Intelligencer: February 14–21, 2005

It Happens This Week
• Tuesday, February 15: at the Central Park Boathouse, from 4 to 6:30 P.M., Christo and Jeanne-Claude will sign a drawing from the January 24–31 issue of New York (copies of the issue will be available).
• Pitchers and catchers report to spring training, while Bloomberg hosts reelection kickoff at B.B. King’s.
• Congressional testimony from Alan Greenspan may send markets into a frenzy; rereleases of old R.E.M. albums may do the same for nostalgic rock critics.
• International types (Richard Holbrooke, Christiane Amanpour) gather for “Seeds of Peace” celeb charity auction.
• And Grand Central becomes an unlikely venue for elite athletes as “Tournament of Champions” squash competition begins.

Photo: Jeff Spicer/Globe Photos

Damon Dash Goes Harvey-Hunting
Claims to steal Weinstein’s lady-friend at Cannes.
Even if Harvey Weinstein produced Gangs of New York, he’s not exactly a gangsta. But that doesn’t mean Damon Dash won’t treat him that way. In the new issue of the highly street-credible magazine Don Diva (tagline: “Parental Advisory: Gangsta Content”), Dash, Jay-Z’s former partner in Roc-A-Fella Records, who made Paid in Full with Dimension Films (run by Harvey’s brother Bob), talks about inflicting street justice when the brothers wouldn’t give him a meeting. He began hunting Harvey. “I saw him in Cannes and I snatched his bitch—he had a girl and I knew her, so I said ‘Give me her.’ He was pissed,” Dash says. While admitting that Harvey’s a “guy that everyone was afraid of” … “I was like, ‘He’s a bitch.’ ” Apparently, as a result, Bob wouldn’t meet with him—unless his pal Russell Simmons was present. “I respect Russell,” Dash says, “but if I was going to do something, he’s not going to stop me.” When asked about it, Harvey refused to reheat the beef. “Damon’s a first-class talent, and I thoroughly enjoy our good-natured trash-talking,” he said through his publicist.
—Ethan Brown

Final Skirmish in ‘DisneyWar’
Eisner phones in edits.
When James Stewart started work on DisneyWar, Michael Eisner was cooperating. Then he stopped. But then he wanted to be very involved again as the book was going to press. A source close to the author says Eisner spent January 26, 27, and 28 on the phone, muscling Stewart to make extensive changes. He acquiesced to some, but by that Friday, the day final changes were due, Eisner wouldn’t let up. “It started in the mid-afternoon and went until almost ten,” the source says. As it happens, much of what Eisner was denying came straight from his own autobiography. Among Eisner’s other quibbles: an anecdote where he allegedly raised his voice at then–ABC honchos Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun during a discussion of the future of Eight Simple Rules after John Ritter’s death (Eisner wanted the TV wife to become pregnant, which they felt raised taste issues). On Monday, when Stewart explained he could no longer make changes, Eisner said, “I own a publishing company. You can always delay.” Around the same time, Eisner was lunching at The Four Seasons near Barbara Walters, Liz Smith, Marie Brenner, and Joni Evans. His antennae up, Eisner approached Walters, gave her a friendly peck, and said, “I know you’re talking about me.” To which she reportedly replied, “As a matter of fact, we were discussing you and Michael Jackson.” “Well,” Eisner told Walters, “let me know when you get to Michael Ovitz.” A Disney spokesman had no comment.
—Jacob Bernstein

Waiting For Oscar
Christopher Guest’s latest ensemble satire.
As this year’s Oscar-campaign season winds down, sources say Christopher Guest has set his sights on the whole high-stakes scramble for nominations as the subject for his next film. Of course, unlike with the dog fetishists in Best in Show and the expired idealist folksingers in A Mighty Wind, this one might hit closer to home, since he’s never been able to score an Academy Award for his acting or directing. The working title: For Your Consideration. (Guest’s reps didn’t return a message.)

Extreme Zohar!
Kabbalah gets jitterywith new highly caffeinated, tasty wisdom beverage.
Tired? Feeling insufficiently Madonna-like spiritually? After conquering the undercaffeinated quasi-religious in Los Angeles, the people behind Kabbalah Energy Drink are gearing up to distribute the single-serving cans in New York this spring. It is hoped it will solve your ennui issues in a much more direct way than some wimpy red-string bracelet. “We’re marketing this because it’s cool to be part of Kabbalah today,” explains Darin Ezra, the “chief consultant” behind the drink. “This is the pop culture right now. There’s nothing more trendy. It’s like Fossil watches when they first came out.” Although the company is careful to bring up but not confirm or deny, entre nous, the rumor of a possible Ashton Kutcher endorsement of this Red Bull knockoff, Kutcher’s publicist at Baker Winokur Ryder wouldn’t return calls to verify that. (Kutcher and his girlfriend Demi Moore are both Kabbalists, you see.) Despite reports to the contrary, neither Ezra nor the drink have any affiliation with the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, which has its own blessed liquid (water, $3 a bottle). Ezra claims his water well is close to the Centre’s in Canada.
—Kate Pickert

MoMA’s RileyFeels Like Big Daddy
Smells “mendacity” in the critiques of the new Times architecture critic.
The replacement of the Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp last summer by Nicolai Ouroussoff was thought by many in the city’s high-strung architecture community as ushering in a blander, but less agenda-laden, era at the paper. Then Terence Riley, MoMA’s Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design, read Ouroussoff’s dismissive piece on February 4. It essentially said Riley, whose department was founded by the recently deceased Johnson, didn’t measure up to his forebear, and called his suite of galleries in the new museum a “lifeless mix” with “the feel … of a high-end furniture and design showroom.” This prompted Riley to fire off a scathing letter to Ouroussoff quoting Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (like Big Daddy, he detected “the odor of mendacity”). He accused the critic of “evidently conflicted feelings towards me personally” and of taking “the cheapest of shots” while Riley was still grieving for Johnson. He added that he intended to distribute the letter to “some of our nearest and dearest.” By February 10, Riley said he hadn’t yet heard back from Ouroussoff (who also didn’t return our call by press time), but stressed that “I didn’t send it to the Times. I sent it to Nicolai.”


Intelligencer: February 14–21, 2005