November 1, 2004
There’s only one antidote to the claustrophobically dangerous state of affairs that is being a reporter in Baghdad: pool party! This summer, the Times built a pool behind one of its houses near the Palestine Hotel. But don’t get the idea that it’s turned the bureau into Melrose Place. If it’s not the heat—in late summer, the water was too swampy to swim in—it’s the insurgency. As Times reporter Dexter Filkins wrote recently, “On some days, it seems, we are all crowded into a single room together, clutching our notebooks.” Plus, the pool’s not quite big enough for laps. But when you’re underwater, at least the noise of mortar shells is muffled somewhat.
Envious New Yorkers will be able to get an evil eyeful of Marla Maples, naked and wrapped in red string, looming para-religiously over Times Square next month. The 18-by-34-foot billboard (estimated cost: $25,000), next to the Jumbotron, is to promote The Red String Book, the upcoming tome by the Kabbalah Centre’s Rabbi Yehuda Berg. According to Kabbalah.com, “The Red String protects us from the influences of the Evil Eye,” the “unkind glances we sometimes get from people.” (It’s unclear if it works better than shouting “What you lookin’ at?”)
Harvey’s New Tune
There may not be a Miramax as we know it by next year, but that doesn’t mean Harvey Weinstein ever has to grow up: There’s always Broadway. As Oscar buzz builds on Finding Neverland, the Johnny Depp film about J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, Weinstein is already taking meetings to turn it into a musical. “Harvey’s considering it,” confirms his spokesman. He and brother Bob were also producers on The Producers.
Harlem Representative Charles Rangel was an altar boy, and still considers himself a Catholic. But he has little patience with the Denver archbishop who equated voting for John Kerry with “cooperating with evil,” thus requiring confession. “I don’t know if priests go to confession,” says Rangel. “I just wonder whether priests confess to each other what they’re doing to our children. They ought to put a district attorney in some of these confessional boxes.”
The Soros family, which has thrown gobs of cash around to drive Bush from the White House and instill democracy in Eastern Europe, has trained its sights on another not-so-open society: Albany. Robert Soros, deputy chairman of Soros Fund Management, recently hosted a dinner at his Greenwich Village home, where Dems asked around 30 high-rollers, including Paul Francis, Susan and Alan Patricof, and psychologist Gail Furman, for help in taking back the State Senate from the GOP this year. The Soroses have contributed $200,000 to the effort, led by State Senators Eric Schneiderman and David Paterson. “If we can’t gain a foothold in New York,” asks Soros, “how can we expect to gain power elsewhere?”