Tina Brown Thinks Bubba Will Recalibrate; Peter Hermann Thinks It’s Best to Watch His Sex Scenes in PrivateWhen we caught up with Tina Brown at last night’s Atlantic dinner and State of the Union–viewing session, we were curious as to what she thinks about Hillary Clinton lately. The senator, after all, is going to be one of the subjects of Brown’s just-announced book, The Clinton Chronicles. “I think [her campaign so far] is a complete high-wire, absolutely astonishing, ever-changing drama,” Brown explained. “I think a lot of it, too, is a construct as well. Whenever I see so-called Bill Clinton eruptions, they’re not eruptions at all.” Man, she’s already dissecting them like fetal pigs! Awesome. “I think that he will definitely recalibrate,” Brown added. “I think you will probably see less of him in the next two weeks.” Elsewhere at the party, Law & Order: SVU heroine Mariska Hargitay lounged with her husband, Peter Hermann, one of the male stars of Cashmere Mafia. So, Peter, what does Mariska think of your steamy Cashmere sex scenes? “We go do other things when it’s on, and then I rewind the DVR and watch them in private,” Hermann explained carefully. “Then we talk it through and let it all subside a little bit and then we move on.” He laughed then and showed his megawatt smile (Mariska has one, too, but she’s not allowed to show it on TV). “We’re working through it.” Good for them, but too bad for us. How great would it be if Mariska kicked down a studio door and shoved a 9mm in Miranda Otto’s face? We love it when she does that. —Jada Yuan
Get more dirt from Andy Borowitz, Bronson van Wyck, and Rick Lazio at our complete coverage of the Atlantic’s State of the Union Dinner.
Earlier: Tina Brown to Publish a New ‘Chronicles’
Meg Ryan Has Been in the Business for 2,000 Years “I’ve been in the business for like 2,000 years,” Meg Ryan said when we hunted her down her at the Hollywood Life House after-party for her Sundance movie The Deal. Ryan, notoriously reclusive these days, had skipped the red carpet, and to find her we had to slip into the house undetected, evade three bodyguards, several clipboard-toting publicists, and her co-star William H. Macy, and stand for 45 minutes behind a large Chinese urn clutching a giant bunch of flowers while we waited for the precise moment to slip unnoticed into the room she was in. And there we were, face to face with the sweetly smiling blonde we remembered from When Harry Met Sally and other nineties romcoms. She sounded like a crotchety old man. “It’s absurd,” Ryan said, of making movies. “It’s an absurd way to spend your time.” But, she said, it’s also rewarding. “There’s a lot of really great, creative people,” she said. “There’s a lot of maniacs, idiots, too.” Present company excluded, we’re sure. “I run into maniacs and idiots all the time,” she continued, looking at us warily. (We were only kidding about the urn part, by the way.) Ryan excused her exhaustion by saying she had just finished making four back-to-back movies. “After you extend yourself like that, you want to hibernate,” she said. We asked where she would be curling up for the rest of the winter. You know, just in case we needed to get in touch. “I’m not going to tell you,” she said. Then she walked away. —Darrell Hartman
the sports section
Breaking: The Mets Snag Johan SantanaIf USAToday.com is to be believed, the Mets, after eating the Yankees’ dust all off-season, have just become the National League East favorites — and Omar Minaya has once again become a hero. The general manager who presided over the greatest-September-collapse-ever last season has apparently stolen Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins and out from under the Yankees and the Red Sox. (You’ll recall, Hank Steinbrenner had been full of bluster about a potential Yankee deal for Santana for months, though lately he’s been claiming he doesn’t care.) Yes, the Mets are trading away four highly rated prospects: outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. But odds are that two, at most, will become big-league regulars, let alone stars. Santana, on the other hand, is the best lefty in the bigs, in his prime, and exactly the ace that’s missing from the Mets’ rotation. Supposedly the only hurdle is a contract extension. Here’s betting that the Wilpon family gives Santana everything he wants, up to and including his name on the new ballpark. Heck, the way things are going on Wall Street, he’ll be worth more than Citigroup. —Chris Smith
Twins agree to deal Santana to Mets for prospects [USAT]
Earlier: Hank Steinbrenner Talks Himself, Twins Into a Tizzy
Robert A.M. Stern Likens New Larry Silverstein Development to the ‘Titanic’Developer Larry Silverstein says his new deal to build a Four Seasons hotel and condo tower downtown will help steer lower Manhattan through the banking industry’s crisis, but not everyone in his circle is matching his strut. At a civic-alliance breakfast this morning, Silverstein presented his plan to replace the stately former Moody’s headquarters, up Church Street from the Woolworth Building, with a 912-foot stone tower by 2011, creating the city’s tallest residential building. The building’s design is by neoclassicist Robert A.M. Stern, who worked up 15 Central Park West — which, Silverstein crowed, “broke all records for sales.” But this morning, after some lukewarm talk about assisting in the rebirth of lower Manhattan “in a way that I’m comfortable with,” Stern betrayed some major butterflies. “I never thought when I was growing up in New York that I’d get to design a building taller than the Woolworth Building,” he told us. “That makes for sleepless nights and exciting mornings — I’m like a guy on the Titanic, and I just hope we don’t crash.” —Alec Appelbaum
They Should Call It ‘Burrow Hall’!Bronx: Okay, okay, so this isn’t hood-specific … but how cool is it that there’s gonna be an online mag, called Cross Bronx (get it?), featuring writers and artists in the Boogie Down? [Talk Bronx]
Brooklyn Heights: The rats around Cadman Plaza are so out of control it seems the city’s called in a private exterminator, which may be wise judging from the massive size of those rat burrows. Burrow Hall? Ha-ha! [Pardon Me for Asking]
East Village: The old lady who sits next to Gino the tailor all day in his 14th Street shop is quiet when people come in, but when they leave, she yells at him about all the things he does wrong. Reportedly. [Vanishing New York]
Tinsley Mortimer Never Misses a Press Line Tinsley Mortimer, hair styled, full face of makeup, popped into a nail salon yesterday afternoon for a new coat of Ballet Slippers. As you can see, the nail salon she chose happens to be Iris Nails on Madison Avenue. Which happens to be next door to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home. Which happens to have been surrounded by photographers since early yesterday, when Heath Ledger’s body was taken there to await burial. We’re just saying.
Tinsley Mortimer’s Grim Photo-Op [Socialite Life]
The Night We Shared a Moment With ‘The Captain’
We had just arrived at Morandi last night when a pair of older, Sopranos-looking gentlemen sitting at the end of the bar got into a spat with some other patrons and stomped out. “You wanna start something with me?” the one with a pompadour snarled. “C’mon, Paulie, let’s get outta here,” his friend said, and they slammed their glasses down and stomped out. “Weird,” our friend said, as we settled into their seats. “Do you think Keith McNally paid those guys to be here, like Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding?” But we were too distracted to ponder this possibility, because right then, at the other end of the bar, directly in our line of vision, was a face that over the past five months and five days we had come to know, and indeed, to love. “Look,” we whispered to our friend. “It’s The Captain.”
Alan Cumming, ReporterWe know Alan Cumming has had sex with journalists. But would he ever like to try being a journalist, like Naomi Campbell, who recently interviewed Hugo Chavez for British GQ? “I’d love to ask certain questions to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,” he said at the launch of the Italian Commission’s Made in Italy ad campaign at the Hearst tower. “I’d like to know where they stand on equal rights for gay people. I’d also like to interview George Bush, just to watch him squirm.” (Maybe he could ask him, “You’re into your cock, aren’t you?”) But what about the people who really matter?, we pressed. Which celebrities would he like to interview? “I’d like to find out who all those blonde girls are — there’s a whole lot of them who look the same, the ones from The Hills, and that Hayden, um, Pan-i-tare? She’s everywhere,” he said. “And who’s that one, that Kim Ka-shi-shen?” Kardashian? We said. The one who made a sex tape with Brandy’s brother and now has a TV show? “Yes! My friend told me she’s a skanky whore, and I’m like, ‘Wow, she’s a lot more interesting than I thought she was.’” Like any ambitious reporter, Cumming would like to land the big story. “I’d love to interview Britney,” he said wistfully. Then he changed his mind. “But I’d rather her do it with one of those E! TV people, or Oprah.” That’s it, Alan Cumming will take care of Hillary and Barack. Let the professionals handle Britney. —Amy Preiser
Col Allan Is Not Afraid of Mary-Kate Olsen!Following our post this morning about how the Post’s story on Mary-Kate Olsen being questioned by police turned out to be wrong, we just received this statement from Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, via e-mail:
We confirmed this story last night with an impeccable source inside the NYPD and we stand by our reporting. Almost immediately after the tragic passing of Mr. Ledger, Ms. Olsen’s attorneys began emailing us threatening letters. As has been well reported, there were a number of calls to Ms. Olsen from the masseuse before the NYPD arrived on the scene. We would find it strange if Ms. Olsen were not questioned at all. The New York Post will not be pressured and we find it odd that the chiefs at the NYPD appear to be terrified of 4-foot-11 inch, 90-pound Mary Kate Olsen.
Related: In Ledger Mystery, ‘Post’ Goes After Mary-Kate. Cops, Not as Much
Skeletons Found in Washington Square ParkGreenwich Village: Renovations in Washington Square Park have uncovered human remains, and not for the first time in the park’s history: The site used to be a graveyard for the poor. [Gothamist]
Bedford-Stuyvesant: You all know cool little Brownstone Books in Stuy Heights, right? Well, it’s going to take over the bookstore at BAM, too. Wowza. [Bed-Stuy Blog]
Carroll Gardens: Some streets here will probably be reclassified as “narrow,” rather than “wide,” in order to impose new building-height limitations in these quaint parts. [Gowanus Lounge]
in other news
In Ledger Mystery, ‘Post’ Goes After Mary-Kate. Cops, Not as MuchWe’ll admit it: When we saw the cover of the Post today, we felt a little bad for Mary-Kate Olsen. Sure, it was weird that she didn’t tell her masseuse to call 911 immediately after the employee found Heath Ledger’s dead body, but everything happened quickly, and she did try to help. Why was it suddenly her responsibility to take care of things? She’s only 13 years old for Pete’s sake. The “HEAT IS ON MARY KATE” headline, followed by the “Cops to grill her in death” kicker, seemed a little aggressive. And, we’ve just found out, it’s not even true. Both Us Weekly and TMZ.com are reporting that Mary-Kate will not be questioned. “We have absolutely no interest in talking to Mary-Kate,” a police source explained today. Now, if you look closely at the Post story, buried at the bottom, another cop source said the same thing. “Law enforcement sources last night said they did not think there was anything suspicious about either [the masseuse’s] or Olsen’s conduct,” their story said. So the heat, technically, was not on her at any time. Except, of course, from the Post.
Police Source: Mary-Kate Olsen Will Not Be Grilled Over Heath Ledger Calls [Us Weekly]
Mary-Kate Story Bogus [TMZ.com]
early and often
The Republican Debate Made Mildly Interesting!Last night’s Republican debate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was about as feisty as knitting lessons at the community center. It was as if the candidates, who mostly avoided attacks, were tired from the heat. Many observers handed Romney the victory for his smooth answers on the economy; McCain also did well. But Giuliani and Huckabee, while they didn’t do poorly, didn’t do much to break out of their second-tier positions in Florida. For those who missed it, we sifted the platitudes for the stuff that really matters.
Has Al Gore Been Touching Bono in a Bad Way?
Bono says that being with Al Gore is like “being with an Irish priest.” Mel Gibson supposedly distanced himself from Heath Ledger after Ledger chose to play a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain against Gibson’s counsel. Celebs like Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey may like Hugo Chavez because of his drugs.
Margaret Truman Gets $2 Million Per FloorWhen she announced she was putting her Park Avenue apartment on the market last spring, writer and First Daughter Margaret Truman had banked on the triplex maisonette’s “brush with presidential history” helping to sell it, according to the New York Times. Apparently, it worked eventually. Truman, who authored a spate of murder mysteries set in the nation’s capital and was married to late Times editor Clifton Daniel, had offers by the beginning of fall. In October it had gone into contract, a deal that, according to a source, finally closed today. It took some price cuts, though: The triplex maisonette, which has four bedrooms, four baths, and a working fireplace, had an initial asking of $8 million but was slashed six weeks later to $7.5 million. The final price: $6 million. —S. Jhoanna Robledo
Examining Our First Fashion Week Survival KitToday, publicists for Peroni Italian Beer, a sponsor of Fashion Week, sent us a very generous survival kit to help us make it through the coming two weeks. It included a lot of useful things that will keep us feeling healthy enough and looking unhealthy enough to fit right in at the tents at Bryant Park. But some of the objects had us scratching our heads. What on earth, for example, do we need a gift certificate to a spa in Miami for? Below, we’ve divided the contents of the kit into two categories: things that we know the uses for and things that, well, we’re not quite as sure about.
Thanks, guys! This will really help!
1 tube deluxe body crème [For feeling soft while we look sharp.]
1 packet Emergen-C [For energy.]
1 pack Peroni mints [Because try as we might, we always end up having to talk to people.]
2 packets Advil [Since the above effort always gives us a headache.]
1 emery board [To sharpen our talons, of course.]
1 box TipToes [Well, we’re certainly not going to be wearing flats.]
in other news
Fox’s John Gibson Apologizes for Insensitive Remarks About Heath LedgerThe blogosphere has been churning all day over Fox host John Gibson’s comments on his radio show yesterday about the death of Heath Ledger. To recap: Gibson played the “I can’t quit you” clip from Brokeback Mountain; said, “Well, I guess he found a way to quit you,” to much laughter in the studio; then followed up with a barrage of the sort of tasteless banter we have come to expect from these shows. “I don’t know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death,” Gibson said disparagingly, referring to a quote from an interview Ledger gave in 2007 in which he said his daughter caused him to “look at death differently.” “Maybe he was a deep thinker,” a female co-host chimed in. “Maybe he was a weirdo,” Gibson said. He laughed, then played another clip from Brokeback, in which Ledger’s character says, “We’re dead,” several times. The clip made its way to Gawker, Newshounds, and other blogs, who dug up clips of Gibson’s remarks about Brokeback Mountain (“I just think most people do not want to go into a darkened room with a tub of popcorn and munch away watching two guys get it on,” among others), and now GLAAD is leading a protest against Gibson and Fox. The Intelligencer hears that Gibson will address his remarks on his television show, The Big Story, at 5 p.m. Watch this space for updates.
UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Indeed, Gibson closed out The Big Story tonight by reading an apology: “I have received many complaints regarding my comments on my radio show about the death of Heath Ledger,” he said. “I’m sorry that some took my comments as anti-gay and insensitive. I am aware that Ledger has a family, and I am sorry if I offended them and those who knew him, but most of all I am sorry for the loss of a young man I understand was a fine actor and human being. Once again, to those offended by my comments, I’m sorry.” Will this be enough to keep the wolves at bay?
early and often
Diva Debaters: Which One Is Bigger?Hey, everybody! There’s an update in New York’s patented 2008 Electopedia. In our exhaustive look at New York’s presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, we’ve already compared the two in categories ranging from “First Love” to “Relationship With Offspring.” Today’s matchup is “Best Debate Smackdown.” Think you know when Giuliani’s elbow (or Hillary’s voice) was at its sharpest? Click through to read all about it.
Best Debate Smackdown [Electopedia]
The 2008 Electopedia [Main Page]
in other news
More Gruesome Details From the Trump SohoA little bit more news has come out today about yesterday’s collapse at the Trump Soho. Apparently it was not a bucket swinging into the scaffolding, as we and others reported yesterday, that caused the accident. Rather, a wooden mold in which a worker was tamping down concrete collapsed, and the wet concrete caused the worker to fall 42 stories to his death. Though the name of the worker, who was decapitated, according to the Times, has not been officially released, the Post is still flagrantly identifying him as Yuri. The Daily News points out that the company in charge of the site, Bovis Lend Lease, was also the company whose violations at the Deutsche Bank building led to a fire that killed two firefighters last year, and notes that their projects have “a history of worker injuries and deaths and objects hitting passersby.” Meanwhile, the Times digs up the fact that Joseph Fama, one of the owners of the DiFama Concrete Company of Brooklyn, the subcontractor hired by Bovis, who employed the deceased and the other workers, has been in jail since 2004 for racketeering and extortion, and according to federal authorities is an associate of the Lucchese crime family. And still, no one has heard from the Family Trump.
Construction Worker Dies in 42 Story Fall in SoHo [NYT]
Worker plunges to death at Trump site [NYDN]
Trump Horror [NYP]
Diane Sawyer Forgets to Ask Katie Holmes About the HubbaspermDiane Sawyer interviewed Katie Holmes on Good Morning America yet neglected to ask her about the rumor that she was impregnated with L. Ron Hubbard’s sperm. New York Giants Plaxico Burress, Antonio Pierce, and Ruben Droughns went to Home nightclub in Manhattan after flying back from Dallas and ordered $1,000 of Bacardi, vodka, and Champagne, but forgot to tip their waitress. Waiters at Brasserie 44 in the Royalton Hotel thought they discovered Frank Bruni’s notebook, but it turned out to belong to someone else (and they slipped in some Bruni ass-kissing to boot!). Jil Scott picked up a male model at an Allure fashion shoot and took him to Nobu. Keith Olbermann’s quote to Playboy that “Fox News is worse than Al-Qaeda” did not go over well with many of the magazine’s readers.
white men with money
Vikram Pandit Gets a Write-down, Foreign Capital for His BirthdayYesterday was new Citigroup honcho Vikram Pandit’s 51st birthday, and pretty much everyone forgot, since this morning he had to announce the largest quarterly loss in his bank’s history. To be sure, the $18.1 billion subprime-mortgage-related write-down is not as much as the $24 billion that was predicted over the weekend, but it was enough that it led to a fourth-quarter loss of $9.83 billion. But there was a silver lining: The bank says it has plans to raise upwards of $12.5 billion through a private securities sale, which includes $6.88 billion from Singapore. They also expect the Kuwait Investment Authority, Alwaleed bin Talal, and even former Citigroup CEO Sanford “Sandy” Weill to kick in with investments. That’s “a huge vote of confidence on [Weill’s] part,” one analyst told Reuters. “I’m surprised to see his name there.” We wonder if Pandit is surprised. Maybe today after work, he’ll go outside and Weill will be waiting for him in his red convertible. “Me?” Pandit will say. “Yeah, you,” Weill will say, and later that night they’ll share kisses over birthday cake while the Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” plays softly in the background.
Citigroup raising $14.5 billion [Reuters]
Food Network Moves Feast for Catherine Zeta-JonesLess than a month before the Food Network Awards Show — when plans have been made, florists scheduled, hotel rooms booked — the Food Network is rescheduling the big event, pushing it up a day. Why? Because Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart have a conflict. Zeta-Jones, who plays a chef in the summer movie No Reservations, and co-star Eckhart were scheduled to be presenters at the show. But then Eckhart got an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and that ceremony is on the same day. And Zeta-Jones declined to do the gig without Eckhart. But the foodies are flexible. “We’d change the world for Catherine Zeta-Jones. She’s a star,” says Lee Brian Schrager, organizer of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, which hosts the awards. Among the big New York names who will have to change their plans: Gotham Bar and Grill’s Alfred Portale, Momofuku’s David Chang, and Aquavit’s Marcus Samuelsson. Even Laurent Tourondel, who was scheduled to cook a Champagne barbecue at the Miami festival that now conflicts with the Food Awards, says he doesn’t mind. But then Zeta-Jones probably needs no reservation at BLT Prime, either. —Alexandra Peers
Feeding Frenzy [NYP]
Room Service, at Your Service
The self-consciously hip Flatiron club Room Service has several gimmicks, and one of them is this: With a reservation for one of the curtained-off VIP cabanas — and 24 hours’ notice — a Room Service concierge will deliver anything your VIPness desires. So what have patrons been requesting? Grub Street’s Daniel Maurer got his hands on a list of every item demanded over a two-week period, and it runs from Ben & Jerry’s to wasabi peas. We promise some stops along the way are more salacious.
Weird Deliveries Demanded by Club VIPs [Grub Street]