So here we are in the fabled Hamptons, which Billy Norwich used to call the "CashHamptons" in his old, great society column. The same Hamptons where Lizzie Grubman backed over 16 people and will now go to jail, where millionaires are found murdered or floating in their pools, where the hedges are fourteen feet high just to keep unwanted stares from tourists or the curious who want to know which really really rich person lives where.
You'd think, in that case, that some really rich people would do everything they could do to ensure their privacy -- like buy empty lots next to them so prying eyes don't become permanent. Alas, Richard Gere decided at the last minute not to do that, so now any shzlub with $5 million will soon have a front seat on Gere Theatre.
The story is that a piece of property next to Gere's Hamptons estate became available last year. Some developers, not knowing Gere was there, bought the property to develop it. When the gray haired matinee idol found out, he made a deal to purchase the land and annex it to his. And let me tell you, Gere -- who does not have a pool or a tennis court -- could have used it. He wrote a deposit check for $230,000 and went to contract.
But then September 11 happened. You may recall that Gere outraged everyone when he spoke about having compassion for the terrorists. He said the best way for Americans to deal with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was with "the medicine of love and compassion."
"In a situation like this, of course, you identify with everyone who's suffering," the actor told ABCNEWS Radio.
He said we should think about "the terrorists who are creating such horrible future lives for themselves because of the negativity of this karma. If you see it from a much wider point of view, we're all in this together. We're all intimately interconnected in all of these actions."
Well, not all intimately connected. Immediately after September 11, Gere pulled out of the deal, citing the terrorist attacks as the reason. He forfeited his deposit, and lost the right to keep strangers out of his backyard. Apparently Gere though the World Trade Center attacks were going to have lasting negative impact on his finances.
The developers, by the way, went ahead and built a gorgeous spec house on the property, which I got a chance to see on Saturday. The neighborhood is posh, with several bold face names hither and yon. It also has incredible views. I'm told that Sotheby's in Bridgehampton has the listing, so if you've got the spare change (I'll be spending all day at a CoinStar machine trying to get the scratch), give them a call.
Meanwhile, I did bump into Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall Saturday night with her husband Mark Levinson and her mom, who was visiting from Vancouver Island. Cattrall looked great, and said she's enjoying the show's hiatus. Because of Sarah Jessica Parker's and Cynthia Nixon's pregnancies they won't start filming again until February.
So is it true that Kim and SJP hate each other, as the tabloids blare each week? "Don't be ridiculous," Kim said, "they want us to be best friends and spend 24 hours a day together off the set. We all have lives! We spend long working days together anyway. Everybody's fine!"
Levinson, who owns the great high-end stereo shop Red Rose Music on Madison Avenue, told me he's just started offering a limited edition "budget" system on amazon.com. If you're planning to buy audio equipment and keep staring at Bose or other stuff like it at your local stereo store, forget it -- just order the Red Rose package and be enthralled. If you're in New York, by the way, you can always go in and listen for yourself. Red Rose is next to the Whitney Museum. I've done this on several occasions and all I can tell you is, whether you're a classical, jazz, or pop fan, your ears will smile when you hear the Red Rose set-up.
I should tell you that Kim and Mark and I (along with 200 others) were at a benefit on Saturday night for a newish charity called BiasHELP of Long Island and The Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC). Their patron is H.H. Princess Zarina of Selangor Malaysia. You find them on the web and read more about what they're doing, but it seems to be a serious and worthwhile endeavor. The great Lillas White, Tony winner for The Life and Obie winner for Dinah Was about Dinah Washington, performed after dinner. Why is this woman not on Broadway every season in a new hit musical? She's what it's all about. Luckily, she has an album of jazz standards coming out before the end of the year. Keep an eye out for it.
Unless something earth-shaking happens during the week, this column is taking a maintenance break. We'll return on Friday with a complete report from the MTV Video Awards, which will knock New York out on Thursday, live from Radio City with Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and a much-needed shot of irreverence.