Well, hello, Upper East Siders. It seems like Gossip Girl will be getting a real-live New Yorker this season. Brooklyn-born Michelle Trachtenberg has taken on the Gossip Girl role that Mischa Barton so unwisely passed over: that of Georgina Sparks, the bad girl "who rolls into Manhattan from rehab, shaking up and torturing the life of Serena van der Woodsen." Trachtenberg has been working since practically the day she popped out of the womb: She's been in everything from Clarissa Explains It All to Six Feet Under, but we (as well as probably the entire staff at Knopf) remember her as the girl who shook up and tortured Ann Packer's The Dive From Clausen's Pier when she played the main character in the Lifetime movie last year. But somehow, we're looking forward to seeing her again, partly because a tortured Serena has got to be a more interesting Serena. Bring on the peer pressure!
Trachtenberg to Appear on Gossip [HR]
We're just going to say it: Our new governor rocks the house. Only moments after he shouted down the halls of the capital: "I am David Paterson and I am the governor of New York State!" he admitted to the Daily News that he had an affair for several years of his marriage. And that's not all: His wife, Michelle, also was unfaithful. Turns out the two had a rocky period in their marriage where they both looked elsewhere for comfort, but they decided to give it another go and try marriage counseling. It worked, and now they are a happy couple again. So happy, in fact, that they addressed the issue during Paterson's first moments as governor. (Hey, he did admit he had "a different kind of marriage.") But you know the best part? Both Paterson's affair and his later reconciliation with his wife took place at a Days Inn in Manhattan. And we thought nothing could top the Mayflower Hotel and T.G.I. Friday's! This is amazing. We're turning into France.Gov. Paterson admits to sex with other woman for years [NYDN]
A U.K. judge has just awarded Heather Mills around $50 million of Paul McCartney's money, enough to keep her in golden legs for a lifetime. You think she'd be pleased about this, right? But no! Immediately after the proceedings, Mills stalked down the steps of the London court and complained to the press that the judge said that McCartney was worth £400 million when "everyone knows he's worth £800 over the last fifteen years." Then she announced she would contest the decision to make the settlement figures public, which she said Paul had insisted on doing. "He has always wanted it public because he wants to make it look like he is … generous," she ranted, because apparently nothing will make her happy and she will never go away ever.
UPDATE: From CNN: "The judgment included 35,000 pounds ($70,000) a year for the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice. Mills said she was unhappy with that amount because it isn't enough for school tuition, private security, or first-class airfare. 'He likes her to fly five times a year on holiday," Mills said of McCartney. "It's 17,000 (pounds) for two people return (round-trip) first class, so that's obviously not meant to happen for her anymore. It's very sad.'" Because obviously that can't come out of the $50 million.Judge Awards Heather Mills £24.3 Million in Divorce Ruling [Times UK]
Related: Intel's Weird Obsession With Crazy Heather Mills
David Paterson just gave his first public address since Eliot Spitzer's resignation yesterday. He made noises about "getting back to work" and the budget, talked about being black and blind, indicated he wasn't planning any major changes to his predecessors more controversial policies, and became the first human being in government to express sympathy for Spitzer himself. "My heart goes out to Eliot Spitzer, his wife Silda, his daughters," he said. "I know what he's gone through this week. In my heart, I think he's suffered enough." Paterson also displayed a rather awesome sense of humor. "Just so we don't have to go through this whole resignation thing again," one ballsy reporter asked, "have you ever patronized a prostitute?" Patterson thought for a minute. "Only the lobbyists," he said.
At a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in his Manhattan offices, Eliot Spitzer announced that he would step down as governor of the State of New York. By his side was his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, his wife of 21 years, who spent much of the last 48 hours in the same apartment with her husband (but reportedly in different rooms). Below, a rough transcript of his speech:
In the past few days I have begun to atone for my private failures with my wife Silda my children, and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.
From those to whom much is given, much is expected.
I have been given much, the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead this state. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me.
To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I have tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize. I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant that I and the people I work with have accomplished a great deal.
Joe Bruno held a press conference just now, and it was well played. Despite the fact that Eliot Spitzer has basically been up until now his mortal enemy, he didn't rub it in that he was totally right when he told New York earlier this month that the governor was “two-faced. He does not tell the truth." Rather, wearing an expression of weary "I-don't-have-time-for-this-perv" resignation, he discussed the possible transition of David Paterson (with whom he has a "great relationship") into the position of governor and went out of his way to make the point that just because someone decided to defy Lord and country by sleeping with hookers doesn't mean that everyone else was going to stop doing their jobs. "There is no pleasure in what is going on in this state," he said. "This is a distraction of proportions we have never experienced. As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and his family. He must deal with his problems in his own way."
Related: How Eliot Spitzer Finally Got Joe Bruno on the Ropes [NYM]
A little while ago, Intel received a tip of a "big police action" down at King and Varick streets. "Three young guys pulled out of a town house by a whole bunch of policemen and swat and everything," said the tipster. Turns out that was Kate Hudson's house. According to TMZ, a neighbor called the police "after seeing what she thought were men on her roof with a rifle." But the swat team might not have been entirely necessary: Us is now reporting that all the dudes were planning on shooting was a movie.
Men Arrested At Kate Hudson's Home [Us]
The Times is reporting that Governor Eliot Spitzer has just admitted to his senior staff that he has been involved in a "prostitution ring." No more details have been released, but he is set to make an announcement momentarily. Stay tuned!
Spitzer is Linked to Prostitution Ring [NYT]
Related: You Can Say This About the Girls of the Emperor's Club: They're No MoronsUpdate: Just to catch you up, yes, this is the same Eliot Spitzer who as New York attorney general prosecuted at least two prostitution rings. And yup, he's the one who has a wife and three children, too.
Update 2: The Times mentioned the recent bust-up of the Emperor's Club prostitution ring. No word yet whether it is the group in question, but since they are being investigated right now, it's a likely candidate. The Times connects Spitzer to an Emperor's Club liaison the day before Valentine's Day. The unnamed John in question, who may have been Spitzer, was Client #9.
Update 3: In what is probably an awkwardly coincidental typo, the New York State Website now lists David Paterson as governor. [Ed note: Though we can no longer log onto the state Website, we're told by others that it's now back to normal.]
Update 4: According to GoDaddy.com, the domain names www.clientnumber9.com and www.clientnumbernine.com have already been purchased today. Man, the Internet is fast.
Tucker Carlson's show Tucker on MSNBC has been canceled, Carlson confirmed to Politico this morning after what felt like five to seven years of rumors of its demise. As of 10 a.m., his Wikipedia entry had already been updated to reflect his status as the "former host." Now, MSNBC tells us that the Tuck will stay on as a correspondent, but his time slot will be taken over by David Gregory, MSNBC's silver fox of a White House correspondent, who will cover the campaign with a show called Race to the White House With David Gregory. That's fine and all — we understand that in these fraught times the people need another show that will debate campaign minutiae — but we're a little disappointed that they didn't go with Rosie.
One of our spies is reporting that the 6, B, D, F, V station at Broadway and Lafayette is filled with smoke. "It's the whole station, but trains are still running." Could it just be a bunch of French tourists? "You can see and smell smoke," explains our legwoman. "But no idea what happened." Anybody there? Care to fill us in on what's going on? Post in the comments or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Tony Blair, fresh into his first year of retirement from helming the United Kingdom, will take up a position as a fellow at Yale in the fall. A press release from the university announces:
Mr. Blair will lead a seminar at Yale and participate in a number of events around the campus. The course in which he will participate with Yale faculty will examine issues of faith and globalization. His efforts at Yale relate to the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that he will be launching later this year.
Blair will be a "Howland Distinguished Fellow," a post once filled by Indira Ghandi. Blair's son Euan is currently studying for a master's degree in international relations at the school. In 2006, it was reported that Harvard, Princeton, and Yale all competed for Euan's affections when he was choosing schools, and in the end he selected Yale, which gave him a full scholarship. A prescient move, it would now seem.
Let's begin this post by saying there's no reason to worry, everybody is fine. (We've always wanted to write that — because let's be honest, when we start conversations with our mom that way she goes bananas.) See, there was a small explosion in Times Square early this morning, but nobody was hurt. Apparently somebody tossed an explosive device at a U.S. military recruiting center just before 4 a.m. today. The office's window was smashed, and a door was damaged. Traffic was interrupted for a while, but now it appears to be back to normal. The Department of Homeland Security says it's investigating whether it was terrorism-related, but according to NY1, there wasn't a sense of panic in the area this morning. Explained droll host Pat Kiernan: "It seemed people were annoyed by the nuisance as much as anything."
Small explosion hits New York's Times Square [Reuters]
Update: Mayor Bloomberg just held a press conference about this. It turns out that it was a bomb in an ammunition box. Bloomberg called the attack on the recruitment office an insult to our troops and added that "New York City is back and open for business." NYPD chief Ray Kelly said the device was not "particularly sophisticated" and explained that there is one witness who saw a suspicious hooded man on a bicycle passing the recruiting station just before the explosion.
William F. Buckley Jr., the conservative columnist, humorist, and well-loved literary character, died today at his Connecticut home. He was 82. Though he suffered from diabetes and emphysema, the cause of his death is so far unknown, according to his son Christopher. The New York Times has already posted their lengthy obituary of the National Review founder. He died while seated at his desk in the study of his home. “He might have been working on a column,” his son said.
William F. Buckley, Jr. Dead at 82 [AP]
Doesn't New York Times executive editor Bill Keller know it's cruel to break up with people on Valentine's Day? Apparently not: Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici just reported, and the Times just confirmed, that he just announced that the company plans to eliminate 100 newsroom positions, or about 7 percent of the newsroom, this year. "The cuts will be achieved primarily through attrition and buyouts," the Times says, "but layoffs are a real possibility." Guess we're not the only ones who will be crying ourselves to sleep tonight.
Newsroom Cuts at the New York Times [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
New York Times Plans to Cut 100 Newsroom Jobs [NYT]
Just now in a phone call to CNBC, warmhearted gagillionaire Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway would help out troubled bond insurers by offering a second level of insurance on up to $800 billion in municipal bonds.
The holding company already made the offer of reinsurance, he said, to insurers Ambac, MBIA and FGIC, all of whom have had problems with subprime mortgages and other loans and are in danger of losing their AAA credit ratings. One firm rejected the offer, and he is still waiting to hear from the other two. The offer is designed to make Berkshire Hathaway money, he added; it's not just "a good deed."
Warren Buffett Offers to Reinsure $800B in Municipal Bonds [CNBC]
Marci Plotkin, the former chief financial officer for New Jersey real-estate developer Charles Kushner, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, the New Jersey Star-Ledger is reporting. Plotkin, who was indicted three years ago on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and obstruction of justice involving the preparation of tax returns, wrote off millions of dollars' worth of gifts, entertainments expenses, and political contributions while working for Kushner and now faces two years in prison. The trial of Kushner's brother-in-law and associate Richard Stadtmauer is set to begin later this week. Kushner, the father of New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, pleaded guilty to witness retaliation and tax and campaign violations in back in 2004, after which he served less than two years in prison.
Former Kushner CFO admits guilt in scheme [New Jersey Star-Ledger]
Avast! According to documents filed with the SEC, Firebrand Partners and Harbinger Capital Partners, the hedge funds seeking to put their nominees on the board of the New York Times, have increased their stake in the paper to 9.8 percent. (It was previously reported they owned 4.9 percent). We're no good at math, but we'd say that there's a 90 percent chance that soon enough, Firebrand's vagilante founder Scott Galloway will be sitting on the board, breathing his fiery Johnny Walker breath all over Arthur Schlesinger and Times chief executive Janet Robinson.
Hedge Funds Lift Stake in New York Times [WSJ]
Earlier: Vagilante Shareholder Scott Galloway Takes on the ‘Times’
As we type, Mitt Romney is giving a live speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. GOP sources say that, during this rally, he will announce the suspension of his campaign. According to Time.com, he will say the following: "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or [Barack] Obama would win."
Romney to Quit Race [Time]
Update: Snippets from his speech just now, in which he said he was stepping aside so that McCain could begin a national campaign:
"Today, we are a nation at war. And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. The consequences of that would be devastating. Frankly, in this time of war I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. This isn't an easy decision; I hate to lose. If this were only about me, I'd go on. But it's never been only about me. I entered this race because I love America. And because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I now have to stand aside for our party and our country."