THE LITTLE PRINCE: Fans gathered in Harlem at Jimmy’s Uptown Tuesday night at the release party for Prince’s new live triple-box CD set, but had to wait nearly four hours for the artist-now-known-as to arrive as he flew in from his hometown of Minneapolis. When he did show, the eccentric singer held court all by his lonesome in the VIP section until an exuberant George Clinton cleared security to say hi, followed by Meshell NdegèOcello. Across the way, Salma Hayek, who declined to talk about her upcoming film, Frida, and actor Ed Norton also were keen to greet the Purple One, but they had to wait their turn. As soon as Prince gave the OK to his publicist, he received his slew of VIP visitors one at a time. And it would appear that musical savoir faire has little to do with being an American Idol. Once granted an audience with Prince, Justin Guarini and Nikki McKibbin, of "American Idol" fame could do little but smile and nod. Clearly underwhelmed by them, Prince brightened up when he met Tamyra Gray, who chatted him up for a few minutes, while Justin and Nikki looked on with dazed smiles on their faces.LOOKING AROUND: Betsey Johnson wants to go mass, but not with clothing. She was knocking on the doors of Penney’s and Target with a clothing concept, but it was nixed. "I love Target. I love a great product and a great price," Johnson told WWD. "But we feel it would be a big conflict in terms of clothing." Nevertheless, she said selling Penney’s or Target is "the wave of the future," adding, "I still would want to go into that volume world with a different product base, like home, kitchen, or garbage bags. We all still like Penney’s and Target and would like to get a few toes in there." She said whatever she does will be "hip, fun and for a younger audience."THE FRISBEE SET AT PLAY: Barnaby Blass, the 12-year-old canine companion of the late designer Bill, is to be host to about 37 of Gotham’s most prominent pooches and more than 100 humans at a charity dinner next week to benefit the Humane Society of New York. The event, "Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish’s Doggie Dinner," is set for Tuesday at the New York Carriage House on West 51st Street, and will feature meals on silver trays for four-legged attendees and cocktails for their bipedal counterparts. Laurie Bodor, a member of the society’s board who is coordinating the evening, said for the canines, black tie "is optional, but I have a feeling there be a lot of dogs in ties." Also on the guest list are Cece Cord and Tiger; Ron Chereskin and Peugot; Nina Griscom and India; Kitty Hawks and Major Deegan; Francis Kellogg and Versace; Georgette Mosbacher and Eye; Elizabeth Kabler and Kaylee, and Chuck Scarborough and Oliver. The event takes its name from a turn-of-the-20th century New York socialite. A member of the Astor 400, Stuyvesant Fish is notorious for having thrown a dinner party for her dog, who arrived wearing a $15,000 diamond collar.

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