Intelligencer: November 15-22, 2004

Illustration by Vault 49

It Happens This Week
• Disney fourth-quarter earnings released: Will Desperate Housewives mitigate hurricane damage to theme-park receipts?
• Almodóvar’s Bad Education—Gael García Bernal in drag—opens.
• Le Beaujolais Nouveau trickles in.
• Manhattan is, indeed, modern again.
• Sports and entertainment greats collide on Sunday: Michael Vick at Giants Stadium; LeBron James at the Garden; Minnie Driver at the Bowery Ballroom.

Photo: Theo Wargo/Wireimage

Hillary’s Quiet Partners
She gets her posse together for 2006—or is it ’08?
As Senator Clinton gears up for her reelection campaign, she’s quietly hired the Glover Park Group, the New York–D.C. communications-consulting firm that employs two of her most trusted outside advisers,Gigi Georges and Howard Wolfson (who confirmed the firm’s now on retainer). By formally enlisting Glover, she’s not just ramping up for ’06, but also creating a vehicle for a possible White House run. Her aides point out that it’s not a coincidence that Patti Solis Doyle, who’s headed up her national political operation, Hillpac, also joined Glover at around the time Hillary inked her deal. “This is a successful model other presidential candidates have followed,” says one Hillary-ite. “By sending her people into a consulting firm, it allows them more latitude while keeping them more under the radar. She hasn’t made a decision, but why shouldn’t she put everything in place, should she decide to go?”
—Greg Sargent

Photo: Courtesy of Moshe Brakha/ABC

Can The Woman BehindDesperate Housewives
save Martha Stewart?
When Alexis Stewart and Susan Lyne huddled together at Michael’s on October 26, few thought anything of it. “I see her there all the time,” says another diner. “I just thought she was there to give them advice on Martha’s possible reality show.” But then it all made sense last week, when Lyne, the blonde, flawlessly turned-out founder of Premiere who became president of ABC Entertainment, was named the next CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia (New York broke the news on its Website last week). It’s unclear whether Lyne has much homemaking experience. But before being fired last spring from ABC, she’d green-lighted Desperate Housewives, now the network’s runaway hit. Earlier this fall, we asked her why the show worked, and she gave an answer that might apply to the attraction of Stewart’s empire of desperate housewives, too: “It’s a guilty pleasure,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily reflect what women’s lives really are.”
—Jacob Bernstein

Le Cirque2005
Step right up to CPS!But will Kissinger be able to find it for takeout?
Sirio Maccioni has finally found a new big top. On New Year’s Day, Le Cirque 2000 ends its seven-year run in the Palace Hotel—having sated the likes of Ahmet Ertegun, Rudy Giuliani, and Ron Perelman. By Labor Day, Maccioni plans to open a new place in the former Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South. The building is being converted into condos, and he’s close to buying its restaurant space (brokered by Corcoran’s Neal Sroka) for around $10 million. When Maccioni first moved to the Palace, his landlord, the Sultan of Brunei, paid the build-out costs. But management changed, the hotel’s union got more expensive, and, he says, “Here, I can’t change a light bulb without permission from Landmarks.” Being sultan of his own space will be a relief. The only trick is to get the power lunchers to follow. He’s not worried: “If I just wanted to make money, I’d open four pizza-and-crème-caramel-to-go places in all four corners of Manhattan,” Maccioni shrugs. “My ego has already been paid.”
—Deborah Schoeneman

Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Brown Out
Tina flees a postelection dinner debate.
The day John Kerry conceded, Tina Brown was as beleaguered as the rest of Manhattan’s opinionistas. Still, she went to a dinner at the Park Avenue home of private-equity investor and dinner-table antagonist Jeffrey Leeds. According to a fellow diner, Brown mused about “feeling that the person in the White House has no imagination.” When Leeds pressed her on whether her beef was about “sensibilities” or “policy,” she brought up Roe v. Wade. “Have you read it?” asked Leeds, who clerked for Justice Brennan. “If you’re going to be an educated person you should. It’s not that long.” Brown stalked out before the flourless chocolate cake was served. She denies leaving early, saying they’re “great friends.” Leeds agrees, but admits the conversation was “spirited.”
—Carl Swanson

Sir Richard’s Real TV Prize: His Twin Nephews
At a Soho House screening last week of his Fox show The Rebel Billionaire, Richard Branson toasted his guinea-pig contestants, one of whom has already been selected to be his $10 billion company’s president, if the premiere episode is to be believed. “We haven’t spelled out exactly what the company president of Virgin means,” hedged Sir Richard. For the losing female players, the sort-of-star-studded (Carol Alt, Ashleigh Banfield, DMC) party at least offered matching consolation prizes: Branson’s identical twin twentysomething nephews, Ludo and Milo Brockway. The handsome Brits, champion kitesurfers, stand to inherit some of Branson’s bucks. By night’s end, an industrious blonde contestant in a cherry-patterned dress was laughing into one of the twins’ lapels.
—Ned Martel

The 90-Headed Finalist Is Feeling Grumpy
The spectacle of W.W. Norton & Co., the publisher of the best-selling “authorized” edition of The 9/11 Commission Report, being fêted at the National Book Awards this week already has some of the 90 co-authors grumbling. They didn’t receive royalties, and Norton has not yet found a promised charity for some of its profits. But the history professor who headed the writing staff, Philip Zelikow, did get paid for narrating Norton’s eight-hour, $35 audio version of the report. He’s also set off eye-rolling for meddling in congressional negotiations over the report’s conclusions. (Commission chairman Thomas Kean made it clear Zelikow was speaking for himself.) Then there’s the issue of who’s attending the awards ceremony. “I’ve been invited, and I think I’ll accept,” says Zelikow, who’ll be joined by Kean and four other co-authors. But one uninvitee says, “There are going to be a lot of people unhappy with him swanning around in his tuxedo.”
—Carl Swanson

Photo: Courtesy of LMDC

Freedom’s Not Free
Says an Architect Who Claims David Childs Stole His Design
“No one wants to sue a multinational corporation,” says architect Thomas Shine. But last week, he filed a copyright suit against David Childs and his multinational architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The suit contends that Childs saw a design Shine made at Yale in 1999 (right), praised it, and then copied it for the Freedom Tower (left). Childs’s firm concedes the two designs “share common elements,” including the “diagrid” structure, but those things “have been industry standards for years.” So does Shine have a case? Buildings weren’t copyrightable in the U.S. until 1990, so “the law is underdeveloped,” notes an intellectual-property lawyer. (A student sued Rem Koolhaas in Britain and lost.) And while some architects in the city are enjoying Childs’s latest problems with the Freedom Tower, others wondered why he was even named as a defendant. As one woman at a high-profile firm asked, “Didn’t Libeskind design the tower?”
—Kate Pickert

Photo: Andrea Renault/Globe Photos

Young Scions Gun for an Old Prosecutor
A group of young socialites has found an unlikely cause: Leslie Crocker Snyder, the former State Supreme Court justice who’s challenging Robert Morgenthau in next year’s D.A. election. Bankrollers include trader Theodore Roosevelt V, Donald Trump Jr. (pictured left), and developer-prince Harry LeFrak. “We know her personally,” says Roosevelt V, 29, who’s friends with her son, Douglas Snyder. “We talked amongst ourselves and said, ‘This is a really qualified candidate.’ ” The group, which hopes to raise $50,000 for Snyder at Marquee this Wednesday, claims the 85-year-old Morgy is too old. Plus, “lately, it seems as though anyone whose secretary puts a comma in the wrong place is in jeopardy of prosecution,” says Trump Jr., 26. “While white-collar crime is important, we need someone who will really prosecute criminals—rapists and killers.”
—Greg Sargent

Edited by Carl Swanson

Intelligencer: November 15-22, 2004