Bajillionaire Branson may be spending more time in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Cablevision lawyer Harvey L. Beneson mortgages his Hamptons house to pay off his lawsuit, UBS clients run scared as a federal investigation warms up, and another magazine catering to the rich appears on the horizon, in today's roundup of news from the worlds of real estate, law, finance, and media.
It's not easy soliciting money for a good cause, and, indeed, a recent e-mail exchange among execs at WNYC, New York's public-radio station, exposes the delicate art of not-for-profit fund-raising. Under discussion was a press release to announce a fund-raising campaign for the station's new Varick Street headquarters. The first draft of the release lacked a statement from Dawn Greene, widow of philanthropist Jerome Greene, whose $6 million gift was the largest ever made to a public-radio station. "Why not include a quote from Dawn?" wonders Laura Walker, WNYC's president and CEO, in a leaked e-mail. "[It would] allow someone else to say nice things about us."
Public-radio pooh-bahs including Ira Glass, Jonathan Schwartz, and Brian Lehrer were among the 150 or so who gathered this morning for breakfast in the Varick Street building that will soon house WNYC's airy new studios. (The station was heretofore crammed into a tight warren of offices near the top of the Municipal Building.) The new digs will feature a these-days de rigueur street-level studio with seating for 120 and picture windows onto the sidewalk. Kristen Chenoweth hosted, her typically perky self despite getting off a plane, she said, from "the vapid wasteland" of Los Angeles only six hours before. She serenaded Dawn Greene — the name of her late husband, Jerome L. Greene, will grace the street-side space, for which his foundation donated $6 million — and the audience applauded not only the emcee but also themselves for not stooping to the ratings-grabbing level of people like, say, Don Imus. Leonard Lopate, for one, recalled one of the raciest moments on his long-running interview show, when Kurt Vonnegut asked in the middle of a conversation whether Lopate was having an affair with his wife. "I said, 'I don't think so,'" recalled the host, who insists he wasn't. Vonnegut later apologized.