Intelligencer: December 27–January 3

Illustration by Vault 49

It Happens This Week
• New faces on New Year’s Eve: Regis Philbin subs for Dick Clark, Hollywood host Ryan Seacrest fronts Fox special; Chicago rock band Wilco plays the Garden.
• The New York National Boat Show, the world’s oldest, celebrates its 100th anniversary at the Javits Center (with a 26,000-gallon warm-water tank for first-time scuba divers).
• And Adi (Chloë Sevigny’s a fan) launches his own, much-anticipated beauty salon, Simadi. Happy New Year.

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Donny Deutsch’sMoney-Talks Show
A synergistic strategy for success at CNBC?
CNBC recently replaced John McEnroe’s disastrous nightly talk show with buff ad guru Donny Deutsch’s somewhat more popular one, The Big Idea. As a TV personality, Deutsch has certainly exceeded expectations. But sources say the adman’s rise at CNBC may have as much to do with his synergistic skills as with his ability to get a good interview out of Jenna Jameson. Since his show debuted in early 2004, he’s been running it like his own cable-access program, says a source close to the host: wrangling advertisers from his client list and sometimes using his own money to up the budget “beyond what [CNBC] is willing to pay.” The source adds, “He’s not in this for the money, that’s for sure, and he’ll do anything to make it a success.” Deutsch sold his agency to Interpublic for $265 million in 2000, though he still runs it. But Bob Meyers, CNBC senior VP of prime-time programming, responds, “Categorically false, full stop.” And a Deutsch rep concurs. “He’s not paying a dime,” he says. “Deutsch is making an average salary, and in terms of his own clients, one or two of them advertise, and it goes directly through CNBC.”
—Jacob Bernstein

Déjà Park Vue
Rupert Murdoch’s new (old) address.
Rupert Murdoch’s record-breaking, front-page-of-the-Times, $44 million purchase of the Rockefeller penthouse at 834 Fifth Avenue is, as it turns out, something of a homecoming for the media baron. He lived in the building once before, in the late seventies, when he first owned the New York Post (and long before he started Fox News). Back then, his grand address was known as being the most liberal white-glove building on Fifth, under its then–board president, Laurance Rockefeller. And in 1978, it broke an earlier price barrier as the location of the first Manhattan apartment to sell for more than $1 million—to Antenor Patino, the Bolivian tin dealer.

Libeskind’s New Stage:
A Yiddish theater on Curry Row.
Finally, Daniel Libeskind has found a New York project that David Childs and Larry Silverstein can’t get in the way of. He’s overseeing the redesign of the Community Synagogue, a rectitudinous 1848 edifice on the relentlessly tacky Indian-food block of East 6th Street, to make it into the permanent home for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre (which was founded 90 years ago and has been performing at borrowed venues for the past three decades). But don’t expect anything too radical, à la the steep voids and shardlike forms of Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin. This is more a question of supervising the conversion of the pews into 300 theater seats, sloping the floor, and adding an elevator. Nonetheless, it’s “an inspiring project,” says Libeskind, a childhood accordion prodigy who went to Yiddish-speaking summer camp. “It’s emotional. It’s theater of the heart.” And it’s miles away from ground zero.
—Susan Avery

Wannabe Spitzers
The suddenly sexy race forattorney general.
Eliot Spitzer’s “Sheriff of Wall Street” routine has made the usually wonky attorney general’s race a battle royal between glamour Dems trying to restart their careers. “Eliot showed the office can gain a nationwide media spotlight,” says political consultant George Arzt. And so at a recent Spitzer fund-raiser, the chatter dwelled on which of his would-be successorsin attendance (Mark Green, Andrew Cuomo) might get his blessing. Spitzer isn’t saying, but the city’s legal Establishment has already started taking sides. Doug Dunham and Laurie Rothenberg, who chaired Lawyers for Kerry in New York, now run Lawyers for Green. They’re holding a January 11 event at Green’s Flatiron loft, at which David Boies will speak. Though Green (like Cuomo) hasn’t announced yet, the invite blares “MG4AG.” Only 23 months until Election Day.
—Greg Sargent

9/11: The German Video Game
It’s not tasteless, it’s art.
If running over prostitutes in Vice City wasn’t enough mayhem for you, soon there’s going to be a video game that will let you relive 9/11. You’ll even be able to be a hero. Set for a 2006 release, Survivor, by German-based Replay Studios, lets you try to make it out alive from a variety of catastrophes: the Titanic, Hiroshima (we’re not sure how you get out of that one), and this year’s fire in a Paraguayan supermarket. Gamers also play firefighter in the World Trade Center, helped along by what Replay promises are “cinematic special visual effects.” You’ll “have to save many victims,” e-mails co-producer Claus Wohlgemuth. But if you think this is in poor taste, you need to realize, these are artists you’re dealing with. “Disasters have always been a source of inspiration for great dramas, novels, paintings, and films,” he adds.
—Brian Kennedy

Is There A Doctor In The Opera House?
Singles’ night at the Met: few men—but some are M.D.’s.
It’s tough to meet a straight single man in this town, especially one who likes opera. Two weeks into sales for the Met’s February 10 singles’ night, almost three times more women than men had bought the $95 tickets. The female list was closed, leaving some in tears. One offered to volunteer for the nonexistent “Meet Me at the Met” planning committee. Another wondered if they’d really turn her away if she just “showed up in a ball gown.” Yes. But why are these women so keen anyway? Think Frasier Crane. “We do get a lot of doctors,” says a Met insider. And Met publicist Peter Clark promises the gender balance will right itself somewhat: At “our previous singles’ nights, women signed up months in advance, while men called at the last minute.”


Intelligencer: December 27–January 3