Intelligencer: May 9-16

It Happens This Week
• Documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom,” about ballroom dancing in NYC public schools, is released.
• Great week for hippie music: Dave Matthews Band and Trey Anastasio (of Phish) each play shows.
• Fairway cheese expert gives sold-out lecture at 92nd Street Y.
• Bike Messenger Association NYC Bridge Battle pits bicyclists in race to five bridges.
• Steve Forbes gives Learning Annex class on “The Business of Success.”

Photo: Robin Platzer/Twin Images

The Equivocator
High-fliers Leo, Burkledrop $10 million on Hudson Blue view.
Leonardo DiCaprio has finally bought a Manhattan apartment. His years-long hunt had become one of the city’s longer-running realty reality shows (the point of which was: Who can add a little marketing sparkle to their development by pretending Leo’s moving in?). A source close to the deal confirms that DiCaprio and Ron Burkle, a West Coast supermarket magnate and Democratic fund-raiser with many celebrity friends, have teamed up to buy about $10 million worth of apartments at Hudson Blue, a glassy condo just north of Richard Meier’s Perry Street towers, which are being marketed by Corcoran’s Shlomi Reuveni. They’re said to be in contract to buy three units—one’s a penthouse—in the ten-floor building and will then divide them up. This is a new real-estate move for Burkle, who only a few weeks ago backed out of a plan to buy Sky Studios, the event space with a rooftop pool on lower Broadway, which had a $20 million price tag. Burkle denies the whole thing. Neither DiCaprio’s broker, Corcoran’s Susie Hayes, nor his publicist would comment.
—Deborah Schoeneman

Don’t BlameThe NYPD
Freedom Tower was already in lockdown.
Was the NYPD just a convenient scapegoat for tearing up the plans at ground zero? A source close to Governor Pataki says that, notwithstanding the politically irresistible rush to have a groundbreaking last July 4 for the 1,776-foot-tall skyscraper, before the Republican convention came to town, the Freedom Tower has been dead for some time. Weeks before the security issues came out publicly, World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein had as much as said so to the governor, pressing to eliminate the structurally unworkable off-center spire (a legacy of Daniel Libeskind’s original design) and David Childs’s Utopian tower-top windmills. The rest wasn’t a surprise. “Ray Kelly upped the level of security he wanted late in the game, but we all knew there were problems with West Street,” says the source, referring to the potential for terrorists to sidle up the highway with a bomb. “Nobody will insure it.” Now that the whole plan has collapsed, the legacy-challenged Pataki is feeling the most pain. “The governor would like to have this building on the way, and he’s frantic about it,” the source says. “But it’s the governor’s own fault. It wasn’t buildable.”

Photo: Robim Platzer/Twin Images

Revenge of the Housewife
Teri Hatcher takes on Mort Zuckerman.
Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher operates publicist-less, which means she has to go after the press herself. Last week, the tabs linked her to a “boy toy,” fashion photographer Jim Macari. When we called to ask about rumors that he was mad about it since he has a girlfriend, she left a message: “It would be lovely if you could be a human being that would actually print something true.” So what was wrong? “First of all, I wasn’t with the people they listed, like Lizzie Guffman [sic]. I wouldn’t recognize them if you put them in front of me.” She confirmed she and Macari were dancing that night, but claimed she didn’t know his romantic status—though he did call her around nine on the morning of his paparazzi christening, shocked. “I literally answered and said, ‘I’m so sorry,’ ” said Hatcher, who was en route to a Tribeca Film Festival panel. Turns out Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman was there, and she gave him “quite a bit of shit. You know, ‘How can your paper print an article that’s completely full of erroneous crap?’ And he goes, ‘Well, but look at how good you look in the picture.’ ”
—Jada Yuan

Parsons kids get schooled.
Can you teach students to love animals? Or at least animal-rights activists? PETA’s hoping so. Before the budding fashionistas of Parsons School of Design created their collections for their May 9 fashion show, they sat through some animal-cruelty reeducation courtesy of PETA VP Dan Mathews. “We smoked a peace pipe with [chair of fashion design] Tim Gunn and agreed not to disrupt the shows if they’d work with us,” says Mathews. Gunn says he’s thrilled; of the resulting pleather and rubber fashions, he enthuses, “There’s a vitality to them, a spiritedness.” The show will be a test-drive for a shift in PETA strategy: Get to the kids early. Mathews says Stella McCartney is helping them with a similar show at London’s Central Saint Martins art college. Kenneth Cole, Oscar de la Renta, and Diane Von Furstenberg are all invited to the Parsons show—and Mathews’s betting they won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s synthetic and what’s skinned. He doubts fur connoisseur Anna Wintour would be fooled though. “She’s one of the strange creatures that can actually smell blood.” But she’s not expected.
—Will Doig

Three Starsand You’re Out!
Plus: Time Cafe goes Chinese.
Has the three-star restaurant Atelier yet recovered from Danny Meyer’s poaching its chef, Gabriel Kreuther, to man the kitchen at the Modern? Atelier hired former Le Cirque 2000 chef Alain Allegretti to replace him, but it appears that change may again be afoot. Already, the Ritz-Carlton, which owns Atelier, contacted Le Bernardin’s four-star chef, Eric Ripert, but to no avail. “It was a very casual conversation,’’ he says. “I couldn’t do a project there because it is too close to Le Bernardin.” An industry source says that Atelier then moved on to Laurent Tourondel of the BLT juggernaut (who denies it). In other restaurant-empire news, John McDonald (Lever House) is taking on the Time Cafe space on Lafayette for a big new Chinese brasserie, which he describes as “clean and healthy.”
—Beth Landman


Intelligencer: May 9-16