Intelligencer: February 7–14, 2005

It Happens This Week
• Love, Shaquille O’Neal, and the most scrutinized canines in the world all come to town: After Shaq’s Miami Heat face-off against the Knicks, the Westminster Dog Show takes over the Garden, kicking off on Valentine’s Day
•Bryant Park hosts Fashion Week, while Central Park itself becomes a stage as Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates is unveiled.

Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images

New PAC AttackTries to Sink U.S.S. Hillary
Wannabe Swift Boaters seek to “stop her now.”
Arthur Finkelstein, the political guru who helped create George Pataki, now wants to Swift Boat-ize Hillary Clinton. Senior New York Republicans say he’s creating a political action committee called “Stop Her Now”—all you need is the pronoun with this crowd, apparently—which will attempt to raise more than $10 million nationwide to use against Her during Her 2006 reelection campaign. The PAC will “bloody her up long before her presidential run,” vows a top state Republican, adding the model is indeed the Swift Boat Vets. Stop Her Now will bludgeon Clinton with ads, whether or not the New York GOP has found a candidate to take her on, which is looking increasingly difficult. Jeanine Pirro, the sex-crime-avenging Westchester D.A., is reportedly considering it. But Pirro aides have whispered that she would rather run for attorney general. Still, one senior GOPer says that some Republicans are urging a Hillary challenge instead, arguing that Pirro’s convicted-tax-evader husband, Al Pirro, makes it tougher for her to replace the squeaky-clean Eliot Spitzer (and Hillary is saddled with Bill’s past).
—Greg Sargent

Graydon TossesBuddy BarkinCareer Life Raft.
Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue features double-page photos of Hilary Swank as “The Body,” Jamie Foxx as “The Man,” and a surprise: “The Return Engagement,” Ellen Barkin, who could just as easily have been labeled “Editor-in-Chief’s Boating Buddy.” Her photo was shot aboard her husband Ron Perelman’s yacht Ultima III as it bobbed off the coast of St. Barts on New Year’s Eve, during the same week Graydon Carter was aboard too. “Half the staff was against putting her in it,” says a Condé Nast source. “The only person who wanted it was Graydon.” This would not be the first time Carter has skirted the traditional church-state divide between what Vanity Fair covers (Hollywood) and his personal dealings; there was last spring’s brouhaha over the $100,000 “consultant fee” he got from producer Brian Grazer and the $1 million deal he shared in with Miramax Books. But Vanity Fair’s spokeswoman says Barkin’s being on deck was merit-based. “Graydon had seen the Todd Solondz film Palindromes, and he thought she was extraordinary. She mentioned all the other magazine shoots she was doing, and he said, ‘We should do it first.’ ”
—Jacob Bernstein

Photo: Courtesy of Merge Records

Indie-RockMedia Meltdown
Besieged publicist under-comps! Grumbling ensues.
When it comes to the indie rockers du jour, the Arcade Fire, New York’s media are the ultimate moochers. Hype over the band’s two shows last week swamped the smaller venues they’d booked, so they upsized into Webster Hall and Irving Plaza. Then press folks got panicky e-mails from the band’s North Carolina–based publicist, Martin Hall, refusing guest-list requests and rescinding plus-ones. Turns out he’d set up a list for one night only, with 80 spots—for more than 300 requests. “I thought 80 was plenty,” says Hall. So he triaged. “If the president of MTV calls, I may have to cut somebody’s plus-one. I’ll get a writer in, but it’s not my responsibility to manage their social life.” But when Rolling Stone told him “last minute” to get its writer in, “we were like, ‘Pretend you’re a member of the crew.’ ”
—Jada Yuan

Is Isherwood’sBoffo ReviewGet-Rich-Quick Scheme?
Second-string Times critic Charles Isherwood’s epic (if also painfully, Eggers-ishly knowing) gush over Thom Pain (based on nothing) last week immediately deluged its 99-seat theater. “Forgive the hysteria,” wrote Isherwood, just six months out of Variety. “Or the faux hysteria.” But there was hysteria nonetheless: The show sold $120,000 in tickets that day. The show’s star, James Urbaniak, told playwright Will Eno, “I’m afraid I might be doing this fucking thing for the rest of my life,” and its producers are looking to find a bigger theater (possibly De la Guarda’s former space). But is Isherwood trying to help himself the most by playing at Frank Rich–style king-making? A theater source says he shouldn’t get his ego up: “It’s the paper, not the name.”
—Boris Kachka

Photo: Globe Photos

The Rev. Al Plays (Maybe) A.G.with Cuomo, Green.
Andrew Cuomo hasn’t yet declared he’s running for attorney general, but he’s already won an endorsement from Al Sharpton. Or that’s sure what it sounded like. At a recent reception at the Sky Club atop the MetLife building promoting Sharpton protégée Marjorie Harris for DNC vice-chair, Sharpton introduced his co-host, Cuomo, as “our next attorney general.” Fortunately, the other would-be A.G., Mark Green, wasn’t there to hear it, though the crowd, which included C. Virginia Fields and Tim Roemer, was all aflutter about it when he arrived. But Sharpton remains uncommitted. He gave Green a shout-out later, too.

Mariachi Intruders Attack Mexico City Jet Set.
Forget South Beach: Next stop for boutique-hotel types seems to be Mexico City—despite the fact that it’s nowhere near a beach and it’s still too dangerous to hail a cab there. Sirio Maccioni and Jeffrey Chodorow have opened restaurants, and the latest chic hotel, Condesa DF—in a twenties building—is co-owned by Jonathan Morr (BondSt). Its opening party on January 28 was packed, raucous, and a bit unsettling, not unlike the city itself. Shortly after dawn, a mariachi band began barging into guests’ rooms. “It felt churlish to complain,” says Brian McNally. “In New York, it would have been stockbrokers throwing up all over themselves.” But Blender editor Victoria DeSilverio was hit in the head as the band entered, screaming and downing tequila shots. “We tried to hide under our pillows,” says Julia Chaplin, her roommate. “But they kept saying, ‘You are lucky to be in Mexico! It is a fiesta!’ ”
—Deborah Schoeneman


Intelligencer: February 7–14, 2005