Negotiation via blind items drives epochal real-estate projects, as well as ballplayers' contract haggling, and we've uncovered reasons to view recent stories about the Moynihan Station struggles as part of an encouraging trend on the project. For one thing, Governor Spitzer has personally entered negotiations. Spokesman Errol Cockfield confirms that last week Spitz convened his first face-to-face meetings with the Dolans (who own Madison Square Garden) and the developers who own air rights to the intended Moynihan site. One player intimate with the negotiations described this as “shuttle diplomacy,” and apparently it's had an effect.
Congressman Charlie Rangel has always had a sharp tongue, and now he seems to be putting it at the service, so to speak, of Hillary Clinton: Yesterday, he rolled out exactly the kind of red-meat attack on the GOP candidate field that Clinton (whom Rangel supports) would be far too civil to launch. “Two people, six spouses,” Rangel told CNN, referring to the total number of marriages between Rudy Giuliani and Judith Nathan. “It’s a little complicated if you’re not religious, especially if you’re running against a Mormon.” He added: “There are enough moles on this man that embarrasses those of us who have sought public life.” Wow. First of all, we’re not sure where Rangel was going with the Mitt Romney crack, but it wasn’t anywhere good. And second, moles? Those are not moles — they’re weasels!
Rangel: Giuliani ‘Embarrasses Us’ [CNN]
Michael Jackson took his three kids to see the Lion King on Broadway, and they were all wearing wigs and baseball caps. An art dealer in Chelsea sued Christie's for $7 million for allegedly selling him a fake Basquiat. Kanye West's album is outselling 50 Cent's, though 50 is still worth more money according to Forbes. Jennifer Lopez may be expecting twins, but that'd be news to Marc Anthony. The Dalai Lama likes eating at Masala Garden on West 79th Street. Vince Vaughn went into Marquee at 2:45 a.m. to hit on some girls. Hugh Grant cruised down a deserted strip of road in Southampton in a red convertible. Representative Charles Rangel subconsciously thinks Hillary Clinton is going to be president.
Once upon a time, Charlie Rangel was the kind of entrenched political boss reformer Eliot Spitzer was trying to remove from the conversation. And once upon a time, Spitzer was the kind of steamrolling, prosecutorial, holier-than-thou Ivy Leaguer Rangel snidely termed "the smartest man in the world." Spitzer ditched Rangel's lieutenant-governor suggestion at last minute; Rangel dubbed Spitzer's plan to reduce health-care costs "disastrous." Now the two are about to step into a joint press conference to present a plan to protect health care for children. Strange bedfellows, indeed. What gives? According to a source close to Spitzer, making nice with Rangel is part of the embattled governor's plan to reach out to old foes and shore up his political backing. "The governor is now looking to places where he never used to for support," the source says. And Rangel sees Spitzer's problems as presenting an opportunity to get a deal he likes, a source close to Rangel says. "The governor is certainly in need of some friends right now," the source says. In exchange for political cover, Rangel is looking to pick up "chits," the Rangel source says. "There are a lot of projects in New York that Charlie cares about, and I'm sure the governor is taking that into account." —Geoffrey Gray
Danny DeVito is trying to make a movie about Crazy Eddie. One of Lindsay Lohan's MySpace friends sold online correspondence between Lohan and Samantha Ronson to Star magazine. Philip Roth complained about showing up in "Page Six." Jane staffers stole a lot of stuff from the fashion closet after learning the mag was folding. Former Jets QB Boomer Esiason may replace Don Imus as WFAN's early-morning D.J. Gore Vidal is annoyed that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power tore out his solar-power system. Congressman Charlie Rangel is offering $1,000 to anyone who can prove he went on a "date." Today show contributor Amy Jacobson was fired from her Chicago post after being caught on tape in a bikini at the house of a woman whose disappearance she was covering. Gisele and Tom Brady PDA'd at Palma on Cornelia Street. 50 Cent canoodled with Ciara.
Bee Shaffer and Austin Bryan, the offspring of Anna Wintour and her boyfriend, Shelby Bryan, held hands at Marquee. Harlem congressman Charles Rangel is likely getting a divorce and may be dating other women. The typewriter that disabled author Christy Brown used to bang out his best-selling autobiography (with his left foot, no less) will be auctioned off tomorrow. New York Yankee Jason Giambi took shots at a club. Sophie Dahl and longtime boyfriend Dan Baker Jr. broke up, and Mick Jagger may be to blame. Lindsay Lohan ex Harry Morton is now dating Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly. Mark Wahlberg and the real-life "E" acted like Vinnie Chase and the fictional "E." Ronald and Nancy Reagan were once funneled money by a Hollywood studio through an illegitimate real-estate transaction.
New York is Hillary Clinton's home turf, but tomorrow Barack Obama will receive his first formal endorsement from a New York elected official, State Senator Bill Perkins, according to a knowledgeable source. Obama has been able to poach several big-money backers from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination — he's got several more fund-raisers scheduled in the city this weekend — but Perkins, a longtime Harlem politician, will be the first elected to formally support the Illinois senator. The endorsement is likely to ruffle the feathers of Harlem boss Charlie Rangel, a Hillary supporter, who recently declared, "I don't know Obama supporters in New York." It's not the first time Perkins has gone against the Harlem establishment: He supported Howard Dean in the 2004 primary, when Rangel was supporting General Wesley Clark. "It's all posturing, all game playing," said one Harlem political strategist. "He's trying to make the eye in the sky look at him." Perkins hasn't returned a call for comment. —Geoffrey Gray
• That was fast: Spitzer has earned the epithet "tyrannical" for the first — and probably not the last — time in his gubernatorial tenure. Apparently, the Spitz now tours fellow Democrats' districts to individually rip the legislators for reneging on the comptroller deal. [NYDN]
• Late policeman Cesar Borja became the human face of the post-9/11 illnesses befalling first responders. The Times bursts that heroic bubble today by reporting that Borja wasn't even a second responder; he never rushed to the site on 9/11 and simply picked up a few shifts there, in December 2001, for overtime pay. [NYT]
• The president, meantime, can't keep his mitts off another hero — Wesley Autrey, our bunny-hat-sporting subway savior; weeks after his cameo at the State of the Union, he is back at the White House for some sort of George Bush Cares About Black People shindig. (Among other invitees: Charlie Rangel.) [NYP]
• Chuck Schumer, Christine Quinn, and Hillary Clinton pile on Clipper Equity, threatening to block its Starrett City purchase unless they see an ironclad pledge to keep the complex's 6,000 units affordable. Turns out Clipper "doesn't have a written plan" for its $1.3 billion impulse buy. [amNY]
• And get ready for actual snow, if you remember what the stuff is; a few inches of it are expected this afternoon. But don't get too excited: This bit of real winter will quickly be replaced by that post-millennial stand-in — freezing rain — by tomorrow morning. [4 Weather Plus]
When New York politicians think of the Reverend Martin Luther King, they think of the Reverend Al Sharpton. They have to, because Sharpton has built his annual “public policy forum” into a mandatory Martin Luther King Day stop for politicos across the state. Today’s gathering, at Sharpton’s new digs off the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and 145th Street, was no exception. Honored guests included Governor Eliot Spitzer, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, several members of Congress, and Attorney General Anthony Cuomo, who joked that he was modeling a Phat Farm suit by Russell Simmons, as the hip-hop mogul looked on approvingly from the dais.
The most popular speech topics were critiques of the Iraq war, police brutality, and racial discrimination, along with repeated praise for Sharpton. Queens congressman Gregory Meeks was the most effusive, calling Sharpton a modern-day Martin Luther King. Indeed, it’s a testament to Sharpton’s tenacious chutzpa that he’s taken the official holiday devoted to Dr. King and fused it with a celebration of himself, a day for some of the most powerful New Yorkers to pay homage to both men in one easy stop. And lest they forget, Sharpton told Spitzer today: "You run Albany, but I run things here!”
Sharpton, who has recently stoked rumors of another presidential run, asked Bloomberg if he would run against him. Bloomberg replied that he already had a New Yorker in mind for the job: Charlie Rangel. If Sharpton's out campaigning next January, perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. will have the day all to himself. Ari Melber