The scourge of Times Square is getting his own reality-TV show. Meanwhile, a Cadwalader partner sues over the mold in his Hamptons house, and the ‘Times’ thinks we care too much about people’s personal lives (can’t imagine why), and more, in our daily roundup of industry news.
• Esquire reports on how Heath Ledger spent his last days... except the story is not exactly true. Or, um, tasteful. [Vulture]
• Let the deluge begin! Media companies line up to bid for Weather Channel, which is up for auction. [DealBook/NYT]
• Wal-Mart appears to be irritated by Meredith Corporation's creative tactic of selling its magazines, which include Better Homes and Garden and Ladies' Home Journal, at the Dollar Tree store. [Folio]
• Fired Portfolio editor Jim Impoco makes his comeback at The New York Times Magazine, where he'll be a consulting editor. [NYO]
• NBC puts its traditional glitzy advertising on the back burner. That's really too bad for the girl who was hoping to be assigned to keep tabs on John Krasinski during the day of the presentations. [NYP]
• Nielsen CEO David Calhoun charts a new course for his media-measuring company. [Fortune]
In last week's earnings call, Rupert Murdoch was asked about the talks he'd had with Yahoo about combining it with MySpace, a News Corp. property. "I think that day has passed," he said, "but you never know." Indeed! Today, Murdoch's Wall Street Journal is reporting that its parent company, along with a private-equity group, is in talks to combine MySpace and other News Corp. properties with Yahoo. This new round of discussions, the Journal tells us, are aimed at "helping Yahoo fend off Microsoft Corp's unsolicited" $44.6 billion offer to buy the company. Under the deal being discussed, News Corp. would get a 20 percent stake in Yahoo, but, more importantly, "they’d be the largest single stockholder and effectively in control of the combined Yahoo/FIM entity and their nearly 150 billion monthly page views (which would be second only to Google)," according to TechCrunch. Which basically means, we think, that Murdoch would own at least a 65 percent stake in, like, our brains.
News Corp. Enters Yahoo Fray [WSJ]
• Now that Yahoo rejected Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid, it's up to Microsoft's self-described "gatekeeper of funding" Christopher P. Liddell to plot the company's next chess move. [DealBook/NYT]
• Fearful that 90 percent of TheStreet.com's franchise revolves around Jim Cramer, today the finance-driven Website launched Mainstreet.com, which will revolve around celebrities and personal finance. You think Britney's psychological drama is intense? Wait until you hear about her bond portfolio. [NYP]
• France's rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel might have had an accomplice. How did police find out? By sifting through 2,000 pages of instant-message traffic. Bet that was a gr8 time. [NYT]
• At least 75 Time Warner layoffs are expected to be announced today. The layoffs are among CEO Jeff Bewkes's first public tasks since taking the helm of the company from Dick Parsons last month. Earlier today, Time Warner announced a 41 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings. [MSNBC & AdAge]
• Maybe some of those Time Warner folks can hang their hats over at Condé Nast. The Observer evaluates Portfolio's recent spending spree, during which it recruited top talent from The New Yorker, the Post, and the Times. [NYO]
• (Product)Red, the love child of Bono, iPod, and the Gap, has raised more than $22 million for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. But considering the big advertising bucks spent during the Super Bowl and elsewhere, some are arguing that it's not enough. [NYT]
With this morning’s announcement that it had made a $44.6 billion offer to buy Yahoo, Microsoft continues a multi-year streak of indicating that it will settle for buying second place instead of battling its way to first. Can’t beat Google at its own game? Here’s an idea: Why not buy the company that’s literally choking on Google’s exhaust? No wonder Bill Gates decided to step back from the day-to-day in 2006. When you’ve ruled the world for a decade-plus, it's little too much to constantly accept the silver medal.
• Courtenay Semel's dad, Terry, is out at Yahoo. And Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for the company might just be déjà vu. [NYT, Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Recession-has-already-started watch: The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the first time since the lovely tech-crash days of 2003 that total payrolls have shrunk. [Reuters via NYT]
• One of the few lucky bankers with a bonus burning a hole in your pocket? Try London restaurant Vivat Bacchus' new "Bonus Tasting Menu" for a mere £1,000. [DealBook/NYT]
Many of you have probably already checked out the New York Times Website today (two-timers!). If you have, perhaps you've noticed the giant banner ad that is running directly below the Times logo and above all of the paper's editorial content. It's a big click-through sponsor message from Apple computer, touting the Leopard operating system over Microsoft's Windows Vista. As far as we can remember, it's the biggest and most obtrusive ad we've ever seen on the site. We're sure the Times charged heavily for the space. But we wonder: Was the charge also worth featuring writing from the Wall Street Journal higher and more prominently than anything from the Times itself?
New York Times [Homepage]
You can argue all you want about whether Giuliani saved the city or destroyed it, whether Bloomberg is trying to protect it for the future or make it a playground for the rich, whether it's really right to be nostalgic for a time when crime rates were astronomical and infrastructure was decaying. But as Gotham Gazette's indispensable Eye Opener points out this morning, today's New York has just been called dull by MSN. That stings.
The 'New' New York [MSN via Gotham Gazette]
You may have heard that yesterday was the dual launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft's snazzy new operating system, and the freshly updated Microsoft Office. And if you haven't heard about it already, you soon will. You're also going to learn that not since 1995 has Microsoft simultaneously launched a new Windows and a new Office. And that "The 'Wow' starts now." And that Vista is Easier, Safer, More Entertaining, and Better Connected. How do we know all of this? Because we attended Vista's launch party yesterday, held at MTV HQ in Times Square and a party for which we received more pre-event press materials and invitations than any event we've ever been to ever. And how was the party? It was:
Easier to get frostbite: Attendees, registration in hand, were made to wait outside (wind chill: twenty degrees) for around 30 minutes. This included press. (How dare they!) All the shrimp in the world inside — and there was all the shrimp in the world inside — could not compensate for that discourtesy.