Late-Night Hosts Take the Spitzer Ball and, Um, Dribble With It
If any good could come from the Eliot Spitzer scandal, it’s that the late-night shows have some of their best source material since Bill Clinton requested the definition of the word “is.” So with that in mind, we fired up our DVR for the most promising night of comedy in years. And boy, were we disappointed.
Letterman, predictably, was funny enough, opening his monologue by asking whether it was too soon to hit on Mrs. Eliot Spitzer, then telling a handful of jokes (“Did you happen to see the press conference? Very dramatic. Eliot Spitzer was there with yellow crime-scene tape around his pants”). The Times has a complete rundown of every joke, if you’re interested. Seated back at his desk, Letterman read off a Top Ten List of Eliot Spitzer excuses (No. 8: Just trying to help the economy!).
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]
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]
Some Lawyers Are SadLAW
• 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]
Jon Stewart Suddenly Not Looking Like the Nice GuyMEDIA
• Is Jon Stewart really the only late-night host not currently covering the salaries of his laid-off, non-striking employees? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• The key lines from the n+1 essay that helped convinced Choire Sicha and Emily Gould to quit: “The purpose of Gawker Media was always to improve on the print publishing business model. It was never, as the content of Gawker sometimes seemed to suggest, to produce critiques of the waste that model created. The content at Gawker, like most Condé Nast titles, is a service to the advertisers. … You could say that as Gawker Media grew, from Gawker’s success, Gawker outlived the conditions for its existence.” Joshua David Stein announced his own departure, due mostly to personal loyalty, on Saturday. [n+1, Media Mob/NYO]
• Meanwhile, Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici proves that Condé and Gawker really are at the same level: “By the way, those who feel wronged by Gawker over the years can take some satisfaction in the uniquely terrible timing of the walkout for Denton, who is pumped full of painkillers after a recent back injury. Last week, the pain became so intense he needed an ambulance to get to the hospital. As he was being loaded into the ambulance, he says, his greatest fear was that he would be spotted by someone from Gawker, which is headquartered just down the block from his home.” [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
Halle Is Berry SorryHalle Berry apologized for making an anti-Semitic joke as a guest on the Leno show. (NBC deleted it from the telecast.) Governor Spitzer hung out with his Horace Mann classmates at his 30th reunion. Renée Zellweger chooses to live in New York and Connecticut instead of L.A. because she hates the paparazzi out there. (She and George Clooney also send each other six-page politically charged e-mails.) Jennifer Lopez is refusing to pay a New York limo company $16,000 in fees she owes. The Devil Wears Prada producer Wendy Finerman bought a twelve-room duplex on 84th Street with her banker husband. Jay-Z says he’s not so good at retiring and blames the media for the breakup of most celebrity couples. Meryl Streep walked her puppy on the West Side Highway in sweats and a hat. Soap star Nathaniel Marston of One Life to Live was arrested for assaulting three people on Tenth Avenue in what was evidently a drug-fueled rage.
in other news
Jay Leno Thinking of Jumping Ship to Fox?Over the summer, Variety reported on the ways in which NBC was going to try to keep Jay Leno after his contract ran out in 2009, which sparked talk that he might actually stay at the Tonight Show for longer. NBC would do anything to keep him away from a rival channel, including alienating his anointed successor, Conan O’Brien. But today Cindy Adams hints that NBC’s worst nightmares may come true. “Jay Leno is not about to retire. Going quietly into the night to sit home and watch his missus Mavis fold bananas into the Jell-O, he ain’t,” she writes. “He is definitely — definitely — moving to another network. Friends think he’s making a big money deal. But, he says, he’s not one to follow the money. He’s one to follow the access. The best TV airtime. The best spot. The morning line, 2-to-1, is Fox.” If you sift through the verbal effluvium (bananas? Missus? Ain’t?), you’ll see Adams is trying to tell us that Leno’s going to join the dark forces of Rupert. Which would be a step down in stature for him but might be a step up in eye candy. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. He can finally join his long-lost twin, the American Dad!
Leno Eyes Other TV Opportunities [NYP]