The Insider

UPDATED 05/23/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/23/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

JOAN RIVERS AND HER ESCORT

Joan Rivers has a new boyfriend—socialite Orin Lehman, a retired New York State parks commissioner and the grand nephew of Herbert H. Lehman, the former governor of New York and a U.S. senator from 1949-56.

Rivers, 60, and Lehman, 72, have been quietly-dating for the last two months. The couple was seen most recently at Arcimboldo. a restaurant in Manhattan, at an opening-night party for Rivers' new Broadway show, Sally Marr...and Her Escorts, a comedy about the mother of comedian Lenny Bruce.

Lehman and his second wife, the former Wendy Vanderbilt. are in the process of getting divorced.

GET THE MESSAGE?

Hollywood celebrities haven't yet started charging for autographs, the way many athletes do, but some have been making their encounters with fans as orderly and efficient as possible.

Thomas Calabro. who plays the villainous Michael on TV's Melrose Place, revealed recently that in lieu of an autograph he hands out cards saying, "This officially confirms that I have met Thomas Calabro, and he's a hell of a lot nicer than the guy he plays on TV."

Steve Martin hands out autographed cards certifying "that you have had a personal encounter with me, and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny."

And in his heyday as J.R. on Dallas., Larry Hagman gave out phony $100 bills with J.R.'s photo and signature, and in return asked each recipient for a joke, a song or a prayer.

SELLING SANCTUARY

It looks as if Cher's acting career may be getting back on track—in July the former Equal spokeswoman will costar with Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) in Faithful, director Paul Mazursky's comedy, from a Palminteri script, about a wealthy woman who falls in love with the hit man her husband hires to murder her.

Cher's also busy launching her very own catalog business. It will be called Sanctuary, and the 48-year-old actress has recently been scouring trade and gift shows to select quantities of clothing, home furnishings and other items that, according to a source, "have Cher's style." Sanctuary is a joint venture with Hanover Direct, the company that produces catalogs for Gump's and Tweeds. Its initial mailing will be in August.

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