Wall Streeters hope that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan for overhauling the U.S. financial system is an April Fools' joke, Goldman head Lloyd Blankfein buys his maid a nice apartment, and someone has a birthday in our roundup of finance, law, media, and real-estate news.
• Esquire reports on how Heath Ledger spent his last days... except the story is not exactly true. Or, um, tasteful. [Vulture]
• Let the deluge begin! Media companies line up to bid for Weather Channel, which is up for auction. [DealBook/NYT]
• Wal-Mart appears to be irritated by Meredith Corporation's creative tactic of selling its magazines, which include Better Homes and Garden and Ladies' Home Journal, at the Dollar Tree store. [Folio]
Back in 2004, when Al Gore threw his weight behind Howard Dean, his endorsement didn't mean so much. But since Al-the-Bore's extreme makeover, in which he magically transformed from a grizzled, depressive also-ran into a Nobel Prize–winning environmentalist and Hollywood darling with a powerful economic voice (he's on the board of Apple and a consultant to Google, among other things), Gore's blessing has become very prized indeed. "Gore is, without question, the biggest 'get' when it comes to the fight for endorsements on the Democratic side," the Washington Post noted earlier this fall, and Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama the other day was barely out of his mouth before pundits started wondering when, or if, the Goreacle might speak.
Bono says that being with Al Gore is like "being with an Irish priest." Mel Gibson supposedly distanced himself from Heath Ledger after Ledger chose to play a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain against Gibson's counsel. Celebs like Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey may like Hugo Chavez because of his drugs.
Though New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has been hogging all of the attention, he's not the only one who's been by flirting with entering the presidential race while coyly denying it (or, as David Remnick rather grossly put it in an editorial in the New Yorker this week, keeping "the interest of the press well fluffed"). As we mentioned back in November, CNN demagogue Lou Dobbs also dipped a toe into the stream, when he published a column on his Website about how a mysterious third-party candidate just may enter the race. The Wall Street Journal checks in with Dobbs today. "I haven't got the personality or nature to be a politician," he told them. Well, that's that, right? But then! A teaser. "I cannot say never." Not even when it involves giving rights to illegal aliens, Lou?
Here we go again. This reminds us: What's Al Gore doing these days?
CNN's Lou Dobbs for President? He Says No, Sort ofWealth of Nation: Comment: The New Yorker [NYer]
Earlier:Lou Dobbs Is Thinking About Running For President???
• Jeff Bercovici wants to know: "What's Regan's price for selling out her country?" After all, if Regan's info on Giuliani is that damaging, shouldn't she divulge it in any case, no matter how much Uncle Murdoch is willing to offer? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Dan Rather's lawyers are getting fed up with CBS nondisclosure agreements. "Who do these guys think they are? The National Security Agency?" [NYO]
• Intrepid Observer reporter spends 45 minutes staring through a window just to see who showed up to a lame Times party. Now that's journalism! [Media Mob/NYO]
Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, the London-based securities firm he runs with former Goldman vet David Blood, is moving its American headquarters up from Washington D.C. to the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. “It’s just a decision that we’ve taken lately that the very best place for us to be positioned for our clients and our business is New York City,” Peter Knight, the company's president of American operations, tells the Observer. The building is sustainable — it expects to receive certification from the US Green Building Council when it opens in May — making it a natural for the firm, which combines securities analysis with research into issues like climate change. But we have to admit we're a little worried about one thing: Is it going to be good for Gore to be so close to the tempting yet calorific delights of the 'Wichcraft creamery?
Al Gore Moving Into Douglas Durst's One Bryant Park [NYO]
• Al Gore, venture capitalist? The Nobel laureate and Apple board member is taking a hands-on role at Kleiner Perkins, the leading Silicon Valley venture firm. His goal: Save the world. And annoy GE's Jeff Immelt as much as possible. [Fortune]
• Harvard picked Robert S. Kaplan, a former Goldman Sachs vice-chairman, as the new steward for the $35 billion endowment. Something tells us his kids won't have any trouble getting in. [Reuters via NYT]
• A few management consultants with nothing better to do gave the Times its newest buzzword: CEO version 3.0. With the departures of Stan O'Neal, Chuck Prince, and Richard Parsons, it's now time for leaders "who can assemble a team that functions as smoothly as a jazz sextet." Because, as James Cayne showed, the old CEOs were way too bebop. [NYT]
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has finished her historical novel, Hart Moor, she told us earlier this week at the Quill Awards. It's scheduled to come out next year. "It's my first historical novel, but I have written 24 books and I've written 12 children's books," she explained. Fergie spent three years on research (she was paid a reported $1.8 million for the book from St. Martin's in 2005, before it had even been started). "It's about my heritage: a redhead," she said. "It's set in 1759." We hear Fergie's been in talks to make it into a movie as well, which is very exciting. The British royal has managed to keep her profile up even after she left the ruling family. She's done a lot for charity work, and she's won children's-book awards. If she makes an Oscar-winning movie, somebody get this lady a Nobel Prize! —Amy Odell
David Boies, Al Gore's lawyer in his recount battle against Bush in 2000, may have taken on Blackwater CEO Erik Prince as a client. The 2008 Zagat's says that the Waverly Inn is owned by "Grayson Carter." Deepak Chopra likes telling bad jokes about the president. A random crowd outside the French Institute was invited to watch a screening of Tina Fey'sBaby Mama and enjoyed it. Vince Vaughn hung out at the Rose Bar and the Box on Saturday. Mariah Carey promoted her new perfume at Macy's Herald Square. Fox Business Network is throwing a launch party tonight at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A noose dangling from the door of an African-American Columbia professor’s office was the only thing that kept Yankees manager Joe Torre off the front pages this week. Rudy Giuliani pleaded with a capricious higher power — God, that is, not George Steinbrenner — to save his pin-striped pal’s job (he’d already said he’d appoint Torre to his Cabinet if given the chance). Mayor Bloomberg, displaying the tendency to be not totally insane that has set him apart from his predecessor time and again, merely remarked that “you can have great people and great coaching and it’s just not meant to be.”
Today when you got up, you were probably going on with your normal routine when someone (the Today show, NPR, your annoyingly bright-eyed roommate) told you that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. You'd heard he was in the running, but you still maybe thought to yourself, "Wait, really?" Then you probably wondered, "Huh, will he run for president now?" When you logged on to your computer at work, you realized that EVERY SINGLE NEWS OUTLET IN AMERICA was wondering the same thing. Except Al Gore says he doesn't want to run, very clearly. And CNN says it knows why: because the power of the Nobel Prize is no match for the unstoppable might of Hillary Clinton! "Gore would have given serious consideration to a run if Clinton's campaign had run into problems," reports CNN's Website, quoting a source. "But he has concluded her momentum is unstoppable." Wow, Al Gore thinks she's unstoppable? This is a guy who wouldn't give up his battle for the presidency even after he lost the election. If he thinks it's not worth fighting New York's junior senator, is it time for everyone else to give up, too? Also, isn't it cute how CNN uses a gossipy anonymous source for this story? Cable news, it's just like Us!
Nobel Prize Likely to Increase Pressure on Gore to Run [CNN]
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has sacrificed the popularity with which he arrived in office by choosing not to hold a fall election, writes London political strategist Rupert Darwall in today's Wall Street Journal. Darwall can't figure out quite why the confident and methodical Labour leader would skip this obvious and inevitable next step. It seems like it might be part of a new tack for Brown, which to our minds, actually makes sense. Of late, Brown has been advised by New York's very own Bob Shrum, the legendary speechwriter and campaign manager most recently famous for advising John Kerry and Al Gore on their logic-defying losing presidential runs against George Bush.
Sex and the City spoiler alert! Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big tie the knot at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Cameron Diaz and new fling Bradley Cooper spent a romantic weekend going to the SNL after-party at Primehouse and hanging out on the sideline of the Giants game. Denise Rich is throwing a party aboard her yacht in New York Harbor for those who donated to her cancer foundation. Richard Prince sent a sincere thank-you note to ArtNet.com after the site's critic panned his Guggenheim show. Derek Jeter's current flame is Gabrielle Union. David Blaine tried to hypnotize some exotic dancers at Tens. Kelly Ripa ate on the Upper West Side without makeup. James Gandolfini honked at Secret Service near the Four Seasons in his Mercedes.
Renée Zellweger's neighbor called the FDNY on her because she had a fire going in her fireplace. Jennifer Lopez and her mom don't talk anymore, perhaps because of Marc Anthony. Mary Louise Parker took her adopted (and Brat Pitt–approved) African baby to a doctor's appointment in New York. Blackstone chairman Steven Schwarzman's charitable foundation has only $63,424 in assets and is holding just $991 for charitable purposes. Kelly Klein is expected to make $3 million by selling jewels ex-hubby Calvin bought her for $200,000 in 1987. Kanye West went to Blue Ribbon with a leather-clad dominatrix and some models. George Clooney was jokingly slapped by "a really hot girl" at Bungalow 8's New York branch. Kim Kardashian and Terrence Howard were caught making out at Butter and Tenjune.
Former governor George Pataki is set to launch a consulting firm, in the model of Giuliani Partners. It'll be called the Pataki-Cahill group and will be based out of the Manhattan offices of the law firm Chadbourne and Parke, where Pataki and his longtime aide John Cahill have been working. Except Pataki's brand of advice will be environmental rather than security-based. In other words, he's trying to follow in the footsteps of both Al Gore and Rudy Giuliani. You know, several years later. Ever the bridge builder, that Pataki.
Green Pataki Taking a Cue From Giuliani [NYS]