April 26, 1999

Has Ted Turner got Entertainment Weekly in an editorial headlock? The World Wrestling Federation routinely stomps Time Warner’s World Championship Wrestling in the battle for cable viewers, but you wouldn’t know it from the cover of last week’s EW, which is also under the Time Warner umbrella (where Turner is vice-chairman). The story focused on the fierce competition between the two leagues – a Nielsen war in which the WWF has emerged victorious virtually every week since September ‘98 – yet WCW wrestlers dominated the photo layout. WCW champion Goldberg filled the cover, while the WWF’s Stone Cold Steve Austin appeared as an insert smaller than Goldberg’s shoulder. The most painful blow for WWF chairman Vince McMahon was another full-page Goldberg photo beneath the banner headline 35,000,000 wrestling fans can’t be wrong. The vast majority of those millions, of course, watch the WWF. “We tried to find pictures that made the most arresting layout,” explains Maggie Murphy, an EW assistant managing editor, insisting corporate higher-ups had nothing to do with the display. “We looked at all the photos and chose the ones that were the funniest and the most over-the-top.” McMahon, however, thinks he got body-slammed: “This just shows the pattern of personal vitriol that Ted Turner and his minions have for the WWF.”

Architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, and Raimund Abraham provided the urbanity at MOMA’s “In the Works: Urban Spectacle” symposium last month. But Herbert Muschamp created the spectacle. At the end of the morning session’s question-and-answer period, the New York Times’s campy architecture critic (he’s described the new Guggenheim museum in Bilbao as “the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe”) gave a bizarre speech about the connection between aesthetics and politics. “Bilbao has changed the whole culture of Spain,” he said. “When it opened, there were bombs planted in the periphery of that building by Basque separatists – and I’m not saying they didn’t have the right to do that; perhaps they did. I’m not part of their cause. But it somehow brought together the separatists and the Spanish politicians into some kind of dialogue.” As Muschamp segued into his recent trip to Berlin, moderator John Rajchman interrupted to ask, “Herbert, do you have a question?” The audience laughed and applauded when Muschamp countered, “Are you asking me to shut up and sit down?” At the end of the afternoon session, Muschamp delivered another meandering soliloquy, this time about the lack of great architecture in New York. “We’ve seen great movies, we’ve seen great operas, we’ve seen Laurie Anderson. But we haven’t seen one fucking building. Okay? And if that’s put in the same category of spectacle with Disney, goody!” The audience laughed, but the moderator cut him off again. Several people who were there, after asking not to be identified, mentioned Muschamp’s “odd” behavior that day. But his words sang to Eisenman. “I thought Herbert was great,” said the architect, who was on the afternoon panel. “He enlivened the proceedings. Would that there were more Herbert Muschamps – and you can quote me!”

Bill Clinton isn’t the only one who’ll be in the hot seat at next month’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The plan is for documentary-maker turned corporate gadfly turned cable-TV star Michael Moore to sit next to Commerce Secretary William Daley. Both will be guests of Michael Bloomberg, who’s bought six tables for the event. “You want to make it worse?” asks Moore, who has skewered General Motors and Nike in his movies. “On the other side of me: Nike board member John Thompson.” The creator of Bravo’s The Awful Truth is resigned to getting it from both sides. “I guess they know that I appreciate irony, and so it’ll be the ironic table,” he says with a laugh.

The War of the Mannequins – Donald Trump versus Elite Model Management – has hit its ultimate venue. The latest battlefront: billboards and ads on city buses featuring Elite’s Ingrid Seynhaeve (pictured) draped around a grinning Donald. The photo was shot in November, long before Trump got busy snatching up key Elite bookers and models for his own agency. Elite president Monique Pillard says Seynhaeve, who hasn’t defected to Trump’s newly commissioned shop, had a contract that called for print ads and billboards in Atlantic City only, and Trump wasn’t actually supposed to be in any of the pictures. “He showed up at the set unannounced,” says Pillard. “We wish he’d use his own models for promoting himself as an overripe stud. I mean, Ingrid is this beautiful girl, and he’s … you know what I’m saying.” Pillard is hoping for an amicable settlement without going to court. As far as Trump’s concerned, Elite is merely “bothered” by the recent exodus. “I’m not aware of the specifics of the contract,” Trump admits, adding quickly, “but it will easily be worked out.”

Fran Reiter won’t need continuing-education courses if she actually decides to run for mayor, but she certainly could use a spring break. When Rudy Giuliani named the protégé of Liberal Party boss Ray Harding to the post of deputy mayor in 1993, paper pushers in the Municipal Building had to do some extra work to get Reiter paid: It seems that deputy mayors are paid at a management level that requires a college degree, but Reiter dropped out of Boston University in 1974 after two years to work as a production assistant on a game show, eventually landing a job in TV syndication. Now she compares herself to Bill Gates – “He dropped out of Harvard” – while admitting she hasn’t “been quite as successful as he is.” When New York called to find out what type of paperwork had to be filed, the mayor wannabe pulled out all the stops to get the explosive item killed. Mayoral mouthpiece Cristyne Lategano insists nothing had to be done, because deputy mayor is an “exempt managerial position.” But three other sources close to City Hall remember the paperwork shuffle. Reiter won’t have to worry about such indignities if she wins the big job – the position of mayor does not require a college degree.

It’s just possible that Rod Stewart isn’t one of those guys with all the luck. While it was reported that the rooster-haired rocker has been out on the town with Hugh Hefner’s ex, Kimberley Conrad Hefner, L.A. sources say it doesn’t look like she’s in it for the long haul. The rebounding couple was spied at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles last week, and according to their eagle-eyed barmates, Kimberley flirted with director Devlin Mann – currently at work on a project using Rod’s music – asking if he’s straight or gay and smiling when he confessed his heterosexual status. No sooner had her erstwhile date turned to chat with friends than Kimberley slipped Mann her number. Or numbers. Mann wouldn’t comment on the incident. Rod and Kimberley did not return calls.

Photographer Todd Eberle thinks his pictures are worth 5.5 million words – if the word is dollars, that is. That’s how much he’s trying to get out of Donald Judd’s estate, five years after the artist’s death. From 1990 until Judd died in 1994, Eberle took nearly 1,000 photographs of the artist and his work, often paying his own way to Judd’s compound in Marfa, Texas (where Giant was filmed). In exchange, Judd gave Eberle a $75,000 sculpture and a cut rate on his furniture line. Now Eberle’s suing the estate for about $500,000 in expenses and back pay (figuring a $3,500- to $5,000-per-day rate). According to Eberle’s lawsuit, his relationship with Judd’s heirs deteriorated in 1995, when the estate started peddling his photos directly to galleries and publications. When longtime Eberle client Calvin Klein tried to shoot ads at the Marfa compound, the suit claims, the estate granted permission provided that the company agree not to hire Eberle. The photographer, who insists that his barter arrangement with Judd let him retain ownership of the photos, is demanding $5 million for copyright infringement, among other issues. Judd’s estate counter-sued, claiming that it owns Eberle’s photos because they were “works for hire” and asking for the sculpture back. Trial is set for July 26. Neither Eberle’s attorney, Sally Stevens, nor the lawyer for the estate, Michael Ward Stout, would comment on settlement talks.

Additional reporting by Ian Spiegelman.

April 26, 1999