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‘Us Weekly’: Keeping ‘OK!’ Honest

MEDIA • NBC golden boy Ben Silverman sells his production company, Reveille, to Rupert Murdoch's daughter, Elizabeth. [LAT] • CNN producer Chez Pazienza is forced to pack his bags after blogging for the Huffington Post. [TVNewser/Mediabistro] • Us Weekly reports that OK! magazine "sensationalized" Grey's Anatomy star Eric Dane's battle with cancer in a cover story. (Actually, he only had some malignant cells on his lip frozen off in a doctor's office.) "This isn't the first time OK! has been wrong," they note. But is Us really crusading against yellow journalism? Or are they just annoyed they didn't get the scoop? [Us Weekly]

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‘Post’ Ruins Man’s Life Because He Has Weird Sex

MEDIA • The Post violated a man's privacy by publishing his name after he was injured in an S&M sex tryst. They also, um, called his wife and published where he lived. While activists protest, a spokesman says, "The Post will happily name every adult caught in a dog collar." One day we need to really start "happily" naming every married Post editor caught at a strip joint. [Portfolio] • Sam Zell's Tribune Co. will cut staff by two percent. Is it the same two percent that he's already cursed out? [LAT] • Times scribe Alessandra Stanley spends a column (a few days late) talking about how MSNBC's "Best Political Team on Television" is in disgrace. Sadly, it's CNN that incessantly uses the "Best Political Team" moniker, which causes Gawker to ask whether the TV critic actually "owns a TV." [Gawker]

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Rudy Takes a Breather

LAW • Now that he's dropped out of the White House race, Rudy Giuliani plans to decompress before he starts lawyering at Bracewell & Giuliani. [Texas Lawyer] • Oh, snap! Skadden is so not pleased about the hottest-female-associate contest that took place on the Skadden Insider blog. [Law.com] • Perhaps Covington & Burling should have consulted its client Major League Baseball before agreeing to represent pitcher Roger Clemens. [American Lawyer]

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Meet Microsoft's ‘Gatekeeper of Funding’

FINANCE • Now that Yahoo rejected Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid, it's up to Microsoft's self-described "gatekeeper of funding" Christopher P. Liddell to plot the company's next chess move. [DealBook/NYT] • Fearful that 90 percent of TheStreet.com's franchise revolves around Jim Cramer, today the finance-driven Website launched Mainstreet.com, which will revolve around celebrities and personal finance. You think Britney's psychological drama is intense? Wait until you hear about her bond portfolio. [NYP] • France's rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel might have had an accomplice. How did police find out? By sifting through 2,000 pages of instant-message traffic. Bet that was a gr8 time. [NYT]

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Martha Stewart Gets Starstruck When It Comes to Madonna

FASHION • Martha Stewart used her digital camera to snap pictures of celebrities at the Gucci event at the U.N. the other night. "It's for my blog," she explained. [WWD] • Anna Wintour and Suzy Menkes are getting kind of tired of Fashion Week. [The Cut] • A twelve-page photo spread in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar reenacts the two-hour delay of the Marc Jacobs show last fall, starring Helena Christensen, Allison Sarofim, Genevieve Jones, Cindy Sherman, Kim Gordon, and members of Jacobs's own PR team, all looking visibly annoyed. Weird, and also kind of awesome? [Fashion Week Daily]

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Delta and Northwest to Fly in Formation

FINANCE • High fuel prices and a soft economy have sent Delta and Northwest Airlines running into each other's arms. The two could announce a definitive plan to merge as early as next week. [NYT] • Senate Republicans have axed a proposed economic-stimulus bill. The Dem-proposed $158 billion package, which sought to avert a full-fledged recession, came up one short of the required 60 votes. [FT] • But, no worries. Economists put odds of a U.S. recession at 49 percent, which means we're not technically there yet. Also, for what it's worth, this video is funny. [WSJ]

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Jeff Bewkes Starts Cleaning House at Time Warner

MEDIA • At least 75 Time Warner layoffs are expected to be announced today. The layoffs are among CEO Jeff Bewkes's first public tasks since taking the helm of the company from Dick Parsons last month. Earlier today, Time Warner announced a 41 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings. [MSNBC & AdAge] • Maybe some of those Time Warner folks can hang their hats over at Condé Nast. The Observer evaluates Portfolio's recent spending spree, during which it recruited top talent from The New Yorker, the Post, and the Times. [NYO] • (Product)Red, the love child of Bono, iPod, and the Gap, has raised more than $22 million for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. But considering the big advertising bucks spent during the Super Bowl and elsewhere, some are arguing that it's not enough. [NYT]

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Finance Types Split Over Hillary and Romney

FINANCE • Wall Street hopes Hillary has a super Super Tuesday, but private equity is standing by one of its own. Fourth-quarter campaign-financing reports show Senator Clinton taking in the lion’s share of donations from the Street’s top ten financial firms. Meanwhile, Bain Capital co-founder Mitt Romney is still tops among the PE crowd. [NYT/Dealbook] • So, what’s it gonna be, boy? Stuck between Microsoft’s rock and Google’s hard place, Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang has limited options for saving his company at his disposal. [NYP] • If you believe the latest hype, Citadel is paving the way for an IPO after all. Ken Griffin’s asset-management firm has split its proprietary hedge-fund business from its client-based options-making business. “Legally, it makes it cleaner,” said Josh Galper in an interview. [Bloomberg]

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Hathaello Checks Out Miss Sixty

Hathaello
FASHION •Lela Rose thinks she's still in the running to design Jenna Bush's wedding dress, despite a first family visit to Oscar de la Renta last week. [NYDN] •Anne Hathaway totally lied when she said she wouldn't be attending any fashion shows this week. She and Raffaello Follieri were at Miss Sixty. [The Cut] • Sheryl Crow enters the fashion arena, with an affordable denim line by the same people who make Victoria Beckham's dVb line. [WWD]

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Semel Out at Yahoo, Microsoft In?

FINANCECourtenay Semel's dad, Terry, is out at Yahoo. And Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for the company might just be déjà vu. [NYT, Deal Journal/WSJ] • Recession-has-already-started watch: The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the first time since the lovely tech-crash days of 2003 that total payrolls have shrunk. [Reuters via NYT] • One of the few lucky bankers with a bonus burning a hole in your pocket? Try London restaurant Vivat Bacchus' new "Bonus Tasting Menu" for a mere £1,000. [DealBook/NYT]

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Have You Heard? There's a New Economic Freak-out Happening!

FINANCE • William A. Ackman of Pershing Hedge Funds got everyone freaking out about bond insurers by issuing a report yesterday afternoon predicting that MBIA and the Ambac Financial Group might just lose $24 billion on mortgage investments. “Here comes Ackman at the 11th hour upsetting the apple cart,” Douglas M. Peta, chief market strategist at J.& W. Seligman & Company, told the Times. “I don’t think anybody has really thought it all through, but we all understand the implications of real trouble in the bond insurers could be far reaching.” [NYT] Related! MBIA announced a $3.5 billion write-down this morning. [CNN] • Wharton is still the number-one place in the universe to pick up an MBA. [FT] • Following in the steps of other CEOs with giant mortgage-related losses, Merrill won't give its top brass any bonuses. But they will give them stock options "to promote the continuity of the management team as they continue to navigate through challenging market conditions in 2008." That's one way to hang on to staff. [Reuters]

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‘Blender’ Gives Britney Spears a New Body

MEDIA • Britney Spears looks great on the new cover of Blender — too bad it's not her body. [Radar] • Stephen Chao, the former News Corp. exec who lost his job after hiring a male stripper for a company party and almost drowning Rupert Murdoch's dog, announced a new Website for how-to videos. First video: how to get fired in two easy steps. [NYT] • Now that Judith Regan's settled her suit with Murdoch, will she give her winnings — likely north of $6.5 million — to charity like she once promised? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]

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Rupert Plucks ‘Journal’ From Its Home and Carries It Back to His Lair

MEDIA • Like a bird of prey with a juicy morsel in its claws, Rupert Murdoch is moving the Journal back to his midtown News Corp. nest to feast on its carcass. New plans include more entertainment coverage and a sports page! [NYT] • A mouse was spotted at the Times building! And as all apartment dwellers know, for every mouse you see, there are seven you don't see. [Gawker] • The Writers Guild has struck a deal that allows them to write for the Grammys. Good thing, because improvised speaking never really sounds as good as improvised music. [USAT, Vulture]

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Being Filthy Rich Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

FINANCEFortune searches Davos for financiers to express contrition over the current credit crisis but comes up empty. The closest anyone has come, the magazine notes, is the chairman and chief executive of Moody's Corp, who said, "We and others have to retool our processes … In hindsight, it's clear to us that there were fundamental failures in key assumptions supporting our analytical models." Quoth Fortune: "That's probably a little too mealy-mouthed and much too late to console people who bought the mortgage-backed commercial paper to which Moody's and its rival Standard & Poor's gave a top-notch AAA rating — only to discover it was actually junk." Snap! [Fortune] • Just how big a fraud did Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue French trader, pull off? Before the bank caught him, he had taken out positions worth 50 billion euros. But some argue that he was responsible for only 1.5 billion euros in losses, and the bank's board lost the other 3.4 billion euros unwinding his positions way too fast. Meanwhile, top executive Jean-Pierre Mustier told the Times: “I was speaking to a competitor, this competitor called me and said, ‘You are living what is a banker’s worst nightmare.’” Imagine how dramatic that must have sounded in French. [FT, NYT] • Bonuses now in the bank, Goldman rewarded bankers for a record-setting year with a special surprise: layoffs! [Deal Journal/WSJ]

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William Kristol Has the Gray Lady's Knickers in a Twist

MEDIA • Both Times public editor Clark Hoyt and former Times conservative standby William Safire have panned Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger's decision to foist William Kristol on the editorial page. Among the other conservatives considered and passed over: Charles Krauthammer, Ross Douthat, Max Boot, and a bunch of other Weekly Standard stalwarts. But at least Judith Miller approves: "[I]t's an appointment that's a long time coming. The page needed balance.… [But] an unabashed neocon without remorse is unacceptable to Times people.… He's not kosher in that sense." [New Republic] • New York Observer president Robert Sommer nailed his MSNBC interview: "We like to view our readers as some of the smartest, most insensitive — most… Some of the most brightest readers in the country and especially New York." [NYO] • David Blum goes through his fifth sex columnist in little more than a year, firing his latest hire at the New York Press after she stole questions from Dan Savage. Some might call that slutty! [NYO]

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Mon Dieu! French Fraud Costs Bank $7 Billion

FINANCE • Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has some big plans at Davos this year: "Number one on my list is world peace." [MarketBeat/WSJ, DealBook/NYT] • Looks like Steve Schwarzman is green only with greed — his newest moneymaking scheme hinges on building huge coal plants in pristine locales in the American West. [Fortune] • Société Générale, the second biggest bank in France, found that one of its "plain vanilla" traders had taken "massive fraudulent directional positions…far beyond his limited authority" that would ultimately end up costing the bank $7 billion. It is, according to the Times, "an exceptional fraud." Seriously! Quelle balls! [NYT]

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Hillary Clinton Is Going to Get So Busted by Anna Wintour

MEDIA • Hillary Clinton pulled out of a Vogue shoot this past fall because she was afraid of looking too feminine, and editor Anna Wintour subsequently wrote an editor's letter about how disappointed she was. Now, Hillary's in Bazaar's February issue, wearing a miniskirt and platform heels! (That bears repeating: A miniskirt and platform heels.)* Anna's going to be pissed. [WWD] • Sam Zell has ordered that the Tribune's Internet content filters be removed. "I do not see how a member of the Fourth Estate, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, can censor what its own employees and partners can see," he writes. "You are now exposed to the dangers of YouTube and Facebook. Please use your best judgment." Also, apparently if said judgment compels you to send internal communications to Romenesko, so be it. [Romenesko] • The WGA took two big demands off the table — unionization for animated movies and reality TV — and negotiations may now finally focus on paying writers for digital content. [LAT]

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Hillary Clinton Dismays Anna Wintour

MEDIA • Anna Wintour took Hillary Clinton to task for backing out of her Vogue photo shoot because she feared looking "too feminine." Wintour: "The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying." Ouch. [WWD] • The Directors Guild showed up the writers in striking, heh, fashion: After just one week of negotiations, the directors struck a deal with the studios that includes the all-important online-video money. The writers are cautious, though, since the last time they followed the directors' lead they got screwed on the home-video market. [WP] • Wal-Mart, responsible for 20 percent of all "newsstand" magazine sales, announced it would dump more than 1,000 titles from its shelves. Shocking twist: The New Yorker stays, but Boar Hunter Magazine is out! [NYP]

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At Least Sam Zell Is Pragmatic About the Fact That Most Journalists Are Functional Alcoholics

MEDIA • 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]

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