Intelligencer: May 16-23

It Happens This Week
• Fall Preview: TV upfronts hit town.
• Yankees vs. Mets.
• Spring gala at the Central Park Zoo: Annual Wildlife Conservation SAFARI.
• Vote: Sheldon Silver may decide whether stadium will happen.
• U2 plays MSG.
• And … ‘Star Wars’!!!

Photo: Andrea Renault/Globe Photos

Un-Thoroughly Modern Martha
How her Gordon Bunshaft house got the shaft.
Textiles magnate Donald Maharam, who recently bought Martha Stewart’s Gordon Bunshaft– designed house in East Hampton for about $9 million, wants to make it very clear that he’s sorry, but he has to tear it down. Because she wrecked it. The walls and floor are missing, plywood stands in for doors, the roof leaks, and there’s a five-foot-deep hole in the floor filled with sand that was supposed to be a basement but resembles, Maharam says, “a Bavarian bathhouse” instead. However, it’s on Georgica Pond. “It’s really not a house anymore,” he says. “It’s an exquisite piece of property. That’s why I bought it.” MoMA, which was willed the house by Bunshaft and then sold it to Stewart, refused to comment. But modern-architecture preservationists are up in arms. “What bastards,” says Michael Gotkin of the Modern Architecture Working Group, who once took a look at it from a boat in the pond. “It is a very important house. Regardless of the present condition, the exterior could certainly be restored to its original appearance, if only the owner was willing.”
—Peter Beller

Fear ofFlying
Airbusted? Hollywood’s latest terror vehicle.
Is the new double-decker Airbus A380 so big that you can lose your kid on it? In Touchstone Pictures’ upcoming airborne nerve-racker, Flightplan, Jodie Foster plays a woman whose 6-year-old daughter goes missing during a journey from Berlin to New York. “It’s brand-new,” Foster’s character tells her awed daughter of their plane, in the trailer. “It’s got two stories. There are seven galleys, a crew quarters. It’s the biggest.” It looks awfully like the A380, which just had its maiden flight. Hardly the most opportune product placement for a megajet that has already made some passengers leery. (For one thing, who wants to fly with 554 other people?) But an Airbus spokesperson says Flightplan (which uses a fictitious brand for the plane) was news to the company. “No one is going to get lost on an A380,” she assures us. “But the people behind Flightplan certainly stayed ahead of the power curve. The movie comes out in September and the aircraft doesn’t even enter service until the middle of 2006.”
—Jada Yuan

Will Warner MusicGet Gotti?
Comes with Ashanti, too.
Now that the Warner Music Group has had its tepid IPO, the next step is to build its roster back up. Sources close to the deal say that one of the first moves for Warner, which hasn’t been a force in hip-hop and R&B in years, will be to bring into the fold Irv Gotti and his record label, the Inc. (formerly Murder Inc.), which counts Ashanti and Ja Rule among its stars. This would follow Warner’s inking a distribution deal with P. Diddy’s Bad Boy for $30 million. Warner Music CEO Lyor Cohen and Gotti go way back: Cohen brought Gotti to Def Jam as an A&R rep in the mid-nineties. (The pair got along so famously that Gotti took to referring to Cohen as his Meyer Lansky, a “term of endearment.”) Gotti’s trial on charges of money laundering is looming, conceivably complicating negotiations. Reached by phone last week, Cohen refused to comment.
—Ethan Brown

There She Isn’t:Ms. Columbia!
Poisoned Ivy Pageant
Alex Severin thinks that Columbia University “focuses so much on brains and intelligence, nobody looks at beauty anymore.” So he and a Psi Upsilon frat brother, Ang Cui, decided to do something about it. In January, they hatched the idea for an online contest to crown Ms. Columbia 2005. Cui took pictures of some of the contestants (in a wet T-shirt, a corset, and one woman covering her breasts with a copy of The Marx-Engels Reader), and put them up on the Internet April 22. Two days later, they canceled the pageant after some of the contestants said they were uncomfortable with other students’ attention (and opprobrium). “This place just needs to loosen up,” says Severin. He and Cui are out $1,200 of their own money (for lighting, photo supplies, and pamphleting to advertise the contest). Still, 600 people voted, and they’re planning to try again next year.
—Kate Pickert

Carpetbagger Weld Gets Warned:
No easy march to Albany for former Mass. Gov.
If Bill Weld does decide to take on Eliot Spitzer for governor in 2006, he’ll be facing a bloody primary battle first. Secretary of State Randy Daniels—who has said he’s running in 2006 if Pataki retires—has started staffing up a campaign. Daniels has made his first big hire: pollster John McLaughlin, a Rockland County–based operative who’s advised a host of top GOP senators and worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California coup. Daniels, who is black and to the right of Weld on social issues, says, “If Pataki doesn’t run, I will, and I will take on Weld or anyone else in a primary.” A senior Albany Republican says Daniels’s outside-the-establishment candidacy is infuriating state GOP leaders who are holding out hope for Weld. His hiring of McLaughlin represents the first time in recent memory that a credible GOP statewide candidate hasn’t gone with Arthur Finkelstein, the brains behind Pataki’s rise.
—Greg Sargent


Intelligencer: May 16-23