Recipe for disaster

Martha Stewart faces mutiny after demanding that employees host company dinners; Hurley admits she's pregnant! Plus: Stiller makes like Hurley, and more!

Published November 9, 2001 5:37PM (EST)

Before you start bellyaching about your company's more modest holiday party this year, pause a moment to pity the poor people slaving away at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Martha's insisting that 65 of them host the company's holiday party in their own homes.

"In the spirit of the holidays, this year I would like to suggest that MSLO host small dinner parties with a 'family atmosphere' for all employees rather than one large company-wide holiday party," Stewart wrote in an e-mail sent out to all 600 of her staffers on Oct. 30. "We would like to hold these dinner parties the evening of our Annual Company Meeting, Monday December 10th. We are asking that 65 employees volunteer their homes to entertain 10 of their colleagues.

"Since the objective of these dinners is to get to know people from MSLO, guests will be chosen at random," the Omnimedia mogul continued. "This will give everyone the opportunity to get to know other MSLO employees from all of our offices and allow many of us to 'get acquainted' in a personal, personable fashion."

Despite the fact that Stewart offered each "volunteer" host $300 "to help defray some of the costs of hosting" and plans to host a gathering herself, the response was less than stellar.

"We were all kind of horrified when we first saw it," one staffer tells me. "Like, 'how bizarre is this?' But now we're kind of indignant. I mean, she's pressuring us to invite people we don't even know into our homes. And who knows? A VP could show up! We're not all Martha-level entertainers here. It's absolutely insane."

That staffer's work group, most of whom savor memories of gala affairs of years past (last year's fete was catered by fancypants New York chef Daniel Boulud), have decided to boycott. And they're not the only ones.

Less than one-quarter of the staff responded to Stewart's initial invitation to attend -- and only two-thirds of the mostly senior-level "volunteers" were interested in hosting -- prompting Stewart to send out another plea just one week later.

"Of course I have heard and understand all the reasons that many of you have not signed up: too busy; too preoccupied with other things; wanting to be with friends, not just a random group; embarrassment or worry that 'home' is too small to host a dinner and a $300.00 stipend is too little to feed ten guests, etc.," Stewart wrote.

But, she said, "This is a very, very special year, not just for MSO but for every company and person affected by the events of Sept. 11. To me the terrorists have certainly succeeded if so few of you participate in a company-wide effort to 'get together.'"

Since then, a few more people have responded, but others are standing firm against forced fraternizing in their own homes, albeit with some amusement.

"We just loved the idea that somehow the terrorists were at fault and they were ruining her party," snarks my source, "and that otherwise her brilliant party idea would reign supreme."

Attention, Martha: Low company morale is not a good thing.

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Yeah ... baby

Elizabeth Hurley: Big fat liar.

OK. Big pregnant liar. After weeks of vociferously denying vicious rumors that she's got a bun in the oven ("that's not my diaper bag, baby"?), Hugh Grant's ex has finally admitted that she is, in fact, with child.

"Elizabeth Hurley is delighted to confirm that she is expecting a baby in April and Stephen Bing is the father," her spokeswoman, Karin Smith, told the press on Thursday. Bing, 35, is the millionaire movie producer with whom she's been keeping company for months.

The model/actress, who has oft spoken of her wish to fall in love and start a family, is, Smith says, "absolutely thrilled" about the whole thing.

Versace safety-pin nursing bra, here she comes.

Totally tubular

"[It's] like putting toothpaste back in the tube."

-- Willem Dafoe on squeezing into the skin-tight green costume he wears as the Green Goblin in the new Spider-Man movie.

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Baby one more time

Also expecting their first little one, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor (who played Marcia in the "Brady Bunch" movie) ... and Ben's parents, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller couldn't be happier about it.

"I got a call from Ben," Stiller told People magazine. "'Dad, I've got to tell you something.' Ben is like a kid still, when he drops these little pieces of information. He said, 'You're going to be a grandfather.' I said, 'I'm so glad, so happy, but I still have to learn my lines!'"

All together: Serenity now!

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The dwarf wages war

"I wish [the] Harry Potter [film] well, but, I dread to say, I actually think when the two films are looked at side by side you'll see that the one has a texture and a depth and a moral dimension to it that will make Harry Potter look a little slight ... it's pretty lightweight stuff."

-- John Rhys-Davies, who plays the heroic warrior Gimli in the upcoming "Lord of the Rings," on how he expects his movie to whip Harry Potter's magical-broom-riding booty, in the Toronto Sun.

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Angie and Billy Bob take a trip

I guess Billy Bob Thornton really meant that stuff about getting over his long-held fear of flying since 9/11. He and Angelina Jolie have just jetted off to Cambodia.

"I just love this country so much," Jolie, who's making her second visit to Cambodia in her capacity as a U.N. goodwill ambassador, told Reuters.

The celebrity duo is planning to meet with resettled refugees on the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

"We want to just help preserve the traditions and culture and be a part of helping Cambodia rebuild itself," added the actress.

And you thought all they wanted to do was have sex with each other and tell us about it.

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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.

By Amy Reiter

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Celebrity Martha Stewart