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New York's Power Siblings



Woody Allen, 67, director, and Letty Aronson, 59, producer

Letty is listed as a producer on some of his better-reviewed movies, including Bullets Over Broadway and Deconstructing Harry, and played an instrumental role in warming Woody up to the idea of allowing Barbara Kopple to document his jazz tour in Wild Man Blues. Earlier this year, when Woody was suing ex-partner Jean Doumanian, it looked as if that relationship would shatter: On the stand, Woody claimed repeatedly that his sister knew next to nothing about producing films and that he had no idea what it was she did for Doumanian. But just last month, it was announced that the sibs would be working together again on the funnyman's latest stab at theater, two one-act plays to be staged next April.

Jenny McPhee, 40, Martha McPhee, 38, and Joan Sullivan, 29, writer daughters of John McPhee

Jenny on Martha: "I would not be writing without Martha. We went on a book tour together -- a lesson in humiliation. There'd be four people in the store, two of them your school friends. But with a sister, you go out to dinner, have a glass of wine, and do it again tomorrow. We are also very competitive. When the call came about her National Book Award nomination, the first thing I said was, 'I'm seething with jealousy. But that's wonderful!' "

Martha on Jenny: "I had incredible jealousy when Jenny published her first book. After she sold it, she called me, and I said, 'Bravo!' But it was a long time before I could talk to her. It was stupid and irrational, but I was in the dark days of my second novel."

Joan on Martha and Jenny: "My sisters are my two advisers. Martha had me do writing exercises; at the end of the Bill Bradley campaign, which I worked on, Jenny encouraged me to write a book. I'm the baby; I was spoiled silly."

Gwyneth Paltrow, 30, actress, and Jake Paltrow, 27, director

Throughout her stratospheric rise to Ultimate "It" Girl, Gwyneth Paltrow has remained close to her kid brother, Jake, an aspiring director. She singled him out during her famously teary acceptance speech at the 1999 Oscars, has thrown him A-list birthday parties, scored him a P.A. gig when she was making Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight, and is often seen roaming the West Village with him. Jake's career has been limited to TV, but that may soon change. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Gwyneth whimsically remarked, "I would only produce if a great project came along. For example, if I could get the rights to The Secret History by Donna Tartt for my brother, Jake, to direct, I would produce it." A few weeks later, Miramax joined up with Warner Bros. to make the film, with Gwyneth producing and -- that's right -- Jake directing.

John McEnroe, 43, TV commentator, and Patrick McEnroe, 36, coach

As a player, John stole the show, but as a coach, Patrick seems the better fit. In 2000, Patrick replaced John as the U.S. Davis Cup captain. "It was a difficult role to follow his talent," Patrick has said. "He was very supportive of me in whatever I did." For his part, John says, "My kid brother always got the ice cream. That's okay -- I always got the title."

Dave Isay, 36, radio-documentary producer, and Josh Isay, 32, political consultant

Josh -- who engineered Chuck Schumer's upset victory over Senator Al D'Amato in 1998 (and Andrew Cuomo's fizzled gubernatorial effort earlier this year) -- got his start volunteering for the John Anderson campaign at age 10. Big brother Dave, meanwhile, showed few signs of one day getting a MacArthur "genius" grant and three Peabody awards for his audio documentaries. "I was a fat, miserable slob," Dave says. "I sat in front of a TV and ate Cheetos, and Josh was the cute kid with a bow tie that everybody got along with. But in my family, I was the normal one."

Dominick Dunne, 76, and John Gregory Dunne, 70, writers

Everyone knows Dominick and his brother, John Gregory, didn't speak for a decade -- what nobody knows is exactly why. Dominick has hinted that it had to do with the 1982 murder of his daughter, Dominique. But then again, it's also well known that Dominick was hitting the bottle so hard back then that he had to camp in the Oregon woods for six months to dry out. What's clear is that the two were once extremely close (they worked together on the 1972 film Play It As It Lays, based on the novel by John Gregory's wife, Joan Didion) and now seem to have patched things up. Dominick reported recently in Vanity Fair that John Gregory "roared with laughter" at Dominick's impression of Gore Vidal.

Andrew Solomon, 39, author, The Noonday Demon, and David Solomon, 36, pharmaceutical executive

When Andrew and David Solomon's mother decided she had suffered enough with ovarian cancer, she ended her life with an overdose while Andrew, David, and their father sat by her bedside. Later, Andrew wrote about her euthanasia in a groundbreaking piece in The New Yorker. How did his brother take it? "I was very supportive, actually," says David, a lawyer and film producer who also works for their father at Forest Laboratories, which developed the antidepressant Celexa in response to Andrew's depression. "I was famous as a child for never wanting to talk about things, and Andrew was always happy to talk about anything. And still is." "I took the realm of insane fabulousness," says Andrew. "He was normal."


Wynton Marsalis  

Branford Marsalis, 42, saxophonist, and Wynton Marsalis, 41, trumpet player

Born a year apart, they were too busy being prodigies to feud. Their mission has been bringing jazz to a wider audience: touring the world (together and separately), recording classic and inventive albums, and using film and TV in revolutionary ways. And while some in the jazz world have accused them of selling out, it doesn't seem to faze the brothers. These days, Branford is working with his own band while Wynton celebrates his tenth year as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 35, actor, and Gordy Hoffman, 38, screenwriter

Gordy won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance for Love Liza, a bittersweet comedy about a widower (played by Philip) coming to terms with his wife's suicide. Their first major collaboration, it opens at the end of the year. "He carries the picture," Gordy has said. "It's great that a powerful actor sibling could work on a film written by his brother and have it actually help the powerful actor sibling."

Frank McCourt, 72, and Malachy McCourt, 71, writers

Frank on Malachy: "My mother's family loved my brother, Malachy. They said he was 'lyrical and charming,' and it was clear that I was not. It was made plain that I was not of 'Limerick' and I often heard 'You and your Northern Ireland Presbyterian hair.' "

Malachy on Frank: "A fair number of critics and some of the public blasted me for not writing the same kind of book my brother wrote, and for not having his talent. Indeed, I was blamed for not being my brother. I now pledge to all those naysayers that someday I will write Angela's Ashes and change my name to Frank McCourt, 'cause I'm devoted to making people happy."

Leonard Riggio, 61, chairman, Barnes & Noble, and Stephen Riggio, 47, CEO, Barnes & Noble

Why did Leonard Riggio appoint his younger brother, Stephen, to succeed him as CEO earlier this year? Because he didn't trust anyone else to run the family business. "Stephen would take a bullet for his brother and for the business," says Peter Farago, an executive who has worked for the brothers. It's a very tight bond -- perhaps more paternal than fraternal. The Brooklyn-bred brothers talk throughout the day and socialize together most weekends. Those who have worked with the Riggios say that nary a harsh word comes between them.