Citigroup Posts $2.5 Billion LossA lot of big news at the banks today — but there’s also crazy stuff going down with Jeff Zucker, Dan Rather, Brooke Astor (from beyond!), and Barack Obama, in our daily industry roundup.
Jamie Dimon: ‘Many’ of Bear’s 14,000 Employees Will Lose JobsDid Bear Stearns collapse in part because of a whisper campaign? How will Starbucks keep its customers if everyone starts pinching pennies? And what did Sarah Jessica Parker think of Maxim naming her the “unsexiest woman alive”? Our weekly roundup of law, media, and business news.
in other news
Gossip Girl: ‘New Yorker’–ApprovedIn what could be the biggest literary catfight since Lillian Hellman versus Mary McCarthy, The New Yorker’s Janet Malcolm has taken on New Yorker television critic Nancy Franklin, right there in the very pages of the magazine. The subject of their contretemps is a text we can all agree is one of extreme literary consequence: The Gossip Girl series.
You may remember that back in November, when Franklin reviewed the Greatest Show of Our Time in The New Yorker, she callously dismissed the original text, as crafted by Nightingale graduate author Cecily von Ziegesar. “I’ve been told that some kids in Manhattan’s private-school population resent the way they’ve been depicted in the show,” she wrote at the time, adding parenthetically, and cattily, ‘Or maybe they just want to distance themselves from a Nightingale graduate who can write a paragraph like this: “There was a box of orange Tic Tacs in her pocket with only one Tic Tac left. Serena fished the Tic Tac out and put it on her tongue, but she was so worried about her future, she could barely taste it.’”
Now, Janet Malcolm has revisited the series, and her review carries none of Franklin’s snideness. In fact, quite the opposite. The prose, she declares, is Nabokovian. The character of Nate “is a kind of Vronsky manqué.” Von Ziegesar’s “designated reader is an adolescent girl, but the reader she seems to have firmly in mind as she writes is a literate, even literary, adult.”
“Only someone very hard-hearted wouldn’t laugh” at the situations the characters find themselves in, she writes. “The way von Ziegesar implicates us in her empathic examination of youth’s callousness is the Waughish achievement of these strange, complicated books.”
Then, like any sharp-tongued lady of letters, she smoothes things over with her colleague, only to plunge the knife straight into her back.
Jeff Bewkes Starts Cleaning House at Time WarnerMEDIA
• At least 75 Time Warner layoffs are expected to be announced today. The layoffs are among CEO Jeff Bewkes’s first public tasks since taking the helm of the company from Dick Parsons last month. Earlier today, Time Warner announced a 41 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings. [MSNBC & AdAge]
• Maybe some of those Time Warner folks can hang their hats over at Condé Nast. The Observer evaluates Portfolio’s recent spending spree, during which it recruited top talent from The New Yorker, the Post, and the Times. [NYO]
• (Product)Red, the love child of Bono, iPod, and the Gap, has raised more than $22 million for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. But considering the big advertising bucks spent during the Super Bowl and elsewhere, some are arguing that it’s not enough. [NYT]
Semel Out at Yahoo, Microsoft In?FINANCE
• Courtenay Semel’s dad, Terry, is out at Yahoo. And Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for the company might just be déjà vu. [NYT, Deal Journal/WSJ]
• Recession-has-already-started watch: The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the first time since the lovely tech-crash days of 2003 that total payrolls have shrunk. [Reuters via NYT]
• One of the few lucky bankers with a bonus burning a hole in your pocket? Try London restaurant Vivat Bacchus’ new “Bonus Tasting Menu” for a mere £1,000. [DealBook/NYT]