Condoleezza Rice and Martin Scorsese Go Way Back, Didn’t You Know?FINANCE
• Stephen Schwarzman, Lloyd Blankfein, and David Rubenstein got down with Bush, Condi, and friends (including Martin Scorsese?!) at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. [NYP]
• Barron Hilton decided to donate almost his entire $2.3 billion fortune to the family foundation, including the proceeds from the recent sale of Hilton Hotels and Harrah’s casinos. Does this mean we’ll have to stop calling Paris an heiress? [NYT]
• If private equity is the smart money on Wall Street, then why have Blackstone’s shareholders lost so big? The Times gives the easy answer: “What Wall Street is about is smart guys thinking about ways to make money from dumb ones.” Good work, Steve Schwarzman! [NYT]
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Chelsea Clinton Stonewalls 9-Year-Old ReporterWe couldn’t help but notice the following moment in a scantly picked-up AP story last night:
Sydney Rieckhoff, a Cedar Rapids fourth grader and “kid reporter” for Scholastic News, has posed questions to seven Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls as they’ve campaigned across Iowa this year. But when she approached the 27-year-old Chelsea after a campaign event Sunday, she got a different response.
“Do you think your dad would be a good ‘first man’ in the White House?” Sydney asked, but Chelsea brushed her question aside.
“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute,” Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.
It sounds like Hillary’s campaign is taking its maniacal obsession with press control a wee bit too far. Come on, Chelsea, throw the little girl a bone. Don’t you remember when you were a cripplingly awkward preadolescent who was just trying to be taken seriously? Because we remember it. We remember it all too well.
Chelsea Clinton Guards Her Words [AP]
Celebrities Hot for One Brooklyn Bridge ParkWhat is it with One Brooklyn Bridge Park? A tipster says three celebrities are checking out the luxe 449-unit condo project, whose former incarnation was headquarters for the decidedly un-luxe Watchtower, a magazine published by the Jehovah’s Witness. Model Bridget Hall was recently spotted at the building, presumably for a tour, as has another catwalker, now turned reality-TV-and-talk-show host Tyra Banks. Hilary Swank is said to be interested in the property, too, and is apparently expected for a look-see soon. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the building’s transformation has piqued such interest that its waiting list of potential buyers was 3000 strong earlier this year. Real-estate doyenne Elizabeth Stribling bought two units there, and now her posh brokerage firm, Stribling & Associates, helps market the project. —S. Jhoanna Robledo
We’re Back!Welcome back to us, that is. Like many of you, we spent most of the last ten days or so in the isolation tank that is our homes, eating butter and sugar by the fistful, drinking, and willfully ignoring the outside world; the only newspaper headline that passed in front of our bleary eyes was one that said, “War Hero Harry Bailey Returns to Bedford Falls.” We were happy, and all was right with the world. That is, until this morning, when we were cruelly deposited back into the cold, cookie-less world we lived in before, blinking, five pounds fatter, and approximately ten times stupider. We thought some of you might be in the same position, so we’ve quickly pulled together a list of what we think might have happened last week while we were napping.
•Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup all got foreign money in their Christmas stockings.
•Serena and Dan started dating in real life, sending our Gossip Girl Reality Index numbers flying off the charts.
•Benazir Bhutto was killed.
early and often
Bloomberg: Primary? What Primary?Just in time for the Iowa caucus, Mayor Bloomberg has firmly planted himself in the headlines again as a possible presidential candidate. After a Washington Post report about his attendance at a gathering of bipartisan political leaders yesterday, the New York daily papers have competing stories about how this indicates his continued interest in a White House run. The University of Oklahoma conference will be hosted by “well-connected Democrats and Republicans who could help launch him as an independent presidential candidate,” reports the New York Post, and will give Bloomberg “a potential launching pad for a presidential bid,” according to the News. Which sounds like speculation, basically, except the Times assures us that “Bloomberg is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.” Wow. We assumed he was at least titillated with the idea. But enchanted? This must be serious.
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.
in other news
We’re Never There for You When You Need UsWell, thank God that’s over. You okay? Honestly, the holidays always leave us a little shaken. The forced smiles, poorly spiked eggnog, and unmitigated hell of an hour-long cab line waiting for us upon our return — there’s just been so much silent sobbing these past few days. And now our eyes are all red and puffy, so we’re going to take the rest of this week to recover. Come Monday, we’ll be back for the typically grand New Year’s Eve action.
in other news
Benazir Bhutto AssassinatedAs you’ve most likely heard by now, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today at a rally in Rawalpindi. As the opposition leader, she was a leading contender to be reelected prime minister during the early January elections.
There’s a lot to be said about this tragic turn of events, but we’ll instead direct you to New York’s own interview with Bhutto, published in late September, in which she has some advice for Hillary Clinton.
PETA Shakes Up Anna WintourThe folks at PETA are really outdoing themselves this year. First, there were the Hairy Kate and Trashley dolls. Now, they’ve reverted to their old standby, Anna Wintour, whom they’ve stuck in a snow globe this holiday season — you know, so you can “shake some sense into her.” Inside the virtual globe, fearsome opera plays as Anna drifts through a fiery netherworld inhabited by workers in Karl Lagerfeld glasses whose job, it seems, is to skin shrieking animals and toss their carcasses into a massive pile for “pelt pusher” Anna’s future coats. It’s creepy, of course, but it’s still kind of fun to shake the globe and watch “Anna” bounce around in the snow. Until you realize that, whenever she falls, her neck bends at a disturbing angle.
PETA’s Holiday Snow Globe [PETA]
white men with money
Did Cayne Miss Yesterday’s Conference Call Because He Got High?So, yesterday Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne announced the investment-banking firm’s first quarterly loss in its history, on the tail of announcing a $9.1 billion write-down. He was apologetic, sort of: He said the results were unacceptable and declared that neither he nor his management team would be taking bonuses this year. Then he then proceeded to entirely skip the conference call with investors. “You’d think the circumstances might have merited a show of contrition,” noted The Wall Street Journal today. Yeah. Especially since, the other day, Charlie Gasparino reported “sources” were saying the Bear Stearns board has been talking about a successor for him. We can’t, er, bear this idea: We’ve grown fond of the Jimster, he’s like our pot-smoking, bridge-playing, possibly pervy uncle. Which is why we have to assume that Cayne skipped the conference call not because he didn’t feel bad, but because he couldn’t deal with all that bad energy.
Bad News for Bear Stearns [WSJ]
Hello, Kettle? This Is Bonnie. You’re Black.We’re a little confused by Bonnie Fuller’s Huffington Post tirade about Lynne Spears. Just a month ago, Fuller wrote a column on the Website thanking celebrity moms for making real moms feel better about themselves. “Every time that our girl [Britney Spears] cluelessly tries to whitestrip her toddler’s teeth instead of brushing them or runs a red light with the court-appointed monitor and her two sons all strapped in her car,” the tabloid queen wrote then, “working moms across the continent can set back our own personal guilt-meters about our mothering skills.” Aw. Perhaps that’s a little demented, but we can appreciate the sentiment. But today she no longer loves celebrity mothers. She hates them. Specifically, Britney’s mom, Lynne, whom she accuses of not properly teaching her daughters about the birds and the bees, and inadvertently causing her young daughter’s pregnancy. “Were you too busy pushing their careers to ever have this heart-to-heart with them?” the Star editorial director demands. “Were you too tied up lining up meetings with record company executives, TV networks, publicists and tour managers to check on whether you were instilling personal values and self-esteem in your daughters?”
HBO’s Sheila Nevins Is Confused by Tina Brown, Bored by Hillary So, what exactly is Tina Brown doing at HBO? We asked Sheila Nevins, head of HBO’s documentary division, when we saw her at last night’s Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Launch Dinner. “I don’t know!” she said. “You tell me! I thought I’d read it in New York Magazine!” Nope, it was Liz Smith. “Here’s the hot skinny on the queen of buzz,” Liz wrote yesterday. “The amazing Tina Brown is in a newly struck, first-look deal to bring projects and story ideas to HBO.” We can see how you’d confuse us, though. Anyway! Would Nevins be open to discussing ideas with Tina? “I talk to anybody! I like to work with anybody,” she said, although she rejected the idea of a Princess Di documentary inspired by Brown’s book. “There are too many Diana documentaries,” she said. Yeah, people said that about the book, too. How about something on one of the presidential candidates? Hillary? “Well they say Hillary’s tough to get good access to,” she said. “I think actually what’s her name tried. [Alexandra] Pelosi tried. But I don’t think she got in the door. Candidates are boring. I think real people are more interesting. I’m into sort of human things, beating the odds. Ordinary people that crawl out of manhole covers. I like to lift manhole covers. And womanhole covers.” —Amy Odell
white men with money
There’s Hateration in Goldman’s Dancery!Will no one let Goldman Sachs enjoy their moment? After news of their record earnings (and hefty compensation packages) broke yesterday, today the Goldman backlash begins in earnest, proving you can be too successful, too rich, and too pretty. “How long can Goldman keep it up?” Andrew Ross Sorkin asks on the Times DealBook blog. Meanwhile in the business section, Jenny Anderson uses Goldman CFO David Viniar’s remark yesterday about being “cautious” in the short term to go all negative Nancy. “For now, Goldman and its employees have much to celebrate,” she writes, going on to quote an analyst saying the bank can’t possibly do another “Houdini hedge escape” next year. That’s riiight. It’s never to early to worry about your future! Thanks, mom!
Subliminal Messages in the HBO Store WindowIf you’ve walked up Sixth Avenue recently, you’ve probably noticed that there is what seems to be an odd boutique specializing in Sex and the City merchandise. What it turns out to be is the HBO store, which has tarted up its window display in honor of the upcoming SATC movie. It is “striking, innovative and fashion-forward” boasts a press release we just received in our in-box. It’s also continually playing the movie trailer, which was recently released. But in the still image above, without the flashy preview clip, we can’t help but be distracted by this question: How many of the objects in that window are sex toys?
Earlier: The ‘Sex and the City’ Trailer Arriveth
in other news
Questioning the ‘Times’ DogsThere are a few things we can’t wrap our heads around with this whole story about Blackwater shooting one of the New York Times’ dogs in Baghdad. One of them is, why does the Times bureau have dogs? It wasn’t someone’s personal pet, according to the stories. It was a pet shared by the residents of the Times compound. Even a Huffington Post blogger who was bitten by one of them doesn’t explain why they are there. Another question is this: On a day when Britney Spears’s 16-year-old sister gets knocked up, who at the Post thought it would be a good idea to split the cover between the pregnancy story and a drawing of a doghouse with “Pooch Sulzberger” written on it? The Spears family is like the mother lode (ha, they’re all mothers now) for the Post. Over the years, the paper’s probably devoted more ink to hating them than to hating Al Gore. But somehow a cheap joke comparing Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger to a dead dog elbowed Jamie Lynn halfway off the cover. And finally, how come everybody who has written about it gets to use a “this time the deadly shooting in Baghdad was of a dog” joke? How is that, in any way, appropriate? Ha-ha! Murders are so common here, it’s funny when something dies that isn’t an American! That’s a real home run.
New York Times in Iraq: Blackwater Shot Our Dog [Reuters]
Um, Jamie Lynn Spears Is PregnantLindsay Lohan has been hanging out a lot with Courtenay Semel, the daughter of Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel and a “power lesbian.” Also her dad, Michael Lohan, played Joseph in a Times Square Nativity scene. Dennis Miller and Jon Voight are among the Rudy Giuliani supporters in Hollywood. The Spears line continues: Britney’s 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is pregnant. Is Damon Dash’s junk mind-blowing? A woman is claiming that he made her bipolar when he exposed his genitals to her.
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The ‘Times’ Issues a Verdict on Bill Clinton’s PresidencyToday the New York Times caved to the onslaught of Bill Clinton stories around the country (Secretly he’s the one running against Obama! He kept Hillary waiting at a grocery store! Even other countries noticed it was awkward!) and posted online their massive Bill Clinton story that will run in this weekend’s Times Magazine. They did that weird thing where they publish things into the future (its pub date is listed as December 23). It’s a behemoth of a story by their political blogger and writer Matt Bai. In it, Bai exhaustively retells the story of the Clinton presidency and then throws in some details on how it may affect Hillary. But we thought that the most telling of Bai’s anecdotes was this one:
When I asked Bill Clinton about this issue, during an informal meeting in South Carolina, he readily agreed to sit down for a longer interview on his legacy’s role in the campaign. A few weeks later, however, and at the last minute, Hillary’s aides canceled the interview. Famously controlling, they would not even allow the former president to talk about his record.
Hillary’s advisers were probably trying to stop the onslaught of Bubba coverage, which they knew would inevitably become the main story if it got too big. Unfortunately for them, it looks like this week, they failed in that effort.
white men with money
Cayne & Co. Will Not Bogart the BonusesChristmas is a time for giving, and lest we forget, it is also a time for sacrifice. This year, James Cayne and the other top executives at Bear Stearns are making the ultimate sacrifice: They’ve decided to forgo their year-end bonuses. Because they have enough money? Because they decided to donate it to the children of Darfur? Because J.C. hit it big at bridge? Eh, no. Ostensibly this decision has come about because they’re gearing up to announce some pretty shameful fourth-quarter results tomorrow, and after losing $1.6 billion in investor money this year, pocketing what little is left would look kind of bad. So instead they’re divvying up the small pool left over from what they didn’t blow on subprime mortgages and giving it to players in the firm in hopes that they don’t jump over to, say, Goldman Sachs.
Bear Stearns Chiefs to Skip Bonuses [WSJ]
Update: It’s a trend! After announcing a $9.4 billion writedown, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack is foregoing his bonus, too. Somewhere, Zoe Cruz is snickering.
Arthur Sulzberger Punishes Morgan StanleyFINANCE
• The Ochs-Sulzberger family wants their money out of Morgan Stanley, after a London-based Morgan managing director tried to incite a shareholder revolt at the Times. [Fortune via CNNMoney]
• Hedge-fund heavies like T. Boone Pickens, Paul Tudor Jones II, and Carl Icahn have all donated to Rudy Giuliani’s exploratory committee. They maxed out their donation: a whopping $2,100. [DealBook/NYT]
• Equity Office’s board rejects Vornado’s cash-and-stock takeover bid and instead goes for Blackstone’s cash offer of $54 a share. Shareholders will likely vote next week. [CNNMoney]
Woody Allen Fights AIDS, Bores Us
Speaking of Wednesday’s amFAR benefit, it also brought out Woody Allen for a rare public appearance. (He presented an award to an old friend, Dr. Mathilde Krim, amFAR’s founding chairman.) After a charmingly bumbling speech, he sat, quite oddly, across the table from Soon-Yi and listened to Garry Shandling tell the room about watching Allen years ago on a short-lived Saturday-morning TV show, Hot Dog. “It was a show where they explained to kids how things worked and Woody Allen was one of the people who explained things,” Shandling said. “I’ll never forget the time he came out and told us that baseball bats were made of halvah, so that when you strike out, you can eat it.”
Later we approached Allen to ask for an interview and were shocked to have him agree. Suddenly, visions of brilliant, hilarious, angst- and Yiddish-filled quotes leaped to our mind. We were thrilled. And then he proceeded to give us a series of totally boring replies. (Except for one tiny bit of news, that despite his last few films, he hasn’t forsaken New York forever.) Feh.