Volume 17 • Issue 25 | Nov. 12 - Nov. 19, 2004

Under Cover

Giuseppe’s Big Bash

Five years after his unceremonious ousting from Stanley Kimmel and Richard Butera’s 55 Wall St. hotel project, restaurateur Giuseppe Cipriani has wrestled his way back into the former New York Mercantile Exchange and City National Bank, now owned — after a brief and unsettling post-9/11 closure — by real estate mogul Steve Witkoff, owner of the famed Woolworth Building. For the Cipriani-steered ballroom’s debut, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ threw his 35th birthday extravaganza on Nov. 4, a nod to Combs’ 24th birthday blowout at the same locale, then called the Regent Wall Street.

UnderCover snuck a peak down the red carpet for the big night. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts throwing Rolls Royce keys out,” said Ice-T, flashing his belt buckle bling bling. “Puffy likes to turn it up.”

Mariah Carey, giving the “sexy elegant” dress code her own special interpretation, showed up in a lime green, fluffy ensemble complete with a tiara. Apparently fully recovered from the disaster that was “Glitter”, Carey was later spotted clasping hands with the birthday boy.

“Puffy don’t die,” shouted funny man Marlon Wayans from the carpet. “Everyday is a birthday for Puff,” he explained. “This is his birth night.”

Green Thumb Power

Battery Park City green thumbs have a new ally in their fight to save their Liberty Community Garden. At a recent Community Board 1 B.P.C. committee meeting, board members furrowed their brows at the prospect of a gardenless ‘hood.

Since a not-so-temporary temporary Rector St. bridge usurped the garden’s previous home shortly after 9/11, the gardeners have taken up residence on two “island” plots at Liberty Court condos. But the lease expired and some residents are done looking out on fields of lettuce and broccoli.

“We were blindsided when we found out at the end of the growing season that they were going to terminate our lease,” said ginger-haired Michael McCormack. “We think there are alternatives other than just kicking us out.”

Board member Jeff Galloway suggested the committee send a letter to the condo professing their love and adoration of the plots. “Let them know that we view the gardens as a positive thing,” he said. “I happen to like looking at them.”

Some people, of course, do not. The condo board is planning to plow up the two plots with the gardens. Tessa Huxley, B.P.C. Parks Conservancy exec, said if that happens, the conservancy will plow up the non-garden plot that it maintains. “You bet we will,” she said.

Barry Skolnick suggested holding off on any hasty board decisions. “Before we vote on anything, I would like to know what the other side said,” he told the committee. Committee chairperson Anthony Notaro, a spade-carrying gardener himself, struck a compromise, suggesting the board sign on with the gardeners letter-writing campaign. In the letter, he suggested the committee sing its praises for tulips and cucumbers while calling for a chat with the folks at Liberty Court. Even evicted gardener and Grammy finalist Tom Goodkind signed on with the idea. “I had a bad year and they threw me out,” he said of his brief gardening tenure.

Billy’s Back

Billy Crystal is studying C.P.R.! He’s holed up in his N. Moore St. digs rehearsing — we can only presume — for his one-man Great White Way debut. UnderCover caught a glimpse of him on one recent sunny Sunday on Hudson St., donning his ubiquitous baseball cap and a snappy black cashmere sweater. “So, Billy, what’s it all about? Are the creative juices just flowing?” Sundays, even for “700 Sundays” Billy, are a day of rest, he explained. He was in no mood to share the secret of his success with us. His publicist, Cindi Berger, was more willing to comment. His return to the stage — after a 40-year, post-La MaMa hiatus — will be a hoot, she said.

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