Jewish World Review July 16, 2004 / 27 Tamuz, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Bad taste at James Beard Foundation; Hunted at Prey?; more | NEW YORK — It smells like trouble's in the oven at the James Beard Foundation.

That's the Manhattan-based shrine to American cooking, founded by Beard's friend Julia Child after his death in 1985, and headquartered in the legendary chef's Greenwich Village brownstone.

A month ago, longtime foundation president Len Pickell — who has overseen the increasingly wealthy non-profit since 1996 — quietly took a leave of absence. The public explanation for Pickell's departure was a bad back.

But the board of trustees — which includes socialite Nina Griscom, chef and author Jacques Pepin, and Fortune 500 CEO Albert H. Nahmad — have hired New York attorney Michael Berger to head up an independent investigation of the foundation's finances, politely described by foundation officials as "an inquiry and review."

Pickell didn't respond Thursday to a message seeking comment, left for him at the foundation.

Now lawyers and accountants are poring over the books — "a top to bottom review," trustee George Sape told me — and a detailed report is expected within a month.

"They're looking at various aspects of the organization," said Sape, himself a prominent New York lawyer. "I don't want to get into any details until the report is completed."

Privately, sources familiar with the investigation are talking about the challenge of trying to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the foundation's $4.5 million annual budget.

On Thursday, this column's Rachel Jonas visited the foundation's 12th St. offices and tried unsuccessfully to obtain the group's "990" IRS forms — the tax returns that nonprofits such as the James Beard Foundation are required by law to make publicly available.

Skittish employees declined to give them to her, and asked her to leave.

Although Sape told me the James Beard Foundation is operating "at a slight surplus" this year, the group has a reputation for splurging on first-class travel and accommodations, limousines and, of course, the very finest of food and drink.

Perhaps prophetically, Pickell told The Washington Post back in 1996: "I know what people are wondering. I hear the question all the time. 'Where does the money go? Where does the money go?'"

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Are they or aren't they?

I hear that hot-tempered supermodel Naomi Campbell and babe-magnet movie director Brett Ratner — who last spring were rumored in the press to have been romantically linked — spent a recent evening cozying up to each other at L.A. hotspot Prey.

Ratner's current girlfriend, tennis star Serena Williams, was nowhere in sight.

A spy for this column reports that true to form, Campbell "pitched a diva fit" when her and Ratner's table wasn't ready, "ranting and flailing her arms." She then demanded that security escort her in, lest she actually have to brush up against any common folk en route to her VIP table.

Higher-wattage celebs such as teen queen Lindsay Lohan and rocker Gwen Stefani — who were seated at tables nearby — made much more low-key entrances.

On Thursday, Campbell e-mailed from her hand-held: "Not true I arrived in la on friday, and I went to shelter with Quincy (Jones) on sat the only club I went to."

Our spy countered, "Naomi was at Prey. Everyone saw her."

Ratner's rep had only this to say: "Serena is Brett's girlfriend."


THE NOT-SO-SIMPLE LIFE: Paris Hilton might have a video, but Altus, Ark., resident Janet Leding — who hosted Hilton and Nicole Richie at her home for the first season of the hit Fox series — hopes to write a book. On Thursday, Leding told this column's Rachel Jonas that she already has "several pages done" about the girls gone wild who lived under her roof. "There was a lot of good times, a lot of bad times, too," Leding said. "I'm starting from the beginning." But, she added, "I don't really know how to go about doing it," nor does she have a publisher. "I want to have the book totally wrote as soon as our contract is over." The Ledings are obliged not to speak publicly about their experiences with Hilton and Richie until after Sept. 8, she told Jonas. Hilton's PR rep didn't return this column's detailed messages Thursday.

PLAYING AGAINST TYPE?: Guess who's starring as Moses in the pop opera "The Ten Commandants: The Spectacular," slated for Radio City Music Hall in January after a September run at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles? Thursday, at the Ischia Film & Music Global Fest, none other than Val Kilmer — soon to be seen as Phillip of Macedonia in Oliver Stone's "Alexander" — claimed the role. With Torah fire in his voice, Kilmer declaimed to the Italian media: "Last night at dinner I got a phone call from my agent. I will play Moses." Isn't he too young to play Moses? "No," the 44-year-old Kilmer answered. "I've been making my children learn The Ten Commandments. Now they'll be singing it." Thus saith the Val.

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07/14/04: Sophie's fall; Bush's covert ops; celeb stew
07/09/04: Low-budget director in high-budget race; Warner Wolf's imaginary wild side; more
07/07/04: Spiderman fan shows Moore having trouble coping with his predictable fade; rock the vote?; more
07/04/04: Perky Katie: 'Our bad'; Skull & Bones may break him; more
06/30/04: Paul Bremer's rich narrative; lonely rich guy?; Jessica Simpson, patron airhead?; more
06/25/04: "Don't jump!"; Rocco's rocky night; Rules? Which rules?; more
06/18/04: NBA numbers crunch; rap reversal?; strange bedfellows; more
06/19/04: I caused Howard Stern to go berserk
06/16/04: Lindsay Lohan is so, um, differently abled; Bill (O'Reilly) is busted!; naughty Natalie; more
06/04/04: Gwyneth gets hers in the U.K.; lost — and found — in translation; ladies who lunch — and the men they won't eat with; more
06/02/04: Stern warnings; X-Tina, the brand name; separating the Olsen Twins
05/28/04: "Sly Fox" outwits New York Times review; talk to the animals; Can't this man be stopped?; more
05/25/04: Picking over Bones; "W" this!; Motherhood, anyone?; more
05/21/04: Not so Ruff Ryders; fantastic voyage; sweeps month stunt?; more
05/19/04: A hex on 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'?; girls just wanna get mad; more
05/14/04: What it was like to be Kerry's 'mistress'; Curious George (Stephanopoulos); more
05/13/04: The young (and snarky) JFK; Did Ford have a better idea?; more
05/07/04: Teresa on TV; Joan Rivers: "C-Class" at best; red-faced apology; more
05/05/04: Burger brouhaha over meat movie; the Age of Adu; what a difference an indictment makes; more
04/23/04: Ahoy, Katie!; Barbara and Martha, together again!; unreality TV?; more
04/21/04: Things don't go better with Coke?; swipes from the grave; "Mami" to the rescue; more
04/16/04: Does this ‘Apprentice’ need some etiquette lessons?; Kerry's laff-riot stepson; fully baked?; more
04/14/04: Dick Clark's diabetes; Barbara Walters' $6 Million book; reality (television) bites; more
04/09/04: S-e-x and the Koran; PETA targets Beyonce; more
04/08/04: Stephen King vs. ABC; trapping the love rat; Liv-ing it up; more
04/02/04: Don't mess with Brooke Hogan's dad; lawyers dancing on the head of a pin?; Trump vs. Trump?; more
04/01/04: D'OH! "Simpsons" actors in dispute with Fox; Diane Sawyer and Janet Jackson won't be bosom buddies; Condi and Maxim?
03/31/04: Hair-raising day on Wall Street; Foxy lady loses 50 Cent; How do you say "party animal" in Hebrew?; Rev. Al and Janet Jackson; more
03/26/04: Bye, bye Banfield; from porn to politics?; more
03/24/04: The perils of film criticism; Dole-ing out compliments; but what about a cure for career lag?; more
03/19/04: Trump trumps everything; Mario vs. Joe; Trudeau pays up; more
03/17/04: Remembering Hillary %*&$#! Clinton; PUT AWAY THAT KRYPTONITE!; more
03/12/04: OOPS!, did Jayson Blair do it again?; skewing Young; more
03/10/04: The laugh that dare not speaks its name; Mistaken identity? NAH!; Is this a great country or what?
03/05/04: Bush vs. Kerry: a Skull session; Kramer vs. The Times, scorch session; enthusiasm curbed; (Tina) Brown-nosing?
03/03/04: Oscars memorialize Hitler's fave filmmaker; baubles, bangles and Kelly Osbourne; moonwalking through cyberspace; more
02/27/04: Regan rebellion; Ed Limato strikes again!; tears for Tom; more
02/26/04: McCain predicts a nasty campaign; the misdirected missive; Janet Jackson, the interview; more
02/20/04: Introducing the Kerry sisters; cyberflap!; Snoop Dogg v. O'Reilly?; more
02/18/04: John Kerry's Friendster?; On the mend?; food for fraughtm; more
02/13/04: John & Carolyn, redux; Zell Miller shows the flag; kill Quentin?; more
02/11/04: HE FEELS BAD!; Dick Cheney, still not dead; more
02/06/04: Glittering Grammys; a laurel for Janet; Haryl's heart
02/04/04: Shriver quits NBC; "Marshmallow" Mike Tyson?; Super Bowl propriety?; MTV's next production?; more
01/30/04: The political forehead front; Alies meets Franken; the art of the hype; arrested career development?
01/28/04: Eyebrow-raising politics; call him indescribable; Woods vs. Williams; more
01/23/04: Eyebrow-raising mystery; who's punk'd anyway?; don't curb your enthusiasm; more
01/21/04: Ridiculous lives of the self-important stars; long arm of the law; all's fair in love and literature
01/16/04: Global warming at a glacial pace; targeting pop culture; Is 'the price of loyalty' too high?
01/14/04: Busting on the "cult buster"; Sarsgaard thinks globally; one angry woman; more
01/08/04: Sitcom star won't be excused from Blake murder trial; fierstein on fire; Drudge & Blumenthal, together again
01/07/04: Bono hits a brick wall; Britney, before the nuttiness; the Arianna primary; more
01/02/04: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio!?; "Bachelor" bruises; Returning to the scene of the crime?
12/31/03: Disaster for the defense; no-war Omar; the shoe must go on; more
12/19/03: Bob Shapiro's free commercial?; Are sophisticated and hip New Yawkers easily duped?; Positive Saddam fallout?; Ratty insult?
12/17/03: Magic Mystery Tour?; Russell Simmons battles ink by the barrel; Would it have killed her to say 'get well soon'?; no Gest room
12/12/03: Karenna defends her dad; now she tells us!; say it ain't so, Mo!; more
12/10/03: Man & wife, interruptus; pepperoni has feelings, too; more
12/05/03: The knives are out; Who's sorry now?; JWR in the news
12/04/03: The war of the gest-minnellis; something borrowed, something cashmere; fashion trendsetter, nailed!
12/03/03: Colombian grace under pressure; Lord of the Screwups; more
12/02/03: Curb your anti-Semitism?; fame fatigue?; bowing to pressure?; more
12/01/03: Dennis the Menace strikes again; first literary feud of the holiday season; Norma Jean & Hef in heaven?; the fog of McNamara; more
11/26/03: Catherine Crier raps Jacko's TV defender, refuses on-air hint of racism; At 50, Tina's in full cry; STAY OUT OF HER WAY!; more
11/25/03: The mogul strikes back?; go ahead, make Harvey's day; more
11/24/03: Georgette's pilfered baubles; prosecutor of pop?; absent but not missed?; Norman Mailer's prescription for education reform; more
11/20/03: Is a movie career in store for Maria Bartiromo?; People for the Unethical Treatment of Humans?; more
11/19/03: Scientologists on Razor's edge?; picking a winner?; source on a hot tin roof?; more
11/18/03: Clay Aiken neuters PETA?; THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS!; a mural for Joe
11/17/03: When networks attack!; leaky Fawcett; forget the Paris Hilton video!; more
11/13/03: Publicity hounds; Prophetic priest; Dumb and Dumber
11/12/03: Not so Rosie; do you believe in miracles?; catalogue of sins; My Heart Belongs to Koppel
11/10/03: Gen. clark on the Subway diet; life of the party; MTV's Dumb and Dumber?; the hug issue; but does the $6,000 shower curtain convey?; red faces at Buckingham palace?
11/06/03: Let them eat pita?; verbal jousting; pretenders to the throne?
11/05/03: Will Harvey Weinstein and Gregg Easterbrook now be pals?; crazed Quentin; more
11/04/03: Herding off the hipsters; more
11/03/03: Dean's tell-all on himself?; Lisaraye vs. Mya?; the odd couple; no need to panic; just don't call him "Scooter"!; Rosie scenarios
10/30/03: Autumn of the editor?; Cynthia Nixon's split may be costly; 'Burning' questions
10/29/03: Ah-nold, unauthorized!; a dilemma for Melissa Gilbert? not even Frank Gifford can help him now!; nobody wanted Elizabeth Hurley
10/28/03: It's Cher calling!; Brown Alert
10/27/03: Paparazzi uncensored!; where's Aaron Brown?; postcards from the middle; invasion of the party snatchers?; House flooded when not afire?; suspenders of disbelief?
10/23/03: Ace up Howard Dean's sleeve; Woody's ordeal; Paul Simon's kid makes good; the non-beginning of a beautiful friendship?
10/22/03: Showing the flag; Joe Frazier, smokin'!; see Carville bruised-up — sort of
10/21/03: Morris & Jaci's charm offensive; Hell hath no fury; Wintertime for Hitler
10/20/03: Isn't it rich?; men (and the occasional woman) behaving badly; peacenik John Lennon supporting the U.S. military?; courageous Connie
10/16/03: George Clooney and intolerable Drudgery; Cameron goes native; and you thought the war in Iraq was nasty?; now it can be revealed; star wars?
10/15/03: Kerik into the breach?; holiday pander?; "the Dink" corrects the record; more
10/14/03: Madge gets mad, lips are sealed; the candidates who listen; he who hesitates is Beatty
10/13/03: Clothes, but no cigar; New Yorkers put a Sox in it; mad at Matalin?; more
10/09/03: Gray Davis goes to the movies; Ali Wentworth, working blue; Law & Order?; pot of gold at the end of the rainbow room?
10/08/03: Art-time for Hitler; the actress who hates movies; lying "Liam"
10/07/03: Pond scum of the rich and famous
07/24/03: Ali and George, living it up; Mel Gibson's Washington power play
07/21/03: White House smear?
07/17/03: Yet another intern scandal; it's her party and she can pay if she wants to
07/14/03: On the auction block: JFK'S boxer shorts; love bytes the maestro
07/10/03: A hairy situation at Homeland Security; Van Susteren v. Orth
06/30/03: Rep. Patrick Kennedy: I've never worked a (bleeping) day in my life; Drudge's dressing down; Ken Lay's Kerry connection
06/26/03: Rapping the beat
06/23/03: Another Watergate scandal?; AL GORE TV!
06/19/03: Tony Snow, rocker?; that won't be crow on Mr. Carlson's plate
06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
06/12/03: Giving both parties the needle
06/05/03: Incoming from Barbara Bush?
06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate