PEOPLE

New York to Stewart: Pay up on back taxes

The New York Division of Tax Appeals has ordered billionaire Martha Stewart to pay $221,677 in back taxes for 1991 and 1992. Stewart, who has houses in East Hampton, N.Y., and Westport, Conn., said she didn’t live in New York for more than half the year in 1992 and therefore owed no taxes. The state saw it otherwise.

“Ms. Stewart has been a resident of Connecticut since 1971 and believes that she was unfairly taxed by the state of New York during the years in question,” said her publicist, Susan Magrino. “Ms. Stewart and her tax advisers disagree with the decision and intend to appeal.”

DIRECTORS, WHO WRITE MOVIES, ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE Directors fared well in nominations for Writers Guild movie awards Wednesday. Six out of the group’s 10 writing-awards nominations went to filmmakers who wrote or co-wrote their own screenplays.

For best script written directly for the screen, the Guild nominated “Magnolia” by Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Sixth Sense” by M. Night Shyamalan and “Three Kings” by David O. Russell. The other non-auteur nominees were “American Beauty” by Alan Ball and “Being John Malkovich” by Charlie Kaufman.

For screenplay based on previously published material, director Anthony Minghella earned a nomination for adapting Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Other nominees include “The Insider” (director Michael Mann and co-writer Eric Roth, based on Marie Brenner’s magazine article); “Election (director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor, based on Tom Perrotta’s novel); “The Cider House Rules” (John Irving, based on his own novel); and “October Sky” (Lewis Colick, based on Homer H. Hickam Jr.’s “Rocket Boys”).

Winners will be announced March 5 at the 52nd annual Writers Guild ceremonies in New York City and Los Angeles.

DOING WOODY ALLEN’S CAREER BACKWARDS: Steve Martin, the philosophy major who found fame by wearing arrow hats, has written a parody of the New Yorker for Talk magazine, which, of course, is stewarded by former New Yorker editor-in-chief Tina Brown.

“My Days at the New Yorker” appears in the March issue of Talk. But the piece takes aim at both Brown and her New Yorker successor, David Remnick. In fact, the lady gets the brunt of it when “Remnick” threatens “to call Tina and relate your little comments about her being a mouth-breathing hillbilly with an English accent so fake it makes Garth Brooks sound like Lady Windemere.'”

MAYBE WE SHOULD BRING BACK SCANTRON TESTS: Quiz shows may bring in ratings and bucks, but they might not have all the answers, or at least the right ones. When “Twenty One” asked substitute teacher Chris Franciosa to choose Finland, Denmark, Sweden or none of the above as the answer to “Which of the following countries is ruled by a queen?,” he lost the game when he choose Sweden. Later, Franciosa found out both Sweden and Denmark have queens, but the producers claimed the Swedish monarch is a figurehead while the Danish one isn’t.

The mightily and rightfully irked Franciosa dealt with the “very officious” NBC attorneys for several days. NBC, of course, is ultrasensitive about looking unfair, given the network’s scandalous quiz-show past. As for the royal pain-in-the-answer, an NBC spokeswoman said, “We stick by the question and the answer.” Plus, contestants sign an affidavit saying they will agree with the producers’ determination on any disagreement, so nyah nyah nyah, they can’t sue.

CARSON HOME FROM HOSPITAL: “Ally McBeal” co-star Lisa Nicole Carson is back home and recuperating after her two-week stay in a hospital for an undisclosed reason. The supermarket tabloid Star claims Carson called the paper from a hospital psychiatric ward after a drug-and-booze binge. “I’m very good at being very bad,” Carson is quoted in a rambling interview. Carson’s publicist, Pat Kingsley, said she had no knowledge of the interview and said Carson will return “in a couple of weeks to resume her role.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He is dreadful. Even if I was shooting The Val Kilmer Story’ I wouldn’t cast him.” director John Frankenheimer, on Kilmer (the two worked together on “The Island of Dr. Moreau”)

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

Milestones

Clothing name branded: By Carlos Santana. The rocker will debut his own clothing line, Carlos, which will be sold in Sears and JCPenney stores in the fall.

Birthdays: Opera singer Leontyne Price (73), movie composer Jerry Goldsmith (71), actor Robert Wagner (70), singer Roberta Flack (61), Olympic gold-medal swimmer Mark Spitz (50), actress Kathleen Beller (45), country singer Lionel Cartwright (40), former presidential adviser George Stephanopoulos (39), actress Laura Dern (33).

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