Eliot Spitzer's New Year's Day inauguration will feature James Brown and Natalie Merchant but not Alan Hevesi. Yes, Beyoncé threw Jay-Z a big birthday party in St. Barts. No, they're not getting married, at least according to Rush & Molloy. John Kerry threw a dinner party for Democratic donors at his Georgetown home, at which he may or may not have shilled for his party's 2008 nomination. Paris Hilton may be engaged to "student" Stavros Niarchos. Tinsley Mortimer's sister-in-law is getting married to the director of Syriana. The reigning Miss Universe, also Miss Puerto Rico, is dating a fellow Puerto Rican. Mandy Moore had dinner with former flame Wilmer Valderrama. The director of scary when-scuba-goes-bad flick Open Water is set to direct another movie about sharks. A lot of people went to go see Annie at Madison Square Garden, and not everyone got in on time. Celebs donate time, company to an auction run by Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest son. Colin Firth is a picky eater. Lindsay Lohan's former assistant, now Jessica Biel's assistant, was the subject of much of Lohan's vitriol in the rambling e-mail she wrote two days ago. Eddie Murphy and his ex–Spice Girl ex-girlfriend continue to disagree over whether Eddie is the father of her baby, according to "Page Six." (The News has this Murphy-Spice "exclusive," too, worded the exact same way.) Britney Spears bought expensive lingerie, Dakota Fanning bought a dog, and Courtney Love is moving to London. Liz Smith claims John Stamos will be on an upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, based on his affinity for tango. Molly Sims got stung by a bee in Hawaii.
While Amy Sacco may or may not be selling Bungalow 8, Jon B, owner of cash cows Home and Guest House, is in contract to purchase another slot on the coke-dusted Monopoly board that is West Chelsea. Having convinced the yoga-loving owner of Spirit, Robbie Wootton, to abandon his fight to reopen since the club's forcible closure in August, Jon B says he'll take over its West 27th Street space and bring an upscale crowd to rock shows and big-name D.J. performances. "I intend to operate it totally differently," he says of a space that has been under scrutiny since its days as Twilo.
Of course, Jennifer Moore, the New Jersey girl who was murdered in July after a night of clubbing, spent her last hours at Jon B's Guest House, and the subsequent nightlife crackdown raises question about how easy it'll be to transfer Spirit's liquor license. After Wootton pays off the estimated $6,600 in State Liquor Authority fines, Jon B estimates it'll be two or three months before a transfer is granted (a year-end freeze on new licenses in the area has caused a backlog of applications). After that, he says, it'll take another few months to turn the place into something "very different than what everybody is used to." And what's a suitable name for this new club, something that outclasses even Jon B's other venues, Home and Guest House? Alas, Mansion is already the hottest club in Miami. Daniel Maurer
Cancel your Outlook reminder about the opening of Amalia, the swank restaurant and lounge that Greg Brier of Jet East was supposed to bring to the Dream Hotel a couple of weeks ago: Perhaps because Brier is also managing the opening of Lan-Beijing in China, it'll be late January before the bi-level space (88-person dining room upstairs, 200-person downstairs lounge) will be ready for Ivy Stark's American-Mediterranean dishes. To tide you over, we've got exclusive renderings of what the space will look like — one's above; the other's after the jump — paired with designer Steve Lewis's shopping list (lifted more or less intact, we should note, from a press release. Quotations around "'enchanted forest'" ours).
• Bloomberg's novel anti-gun initiative — going after out-of-state dealers — is paying off. (It also shows an unusually, um, national-minded thinking from a city mayor). Six gun stores in outlying states have agreed to let court officials monitor their sales; twelve more are being sued into agreement. [NYT]
• The Daily News has a cover story that would drive O. Henry to suicide: A Staten Island woman gets the news of her fiancé's death in Iraq, followed two hours later by a FedExed engagement ring from him. We don't normally fall for the human-face-of-war stuff from our tabs, but Christ. [NYDN]
• D.J. Carl Blaze of Power 105.1 is in the hospital after getting shot "at least 13 times." The details are murky, and the shooter took Blaze's $20,000 gold chain, but the hail of bullets appears far too excessive for a robbery. [NYP]
• A Brooklyn rabbi was cuffed and jailed on child-molestation charges last night, after the lawsuit against him made the papers earlier in the week. The alleged victim is a 9-year-old who claims to have been abused for two years. Neighbors say the rabbi "doesn't fit the criteria." [WNBC]
• Demolition is set to begin in a couple of hours on the iconic, conical Revere Sugar Refinery in Red Hook. Thor Equities, which is also building on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint and Coney Island waterfronts, snatched up the factory in a less-publicized deal for $40 million. [amNY]
• High Fidelity opening night. Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St., nr. Broadway, 5:30 p.m. Nick Hornby, Hope Davis, Alec Baldwin, Rachel Dratch, Lauren Bacall, Bebe Neuwirth, and David Hasselhoff expected. Free premise for aspiring "Shouts & Murmurs" writers: What if Nick Hornby had written Baywatch?
So Time Out New York is out today with a big cover story rating and ranking all the city's cultural critics. It must be said: We give two thumbs up to this review of the reviews. Of course, why wouldn't we? New York's critics fared well (if not quite as well as Time Out's own critics, who did — surprise! — fabulously). Our Peter G. Davis was the No. 2 classical-music reviewer, Adam Platt came in third for foodies, Jeremy McCarter was named the fourth best theater critic, and Mark Stevens was No. 6 among the art experts.
The one exception was our esteemed film reviewer, David Edelstein, who ranked an unimpressive eleventh. Why is that? Well, according to his Zagatian write-up, it's because he's insufficiently attentive to independent film. "If you were to read only his column, you'd never know that foreign-language films and independent documentaries were opening," wrote one panelist. "A fine critic for first-run films. I wish he was able to write more about off-the-beaten-path films," wrote another. And just what industry experts came to these damning conclusions? Well, from the roster of reviewer-reviewers provided, we can pick out the director of the Film Forum; the publicist for the Film Forum; the publicist for the IFC Center, who was formerly at the Film Forum; the publicist for the Museum of the Moving Image; and two independent publicists of indie films. Hey, at least they know about indie film.
Judgment Day [TONY]
Sasha Petraske, owner of Milk and Honey and Little Branch, not to mention one of the city's most revered mixologists, plans on expanding his mini-empire. Shockingly — for those who aren't aware that Petraske worked at Von before conquering the cocktail world — the new venture will be a wine-and-Belgian-beer bar; he's calling it the Mighty Ocelot ("I really like cats," he tells us). Petraske first applied for a beer-and-wine license at 226 Broome Street, around the corner from Milk and Honey, but the rent would've busted his "shoe-string budget." So in January he'll taking over the former Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar space in the East Village; come March, he'll be offering cheese plates and light food. Not only this, but a project in Long Island City is also in the works. Daniel Maurer
The Iraq Study Group report is out, obviously, and now, it seems, all the important players have weighed in: Bush says he doesn't want to decrease troop levels and the Post says the panel's chairmen are "Surrender Monkeys." Clearly it's time for another 20-Person Poll. New York's intrepid interns hit Madison Avenue to ask three questions.
Question No. 1: The Iraq Study Group says "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." Does that come as a surprise to you?
Big surprise: 2; no surprise: 18
Question No. 2: Who has a better plan for Iraq, President Bush or the Iraq Study Group?
Bush: 3; ISG: 12; neither: 5
Question No. 3: Are James Baker and Lee Hamilton, the chairmen of the Study Group, in fact surrender monkeys?
Yes, monkeys: 6; no, not monkeys: 14
The famously pugnacious Gordon Ramsay has managed not to alienate the entire city of New York — just his neighbors. The residents of 150 West 55th Street, the building that sits behind the recently opened Gordon Ramsay at the London, claim that the restaurateur has plunged them into what their spokesperson Elizabeth Hulings tells us is a "nightmare." "The smell of the third-floor exhaust fan guarantees that everyone in the building knows just what's being served that night," Hulings says. "The noise has people sleeping on their couches." According to an official release, two tenants "had to seek medical attention for respiratory problems" caused by "particulate matter" given off by garbage trucks. Ramsay's people didn't return our call right away, but Caterer and Housekeeper, a Website that covered the story earlier, quoted them as saying, "Such challenges are not uncommon during a major construction project such as undertaken at the hotel and restaurant," and added, "when brought to the attention of Gordon Ramsay Holdings by the hotel, the complaint was immediately addressed."
Kitchen Nightmare for Gordon Ramsay in New York [Caterer and Housekeeper]
Marc Jacobs, it seems, likes 'em young. He has unveiled his new ad campaign — it breaks in February issues of fashion mags, and you can see two of the shots above — featuring 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning, as WWD reported today. Slightly skeevy fashion advertising, of course, is nothing new, but, still, this one manages to be, we think, a bit creepier than shaved pubic hair (Gucci), awkward celebrity stand-ins (Versace), or emaciated models (pretty much all of the major labels). Perhaps Marc's avant-garde taste is more attuned to European tastes: WWD also reports that he'll be showing Marc by Marc in the London shows for the first time this February. —Kendall HerbstOn Your Marc [WWD]
• Chelsea: The Hotel Chelsea gets festive in the lobby. Or at least more so than the Allerton. [Living With Legends]
• Coney Island: So which is worse, Thor Equities or Forest City Ratner? [Gowanus Lounge]
• Flatbush: With Yvette Clarke on her way to Washington, the fiasco to fill her City Council seat begins. [Daily Gotham]
• Flatiron: No more feeling inferior to every other area of Manhattan with an H&M. But we'll miss Daffy's. [Metroblogging NYC]
• Park Slope: This place has questionable Christmas trees, at best. [Brooklynian via Daily Heights]
• Sunset Park: How long will one man's fight against litter last? [Cloud Starchaser via Sunset Parker]
Oysters are born in the summer and get nice and fat with the onset of winter. This year has brought an especially good crop of New York varieties: Pine Island, Fisher's Island, Blue Point, Great South Bay, etc. They're all the same species (Crassostrea virginica), but their flavors are marked by the waters in which they're raised. Here are three top places to slurp your share of the local abundance.
At the PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360 Challenge at the Apollo Theater yesterday, H3TV — apparently "the only high-definition flat screen that allows players to simultaneously compete on both gaming systems" — allowed players to, well, simultaneously complete on both systems. (The crowd seemed to prefer the cheaper XBox.) Juelz Santana of Harlem's beloved Diplomats rap crew — also known as Dipset — sat down for a spirited game of Madden and was all business, dodging both autograph requests and an aggressive pass rush from his opponent, an anonymous Dipset affiliate he swore was the crew's resident gaming ringer. Santana came up short, but he made it out of the loss with his swagger intact, turning right around to sign those autographs for his patient fans and to extol the virtues of the H3TV. "If you're always playing your game, your girl can watch Lifetime or something. She ain't got to leave the room. It's good for relationships!" Armed with that, we're sure you can finally convince your girlfriend to let you buy a high-def flat-screen. Amos Barshad
MIAMI BEACH — Fashion met art at Art Basel Miami beach last night, and this was not necessarily a good thing. The worlds collided in David Bouley's place — specifically, his gorgeous new South Beach restaurant, Evolution, where Jimmy Choo's Tamara Mellon was throwing a fête for the Whitney. The problem: There were other, nearly as important places to be, and stops at those other events made everyone very late for this one. What were the rivals? A Russell Simmons dinner at the Delano penthouse, and a lush UBS-sponsored dinner, where billionaires were as common as palm trees. At the packed and chaotic Ralph Lauren party to benefit RxArt, which was one of the rare and welcome charity events at the otherwise largely venal Art Basel, the wife of a hedgie, bearing an invitation, was initially denied entrance — to a store, she noted, annoyed — because she hadn't RSVP'd. (Once she got inside, she'd find Andrew Shriver, Nikki Haskell, Gene Pressman, Bob Colacello, the lovely mom of Ralph Lauren exec David Calle, and some nice clothes.)
But what about back at swanky Evolution?
MIAMI BEACH — South Beach started to resemble spring break last night — but with much more money, and with Europeans. There was a preview of the actual art at Art Basel from 6 to 8, which gave everyone a chance to check out the maze of work from galleries all over the world. A VIP collectors' suite was actually for collectors of other expensive things, like jets and beachside condos. Cipriani, Related, Netjets, and Bulgari had outposts to offer consolation prizes if you couldn't get the art you wanted because it had already been bought or, more likely, because the gallery wanted to sell it to someone better than you. Unlike New York corporate parties, however, there were no free drinks flowing to impair inhibitions. These companies may have had enough marketing cash to be in a classy place, but there was a cash register set up on the bar. Not classy at all.
But later things got classier.
In pale imitation of great gastronome scribblers like Calvin Trillin and the late Johnny Apple, the Gobbler has written, perhaps too often, about his wife's taste in food and restaurants (just read his last review). Possibly also like them (the Gobbler doesn't know Mr. Trillin, but he met Apple during his gruff, un-cuddly, pre-foodie days), the Gobbler is often accused by his wife of egregiously distorting her views (you bet he does). Ms. Gobbler would like the world to know that her most-used word is not "yummy," that if given the choice, she'd prefer to eat at home, and that her favorite drink really is champagne. "Also, you always make me sound elfin," she told the Gobbler just a moment ago, "and I am not elfin." In a hasty (and desperate) attempt to clarify the record, I've asked Ms Gobbler to list her current favorite restaurants in town. It goes without saying that Mr. Gobbler approves of these fine establishments, too.
We noted several weeks ago the city's ambitious new plan to dedicate whole lanes of traffic to ultrafast buses with their own curbside turnstiles. And how would these buses battle unauthorized motorists slipping in and out of the lanes? By snapping pictures of them and ratting them out to the city. Nice. But not nearly as effective as a high-tech — yet awesomely brutal — solution implemented in Great Britain. Marvel at cars getting mauled by weight-sensing, automated retractable bollards.
Bollard Porn [StreetsBlog]
Earlier:It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a … Bus!
Last week, the Underground Gourmet recommended Zingerman's Reuben sandwich kit as the perfect holiday gift for the sandwich nut on your list. This week — in acknowledgement of the fact that even Kate's Paperie cannot wrap a Reuben sandwich well enough so that placing it beneath a Christmas tree for several days would not run the risk of Taco-Belling the giftee — the UG has come up with a superb alternative gift idea. It's the new book, called Simple Italian Sandwiches (HarperCollins; $21.95), by Jennifer and Jason Denton, and it requires no refrigeration. As anyone who knows anything about Italian sandwiches is aware, Jason Denton is to panini, bruschetta, and tramezzini what Masa Takayama is to sushi, sashimi, and Kobe sukiyaki. The Dentons opened the West Village panini parlor 'ino back in 1998, and it's fair to say that they started the whole local craze for delicately balanced, deceptively simple Italian sandwiches, and that no one outside of the Boot does a better job of it.
If you're anything like us, nothing attracts your sweet tooth like "heavy, thin, old and young New Yorkers" sprayed in candy coating. So when we received a press release from the M&M's people announcing that they'd be marking the opening of their new Times Square location by spraying those folks in their favorite M&M's colors — and then branding their chests with an M, candy style — we knew we'd have to attend. Intern Everett was on the scene, where he snapped some pix and reported that nothing says yum like bikini-clad people, standing in 40-degree weather, getting sprayed with cold paint. Hey, at least the victims froze in their mouths, not in their hands.