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His magic is on the money

Steve Cohen, the self-proclaimed ''Millionaires' Magician" who's in town for a few shows at Harvard's Faculty Club, recalls the time he tried his act on Harvard president Larry Summers. The trick? Cohen turned a $1 bill into a crisp C-note complete with Ben Franklin's ugly mug. ''You can't do that. It's illegal," said an astonished Summers, who was Bill Clinton's treasury secretary at the time. Cohen kept going. ''I paused and said, 'No, it's the same serial number,' " said Cohen. ''And he told me, 'That's OK then.' " The moneyed magician, who regularly performs in a suite at the Waldorf Towers in Manhattan, has pulled down as much as $20,000 for a single show for the likes of Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg and Martha Stewart. (''Before she got in trouble," said Cohen.) An author and teacher, the magic man said he's happy to hang around afterward to answer questions. ''Except one. I won't answer a question that starts, 'How'd you do it?' "

Holding Larry David’s feet to the fire

''Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David flashed his wit yesterday even as he defended himself against accusations he's an environmental scofflaw. At issue are some improvements David made to his Martha's Vineyard manse without town approval. (The Chilmark conservation commission has demanded David get rid of a 26-foot barbecue area and elevated stage and relocate a fire pit away from sensitive wetlands.) Although the funnyman's former project manager Michael Halbreich insists David knew he didn't have the needed permits, the comedian says that isn't so. ''Hey, I like a good rib as much as the next guy, but I've never been prepared to flout regulations to eat one," he told us in an e-mail yesterday, adding that his friendship with Halbreich is over. ''For me, the worst part about this is not having to move the barbecue, but the fact that my wife has been right about this guy from the get-go, and I fear I will never hear the end of it."

DJ is talked out at K-Rock

Yes, that was former 'BCN DJ Nik Carter talking to Howard Stern yesterday. Carter, who just landed a gig at K-Rock in New York, effectively lost his new job yesterday when Infinity Broadcasting announced the station is switching to all-talk when Stern leaves for Sirius Satellite Radio in January. On air, the curly-haired King of All Media described Carter as a ''legendary Boston DJ." ''For Howard to refer to me as 'legendary,' that's like getting a blessing from the pope," Carter told us. So what is he planning to do? The protege of Charles Laquidara is doing voice-over work and talking to a certain TV station that plays music. . . . And don't expect to hear Jay Severin back on the air in Boston any time soon. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth told us yesterday he and Severin are still talking, but 'TKK is trying out new drive-time jocks: This week Michael Graham, next week Monica Crowley.

Comic relief

A menagerie of women in media joined ''Weekend Update" coanchor Amy Poehler yesterday for the annual ''Funny Women . . . Serious Business" luncheon to raise money for Rosie's Place. By the way, the ''SNL" comic, who's a Burlington native and a BC grad, has joined Bobby and Peter Farrelly's new project, ''The Heartbreak Kid," starring Jason Bateman. (Poehler's husband, Will Arnett, is Bateman's castmate on ''Arrested Development.")

Crooning quarterbacks

The Pats may want to consider putting Doug Flutie in the backfield. The team's No. 2 quarterback did an excellent job blocking for Tom Brady while the two waited to perform at Larry Izzo's tribute to the troops at Avalon the other night. (Then again, there's a big difference between a dainty blond autograph seeker and a 300-pound pass rusher.) When he finally did take the stage, Tommy Boy didn't disappoint, croaking a karaoke version of Garth Brooks's ''Friends in Low Places" with Flutie and Matt Light. The trio earned a perfect score from judges Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavs; Miss Massachusetts Kristin Gauvin; and Scott DeSano.

Getting a read

Among those listening to Chris Cooper read Tom Perrotta's ''The Smile on Happy Chang's Face" at the PEN New England benefit were Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz, Susan Orlean, pediatrician Perri Klass, and film producer Dorothy Aufiero.

Globe staff writer Meredith Goldstein contributed. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

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