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Chewing on Chicken and Juicy Gossip

May 18, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

Charles Cohen, the New York-based real estate developer who owns the D&D (Decorating & Design) Building in Manhattan, and recently bought West Hollywood's Pacific Design Center, seems to relish surrounding himself with L.A. characters during his monthly visits here. And at a dinner he hosted Tuesday at Mr. Chow's in Beverly Hills, he had a tableful.

It was all very "L.A. Story," double decaf capps and all. Producer Christine Peters ("Out of Towners") was buzzing about her deal du jour, signing Gwyneth Paltrow to star in her Paramount film "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days." Everyone was talking about Tom King's biography of David Geffen and Kabbalah, the suddenly trendy tradition of Jewish mysticism.

"Now who are you?" interior designer-of-the-moment Barbara Barry asked her host brusquely, after sitting down to the table. "Have we met each other before?"

Looking a bit miffed, Cohen explained how he plans to renovate the PDC, adding two restaurants, office space and a Museum of Contemporary Art-run gallery.

After rebuffing several requests by Cohen to design the new library and tearoom, she agreed to take on something small. Save me a little space, something simple, she said, diva-like.

Between nibbles of chicken in lettuce cups, Peters solicited suggestions for actors who could play opposite Gwyneth. (Tom Cruise, Christian Bale and George Clooney were offered.) "What about Ben Affleck?" I chimed in, playing at being a player.

Meanwhile, gossip columnist (and former E! Entertainment regular) Anita Talbert was dazzling the other diners with tales of Hollywood's latest sexcapades.

Geffen's biography, "The Operator," came up, as it does at nearly every party in town these days. "What was the most embarrassing part?" Barry asked Cohen, who had read the book. (She was interested in his reaction to one of the book's less savory anecdotes about the entertainment mogul.)

As Cohen chatted, he extracted a pair of ultra-thin reading glasses from a holder that doubled as a pen. "What are thooooose!" everyone at the table cooed, taking turns trying on the glasses.

"Do you want a pair? Cohen asked. "Done, done, done," he said, taking mental notes as everyone offered their reading glass magnifications.

As the last bottle of white wine was uncorked, the banter turned to DreamWorks' summer release Claymation film, "Chicken Run."

"I watched the trailer for that hen movie the other night," said Talbert, "And I only have one question: 'What the heck was that?' "

The table exploded in laughter when someone conjectured that if "Chicken Run" and the "Mission: Impossible" sequel were released on the same weekend, moviegoers would have to choose between "chicken" and "turkey."

As we left the restaurant, we chatted about Fendi baguettes, pashminas and painted toenails (all desirable) until the cars were brought around: the Mercedes, the Range Rover . . . and my VW.

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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