Jewish World Review April 23, 2004 / 2 Iyar, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Ahoy, Katie!; Barbara and Martha, together again!; unreality TV?; more | NEW YORK — Katie Couric isn't a complete nautical neophyte.

"I have been on a cruise before," the 47-year-old "Today" show anchor told me as she got ready for tomorrow night's "Hollywood Hits Broadway" gala aboard the Queen Mary 2. "In the 9th grade I won a cruise for a modern dance performance I was involved in. We danced to 'Feelin' Groovy,' if you have to know. I was with another dancer-friend whose mother was a travel agent, and the cruise was from Miami to the Bahamas.

"I was 14, and I do remember that a 30-year-old tried to dance with me. I really couldn't understand what was happening, I certainly didn't know quite what to do. And my friend's father yanked me away."

And if a 30-year-old tries to dance with her this time?

"That will depend on the 30-year-old."

Saturday's star-studded shipboard concert is expected to raise $5 million for the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health, named for Couric's late husband who died of colon cancer in 1998.

The show will feature the likes of Antonio Banderas, Dakota Fanning, Glenn Close, and Beyonce Knowles singing the classics of Richard Rodgers. "I made a lot of personal calls securing all the incredible performers," Couric said. "That took a lot of personal pleas and lots of flat-out begging . . . Beyonce was very hard to catch because she's so red-hot right now."

But the biggest star will be Cunard's $800 million passenger liner — the world's largest boat. "Don't call it a 'boat.'" Couric corrected. "At Cunard, 'boat' is a four-letter word."

She continued: "It's an incredible vessel to walk around, and people going to the event will not only be able spend some time enjoying the show, they'll also be able to spend the night."

And will Couric be spending the night?


Who with?

"None of your beeswax," she parried. "Actually, my parents will be there, so I'll be spending it with them."

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Why was ABC News diva Barbara Walters dining at Megu Tuesday night with convicted felon Martha Stewart?

Depending on who's talking, she was either offering sushi and sympathy to a personal friend or else angling for the primo "get": Stewart's last television interview before she goes off to the Big House.

They were spotted at the pricey TriBeCa restaurant sitting in a booth with an unidentified man. "They were there for a bit of time," said this column's spy.

A Stewart spokeswoman told me Wednesday that Walters "is a personal friend of Martha's, and they've dined together more than once since the trial."

But an ABC News spokeswoman tried to downplay the relationship: "They're acquaintances."

Shades of January, when Walters raised eyebrows by showing up at the domestic diva's obstruction-of-justice trial and sat in the friends' section of the Manhattan courtroom. ABC News was at pains to explain Walters' visit in professional terms. "No, they are not personal friends," a spokeswoman insisted.

Megu, meanwhile, is apparently Stewart's fave restaurant of the moment. An e-mailer on the Web site claimed that "a dour looking Martha Stewart" dined "at the outrageously expensive Megu on Monday night" as well. "She was with three middle-aged women in a booth and didn't seem to be enjoying her meal or the fact that I kept looking at her from my seat at the sushi bar," the Gawker correspondent wrote. "$65 for a raw tuna appetizer? Now that should be against the law."

As for Tuesday's meal, "We never comment on what our correspondents have for dinner or whom they have dinner with," the ABC spokeswoman told me primly.

Luckily, others do. Walters and Stewart ordered sparkling water, Pinon Vouvray wine, Nanbu Bijin sake, Fresh Edamame, Chawamushi, Fresh Oyster, Celebration of Asai, Oyster Ishiyaki on stone, Chicken Breast Hoba, Noten Toro Tartare, Small Rice in Kama, Chu Toro Sashimi, Hamachi Sashimi, Tamago, Green Tea Ice Cream and coffee.

Stewart faces sentencing June 17, and could get several years behind bars. Maybe Walters — in a strictly professional capacity, of course — will occasionally send her a care package of sashimi.


UNREALITY TV?: "The Restaurant" star Rocco DiSpirito apparently believes that "The Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic can save his failing eatery. "I want Bill to be my new business manager," a spy for this column overheard DiSpirito saying on Tuesday night during the Models/Surf magazine party at Marquee, where DiSpirito and Rancic partied with Brazilian bombshells Gisele Bundchen and Ana Beatriz. "He's smart," DiSpirito continued. "I can learn from him." The celebrity chef is currently embroiled in nasty litigation with his backer, Jeffrey Chodorow.

OUTSMARTING OPEC?: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" star Daryl Hannah has discovered a new alternative fuel source — vegetable oil. "My friend Charris makes veggie fuel he calls Grassolean using recycled french fry grease that he collects from local restaurants," she claims to Jane magazine. "I get 33 miles to the gallon in my El Camino, and veggie fuel smells good. I also use Grassolean in my truck, tractor and backup generator. . . . So yes, I will have fries with that."

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04/08/04: Stephen King vs. ABC; trapping the love rat; Liv-ing it up; more
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02/13/04: John & Carolyn, redux; Zell Miller shows the flag; kill Quentin?; more
02/11/04: HE FEELS BAD!; Dick Cheney, still not dead; more
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01/28/04: Eyebrow-raising politics; call him indescribable; Woods vs. Williams; more
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07/21/03: White House smear?
07/17/03: Yet another intern scandal; it's her party and she can pay if she wants to
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate