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Fall 2009

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Murdoch Mulls the Liberation of WSJ.com

MEDIA • Murdoch is hinting heavily that he'll take WSJ.com free, but Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino doesn't think it's such a great idea. [WSJ] • Well, we'll be — Portfolio pulling down pretty good ad pages. [NYP] • Roger Ailes, former CNBC president now with Fox Business Network, making many CNBCers interested in switching teams. It may be many things, but it won't be boring! [NYO]

HarperCollins Passes Over NYT Meanies for Kinder, Gentler WSJ

Today’s Observer has a story on disgraced memoirist James Frey who, remarkably enough, just sold a new novel to HarperCollins. Last week, Eric Simonoff, Frey’s swashbuckling agent, handed the big scoop to the Wall Street Journal — which more or less equates to a big honking F-U to the New York Times. “The New York Times has never been a friend to James Frey,” Simonoff sniffed to the Observer. Um, that’s putting it rather mildly: In his year-end column, Frank Rich grouped Frey with 2006 “villains” Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, saying, “It was a thrill beyond schadenfreude to watch them be soundly thrashed and humiliated for their sins.”

Bruni Maintains Luger's Middling Reputation; Bar Fry's Tempura More Varied Than You'd Think

Frank Bruni complains about the steak, the service, the sides, and the salad at Peter Luger but caves and hands it two stars. [NYT] Restaurant Girl gives Elio’s two and a half stars, citing its “charming lure of old-world” Italian, code for a menu that has barely changed in 26 years. [NYDN] Alan Richman visits Il Mulino and in crushing it strikes a blow against “this style of oversized, oversauced, overcooked cuisine” with all the force he can muster. [Bloomberg]

Michael Jackson Checks Out Other Masks and Wigs at ‘Lion King’

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.

Michael Mukasey: Giuliani’s Inside Man?

mukaseyheart
Yesterday, when we gleefully listed Michael Mukasey's homeboy specifications (born in the Bronx, went to an UES yeshiva, etc.), we glossed over the most intriguing part: the current A.G. nominee's extensive ties to Rudy Giuliani. The connections between the two deserve their own list. Not only did Mukasey swear in the mayor in both 1994 and 1998, he donated heavily to his presidential campaign; Mukasey's son Marc works at Bracewell & Giuliani, Rudy's boutique law firm; and both Marc and Michael are the Giuliani campaign's judicial advisers. In fact, as a federal judge in the Giuliani era, Mukasey had to recuse himself from some City Hall–related cases because of his friendship with the mayor. Today's Times even describes a less-than-hilarious prank Mukasey played on Giuliani in the seventies (it involved Rudy getting a job at a law firm).

Greenspan to Wife: Be Nice, or the Economy Suffers

Last night, only hours after the Federal Reserve made its first big interest-rate cut in four years in an attempt to stanch the leaking housing and credit bubble, iconic former Fed chief Alan Greenspan had something to say. On the occasion of his new memoir topping the best-seller list, the finance gnome was grilled at the 92nd Street Y before a packed house — by none other than his wife, veteran NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. "I'm torn between proving my objective journalistic values and wanting to save my marriage," Mitchell confessed early on. She seemed to favor the former impulse by dogging 81-year-old Greenspan, twenty years her senior, on whether he helped set up the current bust by repeatedly lowering interest rates post-9/11. "Guilty or not guilty?" she asked him. When Greenspan pleaded the latter, she reminded him that other experts had warned that super-low rates might fuel a backfire. "If you had some inkling, why were you so bullish about adjustable-rate mortgages?" she persisted. (Greenspan said that he'd only promoted ARMs on prime mortgages, not forseeing the subprime implosion that's driven the current chill.) Mitchell concluded by asking her owlishly visaged old hub a question submitted from the audience: How do you deal with stress? "Have your wife talk to you nicely and pleasantly," the Oracular One grumbled.

Return of Dévi; It's the Year of the Deli

After all the hullabaloo over Dévi's closing, its chefs, Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur, have purchased the spot and will reopen it next month. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Related: Debriefing Dévi: Suvir Saran’s Suspected Side Projects Yolato takes a swing at the fro-yo competition by opening three Manhattan shops this week. [NYS] Related: The New Cold War: Frozen Yogurt Invades New York Del Posto's Nicole Kaplan says it straight: "I don't really like innovations." [amNY ]

Queens Restaurant Week Is Upon Us

Queens Restaurant Week
The idea of Queens Restaurant Week, we maintain, isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. Sure, the borough is defined by great restaurants that cost next to nothing, so a $20.07 dinner special may not sound worth schlepping to Elmhurst for. But in fact, anything that brings people to Queens is worthwhile; its restaurants are the source material for so much of what is happening in Manhattan, and most chefs, at least privately, will admit that the ethnic kitchens of Bayside and Jackson Heights are usually better than their midtown emulators.

Queens Has a Cow. Literally.

We're going to start today by venturing a bit off our usual beat, if only to bring you the most important news of the day: Mother Nature is still alive and kicking! Outer-borough residents were terrified last night when a mysterious creature was found wandering around the parking lot near Queens Hospital. The offending beast? A cow. “The darn thing just came out of nowhere,” Dmitri Demopoulous told the Daily News. Citizen Demopoulos, who reported the bovine sighting to 911, helped police track the creature by following him, Wesley Snipes–like, on a two-mile chase through the streets of Queens. (“It was running at a good pace for a while,” Demopoulous said.) The cow was eventually corralled on 144th Street, where she was trapped by no less than a dozen radio cars and Fire Department vehicles. Busted! No one knows where the animal came from, or where it was trying to go, so the question is how now, brown cow? Wild Chase After Cow Takes Cruise Through Queens [NYDN]

Dolan's Faith in Thomas as Delusional in Court as on Court

Pricks
Just when you thought their sexual-harassment trial couldn't get any more damaging for the Knicks, they shoot themselves in the foot. In a taped deposition by Madison Square Garden head honcho Jimmy Dolan, shown yesterday in court, the burly boss explained that plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders was fired because she made sexual-harassment charges. And incidentally, at the Garden, it's not harassment to use the N-word to describe a black person (this was revealed by aging exec Rusty McCormack. Andrea Peyser, back on her game since yesterday, describes McCormack as having "the complexion the approximate shade of ripe cheese.") Of course, the question blaring from every news outlet is "Why are they still in this trial? Settle already!" The answer is simpler than you think.

Did Milk and Honey Change Its Number Because of a DOH Closing?

Milk & Honey
We were a bit surprised to find out that the place with the rules posted in the bathroom was flaunting the rules of the Department of Health — at least, according to inspectors who shut Milk and Honey down after it racked up 83 points in a July 31 inspection (the citywide average is 13 points; inspections of Milk and Honey in previous years yielded 17 and 4 points). The most scandalous thing about the violation report isn’t the “other live animal” that was present in the bar but that the inspection report printed the place’s coveted unlisted phone number! Is this why the number was changed? And was this the city’s revenge for all those calls a 311 operator told us the help line gets asking for the digits? Either way, rest assured that from now on those ginger roots will be shaved with gloves on. Related: Restaurant Inspection Information: Milk and Honey [NYC.gov]