‘Post’ Exposes a Truly Trouble-ing MessToday’s Post is the only paper reporting what’s really going on in the perilous personal life of one of New York’s living landmarks. The tabloid details the trauma and despair filling the life of Trouble, Leona Helmsley’s dog (who inherited $12 million after her owner died earlier this year). In an investigative coup, the Post learned (from watching CBS News) that the dog has received kidnapping and death threats. In a bold cover story we learn how the brave actions of just a few people swept her out of harm’s way in a set of brilliant — but dangerous! — last-minute maneuvers. This past month, Trouble’s alert security detail smuggled the four-and-a-half-pound dog out of Connecticut, where she had been living, and delivered her to Sarasota, Florida, where she is “wintering.” “We had to change her name, even to take her on the aircraft,” said John Codey, the Helmsley executive in charge of Trouble’s trust fund. “We called her Bauble instead of Trouble.” Codey is the financier who helps the dog, who had been living in a 28-room mansion, spend roughly $300,000 a year from her inheritance. Now, everybody, get out your typewriters and peck out an angry letter to every other newspaper in the city. This is the type of coverage that sets the Post apart.
Catherine Z-J Gets the ‘No Way’ From Rob MarshallCatherine Zeta-Jones won’t star in the movie adaptation of Broadway musical Nine because the director wouldn’t beef up her role. Eight staffers have left CBS’ The Early Show because they can’t stand working with hotheaded senior exec producer Shelley Ross. Paris Hilton thinks the guys in New York are “so much better” than the ones in L.A. Since divorcing his wife, George Soros has been hanging out with young girls in their twenties at his home in Southampton. Sportscaster Ahmad Rashad and ex-socialite (and ex-wife of Jets owner Woody Johnson) Sale Johnson may be getting married today. Anna Wintour controlled the seating arrangements at the $50,000-a-table 7th on Sale event at the Lexington Armory. (Speaking of Anna, Tim Burton says that Johnny Depp based the haircut of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on hers.)
Hitting the RoadAs a halfhearted cabbie strike made it easier to flag down a school bus than a yellow taxi during rush hour last week, the Big Apple did its best to keep moving forward. Hillary out-earned rivals Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani in the city during the second quarter — and bested Rudy in a poll asking which candidate people would most like to have riding shotgun on a long road trip — but hit a speed bump trying to maintain her distance from former six-figure fund-raiser and felon Norman Hsu, who skipped out on bail.
Helmsley Leaves 1.5 Percent of Fortune to PoochLeona Helmsley joined the ranks of an elite group of crackpot dead ladies this morning when it was announced that her estate would give $12 million dollars to her dog, Trouble. In further awesomeness, two of her grandchildren will receive nothing, “for reasons which are known to them.” A handful of millions will also go to other relatives and advisers, and $100,000 will go to the limo driver. Of course, the news that should have made headlines here is that the rest of her estimated $4 to $8 billion fortune will go to charity. But come on, how could the Post possibly be expected to pass up the cover line, “Heir of the Dog!”?
Leona Wills $12M to a Pooch [NYP]
Fall in to the Gap
• The New York region has the nation’s widest gap between rich and poor, new Census figures show, with the richest fifth of Manhattanites earning $351,333 a year to the poorest fifth’s $8,855. We expect the revolution imminently. [NYT]
Try Not to Look Directly at Your ScreenTo mark the passing of Leona Helmsley, New York’s “Queen of Mean,” society photographer Patrick McMullan rounded up some of his favorite pictures from her life. We couldn’t help but stop at this one, which shows Helmsley posing with Imelda “Steel Butterfly” Marcos, the wife of former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Also pictured is Rick “Loins of Doom” Hilton, father of Paris. To have three people who have unleashed such hardship on the world gathered in one photograph is a rare sight indeed.
LEONAHELMSLEY 1920–2007, In Memoriam [Patrick McMullan]
In Death, Leona Helmsley Continues to Confound
The Times’ normally staid City Room blog has racked up a lot of nasty comments on yesterday’s lengthy Leona Helmsley postmortem. “Ironic how one can die of heart failure when one has no heart,” wrote “Erica,” in one of over 120 reader responses. “Many former employees will be dancing on her grave,” added “Veggie.” ” She looks like the Grinch who stole Christmas hmmmm, how appropriate,” chimed in “Becca.” And “Joe” even mused, “Perhaps she is now being told that ‘only the little people make it to heaven.’” Yipes, stripes! That’s pretty harsh for the normally painstakingly respectful Times, which claims to moderate all Web comments. We almost felt bad for the old gal! Then we read Andrea Peyser’s love letter to the “Queen of Mean” in the Post. “Leona Helmsley was one of a kind,” Peyser writes, cracking her stony façade for a moment. “Soar in peace, darling.” Wait, the Times reveals a nasty side, and Andrea Peyser is showing love? We just don’t know what’s real anymore
Remembering Leona Helmsley [City Room/NYT]
I’m Mourning Woman World Loved to Hate [NYP]
Oh, Poor Fashion WeekFewer Hollywood stars than usual are expected at Fashion Week when it starts September 5, because the Emmys and the MTV Video Music Awards are the same week. Dan Rather was confused by the “Thriller” dance stunt performed by Katie Couric’s staff last week, though he thinks her job is safe. Arianna Huffington may be dating Newark mayor Cory Booker. Cuba Gooding Jr., who is married with three kids, recently made out with five girls in one night at Tenjune. Jeremy Piven got into a heated argument with his mother at Nobu Malibu, though it’s unclear about what. Gwyneth Paltrow has been trekking around Spain with Mario Batali for a PBS cooking show (and hubby Chris Martin almost didn’t get into the premiere of her brother’s new movie). Cameron Diaz had a romantic dinner with John Mayer at Mai House in Tribeca. Residents of Martha’s Vineyard are happy that Larry David and Laurie are broken up and that Larry is dating again.
Leona Helmsley Dies at 87
The Queen is dead. Leona Helmsley, the real-estate magnate and hotelier dubbed the Queen of Mean, died of heart failure today at her home in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was 87. She was famously convicted on tax-evasion charges in 1989, after a trial in which a former maid testified that Helmsley had told her that “only the little people pay taxes.” In October 1988, before that trial started, Jeanie Kasindorf profiled Leona and Harry Helmsley — spouses, business partners, co-indictees — for New York, finding a couple whose lives centered around making every dollar they could.
Leona and Harry: Money and Love [NYM, PDF]
Leona Helmsley Is Dead at 87 [City Room/NYT]
Ciprianis Learn That Rich People Have to Pay Taxes, Too, Even in the Bush EraWe were trying to put our finger on what, exactly, irks us so much about the Cipriani family’s pleading guilty to evading $10 million of state and city taxes, and then it came to us. The Ciprianis’ chosen milieu is ostentatious, eighties-style luxury: They run the Rainbow Room (home to, in ex–line cook Anthony Bourdain’s memorable phrase, “captains of industry … eating garbage at the top of the world”), Harry’s Bar in Venice, and, of course, the half-dozen eponymous gilded troughs here in Manhattan. It’s thus pretty safe to say that just about all of their fortune is made off those just as fortunate. So not only do we have George Bush cutting taxes for the wealthiest one percent, we also have the people who feed this one percent hoarding the money that’s now escaped taxation twice. It’s the ultimate raspberry to the trickle-down theory: In the words of another master, Leona Helmsley, “only little people pay taxes.” Big people post bail.
Ciprianis Plead Guilty in $10 Million N.Y. Tax Case [Bloomberg]
First Things First
• Not everything changed on Day One, but — with five executive orders signed before 9 a.m. yesterday — newly minted Governor Eliot Spitzer came as close to making good on the slogan as any politician in recent memory. The big ones concern state workers: restrictions on lobbying and, famously, a near-total ban on gifts. Oh, sure — after Christmas. [NYT]
• The city took all of twelve hours to put the year’s first murder on the books: Brooklyn’s Jonathon Ridley, 26, received a fatal bullet in the back. He was merely the unluckiest of the ten people shot citywide during New Year’s celebrations. [NYDN]
• A belated note to the writer of the Post headline “Leona Lackeys Caught ‘Inn’ Drug Sting”: You can’t really pun on prepositions. Also, duh. [NYP]
• Coney Island’s indefatigable Polar Bear Club made news for the wrong reason after a swimmer knocked his head and almost drowned during the annual fund-raising mass dip. The water, for the record, was 48 degrees, falling well short of polar and more into a cold-shower category. [NYDN]
• And fainting maidens are to blame for subway delays, says the MTA; in fact, overzealous dieters who skip breakfast and proceed to get sick on the train have emerged as — are you ready for this? — the No. 3 cause of late trains. So, by extension, it’s patriarchy’s fault. [amNY]