Oprah’s Politics ClubOprah is throwing a $2,300-a-head fund-raiser for Barack Obama at her ranch in Montecito, California, and it’s sold out. Writer Robert Olen Butler’s wife, Elizabeth Dewberry, left him for Ted Turner, perhaps because Turner resembles the grandfather who once molested her. The Good Morning America intern who posed nude (for Playboy) is named Lace Rose Allenius, and she once dated Matt Dillon. Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, Billy Crystal, and Joe Torre won a charity golf tourney by nine strokes. Uma Thurman is dating Elle Macpherson’s ex, Swiss banker Arky Busson. Lindsay Lohan’s bodyguard has received half-million-dollar offers to sell her out, but he won’t do it. Members of Usher’s camp maintain that fiancée Tameka Foster made up her “baby scare” so Usher would talk to her. Cindy Sheehan sang along to Cypress Hills’ “Fuck the Pigs” while drinking beer at a Randalls Island concert.
the morning line
• It’s down to the wire — the deadline for the legislature to approve Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing plan is today — and the still-unbowed mayor is pulling out all stops: Yesterday, he campaigned for it in three churches, fer chrissakes. [NYT]
Yes, the blackout yesterday sucked. But it could have been worse: You could have been trying to get home to Westchester.
*Yes, yes. This used to be headlined “Rabbit Stranded.” It was early and we were tired and we mixed up our Updike and our Cheever. Sorry.
The Hard Life of a Party Reporter: Choppering Upstate for LunchWe’re not going to say we weren’t tempted when the Champagne company offered to fly us by helicopter for a lobster lunch in the courtyard of an old Vanderbilt mansion upstate, but we also remembered that we are reporters. We only gave in to temptation when we were promised there would also be plenty of socialites in attendance for us to make fun ofreport on. This proved not to be true: We counted just Valesca Guerrand- Hermès, Genevieve Jones, and floral designer/man- about-town Antony Todd, though Olivia Palermo was perpetually supposed to be on the next helicopter over. Still, we got the lunch.
it just happened
Indian Point Reports Fire, But No Leak
After a fire in the transformer yard at Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester, Reactor No. 3 was shut down late this morning. The fire was extinguished by Indian Point staff, and officials don’t believe any radioactive material was released. No problem for now (so they say!), but we were reminded of the magazine’s handy 2005 guide to “When Bad Things Happen.” In short, let’s hope the winds are blowing north today. And pick up some potassium iodide on the way home. Just in case.
Transformer Yard Fire Prompts Shutdown of Indian Point 3 [The Journal News]
When Bad Things Happen [NYM]
Martha Stewart Is Scared of WestchesterMartha Stewart cancelled a book signing in Westchester because she didn’t want to deal with questions from residents as to why she was trying to trademark the name “Katonah.” Ellen Barkin played coy when asked about whether she slept with George Clooney. Some critics disagree with Out magazine’s decision to put Anderson Cooper and Jodie Foster on the cover. The Clintons are going on vacation to the Dominican Republic to hang out with the de la Rentas. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts are pushing up their nuptials so they can tie the knot before Watts gives birth. An NBC flack snapped back at CBS producer Steve Friedman for his comments about the Today show’s slipping ratings. Woody Johnson is making his 60th birthday party a costume affair so feuding family members Libet and Casey won’t recognize each other.
the morning line
• The City Council has approved — 49-0 — a symbolic ban on the N-word; the ban carries no penalties but already seems to be in effect, seeing that not a single publication covering it can bring itself to print the slur. [Newsday]
• And on the same day, a man pleaded guilty to scrawling “anti-Semitic slurs” — also unspecified — on cars parked near a Queens synagogue. City Council, get bannin’! [amNY]
• The Splasher, an anonymous culprit who defaces street art with violent handfuls of paint, has earned a chin-scratching Times profile. As expected, at issue is the line between “respectable” graffiti (Banksy, Swoon) and Splasher’s vandalism. Or is it art? [NYT]
• OMG Madonna’s collection at H&M! We’re more than a little perplexed why this is front-page material to the Daily News, so feel free to point out some sort of Mort-Madonna link we’ve accidentally missed. [NYDN]
• And in a particularly bizarre round of Mad Libs, a 46-year-old dominatrix … was busted for weapons possession … in a $3 million Bedford Hills mansion … owned by an Orthodox rabbinical school. [NYP]
in other news
He Vants to … Avoid Traffic on the Henry Hudson
The towering turrets, the pine-swathed Carpathians, the wolves baying at the moon — what piece of real estate has creepier curb appeal than that thirteenth-century Transylvanian pile, Dracula’s Castle? It’s now on the market for $78 million, a price that would have even the most blood-sucking Manhattan brokers grasping for their silver crosses. But, then, those New York Realtors might well have an in with the owner: Sixty-nine-year-old Dominic von Habsburg lives in the Westchester burg of North Salem. Descended from Austro-Hungarian royalty, von Habsburg is a furniture designer living in a decidedly un-Gothic, one-floor contemporary. “My friends call it a house for easy living,” says von Habsburg, who built the home a few years ago. “It’s very airy, simple and full of light.”
the morning line
Goya, Oh, Boy-a!
• The female victim of yesterday’s strange shooting died. The attacked couple, who share a cul-de-sac with the Clintons in Chappaqua, were supposedly run off the road in an ambush. The husband, a disbarred lawyer, is in the hospital; cops are finding his account of the events somewhat odd; and we’re getting a queasy feeling that we’ll be returning to this story quite a bit. [WNBC]
• Good news: New York State’s top court has green-lighted an almost $2 billion increase in funding for New York City’s schools. Bad news: Lower courts had ruled the city deserved $4.7 billion. Squaring the ruling with campaign pledges to boost funding much further is Spitzer’s first homework assignment. [NYT]
• Now that Citigroup is paying the Mets $20 million a year to call the new ballpark Citi Field, the MTA wants in. The Daily News reports that the authority is in talks with the Citi people about renaming the closest subway stop. In other news, meet our new cat Citi. We prefer cash. [NYDN]
• Not sure whether Michael Richards’s appalling comedy-club outburst was our territory — he is, after all, only a fictional New Yorker — but am New York made him a cover story today, so there you go: TV’s Kramer is a racist and sucks at shutting down hecklers. Also, he was weird on Letterman. Video, etc. Blech. [amNY]
• The stolen Goya is back! The FBI recovered 1778’s Children With a Cart, stolen two weeks ago in Pennsylvania, after a New Jersey man recognized the painting “from media coverage.” And not just because it was, you know, a Goya. In New Jersey. [NYP]
the morning line
Attacks, Affairs, and VFW Fundraisers
• A Westchester married couple who live on the Clintons’ cul-de-sac were ambushed and shot on their way to their Chappaqua home Saturday night. Both remain in the hospital. Suspects abound; the husband, Carlos Perez-Olivo, is a high-profile lawyer recently disbarred amid accusations of incompetence. [amNY]
• The Post breaks out the dollar sign for “McLaughlin’s ‘Lavi$hed’ Lady,” about a spa operator whom married assemblyman and labor leader Brian McLaughlin reportedly romanced. Add this to the already epic list of his malfeasances, which, we’ll never tire of reminding you, included stealing from the Little League. [NYP]
• In a Coen brothers movie come to life, four masked gunmen held up a poker fund-raiser at a VFW hall in Franklin Square, Long Island, and took the game’s pot. The robbers also helped themselves to the guests’ wallets and cell phones. They’d even, evidently, cased the joint before. [WNBC]
• In media-on-media news, we’ll note the Daily News’ Stanley Crouch telling young black men to grow up. Filming a “popular program for black youths,” the columnist found himself “surrounded by black men, ages 18 to 35, and I was appalled. As a father with a daughter nearly 30 years old who has never been close to marrying anyone, I was once more struck by what my offspring describes as ‘a lack of suitable men.’” [NYDN]
• And in a bit of media-on-media-on-media news, TVNewser comes in for its big New York Times close-up, executed along the usual narrative lines of “OMG kid with blog” and “Isn’t this what the Web was invented for.” To its credit, the Times also gets a great quote from the game Brian Williams, who compares the blogger to The King of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin. [NYT]
New York Lawyer, Charged With Rape, Found Dead“It’s bizarre, unfortunate,” Steve Coleman, an Atlanta police officer, was saying about New York attorney Andrew Gardner.
Gardner, 39, was a litigation partner at Fried Frank. He had been an undergrad at Harvard and had gone to NYU for law school. He lived in Armonk with his wife and three kids. And he was found dead, a presumed suicide, on Monday.
in other news
Take the 8:15 Into the City, or Out of It
Score another defeat for John Cheever. The world immortalized in his classic short story “The Five Forty-Eight” — about an emotionally distant adman who lives in the fictional Westchester suburb of Shady Hill — has long gone the way of the three-martini lunch. But now it seems even the very idea of the Westchester commuter could be disappearing, too: For the first time in the 23-year history of Metro-North, less than half its riders are commuters from the suburbs into Manhattan, according to a report in today’s Times — 49.3 percent, to be exact, down from 65.3 percent of riders in 1984.