Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Also: the Downton Abbey set almost became Andrew Lloyd Webber's junk drawer for priceless art, Elin Nordegren is tearing down a $12 million house and building an exact replica in its place, and some moms are considering a lawsuit for the inconvenience Blue Ivy's birth put them through.
Before Highclerle Castle provided the setting for the PBS show Downton Abbey, it was targeted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who told the owners last summer that he "wanted to buy the 300-room pile near Newbury, Berkshire, so he could house his priceless paintings there." Rather than motivating the owners to sell their 500 year-old property to Andrew Lloyd Webber and his vast collection of tapestries, it seems the "unsolicited offer angered George Herbert, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife Fiona" when they received it in July 2010. In subsequent letters to people who were helping them develop the property, the Early of Carnarvon and his wife make it clear it was in bad taste for Webber to offer to pay a fair price for a property he could have conceivably had some use for. On July 19, the Duchess wrote that it was "hugely heartening to hear comments from people in the street...The consensus did appear to be a sense of surprise and outrage that a rich man would think it acceptable to come along, get his cheque book out and take over a piece of history." Take that Andrew Lloyd Webber. That's what you get for turning Sunset Boulevard into an atrocious musical. [The Daily Mail]
"French ambassador Francois Delattre’s wife, Sophie" is apparently causing staff members to flee from their D.C. compound. Since the Delattres moved in last year, the resident's chef, house manager and social secretary Denise Koptcho have all left their jobs. An unnamed source complained about the social graces of the ambassador and his wife, noting that during "receptions downstairs . . . she’d be upstairs, screaming at Francois." Through his rep, Delattre (right)issued a confusing non-denial that almost seems to say the staffers were the ones at fault, declaring: “The ambassador’s [DC] residence must apply the highest standards in terms of professionalism and hospitality. This was not what I found upon my arrival . . . We are committed to making this effort on an ongoing basis. We owe it to France’s reputation.” [Page Six]
Well, this is interesting: Tiger Woods's ex-best girl Ellin Nordegren just knocked down a $12 million mansion she bought in North Palm Beach, Florida. This is her right as a lady with a cool $100 million divorce settlement in the bank. But TMZ's scored renderings of the house Nordegren says she want to build on top of the old house: and it's the exact same house. Her manager told People that the original structure had a termite problem. That may be true, but building an exact replica of a home you destroyed feels strange, like a renovation Jimmy Stewart would undertake in the middle of Vertigo. [Gawker, TMZ]
Jay-Z did not attend Charlie Rose's birthday party on Friday night, probably because he knew his wife was about to have a baby, and he'd have to sing a song about her soon. A source says that Rose and Jay-Z are "great friends" and that Rose and the rest of the guests at the Spotted Whistle in Manhattan "knew something was up" when Jay-Z didn't show up. [New York Daily News]
Speaking of baby Blue Ivy: the father of another newborn at the Lennox Hill Hospital says he missed out on three of her earliest hours on Saturday after his wife and baby were transferred to the hospital's sixth floor, where Jay-Z has (maybe!) spent $1.3 million on a private security force. Yesterday, there was a report in the New York Daily News that a 38-year-old contractor from Brooklyn named Neil Coulon had been "repeatedly barred" from visiting his newborn on the sixth floor's NICU, and that Jay-Z's headset-wearing neonatal security detail also cleared his family out a sixth floor waiting room. For what it's worth, TMZ hears that a host of newly-minted moms have been "gathering at a breastfeeding class at the hospital ... and in between latching techniques, they've been griping about the way they've been treated during the celebrity lockdown...and now they're discussing the possibility of filing a lawsuit against [Lennox Hill Hospital]." [New York Daily News, TMZ]
According to a source, actor Jaime Bell proposed to girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood over the holidays. Judging by the bauble on her right ring finger, it looks like she said yes. [Us Weekly]
No, no, no! Kristen Wiig -- who seems like a perfectly nice lady -- was spotted "partying pretty hard" with Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti "at dimly lit subterranean lounge Cabin Down Below on Sunday night." We thought -- somewhat naively, we will admit -- that when she showed up for the Portlandia screening without him, that it was a sign she was ready to steel-toe his bedhead back to 2003. No such luck. The one piece of good news is that Sean Penn and Robert De Niro were in the "dimly lit subterranean lounge" with the couple, presumably just hanging out, or possible serving as chaperones. For what it's worth, Wiig and Morretti apparently requested music solely from the La Bamba soundtrack, which has every person's who's ever liked Kristen Wiig in anything rolling their eyes and telling her she can do better. [Page Six]
It seems that Lindsay Lohan is in "early talks" to play Elizabeth Taylor in Elizabeth & Richard, an upcoming original Lifetime movie about Taylor and Richard Burton, who shared a "fiery romance," save for the days they sat around drinking and hating each other. Lohan's name was linked early on the lead in Lovelace that went to Amanda Seyfried and has been attached to Barry Levinson's upcoming John Gotti biopic since October. If the project goes forward and there's any justice in the world, the script will include a scene about the time Burton challenged Robert F. Kennedy to a sonnet-quoting contest. [TVLine]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.