Carl Icahn may be getting ready to sink his teeth into Yahoo, 'Newsday' girds intself for new ownership, and 'Vogue' editor Hamish Bowles within prime stalking distance of Daily Intel editor Chris Rovzar in our daily roundup of finance, media, law, and real-estate news.
The media mogul seems gleeful about life (and also his wife!) in a 'Newsweek' profile, Bank of America's CEO is startled by losses, a fifth-grade graduation ceremony gets ugly, and a hedge-funder pays $801,000 for a literal closet in today's collection of media, finance, law, and real-estate news.
• Of the top twenty American newspapers, the circulation of New York ones suffered less than others over the past few years. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• We hear ... that gossip Website Jossip.com is up for sale. [NYP]
• And that ESPN The Magazine is beefing up its fashion coverage. [WWD]
• After testifying in front of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform last week about the gargantuan pay package he picked up while his company hemorrhaged money, Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo made Congress a nice little offer: "Mr. Mozilo said he had left a card in each Congressional office with a help line for constituents having problems with their loans. He added that if the number didn’t work, “call me— I take this very seriously.’” [NYT]
• Since the federal death-penalty statute was revived in 1998, New York federal juries have been reluctant to impose the death sentence. [NYT]
• You know those ads for legal firms in the Metro? Yeah, they're really not all that effective. [Legal Blog Watch]
• Where has all of Steve Schwarzman's money gone? A report saying that his fund would earn less than half of what was predicted caused Blackstone's stock price to tumble. [NYP]
• Former Countrywide Financial, Citigroup, and Merrill Lynch execs get ready to explain to Congress why they got huge paychecks as their shareholders lost billions. [DealBook/NYT]
• Financier Carl Icahn ups his stake in Motorola. [DealBook/NYT]
Many of you know celebrity astrologer Susan Miller as the uncannily accurate predictor of your fate. You're in good company: She's got A-listers like Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom paying her to do their charts and gets fifteen million page views a month on her Website, Astrologyzone. She's asked to analyze the stars for actors, musicians, and starlets all the time — but when we got the chance to talk with her, we wanted to know what the future holds for a group of guys even nearer and dearer to our heart. Guys like embattled IAC CEO Barry Diller, Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman, ousted Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince, and Merrill Lynch newbie John Thain. After all, these people have much more power to wreak havoc in our lives if the stars choose not to shine on them. After the jump, read Miller's uncannily prescient analysis (it would be more precise if she knew the times of day they were born) and learn what warnings these four financial powerhouses need to heed if they want to come out of 2008 on top.
Blackstone honcho Stephen Schwarzman seems to be conducting a little public-relations campaign to sweeten his image. Fresh off a New Yorker profile in which "the designated villain of an era on Wall Street" came across as semi-endearing, he took the Times along on a trip to the Sacred Heart School in the Bronx, to which he recently gave $5 million. “I used to do homework and got a 90, but not much above that,” Uncle Stevie told one fourth-grader he has reportedly been corresponding with, according to the Times. “But I couldn’t get 96’s like you did.” Explaining why he had chosen this school, which is run by the archdiocese, to bestow his wealth, the gagillionaire cited the 98 percent graduation rate and the diverse population. Then, for a second, the old Schwarzman sneaked out: “You can fire people,” he said. “It’s nonunion.”
Schwarzman’s School Ties [DealBook/NYT]
Earlier: On the Inside, Steve Schwarzman Is Still Just a Short Kid From Philly
• What is the New York Police Department's policy for awarding press credentials? Journalists wonder the same thing. [NYT]
• Time managing editor Rick Stengel ponders why newspapers endorse political candidates at a time when news consumers doubt the objectivity of the media. [Time]
• Details of the deal that Newsweek struck with George W. Bush's former brain have emerged: It's a two-year, sixteen-column contract. [NYO]
Eli Manning and Yogi Berra sang "New York, New York" together at Rao's. Male madam David Forest says Marc Jacobs used to employ his services. Mariah Carey shot a video on the rooftop of Lenny Kravitz's Crosby Street apartment. Mayor Bloomberg celebrated his 65th birthday with Steven Ratner and others at Michael's. R.E.M. front man Michel Stipe got into a go-cart accident two weeks ago but is fine now. Blackstone Group co-founder Pete Peterson sold his River House digs to financier Jeffrey Leeds for $10 million.
Stephen Schwarzman's 60th-birthday party at the Park Avenue Armory last year, replete with its lobsters and baked Alaska, Patti LaBelle and Rod Stewart, has, fairly or unfairly, become a symbol of the wealth and self-indulgence of the private-equity set and made the Blackstone CEO "the designated villain of an era on Wall Street," as James Stewart put it recently in The New Yorker. Exactly one year later, with the country in the midst of a credit crunch on the verge of a recession, people across the Internet are heralding Schwarzman's birthday as a turning point and offering the multi-billionaire some very special birthday wishes — with a side of Schadenfreude. Reuters gloatingly notes that "Blackstone’s stock hasn’t topped its opening day price, politicians have proposed restrictions on the industry’s tax status, and a credit crunch has made financing deals difficult" in an article headlined "Happy Birthday, Mr. Schwarzman." Portfolio made a musical, interactive card that readers can use to send him messages. "Still down with EOP? :)" says one signed "Sam."
Blackstone CEO and co-founder Steve Schwarzman comes across almost like a real-live human being in James B. Stewart's profile of him in this week's New Yorker, which traces the titan's childhood as the son of a dry-goods store owner in suburban Philadelphia (at 15, he is stymied by his father's reluctance to expand said store into a national chain, “like Sears”) through the infamously lavish 60th-birthday party that helped make Schwarzman the poster child for greed and self-indulgence of the new gilded age. But despite the fact that he has a net worth of at least $10 billion, “I don’t feel like a wealthy person," Schwarzman tells Stewart, cracking a window into his psyche. Contrary to his actions, he's also not entirely obtuse: "Private equity is seen as a symbol of the people who are prospering from a world in flux. That’s a lightning-rod situation.”
• Sam Zell, the real-estate tycoon turned media mogul, took his brusque, fake-folksy style to his minions at the Tribune with a new employee manual. A few samples: "7.1. If you use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated. … Coming to work drunk is bad judgment. 7.2. If you do not use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated." Also, "You may want to think twice before you enter into an intimate relationship with a co-worker. When you start, it might seem like a good idea. It’s when you stop, or the wrong people find out (and they will) that you could discover that perhaps it wasn’t." [WP, Tribune]
• Judith Regan on Giuliani: "Is he getting uglier? Is his face looking more twisted? What happened to him?" Don't feel too bad, Rudy. You know what they say: When someone teases you like this, it means she likes you. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Facebook threatened to revoke Nick Denton's account after the blog-lord posted pics of Steve Brill's recent-college-grad daughter Emily. [Gawker, Daily Brief/Portfolio]
• The newest Citigroup rumors suggest a "tag team at the top": Financial whiz Vikram Pandit will take over as CEO, while the more socially astute Robert Willumstad handles chairman duties. We're just not sure "tag team" means the same thing for us as it does the Times? [DealBook/NYT]
• Morgan Stanley issued a full recession alert for the U.S. economy today in the oh-so-subtly titled "Recession Coming." Meanwhile, a recent Journal poll of top economists puts the risk of recession at 38 percent. [Telegraph, WSJ]
• Thirtysomething Blackstone real-estate guru Jonathan Gray is getting rather comfortable in the top tier of the young establishment. [DealBook/NYT]
• Matt Drudge cracked open The New Republic's Iraq fabulist controversy once again. Did the mag's Baghdad diarist really make up details about mass graves and troops ridiculing a disfigured female soldier? Franklin Foer complains that Drudge's docs could only have come from the Army. [Slate, NYO]
• Chris Jones, the managing editor of Portfolio.com, announced his departure from the mag after giving notice over a month ago. High-level rumors also indicate Joanne Lipman may soon be relieved from command — but only for the Website. [WWD]
• The Judith Miller movie is now filming in Memphis, and let's just say that Kate Beckinsale is way too hot to be a reporter. On the other hand, the Valerie Plame CIA character, played by Vera Farmiga, looks just about right. [WP]
• Murdoch's WSJ plans to take on the Times' Washington bureau. What's next, Hollywood? [NYO]
• Jeff Zucker and NBC bought Oxygen, the cable network for bored housewives, at the bargain-basement price of $925 million. [NYT]
• CNN's Rick Sanchez has one big skeleton in his closet. After drinking a little too much at a Dolphins game, the eight o'clock anchor did a hit-and-run on a pedestrian who later died from his injuries. "It could have happened to anybody There were probably a lot of other people leaving the stadium that had had a couple of beers as well." No wonder he was nicknamed Miami's "Least Credible News Personality." [NYO]
• The nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, almost out of credit. Oh. No. [NYP]
• Recent hedge-fund woes look far from contained — they've even inspired a country song. [DealBook/NYT]
• Chuck Schumer's bright new plan for taxing private equity: raise taxes on all partnerships, not just big firms like Blackstone. How Democratic. [Reuters via DealBook/NYT]
• James Cayne and three other top Bear Stearns execs cashed out $57 million in stock before the bank took a nose dive, pawning off $16 million in losses on regular investors. [TheStreet.com via DealBreaker]
• With Ellyn McColgan's departure, Fidelity president Rodger Lawson has gone from new guy in town to likely successor. [Boston Globe via DealBook/NYT]
• Blackstone raised $21.7 billion for its latest private-equity fund. Apparently drumming up the last $6 billion was pretty tough. Cue the violins! [Deal Journal/WSJ]