October 25, 2004
Since the spring—when Miramax’s squabbles with Disney turned into a full-on death match—the constant rumors of closing have been bad enough for employee morale. (An additional 55 staffers were let go last month.) But now the corporate-life accoutrements that made working at Harvey Weinstein’s studio bearable are slowly being bled away. Recently, employees began getting memos stating simply, “Your expense account budget is $0.” Exasperated sources complain that BlackBerries, cell phones, car service, overtime, business-class travel, and even those magazine subscriptions so necessary for the company’s healthy trade in article options aren’t being renewed. A Miramax spokesperson says, “None of these changes are a reflection on anyone’s contribution to the company.”
Given that Martha Stewart is considerably more June Cleaver than Eldridge Cleaver, it’s hard to imagine that her five months behind bars are going to produce a prison memoir that quite measures up to Soul on Ice. Nonetheless, she’s been pitching one around, as New York first reported on its Website last week. People working with her friend, lawyer Allen Grubman, have met with several publishers. “You’d think that they would wait until she got out to pitch this so that she has the credibility to do it as redemption story,” says one bemused book-industry observer. “It sort of seems like they’ve got the whole thing ass-backwards.” Hurried meetings that were supposed to take place before she went inside were hampered by the fact that so many publishers were at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But many are intrigued. “If it’s a good story, I’m always interested,” Judith Regan says via a spokeswoman. Miramax Books has expressed a real interest. Some said Doubleday was in the hunt, but a source at parent company Random House says it would go to sister Crown, which published last year’s Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook. Presumably, this title would require a different editor.
Radio Free Howard
The possible vacancy of Howard Stern’s 45 morning-drive slots across the country when he goes into outer space with Sirius Satellite Radio has sent talent agents into hyperdrive. Media consultant Jeffrey Pollack says only Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly (who, if the allegations against him are true, has the lasciviousness chops to match Stern), and Opie and Anthony (who started on XM Satellite Radio last week) have enough stature. Chicago’s Mancow Muller (the one always accused of stealing Stern’s act), Elliot Segal from D.C., and even Danny Bonaduce, who has a show in L.A., have also come up. “I would be surprised if they took anyone in radio,” says Jon Sinton, head of Air America, “because whoever that is, Howard had already eclipsed them.” Sean Ross, of Edison Media Research, likes Dave Chappelle, who could play on rock stations “but also top 40 and hip-hop.” The biggest problem: finding someone who can take the morning routine. “I can’t tell you how many desperate alcoholics I know,” says Sinton. “Their first Scotch is at what, for them, is the end of the day: 10:08 A.M.”