The scene in the East Village this afternoon looked a lot like this one, from The Wicker Man. Traffic was at a virtual standstill as police worked to contain the massive beehive in a tree at Bowery and First. At least a dozen people filmed alongside me, plenty of more snapped pictures and even more passersby inquired what the hell was going on to the bystanders. One woman thought the building was being robbed. There was little to no buzzing heard.
Here's a trailer for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, the sequel to the surprisingly entertaining 2009 Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downey Jr. Farts Around for Two Hours. It looks... the same!
• Is it possible that Natalie Portman isn't as sweet as she looks? She reportedly started seeing her new boyfriend, New York City Ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied, while he was still dating—and living with—his girlfriend of three years. Portman and Millepied began dating in the fall, but the girlfriend reportedly only got the shaft just after New Year's, poor thing. [P6]
• So are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie splitting up or not? One possible sign they are not separating: Pitt was seen returning to the LA home he shares with Jolie yesterday. One sign they are: A British tabloid reports Pitt "secretly" (or not-so-secretly) purchased "a bachelor pad to help him sort out his split from Angelina Jolie," and it's equipped with underground cave "where he can be alone and think about what he does next." Take your pick. [TMZ, DM]
• There's a new party boy in town at Sundance, and his name is Bill Gates. The 54-year-old nerd/philanthropist was spotted dancing on a banquette until 2am and confessed he was on the prowl for "that chick from Twilight" (Kristen Stewart), because he wanted to "see her movie." Or something. [P6]
• Did you hear the story that made the rounds yesterday about how Tiger Woods' wife Elin whacked the golf champ in the face with a 9-iron after she discovered text messages from Rachel Uchitel, and the injuries he sustained in the aftermath (a fractured cheekbone, two cracked teeth) forced him to fly to Phoenix to have reconstructive surgery and explains why he's been out of public sight all this time? It probably isn't true, unfortunately, but it sure is an entertaining tale, isn't it? Also not true: The dubious reports that Tiger Woods has gone to rehab or is now shacking up with Rachel Uchitel, the later of which you can credit Uchitel herself with spreading as she desperately tries to cling to the spotlight. [DM, P6]
• Joe Halderman, the man accused of extorting David Letterman, has come up with a new—and very creative—defense. In a new court filing, his lawyer argues that if it isn't a crime for Tiger Woods' mistresses to seek payouts to keep their mouths shut, Halderman's attempt to get the TV host to pay him to stay silent about Letterman's flings shouldn't be a crime either. [NYDN]
• In addition to all the other horrible stuff he's accused of, Michael Lohan's ex-fiancée Erin Muller says he once beat her with a stilletto heel and "put a lit cigarette out on her scalp," too. Lohan's lawyer claims Muller is making it all up. And Michael himself has taken to Twitter to accuse Muller of drug abuse and incest. Because he's classy like that. [P6, TMZ, Twitter]
• Susan Sarandon was spotted sharing crepes with a younger guy at 2am in the Village the other night, but it wasn't Jonathan Bricklin, her ping-pong club business partner and supposed man-friend, alas. [NYDN]
Yesterday was Sienna Miller's birthday, and now it's Jude Law's turn: The actor, playboy, and NYU foe turns 37 today. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is turning 73. Ted Danson is 62. Paramount chief Brad Grey is 52. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 50. Matrix director/writer Andy Wachowski is 42. Cable news staple Ashleigh Banfield is also turning 42. Real estate marketer Michael Shvo is turning 37. Writer Paul Rudnick turns 52. Mekhi Phifer is 35. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 63. And actor (and father of Angelina) Jon Voight turns 71 today.