Weird wiretapper Anthony Pellicano says he knows what Michael J. Fox did back in 1990. Plus, Ashlee Simpson pregnancy rumors persist, Adrian Grenier gets a girlfriend, and more in our daily squeeze of the juice from New York gossip columns.
While political watchers spent last week looking ahead to primaries in Ohio and Texas, the candidates engaged in a serious debate — over a photo of Barack Obama wearing Somali clothing. (An Obama staffer claimed Hillary Clinton had leaked the shot to make him look Islamic; Clinton’s campaign manager said no one had claimed the photo was “divisive” until Obama and his new friend at the Post played it up.) Latecomer Ralph Nader, unsafe at any speed as far as most liberals are concerned, moseyed into the presidential race. Connecticut senator Christopher Dodd backed Obama; Jersey governor Jon Corzine rushed to aid the Clintons in Cleveland.
In a conference call with reporters today, Eliot Spitzer said that he would be heading to Ohio to rally voters on behalf of New York's junior senator, just as she is posting a dip in the polls there. Spitzer was on the line with New Jersey governor Jon Corzine and Ohio governor Ted Strickland to discuss economic development, in a call that was arranged by Hillary's people. The first question from reporters was about Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. According to the Observer, Spitzer batted away the idea that Hillary Clinton's hedgy attempts to support him cost her political capital. "The answer is no," said Spitzer. "I have not had any conversations with her about it. I'd just point out that Barack Obama is for my policy on driver's licenses, so I don't see that that's been an issue." When he heads to Ohio, he'll join Corzine, who's also headed there to help out Hillary. Since she's in fighting mode lately, it makes sense to bring out the steamroller. But he's kept himself pretty distant from her over the past few months. Will he still be as effective if he's not revved up?
Spitzer Sells Clinton, Says Driver's License Mess Didn't Hurt Her [NYO]
Update: According to the Sun, Spitzer stopped short of saying that he would stump for Clinton, but left open the possibility "if this continues."
Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey is frustrating gay activists because he is hesitant to get moving on a bill to change the state's civil-unions policy to one of flat-out marriage equality. After a report was released yesterday that says civil unions in the state are not equal to marriages, the state legislature is under pressure to change the law. Civil unions have been allowed since 2006 in New Jersey after the State Supreme Court ruled that gay couples should receive the same legal rights and protections as married straight couples. Legislators quickly created a law that was designed to give equality to all parties. In order to comply with the decree of the Supreme Court, adjustments have to be made to the current policy, but Corzine says he wants to wait until after November to do so. "He will sign a bill, but doesn't want to make it a presidential-election-year issue," Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said. This is a shrewd move, both for Democrats and gays alike. A Republican nominee will be sure to use the specter of gay marriage to scare their base to the voting booths in November, as George Bush did so effectively in 2004. The last thing that gays hoping to wed (and Democrats hoping to win) need are endless high-profile speeches about the sanctity of marriage. It's the one issue that could bring evangelicals like James Dobson together with front-runner John McCain, whom they currently mistrust.
N.J. governor concerned civil unions don't bring equal rights [Newsday]
Sheryl Crow thinks it's "pathetic" that Lance Armstrong is dating Ashley Olsen. Paris Hilton has been frequenting New York hot spots very late at night (or, rather, early in the morning). Donald Trump Jr. is suing the board members of his West Side condo for kicking him off. Jon Corzine's ex, 48-year-old Carla Katz, is dating a 32-year-old American soldier and former model. Torch, a new club slated to open tonight, is scrambling to get Tiki Barber and 800 other invitees not to show up because the plumbing isn't ready. A guy on the subway once told Matthew Broderick that he looked and sounded exactly like Matthew Broderick.
Lenny Kravitz complained that his 18-year-old daughter's skirt was too short. Nancy Reagan wants Mayor Bloomberg to run for president. New York Ranger Sean Avery may be cheating on Mary-Kate Olsen with ex-flame Lake Bell. Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson may or may not have made out at the Beatrice Inn. A lady clamoring to see Jessica Simpson at the Waverly Inn knocked over a table and tumbled into the fireplace. Leroy Barnes, a drug-dealing competitor of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), says American Gangster, portrayed him inaccurately. An ex-cop made a board game that highlights the incompetence surrounding the rebuilding of ground zero.
Rosie O'Donnell burst into tears after Bill Clinton called her and apologized for being unfaithful to his wife. The guy who won the marathon said he did so by refraining from sex and eating pasta. Katie Holmes said her marathon run was "hard, but good." (She also wore a velvet Hermès gown to a Museum of the Moving Image event honoring her husband.) Damien Hirst installed a bunch of dead sheep carcasses in formaldehyde tanks at Lever House. Ousted Citigroup chief Chuck Prince didn't say hi to Sandy Weill at the Four Seasons. Annie Lennox gave a bunch of fans the finger. Governor Spitzer, Governor Corzine, and Nora Ephron went on a triple date to Cafe Boulud.
A Long Island woman Michael Lohan met in family court is pissed off because he has another girlfriend. An item claims there's "trouble in paradise" between Amy Sacco and fiancé Luigi Di Carolis but doesn't specify what it is. Bill Clinton threw Chelsea's ex Ian Klaus a book party at Tabla. A number of people invited to the In Touch party at Tenjune never made it inside because the doormen let in their personal friends instead of invited guests. Denise Rich plans to take her 6,000-foot yacht, now docked at the Battery Park Marina, to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving. Gillian Hearst-Shaw and Christian Simonds are getting married tomorrow at the Pierre Hotel, with Lydia set to be her sister's maid of honor.
Scanning through the 9/11 coverage today, we found it hard not to notice a dominant trend: We're moving on. The Times puts up a story about Mayor Bloomberg playing psychologist to a cheering city. The Post's main story focuses on families setting up homes downtown and making lower Manhattan a "Verve Center." Channel 4 and NPR ran upbeat interviews with Eliot Spitzer, Jon Corzine, and George Pataki about the development downtown. Notably, only the Daily News chose to wallow — respectfully printing all of the names of the dead but also neglecting to publish one word about the recovery of the site and the neighborhood. For details on memorial services throughout the day, see here.
The "tall and attractive" 25-year-old aide whom Jon Corzine may have been sitting next to at the time of his car crash was reassigned last month because she and the governor were allegedly getting too close. Larry and Laurie David may have split because Laurie had an affair with a married man on Martha's Vineyard. Some Columbia Records staffers are worried that producer Rick Rubin has been named co-head of the label, given that he has no executive experience. Richie Sambora dumped Denise Richards during a Hawaii vacation a few months ago; she'd been expecting him to propose. Michael Jackson placed a number of odd, ill-timed room-service orders at an inn in Maryland, but he did bless the manager. Oliver Platt is an ardent supporter of the business tactics of George Steinbrenner, whom he plays in The Bronx Is Burning. Lindsay Lohan is dropping booze for bottled water.
• The fourth suspect in the alleged JFK pipeline plot is in custody. At the urging of a friend, Abdel Nur, 57, walked into a police station in Diego Martin, Trinidad, and turned himself in. [NYDN]
• More surrenderings! Former assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr. and former State Supreme Court justice Gerald Garson, the main characters in a protracted judgeships-for-sale investigation, were sentenced yesterday. Both men left a Brooklyn courtroom in handcuffs, although Garson eked out a stay of his sentence. [NYT]
• Ready for a $3 subway fare? By 2010, warns the Straphangers Campaign, the unlimited MetroCard will likely be $112 or, if the state coughs up some extra MTA cash, $92. But that's okay, because all our salaries will rise by 50 percent, too — right? Right? [amNY]
• Gay marriage: bad for the baby Jesus, great for the economy. A new study by the city comptroller suggests that legalizing same-sex marriage would result in $142 million in economic benefits for NYC. [Crain's NY]
• And Carla Katz, the Jersey union leader who's also, awkwardly, Governor Corzine's ex, tells all! In a Post exclusive! To Cindy Adams! Her big revelation: "There's absolutely nothing I have on Jon." [NYP]
• Is New Jersey governor Jon Corzine a superhero? He's back to work today, just a few weeks after breaking a leg, eleven ribs, his collarbone, his sternum, and more in a horrific SUV crash. Three-time acting governor Richard Codey again politely recedes into the background. [WNBC]
• Kirsys Rodriguez, a 12-year-old Bronx girl, is in critical condition after catching a bullet in a post-party "dispute": She was trying to flee the gunfire that erupted over somebody's Sidekick. [NYT]
• Roger Clemens is back with the Yankees for the rest of 2007, for the discussion-ending $28 million (the Red Sox put up a paltry $18 million). Since the Yanks' starting pitchers have been dropping like flies, he'll start within days. [amNY]
• Joseph Oddo, a Virginia-based writer whose pet cause is to draft independent candidates to run for president, ha set his sights on Bloomberg. The Website, DraftMichael.com, handily serves to raise public awareness of, well, Joseph Oddo. [NYS]
• And it's not exactly local news, but since Spider-Man has been bugging this city for the last several weeks, the least we can do is report his box office: $148 million for the weekend (a record), $59 million on Friday alone (a record), and $375 million worldwide (a record). Can he go away now? [NYDN]
• In a turnaround from yesterday, Miss America will testify as a witness in the eleven court cases she helped build by playing a 14-year-old in a televised Long Island sex-sting op. [WNBC]
• The Mets fan who used a powerful flashlight to blind a Braves pitcher has been sentenced to fifteen days behind bars — and a lifetime ban from Shea Stadium — after pleading guilty to "interfering with a sporting event." [NYP]
• Speaking of the Mets, Citi Field now has its own Daniel Goldstein: One (and perhaps the only) inhabitant of Willets Point's "Iron Triangle," 74-year-old Joe Ardizzone, is refusing to relocate and make way for the stadium. [amNY]
• After losing half his blood and breaking a bunch of bones in an SUV crash, New Jersey governor Jon Corzine requested yesterday to be fined for not wearing a seat belt. Today, he is exactly $46 dollars poorer and, presumably, happier. [NYT]
• Here's someone who won't be requesting a ticket: A Queens burglary suspect, fleeing from cops in a stolen SUV, rammed into a bus carrying disabled students. Oh, yes, the apartment he burglarized? A police officer's. [NYDN]
• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine apologized from a wheelchair for the careless driving that led to his crash. Then he rode home from the hospital, fifteen miles over the speed limit. [NYP]
• In the meantime, perennial bridesmaid Richard Codey is easing into his third acting-governor gig in six years — this time, unlike during the McGreevey denouement, without a personal staff and with an elected leader watching over him. [NYT]
• Owner Hilly Kristal is having second thoughts about the CBGB-in-Vegas thing, turning down investor after investor because "the focus has to be on new acts, new interesting things." We could certainly use that thinking for, let's see, the last fifteen years of the original CB's. [MetroNY]
• After losing two men in a week to freak train accidents, MTA has decided to halt all track work pending a safety review. Workers say that a lack of two-way radios may be to blame. [amNY]
• And "as a thank-you to our readers," the Daily News costs 25 cents this week — starting, that is, the exact same day the Post began charging 50 cents again. The extreme-skinflint demographic is theirs! Temporarily! [NYDN]
• 350 residents were ordered out of a homeless shelter after a parapet fell off a Ratner-condemned building next door. Even the dourest pessimists at Develop Don't Destroy didn't think mass displacement at Atlantic Yards would already be an issue. [NYT]
• So that's why the City Council wants to ban metal bats: An assistant baseball coach at East Side's Norman Thomas H.S. allegedly went medieval with one, clubbing two kids over the head for cheering on a rival team. [NYDN]
• Not a week after a court confirmed activists' right to film cops at protests, the NYPD is asking a judge to give officers back the right to film protesters. Everyone's a damn auteur in this city. [amNY]
• Asian American groups are steadily mounting an Imus Redux; CBS Radio is under pressure to can shock jocks "JV and Elvis" for prank-calling a Chinese restaurant with "shlimp flied lice" jokes. Shouldn't we be addressing the larger issue of why prank-calling restaurants is a marketable career option? [MediaChannel]
• And Jon Corzine says "I'm the most blessed person who ever lived." Point taken, J.C.: The man is walking and talking two weeks after meeting a guardrail at 91mph. [WNBC]
• The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 13,089 yesterday, leaping past the 13K mark on a 136-point rally — and, no doubt, giving yet another batch of small investors the tragic impression that they, too, can be Jim Cramer. [NYP]
• With all the money floating around City Hall (the surplus is now even larger than estimated — $4.4 billion), Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants a tax credit for renters to match Bloomberg's proposed property-tax rebate. The mayor's not sold. [amNY]
• Al Gore ("the world's hottest leading man," per Bloomberg's press-conference remarks) is in town to open the Tribeca Film Festival. If he were running for office, last night's gala would sure feel a lot like a Dem fund-raiser. But he's not, so it didn't. [WNBC]
• Corzine walks! New Jersey's governor took a few steps for the first time since the car crash that broke half the bones in his body. He also felt up to taking a phone call from … President Bush. [NYT]
• And Condi Rice apparently wields major power over New Yorkers' consumer habits. After she endorsed a beef stew at Brooklyn's Sea Tide Gourmet Fish Store (huh?), it's supposedly been flying off the shelves. The story feels planted, but by whom? The store or Condi? [NYDN]
• After Jon Corzine recovers — speedily, we hope — we see a lot of PSAs in his future. Not only was the New Jersey governor not wearing a belt at the time of his crash last Thursday, but the car was doing 91 mph. [NYDN]
• Cynthia Greenberg, an activist who claims to have been kicked in the head by an NYPD officer at an antiwar rally, will get $150,000. The city is making the case go away after Greenberg threatened to produce videotape. [NYT]
• The German Army has fired the instructor who told his soldiers to imagine scary black dudes in the Bronx before squeezing the trigger. Chalk the victory up to the unlikely alliance of YouTube and Bronx beep Adolfo Carrion. [amNY]
• As live-music venue closings reach a critical mass, musicians descended on City Hall yesterday to protest. Turns out guitarist Marc Ribot speaks fluent municipal-ese ("that industry brings hundreds of thousands of tourists," etc.). [Metro NY]
• And a baby minke whale has made its way into the Gowanus Canal. As of this moment, it's still navigating the filthy waters, and rescue plans are being drawn up; on a related note, is "Fin City" really the best the Post could do? [NYP]
• Nor'easter weekend scorecard: 400 flights canceled, 1,500 homes left without power on Long Island, and 3,200 National Guard troops dispatched to the flooded areas. [amNY]
• New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, injured in a car crash Thursday, remains under sedation at Cooper University Hospital. Corzine broke his left femur, collarbone, sternum, many ribs, and a vertebra. His prospects are good, however, after additional surgery yesterday. [NYT]
• Terrible rain and wind didn't stop 200 anti-Ratner activists from making it to a rally protesting planned demolitions at the Atlantic Yards site. The developer is taking out several buildings to create a seven-acre, 1,600-car "temporary" parking lot. [MetroNY]
• It's creepy enough that the New York socialite Toni Grossi-Abrams was murdered in Panama and her charred body found in a suitcase. Now the prime suspect in the case is a thrill-seeking Pennsylvania mother whose ex-husband "wouldn't put nothing past her." [NYDN]
• And in more Americans-abroad mischief, a Beacon School teacher is in trouble after taking his history class to Cuba for a spring-break trip. Cuba is still illegal for Americans to travel to, of course, and students face a $65,000 fine each. The principal claims, unconvincingly, that she hasn't heard about the trip. [NYP]
• New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is in critical condition, and on a breathing tube, after a serious car crash sustained on his way to moderate Don Imus's meeting with Rutgers basketball players. Early reports say an out-of-control driver caused Corzine's car to swerve and hit a guardrail. Richard Codey is acting governor for the moment. [NYT]
• It took a mere day for the other shoe to drop: CBS has fired Don Imus after about 30 years (and countless slurs) on the air. And now the talk-radio world is a safe and happy place again, of course. [NYP]
• Turns out New York City is not just a ravenous consumer of bootleg DVDs but also a major factory of them, so videotaping films off the screen, which used to get you fined a measly $250, is now a misdemeanor with jail time attached. [IHT]
• More scary housing stats: There have been 554 foreclosure auctions in New York City between January and March, up 56.5 percent from last year's fourth quarter, as folks begin defaulting on loans. [Prime Newswire]
• And Governor Schwarzenegger — he of the Hummer fleet — is in New York teaching us about the environment. Okay, fine, California did pass a groundbreaking emission-reduction law and refuses to buy coal-derived electricity. Still: annoying. [NY Metro]