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‘Times’ Architecture Critic Herbert Muschamp Dies

Herbert Muschamp, the dizzyingly erudite, frequently revelatory, occasionally mystifying former architecture critic of the New York Times, has died of cancer at 59. To many regular readers, he was a breakfast sparring partner, dispensing opinions that ranged from the wise to the outrageous and at times getting so carried away with an idea that it was difficult to follow him into the rarefied terrain of his thoughts. He wrote vivid, kinetic prose, as in this memorably swashbuckling lede from a 2003 review of Frank Gehry’s Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard: “Inside many a thin building is a fat one straining to get out.” Muschamp acted as a whimsical guide, discerning metaphors in concrete and steel, finding literary analogues to architecture and generally imbuing what we clumsily call the “built environment” with a poetry its makers did not always recognize themselves. —Justin Davidson Herbert Muschamp, Architecture Critic, Dies at 59 [NYT]

Isiah Thomas, MSG, Found Guilty of Sexual Harassment

Anucha Brown Sanders
Surprising nobody but Madison Square Garden officials themselves, a jury just found Isiah Thomas and the Knicks organization (part of MSG) guilty of the sexual harassment of Anucha Brown Sanders. After weeks of embarrassing revelations and accusations, the jury decided that Thomas should not have to pay punitive damages, but that MSG and its head honcho, Jimmy Dolan, should. No numbers have been announced just yet, but after just about everyone from Dolan down revealed stunningly archaic attitudes about race and gender in the workplace, we're guessing Browne Sanders's compensation will be pricey enough to shock them into the new century. Or, at the very least, it'll prevent them from wasting any more money on expensive players who don't win titles. It's a victory for everyone! Sexual Harassment at the Garden [NYT] Earlier: Our Knicks Coverage

Bloomberg's Got Mommy Issues

The federal government filed a lawsuit today against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's company, Bloomberg L.P., after receiving complaints from three senior-level executives at the company and finding "a pattern or practice of wrongful discrimination against females based on their sex and pregnancy by decreasing their pay, demoting them, diminishing their job duties and excluding them from other employment opportunities when they become pregnant and when they return from maternity leave." According to a copy of the suit obtained by New York, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that after their pregnancies some of Bloomberg's female employees were demoted, isolated from meetings and other employees without justification, and told, "You are not committed" and "You do not want to be here" by their superiors. When Bloomberg's pregnant staffers complained, the lawsuit alleges, their complaints were dismissed. A Bloomberg spokeswoman could not be reached for immediate comment.
Geoffrey Gray Related: Baby Bust at Bloomberg? [NYM] Chairman Mike [NYM] UPDATE: From Bloomberg spokeswoman Judith Czelusniak: “We believe strongly that this lawsuit is without merit and we will defend the case vigorously.” (You can download a copy of the suit here)

Brad Pitt: ‘I'll Take the Ninth Ward for $10 Million’

Brad Pitt
Guess that Jesse James money was burning a hole in the pocket of Brad Pitt's hot little pants. The actor, a featured speaker at Clinton's annual Global Initiative Conference up at the U.N., just pledged $10 million toward rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, says the Huffington Post. "We're prepared to break ground by the end of the year, but we need your help," he told the audience, which included Afghan president Hamid Karzai, president of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Desmond Tutu, and World Bank honcho Robert B. Zoellick. Pitt's Make It Right Project, which he's been working on with Liz Hurley baby daddy Steven Bing, is aiming to construct 150 affordable and sustainable homes in areas affected by Katrina. "We will match dollar for dollar any and every single contribution up to $10 million." We feel sure those in the crowd will pony up. How could Archbishop Tutu say no to such a pretty face? Brad Pitt Heats Up Clinton Global Initiative Session on Climate Change [HuffPo] Make It Right [Official site]

Live-Blogging Ahmadinejad

Well, well, well. Columbia University president Lee Bollinger has just begun introducing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is talking about the "genius of free speech" and "knowing thy enemies" which is awkward, because, you know, the dude is sitting right there. We'll live-blog from here. We expect fireworks, so tune in. 2 p.m.: "Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a cruel and petty dictator," Bollinger says. He goes on to ask about treating gays, women, and dissidents with censorship and inequality. He's really getting up some momentum. The audience rewards him with mild applause. 2:03 p.m.: Bollinger brings up the Holocaust-denial stuff. Wow, we're really getting into the name-calling stuff. Ahmadinejad is "brazen," "absurd," and "naïve." "The truth is, the Holocaust is the most-documented event in human history," Bollinger says. "Will you cease this outrage?" We kind of wish he would speak slower. If we can't keep up with this, how on earth will Ahmadinejad, who needs a translator?

Dan Rather Is Suing CBS!

Dan Rather
Holy crap! Darth Rather is suing CBS for $70 million bucks! The suit, which he filed today, also names Leslie Moonves; Viacom and Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News. Rather is saying that the network “damaged his reputation” and made him a “scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House.” Um, yeah. What took you so long, dude? He’s seeking $50 million in punitive damages and $20 million in compensatory damages, which should buy the 75-year-old anchor a nice Fuck You mansion in which he can while away his remaining days. Rather Files $70 Million Lawsuit Against CBS [NYT]

Cab Explosion at Rock Center?

Rock Center
A cab just blew up outside of Anthropologie in Rockefeller Center, as Gawker just blithely reported. So far the wires have nothing that we can see, so we're not sure what, if anything, is up. We'll keep you updated if you do the same. E-mail us at intel@nymag.com if you're in the area! UPDATE: An alert reader pointed us to photos of the fire at WNBC.com. If you ever wondered what "billowing flames" look like, check them out. We've got one after the jump.

Moby Finally Finds a Buyer for Upper West Side Penthouse

The wait seemed interminable, but it looks like Moby has finally a buyer for the four-level penthouse he's abandoning on the Upper West Side. According to Streeteasy.com, the nine-room co-op, on the market for $7.5 million, just went into contract. The electronica guru bought the apartment atop the El Dorado — the building where Marilyn Monroe once lived — two years ago, but apparently had a change of heart. (This despite five terraces from which to enjoy the beautiful blue sky.) According to Gawker, Moby still thinks it "the most interesting and unique apartment I've ever seen in New York City," but he missed downtown too much to make his move permanent. (He was serious about selling, even plugging the apartment in a Webcast.) No word on where he'll next land. —S. Jhoanna Robledo

Rupert Murdoch Shows His Cards at Communicopia Conference, and They're All Aces

Rupert Murdoch
Leave it to Rupert Murdoch, the T-Rex of media moguls, to accuse one of his competitors of enabling pedophilia on the Internet. “If you want to extort a young girl on Facebook, it will be very easy,” the 76-year-old chairman of News Corp. — which owns Facebook rival MySpace — claimed this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia XVI Conference. “You can’t on MySpace,” he added, touting the security features of his Web operation as superior to those of Brand X. Nervous laughter rippled across the packed crowd of capitalists at the Grand Hyatt, where Murdoch kept flashing a toothy grin — less an expression of happiness than an animal threat-gesture. “Everybody laughed at me when I bought MySpace [for $580 million in July 2005],” he added, “and now it’s worth 25 times” what he paid for it.

Natalie Portman's New Man Likes Walks in the Park

Nat and Nat
It looks like the romance between Natalie Portman and Nathan Bogle that was first snapped at the U.S. Open, has legs! Literally — the pair were seen walking hand-in-hand through Central Park today, and damned if they weren't caught by the paparazzi. Bogle, the model-cum-designer-cum-boyfriend (he used to design for Rag & Bone), is quite the looker, so kudos to Portman. According to JustJared.com, they've actually been dating for four months! We can only hope that photo-stalking of them remains at a minimum, so they stay in New York rather than decamp to Los Angeles where their every Starbucks will be dissected. Nothing would thrill us more than to see the couple out and about together in the West Village and not acknowledge them. Nathan Bogle and Natalie Portman Holding Hands [JustJared]

Roger Brings Fashion to Its Feet

Anna and Roger, Sitting in a Tree
This just in from the tents — Anna Wintour brought Roger Federer (you remember her fevered crush on him?) to the Oscar de la Renta show this afternoon, where the Polyphonic Spree played [Ed. note: WTF?]. Federer, who triumphed over Novak Djokovic yesterday in the Men's Final at the U.S. Open, got a standing ovation upon arrival. Now, we're pretty sure that these fashion people didn't even know there was a sporting event going on elsewhere in the city last week, so it makes us wonder: Did Anna send out a memo in advance? That's a risky maneuver among all those models near the end of Fashion Week. Clapping, after all, could burn all the calories they have left. Earlier: At ‘Men's Vogue’ Dinner, Roger Federer Makes Anna Wintour Giggle Roger Federer Makes Anna Wintour So Very Happy

Foxy Brown To Be Jailed for a Year

Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown was sentenced to a year in prison for violating her probation last month by assaulting a neighbor. This is big news for hip-hop fans, but probably even bigger news for the baby growing inside her belly. We don't even know what happens when you have a baby in jail, but we're betting that VH1 can come up with a reality show to tell us about it. Foxy Brown gets a Year in the Slammer [TMZ] Earlier:Foxy Brown Sent to Prison, Pregnancy Notwithstanding

Whoopi Goldberg Starts to Wear Brassieres at 51

Whoopi and Barbara
We had hoped Whoopi Goldberg's presence on The View would shake things up — but it looks like it's just, well, hoisted some things up. If you weren't watching (first of all, lucky you), Whoopi just went into a monologue about how her bra was too small. Why was it too small? Because it was new. Why was it new? Because she doesn't normally wear one. Which is all well and good, but the lady is 51. We liked it better when we could think of her without sex parts. What's next — 77-year-old Barbara Walters discussing tongue sex tricks? Oh, wait, that's exactly what happened next.

Luciano Pavarotti Dies at 71

Beloved opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, who got his first big break at the Met, died early this morning at his home in Modena, Italy. The popular tenor (and talk show guest) succumbed to complications from pancreatic cancer at the age of 71, after a legendary career that included performances of many of opera's best roles, and a streak of popular albums with the Three Tenors. Perhaps brightest star in the Metropolitan Opera's galaxy, he had planned a farewell tour last year before his cancer was diagnosed. We'd make the obvious joke and say that somewhere in heaven there's a fat lady singing, but we're sure Pavarotti, for decades opera's biggest voice, wouldn't cede the spotlight. Luciano Pavarotti, Italian tenor, is Dead at 71 [NYT]

Michael Imperioli Almost Got Exploded

Michael Imperioli
Someone planted an explosive device outside of the Sopranos star's office late last night. It blew up around 1 a.m., damaging a van but causing no serious injuries. The van was parked outside Imperioli's Studio Dante, which is two blocks south of Madison Square Garden. The Studio is a small theater founded by Imperioli and his wife, Victoria, to foster new independent plays. “While there certainly is no evidence that this was terrorism, we are taking this and every act of violence extremely seriously,” said Mayor Bloomberg. We'd bore you with a meta-cerebral joke about the reflection of television violence in real life, but seriously, you just got back from vacation. Go back to catching up on your personal e-mail. Explosion Outside Imperioli’s NYC Studio [MSNBC]

First Lad of Publishing Gets Laid Off

Jimmy Jellinek
It looks like Jimmy Jellinek, the former editor-in-chief of Maxim and wunderkind of Dennis Publishing, has just been kicked out of his job. Right before a company cocktail party, no less! Gawker reports that Jellinek was fired by Kent Brownridge, who bought Dennis Publishing earlier this month and has been making massive overhauls of the struggling lad-mag empire. The site says he'll be replaced by former Men's Journal editor Jim Kaminsky, who was the executive editor of Maxim. We called a rep for the mag, but so far, no confirmation on the news. There's a party going on right now at Cellar Bar to celebrate the new ownership (the company is now called Alpha Media Group), but we're betting Jellinek supporters are playing hooky – probably drowning their sorrows in plastic cups at Siberia. It's a sad, sad day out there for reality stars in wet underwear… Housecleaning [Gawker] Update: A Maxim rep speedily returned our emails confirming that Jim Kaminsky will be the mag's first ever Editorial Director, and yes, Jellinek is "no longer with the magazine." But he won't be drinking at Siberia, as we forgot, it closed months ago. As Maxim would say, "double d'oh!"

Fred Thompson Calls City of New York ‘A Big Bully’

Fred Thompson
Presidential non-candidate Fred Thompson has finally turned on the city that made him rich and famous. The Law & Order star, who spent years pretending to fight violent crime as district attorney Arthur Branch, lashed out at the Big Apple today in a blog post that decries efforts by Giuliani and Bloomberg to crack down on gun trafficking. He called the moves, wherein the city sought to sue some weapon providers whose wares ended up being used in crimes, an "attack by New York City on the Second Amendment." "In this case," he says, "we need Federalism to protect states from a big bully in New York City." A bully! Well, we never. We don't know anything about guns, and frankly, we like it that way. But by golly we know a slap in the face when we see one! I'm in a New York State of Mind [I'mWithFred.com] Related:: The Actor [NYM]

Imus in the Money

Breaking news! From Matt Drudge! Don Imus has a deal! Woo-hoo! Reports the fedora'd one:
Radio host Don Imus has agreed to settle his contract with CBS for $20 million, and a non disparaging clause, legal sources claim. The move opens the possibility Imus will soon return to the airwaves — on WABC in New York! [Top radio executive strongly dismisses Imus will be offered WABC slot] Developing…
Hmm. That denouement sounds a little familiar, doesn't it? UPDATE, 3:06 p.m.: And the AP (via the Times) says it is so. Imus: $20 Million Man [Drudge] The Resurrection of Don Imus [NYM]

Feds to City: Decongest!

And so it has finally happened: The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced it will give New York City a $354 million grant to implement a congestion-pricing system in the city. It's not quite the $500 million Mayor Bloomberg and Dan Doctoroff told everyone the city stood to receive, but it's a whole lot more than nothing, too. It's a big win for the mayor, except for one thing. The Feds will only pay out on that grant if the state legislature signs off by March of next year — which means that seventeen-member commission formed just after the (alleged) application deadline pass a plan before then, and the city council, too, must agree to it. Shelly Silver, we think, is going to have a whole lot more fun. U.S. Offers New York Millions for Congestion Pricing [City Room/NYT] Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of congestion pricing

Brooke Astor Dies at 105

Brooke Astor
After a messy year of battles between her son and her friends for control of her finances and well-being, Brooke Astor died today at her Westchester estate in Briarcliff Manor. She was 105. For decades Astor was a paragon of Upper East Side elegance and noblesse-oblige charity, but last year a legal battle waged on her behalf against her son, Anthony Marshall, resulted in a series of embarrassing accusations: neglect, misuse of family funds, and fraud. A year ago, Meryl Gordon examined Mrs. Astor's life, including its messy final chapter, for New York, and found that "the story of the Astor lawsuit is also something simpler and sadder, a tale of parental neglect, repeated generations over." Annette de la Renta, who took over as Astor's guardian after charges were first leveled, told Gordon that she hoped the society matron would "slip away" at Briarcliff, "a place she adores." She got her wish, and Astor can now go back to being remembered as the legend she was. Brooke Astor, New York Socialite, Dies at 105 [NYT] Related: The Family Astor [NYM]