company town

Wall Street’s Golden Idols All Have Feet of Clay

• The struggle to find a successor at Merrill and Citi demonstrates another big flaw in the current culture of Wall Street: Do-or-die standards, and growing demands on public executives, have left firms with no succession plan and few capable of stepping in to take over. Both firms have been forced to turn outside for help: Laurence Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, has been approached about O’Neal’s old job, while Robert Willumstad and John Thain are in the lead to take Prince’s place. [WSJ]
• Why did Chuck Prince and Stan O’Neal fail? They took Gordon Gecko’s favorite maxim—“I create nothing, I own”—a little too seriously, and forgot the other part of banking is to sell, sell, sell. [NYT]
• Andrew Ross Sorkin dons his Miss Manners cap to explain the rules of corporate courting—and why Stan O’Neal’s worrywart parents, the Merrill Lynch board, were only looking for an excuse when they grounded him for asking Wachovia to “merge.” [NYT]

• Allison Williams thinks her dad did a pretty good job on SNL this weekend. Apparently his acting was “nuanced, subtle, and wonderful”! The Huffington Post—objectivity rules! [HuffPo, HuffPo]
• Tina Fey joined the picket line in front of 30 Rock today and tried to hand out fliers to Today Show tourists, but police officers ordered her back to the strikers’ designated metal pen. Most late night shows, including Leno and Jon Stewart, will immediately begin broadcasting re-runs, while the rest of the industry trickles on for a few more weeks. [LAT, NYP]
• Sam Zell on his Tribune Corp deal: “I’ve had offers on every single asset in the [Tribune] portfolio. Chuck Schumer calls me, because he’s hustling for some people who want to buy Newsday. Baltimore people are calling, Allentown’s calling, Florida’s calling, and, in L.A., David Geffen and Eli Broad. So all I can tell you is that for a dead industry with no future there are an awful lot of schmucks who want to take it away from me!” [NYer]

• Thanks to a “dazzling complex structure” that avoids almost all taxes and left the IRS nursing a sore thumb, Skadden has become the firm of choice for private-equity firms going public. But how much longer can the game last? [The American Lawyer]
• Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary and new interim chief at Citigroup, is a former Cleary Gottlieb attorney—only he fast figured out all the real action is in banking. [Law Blog/WSJ]
• Can Wal-Mart’s massive buying power push down law firm prices and keep back associate pay raises, just like they do in other markets? Probably not. [Law Blog/WSJ]

• British Vogue included Queen Elizabeth II on its ‘best dressed’ list. There’s just something about her… hair? [Yahoo]
• French actresses are getting in on the designing game: Emmanuelle Seigner is doing a Tai Chi–inspired line for Celine. [WWD]
• The secret to Gisele’s success? Get paid in euros. If only we could too, sister. [British Vogue]

Wall Street’s Golden Idols All Have Feet of Clay