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Explosion and Evacuations at Fox News

News Corp
There was an explosion earlier today in the News Corp. building on Sixth Avenue. MyFoxNY reports that it was a chemical explosion (wha?) and that one man was burned. Over 700 people have been evacuated from the building. Gawker reports that there is smoke coming from the top of the building and that they are not letting anybody in. Also, "all the news photographers who can't get into their offices are taking photos of the people standing outside!" That's so meta. It's like citizen journalism 2.0! Fire! [Gawker] Explosion in Midtown Manhattan [MyFoxNY] Update: Curbed chimes in, adding that they've learned through Instant Messenger that it was a leak of certain chemicals which may have been the cause of the explosion, and that hazmat teams have been deployed. Which really puts the whole "No Chemical Dumping" theme of their holiday party into an ironic/dangerous context.

Vikram Pandit Is the New CEO of Citigroup!

Poor Vikram Pandit! He's been on the Citigroup throne for only a few hours, and already everyone is raining on his parade. "There was some hope that somebody with a bigger name would be chosen, so maybe from that perspective there is some disappointment," Lee Delaporte, director of research at Dreman Value Management, told Reuters. Business Week, along with everyone else, took it upon themselves to elucidate just how much this job sucks, and CNN called his résumé "flimsy." Well, at the very least, they know he's not going to pull a Jimmy Cayne. "I don't play golf. Period," Pandit told New York in 2002. "I'm sure I'd enjoy it, but I just never got good at it." But what do we really know about Vikram Pandit? After the jump, the salient facts of the 50-year-old CEO's life.

Viacom Freelancers Protest in Times Square: ‘I Want Teeth’

The section of 42nd Street directly below the glass-walled studio where MTV's Total Request Live is filmed is usually occupied by screaming fans of pop-music acts and MTV personalities, but at 3 p.m. today it was filled with nearly 300 MTV employees, who gathered outside the Viacom building to protest the drastic cuts the company is making to the benefit plans of its full-time freelancers. "The TRL people were all looking down at us," said one freelancer. "We booed them." They may have been angry, but the protesters weren't uncreative: They held aloft signs bearing twisted Viacom logos — Nickelodeon became "Sickolodeon" and MTV "WTF." They were even musical, chanting "I want my benefits" to the tune of the Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," and "You've Got to Fight for Your Right to Health Care!" to the Beastie Boys' "You've Gotta Fight for Your Right (to Party)." "It was pretty catchy," said one freelancer, who added that some of the chants were more direct. "There was one where everyone just shouted, 'I want teeth,'" she said. But the protests weren't, after all, just for fun. "We deserve to be able to take care of our bodies when we get sick," said the freelancer about the new health plan, which she called "a piece of shit." "We're worth more than that."

Conrad Black to Get Six to Eight Years in Prison, ‘Sun’ to Get Columnist

Conrad Black
Media mogul Conrad Black will be sentenced this morning to between six and eight years in prison for fraud and obstruction of justice, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve has said. The sentence is pretty lenient, especially considering that Black, whose Hollinger International company owned more than 100 newspapers, including the New York Sun, was less than endearing during the course of his trial. He referred to the charges that he had used the company to fund such luxuries as trips to Bora Bora and 100 pairs of Manolo Blahniks for his wife, among other things, as "rubbish" and "bullshit" and called his prosecutors "Nazis" and "pygmies." Jail, Black recently said, would be "a bore, but endurable," especially perhaps since Sun editor Seth Lipsky has reportedly invited the best-selling memoirist to contribute articles from his cell. Conrad Black to Serve up to Eight years in Jail for Fraud [Guardian] UPDATE: The verdict is in! Black will serve 6 1/2 years.

Martha Stewart Kills ‘Blueprint,’ Ruins Christmas for Cute Girls in Grandma Specs

Martha Stewart
Well. Looks like the gals and gays from Blueprint are going to have a lot more time to make their own wrapping paper this holiday season. WWD reported that Martha Stewart Omnimedia had laid off a dozen people on Friday, and now Mediabistro is reporting that it was because they are shutting down the young lifestyle-y magazine. This saddens us, not just because we empathize with the staffers now facing a Christmas more anxiety-ridden than usual, but because we were kind of fond of Blueprint. Of all the recent nest-y publications, it was the quirkiest: a magazine for smart girls in grandma glasses who liked to knit, cooler than Rachael Ray but nerdier than Domino. Even when it totally veered from its mission and ran weird Highlights-era blurbicles like "What Your Doodle Means" or suggested an iPod playlist for you apropos of nothing, well, that was just part of its dorky charm. But we guess Martha didn't feel quite the same way. Martha Stewart Axes Blueprint [FishbowlNY/Mediabistro] Related: Work-Appropriate Attire

Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff Out at City Hall, In at Bloomberg LP

Dan Doctoroff
Dan Doctoroff, who has been toiling away since 2001 as the mayor's get-it-done man, will announce today that he will be out of City Hall by the end of the year. He'll be named president of Bloomberg LP, reports the Times.
“Our administration and the city of New York have been incredibly lucky to have Dan in City Hall for the past six years, and I’ve personally been very lucky to have him sitting just six feet away from me,” the mayor said in a hastily scheduled news conference in the Blue Room of City Hall. “He has been a true partner, a trusted friend, and the architect of the most sweeping transformation of New York City’s environment since the days of Robert Moses.”
Doctoroff, a former investment banker who, like the mayor, earns only $1 a year for his civil service, is the deputy mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding. He's overseen successful projects like the High Line redevelopment and the rescue of the city's waterfronts, including Governors Island. He was also a force behind the mayor's ill-fated West Side Stadium and Olympic bids. Doctoroff was popular in City Hall and is credited with helping Bloomberg with much of his economic and redevelopment success. New York's Geoffrey Gray reported that Doctoroff was planning a departure last month. Doctoroff Is Leaving Bloomberg Administration [NYT] Related Doctor! Give Me a Job [NYM]

Cable News Makes a Hostage Situation Very Confusing


The cable-news outlets have a funny way of turning a potentially scary situation into a media farce. About an hour after “confirming” that both hostages have been released from Hillary Clinton’s Rochester HQ in New Hampshire, CNN is now saying there’s a third hostage still inside — which would explain why there's been little recent news from the scene. As with every real-time news event, the media are bound to change the story several times as facts get settled, except this time we can’t even agree on the story’s genre. Is this a scary situation with a real bomb and hostages? Or are we now looking at a guy with no hostages and a fake bomb strapped to his chest? If it's the former, you've got perhaps massive repercussions throughout the election cycle. If it's the latter, you've got a deranged remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Really, we just want to know how much we should be freaking out here. Meanwhile, MSNBC says the suspect is a fellow named Leeland Eisenberg. Start counting how many times that bit of info changes. Also, his son-in-law says "he had been drinking" today. Oh, who hasn't ended up as the focus of the 24-hour news cycle after a few too many vodka-tonics? Earlier: Breaking: Man With Bomb Takes Hostages at Clinton's N.H. HQ Update: They got him! The last hostage was just released and the suspect is in police custody...

Breaking: Man With Bomb Takes Hostages at Clinton’s N.H. HQ

Clinton HQ
Remember how we told you two hours ago that Clinton’s camp is “circling the wagons” around New Hampshire, because, unlike Iowa, the state is a safe bet for Hill? Yeah, pretty much — except for the maniac with a bomb. A man allegedly holding an explosive device has taken hostages at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Rochester, New Hampshire. The candidate herself is not there, but the bomb threat is apparently credible; a nearby school has been evacuated and negotiators are being brought in — along with a group of officers with guns drawn. CNN says two people are inside, although it’s unclear whether this means two hostages or a hostage and the perp. Stay tuned, obviously. —Michael Idov Update: CNN is reporting that the suspect is asking to speak to Senator Clinton; security has been tightened at Obama and Edwards's HQs. Update, 3:34 PM: There are no more hostages inside, but the suspect is still in the building with a bomb-like device strapped to his chest. The Clinton campaign has released a terse statement ("We are in close contact with state and local authorities"). SWAT members have been able to contact the perp and "calm him down," although he remains inside. Police responding to incident at Clinton campaign office [CNN]

Lou Dobbs Is Thinking About Running for President?

Lou Dobbs
In retrospect, it's so completely obvious that this would happen. The way he talks about the government's "war on the middle class," his appealing to the average Joe on immigration: Lou Dobbs was campaigning. Yesterday the Boston Phoenix speculated that when Lou Dobbs recently wrote that a mystery candidate might yet enter the presidential race, an “independent populist … who understands the genius of this country lies in the hearts and minds of its people and not in the prerogatives and power of its elites,” on his blog, he was talking about himself. Now the Wall Street Journal is saying that, "Friends of Mr. Dobbs say he is seriously contemplating a race for the first time." Apparently, Lou got to thinking that at some point during this campaign, voters will get so fed up — with Rudi's pandering, with Hillary's flip-flopping, with this whole seemingly endless ordeal — that they'll collapse, exhausted, straight into Lou Dobbs's stubby and welcoming arms. Says the Journal:
They spin a scenario under which the acerbic commentator would parachute into the race if Michael Bloomberg, the New York billionaire and favorite of East Coast elites, enters the field as an independent. With Hillary Clinton continuing to score badly in polls in the categories of honesty and integrity, and with the public's many doubts about Rudy Giuliani and other GOP contenders, Mr. Bloomberg may well see an opportunity to roil the political waters by entering the race late. If so, Mr. Dobbs then sees a niche for a "fourth-party" candidate who could paint the three other contenders as completely out of touch.
At the very least, the Journal points out, all this talk could surely boost his ratings. Dobbs is Advertising For Himself [WSJ] Man Of the People [Boston Phoenix]

Stephon Marbury Pouts, Whines, Goes Missing

After a difficult summer and amid rumors he's leaving the team permanently, Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury stomped out of the team's shootaround in Phoenix this morning, reportedly because Knicks coach Isiah Thomas declined to put him in tonight's starting lineup after his lackluster defense in Miami this past weekend. According to the Post, Marbury has told friends "he feels he's best playing 40 minutes a night and would struggle in a non-starting role." Thomas, sounding like any parent with a runaway teenager, appealed for the return of the 30-year-old player through the press. "We hope he's at the game," he told the Post. "If not, make no mistake about it, we do want him as a member of this basketball team." Marbury Bolts From Knicks [NYP] Related: Stephon Marbury's Days With the Knicks May Be Numbered [NYDN]

Kanye West's Mom Dies During Cosmetic Procedure

Kanye West
Kanye West's number-one fan, his mom Donda West, died this weekend in Los Angeles from complications related to a cosmetic procedure, CNN has just reported. Donda, 58, was the author of Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar, which was released earlier this year. She once compared her son to Jesus, and the worship was apparently mutual. "Hey Mama, I wanna scream so loud for you, cuz I'm so proud of you," he sang on 2005's Late Registration. West's publicist won't say what type of cosmetic surgery she was having, but we're putting all of our liposuction plans on permanent hold. Kanye West's Mother Dies After Cosmetic Procedure [CNN] Kanye West's Mother On Parenting [Baltimore Sun]

Linda Stein's Assistant Arrested, Said Realtor ‘Kept Yelling at Her’

Linda Stein
Linda Stein's personal assistant, Natavia Lowry, 26, was arrested this morning for bludgeoning the Ramones manager turned real-estate developer in her Fifth Avenue apartment last week. Apparently Lowry, who was arrested for theft back in December and is also apparently a model, made statements implicating herself in the crime. “It was that Linda just kept yelling at her, over everything,” an official told the Times. “They fought. It was like a continuous thing, like a buildup.” For which, obviously, there's a proportionate response, like throwing your cell phone into a fountain and striding off into your new wonderful life, but apparently Lowry missed The Devil Wears Prada. She's being held at the station house on the Lower East Side. Assistant Arrested in Killing of Real Estate Agent [NYT] Earlier: Intel's coverage of Linda Stein

Breaking: ‘House & Garden’ Finally Folds

House & Garden
We're hearing that Conde Nast's design-porn title House & Garden has shuttered, and that staffers had no warning. Just after we heard the news, WWD is reporting the same thing. Oh no! Where are we going to learn about how to make an entirely fieldstone interior wall in our Suffolk, UK, country home now? Update: A staffer tells us that editors were still making longterm assignments as of Friday, so it was a big surprise. Man, that's gotta sting like a bee from your clay tile artisinal beehive! House & Garden to Fold [WWD] House and Garden [Official Site]

Jacob the Jeweler To Head to the Big House?

So Jacob the Jeweler, né Jacob Arabov, is finally catchin' the case, as Master P would say. The AP is reporting that he of the diamond necklaces and stretch Lexuses (sorry) has pleaded guilty to falsifying records and giving false statements regarding Detroit's Black Mafia drug ring. As part of his plea bargain, prosecutors have dropped the money-laundering charges Arabov, previously faced; but he still is looking at 46 months in prison and a $2 million fine, though he has not yet been sentenced. One thing is sure, though: The plea probably pissed off Busta Rhymes, who defended Arabov in Vanity Fair last year, saying: "The charges are a bunch of bull@#!*. Anybody that affiliates themselves with people that are from the street, they always go the extra mile to investigate them … why would Jacob come this far, purchasing a $12 million building on 57th St. — why would he do anything illegally?" Sigh. Oh Busta. If we're going to start asking questions like that, then we're also going to have to ask why you started sucking. Jacob the Jeweler Pleads Guilty [AP] Related: Is Hip-Hop's Jeweler on the Rocks [VF] UPDATE: This item has been corrected from the previous version.

It's Time to Party for Joe Girardi!

It looks like Fox broadcaster and former Yankees catcher Joe Girardi is going to be the next manager of the Yankees, according to ESPN.
"The Yankees have offered Joe the opportunity to become their next manager. Discussions are ongoing." Steve Mandell, Girardi's agent, said.
Girardi beat out Steinbrenner favorite Don Mattingly and Yankees coach Tony Pena for the contract — reportedly $6 million for three years — after a ten-hour interview in which he apparently charmed the pants off the Steinbrenner family. But not everyone thinks he's so sweet. "There remain concerns about Girardi's aggressive style of handling people," George King and Joel Sherman of the Post wrote in an article that appears on the Fox News Website. "He isn't afraid to bruise feelings." Aw, did someone at News Corp., perhaps, get his feelings hurt? Yanks Offer Job to Giardi [Fox] Yanks Officially Offer Skipper Job to Giardi [ESPN]

Breaking: Bob Kerrey Will Not Leave the New School for Senate Run

Bob Kerrey
After weeks of speculation, Bob Kerrey has announced that he won't be running for Chuck Hagel's Senate seat in Nebraska and that he will instead remain president of the New School in New York. "I nearly said yes to leaving," he said in a statement just released by the school. But, he added, "for my family and me now is not the time for me to reenter politics as a candidate." Kerrey's statement did not address worries some Democrats had over his recently revealed connections to jailed controversial fund-raiser Norman Hsu. But he did say he would not stay out of political debates. "I am deeply troubled about the direction of our country. And the idea of returning home to Nebraska to lead a political campaign based on a promise to do my part to change the direction was very appealing," he explained. "Some argue that university presidents should avoid public debates and controversy. I believe differently and, fortunately for me, so do the trustees of The New School." Related: Bob Kerrey, Cockblocker [NYM]

White House Blogs Mysteriously Disappear

Today’s Times ponders the already-tired phenomenon of top government officials “blogging”: Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff has a blog, as does Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt (who started his “in August, having enjoyed reading a pandemic flu blog that his department began this year”). Will their posts provide an inside look into the administration’s workings? Will they betray the authors' subtle deviations from the party line? Is Chertoff the private man less churlish than Chertoff the public servant? (No, no, and hell no: Chertoff uses his blog primarily to rag on Times editorials, which, one is tempted to imagine, is how the Gray Lady staffers found it to begin with.) Well, at least they’re excited about all this sweet traffic coming in from the Times site, right? Nope: At this time, the provided links to both Leavitt and Chertoff blogs lead to 404 Error messages. Guess we’ll never know what Chertoff’s take on Kid Rock’s arrest is. Presidential Cabinet Members Start Blogs [NYT] Update: We are officially conspiracy theorists (Hooray! We've always aspired, but never thought we could live the dream). A helpful reader points out that the Times just had the wrong links. Here are the right ones for Leavitt and Chertoff.

Breaking: Joe Torre Turns Down Yankees' Offer

Joe Torre
Joe Torre has turned down an offer from the Yankees brass to return as manager next year, ESPN.com reports.
The Yankees offered Torre a one-year deal with a base salary of $5 million and incentives that would have increased his salary to $8 million based on postseason performance. Under that offer, if Torre reached the World Series in 2008, an option for 2009 would have vested. Torre traveled to Tampa from New York on Thursday with general manager Brian Cashman and chief operating officer Lonn Trost. The manager was at Legends Field for about an hour and then left for the airport.
Team president Randy Levine said that the two sides were "working on it" and expected more meetings. Wow, we have no idea what to think! And we thought this was the first playoff season we weren't going to spend all our time worrying about what was going on with the Yankees. Torre Turns Down Offer to Return As Yanks' Skipper [ESPN]

Columbia University Is a Hotbed of Hate … Again

Teacher's College
An e-mail went out to Columbia students this evening:
From: Lee C. Bollinger
Date: Oct 11, 2007 5:20 PM
Subject: Recent Bias Incidents
To: PRESIDENT@cuvmc.ais.columbia.edu
Dear member of the Columbia community, I am saddened to report that one of the bathrooms in Lewisohn Hall was sullied with an anti-Semitic smear. It has been promptly removed and is now being investigated.
Here we go again. It's like the sixties all over again! Only, you know, without all the good stuff.

Atlantic City Mayor Bob Levy Resigns, Has Only Been Missing for About Two Weeks

Bruno and Spitzer
At last, peace is restored to the anarchy-ravaged Atlantic City. Mayor Robert “Bob” Levy, MIA for over two weeks, has officially resigned, CNN tells us. The exact reasons for Levy's abrupt vanishing act are still unclear, but everyone can agree on the big picture: Not only did the mayor get caught in a huge lie about his supposed Green Beret past, he's also under federal investigation for receiving fraudulent benefits for the fictional stint. As we've already noted, Levy will fit right in with the rogue's gallery of Atlantic City mayors: Two out of the last five people to hold the job ended up in jail, and Bob looks like a strong contender to be the third. Of course, they'll need to find the dude first. Levy is still nowhere to be seen; the news of the resignation came via his attorney, Edwin Jacobs, who clearly has a few interesting weeks ahead of him. Lawyer: Mayor Resigns After Disappearance [CNN] Earlier: Anarchy in the A.C.: A Brief History of Atlantic City Mayoral Malfeasance