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Sick of reading about Jack Nicholson and his inamorata Lara Flynn Boyle? Really? I dare you to skip the next paragraph. Shades-loving Jack and seductively skinny Lara have been an odd couple since the get-go, but their recent sleeping arrangements in Aspen were guaranteed to tickle the busybodies, at least the busybodies who knew the whole story.

Jack has been an Aspenite practically since the Silver Rush and has at least one grand Victorian house in the town to show for it. Yet, when Lara, his off-and-now-quite-possibly-on girlfriend, arrived to spend the holidays with him, Jack checked her into the Hotel Jerome. Nice, but not Jack’s.

This story first appeared in the January 8, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Whether this was done out of propriety — what’s that? — for the sake of Jack’s two young children by Rebecca Broussard, Raymond, 10, and Lorraine, 12, who were in town visiting their daddy for Christmas, is anybody’s guess. Jack did ring in the New Year with Lara on his lap at a party given by Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Those there said they were very cozy all night long. Love, your magic spell is everywhere. Lara, who left the next day by commercial airline, was heard to say that she wanted her agents to find her work and pronto!

Real estate giant Lester and Renee Crown, who own the Aspen Ski Corp., among numerous other picturesque ski properties, gave their annual holiday party at the Aspen Mountain Club that sits on the very tippy top of Aspen Mountain. Among those sipping champagne were Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas; Mercedes and Sid Bass; Bill Koch and his girlfriend, Bridget Rooney; Janie and Jimmy Buffet; tycoon Teddy Forstmann; Disney’s Michael Eisner, and assorted big shots equally big.

Nipping into the club on separate occasions were those such as Saudi Arabian Ambassador Prince Bandar, Natalie Cole, Liv and Damon Mezzacappa with their dachshunds Marco and Polo, as well as newly minted Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. The club, which has a membership ceiling of nearly 350, has a precious few openings left at $80,000 a head. But don’t despair — that and $3,000 a year gets you two season ski tickets, a heated locker for your skis and reciprocal membership in Switzerland’s exclusive clubs, The Corviglia in Saint Moritz and The Eagle in Gstaad. Think of it as a bargain.

Diane Von Furstenberg celebrated her birthday at one of Aspen’s best addresses, The Little Nell Hotel, where she was staying with her family. So it was easy as pie for her husband, Barry Diller, to give her a little lunch in the hotel’s smart restaurant, Montagna. It started out as a reservation for 12 but quickly grew to 22 in the boite’s private room. Among those singing “Happy Birthday” to Diane were her daughter, Tatiana; her son, Alexandre; his wife, Alexandra, and her sisters, Pia Getty and Marie-Chantal of Greece, who brought her husband, Prince Pavlos.

Diane’s grandchildren gave her birthday cards that they had made themselves, and Barry gave her a 7/8 dark sable coat from fur designer Dennis Basso, who luckily opened his very first shop in The Little Nell, just steps from the restaurant, with a bang — several kilos of caviar and cases and cases of La Grande Dame. Those there wishing him well were New Jersey’s returning Senator, Frank Lautenberg, and his longtime companion, Bonnie Englebardt; Anne and Andrew Tisch; Julia and David Koch; Jill St. John and Robert Wagner, and Wendy Stark, who walked out of the shop with a 3/4-length sable coat, a present from her daddy, Hollywood’s most famous producer, Ray Stark.

When they’re not skiing in Aspen, they’re shopping. Patty and Gustavo Cisneros of Venezuelan billions, popped into the opening of Caribou Jewels, and Patty popped out a necklace, earrings and a ring by Cecilia Rodriguez, who designs bold jewelry for bold people. Anne Bass gave the store the once over, but it was Kurt Russell who was literally the first person in the door. He picked out a 20-carat square-cut emerald ring with two diamond tridents set in platinum for Goldie Hawn, then went next door to handbag designers Lana Marks’ boutique, where he bought a taupe-colored alligator purse, a chestnut-colored ostrich backpack and an ostrich jet tote for good measure. Goldie’s daughter, Kate Hudson, who helped Kurt with his selections, couldn’t resist picking up a matching jet tote for herself. What the hell, it was Christmas for her, too.

Britney Spears phoned in her order for six fuchsia-colored clutches for a cool $30,000, and Barbra Streisand also called in, ordering two ostrich clutches, one pale blue and one pink. Ostriches seem to be the way for rich Hollywood this season. And nobody’s burying her head in the sand.

Alexandra, Pia and Marie-Chantal checked out the white leather luggage and the fur-lined sleeping bags in Prada’s luxury store, and Ashley Schiff went for a black fur-trimmed ski jacket that she said she’d wear on and off the slopes. Also roaming the quaint mountain streets and shops were Andrew and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, Robert and Chantal Miller, Tony Peck with his young son, Kevin Costner, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and way too many more just like them.

Discussing politics is scarcely a way of life in Aspen but one skier remarked, “Wouldn’t it be nice if China and Russia got together and persuaded Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq for good with a billion bucks as the bait?” Snow glare, it has to be.

If Aspen was “the” cold-hot spot over the holidays, the beautiful resort Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic was “the” hot-hot spot. The diverse crowd there ranged from a reigning queen to a former vice president, from rap moguls to Wall Street types, from Latin pop artists to socialites and from sports stars to fashionistas.

Enjoying the villas clustered around Casa de Campo were Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, staying with her whole family, including her son and heir, Prince Alexander, and his pretty wife, Princess Maxima. Also entertaining in their spectacular villas were Madrid’s grand dame Maritin March, the terribly social English couple Dru and Minnie Montagu, and billionaire shopping mall tycoon Mel Simon and his wife, Bren, who hosted Tipper and Al Gore during the Christmas holiday.

The sun and sea, the new marina and the resort’s restaurants in the piazza attracted former Argentine president Fernando de la Rua, Latin sensation Shakira, New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine and Chelsea Clinton with her forever beau, Ian Klaus.

But more of all this on Friday.

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