Byline: Aileen Mehle

The wildest story of the week has to be the one that has Hugh Grant marrying his longtime beloved Elizabeth Hurley — and the sooner the better. No, no, no — not because of that. But because he thinks marriage is just the thing he needs to get over the disappointment of not being chosen the new James Bond — beaten out by Pierce Brosnan. Did you ever hear such crepe suzette?

“Immortal Beloved,” the movie on the life of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven, which finishes filming in Prague this week, is all about the numerous would-be-secret, little-known loves of the genius called “the Shakespeare of music.” And he had a lot of them, none of whom he ever married. Beethoven was physically unappetizing, little, swarthy, pock-marked and deaf from the age of 30, but that didn’t keep the women away. They fell all over him — and vice versa. He must have had some sex appeal in there somewhere, because his seductions were nonstop.
Gary Oldman plays Beethoven, and the women in his life are played by Isabella Rossellini, Valeria Golino and the Dutch actress Johanna Ter Steege. He is in and out of so many boudoirs you wonder when he ever had time to dream up his Fifth. But what this item is leading up to are stories of the sizzling romance between Oldman and Rossellini, said to be setting the set ablaze. If music be the food of love, play on.
Of course, the fact that stars fall in love while doing a movie together is nothing new and has been going on forever — it’s supposed to be good for the picture. Let’s hope it’s as good for Gary and Isabella. Whatever, beautiful Prague is now one of the hottest tourist spots on the Continent. Maybe it’s catching.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Meg Tilly, who is torn between love for her new husband, Joseph (played by Eric Stoltz) and their best friend, Frank (played by Craig Sheffer) in MGM’s romantic comedy “Sleep With Me,” says the movie explores “our flawed notions of idealistic love.” Waxing terminally philosophical, she goes on to explain that “feeling intimacy is hard…making a relationship work is even more difficult…but if you love somebody, that’s the task…there are no shortcuts.” Dear Meg. Wise beyond her years.
The way Tilly tells it, “no knight in shining armor is going to sweep you off your feet and transport you into everlasting happiness.” What I want to know is when did she first notice it?
As for Eric Stoltz, he is so awfully busy you’d think he was Tommy Lee Jones. In addition to “Sleep With Me” and “Pulp Fiction,” he just finished a starring role in the remake of “Little Women” with, among others, Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon.

In St. Tropez, when they’re not ripping off their tops, they’re gossiping that never mind that Brigitte Bardot’s thinking of fleeing the Cote d’Azur where she’s lived for the past 36 years, she’s also set on splitting from her Mr. Right-wing husband, Bernard D’Ormale. Maybe Meg Tilly should clue her in on the hot news that politics makes strange bedfellows.

Matthew Modine is in Los Angeles making movies, and his vivacious wife, Cari, and the two kids are out there keeping him company. Cari was a sight to see at the World Cup waving an Italian flag in case anyone thought she was for Brazil. When the temperature soared, she took off her straw hat and poured water over her head and the rest of her. Ice water. Cool. Hehhehheh.

At least 800 pyrotechnical freaks bought tickets for the Boys Harbor Fireworks Picnic in East Hampton over the weekend. It was held, as always, on the lawns of Luly and Tony Duke’s house, the one with the sweeping view of Three Mile Harbor, lest you forget. Among the benefactors were Lee Radziwill and Herbert Ross, Jan Cowles, the Nicholas Forstmanns, Barbara Goldsmith, Tom Guinzburg, Kathy and Billy Rayner, Lee Thaw in palazzo pajamas, Janice Levin, Jayni and Chevy Chase, Tony Randall, Pandora Duke Biddle and her husband Yves Hentic, Robin and Angier Biddle Duke, Kathleen Buddenhagen and Frances Hayward, a new face on the scene, who has taken Lauren Bacall’s Hamptons house for the summer. They were all so cute. When the sun set, they put glow-sticks on their wrists, necks and around their heads, and just before the fireworks started, they were a sight to behold. Yes. George Plimpton, Mr. Fireworks himself, outdid himself this year presiding over the son et lumiere, and the Gruccis of fireworks fame sent jeweled lace cascading from the skies. (Did you know that glow-sticks have only a limited time to shimmer but, unlike bananas, can be refreshed by putting them in the refrigerator? Does Meg Tilly know this?)

The late heiress Alice Tully, whose grandfather Amory Houghton founded Corning Glass, spent 50 years assembling her magnificent art collection, personally selected works that span nearly 3,000 years in the history of art. Now Christie’s will offer the collection of the great philanthropist for whom Lincoln Center’s chamber music hall is named in a series of sales from October of this year to January 1995. Christie’s says the collection ranges from Egyptian antiquities to important Impressionist, Modern, Old Master and Barbizon paintings, sculpture, French and Italian furniture, decorative arts and jewels. It is hoped the treasure trove will fetch anywhere from $22 million to $32 million with the Monet, the Canaletto and the Guardi bringing especially high prices. Connoisseurs from around the world are expected to be on tippy-toes.
Most of the property comes from Miss Tully’s 14-room apartment in the Hampshire House, which was really five apartments in one and took up more than one entire floor. Some say practically every square inch was filled with remarkable objects and Christie’s notes that even the table tops displayed mini-masterpieces such as a 3-inch-by-3-inch Renoir. The apartment was decorated by Sarah Hunter Kelly, noted for her discerning eye and exquisite taste. (Architectural Digest once referred to Mrs. Kelly’s own collection and apartment as “a temple of civilization and Mrs. Kelly is its own high priestess.” I guess they liked her.)
Perhaps the most remarkable Impressionist work in the collection is Monet’s round “Nympheas,” one of only four round canvases he painted at his atelier/house at Giverny. Estimates are it will fetch as high as $6 million. Miss Tully bought the work 30 years ago from the widow of the noted French playwright Sacha Guitry, who had acquired it directly from Monet in 1914. But that is only the beginning. On the block will be Corots, many Renoirs, works by Degas, a 16th-century portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Renaissance bronzes and more, more, more, including Miss Tully’s Cartier diamond wristwatch.
On Sept. 12, Christie’s will hold a special preview of the major works of art at Alice Tully Hall during a gala birthday concert to benefit The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as will the viewing of the collection at Christie’s Park Avenue galleries at a gala preview on Oct. 24.

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