Byline: Aileen Mehle

Susan Sarandon, whose latest movie is the classic costume drama “Little Women,” will go back to the future for her next flick, “The Year of Frank Sinatra.” It’s a weirdie about a group of scientists seeking to revive the remains of Ol’ Blue Eyes 100 years after a comet destroys the West Coast. No word as to whether Sinatra himself has been asked to make a cameo appearance. Who thought this one up?

The gossip goes that the Duchess of York, aka Fergie, has her eye on an enchanting property in the lush English countryside, Balstone Farm in Hampshire, to be used as a love nest in which she’ll live with — her husband Prince Andrew! Well, balderdash and pish-tush. Andrew may be dying to get back together with Fergie — and he is — but she’s not about to return the compliment. She’s going steady with Budgie, that baby helicopter she keeps writing about. She’s dreaming of a cottage industry starring Budgie, not Balstone Farm, and there’s no room for Andrew in the cottage. Friends, yes. Anything else, no thanks. Andrew is said to bore her down to her toes — and we all know about those.

Teddy Forstmann, the New York financier, was scheduled to receive a special tribute from Cardinal O’Connor at the Plaza Tuesday on behalf of the International Rescue Committee in appreciation of his work with children’s hospitals in Croatia. This is the same Teddy Forstmann who caused a 15-minute media flurry when he was Princess Diana’s “date” during her recent visit to Washington and New York, possibly the only man of substance who has escorted her anywhere in years. If you don’t count her husband, and some people don’t.

Along those lines, in case anyone has missed Prince Charles’s paramour, Camilla Parker-Bowles lately, she’s off on a safari in Kenya, hiding from those utterly beastly photographers who dog her footsteps, clicking away until one could scream. She’ll be gone for 10 days, and her only companions in the bush are two blue-blooded lady chums. Not invited along was Camilla’s husband with whom, despite their remaining married, she has had it up to there and beyond.

The incroyable word from Paris is that a domestic dispute between Brigitte Bardot and her husband, Bernard D’Ormale, escalated into war — fisticuffs, yelling and screaming, tear gas and a flotilla of French fuzz called to break it up. Mon Dieu! Did Bernard say something nasty about baby seals?

Joan Collins’s ex-beau, Bill Wiggins, trying his hand on the after-dinner speech circuit, is tanking. Hired by a British airline to talk about, of all things, falling moral standards, at a party for secretaries who had booked their bosses on the airline, Wiggins embarrassed everyone with his blue jokes, four-letter words and off-color kiss-and-tell tales about Joanie, who must wonder every day why she ever picked this lemon in the garden of love.

You can read in your current W magazine about Isabella Rossellini’s shockingly different persona on the catwalks of Milan where she modeled for Dolce & Gabbana. Funky-punky, spiked hair and garters weren’t quite enough for Isabella who topped herself off with a studded leather collar and knuckle-dusters. Pretty.

Italian scandal sheets are erupting over the way Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, keep their daughter Stella on a very short leash. Though she’s 23, the mags claim Stella is being treated like a small child, chaperoned by mommy and daddy wherever she goes. The McCartneys are a close family, and if there are any sins of the fathers still lurking about, they’re determined they are not going to be visited on Stella.

Mrs. John Barry Ryan, the New York grande dame who is “Nin” to her friends and admirers, received the Golden Lion of Venice medallion at a reception at Van Cleef & Arpels for her dedication to and contributions on behalf of Save Venice. Van Cleef designed the medallion and it was presented to her by that jeweler’s president, Henri Barguirdjian Laurence Lovett, Save Venice’s chairman. Nin has always been a force for international culture. Her father, the tycoon Otto Kahn, was instrumental in creating the Metropolitan Opera (he hired Toscanini, Caruso and Gatti-Casazza, ushering in New York’s “great age of opera”), and Nin herself was on the Met’s board for years and still serves as an honorary director. (She once sold a Rembrandt painting to pay for a production of “Don Carlos.”) She was a co-founder of the American Museum in Bath and is a member of the Museum of Modern Art’s International Council. Dressed in gray with black lace touches and her favorite golden turquoise bracelet and earrings, Nin received on a rose velvet settee but later rose to thank the throng for coming. If she is a great cultural presence, perhaps it’s because that sort of thing started so early. Nijinsky danced and Caruso sang at her debut party.

If you had been at Alice Mason’s Thanksgiving party the other night you could have heard Sen. Bill Bradley of the sovereign state of New Jersey suggest ways and means of getting Mayor Giuliani and Governor-elect Pataki together. One suggestion — was it Marvin Hamlisch’s? Charlie Rose’s? — was to send a group to City Hall (or Albany) to serenade one or the other of these fine fellows with such appropriate songs as “Call Me” or maybe “All Alone By the Telephone.” Maybe you had to be there, but everyone at Alice’s table just laughed and laughed and even Alice’s little Maltese terrier, Fluffy, who lives under her arm, had a tiny smile on her face, if you can imagine. Try.
Alice was dolled up for the do in one of her dozens of Galanoses, black velvet embroidered in jewels, and Princess Firyal of all the Jordans wore black chiffon accented with glittering earrings. In the crowd were the fetching Amanda Burden, Mona Ackerman, Allison and Leonard Stern, Tamara Guilden, Helen Gurley Brown and David Brown, Mrs. Bill Bradley, Terre Hamlisch, Michel Bergerac, Liz Robbins with Doug Johnson, Anna and Bob Sarnoff, Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond, Jo and Paul Hallingby, Gloria Gurney, Beatrice and Didi Pei, Paul Wilmot, Howard Slatkin, Gil Shiva, Nina Rosenwald, Elaine and Ken Langone, Bob Denning, Diego della Valle and others too modest to mention. (That will be the day).

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