Does Sandra Bullock have Georgia on her mind? You'd certainly think so if you lived in Savannah. There's a pretty strong rumor going around on neighboring Tybee Island that the very wealthy star of such movies as While You Were Sleeping and Miss Congeniality has purchased a stunning three-story beachfront home and compound for $1.9 million.
Bonnie Gaster, a local real estate agent for Prudential Southeast Coastal Properties, is thought to have made the sale. She told me, "I can't confirm or deny anything."
Bullock has been the talk of the town all summer as residents of sleepy Tybee Island have spotted her here, there and everywhere.
One realtor told me: "Everyone's talking about her, but it's just a rumor. We also keep hearing that John Mellencamp is buying a house, but that may be because his ex-wife lives nearby in North Carolina."
Bullock has been a frequent customer, at least in July, at the World Famous Breakfast Club restaurant on Tybee Island. The Breakfast Club is well known for having catered the wedding of the late John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.
One reason Bullock, who lives in Austin, Texas, most of the time, might want to plunk down some cash on this Southern version of Martha's Vineyard: She apparently fell in love with it while filming the 1999 release Forces of Nature with Ben Affleck.
The house, no matter who's chosen it, is said to be a knockout, by the way. It comes with three undeveloped parcels of land, and enough room to add on a big swimming pool if so desired. "It's newish," said one neighbor on Bay Street, "but it was built to look like an old beach house." The property is said to be extremely private and the most expensive sale in the history of the island.
Here is the way it was described in Tybee Online, a real estate 'zine edited by Katrina Murray: "Twenty Minutes to 'Historic Savannah.' A true one-of-a-kind property on the small & unique Tybee Island, GA! Custom designed home with all the amenities which makes this new home feel like an 'Old Tybee' house. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, huge wrap around porches and many custom features and details. Fantastic view of the north beach, shipping channel, Daufuskie & Hilton Head Islands. Four additional building lots, with covenants and private beach access are included. Entire parcel is over 1 ½ acres of secluded beachfront property. Offered at $1,870,000."
A rep for Bullock did not return calls.
It's hot as hell here in New York, but that didn't stop a glittering crowd from alighting the Hudson Hotel Tuesday night and partying on the rooftop.
The reason: Luther Vandross was in town to celebrate his new hit album on J Records. Clive Davis, the owner of J, accompanied him as the very svelte Luther cut a stunning figure. Among his many admirers: Mary Wilson, of Supremes fame, who was a vision in a robin's-egg blue gown; Valerie Simpson, the smaller but equal half of Ashford & Simpson; plus Busta Rhymes; and a sprinkling of record industry types including Daniel Glass.
And yes, Luther, whose weight seesaws up and down, is still working on his diet book. A lot of publishers are said to be interested.
Around the party much of the talk was about Alicia Keys, J Records' smash launch. On the new Soundscan chart, Keys has sold just 1.2 million copies of her debut album, Songs in A Minor. She's No. 2, right behind 'N Sync's Celebrity. ('N Sync had a precipitous drop off in sales this week, from 1.9 million to 460,000.)
Mary Wilson, by the way, has her fingers crossed. She's hoping to bring her production of Sophisticated Ladies to New York's famed Apollo Theatre by the end of the year. Mary is one of our favorite people, a real survivor, and I hope that the new administration at the Apollo can help her realize this dream.
At least one former reality show participant is doing something important with her life. Cassandra Waldon, the African-American woman who listened patiently to the whining of her housemates during last summer's Big Brother on CBS, has spent her time wisely this summer.
Waldon, who should have won but instead had to endure the bickering and tedium of her co-participants, has been traveling around the world for the United Nations, her employer.
"I'm on my way to a conference in Durbin, South Africa," Waldon told me yesterday. In her role as a communications director at the office of U.N. Development, Waldon has gotten to see a lot of Africa in particular. She's just completed trips to Zambia and Nigeria for conferences with the Organization of African Unity.
"At our last conference, we had both Qaddafi and Arafat in the same room," she told me. "You can't imagine what that was like. We had also 53 heads of state."
I really can't, since such a meeting, which should have been a headline here in the States, was not considered terribly important by most news organizations.
Waldon's specialty is in AIDS awareness, the disease being one of Africa's most immediate concerns on a daily basis. When she returns there at the end of August, she hopes to write a journal for a magazine (Hello, Oprah, Rosie, are you listening?) and maybe try to get some of her experiences on film.
Considering the seriousness of her work, you'd think she'd have some misgivings in hindsight about being on Big Brother. But she doesn't have any. "If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have whatever forum I have now," she told me. "I would have been a little voice trying to get my ideas out. So it was good for that."