‘Martha Wanted to Wash and Blow-dry the Chickens’Martha disrupts plans to make her seem like less of a perfectionist, Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne may face arrest (he’d better hide his stash!), and the FBI is slapping anyone who’s ever said the word “mortgage” with criminal charges, in our daily roundup of media, finance, real-estate and law news.
Angelo Mozilo Just Wants to Help PeopleLAW
• 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]
Another Sad Day for SchwarzmanFINANCE
• 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]
No Snow for Angelo: ‘Recent Events’ Cause Countrywide to Cancel Ski VacationCountrywide executives were supposed to be entertaining bankers this week at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch ski resort, a fairy-tale lodge nestled in the mountains near Aspen, Colorado, where rooms start at $725 and a Spago restaurant offers $140 caviar and Kobe steaks, served with a side of wasabi mashed potatoes, for a mere $105. But alas, it is not to be.
This morning, Countrywide decided to cancel their getaway, in light of “recent events,” a spokesman told the Times. They didn’t specify which recent events. Was it poor snow conditions? Too much work? Or, oooooh, pressure from Chuck Schumer, perhaps? “This brings new meaning to ‘snow job,’” the senator said over the weekend, when he urged the company to “call off this shameful ski getaway and put all [the] company’s resources into refinancing the borrowers Countrywide took advantage of,” in a written statement. Then there was the Post story headlined, “Let Them Eat Kobe.” And lest we forget! CEO Angelo Mozilo is scheduled to testify in front of Congress next week, where he’ll be asked to justify his ginormous salary in light of the ginormous losses that Countrywide suffered in the past year ($422 mill in the fourth quarter!) and layoffs of 11,000 employees. Just those kind of events. Nothing major.
Countrywide Puts an End to Ski Junket [NYT]
Congress to grill Mozilo, O’Neal, Prince over pay [CNN]
Oprah Will Eat Ellen DeGeneres for BreakfastMEDIA
• CNBC’s Dylan Ratigan proposes a toast at the anniversary of his show Fast Money: “Here’s to destroying … well, ‘destroying Fox’ is what I was going to say, to be totally honest about it. And I was going to say something even more profane than that except there’s press in the room.” [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Oprah Winfrey won’t stand for Ellen taking her place as America’s favorite TV personality. The Queen of Talk announced plans to start her own network. And what’s it called? OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Which is only appropriate for a woman worth upwards of $2.5 billion. [HuffPo, NYP]
• Will the Academy Awards suffer the same fate as the Golden Globes? WGA president Patric Verrone confirmed the guild has no plans to give the Oscars a pass if the strike hasn’t been settled, and it’s still unclear whether the Screen Actors Guild will cross picket lines to attend the awards. [B&C]
Adriana Lima Has Really Big … EyesFASHION
• Victoria’s Secret is featuring Adriana Lima in its Super Bowl ads because of her “spectacular eyes.” Right, her eyes. [WWD]
• Diane Von Furstenberg has launched her first line of shoes. [FWD]
• John Bartlett is joining Tim Gunn at Liz Claiborne. He’ll be designing a men’s sportswear line. [Investor’s Business Daily]
Brooke Shields Shares the Love on ‘Lipstick’Lipstick Jungle may top Cashmere Mafia because Jungle star Brooke Shields is nicer to her castmates than Mafia star Lucy Liu is to hers. Details editor Dan Peres says he’s going crazy and putting on weight because wife Sarah Wynter is pregnant. Kid Rock paid a busboy at Southern Hospitality $1,000 after he returned a $200,000 watch found on the floor of the bathroom that belonged to a Rock posse member. Val Kilmer was spotted running around town with Chad Lowe’s girlfriend, Kim Painter. Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce refused to use his credit card at Tenjune and left to go find a club where he could use cash. Donald Trump is hosting a Celebrity Apprentice party at Tenjune during Fashion Week. Uma Thurman and boyfriend Arpad Busson were all over each other at lunch at Lever House.
Steve Schwarzman Takes the Fun Out of BuybacksFINANCE
• Steve Schwarzman found yet another way to stiff his investors, using the GSO deal as an elaborate cover to buyback shares of Blackstone without the typical benefit a buyback program gives to other shareholders. No wonder the Chinese, who have lost $1 billion on Blackstone, hate him. [DealBook/NYT]
• Bank of America bought Countrywide Financial, the huge mortgage company teetering at the edge of bankruptcy, for $4 billion in stock. Some observers worry the deal will take the bank down, but considering Countrywide was worth $30 billion before the mortgage meltdown, it may yet make B of A CEO Ken Lewis a king. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Merrill Lynch will likely take a $15 billion write-down next week, far in excess of the $12 billion some already bearish analysts had predicted. John Thain is looking to rescue the bank with still more foreign investment capital, but with the Senate getting anxious, that stream dry up. [NYT, NYP]