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.
It’s Hard Out Here for a Public-Radio Fund-raiserIt’s not easy soliciting money for a good cause, and, indeed, a recent e-mail exchange among execs at WNYC, New York’s public-radio station, exposes the delicate art of not-for-profit fund-raising. Under discussion was a press release to announce a fund-raising campaign for the station’s new Varick Street headquarters. The first draft of the release lacked a statement from Dawn Greene, widow of philanthropist Jerome Greene, whose $6 million gift was the largest ever made to a public-radio station. “Why not include a quote from Dawn?” wonders Laura Walker, WNYC’s president and CEO, in a leaked e-mail. “[It would] allow someone else to say nice things about us.”
WNYC Unveils Its New Home, Tastefully
Public-radio pooh-bahs including Ira Glass, Jonathan Schwartz, and Brian Lehrer were among the 150 or so who gathered this morning for breakfast in the Varick Street building that will soon house WNYC’s airy new studios. (The station was heretofore crammed into a tight warren of offices near the top of the Municipal Building.) The new digs will feature a these-days de rigueur street-level studio with seating for 120 and picture windows onto the sidewalk. Kristen Chenoweth hosted, her typically perky self despite getting off a plane, she said, from “the vapid wasteland” of Los Angeles only six hours before. She serenaded Dawn Greene — the name of her late husband, Jerome L. Greene, will grace the street-side space, for which his foundation donated $6 million — and the audience applauded not only the emcee but also themselves for not stooping to the ratings-grabbing level of people like, say, Don Imus. Leonard Lopate, for one, recalled one of the raciest moments on his long-running interview show, when Kurt Vonnegut asked in the middle of a conversation whether Lopate was having an affair with his wife. “I said, ‘I don’t think so,’” recalled the host, who insists he wasn’t. Vonnegut later apologized.
Sarah Vowell Dreams of Bill Nighy and Grange Hall
Name: Sarah Vowell
Job: Writer, contributor to “This American Life.” She will appear at a live performance of the public-radio show tonight at Lincoln Center.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
My favorite New Yorker’s body part is a tie between Peter Stuyvesant’s peg leg and Richard Hell’s Voidoids-era hair.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
Gastronomically, we’re looking at a tie between Babbo and Per Se (I’m allergic to wheat and they baked me my own personal loaf of corn bread), but the honest if annoyingly folksy answer is that my best meals are always at the Old Town Bar, eating red meat with people I really like.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
This time of year I do a lot of readings and speak at colleges, which means I spend about 2 hours at a podium and the other 22 stranded at O’Hare.
in other news
Further Adventures in Fierce, Low-Stakes Battles: Do You Care If the Rushkoffs Leave Brooklyn?
Has any mugging generated a higher word count — both written and aural, now that there’s a WNYC audio clip available — than the fateful moment that parted writer Douglas Rushkoff from his wallet? We’ve read the writer’s original Christmas Eve post, “Merry Christmas: Gimme Your Money” (on his own blog, now temporarily disabled), which led to blanket coverage and furious discussion on other city blogs. We’ve read his wife, Barbara, also a blogger, thrice denying the Borough of Kings: “Brooklyn, Schmooklyn. Yeah, it’s pretty here, but we are surrounded by crime … It costs $2,000 a year to insure my wedding ring.” One can hear the faint rustle of public sympathy falling away at this point. “Nah, I am not liking it here much now … We outta here.” (That original post is now gone, too). And we’ve read well-meaning bromides from the Rushkoffs’ colleague and neighbor, Steven Berlin Johnson, who’s trying to keep his friends from leaving: “Where else in the country can you go from the houses of world-famous authors and movie stars to Hasidic Jews and working-class African-Americans all in the space of about twenty blocks?” (Um, ever cross 110th Street?)