Christie Brinkley Fights Back

Christie Brinkley Fights Back | Tim Rice's 'Memory' of Lloyd Weber | Julia Roberts Looks Familiar | Cook's Counters; Chess Kings

Christie Brinkley Fights Back

Stunning mother of three and famed supermodel Christie Brinkley is not happy about the tack her estranged husband Peter Cook is taking in the press over their divorce.

On Thursday, reports started appearing on various syndicated TV shows that Brinkley wanted the divorce trial — set for July 2 — to be public and that Cook was trying to intervene for the sake of their two young children.

Sources close to Brinkley, however, tell me this is all hogwash, and I believe them. As it’s been pointed out, there is no logic in this latest move by Cook. These friends say that all the legal moves going on are about Cook trying to protect himself from terrible publicity once a trial is under way.

"For one thing, all cases are public already," this source said. "So what is Peter talking about? In fact, Peter is trying to get the divorce trial closed to the public so the many negative stories about him won’t become common knowledge."

Cook, as we all know, was caught having an affair with 18-year-old Diana Bianchi in the Hamptons, which forced the break-up of his 10-year marriage to Brinkley two years ago.

Since then, Brinkley has conducted herself in the only manner she knows, by taking the high road. But since Cook’s affair already is publicly known, I’m told she feels that the divorce should not be sealed. Brinkley has a point: She has nothing to lose and everything to gain by letting the facts of their marriage be presented in a courtroom.

Cook, on the other hand, has everything to lose. Sources tell me that what could transpire would be the revelation of other episodes that wouldn’t paint him in the nicest colors.

"The thing with the girl is just the tip of the iceberg," my source said, echoing a similar quote that Brinkley’s lawyer gave to Newsday on Thursday.

One thing I can tell you: Right after Brinkley and Cook were married in 1996, I published an alarming story (in the now-defunct Manhattan File magazine) about the little-known architect.

Singer Samantha Cole, who also lives in Southampton, told me she’d been dating Cook right up to the point when he married Brinkley. Cole, 19 at the time, told me that Cook, who was 37, had proposed marriage to her, that she considered herself engaged to him and that he’d told her his relationship with Brinkley meant nothing.

I reported this story here in this column exclusively on July 18, 2006, when Brinkley caught Cook cheating on her. The story was picked up the next day by many outlets including The New York Post. You can read it here.

Cole told me: "Back then you were the only one who wrote about what happened."

Two years ago, Cole reiterated the story she had told me a decade earlier. "Peter asked me to marry him in May [1996], and in June [1996] he was engaged to Christie," Samantha said. "Neither one of us knew about the other. I was very hurt ... she met him when he was on the outs with me."

Cole might be just one of the witnesses called by Brinkley’s lawyer, Robert Stephen Cohen, in an open trial. And Cole is no flake. She would be a problem for Cook if she told that story under oath. So, too, would Bianchi, who is now 20.

At issue in the divorce is the custody of two kids, Jack and Sailor, as well as finances. (Brinkley has an older daughter, Alexa, from her marriage to singer Billy Joel.)

According to Newsday and legal documents, among the assets Cook is challenging are three boats and a few Hamptons homes the couple bought as investments. They are all part of their pre-nup agreement Cook would like to overturn.

Since the couple’s break-up, Brinkley has maintained her usual low-profile life in the Hamptons. She rarely is seen on red carpets and almost never gives interviews unless there’s a specific business that needs promoting. She’s also proven to be astute at real estate and at guiding her own career as a graduated supermodel by doing select endorsements.

Tim Rice's 'Memory' of Lloyd Weber

Famed lyricist Tim Rice nearly caused several heart attacks at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner Thursday night in the Marriott Marquis ballroom.

Rice seemed to be telling the star-studded audience his heartfelt feelings about working with his longtime collaborator Andrew Lloyd Weber.

"Would you like to work with someone who takes 75 percent of the credit, work with a fellow who takes 75 percent of the money and chases after every woman he comes across in the theater?" Rice asked, with dead seriousness. A hush fell over the several hundred people dressed in formal wear. "Would you like to work with a guy like that?" Rice queried in a booming English accent.

Could it be that long-held opinions of Weber were about to be validated in public?

Then he delivered the punch line: "Neither did Andrew."

There actually was a group sigh of relief and even some laughter. Whew!

Rice was on stage introducing another collaborator, Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast"), who was one of the night’s recipients at this warmly received, always top-notch affair. (Why, oh why, so many guests ask, can’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame be like this?)

Under the guidance of Linda Moran and songwriter Hal David, the SHOF also honored country legend Loretta Lynn; perennial hitmaker Paul Anka ("My Way"); Desmond Child ("Livin’ La Vida Loca," "Living on a Prayer," "Dude Looks Like a Lady"); John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful ("Summer in the City," "Do You Believe in Magic?"); as well as the Goo Goo DollsJohn Rzeznik; famed publisher Milt Okun; the rich-voiced Canadian superstar Anne Murray ("Snowbird"); and writer-singer Albert Hammond ("It Never Rains in Southern California").

All of the writers performed their own material, with special guests including John Legend, Lee Ann Womack, Natasha Bedingfield, the Naked Brothers and Tom Paxton. Retired New York Yankee great Bernie Williams played disarmingly beautiful blues guitar to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," winner of this year’s Towering Song Award.

The audience included a few of the remaining leading lights in the ailing record business including manager Peter Asher; Sire’s Seymour Stein; music publishers such as Evan Lamberg, John Titta and Marty Bandier; Mark Shimmel; NARAS chief Neil Portnow; a large contingent from BMI; Norman Chesky; and Mary Jo Mennella.

But even though the night was a huge money-maker, the landscape of the business has changed the players. The major record labels were not represented by their leaders. For example: WMG’s Edgar Bronfman, someone said, was traveling in Greece. The industry, it now feels, is being run by remote control.

Desmond Child, whose speech was warm and funny, noted this when he said: "This is everyone in the record business. Quick, lock the doors. Don’t let anyone leave!"

As usual, it was a night full of tremendous performances. Lynn, wearing a sequined powder-blue full-length gown with puffy shoulders, was simply a knockout. The 74-year-old cracked wise and then sang her signature song, "Coal Miner’s Daughter."

It was such a rousing success that she then advised the house band to follow her on a number no one had rehearsed — "Don’t Come Home A-Drinking With Loving on Your Mind." Again, she hit a home run and taught the musicians a lesson: Be ready for anything.

"In Nashville, I like to aggravate people," this "steel magnolia" said. More to the point, she said that when she heard she was receiving a writers’ award, she already was on the plane to New York. "I love writing more than anything," she said.

Julia Roberts Looks Familiar

Julia Roberts is back in business, this time as a producer. She’s lent her name to "Kit Kittredge: American Girl," a sweet, warm film produced by her friend and former agent and producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

At Thursday night’s premiere, Julia made a low-key entrance. "Hey, didn’t we used to be friends?" she joked Julia-style when we ran into each other in one of the aisles at the Ziegfeld.

She’s had three kids in three years (including twins). But last year she made a good showing in "Charlie Wilson’s War," and soon she’ll be seen in "Duplicity." Get back to work now, Julia, if you can! We miss you.

Elsewhere at "American Girl": Jada Pinkett Smith with her precocious kids, Willow and Jaden. Willow, 7, is in the film. "Are there any aliens in this movie?" I joked with Willow. Before she could answer, Jaden, almost 10, announced proudly: "There are in mine!" That would be "The Day the Earth Stood Still," coming this Christmas.

Julianne Moore with her two kids, Stanley Tucci with his kids, actors Wally Shawn, Jane Krakowski and the film’s star, Abigail Breslin, also were there. "American Girl" should be a surprise box office hit. Just wait and see...

Cook's Counters; Chess Kings

You can read all about chef Martha Rose Shulman’s kitchen in a terrific piece from Thursday’s L.A. Times. Martha has about 30 cookbooks in print and works with Wolfgang Puck and Sherry Yard on their best-selling tomes, as well. …

Lots of talk in the music biz about "Chess," a movie about how brothers Leonard and Phil Chess started their seminal blues label. The talk is about two of my favorite "young" actors, Alessandro Nivola and Jon Abrahams, as the brothers Jerry Zaks directed. We may get to see this at Sundance January 2009. …