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Lloyd Grove is The Daily News' newest gossip columnist, joining us from The Washington Post, where he wrote the widely read 'Reliable Source' column.

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lgrove@ edit.nydailynews.com

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Simmons & Co. party Bart-y

Lowdown

Where's the place to be for aspiring socialites seeking to calm their raging status anxiety? Apparently, it's still the flashy island of St. Bart's.

Lowdown's St. Bart's social correspondent, hip-hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons, filed this report yesterday from the celeb-strewn Caribbean isle, where he and wife Kimora Lee have been renting the fabulous Rothschild estate:

"We came down here on the 20th. We planned this party for the 29th. But I woke up in the morning and thought everybody's had so much fun. Not me, though - I've been staying home. But I was afraid to have that much fun at my house, you know? I was worried it would be too much work. But Kimora's younger than me, and she's got more energy. She put it together. She got everything organized. The staff, the music, everything.

"I just didn't want the effort. I came back at about 9:30 p.m., and everything was all set up.

"Who was here? Paul Allen, Antonio [L.A.] Reid. Andre Balazs and Uma Thurman, Mary J. Blige, Rebecca Gayheart and her boyfriend, Brett Ratner. They're staying with us.

"Rev. Run and his family. Kim Porter was there with Puff. Matt Rothschild came. Guy Oseary came, Sante d'Orazio came. Anthony Kiedis came. Naomi Campbell came. Alan Patricof and his family came, too. A bunch of models."

Simmons went on: "[New Year's Eve] we are going to Ron Perelman's boat and then to Puffy's boat. Naomi Campbell has a boat - she has the boat next to Puff.

"Ron Perelman didn't come to our party - I don't know why. But I would stay home if I didn't have to come! You know, you see the same people every day here, it's a little island. The entire island is only 6 miles. You go to Lafayette Club for lunch, you go to Louis Vuitton. If you walk from Hermes to Louis Vuitton, you will see everybody on the island."

And how much is all this revelry costing? "I don't know how much it is. It's expensive. It's not as much as a boat, I can tell you that! A boat is $200,000 a week. I can tell you it's cheaper than that!"

Phew. I'm so relieved!

Talking dirty with Neil Bush

For a cheap thrill (along with a spine-tingling jolt of maximum power), it's hard to top the divorce deposition of presidential sibling Neil Bush.

The dirty Q&A is the legalese equivalent of the Paris Hilton video. Though produced in private 10 months ago, during Neil's nasty split from wife Sharon, the 270-page document has been making its way in recent days to gossips around the country, including yours truly.

Here are some stomach-flipping excerpts of Sharon Bush's attorney, Marshall Davis Brown, mercilessly grilling President Bush's wayward little brother:

Bush: "I had sexual intercourse with perhaps three or four, I don't remember the exact number, women, at different times. In Thailand once, I have a pretty clear recollection that there was one time in Thailand and in Hong Kong."

Brown: "And you were married to Mrs. Bush?"

Bush: "Yes."

Brown: "Is that where you caught the venereal diseases?"

Bush: "No."

Brown: "Where did you catch those?"

Bush: "Diseases plural? I didn't catch..."

Brown: "Well, I'm sorry. How ... how many venereal diseases do you suffer from?"

Bush: "I've had one venereal disease."

Brown: "Which was?"

Bush: "Herpes."

Brown then interrogates Bush's about his various sex partners: "Did you pay them for that sex?"

Bush: "No, I did not."

Brown: "Pick them up in a sushi house?"

Bush: "No. ... My recollection is, where I can recall, they came to my room."

Brown: "Do you know the name of that hotel? I may go to Thailand sometime."

Sharon and Neil are now divorced, and Robert Andrews - ex-husband of Neil's fiance, Maria Andrews - is suing Sharon for her repeated claims that Maria's young child is Neil's. In the meantime, maybe the Pentagon should dispatch Marshall Brown to chat up Saddam Hussein.

The Briefing

BIG TROUBLE IN BAGHDAD?: Saddam Hussein might be in U.S. custody, but the anti-American insurgency "is more determined and organized than ever," according an Iraqi Ba'ath Party sympathizer identified only as Fathel in the upcoming issue of People magazine.

"One day before Baghdad fell, we received orders to send our families away and to rent houses in the outskirts of the city in order to lie low for a while," Fathel reveals.

"I went to Jordan for a meeting and was shocked by the number of my colleagues and friends from the Ba'ath socialist party. They had gone to Jordan after the fall of Baghdad ... and had stayed in touch with Saddam's family, many of whom were now in Jordan."

Fathel later returned to the Iraqi capital.

"On the day the U.S. announced they arrested the president, our leaders ordered that we should adapt and eliminate Iraqis serving as agents of the U.S.," he claims. "The resistance will never end."

TYPE-CASTING: Who better to play the troubled scion of a rich family involved in drug trafficking than a former heroin addict from the famously wealthy Getty clan?

Actor Balthazar Getty, featured in the USA Network's upcoming "Traffic: The Miniseries," is the 29-year-old son of J. Paul Getty 3rd (himself the victim of a drug overdose that left him paraplegic and blind).

"To me, it's not this big taboo thing," the married father of three tells Jane magazine about his long-ago heroin habit. "I was a teenager and I was exploring my limits. ... I was young, I sort of veered off the road and went down that path - quite a ways down that path - and had a moment when I said, 'This isn't what I want.' I haven't looked back since."

Originally published on January 1, 2004

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