Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2004 / 8 Teves, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio!?; "Bachelor" bruises; Returning to the scene of the crime? | NEW YORK — What's in a name?

Well, some acolytes of Joe DiMaggio tell me they're hopping mad that a Hollywood, Fla., hospital — named for the late Yankee deity — has just renamed part of the facility after a member of the Florida Marlins.

The Visitors Clubhouse, right across Joe DiMaggio Way from the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, was recently redubbed the Conine Clubhouse — in honor of Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine and his wife Cindy.

"Joe was there for the dedication of the visitors clubhouse in 1997, and there was a plaque with his name on it," said a DiMaggio pal who demanded anonymity. "I just went by there this morning, and there's a sheet over the plaque . . . DiMaggio is a legend. How could they rename this clubhouse for a mediocrity like Conine?"

The pal added: "I haven't had the heart to tell Joe's grandchildren yet. They'd be devastated."

On Tuesday, New York podiatric surgeon Rock Positano, who was DiMaggio's foot doctor until the latter's death in 1999, said that Joltin' Joe "would be turning in his grave" over the name change.

"Joe wouldn't have liked this at all," Positano told me, pointing out that in the 1990s DiMaggio raised millions of dollars for the 700-bed public medical center. "Joe wanted top billing."

But hospital external affairs director Joe Reilly, who was also a friend of DiMaggio's, advised the disgruntled devotees to calm down.

He pointed out that the clubhouse — a 22,000-square-foot facility which offers free rooms to relatives of sick children being treated at the hospital — was never formally named for DiMaggio. It was simply called the "Visitors Clubhouse."

What's more, Conine, who hosts an annual golf tournament to raise money for the clubhouse, was also a friend of the legend, Reilly said. "Joe adored Jeff," he said. "Jeff didn't even want the clubhouse named after him, but he'd done so much, the board (of the DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation) insisted."

Reilly went on: "I don't know, it's cold up there in New York. I think maybe you've got some folks who are still in shock over the Marlins beating the Yankees in the World Series."


The latest imploded "Bachelor" couple, Bob Guiney and Estella Gardinier, are deliciously catty about each other in the upcoming People magazine.

Just like the three previous defunct "Bachelor" lovebirds (a perfect record of failure), the 32-year-old Guiney and the 28-year-old Gardinier seemed destined for the altar Nov. 19 when he slipped a diamond ring on her hand. He picked her from 25 competing women to climax the fourth season of the popular ABC reality series.

But now they're splitsville and, in Gardinier's case, bitter.

"He's not the person I thought he was," Gardinier says of her groom-not-to-be. "I don't see any reason to ever have a conversation with him.

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The previously divorced Guiney — who broke it off by phone after he and Gardinier attended "Bachelorette" Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter's Dec. 6 wedding — takes a passive-aggressive approach.

"It was largely my fault," he explains manfully, blaming his hectic exertions exploiting his "Bachelor" fame to make a cameo appearance on the ABC sitcom "I'm With Her" while promoting a book, a CD and a T-shirt (and getting sued by the show's producers for alleged breach of contract).

"I've been pulled in so many directions, and the one that I don't think got enough of my time was our relationship," Guiney laments. "For that I feel awful."

Guiney, who declared his undying love for Gardinier on television and then was spotted by gossips romancing other women in public places, also blames sinister forces: "There was a tremendous amount of pressure, and it wasn't allowing us to explore where our relationship could go. . . . I think this is the best path for us."

Gardinier isn't impressed. "The path that I'm taking is different from Bob's," she says. "He's a big-time star now! He's big-time, so my life doesn't compare to that."

Sarcasm pills, anyone?


RETURNING TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME?: "Inside Edition" anchor Deborah Norville is heading back to NBC, kind of. The New York Daily News' Stephen Battaglio reports that she has signed on to anchor a nightly 9 p.m. show on MSNBC. In 1989, Norville abruptly replaced Jane Pauley in a badly botched effort to spruce up the "Today" show, only to be replaced herself by Katie Couric. She has been in talks for the past month with the NBC-operated cable outlet about taking over the time slot that will pit her against CNN's "Larry King Live" and Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes." Her show, to be announced next week, is expected to have a tabloid slant.

GIMLET EYE: Director and "Monty Python" alum Terry Gilliam made some jaundiced observations about the U.S. movie industry during Tuesday's session of the Capri-Hollywood Film & Music Fest in Italy. "I don't go to movies. I get bored," said the 62-year-old Minnesota native turned Italy resident, adding that he has little use for American-made films. "America isn't passionate. America is sentimental," Gilliam declared. "I keep trying to abandon Hollywood. But they still have the suitcases full of money that I need to produce my films. . . . I'm very corrupt." Gilliam, who directed such cult faves as "Brazil" and "12 Monkeys," just finished spending $90 million of Hollywood's money to make "The Brothers Grimm" in Prague.

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