• Viacom screws over its army of freelancers by rolling back benefit programs drastically. Merry Christmas! [MixedMedia/Portfolio]
• The Washington Post is sending veteran reporter and inveterate partier Keith Richburg to town to take over the paper's New York bureau. He's well known for throwing parties with, get this, as many as 30 people! Will Manhattan will be able to handle it? [NYO]
• No holiday party at Time Inc. or the New York Times. Suckas! [Radar]
• Air America talk-show host Randi Rhodes was assaulted on Park Avenue last night while walking her dog? [Gawker]
• Jack Shafer investigates the billionaires behind ProPublica, the newly established New York–based investigative-journalism nonprofit led by former Journal managing editor Paul Steiger. Surprise, they're big Democratic donors. [Slate]
• Howard Kurtz took the nonstop promotion of his gossipy new book to its logical conclusion, interviewing himself on his own CNN show. [HuffPo]
• Lehman landed former Florida governor Jeb Bush as an adviser. Makes you wonder which bank will get the honor of hiring W. when the "first MBA president" finally steps down. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Does Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis's move to save Countrywide, the largest mortgage lender in the United States, make him a modern-day J.P. Morgan? [MarketWatch]
• John Dyment, the global head of Deutsche Bank's hedge-fund unit, jumped ship for Shumway Capital Partners, a hedge fund based in Greenwich. [TheStreet.com]
• More than a week after the Deutsch Bank blaze killed two firefighters, three FDNY honchos have been reassigned for failing to regularly inspect the building or come up with a plan to fight a fire there. [NYT]
• Oh, boy. We know this isn't Gotham-specific, but Attorney General Albert Gonzales, after months of pressure to resign in the face of possible perjury charges, has finally done so. Adios, Bushito (as they used to call him Texas). [Newsday]
Ever wonder what Deutsche Bank thinks about all of this anger over the deaths of firemen in the Deutsche Bank building? You know, because every news story refers to the dangerous hollowed-out edifice as "The Deutsche Bank Building" even though Deutsche Bank sold it in 2004? Well, guess what — Deutsche Bank hates it. We hear they've had publicists scrambling to contact news agencies who are covering the story and get them to refer to the building as 130 Liberty Street, or at least "the former Deutsche Bank building," so that Deutsche Bank won't keep being associated with the accidents there. One such journalist pointed out "that the name Deutsche Bank was like the Chrysler Building — no one cares if Chrysler is still in the building, it's still called that." Though, the Chrysler Building didn't kill anybody lately. We sort of see Deutsche Bank's point.
• Things keep getting worse at the Deutsche Bank building: Yesterday a worker for the sinister John Galt Corporation "lost control" of a forklift on the 23rd floor, from which it tumbled 200 feet to the ground, crashing through the roof of a shed and sending two more firefighters to the hospital. [NYT]
The new New York Times tower is shiny and pretty and environmentally friendly and all that. But, as it turns out, it's also a hulking mass of conflicts of interest. For the last year or so, every time the paper so much as passingly mentions the Atlantic Yards project it feels compelled to make the ritual disclosure that, indeed, Bruce Ratner's Forest City Ratner was also responsible for the new 52-story headquarters. And now that it's turning out that at least some of the blame for the botched Deutsche Bank dismantling that led to two firefighters' deaths belongs to a company called Safeway Environmental, a new standard disclaimer was introduced today:
(Safeway Environmental was one of the subcontractors used in the development of a new headquarters for The New York Times, across Eighth Avenue from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.)
What's coming next? Did Roger Stone lobby for tax breaks on the new building? Did Joe Bruno fly down for the day to have a meeting about it? Do employees feel violated as neighbors peer through the glass walls at what's going on inside? We so hope David Berkowitz used to deliver mail to whatever stood on the Eighth Avenue site back in the seventies. That'd be an awesome disclaimer.
Obscure Company Is Behind 9/11 Demolition Work [NYT]
• GOP consultant Roger Stone resigned his job with the state Republican Party over that call to Pa Spitzer, but he still maintains — busted alibi and all — that Democratic operatives may have just broken into his house and made the call from his phone while using some kind of high-tech device to impersonate his voice. Ya-huh. [NYT]
• As Robert Morgenthau's office starts a criminal investigation of the Deutsche Bank blaze that killed two firefighters, it turns out that the faulty standpipe had been deliberately cut — and recently. [NYP]
• The deaths of two firefighters in the Deutsche Bank blaze this weekend may be classified as homicides — and it could be negligent contractors, who disabled a critical standpipe, and chain-smoking Eastern European immigrants, who started the fire, who are accused of murdering them. [NYP]
• Two firefighters died Saturday in a blaze in the abandoned Deutsche Bank building adjacent to ground zero. The pair "walked into a horror show," as Spitzer put it, when they met a maze of protective polyurethane sheets that may have made the fire harder to fight. [amNY]
Great triumph mixed with crushing defeat the other night as highly competitive people with lots of disposable income gathered at the Gramercy Park Hotel Private Roof Club for a fancy quiz night to benefit Darna, an organization that feeds struggling women and children in Tangier. It was a strange mix of monied New York: socialites, models, fashion designers, and, of course, investment bankers, who felt a little out of place. "We're investment-bank nerds, so we spent pretty much a month planning our outfits," said a member of the Goldman Sachs team. "We had wardrobe consultations on conference calls." The grand prize they were competing for? A trip to Morocco to stay in the family villa of model Jacquetta Wheeler, the host.
• The key lawsuit seeking to block Atlantic Yards has been dismissed on a technicality. A group of tenants facing eminent-domain relocation failed to convince a judge they weren't offered comparable housing. [NYP]
• Mark Green, the new president and one of the marquee voices of Air America, interviewed Michael Bloomberg for the network's big relaunch next week; the ex-rivals were reportedly quite chummy, trading bad puns and agreeing on most of Bloomberg's mayoral policies. [NYT]
• This is exactly what the torturously slow dismantling of the Deutsche Bank building was supposed to prevent: A fifteen-foot-long pipe fell 35 stories from the half-stripped skyscraper, plunging into a neighboring firehouse and sending two firefighters to the hospital. [NYDN]
• Bail for the domestic-enslaving Long Island couple was set at $2.5 million for the wife and $1 million for the husband; meanwhile, a raid on the mansion is said to have uncovered the instruments of torture, which include knives and a rolling pin. [Newsday]
• And, a bomb scare shook up an elementary school in the Putnam County town of Kent after a suspicious and fragrant package was delivered to the building. But not to fear: After a Hazmat team and bomb squad got involved, an X-ray revealed it was twelve pounds of marijuana. [WNBC]
* Or maybe not a bad day at all. As explained here, we totally misread this news.
Could it be? Yes, it could. A mere three weeks after real, genuine construction started at ground zero — the concrete foundation was finally poured for the much-delayed Freedom Tower — there's set to be some more real, genuine progress today. Five years after it was badly damaged and rendered uninhabitable by the attacks, the long-shrouded Deutsche Bank building is finally coming down. The AP is reporting that the building's façade is being removed starting this morning; once that is gone, the steel-and-concrete infrastructure comes next. One of the new WTC towers is set to be built on the site, plus a new Greek Orthodox church. Don't start rushing to say your Greek prayers, though: It'll be a year till the current building is gone.
Work Begins Friday to Take Down Damaged WTC Skyscraper [AP via Newsday]
Earlier:Freedom Tower Construction Finally Begins, Boringly