November 1, 1999


Will he or won’t he? The flirtation between Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger and CNN, which seems eager to hire him to lead its Lou Dobbs-less financial cable network, has made news for several weeks now. But according to several well-placed publishing sources, before talks got serious with Steiger, CNN approached another New York business editor: SmartMoney’s Steve Swartz. CNN’s Steve Korn and Tom Johnson flew to New York to meet with Swartz, according to one source, and Swartz even sat down with Time Warner chairman Gerry Levin. SmartMoney’s boyish-looking president was due to travel to CNN’s Atlanta base, with the understanding that a formal job offer would be waiting, when he called the day before to take his name out of the running, according to yet another source, who says that the salary being tossed around was “close to a million dollars.” Swartz, who also runs an Internet site and the new parenting magazine Offspring (which makes its debut next February), decided to stay put at Dow Jones- Hearst, as he has while a slew of other high-profile jobs have reportedly been dangled before him. Unable to lure Swartz, CNN evidently went after his boss, Steiger–leading to the ironic speculation that Swartz could be a leading contender to take over Steiger’s job at the Journal.


Waiters at La Maison de Sade are usually the ones doling out the abuse, but now state inspectors are threatening to crack the whip against Chelsea’s scary S&M theme restaurant. The New York State Liquor Authority has filed charges of disorderly conduct, which may cost the fetishistic watering hole its liquor license. Apparently, SLA sleuths found activity they deemed “lewd and indecent” during an evening spent incognito at the gastronomic dungeon. Though neither side would comment about what went on that fateful night, the restaurant is known as a place where Wall Street frat-boy types eat steamed mussels out of doggy bowls while they sip specialty drinks like the Coprophiliac. One hearing already took place but ended in a stalemate because commissioners Edward S. Kelly, Lawrence J. Gedda, and Joseph Zarriello needed a few weeks to puzzle over the unique circumstances. The follow-up hearing is set for October 26, and Terrence Flynn Jr., the restaurant’s lawyer, sounds optimistic: “Nobody’s running around naked. Our position is that one can operate an S&M restaurant without it being disorderly, lewd, or indecent.” How about unappetizing?


Chris Ovitz is discovering just how hard it is to go undercover. The son of Hollywood Über-agent turned manager Michael Ovitz doesn’t seem eager to publicize his presence at Brown University: The freshman elected not to be listed in the photo album (commonly referred to as the “pig book”) of the Class of 2003. Interestingly, other famous offspring aren’t quite so phobic: Boris Yeltsin’s grandson is in the book this year, as is the son of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., a Rockefeller, and a Radziwill. Alumni remember that John Kennedy Jr. was in the pig book during his day, as were Amy Carter and a slew of other boldfaced progeny. Ovitz did not return calls, but a spokesman for the university explains that, in accordance with school policy, anyone can opt not to be listed. The shy freshman did invite his parents, Michael and Judy Ovitz, to Orientation Weekend last month.


With Jackie Onassis’s childhood home, Hammersmith Farm, on the verge of being sold, the Newport, Rhode Island, manse will no longer offer tours, and insiders say gobs of Kennedy memorabilia could soon be on the way to auction. But who gets the spoils? Depends on whose stuff it is. Sources say many possessions from the 48-acre Newport estate–where Jackie and John F. Kennedy held their wedding reception and summered during his presidency–belong to the current owner, underwear king William F. Farley. Other furnishings belong to the family of Hugh D. Auchincloss III, Jackie’s stepbrother, who still lives on an unsold part of Hammersmith. Auchincloss says he’d like to auction off the memorabilia and might commission Christie’s, adding that Ralph Carpenter, one of the auction house’s American-furniture experts, is his longtime Newport neighbor and friend. But some members of the Auchincloss clan are still grumbling over the allocation of past assets. Jackie’s half-brother James L. Auchincloss complains about the distribution of the estate of his mother, Janet Lee
Bouvier Auchincloss Morris, and claims that his half-sister Lee Radziwill didn’t make enough time for the matriarch during her final years. “Lee would visit only two or three times a year,” he sniffs, but she still did quite well in the end.


Is Warren Hoge using his stint as the New York Times’s London bureau chief to try out for the editorship of the International Herald Tribune? Europe’s premier English-language newspaper has been run by a succession of editors from the Washington Post and the New York Times, which own the paper jointly. The current editor, former Post-man Michael Getler, has already announced that he’ll leave in August 2000. “Warren Hoge is desperate for the job,” insists one Times Kremlinologist, who adds that the Herald’s CEO, Peter Goldmark Jr., recently asked his bosses to open up the process to candidates outside the Times–an assertion that Goldmark denies. “Nobody has said a word to me about the editorship of that paper,” said Hoge, calling in from Dublin. “I’m not going to swing at the Hoge name,” said Goldmark. “We are beginning the search process.” But will the next IHT editor be from the Times? “I expect the next editor to be a great journalist and writer,” he retorted.


Even when the cameras stop rolling, New Line Cinema’s Body Shots star Brad Rowe continues to turn in fine performances. Amused Hollywood insiders say up-and-comer Rowe is repeatedly mistaken for Brad Pitt and has gained a reputation for enthusiastically playing along. At the recent party in Los Angeles celebrating the opening of the new Hugo Boss store, Rowe was mobbed by hangers-on who mistook the film newbie for the more established thespian. Sources say excited guests elbowed past such luminaries as Monica Lewinsky, Rod Stewart, and Ben Stiller for a closer look. Weirdly, Rowe’s wife, Lisa Fiori, says he wasn’t even at the event, though she does acknowledge that her husband is often mistaken for that other Brad. So who was that mysterious man at the Hugo Boss party? Someone being Brad Rowe … being Brad Pitt?


STINGY LAWYER: No doubt Bruce Wasserstein intended to apply his Wall Street smarts to his new media empire that publishes The American Lawyer and the New York Law Journal. But who’d guess that he’d turn into Scrooge in the process? “Be the proud owner of … An American Lawyer Media Denim Shirt for the low, low price of $19.00!” read a memo recently circulated in the editorial offices. It also offered “sleek World Time Clock/Calculators to keep you up with the times for only $11.00!” and ended with the chilling line: “All proceeds will go toward the December Holiday Celebration.” The stingy move isn’t sitting well with the staffers at his flagship publications, who already felt slighted after Wasserstein’s most recent enthusiasm, The Daily Deal, was launched with a lavish party at The Four Seasons. American Lawyer Media spokeswoman Melique Jones explains that Wasserstein didn’t have anything to do with the memo. “We’ll still have a holiday party,” insists Jones. “If we make $10 off the shirts, that might put an extra flower in the arrangement.”

THE SINGLE GUY: If you’re Jerry Seinfeld, you don’t get over lost love by drinking alone; you do it with Gwyneth Paltrow. Though the starlet has been making the scene with her new beau, music maverick Guy Oseary, she took time off to hang out with newly Jessica Sklar-less Seinfeld in the lobby of the Mercer hotel. Eavesdroppers report that the exchange between the two stars, who were accompanied by several friends, was not exactly smooth. Jerry, an enthusiastic car collector, broke the ice by asking Paltrow about her wheels. She blithely replied she drove a Mazda, “so I can visit my mother.” As things loosened up, Seinfeld tried out a few jokes on the Miramax muse, who had given up her trademark blonde locks for a darker do. Paltrow was stony-eyed at first, but the sultan of shtick soon had her giggling. Their patter was interrupted when a photographer ran up to the couple, snapped a photo, and ran out of the hotel. “My God, that was scary,” said Paltrow, giving way for Jerry to make one last joke. “Yes,” he said, shuddering. “That’s how people get assassinated.”

SPLENDOR IN THE GLASS: When he decided to take up the family business, Philip Glass’s son, Zack Glass, decided to forgo Dad’s spaced-out, esoteric stylings in favor of more down-to-earth reggae. The 27-year-old progeny of the composer and his equally avant-garde ex-wife, director (and former Public Theater head) JoAnne Akalaitis, Zack writes songs, plays guitar, and sings lead for a band called, modestly, Glass House. Far from being shattered, papa Philip has caught the band’s act several times at the Lion’s Den, where they play most Sunday nights, but Zack insists that he isn’t riding on Daddy’s atonal chords. “The name of the band has nothing to do with my name,” insists Zack. “It’s just a coincidence.”

Additional reporting by David Amsden and Suny Sehgal.

November 1, 1999