Overheated Ford…Stewart Jurors Hit the Networks…Cipriani Gets Trumped


Richard Ford and Colson WhiteheadPhoto: AP Photos

Overheated Ford
Richard Ford and Colson Whitehead have joined the ranks of feuding literary stars (cf. Norman Mailer vs. Gore Vidal). Apparently, Ford was less than thrilled with Whitehead’s Times review in March 2002 of Ford’s collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins (Knopf). Perhaps it was Whitehead’s claim that “the characters are nearly indistinguishable.” In any event, at a March 2 party in New York for Poets & Writers magazine, Whitehead says, Ford approached him and said, “I’ve waited two years for this! You spat on my book.” “Then he spat on me,” says Whitehead. “We had a few heated words—he said, ‘You’re a kid, you should grow up,’ which coming from him was a bit funny—and then he stalked off. This wasn’t the first time some old coot had drooled on me, and it probably won’t be the last. But I would like to warn the many other people who panned the book that they might want to get a rain poncho, in case of inclement Ford.” Ford was in New Zealand and unavailable for comment.

Network News: Begging Letter
The Martha Stewart jurors had barely exited the courthouse before being ambushed by ambulance-chasing media people bearing book deals, airtime with Larry King, and free tickets to L.A. Journalist Adam Sachs (who writes for GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and Food & Wine) probably wouldn’t mind some of those perks, but he didn’t serve on the Martha jury. Another Adam Sachs (an information-technology specialist) did, however, and on the day of the verdict, the writer found a note from NBC that had been slipped under his door. Addressed to “Adam Sachs” on network letterhead, it read, “Now that your work as a juror in the Martha Stewart trial has ended we would like to invite you to appear on NBC News.” It went on to imply that a Today show or Deborah Norville Tonight appearance might also be in the offing. “I am sure you are exhausted and are looking forward to getting some much needed rest,” the genuinely concerned network behemoth wrote, “and I expect your friends and family are eager to spend time with you … Some people are more comfortable being unedited while others prefer to speak in a group. NBC News can offer you a choice.” Sachs the writer found it all very amusing. “I considered taking them up on their hotel-and-car-service offer,” he quips. “I wondered if maybe CBS would come by with a better offer—perhaps some cash and a Rick Bragg quickie bio.” The juror Sachs ended up going to Dateline. “We kept looking until we found the right Adam Sachs,” says a network spokeswoman. “Good thing his name wasn’t Adam Smith—we would have had to print a lot more letters.”

Behind The Music: Bio Hazards
The final version of Walter Yetnikoff’s memoir about his experiences as president of CBS Records in the seventies and eighties will be devoid of two choice tales about music lawyer Allen Grubman. In the galley of Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess, Yetnikoff describes two instances of decidedly unexecutive (read: really, really vulgar) behavior that, if true, would have been humiliating for Grubman. Indeed, as soon as he heard about them, the lawyer fired off a letter to publisher Broadway denying both incidents, and the passages were promptly stricken from the book. Broadway’s publicist insists both stories were omitted only for “editorial reasons.” Making the galleys, of course, a collector’s item.

“If he wants to be known as the second black president, he’d better learn how to cook barbecue.”
—Dick Gregory, on John Kerry

Off Course: Master’s Decree
In the wake of the scandal surrounding last year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive officer William B. Harrison Jr. has banned employees from taking clients to the tournament on the firm’s tab. Meanwhile, Harrison remains a member of the Georgia country club, which does not permit women to become members. Harrison did not return phone calls, and an Augusta National rep said the club does not comment on its membership. But a woman at the club’s reception desk said helpfully, “Mr. Harrison is not at the club today, sir.”

Food Courting: Chips Are In
Cipriani is opening an outpost in Trump Park Avenue, a new luxury-condo tower on the former Delmonico site on 59th Street. “It will be the most exclusive of all the Cipriani restaurants,” says a spokeswoman, adding that the medium-size restaurant will open in fall 2005. “We don’t have a celebrity chef. It’s a team we move from one restaurant to the other.” Cipriani also has an event space on 42nd Street, a Soho boîte, and an outpost in the Sherry-Netherland. Next month, they’re opening a restaurant in London. “He’s a great friend of mine and a great restaurateur,” says Donald Trump about Giuseppe Cipriani. Meanwhile, another restaurateur is having less luck expanding. Stephen Loffredo, who owns Soho’s Zoë (which received a lukewarm Times review recently), started negotiating to take over the former Medi restaurant site in Rockefeller Center last summer—and had raised the money for the project. He was slated to sign a lease with landlord Tishman Speyer on March 12, but they pulled out of the deal. “They wouldn’t comment as to why, but after eight months, we deserve an explanation,” says Loffredo. An insider tells us Tishman Speyer “thought they could do better.” The company declined to comment.

Straussian Conspiracy: Shot Of Jameson
Neil Strauss, who has been a New York Times culture correspondent for ten years, has resigned from his staff position to work on three books. (Topics: porn star Jenna Jameson, musician Dave Navarro, pickup artists). He’ll also appear in an upcoming Jameson movie as a male nurse—a career move that raised a few editorial eyebrows. “Though I hate to disappoint the general public, I do keep my clothes on in the movie and am not around (or engaged in) impropriety of any kind,” Strauss clarifies. He has walked the fine line of Timesian propriety before, appearing in videos with Beck and unhooking bras one-handed in a story for Blender magazine called the “Ho’lympics.” Despite all this, Times culture editor Steven Erlanger insists that Strauss “was not asked to leave” and will continue to write for the paper.

Leaving Lafayette: Pangaea Panacea
By next fall, you may actually be able to walk down Lafayette Street without dodging C-list models and men in Hermès belt buckles whining, “But I have a reservation!,” as Pangaea may be moving to the West Side. Owner Michael Ault says his lease expires in September. “I’m looking at spaces in the West Twenties and the meatpacking district,” says Ault, who may also open a Philadelphia Pangaea.

Overheated Ford…Stewart Jurors Hit the Networks […]