You have to love crime coverage in New York. When two preppy ladies are caught going into open-house viewings at ritzy apartments and making off with pursefuls of trinkets, it's not a paragraph in the police blotter. It's a page-four story with the headline: "THELMA & LOUISE BUSTED!" Never mind that in the film Thelma & Louise, the two women drive off a cliff to their doom to avoid getting caught by police (as opposed to just driving into traffic away from a real-estate broker on foot), they also killed a man in a bar parking lot. But aside from this old-school take, the Daily News coverage of the string of apartment robberies is quite forward-thinking! They downloaded a picture of Jennifer Jones, one of the accused thieves, from Facebook.com. And she's doing yoga, no less! Now, the News clearly isn't one of Jennifer's 73 friends — otherwise you can imagine all of the Vampire applications they'd be using on her ("Start biting chumps!") — so we can't be sure whether the flexible woman in question is, in fact, a robber. But ever since Virginia Tech, when message boards on Facebook were often the only accurate listings of the missing and wounded, have you noticed that the Website has been adopted as an acceptable, reliable way for news outlets to research young people? Interesting, huh? Also interesting: the fact that Jennifer Jones is 33, and therefore way too old to be on Facebook in the first place.
Two women arrested for posing as apt. buyers, then swiping luxury goods [NYDN]
Normally, editors at the city's august publications roll their eyes when they receive calls from bright-eyed Columbia Journalism School students eager to begin plying their trade. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance seems to have created an alliance between those young whippersnappers and their journalism elders. Since attendance for the much-anticipated speech has been restricted to students, who had to register for places in advance, and few reporters, the New York Times and the Daily News, among other news outlets, have hired a few enterprising student stringers to beef up their coverage. "I know a lot of people called the papers and offered their services," said New York's own intern-on-the-inside. "It's a great opportunity for us." Aw, that's sweet. But we don't want to be around when the Times stops returning their texts and changes their Facebook status to "It's Complicated."
Ooh, boy! Danyelle Freeman, a “new breed of restaurant critic, a maverick whose face accompanies her weekly reviews,” was introduced to the city this morning in the Daily News. And not only is her face front and center, but she comes complete with glamour shots! Freeman gave Gemma 1.5 stars in her debut review, but the real gem is the News’ accompanying article explaining Restaurant Girl’s need to show the face behind the reviews. “I’ve felt like the ‘Dear Abby’ of food for years,” Freeman said, noting that she has been blogging since January 2006. Grub Street, for one, welcomes our new recognizable critics. With pics like those, how couldn’t we?
New Food Critic Faces Her Public [NYDN]
Gemma’s Cuisine Takes a Backseat to Hip Downtown Scene [NYDN]
Yesterday’s Eater news of the installation Danyelle “Restaurant Girl” Freeman as the Daily News’ new restaurant critic unleashed a torrent of snarky hostility on the site’s message boards. Sadly, the comments were infinitely more entertaining than anything the victuals vixen is likely to write in the paper. A few choice selections are after the jump.
Normally it takes a cop’s funeral, or a fireman’s funeral, or a big win by a local team, or maybe even Lindsay Lohan going to rehab, for a story to make its way to the cover of the Daily News. But today, mysteriously, the paper devotes its front page to a profile of Diana Taylor, Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, former State Bank superintendent, and recently appointed Hudson River Trust chief. So what new and exciting news does reporter Heidi Evans, who earlier this year won a Pulitzer for the paper with her 9/11 reporting, elicit from the city's quasi–First Lady to merit this page-one placement? Um, actually, nothing. Evans had a breakfast of “oatmeal and blueberries” with Taylor, and a side order of girl talk. The only thing we learned from the article — not that we didn't know it already — is that Diana Taylor is much too successful in her own right just be called the mayor’s “Gal Pal.” This is apparently big news to the paper — it's called her that at least sixteen times since 2002.
She's Not Just His 'Gal Pal' [NYDN]
The latest news from Albany finds the principals in the Spitzer-Bruno-Cuomo battle defining and refining their positions. Last night, the governor finally abandoned what New York's Steve Fishman called his "silly business-as-usual tactic" and deigned to hand-feed his side of the story to the Daily News. New York's Hometown Paper reports today that Joe Bruno's constant requests to use state aircraft were well known in Albany even before Day One; they became "almost a punch line" after Spitzer inauguration, when, the governor says, people would "just roll their eyes." Still, Spitzer didn't know his own top aides were scheming to expose Bruno, he told the News — and even if he did, the State Senate doesn't have subpoena power over the executive branch anyway. You may notice that these three statements clash with each other slightly, but, hey, he's new at this weaseling-out-of-tight-spots thing. He'll get better.
• Thirty or so Bancrofts are converging on a Boston Hilton today to discuss whether they'd like some more money. (Actually, spread across the clan, the estimated $500 million in profit a Dow Jones sale would bring doesn't sound like a staggering amount.) [NYT]
• Councilman and former Black Panther Charles Barron (he of the "Sonny Carson" avenue-renaming idea Bloomberg called "the worst ever") announced he's running to replace Marty Markowitz as the Brooklyn beep. Should be a lively campaign, as they say. [NYP]
• In rapper-arrest news, Lil Wayne and Ja Rule have been picked up on separate (!) gun-possession charges in busts an hour apart. [WNBC]
• Midtown businesses that lost money to last week's steam-pipe blast will not see a red cent from Con Ed — not even restaurants that lost their supplies to spoilage when the power was cut. Some are threatening to sue. [NYDN]
• And the Yankees beat the Devil Rays 21-4 last night, which both tabs agree puts the team in the "21 Club." Yuk yuk yuk. [NYDN, NYP]
The Daily News' Daily Politics blog reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office is calling up members of his Democratic majority as we speak, and asking them to return to Albany tomorrow. Exciting! Also, puzzling. The News deems this "a significant development," but we know it can't be to suddenly pass the now-scuttled congestion-pricing idea — unless Mayor Bloomberg just found some pictures of Silver riding in Alan Hevesi's limo or on Joe Bruno's horse. So what does Shelly need the Assembly for? Some theories:
1. The Lower East Side is dangerously low on pickles and herring; the LES Preserved Foods Preservation Act is in order.
2. He loves to mess with people's vacations, just as a test of loyalty.
3. He read the last page of the leaked Harry Potter and has no one to discuss it with.
4. He just brainstormed a law, retroactive to 2001, that would make it illegal for media-company owners to run for mayor.
5. He needs help getting the gigantic bug out of his ass.
Breakthrough? [Daily Politics/NYDN]
Prince's highly publicized performance at the Ross School in East Hampton didn't exactly get the crowd going. And he wouldn't attend the after-party until everyone else left. Padma Lakshmi has been spending a lot of time with billionaire Teddy Fortsmann. Hillary Clinton has a subscription to the Post but not the Daily News. Jon Lovitz put a beating on Andy Dick at an L.A. comedy club during an argument over murdered SNL star Phil Hartman. Paris Hilton drugged her newest boyfriend with pills. Naomi Campbell gets to throw a temper tantrum in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial directed by Zach Braff. Some staffers don't like the cubicles and the food-paying system in the new New York Times building.
The Daily News traveled beyond the Hudson to ask America about Mike Bloomberg, and they come back with some news: The country doesn't hate him. The mayor's aw-shucks joke is to pronounce his unelectability as "a short Jewish billionaire from New York." But the News poll, the paper says today, shows that a quick recitation of his achievements bumps his numbers from 10 percent who'd vote for him to 13 percent. (Oddly, the initiative that seems to most resonate with the heartland is the school cell-phone ban.)