Blown AwayAs the first arctic blast of January weather whipped through town last week, the city was chilled by news that Iowans had frozen out New York’s candidates for the White House. Hillary Clinton’s last-minute plea on the first post-hibernation Letterman show —starring Dave’s new reindeer-wrangler beard—failed to help her, and she finished behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani finished sixth behind Mike Huckabee but had left Iowa five days before the caucus anyway. Dark horse Michael Bloomberg denied that there was any significance in his attendance at a caucus of potential third-party candidates, though he took pokes at the front-runners’ lack of ideas. Fourth-place finisher Fred Thompson, who’s probably wishing he’d never quit as New York’s fictional D.A., lost his old Law & Order job to Sam Waterston.
CNBC to Roger Ailes: ‘Nanny Nanny Boo Boo’MEDIA
• Despite Roger Ailes’s declaration that Fox Business Channel would start a “revolution” against rival business channel CNBC, this war appears to have petered out after a skirmish: Only about 6,300 people a day, on average, watch the babes of FBN, compared to the 283,000 who tune in to CNBC for that dreamy hunk Charlie Gasparino. [NYT]
• Let the stunts begin! David Letterman plans to shave off his beard on the air next Monday: “Can we get a guy in here Monday to shave me? Now, a good guy, because the last time we did this, I looked like—when he was done, I looked like I’d been in a knife fight.” No word yet on whether Conan O’Brien, who’s writers unlike Letterman’s are still on strike, will lose his whiskers. Meanwhile, Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel turned down Colbert’s invite to appear on his show, showing solidarity with the strikers. [NYDN, NYO]
• The Writers Guild is facing its own little labor problem: The East Coast branch’s internal staff claims that the contract they signed back in October was later changed without their permission. Let’s see, what’s that word … something writers always love. Oh, right, irony. [NYP]
The ‘Times’ Touches Upon Checkbook Journalism — With Two Fingers, Of CourseMEDIA
• “OK!, the celebrity magazine, could not possibly have purchased all the attention it enjoyed in late December after it got the scoop that Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger and until then less sensational sister of the troubled pop queen Britney Spears, was three months pregnant. Or could it?” [NYT]
• Josh Stein isn’t actually leaving Gawker; Emily Gould will write for Jezebel; Choire Sicha will continue contributing columns; and recently departed Wonkette editor Ken Layne returned after just a few months off the job. Can anyone escape the tentacles of Nick Denton? [HuffPo]
• The Writers Guild plans to picket Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O’Brien as the three late-night hosts return to the air. Letterman gets off easy since he struck a deal with the writers and may get a big boost since big stars (like Robin Williams, natch) won’t have to cross the pickets to go on his show. [NYO, NYT]
it happened this week
As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president.
Let the Bear Blame Game BeginFINANCE
• Bear Stearns followed up yesterday’s Morgan Stanley announcement with its own $850 million loss, again the first quarterly deficit in the bank’s history. [DealBook/NYT]
• Is former Bear Stearns exec Ralph Cioffi, the guy behind the two Bear funds that imploded this summer, the main culprit in the subprime crisis? New reporting suggests his team set off the plague of dirty debt that cost Citi and other top banks billions. Oh, and Cioffi’s under investigation for pulling out a couple mil before anyone else got the chance. [Business Week]
• What a mensch: David Rubenstein, the former lawyer turned Citadel private-equity master, decided to keep his new copy of the Magna Carta on display at the National Archives. Rubenstein paid $21.3 million — chump change for a guy worth around $2.5 billion. [Law Blog/WSJ]
Underwear Model Hits the FloorA publicist for model Annabel Vartanian claims that the model fainted at a La Perla party because “she wore herself out,” not because she has an eating disorder. Kim Cattrall is donating all the furs she wore in the Sex and the City movie to PETA, which in turn will give them to charity. Cindy Adams is taking credit for breaking Enquirer’s John Edwards–is–having–an–affair story. East Village landmark dive bars Sophie’s and Mona’s are both going up for sale after the holidays. Police commish Ray Kelly says he won’t make a decision about running for mayor until after the presidential scrum plays out. Donald Trump will be David Letterman’s first guest back when he goes live on January 2. Model Selita Ebanks, who may have been dating James Blake, was at a Knicks game with Giants lineman Osi Umenyira.
Cravath’s Good Ol’ Boys Miss the Good Ol’ DaysLAW
• One old lawyer reminisces about his time at Cravath in the fifties and speculates on why big law used to be — used to be? — such a man’s world: “Obviously, male bigotry played a major role. But I think something else was involved — an attempt to protect certain values that mattered greatly to the practitioners of that time. They wanted a workplace free of the messiness of male-female relations. They liked to say, ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘No, sir,’ and be done with it. Women might bring distractions: flirtations, gossip, dating. No more male bonding.” Aw ! [American Lawyer]
• Everyone’s talking about Robert Morgenthau stepping down after 33 years as Manhattan D.A.— except Robert Morgenthau. [NYT]
• NYU Law School listserv smackdown! First e-mail: “I decided to compile a list of the easiest professors at NYU Law for those of us who: 1. Want an easy A, and 2. Don’t care about the grade and just want a B without doing a thing.” Second e-mail: “Does your mom still teach here? Because I heard that she’s REALLY easy.” Third e-mail: “If you came to NYU Law school thinking to take shortcuts to get easy As as opposed to taking classes that you would find challenging and helpful to your understanding of law practices, here’s my nugget of advice: save the money and go to a state law school.” Fourth e-mail: “We come to NYU to take made-up classes like ‘Jesus & the Constitution,’ ‘Inter-Animal Contracts,’ and ‘International Law.’ Coming to NYU for anything other than intellectual masturbation or an easy job is a waste of money.” [Above the Law]
Padma Leaves a Bad Taste in Fiamma’s MouthManhattan Moms, an East Coast equivalent of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County, will premiere early next year. A lot of the city’s foremost graffiti artists congregated for a book party at Auto in the meatpacking district. Billy Joel is in talks with the Mets to perform a bunch of gigs at Shea Stadium. George Steinbrenner will have a high school named after him in Tampa. Padma Lakshmi was rude to the staff at Soho eatery Fiamma, but Martha Stewart overtipped and was nice. CNN gave out an award to someone for forcing “one of the world’s largest oil corporations to pay more than $6 billion to clean up toxic waste in the Amazon rain forest,” but didn’t name Chevron as the company because they are an advertiser.
in other news
Conan’s Stalker Loves Fellini, JesusWe learn today that Conan O’Brien has a stalker, which is no big news. David Letterman had one before Conan was even a twinkle in NBC’s eye. But what’s interesting here is that Conan’s stalker is a Catholic priest. A totally scary Catholic priest, in the awesomest way. In Father David Ajemian’s letters to Conan, some written on parish letterhead, he comes out with quotes like this:
“I’m told by some of those officious little usher people that you’re overbooked. Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans? You owe me big-time, pal. I want a public confession before I even consider giving you absolution.”
Wow, we never before thought of confession and absolution in such a terrifying/erotic way. (There are other letters where he issues veiled threats at Conan’s life, which are, you know, less funny, like when he compares himself to the Virginia Tech killer.) Other fun facts about Ajemian? Well, when he was ordained, the Boston Herald said he was a “turned on to religion partly by Federicio Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita.” Oh, yeah, and he went to college with Conan. Yeah, that’s right. Harvard: just as unscrupulous with admission as the Catholic clergy.
Priest Jailed in Stalking of Conan O’Brien [NYT]
in other news
Portman, Stripper Experience Dog DramaIt’s a bad week for dog lovers. First, we learn that Natalie Portman’s beloved mutt, Charlie, has died. In an interview with the Syndey Telegraph, Portman told a reporter that the pooch she once described as “the only man in her life” is now passed away. (This is the adorable one she took on Letterman.) “I love dogs,” she lamented. “They’re better than people.” Man, when you’re right, you’re right. Then, we learn that a thief has stolen the two Malteses of a Scores stripper. “They’re my life. They’re everything to me,” said exotic dancer Daisy Rojas of little Charles and Darwin. “They’re my children.” Quoth the News:
Rojas said the dogs were tied to scaffolding with their matching Louis Vuitton leashes outside the Sofrito restaurant on E.57th St. near First Ave.
Rojas may not have taken her dogs on Letterman, but she takes them very seriously nonetheless. She had a portrait of herself painted with them, got a tattoo of their names in a secret body location (who knew strippers had those?), and she even had them baptized. “We’ll find those dogs,” vowed a police source. “We’re definitely going to take care of it.” Man, if there’s one thing cops will do anything for, it’s, um, dogs.
Poised Portman is Pretty Perfect [Sydney Daily Telegraph]
Scores Stripper’s 2 Pooches Dognapped on Upper East Side [NYDN]
Stephen Colbert Doesn’t Make the BallotMEDIA
• Hollywood and television writers have decided to strike and will announce a walk-out deadline by noon today. Late night will be most immediately effected — guess we’ll find out just how funny Jon Stewart and David Letterman really are. [NYT]
• The South Carolina Democratic executive committee rejected self-proclaimed “favorite son” Stephen Colbert’s attempt to get on the ballot. Colbert now has to accumulate 10,000 signatures to make the ballot as an independent or pay the Republicans $35,000. Tough decision. [HuffPo]
• Don Imus signed a deal with Citadel to return to radio, broadcasting on WABC in New York and syndicated nationally on ABC Radio. The I-Man had to settle for $5 million a year, half of what he made with CBS. [WSJ]
in other news
Hillary Reveals That She’s 30 Percent Funny on ‘Letterman’
Hillary Clinton came to the city to appear on The Late Show With David Letterman. She decided, perhaps in order to stave off another unfunny Top Ten list of Dave’s, to bring her own. We’ve always sort of suspected that Hillary is kind of funny, in her own way – and the list is just that. Kind of funny, in a special, pearl-necklace-and-popped-collar way. Here are the top ten things she promises to do if elected president:
10. Bring stability and long-term security to The View.
9. Each year on my birthday every American gets a cupcake.
8. You will have the option of rolling dice against the IRS for double or nothing on your tax return.
the morning line
Pills, Pols, and Oprah
• Eight percent of the city’s sexually active teens report using the pill, as opposed to 18 percent nationwide, a city Health Department survey finds, with girls from the South Bronx nearly twice as likely as the nation’s average to have unprotected sex. [1010wins]
early and often
Obama in New York: Lulling, Invading, Charming
Barack Obama came to town yesterday, both to schmooze donors for money and have a little chat with Dave Letterman. While Times politics guru Adam Nagourney reported Sunday that the senator has been taking a low-key, professorial tack at his recent talks, “lull[ing] his audiences into long, if respectful, silences,” the tabs are still writing up the appearance in terms of wild manic excitement: Obama “invaded” New York, as he “swooped” in on a break from his “cash dash” to “gobble up” campaign funds. Okay, sure. And how was he on Letterman? To be honest, we didn’t watch, and the clips are already gone from ever-vigilant YouTube. (CBS is a Viacom company, after all.) But our little brother, who was long ago nicknamed the family’s Peoria, because he falls for the same things average voters do, once actually saying, “I’d like to have George Bush as my little-league coach,” sent this e-mail at 12:20 a.m.: “I don’t know if you just saw Obama on Letterman but you cannot be more likable.” Hey, if it plays in Peoria …
‘I Am a NYer’: Obama [NYP]
I’m Not Running for 2nd — Barack [NYDN]
Judi Nathan Must Be ThrilledFormer Giuliani spokeswoman Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas is back at his side for his presidential run. Unable to pick just one, Barbra Streisand donated money to Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. David Letterman asked Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump to appear in a Super Bowl spot with him, but they declined. Scarlett Johansson hooked up with Justin Timberlake — and won a $50k condo lease — while in Miami for the game. And also during the big game, Bud Light may have “borrowed” inspiration from a sketch-comedy troupe and Sierra Mist for two of its commercials. Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld bought a $21 million fixer-upper on Park Avenue, which only requires $10 million more to fix it up.