• 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]
Cameron Diaz is looking to buy an apartment in West Chelsea and also hooked up with Felicity's Scott Speedman in the Bahamas. Samantha Stein-Wells, daughter of murdered real-estate broker Linda Stein, is turning her 35th birthday into a charity event in her mom's name. Padma Lakshmi told Dave Zinczenko that she'd cover her body in chocolate if he put her on the cover of Men's Health. Portfolio magazine named Newsweek fashion scribe Dana Thomas its European editor. Michelle Williams has pulled out of her upcoming movie with Ryan Gosling because she's too beat up over Heath Ledger's death. Maybe-pregnant Angelia Jolie went shopping at a baby boutique in Tribeca.
• Fortune 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]
We are still several days away from finding out results of the toxicology reports being done on Heath Ledger's body, but the New York Post is still having trouble with the fact that, as yet, there is no one to blame. Last week, we were surprised at all of the heat they brought on Mary-Kate Olsen. They put her face on the cover and claimed she was to be questioned by police (they stand by the story, but cops are now saying they won't be speaking with the actress). Olsen is involved, as even your golden retriever must know by now, because the masseuse who found Ledger's body mysteriously called her before calling 911. Olsen sent in her bodyguards rather than calling the police. After we and other Websites like Gawker.com pointed out the contradiction between the paper's story and what police were saying, we were e-mailed with a blusterous comment from Post editor Col Allan, which implied that the police were "afraid" of Olsen and that's why they wouldn't question her. Then, they followed up on Saturday with a photo-free cover, which asked "WHY" the police weren't questioning Olsen. There was an interior editorial that day explaining that the tabloid was receiving "dark communications" from Olsen's lawyers, threatening them.
Tinsley Mortimer, hair styled, full face of makeup, popped into a nail salon yesterday afternoon for a new coat of Ballet Slippers. As you can see, the nail salon she chose happens to be Iris Nails on Madison Avenue. Which happens to be next door to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home. Which happens to have been surrounded by photographers since early yesterday, when Heath Ledger's body was taken there to await burial. We're just saying.
Tinsley Mortimer's Grim Photo-Op [Socialite Life]
Those of you who, like us, watch Anderson Cooper 360 religiously, probably noticed last night that Manderson didn't have much in the way of Heath Ledger coverage. While many other news outlets were repeating the same information over and over, he decided to focus on other things. He explained this decision on his blog last night:
[Ledger's] shocking death is clearly a story a lot of people are interested in, but tonight we will not be reporting more on it. The truth is there is not really anything new to report. The full results of the various tests done on Mr. Ledger will not be ready for perhaps a few weeks and there is very little new information. I have no doubt other networks will spend a lot of time tonight discussing his death and the various rumors about what might have caused it, but I am not a fan of speculation, so unless there is something really new to discuss we probably won't be covering it anymore anytime soon.
Wow, that makes sense (unless, like us, you arecoveringthecoverage). Frankly, it's a sober, levelheaded choice to make when deciding how to handle Ledger's death. But it's certainly not the only one. In fact, we were just watching Fox News and heard this teaser for Bill O'Reilly's show later today:
"ON THE O'REILLY FACTOR: DO AMERICANS CARE MORE ABOUT THE LIVES OF CELEBRITIES THAN THE LIVES OF OUR TROOPS?"
Anderson's View: Heath Ledger coverage [CNN]
Earlier:Heath Ledger Posts
Following our post this morning about how the Post's story on Mary-Kate Olsen being questioned by police turned out to be wrong, we just received this statement from Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, via e-mail:
We confirmed this story last night with an impeccable source inside the NYPD and we stand by our reporting. Almost immediately after the tragic passing of Mr. Ledger, Ms. Olsen’s attorneys began emailing us threatening letters. As has been well reported, there were a number of calls to Ms. Olsen from the masseuse before the NYPD arrived on the scene. We would find it strange if Ms. Olsen were not questioned at all. The New York Post will not be pressured and we find it odd that the chiefs at the NYPD appear to be terrified of 4-foot-11 inch, 90-pound Mary Kate Olsen.
Talk of Heath Ledger's death continues to dominate the Sundance festival in Utah. "It was a terrible place to get this news," actor Brady Corbet, in Park City to promote Funny Games, told us yesterday. "It was supposed to be a time for celebration, and now this town is just abuzz." Corbet, who was friendly with Ledger, says he's been disturbed by the tone of some of the gossip, particularly John Gibson's comments on his Fox radio show. "All this Fox News shit, I couldn't believe it," he said. "It's so shocking and totally unacceptable. The guy John Gibson should just be fucking shot." Er…right. Let's move off that thought. "The only thing that's charming about it," Corbet continued, "is that I know Heath would have gotten such a kick out of it. 'Oh, you played a gay cowboy so you were condemned to death.' I really think that Heath would have thought that was funny. He would love how it makes them look and how it sheds some light on how disgusting a corporation Fox is." —Steve Ramos
Oft-reliable British tabloid The Sun reports today on an unsubstantiated rumor that Johnny Depp could replace Heath Ledger in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Terry Gilliam's in-production fantasy film which Ledger's death threw into uncertainty this week.
We'll admit it: When we saw the cover of the Post today, we felt a little bad for Mary-Kate Olsen. Sure, it was weird that she didn't tell her masseuse to call 911 immediately after the employee found Heath Ledger's dead body, but everything happened quickly, and she did try to help. Why was it suddenly her responsibility to take care of things? She's only 13 years old for Pete's sake. The "HEAT IS ON MARY KATE" headline, followed by the "Cops to grill her in death" kicker, seemed a little aggressive. And, we've just found out, it's not even true. Both Us Weekly and TMZ.com are reporting that Mary-Kate will not be questioned. "We have absolutely no interest in talking to Mary-Kate," a police source explained today. Now, if you look closely at the Post story, buried at the bottom, another cop source said the same thing. "Law enforcement sources last night said they did not think there was anything suspicious about either [the masseuse's] or Olsen's conduct," their story said. So the heat, technically, was not on her at any time. Except, of course, from the Post.
Police Source: Mary-Kate Olsen Will Not Be Grilled Over Heath Ledger Calls [Us Weekly]
Mary-Kate Story Bogus [TMZ.com]
MARY KATE OLSEN ON THE HOT SEAT [NYP]
Bono says that being with Al Gore is like "being with an Irish priest." Mel Gibson supposedly distanced himself from Heath Ledger after Ledger chose to play a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain against Gibson's counsel. Celebs like Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey may like Hugo Chavez because of his drugs.
The blogosphere has been churning all day over Fox host John Gibson's comments on his radio show yesterday about the death of Heath Ledger. To recap: Gibson played the "I can't quit you" clip from Brokeback Mountain; said, "Well, I guess he found a way to quit you," to much laughter in the studio; then followed up with a barrage of the sort of tasteless banter we have come to expect from these shows. "I don't know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death," Gibson said disparagingly, referring to a quote from an interview Ledger gave in 2007 in which he said his daughter caused him to "look at death differently." "Maybe he was a deep thinker," a female co-host chimed in. "Maybe he was a weirdo," Gibson said. He laughed, then played another clip from Brokeback, in which Ledger's character says, "We're dead," several times. The clip made its way to Gawker, Newshounds, and other blogs, who dug up clips of Gibson's remarks about Brokeback Mountain ("I just think most people do not want to go into a darkened room with a tub of popcorn and munch away watching two guys get it on," among others), and now GLAAD is leading a protest against Gibson and Fox. The Intelligencer hears that Gibson will address his remarks on his television show, The Big Story, at 5 p.m. Watch this space for updates.
UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Indeed, Gibson closed out The Big Story tonight by reading an apology: "I have received many complaints regarding my comments on my radio show about the death of Heath Ledger," he said. "I'm sorry that some took my comments as anti-gay and insensitive. I am aware that Ledger has a family, and I am sorry if I offended them and those who knew him, but most of all I am sorry for the loss of a young man I understand was a fine actor and human being. Once again, to those offended by my comments, I'm sorry." Will this be enough to keep the wolves at bay?
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker got into a fight on the platform of the downtown C/E train at 23rd Street. Alpha Media head Kent Brownridge married Hearst publicity head Alexandra Carlin at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Artie Lange tried unsuccessfully to get four Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to disrobe on the Howard Stern show. A lot of foodies showed up at the preview of Alain Ducasse's wine-themed restaurant, Adour, in the St. Regis. Bruce Springsteen waited a half hour for a lunch table at the Turning Point in Long Branch. Cindy Adams says Heath Ledger once tried to avoid her by saying, "You people from the press are not nice to me," but that he smiled while saying it. Liz Smith approves of the fact that Jenna Bush is getting married in Crawford, Texas, and not the White House.
Perhaps inevitably, as print outlets struggle to find a way to expand their coverage of Heath Ledger's death without many new details (multipletimelines! medicalanalyses!), we find that writers are turning to a new angle: the real-estate effect. The story of the Australian actor's life in the past couple of years is truly a New York story. He hit the hottest spots, he changed the face of neighborhoods, and he became a familiar figure to the regular city dwellers who surrounded him. Gridskipper.com has a geographical guide to his final months, since he moved out of Boerum Hill. The Daily News talked to his Soho neighbors, who described his usual uniform as "ragged jeans, an old jacket, brown boots and a stubbly chin." He used to wander the neighborhood and stop into restaurants and bars alone, and many didn't even know he was a superstar. But in the Post, we get the opposite story. Andrea Peyser, shockingly, is the first person to push the "Is it too soon?" boundary.
Above is a snapshot of the flowers, candles, and cards that are already amassing on the doorstep of Heath Ledger's Soho apartment. Fans and curious passersby are still stopping by the block on Broome Street where the actor died yesterday afternoon.
We know we should be used to this phenomenon, being bloggers and all, but we're still awed by the speed with which the news spread yesterday. The 28-year-old's body was found at around 3 p.m. Less than two hours later, it was being reported on television and on the Internet nationwide. While this isn't surprising in terms of the capability of the modern media, what struck us is that people passed the information to one another with incredible speed. Something about Heath Ledger, be it his youth, his popularity, or the mere unexpectedness of his death, caused people to IM friends, shout out in open office spaces, and call relatives. Ledger had grown into an iconic New York figure in recent years. What was your reaction? Since it's all anyone is talking about today, we'd love to hear what you have to say. Drop us a note in the comments.
Related:Heath Ledger: Covering the CoverageTerry Gilliam's Heath Ledger Movie: What Happens Now? [Vulture]
Today's coverage of Heath's Ledger's death doesn't answer many more of the questions that his fans are asking one another. Police are no longer touting suicide as the cause, and his family has declared it was an accident. Looking through the stories, blog posts, and online videos, though, provides a telling peek into the way the actor affected people, and how no one quite knows how to handle his death.
• According to some police sources, Heath's ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams kicked him out of their shared Brooklyn home because of a drug problem "that got worse after he left." Williams, the mother of their 2-year-old child, Matilda, has said she is "devastated." [NYDN]
• The masseuse who discovered the body didn't first call the police; she called the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, another client. Olsen told her to immediately call the authorities. [PageSix.com]