Intelligencer: August 8-15

It Happens This Week
•Spike it! Citywide volleyball tournament
•Only one month to go until mayoral primary
•International Gift Fair
•Eminem at Madison Square Garden
•The Fringe Festival!

Aubrey Reuben/LFI

Pirro’sFinally Ready to Go
Impatient GOPers,take note: Her mom’s had cancer.
There’s a reason Jeanine Pirro has taken so long to announce whether she’ll challenge Hillary: Her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer a month ago. “At that moment, my life changed and everything fell by the wayside,” Pirro says. “I was focused on making a decision. I’d sat down with a piece of paper to do the pros and cons. But then I got the news, and I threw away the paper. My mom became my focus.” In May, Pirro had said that she wouldn’t seek reelection as Westchester D.A. and would run for statewide office. The state GOP was thinking it’d found its Hillary-killer, or at least a strong candidate for attorney general. But as the weeks passed—nothing. “Politics totally fell off the radar,” Pirro says, adding that her mom’s on the mend and that caring for her has made a final decision easier. “It puts life in perspective. My time is limited here, so my future has to be something I’m absolutely passionate about.” True to form, Pirro wouldn’t reveal her intentions. But she’s expected to divulge her plans this week.
—Greg Sargent

Yoko’s RivalPans ‘Lennon’
Musical imagines she didn’t exist.
Lennon, the Broadway-bound musical, is being frantically retooled at the eleventh hour, and May Pang, John Lennon’s lover when he was separated from Yoko Ono in the mid-seventies, has some unsolicited advice on how to make it better. For one thing, the singing is “all treble and no bass,” she said after attending a preview of the Ono-approved show (she bought a ticket—an invitation was not forthcoming). Also, there’s the omission of Pang’s eighteen months with Lennon, which he called his “Lost Weekend.” “Eight or nine people are on that stage,” says Pang. “Somebody could have played me. There wasn’t even a character for Julian.” Why would it cut her out? “Maybe it changes the myth. Maybe John wasn’t as happy at home with Yoko. But the time I was with John takes up a lot of creative time.” She notes that she was dating him when he recorded the No. 1 single “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” Lennon creator Don Scardino says Pang wasn’t “a relevant part of the story.”
—Boris Kachka

50 CentGets Soft
Memoir refuses to name names.
The literary 50 Cent seems to have more restraint than the one who stoked hip-hop rivalries by making fun of his enemies by name in his songs (e.g., calling The Inc.’s Irv Gotti a “fat cupcake eatin’ mothafucka” on “Order of Protection”). But fans expecting more of the same WWF-style taunts in 50’s memoir, From Pieces to WeightK, out this week, will be disappointed. He actually doles out pseudonyms to most of the key players in his life, leaving readers to speculate about their identities. Is “Tricia” actually Taiesha Douse, a Queens woman who was busted with 50 in 1994 on charges of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree? Is “Brown,” described in From Pieces as a local bully who warned 50 not to mess with Ja Rule, in fact 50’s nemesis Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, who this year was indicted by the Feds for laundering drug money through Ja Rule’s record label? And who is “Godfather”?
—Ethan Brown

Schrager Goes ‘Yau!’
China SyndromeHitting downtown dining.
After nearly a year of planning, John McDonald is not checking into Ian Schrager’s revamped Gramercy Park Hotel after all. “The design was nearly done and the menu was practically developed,’’ says McDonald, proprietor of Lever House and MercBar, of the restaurant he thought he was opening in the condo-ized Gramercy. “It would have been a great American bistro. But at some point, the deal became untenable.” The mercurial Schrager’s eye has wandered instead to Alan Yau, owner of London’s Hakkasan, the only Chinese restaurant ever to get a Michelin star. “I’m still talking to John, and he and I are great friends,’’ says Schrager. “But this is a real coup. You can’t get in to any of Alan Yau’s restaurants in London, and everyone in this country has been trying to bring him here” (including André Balazs and Drew Nieporent). Complicatedly, McDonald’s partner in the bistro (and Lever House) was Aby Rosen, who co-owns the Gramercy with Schrager; McDonald and Rosen are also opening a similar place called Chinatown, in the former Lafayette Street Time Cafe space.
—Beth Landman

Randy Daniels Wants to Be Pataki
African-American ex-Dem tests the big tent.
Can Secretary of State Randy Daniels make it as the black George Pataki? Now that Pataki’s a no-go, the former CBS News foreign correspondent is the default 2006 GOP front-runner (no one else is in the race yet). And sources say Daniels’s political operative, former Pataki campaign manager Robert Ryan, is staffing up Daniels’s operation with other key Pataki alumni: notorious oppo-researcher Gary Maloney (who dug into Bill Clinton’s draft-dodging, pot-smoking past), election lawyer Larry Mandelker, and fund-raiser Patrick Donohue. Daniels is battling GOP insiders who worry he’ll never beat Eliot Spitzer. But Daniels points out that party bigs laughed at the little-known Pataki’s hopes in 1994, adding that the time is ripe for a black GOP candidate. “The party leadership wants an upstater who’ll pump the GOP’s traditional suburban and upstate base,” he says. “But New York’s changed. Upstate’s losing population, and middle-class minorities are turning the suburbs Democratic. If the state GOP doesn’t become big-tent, it will die.”

Intelligencer: August 8-15