Pauley’s Problem

November 8, 2004

Pauley’s Problem
Jane Pauley’s daytime show was supposed to be the Oprah killer—or at least grab a chunk of Winfrey’s surprisingly upmarket audience. (The real effect of the home office seems to be that daytime demos are now college-educated.) It was an expensive, ambitious launch for NBC Universal, personally backed by NBCU TV Group president Jeff Zucker, who in 1989 got his first job on Today thanks to Pauley. The show started big—with a 2.4 Nielsen rating—but her ratings have since fallen, and some markets have moved her to less competitive time slots. Now there’s rampant chatter at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where the show shoots, that Pauley could be off the air before the end of December. One rumored replacement: the defrocked beauty queen Vanessa Williams, who’s been discussing a show with NBCU. However, the company says things are looking up. “There’s no truth to that rumor,” says a spokesperson, who promised “a whole bunch of great new exciting things” for the November sweeps, including “possibly Paul Newman.”

Racial Politics
Next year’s mayoral election sounds a little uncompelling right now. But campaign consultants are buzzing about a demographic milestone: It could be the first time that white voters make up less than half the electorate. Exit polls have shown that the white vote has declined from 56 percent in 1989 to 52 percent in 2001. According to a back-of-the-envelope formulation circulating among city politicos, if Fernando Ferrer faces Mike Bloomberg, count on Hispanic voters being as much as 22 percent. Add to that the 23 percent blacks and 7 percent Asians and other nonwhites that voted in 2001. Total: up to 52 percent nonwhite. One adherent to this math is political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who says it’s a “virtual certainty that the ’05 election will be majority-minority.” Which could mean that pandering to the “three Is”—Italy, Ireland, and Israel—will be replaced by other sorts of appeals. Bloomberg, for one, is taking Spanish lessons again.
—Greg Sargent

Ice Capades
There’s no ice hockey for now because of the NHL lockout, but a brawl is brewing nonetheless. And the sex-discrimination lawsuit filed by former Rangers cheerleaders-on-ice squad captain Courtney Prince threatens to put a journalist in the penalty box. Prince’s lawyer, Kathleen Peratis, warns that if the case goes to trial, she’ll probably have to “out” the “other male” who was with the cheerleader and Madison Square Garden executive Jason Vogel the night the two men allegedly tried, according to the suit, to get her to “have sex … right then and there.” (“There” being the bathroom of Daddy-O on Bedford Street.) Peratis, whose firm recently won a $54 million sex-discrimination lawsuit against Morgan Stanley, won’t disclose the other male’s identity—yet—but will allow that he’s a local sportswriter. MSG will file a response to the lawsuit next month, but won’t comment on the case.
—Kate Pickert

It Happened To Me
“I was the typical Jane girl,” says 24-year-old Annebet Duvall: plucky, punky, a bit goth. But maybe too plucky, because shortly after Fashion Week she was fired from her job as associate fashion editor at Jane for doing too much freelance styling. Then her mother was flipping through the November issue “and my face fell out.” It was on a blow-in subscription card, an outtake from a Jane story in which she’d dressed up in advertiser’s clothes (“so we wouldn’t lose their business”). Now she’s out of work and “there’s this horrible picture of me all over the country” dressed head to toe in American Eagle. Jane refused to comment. But Duvall will get her revenge. She’s writing her memoirs.

The Moon Boot, this year’s Ugg, has been around since just after Neil Armstrong’s giant leap. Its original maker, the Italian manufacturer Tecnica (best known for ski boots), is happy that the look’s hip again but determined not to be walked all over. “There are all these little ankle-biters out there who don’t understand they can’t use the Moon Boot name,” says Tecnica’s director of product management, Kevin Dixon, who’s been busy chasing down companies who’ve adopted the name for their boots (including, he says, Timberland and Regina). He’s even taken his war to Today’s producers, because, he says, their fashion arbiter, Steven Cojocaru, uses the term on-air for boots from other lines. That settled, he can get back to skiing.
—Beth Landman

Pauley’s Problem