Traditional news outlets have taken a lot of flack in recent years for trading "hard news" coverage of politics and current affairs for softer, celebrity-oriented stories. But who knew that the news media's oft-snubbed brethren, celebrity magazines, would step up to fill the void? For the past month or so, Us Weekly has done a number of stories on political figures, including an online interview with Barack Obama that caused the Website's traffic to spike to record highs. Naturally, they are eager to follow up this success, and this week, The New Yorker's Lizzie Widdicombe sat in on an editorial meeting with Us editor Janice Min and her team, where executive editor Catherine Romano came up with an idea for a story that combined celebrity with politics.
“There are a million people involved in the U.N.,” Romano said. “How about an activism story?”
Michael Steele, an executive editor, asked, “Should we build our own fake U.N., with celebrity heads and titles?”
Oh, Camille Paglia, what are you doing? We know you've talked to Us Weekly before about relevant issues like Britney's vagina and Jennifer Aniston's victimhood. But giving a sincere political evaluation of Hillary Clinton on the celebrity magazine's Website, directly on the eve of her most important contest? What, was there static on the receiver and you thought they were calling from The Week? In response to Hillary's evasive answer on 60 Minutes when she was asked whether or not she thought Barack Obama was a Muslim, Paglia had this to say:
The Clintons are lawyers and they’ve been pushing language ever since Bill said "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."… That’s my problem as a Democrat with the Clintons and the people around Hillary, which include Harold Ickes and Howard Wolfson — all of these people are so self-infatuated with their own clever superiority, that in fact they're quite transparent.
Okay, sure, but Camiiiiilllllllleeeeee! Throw us a bone! What did you think about when Hillary helped Us Weekly pick out her worst outfits of all time? "I don't approve," Paglia snapped. Ahh. Now that's more like it.
• NBC golden boy Ben Silverman sells his production company, Reveille, to
Rupert Murdoch's daughter, Elizabeth. [LAT]
• CNN producer Chez Pazienza is forced to pack his bags after blogging for the Huffington Post. [TVNewser/Mediabistro]
• Us Weekly reports that OK! magazine "sensationalized" Grey's Anatomy star Eric Dane's battle with cancer in a cover story. (Actually, he only had some malignant cells on his lip frozen off in a doctor's office.) "This isn't the first time OK! has been wrong," they note. But is Us really crusading against yellow journalism? Or are they just annoyed they didn't get the scoop? [Us Weekly]
Lipstick Jungle actress Lindsay Price met LSV Advisors' David Tisch at the Cynthia Rowley show last week, and they've been dating since. Scarlett Johansson refused to talk to an Us Weekly reporter because of the plastic-surgery cover they did of her. Bruce Willis hung out with Victoria's Secret model Emma Heming at Marquee for Lauren Kucerak's birthday party, where he tipped $100 a drink. Justin Timberlake was spotted shopping at Tiffany & Co. Natalie Portman showed up 45 minutes late to a vegan-shoe launch she was doing in Soho and only answered questions for five minutes.
• Now that he's dropped out of the White House race, Rudy Giuliani plans to decompress before he starts lawyering at Bracewell & Giuliani. [Texas Lawyer]
• Oh, snap! Skadden is so not pleased about the hottest-female-associate contest that took place on the Skadden Insider blog. [Law.com]
• Perhaps Covington & Burling should have consulted its client Major League Baseball before agreeing to represent pitcher Roger Clemens. [American Lawyer]
A flurry of Heath Ledger stories last night and this morning have thrown the tabloids into a tizzy. After a report yesterday in Us Weekly that claimed Michelle Williams had driven Ledger all the way up to the door of Promises rehab facility in Los Angeles, only to have the Australian star refuse to get out of the car, today the Daily News spoke with Ledger's rep. Mara Buxbaum, the beleaguered publicist who has been slaving away over Ledger's affairs even after his death, claims the Us story is "just one lie among many." And that's not the only tale Buxbaum's been battling.
• After pressure from Buxbaum and her publicity company, ID PR, Entertainment Tonight and the Insider canceled plans to air a video of Heath doing cocaine at the Chateau Marmont last year. Moments from the video were teased on last night's episodes. [EW]
• The Post claims it wasn't just cocaine and pot that Heath used regularly. They spoke with a member of his posse who claimed to have done heroin with him regularly and have witnessed him on several-day benders. A friend in the Daily News disputes this, saying he only smoked pot. [NYP]
Newly divorced billionaire and New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch might be dating women on both coasts. Martha Stewart created a special Christmas tree for Sirius Radio's office, complete with Howard Stern cookie ornaments. Former NYSE head Dick Grasso left CNBC's Charles Gasparino a creepy "merry Christmas" message on his answering machine, despite the fact that Gasparino's new book takes Grasso to task for the $190 million kiss-off he took after leaving the Exchange. John Mayer has had a crush on Ricki Lake for two years (Ed. note: WTF?!), and actually got her digits at the wonderfully successful Sunshine Sachs Christmas party. Lance Armstrong picked up the tab for dinner with former flame Sheryl Crow. Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera hung out together at the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year party. Andy Samberg, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers had lunch together.
As Rolling Stonecelebrates its 40th anniversary (and celebrates, and celebrates), Business Week's Jon Fine discovers that 62-year-old founder Jann Wenner has no plans for succession. "I haven't thought about it all," Wenner told Fine. Selling the company is "not inconceivable," he says. But "it's not on the table now." In his column, what Fine finds inconceivable is the Rolling Stone's own staying power. It "astounds" the media critic that a magazine with no emphasis on the Web and a baby-boomer focus manages to have such a cache with advertisers. But as Wenner ages, who will his mini-empire of RS, Men's Journal, and Us Weekly pass to? A sale would sock Wenner and his estranged wife, Jane, with massive capital-gains taxes, Fine argues, so they're unlikely to want to sell. In other words, what we expected all along will probably come to pass. Wenner will never let go of Rolling Stone until he is 90 years old and the magazine has to run shots of Bruce Springsteen's grave to keep up its annual Boss cover quota.
The Last Tycoon of Print [Business Week]
Related:The Odd Couple [NYM]
David Chase is "heartbroken" that James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, et al didn't win Emmy; Bill Maher isn't sad he lost for the nineteenth time. Naomi Campbell told the Blacks in Fashion panel last week that she's repeatedly been refused the cover of British Vogue, despite the fact that she's posed eight times. Rosie O'Donnell declined to hawk her book on Oprah, instead opting for a Diane Sawyer interview. Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie drop off and pick up Maddox at the Upper East Side's Lycée Français themselves. Marilyn Manson didn't carry girlfriend Rachel Evan Woods's luggage as the two strode through JFK. Judith Giuliani went shopping for Manolos at Bergdorf Goodman. Michael Jackson is allegedly holed up in a fancy midtown hotel and has left only once to take part in a photo shoot.
Ellen Barkin claims that Ron Perelman owes her another $3.4 million because he promised to fund a production company for her and her brother. (She already got $40 million in the divorce.) Lindsay Lohan was dropped as the potential face of Louis Vuitton after stealing a lot of clothing during an Elle photo shoot. Sagg Pond in the Hamptons was jokingly renamed On Goldman Pond after Lloyd Blackfein and other GS employees bought houses on it. Some staffers at the Russian Tea Room claim the restaurant is haunted. Sumner Redstone may sell Paramount to settle family squabbling. Keith Richards did snort his dad's ashes — just not with cocaine.
We've long suspected that the weak, clammy feeling in our bones was Paris fatigue and not wicked heatstroke. So it warmed our hearts when Us Weekly editrix Janice Min vowed that the July 9 issue of the celebrity weekly would be devoid of Ms. Hilton. What a beautiful, blessed social experiment: a world without Paris, as imagined by some of the people who helped create the monster in the first place. Could Us Weekly really be peddling such a Utopia? And if so, what would it look like?
Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, points out how much money Hillary Clinton raises from health-care companies, and Harvey Weinstein tried to get him to remove a scene about it. Angelina Jolie claimed she was sorry Fox News was banned from her A Mighty Heart premiere, but then she banned Us Weekly and Life & Style (but not People and OK!) from the print-press roundtables. Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey might adopt a kid with his partner. Rosie O'Donnell really wants to host The Price Is Right, but the show's producers may not be into it. Lindsay Lohan may spend her 21st-birthday party in rehab because she is taking it seriously this time. That, or because Pure won't host a party for her. Former senator Al D'Amato may play a judge on Law & Order.
Among the skits to be put on by the city's political journos at the upcoming Inner Circle roast is one featuring Judi Giuliani as a blow-up sex doll. Us Weekly, Star, and other weekly tabloids are upping their negative coverage of Brangelina because they are sick of getting scooped by People. A handful of people are angling for a portion of deceased Dr. Robert Atkins's $600 million estate. Mike Bloomberg's 98-year-old mother sometimes pretends she's not related to him so people don't ask her to hook their grandkids up with jobs. NBC's Today show is losing serious ground to ABC's Good Morning America and even CBS's Early Show in the ratings game. Charlie Rose and Amanda Burden may not be broken up, despite reports they are. Jay-Z has plans to ink a deal with Champagne label Ace of Spades to replace Cristal as his drink of choice.
There was one last big blowout to catch before Holiday Party Season 2006 wound down: The annual Wenner Media extravaganza. With the bank busted on Rolling Stone's 1,000th-issue celebration in May, this year's holiday gathering was less glitzy in the past, with no big-name musical act slated to perform. But that didn't stop indefatigable party reporter Julia Allison. Her wrap-up — her final wrap-up of the season — is after the jump.