Almost Famous

4 percenter dishes the dirt on the dirt-dishers

If there were a Fame-o-Meter, I'd fall somewhere between the homeless guy on the corner and the crazy person talking to the trash can. Following the logic put forth by Deb Schoeneman's new novel about gossip columnists, 4% Famous, I'd register about 0.56 percent famous.

Because lunch for media pals at Le Bernardin isn't enough, the New York magazine writer held another one of her many book parties at the Bowery Bar last week (pre-Beige). Sadly, the famous-and- fabulous quotient was low (she saved that for the Le B and the Boykin Curry fetes). It was mostly a friends-and-fam affair, and many fellow gossipers shied away: No reps from the Daily News or the Post, but a ghost from Gawker past, Dealbreaker's Elizabeth Spiers, turned up. New York Times writer Julia Chaplin, hotelier Sean MacPherson, and dating diva Amy Sohn toasted the gossip escapee. Meanwhile, we awaited the arrival of Schoeneman's buddy Moby, whose fame quotient is higher than that of everyone else in the room combined, multiplied by 20. He never came, alas.

DJ Aaron James spun some Myloand 2-step (yes! Remember that long-forgotten micro-dance genre?), as I eagerly tried to dig up dirt from Schoeneman's old friend Josh Hafetz, who boasted that he went to grade school with her. "Gimme some second-grade gossip," I said, pushing him for spin-the-bottle tales. "The boys liked her even then," he said.

Schoeneman's book—a fictional spin based on real-life characters—follows three young columnists at three different publications who pal around, trading and competing for gossip items. "Other gossip columnists can be your best sources," said the former Voice intern (holla!).

The gossip gal also benefited from freakishly weird timing thanks to the Jared Paul Stern scandal (in which the Page Six freelance contributor allegedly tried to extort money from billionaire Ron Burkle). While you'd think this was an evil plan orchestrated by some genius PR person at her book company, it's been a double-edged sword. One of the main characters, celebrity chef Marco Mancini, closely resembles a real-life celeb chef, Rocco DiSpirito, whom Schoeneman dated. "I did brace myself for all the Rocco questions, and if the book had come out two years ago, it would have been all anybody wanted to talk about. But all anybody wanted to talk about was Page Six," she said.

Some in the gossip game haven't taken too kindly to the novel: Women's Wear Daily reported that Page Sixer Paula Froelich isn't especially fond of the writer or the book; Froelich had no comment for Fly Life. "It's too bad Paula's declared me her archenemy," Schoeneman said. "I always thought she was a lot of fun. It's unfortunate the gossipers are getting mad about me gossiping about gossip."

The two main male characters, Blake Bradley and Tim Mack, are based loosely and not so loosely on the Observer's George Gurley and Page Sixer Chris Wilson. Said Schoeneman of Wilson/Mack, "He's the inspiration, but it's not his life. Chris is the best character I met in the gossip world. He's totally fun and quotable and is a good friend. He's a funny, grizzly tabloid guy who is a really good reporter."

Though Wilson couldn't comment, I hear from a good source that he's mostly flattered. Wilson, it turns out, is something of a media muse. The upcoming Tom Sykesmemoir features depictions of Wilson's real-life self.

And that would net him a higher ranking on the Fame-o-Meter than the rest of us hacks. I asked Deb for her ranking and she demurred. Gawkerette Jessica Coen ranked herself a negative 7 percent, landing her in a tie with Lloyd Grove. His Daily News cohort Ben Widdicombe is perhaps less famous, but says, "If you learn anything in this business, it's that it might be better to avoid being famous!"

 
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