There's something fishy about the role of incoming Wall Street Journal publisher Robert Thompson. It's not just that he's the former editor of Rupert Murdoch's Times of London (and therefore not someone with experience from the business side of a paper). It's that he gives Murdoch an interesting loophole to get around the editorial-independence clauses that were set up at the request of the Bancroft family when he took over the Journal. Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici reports:
Tom Bray, chairman of the five-person committee charged with overseeing compliance of the agreement, notes that it explicitly delineates the authority of the managing editor and editorial page editor but does not do so for the publisher. A change in the publisher's duties, therefore, lies outside the agreement's purview.
Today People brings us all the details of the glamorous nuptials of Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman and producer Harvey Weinstein. They do a pretty decent job, as wedding announcements go. Guests at Harvey's Westport estate included Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Cameron Diaz, Renée Zellweger, Naomi Watts, Anna Wintour, Rupert Murdoch, Ron Perelman, Quentin Tarantino, Graydon Carter, Karolina Kurkova, and Helena Christensen. Yeah, it was one of those. "The wedding was the most elegant, loving affair I've ever seen," one guest (no doubt a socialite friend of contributing reporter Jeff Slonim) told People. "The room was full of incredible people who were there to toast the couple, who looked totally in love." The party tents were decorated with fir trees, crystal chandeliers, mirrors, and pink flowers. A ten-minute fireworks show erupted after the couple exchanged their vows, lighting up Long Island Sound.
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• Know a troubled lawyer? If you work in the law, you probably do — some estimates put the ratio of depressed attorneys at 20 percent — and a few new Websites are trying help them out. [Law Blog/WSJ, WSJ]
• How not to get out of your marijuana arrest: When the judge lets you off easy, pull out a driver's license covered in pot. [New York Law Journal]
• So just how lame was Cadwalader's Wild Wild West holiday party last night? Wildly. [Above the Law]
• Howard Stern, good for the gays? A longtime lesbian listener calls Stern "one of the most pro-gay media personalities in the country." [Gay.com]
• Murdoch finally gets his giant puffy hands on the Journal today at 10 a.m. The only question is just how much of the Bancroft family will try to show their noble intentions, however laughably inept, by registering a protest vote against the deal. [WSJ]
• A great new/old debate: Should Democrats go on Fox News? [Mixed Media/Portfolio, NYO]
So, last week, Wall Street Journal media reporter Sarah Ellison scored a deal to write a book for Houghton Mifflin about the News Corp. acquisition of The Wall Street Journal. Michael Wolff, who has been working on such a book, scheduled to come out next fall, is not amused. "The problem with someone from The Wall Street Journal writing a book is that they are inevitably conflicted," he told the Post today. When we e-mailed him this morning, he was a little more snarly. "Doesn't Sara Ellison work for the guy and for the company she's proposing to write a book about?" said Wolff, whose own book, a big-picture title about Rupert Murdoch and his career, is based on extensive interviews with Murdoch. Unlike Ellison, he said, who is taking a year off to write the book, but not actually leaving the Journal, his reporting won't be compromised by worrying about his next paycheck. "How exactly [will she] do that?" he said. Ellison did not respond to requests for comment, though presumably she'd say something like, "The same way I've been covering the Dow Jones takeover for the Journal since July." There is one other thing that is potentially awkward: Ellison's editor at Houghton Mifflin told the Observer some months ago that the book would have "new reporting," which seems odd, in the same way that it was kind of odd when Washington Post editor Bob Woodward kept the fact that he had known all about Valerie Plame quiet until State of Denial came out. Anyway, let's face it: These are not the most important questions. The most important question is this: Which one of these books is going to give us a reconstructed Rupert–Wendi sex scene? Yeah. Fight over that one.
Dueling Journal-ists [NYP]
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• Rupert Murdoch won't officially take over the Journal until tomorrow, but he's already dipped his tentacles deep into the paper. Rumor has it the Journal will dismiss two or three dozen people, to be replaced with Rupe's cronies, and then go on a hiring spree. Oh, and apparently Murdoch briefly considered dropping "Wall Street" from the title. Tells you something about where the paper's headed. [NYT]
• Sadly, Jane Pratt won't actually be starring in a reality-TV show titled American Ugly, as we reported yesterday. C'mon Jane, don't you love us? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• New York Post "Metro" editor Dan Colarusso, whom Col Allan praised as "a quintessential New Yorker," walked out of the newsroom and quit yesterday. No word on why, but seems pretty quintessential to us. [Runnin' Scared/VV]
• The newest Citigroup rumors suggest a "tag team at the top": Financial whiz Vikram Pandit will take over as CEO, while the more socially astute Robert Willumstad handles chairman duties. We're just not sure "tag team" means the same thing for us as it does the Times? [DealBook/NYT]
• Morgan Stanley issued a full recession alert for the U.S. economy today in the oh-so-subtly titled "Recession Coming." Meanwhile, a recent Journal poll of top economists puts the risk of recession at 38 percent. [Telegraph, WSJ]
• Thirtysomething Blackstone real-estate guru Jonathan Gray is getting rather comfortable in the top tier of the young establishment. [DealBook/NYT]
• Bill Keller on Rupert Murdoch: "I don't know Rupert Murdoch, he is a combative 76-year-old newspaper guy with a tabloid soul and more money than God. With those resources at this stage it looks like he will do whatever the hell he wants to do. I don't think he is going to be constrained by some strategic planning consultant telling him what he can do. That makes him very hard to predict." [Media Mob/NYO]
• Meanwhile, the Times gave Sam Tanenhaus still more power, expanding his purview beyond the Book Review to the halcyon halls of "Week in Review." It's hard to tell if this is Keller's endorsement of Tanenhaus's talents or just an absurd overselling of some serious cost savings. [Radar]
• Jon Stewart shows he's a real mensch and begins paying his staff just like all the other late-night hosts (Even though Stewart is paid far less himself.) Daily Show staffers never even missed a check. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's not-un-hot, not uncool son, is stepping down from his job at British Sky Broadcasting "to take on a broader role within his father’s media empire," the Times reports today. The paper daintily suggests that the move indicates Rupert "who is 76" (quoth the Times) has a "plan of succession," meaning that it's looking like Harvard dropout James is the one who's going to take over the role of chairman when dad kicks it. (Alas, poor Lachlan!) This Murdoch the Younger, "who is five years younger than his father's hot young wife Wendi" (quoth us), will not be coming to New York, however. He'll remain in Europe, where he'll take on the titles of chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia for News Corporation.
Elevation of Murdoch Son Suggests Plan of Succession [NYT]
Related: The Boy Who Wouldn't Be KingREAD MORE »
• The Gucci family is up in arms over Ridley Scott’s biopic. They fear he’ll focus on the family scandals. You know, instead of making a movie about all the boring stuff. [British Vogue]
• Helmut Lang is opening a pop-up shop in the meatpacking district. Just what we need, another fabulous place to spend our money while we are drunk. [Fashion Informer]
• Kaiser Karl rocked the U.K. with a Chanel fashion show. [WWD]
So Rich Zannino announced, as was expected, that he is resigning his post as CEO of Dow Jones. From the Journal itself:
Mr. Zannino's resignation, which is expected to be the first of a series of executive departures from Dow Jones, highlights the dramatic change about to sweep through the company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and Dow Jones Newswires. News Corp's acquisition of the company, expected to be approved by Dow Jones shareholders at a meeting next Thursday, ends more than a century of control by the Bancroft family.
Look at all that excited verbiage in there. After the jump, we have Zannino's sweet "I Got a $30 Million Severance" good-bye e-mail to his colleagues.
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Back in October, we delighted in the rococo law filings filed by William J. Unroch, Esq., on behalf of his client and maybe-girlfriend, Maximilia "Ava" Cordero, a self-described model who claimed that at 16, she was molested by billionaire finance guy Jeffrey Epstein. ("Epstein suddenly went into the bathroom and came out several minutes later wearing red lipstick and wearing a matted red wig," read a portion of her suit. "He said to plaintiff 'Call me Janice.'") Then the Post discovered that Maximilia was actually very probably a dude, which made everything even more interesting. "Gender-Bend Shocker!" they said. "Kinky-Sex Suit Gal Is a Man!" But apparently Unroch was not as amused as we are, because now he and Maximilia are suing News Corp., the Post's parent company, for $100 million dollars. The complaint, which paints a picture of a fragile girl-man, besieged by a billionaire, an "unsuccessful dominatrix," a publicist, and a conspiratorial news organization headed by a gang of reporters, names a number of Post writers and editors, reserving particular ire for Post reporter Lucy Carne, who according to Unroch, refused to print a retraction to a detail she knew to be false, reportedly telling him: “My father is the biggest lawyer in Brisbane, Australia.” "While perhaps your boss the Australian Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is impressed with your dad’s legal skills and perhaps uses him as an attorney," Unroch sniped back, he says. "It is irrelevant to this matter unless I am missing something.”
Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of William J. Unroch and Maximilia Cordero
• Today's negotiations between the Hollywood writers and producers, who some say have already struck a deal, reportedly will be held in an "undisclosed location." We always knew Cheney would come to the rescue! [HR]
• German Vanity Fair is being sued for an interview with an infamous neo-Nazi who denied the Holocaust. [Jerusalem Post via HuffPo]
• Rift in the house of Murdoch? Rupe complains that his son James can't dumb down the news to his father's tough standards. Meanwhile, a savvy voter in Iowa pressed Clinton on her Murdoch connections, and the senator, no surprise, tried to have it both ways. [FT via Mixed Media/Portfolio, The Caucus/NYT]
Today's Observer story on the Judith Regan lawsuit offers a good peek into the former publishing magnate's thought process as she tries to take down HarperCollins, Jane Friedman, Rupert Murdoch, and even Rudy Giuliani. The salmon paper reveals that at the start of all of this, the wannabe If I Did It publisher was offered $6.5 million to settle, but she turned it down. They even talk to Judith herself! Her quotes are actually sort of tepid and unrelated to the case, which makes sense, as she's probably banned by her lawyers from talking about it. But there are a lot of quotes by people who are "familiar" with her thinking and with the lawsuit. So let's play a game! Which of the below quotes from unnamed "sources" are actually from Regan herself, dementedly speaking in the third person?
• "The men don't want a woman who can outshine them," one source with knowledge of Ms. Regan's thinking told the Observer. "They want women who can look up to them and bat their eyelashes. But honestly? She was more interesting than they were. She had a better life. She had more creativity. Men want to be on top."
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• The Bancrofts are so dysfunctional that they missed the deadline for choosing their representative to the new Dow Jones board. Murdoch then vetoed two family nominations before agreeing to Natalie Bancroft, a 27-year-old opera singer and journalism neophyte. Family member Crawford Hill concluded: "This entire, sad and pathetic final episode is a fiasco. No wonder we lost Dow Jones!!" [WSJ]
• With the Times hiring former sex writer Susan Dominus as the newest "Metro" columnist, will the section be heading toward the look of "Sunday Styles"? [NYO]
• Nora Ephron: Blogging makes us better writers. Hey Nora, can you call our boss? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Incoming Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes may well spin off the company's huge cable unit, but a sale of Time Inc. looks unlikely since the small potential proceeds (and big tax penalty) would little benefit a company of Time Warner's size. [NYT]
• Times editorial-page editor Andy Rosenthal calls all executive editors, including Bill Keller and his own father, crazy. Sweet. [Radar]
• Rupert Murdoch is confirming to all his friends he plans to bring in Times of London editor Robert Thomson to become the Journal's publisher as part of an "Aussie invasion" in the first few months of next year. [Guardian via Media Mob/NYO]
Rupert Murdoch: shriveled old meanie or butt-kicking visionary? As he plotted to buy out Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in the spring and over the summer, Murdoch was greeted with a chorus of negs and inflated warnings that he would (further) disgrace the institution of journalism. More recently, though, a revised conventional wisdom has emerged, with the media applauding his forward-thinking investment in MySpace and ballsy management style. But don’t take our word for it — here are some of the more hyperbolic bits of chatter, conveniently arranged in chronological order. —Dan AmiraREAD MORE »
This is just embarrassing. With five tabloid gossip columns in this city and countless gossip Websites, and it was L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke that spotted arch-rivals Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch out on a lunch date together? Okay, granted, it was at Turner's restaurant, Ted's Montana Grill, so probably nobody was really looking, but still. This is what the Finkster has to report:
Sources said to me that the lunch was requested by Turner (est worth $2.3 bil) in an effort to "bury the hatchet" with Murdoch (est worth $8.8 bil). It came just days after a GQ interview was published with the CNN founder blaming the Fox News Channel founder for helping get America into the Iraq mess and labeling it "Rupert's war" — and FNC in response using air time to belittle and demean Turner as "off his rocker." Now, Murdoch can use the Wall Street Journal and new Fox Business Channel to belittle and demean Turner as well. "Ted reached out in the hope to make nice to Rupert now that he's the biggest media mogul in the world," a Murdoch insider told me. Did it work? "Rupert doesn't change anything. He still goes after anyone he wants."
As we all know, Murdoch's News Corp recently surpassed Time Warner as the globe's largest media conglomerate. We're guessing it was a testy lunch — for a brief run through of all the icky background between the two, see Finke's piece. In the meantime, we are totally going to start lurking around the Olive Garden in Times Square. We just know that's where Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell have been hanging out.
Ted and Rupert Break Bread Together [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
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• Participants at the American Magazine Conference revolted against "The Magabrand Revolution," the ostensible theme name cooked up by Men's Health editor David Zinczenko. One editor commented, "I usually have to use 'magabrand' with a modifier in front of it, and that modifier starts with the letter 'F.'" [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Jeff Zucker can't stop denying those NBC sale rumors. Wethinks the lady [Reuters]
• When they ran into each other at the Jessica Seinfeld book party, Rupert Murdoch asked Arianna Huffington how many hits HuffPo was getting. Huffington told him 3 million a month; Murdoch politely noted that MySpace, which he owns, ran closer to 70 million. [Fortune]
• Rumor has it that Richard Parson's will announce his departure at Time Warner as early as this week. Jeff Bewkes, longtime No. 2, is set to take over as CEO. Does this mean a Parsons run for mayor? [Times of London]
• Radar cooked up a clever quiz: Fox News anchor or porn star? You decide. Wait, no, Murdoch decides. [Radar]
• Jim Cramer matched Rupert Murdoch's legendary subtlety: "We have a competitor now in Fox and it is really important to destroy and mutilate them." [Broadcasting & Cable]