No Jest About Her Beau

Talk magazine editor Tina Brown threw a dinner party for her West Coast friends the other night at Chez Mimi in Santa Monica and was nearly upstaged by Anne Heche . We say nearly because no one, and we mean no one , upstages the renowned Ms. Brown.

But Heche certainly tried as she made a dramatic entrance with cameraman beau Coley Laffoon in tow. "This is Colman ... my fiance!" she gushed breathlessly to anyone within earshot.

All right already, we get it. He's not Ellen DeGeneres. Heche and Laffoon met last summer, during filming of a documentary about DeGeneres. Soon afterward, DeGeneres was crying a river and Heche was wandering the fields of Fresno in her underwear.

Heche's "Call Me Crazy," published by Random House, is due out in September. She said she holed up in a Tuscan farmhouse last winter to write the book, and that Laffoon helped edit.

Producers Quincy Jones and Brian Grazer huddled at the party for hours and vowed to come up with a joint project.

Director Michael Mann told us he just returned from a six-week shoot in Mozambique for "Ali," starring Will Smith , who plays the former heavyweight champ.

Mann treated us to an impression of the late Howard Cosell, and nailed it. In the film, Cosell is played by Jon Voight.

Mann said Voight and Smith were so convincing that he let them improvise much of the dialogue.

Shooting in the AIDS-ravaged nation was an eye-opener, Mann said. "You go into villages and there are no people over 35." And, while thousands in Mozambique go without vaccinations or proper nutrition, Internet cafes and cellular phones are everywhere. "It was wild," Mann observed.

Stop the Presses

Peter Bart, editor of Daily Variety, received an urgent phone call from Kelsey Grammer just hours before the trade magazine broke the story that the "Frasier" star would become the highest salaried TV actor in history. The $75-million deal with Paramount, which is still being worked out, would keep Grammer in the role of pompous radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane until 2004. He'll make $1.6 million per episode. Not too shabby.

But Grammer begged Bart not to publish the numbers. "He said, 'My father always told me it was vulgar to talk about such things,"' Bart told us. Alas, news value won out: Variety splashed the numbers in big bold print across Friday's front page.

Speaking of the "Frasier" cast, we hear David Hyde Pierce, who plays prissy brother Niles Crane, is truly a man of the people. Pierce is currently appearing in "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" opposite Uta Hagen at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.

We're told Pierce was none too pleased to learn that the stage crew and understudies had been excluded from the opening night party at the W Hotel to make room for donors and other muckety mucks. So, he dug into his own pocket, peeled off a few hundreds, and treated the crew to beer and pizza. The actor joined the little people after making a token appearance at his reserved at the W.

Product Placement

Alan Cumming called from New York last week while walking his mixed-breed pooch, Honey, in the park. Juggling phone, coffee and doggie leash, Cumming tipped us to a sly plug in "The Anniversary Party," the film he co-directed and starred in with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Look for the scene in which an uptight writerly type who lives next door spies a copy of his book on Cummings' shelf and signs it. Cummings' character put the book there to curry favor with the neighbor so he won't sue him over a barking dog. Ah, but it's actually a copy of "Tommy's Tale," a novel Cumming is working on about a man who wants to have a baby. "It was early product placement," said the giggling actor.

Cumming is one hot Scot these days. Next month in San Francisco, he hosts the irreverent Webby Awards, organized by International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Sam Donaldson also hosts and judges include Susan Sarandon, Beck and David Bowie.

The Royal Wee

The hot-tempered husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco has been fined more than $440,000 for threatening and cursing the editor of a German newspaper that reported he had urinated in public, prosecutors in Hanover said Monday.

Prince Ernst August of Hanover is accused of shouting obscenities during a phone conversation with Anne-Kathrin Berger, a senior editor at Bild. The newspaper reported last year that the prince was seen relieving himself at the Expo 2000 World's Fair in Hanover.

The prince should thank his lucky stars that Germany has no three strikes policy regarding royal bad behavior. The prince previously was fined $525,000 in connection with the drubbing of a disco owner on Lamu Island, off Kenya, and $350,000 for pummeling a photographer in Salzburg, Austria, during a music festival. He's appealing the three fines. No court date has been set.


Times staff writers Louise Roug and Gina Piccalo contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. Email:

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