Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick Are Just Roommates, Okay?!Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick says he and co-star Chace Crawford aren’t gay; they just live together. Oprah BFF Gayle King moved into a $7.1 million penthouse on East 57th Street that was purchased in name of Oprah’s dead dog, Sophie. A nude portrait of France’s current First Lady Carla Bruni taken back in 1993 will go up for sale at Christie’s next month.
Have You Heard? There’s a New Economic Freak-out Happening!FINANCE
• William A. Ackman of Pershing Hedge Funds got everyone freaking out about bond insurers by issuing a report yesterday afternoon predicting that MBIA and the Ambac Financial Group might just lose $24 billion on mortgage investments. “Here comes Ackman at the 11th hour upsetting the apple cart,” Douglas M. Peta, chief market strategist at J.& W. Seligman & Company, told the Times. “I don’t think anybody has really thought it all through, but we all understand the implications of real trouble in the bond insurers could be far reaching.” [NYT] Related! MBIA announced a $3.5 billion write-down this morning. [CNN]
• Wharton is still the number-one place in the universe to pick up an MBA.
• Following in the steps of other CEOs with giant mortgage-related losses, Merrill won’t give its top brass any bonuses. But they will give them stock options “to promote the continuity of the management team as they continue to navigate through challenging market conditions in 2008.” That’s one way to hang on to staff. [Reuters]
Christopher Hitchens’s Waxed Sack: Open for VisitorsChristopher Hitchens may not have expected to snag a National Book Award last night (his atheist screed God Is Not Great lost to Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA in the nonfiction category), but he was in high spirits nonetheless when we caught up with him near his second-row table at the ceremony. He offered to pour red wine into our glass as well as that of a high-ranking female Kirkus editor. We both declined, as we already had other drinks in there. Apparently, his self-improvement efforts for a Vanity Fair article hadn’t gone so far as quitting drinking, though he did report he hasn’t smoked a cigarette in six weeks. “I’m almost 60, and I should have quit years earlier,” he said, before lecturing us about the fact that, “for fuck’s sake,” the little buggers are evil. When we told him we felt mildly uncomfortable in his presence the day after reading about his thorough waxing for that article (in a procedure he referred to as “sack, back, and crack”), he turned to the Kirkus editor and said, “Want to feel?” She didn’t see how she could turn down the opportunity. The Hitch unzipped his fly, we stood guard, and she reached in. We can’t personally vouch for what happened in there (and we’re ashamed to say we demurred when he offered us a grope), but the editor speculates that he’s been doing some post-article maintenance down there. “As smooth as summer cherries,” she said. Looks like the Hitch truly is a changed man. —Boris Kachka
For more National Book Awards coverage, including pictures and quotes from Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Jonathan Franzen and more, read Party Lines.
Earlier: At Last, Christopher Hitchens Describes His Infamous Waxing