Richard Branson to Kick Off Virgin Hotel Chain in New York?Bajillionaire Branson may be spending more time in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Cablevision lawyer Harvey L. Beneson mortgages his Hamptons house to pay off his lawsuit, UBS clients run scared as a federal investigation warms up, and another magazine catering to the rich appears on the horizon, in today’s roundup of news from the worlds of real estate, law, finance, and media.
Katrina vanden Heuvel Gets Most of Her Talking Points From Jezebel’The Nation’ editor and publisher reminds lady bloggers that imitation is flattery, Dick Grasso heads to court, and either a W or a Westin sets its sights on the Lower East Side — all that and more, in our daily digest of media, finance, real-estate, and law news.
Mo Rocca Dreams of a Psychosexual Thriller Starring Bill ClintonLast night at Joe’s Pub, four teams made up of Broadway composers, directors, writers, actors, and assorted other creatives unveiled the works they had produced for the inaugural 24 Hour Musicals, which, like the annual 24 Hour Plays event, requires contestants to prepare a musical from scratch in just 24 hours. We swung by and took the opportunity to ask the punchy participants a question that’s been rolling around our heads since Iowa: If the presidential candidates were in a musical, what would it be? “I would do a musical about people that live under the subways, like the subway moles, and I would cast John McCain as, like, the leader of the underground subterranean people,” actress Ashlie Atkinson said breathlessly. “And then I would cast Hillary Clinton as a developer who is trying to destroy their oasis.” Mo Rocca had other ideas. “I think it would be a psychosexual thriller about Bill Clinton trying to hook up with Michelle Obama,” he said. “I’m currently obsessed with Michelle Obama. And, um, I think she’s beautiful. I think she’s dynamic. I think there will be legions of drag queens soon dressing up as Michelle Obama. She’s just a great sort of larger-than-life figure.” But what about Hillary? Is Hillary really musical material? “Umm,” he paused to think. “She’s tough with musicals. Hillary’s just not really very musical.” —Amy Odell
Click here to see video Mo, Kerry Butler, and others chatting with New York and performing in the 24 Hour Musicals.
‘CosmoGIRL!’ Parties Like It’s Freshman Year All Over AgainLast night saw loads of magazine parties: The blazered GQ staff boogied down at Passerby, Wenner Media rocked out at Madison in the meatpacking district, and W celebrated its continued existence at Death & Co. We didn’t go to any of those, because we were at New York’s own fiesta at the Cub Room. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you much about that, partly because we’re not allowed to but mostly because we can’t remember much — except that we were pleased to learn that our co-workers like to party. And that Jessica Coen will do the splits if you ask her nicely. But we can offer you a report from inside the CosmoGirl soirée, held at the decidedly un-girlie Rumours, a tinsel-decked, wood-paneled sports bar on Eighth Avenue in midtown.
Pandit and Willumstad to Share the Ultimate Power?FINANCE
• The newest Citigroup rumors suggest a “tag team at the top”: Financial whiz Vikram Pandit will take over as CEO, while the more socially astute Robert Willumstad handles chairman duties. We’re just not sure “tag team” means the same thing for us as it does the Times? [DealBook/NYT]
• Morgan Stanley issued a full recession alert for the U.S. economy today in the oh-so-subtly titled “Recession Coming.” Meanwhile, a recent Journal poll of top economists puts the risk of recession at 38 percent. [Telegraph, WSJ]
• Thirtysomething Blackstone real-estate guru Jonathan Gray is getting rather comfortable in the top tier of the young establishment. [DealBook/NYT]
Rove, Regan and Rather: Crazy? Or Crazy Like Foxes?MEDIA
• How did Judith Regan’s high-level lawyers let her bat-shit-crazy legal complaint get through? Oh that’s right, she’s Judith Regan. [Legal Pad/Fortune]
• CBS finally got around to filing their motion to dismiss Dan Rather’s suit. The network claims they are “mystified” by Rather’s “bizarre allegations,” and that the lawsuit amounts to a “regrettable attempt by plaintiff Dan Rather to remain in the public eye, and to settle old scores and perceived slights, based on an array of far-fetched allegations.” [NYO]
• Karl Rove signed on to become a regular contributor to Newsweek. Maybe they should consider changing their slogan to “fair and balanced”? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
Robin Williams, One-Man BandRobin Williams was in rare (okay, typical) form last night at the premiere of his new schmaltzy caper, August Rush. In it, he plays a Fagan-like proprietor of an abandoned theater, home to a gang of musical orphans (really). We asked him if he ever played a musical instrument in real life. “Yes,” he said, “and I’ve been asked to stop.” Turns out he spent some time playing the sax: “I did a black blues-player set,” he said; then he turned into a black blues player: “Man, you just gotta relax! You gotta make love to it, don’t hurt it, you know?” But his favorite music, he said, is the music of New York. “Look around you,” he exclaimed. “It’s like Gershwin flowin’! It’s got music, girl, everywhere. Uptown, downtown” — he turned into a feisty Latina. “Hola, mira, Mami. You got this thing, and it just keeps you movin’, ju know? You gotta have it, Papi. You know, leesten, leesten. Iss all crazy! You got to have music! And then you have the Russian clubs in Brooklyn” — with this he made some Russian-seeming sounds — “and Jewish music, Vhot, music!? It’s klezmer, what! Music to flee by! That’s why we take the skin off our penis — you gotta move! You can’t travel with that! Then you get in a cab” — he made some high-pitched wailing sounds — “Can you turn the radio down? Osama, please.” At this, the publicist began pulling him away, either because she felt enough was enough with the ethnic stereotypes or because the screening was about to begin. In his wake, however, there was a chorus of laughter. —Ben Kawaller
More Party Lines quotes and photos from the August Rush party: Keri Russell’s an instant cello virtuoso; Tamara Tunie philanthropically screws over her relatives.