Economic woes be damned: Judging from the fairly active scene at the Observer’s condo expo at the Puck Building yesterday — apparently, more than 2,000 attendees passed through the doors — New Yorkers are still gripped with condo fever.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon texted on their BlackBerrys during the matinee show of August: Osage County before sneaking out at intermission. Criminal! Judith Regan is now suing the lawyers who are suing her for alleged unpaid fees. Anna Wintour sat courtside at the Knicks-Cavs game last night courtesy of LeBron James (she's putting him on the cover of Vogue's shape issue with Gisele in April). Jeremy Piven texted two separate models he met in New York to come meet him at the Mercer Hotel, though he didn't know at the time that they knew each other. The Champagne Marilyn Monroe drank during her famous 1962 shoot was spiked with either drugs or vodka.
Rihanna said she used to feel self-conscious about the rumors that she hooked up with Jay-Z, but now just ignores them. Observer prepmaster general David Foxley will now be the person to call to get reservations at the Waverly Inn. Billion-heiress Anna Anisimova slept at her mother's place on Tuesday, which is a good thing because a 400-pound Venetian chandelier collapsed and fell fifteen feet onto the bed at her own place. Rapper 50 Cent has to pay an undisclosed sum to a Post photographer for knocking him down after he tried to take a photo of him. MSNBC accidentally flashed a graphic of Osama bin Laden as host Chris Matthews was discussing Barack Obama. Robert John Burck, a.k.a. the Naked Cowboy, says he has high-profile investments. DJ AM has invited ex-girlfriend Mandy Moore to hear him spin at Room Service on Friday.
Like our friend Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl, many true-blue-blooded Upper East Siders feel like while it's okay to come downtown on a Saturday night and barf in the streets, it is no place to live. Just in case you thought that was an unfair stereotype, the Observer rounded up a few Upper East Side girls and got them to fulfill it. “At a certain point, being downtown just loses its appeal," Abigail Cusick, who moved straight back to the UES after graduating from Skidmore, tells the pink paper. Cusick says lots of her friends have moved back uptown after getting Soho, the Lower East Side, or Chelsea "out of their system." Downtown is just too icky. "You wake up and it's like waking up in the apartment you partied in the night before." Uptown, her existence is idyllic, mostly because she can raid her parents' liquor cabinet and play with their dog, then have someone else clean up its shit. "The housekeeper comes over to clean for me, I can stop by and pick up a bottle of wine; I get to play with the dog, then return it," she says. "It’s nice.” We bet! You know what's not nice though? 86th Street. Cusick can't believe they're building condos up there. “I think it’s laughable," she says. "I mean, it's still 86th Street. It’s where classes collide.” Ew! Everyone knows you never want to rub up against classes.The Local: More Kids Dating SoHo, Marrying Upper East Side [NYO]
Related: 'Gossip Girl': Too Beautiful for This World
We can't believe that we made it this far into the day without discovering this breathtaking new development: The Observer ran an article about socialites! And how some of them are not like the others. It's completely out of character for the paper. The Observer's prep-master general, David Foxley, today dissects the phenomenon of the "fauxcialite," the society girls who can't be bothered to get all dressed up every time a tot needs a new toy. Surprisingly (and we mean that honestly, not in the obnoxious, overly sarcastic way we wrote the lead-in to this item), it's not filled with the classic Observer tone, where a reporter pretends to take a subject seriously, and then lets himself hoist himself with his own petard. ("The doorman eyed Mr. Cheban's Louis Vuitton shoes appreciatively. 'Some day I'll get there,' the man sighed longingly. 'I'm not quite there yet, but some day.' 'Don't worry — it took me awhile to get them, too!' Mr. Cheban said. 'Actually, it totally didn't,' he confessed minutes later. 'I just didn't want to make him feel bad.'") But the story does include lots and lots of moments of genius from our favorite socialite ever, Tinsley Mortimer Ally Hilfiger! Gosh bless her.
• “I think it’s pretty narcissistic of these socialite girls to worry so much about how they’re going to look when their intentions should just be about giving back,” Ms. Hilfiger said of her more high-maintenance sistren, sliding her naked heels forward on an ebony neoclassical coffee table. “I can’t imagine having a blow dryer or a curling iron in my hair more than, like, twice a month!”
• Both Times public editor Clark Hoyt and former Times conservative standby William Safire have panned Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger's decision to foist William Kristol on the editorial page. Among the other conservatives considered and passed over: Charles Krauthammer, Ross Douthat, Max Boot, and a bunch of other Weekly Standard stalwarts. But at least Judith Miller approves: "[I]t's an appointment that's a long time coming. The page needed balance.… [But] an unabashed neocon without remorse is unacceptable to Times people.… He's not kosher in that sense." [New Republic]
• New York Observer president Robert Sommer nailed his MSNBC interview: "We like to view our readers as some of the smartest, most insensitive — most… Some of the most brightest readers in the country and especially New York." [NYO]
• David Blum goes through his fifth sex columnist in little more than a year, firing his latest hire at the New York Press after she stole questions from Dan Savage. Some might call that slutty! [NYO]
Chances are, many of you know who Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson, is. Probably fewer of you know that he is afraid of flying. But among campaign reporters and workers, it's no secret. He hasn't flown on a plane since 1999, when he flew on Air Force One during Hillary's New York senate campaign. But he's never really talked about it until now, when he admitted all his neuroses to Observer reporter Jason Horowitz.
“It’s all mishegoss — fear is not rational,” said Mr. Wolfson when asked to explain the root of his now decade-long aversion to air travel. “I could point to a couple of things but at the end of the day it just ascribes a level of rationality to it that doesn’t exist.”
You'll recall that this primary schedule is one that requires moving from, say, Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina to Nevada with great speed. While the rest of the campaign is in the air, Wolfson is driving alone, often up to seventeen hours at a time, in his BMW. One could argue that this is a severe detriment to his usefulness on the trail. One could also argue that since everybody has a phone and a BlackBerry these days, it doesn't really matter. Regardless, we really like that Horowitz is letting us into the secret world of the Hillary press camp. First Hillary's hipster, and now this. He's all up in their bidness! No wonder he's around when they get important phone calls.
The Spokesman Who Couldn't Fly [NYO]
Related: Hillary's Press Guru Is More Hipster Than Thou
Now, we don't know Elizabeth Benjamin from the Daily News' Daily Politics blog, and we have never met Azi Paybarah from the Observer's Politicker. But sometimes we want to give them a standing ovation. On days when Mayor Bloomberg's maddening presidential flirtations make us want to pull our hair out, rip at our fingernails, and start talking really loudly on the subway to nobody in particular, they maintain a cool composure. Every hint, tease, and come-on that the mayor makes toward entering the 2008 presidential race they report with grace and ease. Like, today, for example, when Bloomberg sat down with Texas ballot-access expert Clay Mulford, the guy who put Ross Perot's name in voting booths in 1992 and 1996. This is yet another strong signal that the mayor is setting up plans to make an independent run, but he once again made an exasperated denial of any such plans to reporters today. "Read into that what you will," Benjamin reported coolly. "Another sign that he's running for President or another well-placed tip that keeps the buzz alive." Paybarah doesn't even offer up an analysis, other than explaining the ballot logistics. We don't know how you do it, people. We literally don't have eyebrows anymore.
Bloomberg Meets With Ballot Expert [AP]
The Observer blog today prophesies that Hillary will pick former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as a running mate if she wins the Iowa Caucus (speaking of the Observer blog, have you noticed that the whole paper has suddenly become a blog? Was this somehow inevitable?). But we can't help but disagree. Back in October, we predicted Hillary will choose Evan Bayh instead. Now, we're pretty sure not even Hillary has made up her mind. She's a smart lady and didn't get where she is today by not knowing the advantage of leading a few dudes on at the same time. But if anything, the fickle nature of Hillary's Iowa poll numbers shows that having Vilsack (a campaign co-chair) on her team doesn't guarantee a sure win in the swing state. In which case, he'll seem like a much less potent force in the general election. Sure, we haven't heard as much from Bayh lately, and he's not as much of an attack dog for his mistress, but we say don't count him out. A lot of stuff is going to fall into place in January and February, and the VP pick is going to be upon us before we know it. We're just saying, don't forget about the hot dude.
Vilsack for V.P.? Depends On How The Caucuses Go [Politicker/NYO]
Earlier:In Which We Predict Hill Will Take a Bayh in '08
Tom Acitelli has an oddly hysterical screed about the Greatest Show of Our Time in today's Observer. In a blog post called "Is Gossip Girl Dangerous? Yes," Acitelli complains that the show "is spreading throughout the United States a disjunctive, distorted, ultimately dangerous, view of what buys what in New York City right now." His specific gripe is that the show makes it seem that "poor" families like the Humphreys can still have sumptuous, airy loft spaces in Williamsburg (duh, Tom, keep up — they live in Dumbo!).
We must dash these notions quickly, lest a fresh wave of flyover country folk flock to neighborhoods like Williamsburg (just like they did in the 1990's) to waste some of the choicest years of their life coming to grips with the reality that $1,000 in this city is like $100 elsewhere.
First of all, how patronizing. If you were really worried about these people, friend, you probably wouldn't call them "flyover country folk." It sounds more like you just don't want Middle Americans moving into your hood. And second, your complaint is that the show credits its characters with better real estate than they'd actually have in real life. Just like, you know, Friends, Sex and the City, and, oh, EVERY OTHER SHOW THAT HAS EVER BEEN ON TELEVISION. Violating the space-wealth continuum has been a time-honored tradition since Eva Gabor moved to Hooterville on Green Acres (and missed living in Times Square).
When we saw today's Observer headline about Clinton traveling press secretary Jay Carson, we couldn't help but smile. "Hillary's Hard-Hitting Hipster" was the title of the story, which featured a picture of Carson wearing jeans and a blazer. We well know how the press is quick to stereotype people as hipsters. But once we read the story (burdened by the overwhelming feeling of reverse Schadenfreude we had at young Carson's meteoric success), we realized, it's pretty hard to argue with his hipster cred. Quoth the Observer:
• Mr. Carson wore slim jeans, a fitted striped sweater, a trim beard and black high-top Converse All Stars that, according to his close friend Beau Willimon, he spent 30 minutes scuffing in the first after purchasing to achieve a more authentically "punkified" look.
• Jeff Bercovici wants to know: "What's Regan's price for selling out her country?" After all, if Regan's info on Giuliani is that damaging, shouldn't she divulge it in any case, no matter how much Uncle Murdoch is willing to offer? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Dan Rather's lawyers are getting fed up with CBS nondisclosure agreements. "Who do these guys think they are? The National Security Agency?" [NYO]
• Intrepid Observer reporter spends 45 minutes staring through a window just to see who showed up to a lame Times party. Now that's journalism! [Media Mob/NYO]
Just kidding! He doesn't really. See, when we caught up with the stylist and 'mocialite at the Gay Men's Health Crisis Fashion Forward party, we immediately asked him if the news outlets that enjoy teasing him ever mix up his quotes. "The New York Observer, always, always," he said, rolling his eyes. "I literally could be like 'I love Jesus.' And they'd be like 'I love, dot dot dot, to have sex with, dot dot dot, Jesus' and I'm like, Where did that come from?" We don't know why anyone would ever want to doctor his quotes, because that was his answer to our first question, and as far as we're concerned, he hit it out of the park. —Amy Preiser
Like the fat kid whose house is stocked with candy and Wii games or the unpopular girl with the hot older brothers or, you know, Ally Hilfiger, David Carr sometimes feels like people don't love him for who he is but what he can give them. "Sometimes when I go places I feel like a really big deal — but I wonder how big of a deal I’d be if my last name wasn’t New York Times," he says in today's New York Observer's feature about journalists branding themselves. "I’m not addicted to that, but I’m ever mindful. When people are kissing me on both cheeks, one of those cheeks says New York Times." Ummmmm. Seriously, dude? You got the New York Times tattooed on your ass? We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but we don't think that's what Bill Keller meant when he told you to go out there and brand yourself.
Fame and Obscurity at the New York Times [NYO]
Okay, so the Observer has been running excerpts from Donald Trump’s new book, Think Big & Kick Ass in Business and Life, on their Website every day for, you know, a week or something, and as everyone and most recently Howard Stern knows, the Observer owner Jared Kushner bones The Donald’s daughter Ivanka, and as we mentioned earlier the paper has been a little bit sycophantic to the Family Trump of late. So! Just so we’re clear, is the Observer succumbing to boy prince owner’s demands to promote his future father-in-law’s pap? Or are the daily koans of Trumpian wisdom just a big ironic joke?
Is the Observer turning into a big, pink Valentine to owner Jared Kusher's girlfriend? For the second week in a row, Ivanka's creamy bosom heaved at the lower right-hand corner of our screen this morning. It was a photo from her jewelry launch at the Carlton back on September, part of a slideshow of images that follows readers around the site. And the Trumps are literally in the paper every week — just last week, there was a gentle interview with the whole fam: "Does it bother you being on billboards, Ivanka?"
Today’s Observer has a story on disgraced memoirist James Frey who, remarkably enough, just sold a new novel to HarperCollins. Last week, Eric Simonoff, Frey’s swashbuckling agent, handed the big scoop to the Wall Street Journal — which more or less equates to a big honking F-U to the New York Times. “The New York Times has never been a friend to James Frey,” Simonoff sniffed to the Observer. Um, that’s putting it rather mildly: In his year-end column, Frank Rich grouped Frey with 2006 “villains” Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, saying, “It was a thrill beyond schadenfreude to watch them be soundly thrashed and humiliated for their sins.”