Intelligencer: January 10–17, 2005

Illustration by Vault 49

It Happens This Week
• Bloomberg gives his State of the City speech.
• Feds release December retail sales report, just as stores’ markdowns reach new heights (and with tourists gone, New Yorkers might even make it inside them).
• Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies’s new play, Brooklyn Boy, begins previews.
• And hipster past meets hipster present when artist Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario Movie opens at Deitch Projects.

Photo: Globe Photos

Post-Disney Harvey May Go Indie
If the studios don’t want him,Miramax big to get small.
Though Harvey Weinstein can’t wrap a deal for his life after Miramax until he settles with Disney, those close to him say his plans involve starting a new independent—perhaps because the studios haven’t exactly been clamoring to sign him to a fat contract. “He’s gone to a number of studios and been turned down,” says one Hollywood exec. “He may still be a gorilla when this is over, but he won’t be 800 pounds,” seconds a studio bigwig. Of course, studios aren’t in the best mood to make a deal: Paramount’s management is changing, andthe execs at Sony, Universal, and DreamWorks are said to not be crazy about Harvey. That leaves places like Warner Bros. and Fox in a position to negotiate. “Harvey’s plan was to do an awful lot of movies with an awful lot of money and an awful lot of autonomy,” says a supporter of his. He and his brother, Bob, “will get a deal, but not at the level they want.” But a spokesman for the Weinsteins says the studios can’t say no if they haven’t been asked. “They haven’t spoken with anyone about their future plans, only about current projects. We’re focused on maximizing profitability and achieving an amicable resolution with Disney.”
—Jacob Bernstein

Photo: Globe Photos

King Tut’s Back.
Will Tupactrial resurrection follow?
The mystery surrounding the 1996 murder of gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur has taken another surprising turn: Walter “King Tut” Johnson, the much-talked-about suspect in Tupac’s first, nonfatal 1994 Times Square studio shooting, is back in town. He’s been transferred from a Virginia penitentiary, where he was serving life for an unrelated robbery charge, to a cell in lower Manhattan. Some suspected Tut in Tupac’s murder in Las Vegas as well, but Tut denied involvement in both shootings and has never been charged. According to his brother-in-law Richard Garrett, Tut has been in solitary at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since last month, though the family hasn’t been told why he was moved. Perhaps coincidentally, Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant, another onetime Tupac foe, is also now in residence at the MCC. The moves may suggest that federal prosecutors, who did not return calls, could be on the verge of a breakthrough in the ’94 shooting, which might in turn help solve the murder.
—Greg Sargent

Photo: John Barrett/Globe Photos

Jeffersonin Tribeca
Swoosh! Nets forward scores a $4 million loft.
Nets forward Richard Jefferson had been living in Edgewater, New Jersey, close to work, when he realized he was spending so much off-court time in the city (he’s six foot seven, and thus highly visible at Suede and Tao) that he ought to move here. But even people with $78 million contracts have a hard time scoring the right place; it took him a year and a half, the last six months of which he spent living in the Chelsea Mercantile building. This winter, the 24-year-old finally sunk a $4 million, 4,200-square-foot loft on Hudson Street. He cut it down from four bedrooms to two and installed a home theater (part of an entertainment arsenal that includes four 50-inch plasma screens). The view is pretty much of the Holland Tunnel, but that’s one reason he’s there: easy commute to Continental Airlines Arena, and just a hop across the bridge to the Brooklyn one—if it ever gets built.

Sweat Flop:Sports Club/LAgets heat exhaustion.
Will NYC’s own Equinox buy swanky Cali rival?
It seems the flashy California-body-and-lifestyle pioneer Sports Club/LA overdid it a bit (maybe the on-premises dry cleaning left them winded). When the company opened its Reebok Sports Club on Columbus Avenue in 1995, it attracted the boldfaced from Kathleen Turner to Leonardo DiCaprio. (Jerry Seinfeld met Jessica Sklar there, too.) Then it overexpanded—there are ten nationwide, many in mixed-use towers owned by New York–based Millennium Partners (which is also part owner of the clubs). But they’re losing money, and have run into increased competition from other sweat palaces, including New York–based Equinox, which has thirteen clubs locally and will also have nine in California by the end of the year. Now Sports Club/LA is thinking about pressing the big red panic button on the Stairmaster and selling out. “We have gone through a process of looking at ways to improve our balance sheet,’’ says Rex Licklider, CEO of the Sports Club Company, including a sale, and Millennium and Equinox want it. Meanwhile, a source familiar with the financials says that Sports Club/LA is attempting to get out of its lease with Tishman Speyer for the Rockefeller Center club (which, according to the source, loses $3 million a year). In any case, Millennium says that’s one it’s not interested in buying.
—Beth Landman

Photo: Jennifer Graylock/AP

Jann’s NewDeal on Meals
No drinking on the job! And no celebrating, either!
Another rock-and-roll perk—the drunken late-night dinner “on Jann”—has gone by the wayside at Wenner Media, home of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly. Company president Kent Brownridge sent around a pre-holiday memo saying that come January 1, the company wouldn’t pay for anything but nice sober breakfasts or lunches. Meals “should not be treated as an ‘entertainment vehicle’ but should be used as an ‘access meal’ ” and deployed by “decision makers only,” it reads, before summing up: “The following meals are not eligible business expenses: meals with the purpose of saying ‘thank you’ or meant to ‘celebrate’ something.” Brownridge says the change didn’t come about after any particular excess: “We sort of had a general creep to the degree to which people were maybe taking a bit of advantage of the policy.” He acknowledges that there’s some unhappiness with it. But times have changed. “There are probably a few people who are single who leave work and like to go out. But we have fewer of them than we had twenty years ago.”


Intelligencer: January 10–17, 2005