There Goes the SchneighborhoodRichard Gere has put his apartment in Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi on the market, private-equity execs come down to earth, Sam Zell continues to be wacky, and Jeff Zucker and Harvey Weinstein fight like a couple of queens over ‘Project Runway’ in our daily roundup of real-estate, finance, media and law news.
Rupert Murdoch Making a Bid for ‘Newsday’?According to Crain’s, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. might be plotting to buy Long Island tabloid Newsday. The news comes shortly after the release of the quarterly results of the Tribune Company (Newsday’s owner), which showed an $78 million loss in its continuing operations at the end of 2007.
Barack Is the New Brangelina!MEDIA
• Turns out Barack Obama’s underwear is more interesting to Us Weekly readers than Britney Spears’s custody battles. A Q&A with the Chicago senator in which he refused to answer the boxers-or-briefs question generated the some of the highest-ever traffic for a single article on the site, second only to news of Heath Ledger’s death [WWD]
• The Sam Zell bloodbath continues: The Tribune Co. owner axes 120 Newsday jobs. [NYP]
•Is Matt Drudge the world’s most powerful journalist? [Telegraph]
• The FBI isn’t happy with a recent Rolling Stone article on the Joint Terrorism Task Forces. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
‘Post’ Ruins Man’s Life Because He Has Weird SexMEDIA
• The Post violated a man’s privacy by publishing his name after he was injured in an S&M sex tryst. They also, um, called his wife and published where he lived. While activists protest, a spokesman says, “The Post will happily name every adult caught in a dog collar.” One day we need to really start “happily” naming every married Post editor caught at a strip joint. [Portfolio]
• Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. will cut staff by two percent. Is it the same two percent that he’s already cursed out? [LAT]
• Times scribe Alessandra Stanley spends a column (a few days late) talking about how MSNBC’s “Best Political Team on Television” is in disgrace. Sadly, it’s CNN that incessantly uses the “Best Political Team” moniker, which causes Gawker to ask whether the TV critic actually “owns a TV.” [Gawker]
Hathaello Checks Out Miss Sixty
•Lela Rose thinks she’s still in the running to design Jenna Bush’s wedding dress, despite a first family visit to Oscar de la Renta last week. [NYDN]
•Anne Hathaway totally lied when she said she wouldn’t be attending any fashion shows this week. She and Raffaello Follieri were at Miss Sixty. [The Cut]
• Sheryl Crow enters the fashion arena, with an affordable denim line by the same people who make Victoria Beckham’s dVb line. [WWD]
Hillary Clinton Is Going to Get So Busted by Anna WintourMEDIA
• Hillary Clinton pulled out of a Vogue shoot this past fall because she was afraid of looking too feminine, and editor Anna Wintour subsequently wrote an editor’s letter about how disappointed she was. Now, Hillary’s in Bazaar’s February issue, wearing a miniskirt and platform heels! (That bears repeating: A miniskirt and platform heels.)* Anna’s going to be pissed. [WWD]
• Sam Zell has ordered that the Tribune’s Internet content filters be removed. “I do not see how a member of the Fourth Estate, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, can censor what its own employees and partners can see,” he writes. “You are now exposed to the dangers of YouTube and Facebook. Please use your best judgment.” Also, apparently if said judgment compels you to send internal communications to Romenesko, so be it. [Romenesko]
• The WGA took two big demands off the table — unionization for animated movies and reality TV — and negotiations may now finally focus on paying writers for digital content. [LAT]
Thay It Ain’t So! Merrill Chief Loses Part of BonusFINANCE
• The falling market has shaved off a big chunk of Wall Street hottie John Thain’s compensation. Don’t worry, Thainie-boy, we still love you. [DealBook/NYT]
• Wondering what the hell’s happening in the markets? Watch one trader lose his life savings in a single day. (NSFW) [Crossing Wall Street]
• Ex–Goldman banker becomes underwater gravedigger. Say what? [NYT]
At Least Sam Zell Is Pragmatic About the Fact That Most Journalists Are Functional AlcoholicsMEDIA
• Sam Zell, the real-estate tycoon turned media mogul, took his brusque, fake-folksy style to his minions at the Tribune with a new employee manual. A few samples: “7.1. If you use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated. … Coming to work drunk is bad judgment. 7.2. If you do not use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated.” Also, “You may want to think twice before you enter into an intimate relationship with a co-worker. When you start, it might seem like a good idea. It’s when you stop, or the wrong people find out (and they will) that you could discover that perhaps it wasn’t.” [WP, Tribune]
• Judith Regan on Giuliani: “Is he getting uglier? Is his face looking more twisted? What happened to him?” Don’t feel too bad, Rudy. You know what they say: When someone teases you like this, it means she likes you. [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Facebook threatened to revoke Nick Denton’s account after the blog-lord posted pics of Steve Brill’s recent-college-grad daughter Emily. [Gawker, Daily Brief/Portfolio]
Some Necessary Advice for Sam ZellToday Business Week’s Jon Fine has a bunch of advice for new Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell. It’s all about how to make the most of his recent acquisition and includes counsel like “Outsource all printing,” “Don’t fall for the mirage of synergy,” and “Don’t be afraid of price hikes.” Very technical stuff, and probably very useful. But come on. Zell is a new media baron. He has much more important changes to worry about, like how to change his personal life and habits in order to fit the role! Not just anybody can be a press lord. It takes a specific breed of crotchety old men with unique sexual proclivities and horrendous progeny to fit the bill. So we’ve come up with some advice for Zell that has actual practical applications. Without further ado:
• Dump your wife of many years and immediately marry a much younger, much more Asian version.
• Pit your children against one another in a battle to become your heir apparent, in which none have any hope of winning.
• Start getting mad about Israel.
• Get to work on that gin-blossom look.
• Begin hanging around with Tom Wolfe or an equivalent writer who will fictionalize you and talk appropriately about your masculinity.
• Get anointed as a member of the Order of Letters or Knights of the Garter from a foreign nation. Then insist upon being called “Lord.”
• Pick a nemesis, preferably one whose company is already weakening. Then attack!
• Sleep with Jane Fonda. If possible, make her feel bad about herself.
Come on, Sammy! Get started! Those kids won’t disinherit themselves!
You’ve Got Tribune. Now Do Something [Business Week]
Wall Street’s Golden Idols All Have Feet of ClayFINANCE
• The struggle to find a successor at Merrill and Citi demonstrates another big flaw in the current culture of Wall Street: Do-or-die standards, and growing demands on public executives, have left firms with no succession plan and few capable of stepping in to take over. Both firms have been forced to turn outside for help: Laurence Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, has been approached about O’Neal’s old job, while Robert Willumstad and John Thain are in the lead to take Prince’s place. [WSJ]
• Why did Chuck Prince and Stan O’Neal fail? They took Gordon Gecko’s favorite maxim—”I create nothing, I own”—a little too seriously, and forgot the other part of banking is to sell, sell, sell. [NYT]
• Andrew Ross Sorkin dons his Miss Manners cap to explain the rules of corporate courting—and why Stan O’Neal’s worrywart parents, the Merrill Lynch board, were only looking for an excuse when they grounded him for asking Wachovia to “merge.” [NYT]