PEOPLE : Mayle hides from fame at the Hamptons

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The Independent Online
Toujours Long Island, Au Revoir Provence. It seems that the British author Peter Mayle has left his rustic bliss in south-west France, which he made famous with his four best-selling books, and settled in the altogether more sophisticated surroundings of the Hamptons at the east end of Long Island.

With the purchase last autumn of a pounds 1m beach-house in the terribly posh settlement of Amagansett, he has traded his pastis-swilling neighbours of Menerbes for the likes of Kim Basinger and Meryl Streep. The Renaults and rattling Solex mopeds have given way to Saabs and BMWs and the vineyards to the rolling surf of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, his favourite wine, Domaine de Travalon, now sets him back $37.50 (pounds 23) a bottle. Tracked down this week by a reporter from the New York Times, Mr Mayle begged for privacy.

Apparently what drove him away from his Luberon idyll were the hordes of tourists that descended each summer. As to rumours that he had to escape the French taxman, Mayle's agent says, not so.

Someone who will not be seeing so much of the Hamptons this season: Gloria Vanderbilt, the railroad heiress and blue-jean queen. Dubbed the "Poor Little Rich Girl" in 1934, when the then 10-year-old Vanderbilt was the subject of a custody dispute, it seems that today she is poor indeed.

Because of millions in unpaid tax, she has put her Southampton beach- house on the market for $3m; her Manhattan home has already been sold.

It is back to the recording studio for Michael Jackson, who has reportedly decided that some lyrics on one track of his just-released album, HIStory, will have to go because of the offence they have caused the American Jewish community. The song "They Don't Care About Us" was meant to be a protest against racial stereotyping, but apparently the lines "Jew me, sue me" and "kick me, kike me", erred way on the wrong side of what is politically correct. In the new version, "kike", will become "strike" and "Jew", will become "do". Sales of HIStory in the US, which are being pumped by a $30m campaign, are looking a little patchy so, by the way.

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Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the former Mexican president, is stirring unrest in the employee ranks of the Dow Jones company, New York-based publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Staff are distressed that Mr Salinas, whose star has crashed spectacularly since his departure from office last year, remains a member of the Dow Jones board, which he joined in January. But maybe Dow Jones will be rid of Mr Salinas earlier than anyone knows. Reports from Mexico City yesterday said that the ex-president had vanished from New York amid reports that he may be tied to the murder last September of the secretary of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, Francisco Ruiz Massieu. Mr Salinas's brother Raul has already been charged with masterminding the assassination. One thing is certain: Carlos Salinas has missed both of the last two monthly meetings of the Dow Jones board, including one this Wednesday.

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Donald Trump, the property tycoon and master of self-promotion, is upon New York once more. On Wednesday he broke ground at the base of the Paramount Building at the south-west corner of Central Park, which he plans to transform into a splashy hotel and condominium complex.

Already he has erected a hoarding all around the structure declaring it the "Most Important Address in the World". The 52-storey building is to be entirely sheathed in gaudy gold glass.

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