Jessica Wants Hollywood To Have Really Good Barbeque.

While many of Jessica Simpson’s and Nick Lachey’s friends celebrated the blonde bombshell’s splashy 25th birthday blast at her parents’ Encino home – including Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Mandy Moore, Quentin Tarantino, Eva Mendes, Christian Slater, Topher Grace and Scott Sartiano, the NYC club owner and once constant companion of Ashley Olsen, but now pre-occupied with Jessica’s sister Ashlee – the birthday gal and her handsome mister were tucked cozily away at the restaurant at the Bel Air Hotel, celebrating the seminal occasion alone together, having an oh-so-romantic dinner, appearing ecstatically happy, with hand-holding, tender kisses and sweet nothings whispered in one another’s ears.

Nick and Jessica
There was even the obligatory birthday cake with Nick joining in with the wait-staff singing “Happy Birthday.” Jessica says, “Twenty-five is going to be a very good year for me.”

We certainly couldn’t disagree, what with a wonderful marriages, a burgeoning film career, more CDs, a clothing line (Sweet Kisses).

What’s next? We wondered. And Jessica’s answer was as unexpected as anything she might have said: “Possibly a barbeque joint, serving my signature chili and cornbread. I just want people in Hollywood to have really good barbeque.”

While other celebrities have opened successful restaurants – Jason Timberlake and Aston Kutcher, for instance – there’ve been others that have their share of problems, like J-Lo’s family dining spot Madre’s in Pasadena (though we’re now hearing it is sailing a steady course after some earlier legal wrangles) and Britney Spears’ disastrous Manhattan eaterie, NYLA. Maybe a barbeque joint will work. We hope so.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened BIG
despite the carping by some devotees of the 1971version of the quirky Roald Dahl novel that starred Gene Wilder, himself one of the more vocal critics of Tim Burton’s darkly comic film. When we spoke to Johnny Depp at the after party following the film’s premiere, he reminded us that this new film is truer to the spirit of the Roald Dahl novel, something that was echoed by most of the movie’s critics.

Johnny Depp
Gold Ticket-holding guests at the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater were whisked away via SUV’s to the after-party at the nearby Jim Henson Company’s lot, the former home of A&M Records and originally the Charlie Chaplin film studio.

The lot had been turned into a kid’s fantasyland, a replica of the Willie Wonka chocolate factory, complete with a chocolate waterfall. There were video game booths and candy stations flanking the area and a tent with more game booths, candy stations loaded with Wonka Bars, Laffy Taffy and Globstoppers and plush sofas that begged to be sat on.

We saw Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Britney was outfitted in a wife-beater (the new “in” but politically incorrect name for a tanktop) with “I Have the Golden Ticket” in script across the front with an arrow pointing to her swollen belly (something that was pretty obvious even without the arrow). Both were grazing on Wonka Bars, getting into their sugar rushes. Britney begged off chatting with us as she continued to wolf down candy bars (after all, she is eating for two).

No problem, we were looking for Johnny Depp anyway. We found the Candy Man himself who told us “I don’t even like chocolate myself,” something that caught us a bit off-guard.

Britney and Kevin
(Photo: Getty Images)
Taking note of some of the people chatting around a revolving bar, a lollipop display rotating overhead – we saw the film’s producers Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck, chatting up Tim Burton. Also there were Warner Bros. Execs Jeff Rovinov and Kevin McCormick, composer Danny Elfman and his mother Clare, the beautiful Vanessa Paradis (Mrs. Johnny Depp), screenwriter John August, Larry and Shaun King and Melanie Griffith with her daughter Stella and Emma RobertsEric Roberts’ daughter, chatting with Depp’s young co-star, Freddie Highmore.

London came calling on Paris recently when Hedi Slimane threw himself a raucous birthday party following his mens-wear collection. Not only did Hedi bring in his two favorite bands The Paddingtons and The Others, but he also arranged for two Eurostar carriages full of beer-fueled young trendies to join him. All eyes were on the hottest couple of the moment – Pete Doherty and Kate Moss – who ambled into the party loaded for bear.

After smooching with Pete on the sofa and chatting with the likes of David Furnish, Pet Shop boy Neil Tennant and Daphne Guinness, Kate plucked a bottle of Dom Perignon from a passing champagne bucket and plowed her way onto the dance floor. There, she took a friendly twirl with her ex- Jefferson Hack.

Pete Doherty
The night before, we hear Kate and Jefferson popped into the Hemingway Bar and order Ritz Sidecars which, at 400 euros (about $500) is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most expensive cocktail. The contents consist of lemon juice, Cointreau and 150-year-old cognac. No, we don’t know the proportions. We’re still reeling from the price.

Meanwhile back in Hollywood,
at lens-lady Melanie Pullen’s photo exhibit, High Fashion Crime Scenes at the Ace Gallery, we were happy to see Drew Barrymore and her fiancé Fabrizio Moretti, the drummer for the Strokes.

Drew was freshly returned from her European trip where she attended the Dior couture collection in Paris, her first such experience. “It was all very new to me,” she explained. And, contradicting reports in European papers, she said, “I was not shopping for a wedding dress. Christine Aguilera was, not me.”

Drew also told us that the collections pulled in a lot of star wattage: Tina Turner, Usher, Molly Sims, Matt Dillon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Anna Wintour to mention some of them. Also Rita Wilson was there while husband Tom Hanks is filming The Da Vinci Code.

We learned that Paltrow will be posing for a cover shot for American Vogue to coincide with the release of her new film, Proof.

The paparazzi were like cockroaches scurrying after food crumbs when Charlize Theron made her entrance at the Dior show. Charlize just wrapped principal photography of Class Action about the first big sexual harassment case in the U.S., and was in Paris for the photo shoot of her ads for the new Dior fragrance, j’Adore.

Cecil Beaton photo of Andy Warhol with Brigid (left) at the Factory, 1969.
As you know, producer Holly Wiersma has made us associate producers of Factory Girl, the film that details the rapid rise and sudden fall of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick. So many actresses have been mentioned for the role, but we can no definitely confirm that Sienna Miller is back on board. (No, we didn’t even approach the subject of her wandering Jude when we spoke with her from her London home.) We started calling everyone associated with the Edie project and told them the wonderful news that Sienna is back.

Our friend Brigid Berlin, who’ll be playing Edie’s grandmother, was thrilled when we called her with the news, as were the film’s producer Holly Wiersma, director George Hickenlooper and writer Captain Mauzner. A few months ago when it was announced that Sienna had to withdraw from the film, some nasty rumors began to circulate that she was dropped in favor of Katie Holmes. An out-and-out lie!

The start-date of our film was delayed and Sienna had to honor the commitment she made to appear on the London stage in As You Like It. Then Holmes was in, then out, in the wink of an eye (this was during the “Tom and Katie Show,” if you’ll recall, which preceded the release of their summer films).

The movie’s cast is taking shape marvelously: Guy Pearce as Warhol, Sienna as Edie, Hayden Christensen as “a rock star based on a composite” of three musicians with whom Edie was romantically involved.

Brigid Berlin originally gained notoriety as “Mrs. Andy Warhol” and as a member of the Warhol acting troupe and she’s suggested that Maggie Gyllenhaal would be ideal to portray her. Speaking of Brigid, the other morning, at around six, we received our daily phone call from her with the comment on the report she’d just heard: that it is harder to get into some New York City or Hollywood night clubs than it is to get into this country. Said Brigid, “If Steve Rubell were alive, he would have made the best head of Homeland Security or Immigration. He wouldn’t have let anybody into this country unless they were cute.”
More from L.A. — Nikki Haskell threw a party for Ivana Trump at her apartment high above Sunset

Nikki Haskell and Ivana Trump
Jolene and George Schlatter with Jack Martin and friend

Freddie Fields, Ryan O'Neal, Nikki, Carina Fields, and Gwen Davis
The view from Nikki's apartment

Gary Pudney, Ivana, and John Martinotti
Beverly Johnson and Ann Turkel

Ivana, George Hamilton, and Nikki
Jack Gilardi and George Schlatter

Alana Stewart, George Hamilton, George Schlatter, and Nancy Moonves
Paula Abdul and Nikki

Army and Selma Archard
The gals posing for the cameras

Arthur Rosenstein, Annabelle Begelman, and Alana Stewart
Victoria Walters and Gary Wilson

Paula Abdul, Bob Evans, and Victoria White
Kalie and Christine Peters, Bob Evans, and Victoria White

Robert and Linell Shapiro
Nikki, Ivana, and Paula

Michael Levitt and Michele Lee
Nikki, Robert Evans, and Victoria White
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Dozens of stars and Hollywood VIPs joined comedy legend and master of malaprop, Norm Crosby to celebrate his 40th Anniversary in show business on the same day Big Vision Entertainment released “The World’s Greatest Stand-up Comedy Collection.” The 5-disc collector’s series, compiled from Norm Crosby’s popular television series “The Comedy Shop,” is the most extensive comedy collection to ever be released. “The World’s Greatest Stand-up Comedy Collection,” with a retail price of $24.95, is now available at stores across the country.

Norm Crosby and Bernie Brillstein
The Friars of Beverly Hills and Big Vision Entertainment hosted the star-studded cocktail reception which was attended by Red Buttons, Bernie Brillstein, George Schlatter, Monty Hall, Shecky Green, Loni Anderson, Gary Owens, Peter Marshall, Mitzi Gaynor, Judy Tenuta, Lou Ferrigno, Murray Langston, Billy Riback, Steve Mittleman, Alan Bursky, Joey Mendicino, Army Archerd, Budd Friedman and others.

Crosby’s “The Comedy Shop” was the first series to showcase stand-up comics of different styles and material doing quick 3-4 minute sets. The collection features over 150 favorite comedians including Jay Leno, Gary Shandling, Jeff Altman, Arsenio Hall, Howie Mandel, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Michael Keaton, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason, Don Rickles, Brad Garrett, Richard Belzer and many, many more.

“This is a true ‘greatest hits’ of comedy and we are thrilled to be working with Norm who is a true comedy giant,” said Big Vision CEO Houston Curtis.

Norm's 40th anniversary cake
Red Buttons, Loni Anderson, Norm Crosby

Houston Curtis, Loni Anderson, Norm Crosby, and Brad Buckley
Lou and Carla Ferrigno with Greg and Pam Evigan
Budd Friedman and Danny Hizami
Judy Tenuta and Malcolm Danare
Mitzi Gaynor

Monty and Marilyn Hall with Norm Crosby
Norm Crosby, Houston Curtis, and Joe Siegman

Red Buttons, Norm Crosby, Kevin Kleinrock, and Brad Buckley
Danny Hizami and Judy Tenuta



July 29, 2005, Volume V, Number 132
Photographs by John Sterling (Nikki) and John Heller (Norm)

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