This story is so awesome: in part because it centers around Hud Morgan, the scarf-wearing and fruitini-drinking libertine who's dating a barely legal daytime TV actress; but mainly because last night's incident between two journalists at the Beatrice Inn is an echo of the noir New York of vicious gossip columnists and drunken fights over starlets. (If we're playing Sweet Smell Of Success, can I be J.J. Hunsecker, please?)

The scene: last night, around midnight, at the Beatrice Inn, the low-ceilinged West Village bar and nightclub. The characters: Hud Morgan from Men's Vogue, pictured left, and his friend and rival, Spencer Morgan of the once-elite New York Observer. Off-camera: 17-year-old blonde starlet, Leven Rambin, who, incidentally, plays a troubled starlet in tonight's Lipstick Jungle. There's the sound of a slap.

It's not the first time the Men's Vogue writer lost his temper after a long night at the Beatrice. Earlier this month, he berated Julia Allison because the Star magazine talking bosom posted up a picture of herself with a red-scarfed Hud, which ended up on Gawker. He blamed her for pulling him in to her vortex of bad publicity.

But Hud has a vortex all of his own. The bullying of Allison provided a perfect excuse for gossip blogs like this to reveal Hud was dating the "little sister" whom Allison adopted until the 17-year-old actress, Leven Rambin from All My Children, stole her then-boyfriend, libertarian geek Jakob Lodwick. (Confused? There's a diagram).

And about a week ago, we hear, Hud and Spencer had a big argument on the phone. The two Morgans are friends and, yes, they are often mistaken for eachother, because they're in a similar line of work and share the same surname. Spencer Morgan, who recently acquired a fiancee after years as a man-about-town, was in Los Angeles last week for the Oscars. "Did you know that Hud Morgan got engaged?" he was asked. But the two differ in one crucial respect: Hud, for a former gossip columnist for the New York Daily News, has an extremely thin skin.

In the phone conversation, Hud asked Spencer how the engagement was working out. Spencer, having heard about Hud's new girlfriend, 17-year-old Leven Rambin of All My Children, ribbed him about her age. "How old did you say she was?" he asked, or words to that effect. You'd have thought that the polo-player-worshipping fruitini drinker would embrace the proof of his rampant heterosexuality. But no: Hud, embarrassed by the earlier Gawker item on his jailbait girlfriend, said he wanted a timeout on their friendship.

And last night? In a group with Radar's recently liberated Chris Tennant and other journalists, the argument resumed. According to witnesses, the conversation went something like this.

Spencer: "Dude, why didn't you respond to my email?" (He had apologized for the insult to Hud's teen girlfriend.)

Hud: "Do you want me to drop you?"

Spencer: "Yeah, sure. That's a good idea."

Hud walks down the stairs. Spencer follows, bitchslaps him, later telling friends: "He needed a dose of reality."

Hud, to the bouncers: "He punched me! He assaulted me! I want him removed!"

Spencer, explaining the slap: "He wasn't worth a punch."

Bouncers escort Spencer to the side room to the right of the entrance, with the couches. The red handprint on Hud's face gradually fades. Consensus verdict: Spencer's game. Close scene.