Earlier this week, yet another crew of authorities on the gossip age congregated for yet another panel discussion on what it all means for humanity. This time, The Atlantic gathered the experts at the NYU Graduate School of Journalism, where they had the usual things to say — the pap-celeb relationship is one of fond symbiosis, publicists are so 1999, etc.
According to Ben Widdicombe, the New York gossip world has lost one of its enduring fixtures. Baird Jones, the "Webster Hall curator" who supplied items to "Page Six," "Rush & Molloy," Gatecrasher, and Cindy Adams, was found dead in his apartment yesterday, a friend says. The death isn't yet confirmed by authorities (we are waiting to hear back from the NYPD, who told us they are looking into it), but Widdicombe's source is a close friend of the reporter. If it's true, we are saddened by the news. We knew Baird from the party circuit and he was an odd duck, but always very friendly and helpful. He had an uncanny knack for getting celebrities to tell funny stories, and an incredible memory for odd details. He also used to sneak us beers if the party we were at only served froufrou cocktails. We'll let you know if the NYPD will confirm the report. We, and surely Cindy, Ben, Richard, Paula, George and Joanna, are hoping that they won't.
'Baird Jones Has Passed Away' [Ben Widdicombe's Oscar blog, via Gawker]
Update: The NYPD confirms that Jones was found dead in his East Village apartment last night around 10:30. They were unable to determine the cause of death, but they detect "no criminality at this time." His family has been notified, and the investigation is ongoing.
Perhaps you, like us, read the Post's lengthy interview with fake fireman/sexual assailant Peter Braunstein this past weekend, in which he expresses regret about not killing his ex-girlfriend Jane Larkworthy and details a murder fantasy about New York reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis? And perhaps you, like us, asked yourself this: Isn't it kind of weird and creepy that the Post sent a reporter to spend three days at the Clinton Correctional Facility indulging the murderous woman-hating fantasies of an avowed psycho? And isn't it kind of strange and sick-making that they named the people he fantasizes about killing and furthermore put them in big puffy pull quotes? Wouldn't it be awful, if you were one of those people, to read someone's death fantasy about you in the paper?
And finally, of particular interest to us: Isn't this the paper that recently allowed a reporter to air his own weird rape fantasy about Grigoriadis? We decided to ignore that at the time, since it was such an obvious and egregious error in judgment. (One which others were happy to pointout rather forcefully.) Since there's no news hook to the most recent story (Braunstein is two years into his prison sentence which is scheduled to last another sixteen), we can only assume they're just exploiting the gruesome details for shock value. Which, well, duh, it's the Post; there's a reason people spend 25 cents on it. But at this point, we have to wonder if the Post's editors have spent so long playing up to their rough-hewn, hard-drinking image that they've lost all sense of perspective.
"Page Six" proliferated to three pages of the Post again today, which reminded us of all the rumors we've been hearing lately about the brand's plan to turn itself into an unstoppable, unavoidable, hegemonic global powerhouse. See, chief "Six"-er Richard Johnson has been interviewing celebrity reporters, editors, and bloggers over the last few weeks as part of an effort to birth a multimedia gossip juggernaut. "Essentially 'Page Six' is looking to hire reporters and editors to expand the brand on a variety of platforms, Web, television, magazine, etc.," said one candidate who was interviewed. "They think they need to extend their gossip reach out of NYC and into L.A., Miami, Vegas — maybe even Nashville." In other words, the Posties want "Page Six" the Brand to become a little bit TMZ.com, some Entertainment Tonight, and hopefully a pinch of that old lady at the Grand Ol' Opry with the price tag on her hat. We hear these plans are set to kick in starting at the end of this year. Which means the paper was actually right — the three bimbos of the apocalypsewere a sign!
Don't quite see why Joe Francis being angry at Hugh Hefner is somehow the lead item in "Page Six" today? Don't understand what the news is, with Francis having been in jail since April on these charges of taping underage girls for a Girls Gone Wild video? Perhaps you've forgotten this, then: That $50,000 Mexican bachelor party for "Page Six" editor Richard Johnson? Joe Francis threw it.
Jailed Joe Not Wild Over Hef [NYP]
Paris Hilton will spend her 23 days in jail in a "special needs housing unit." Steve Martin is not pleased at being portrayed as a killer in the satire Who's Killing the Great Writers of America. Ian Spiegelman says the Post's Richard Johnson accepted cash from a frequent "Page Six" subject. Filmmaker Michael Moore anonymously paid a critic's medical bills.
Famed midtown French restaurant Brasserie LCB was shuttered by the Health Department after the chef got into a spat with inspectors. Lindsay Lohan performed a stripper routine at the Box, and the crowd went wild. She also rebuffed a karaoke come-on from former flame Wilmer Valderrama. Richard Johnson and wife Sessa von Richthofen gave birth to a baby girl. Tom Brady and Gisele dined at the Spotted Pig on Saint Patrick's Day. Hillary supporters with $2,300 to burn can go biking with Bill Clinton on the Upper West Side as part of a fund-raising effort.
• Lehman lost its top-producing banker on Friday to a sudden resignation. Was Woody Young passed over for head of the finance group? [NYT]
• Monday morning got you feeling uninspired? Ninja Stockbroker will return you to market-high glory. [Nova Cartoons via DealBreaker]
• Fresh off its blowout purchase of Equity Office, the Blackstone Group scoops up Pinnacle Foods (Duncan Hines, Vlasic) for $2.16 Billion. [AP via CBS News]
Some people are boycotting the Lohan-Leto movie about John Lennon murderer Mark David Chapman because they think it gives him too much publicity. Mayor Bloomberg made an ill-timed Leonardo DiCaprio–Bar Refaeli joke. Mary-Louise Parker and Weeds co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan have split, though in this case she was not pregnant with his child. The Daily News sticks to its claim that Sienna Miller and Hayden Christensen are actually doing it in Factory Girl. George Soros spoke at Davos last week about America's need for a "de-Nazification" process. The U.S. Postal Service refused to ship cards from Chez Josephine owner Jean-Claude Baker because they had pictures of boobies — Josephine Baker's boobies — on them. — on them.
As the editor of "Page Six," Richard Johnson knows that shock lurks everywhere, even in hors d'oeuvre: "Some of them are designed as if they're booby-trapped to explode." Suspecting that the city's most popular gossip columnist can't survive on raw-bar caviar alone, we asked him what else he wrestled into his mouth between Saturday, October 7, and Thursday, October 12.