bing was designed to be a place that says to children, 'Come on in, this is a place built just for you.'" That is, of course, if your DNA is a match.
Certainly Bing Jr. will not lack for educational opportunities. His grandparents, Helen and Dr. Peter Bing, are a major philanthropic force at Stanford. They sponsor a fellowship at the conservative Hoover Institution, based at Stanford, and are mentioned in countless press reports for underwriting various programs. The Bings sponsor something called the Senior Gift Challenge, in which they match gifts to the university. And Dr. Bing has already served as president of the Board of Trustees of the university.
According to one published report, Steve Bing — the 38-year-old producer of the Sylvester Stallone flop Get Carter and a onetime script writer (ironically again, for the low burlesque TV satire Married…with Children) — will inherit $400 million one day from the elder Bings.
As for Liz, no matter how much money Estee Lauder paid her, the Bing fortune is nothing to sneeze at. Her film career is not exactly booming. A movie she made with Denis Leary in 2000, Double Whammy, has still not been released. It was shown at the January 2001 Sundance Film Festival and received dreadful reviews.
Elvis Costello launched his new album, When I Was Cruel, on Thursday night at the Bowery Ballroom here in New York. The album — which is quite wonderful — will be released tomorrow. Does it matter that Costello put on an incredible show? Or that the album has gotten the best reviews he's had in years? Probably not. But this is always the honeymoon period before the disaster. Costello's Burt Bacharach album had the most publicity of nearly any project in history, and it sold a paltry 80,000 copies in its first week. I doubt any radio station used it for anything other than a coffee coaster.
At the Bowery, Costello mixed old songs with new, choosing such cult faves as "You Belong to Me," "Lipstick Vogue," "Man out of Time," "Beyond Belief," "Alison," "Watching the Detectives" and "Waiting for the End of the World" among the standards. He also played "I Hope You're Happy Now" and "I Want You," two catchy but spiteful tunes from his 1985 album Blood and Chocolate. Elvis clearly thought an old friend was in the jam-packed ballroom. He was wrong.
But the new material, for me, is the goods. The title song of the new album is spectacular. Not only does it quote ABBA, but "When I Was Cruel No. 2" sounds like an opera designed to answer Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind." Costello spits the words out one at a time while his band, the Imposters, provides a kind of mesmerizing rhythm track. On the album, it's a killer. In person, I was impressed they pulled it off.
Then there's "Dust": "If dust could only talk/What would we hear it say/Before it's brushed aside/Just as it's swept away…"
Oh well. Maybe you prefer Bellow Rock. Creed, Nickelback, Eddie Vedder clones. Or maybe Tweet, whose hit song goes like this:
"Oops, there goes my shirt up over my head/Oh my/Oops, there goes my skirt droppin' to my feet Oh my."
Buy a copy of When I Was Cruel tomorrow. It's not too late.