Laura Bush Bans Boyfriend…The Times’s New Dining Queen…Tom Brokaw’s Farewell

Barbara Bush and Fabian BasabePhoto: Patrick McMullen

WITH SPENCER MORGANLaura Bush’s Edict:Twit Boy
The White House, determined to fight crass social climbing at the highest levels, has banned self-proclaimed “It” boy Fabian Basabe from all White House functions. Basabe attended a Christmas party there last year but won’t be back anytime soon. Liz Smith speculated on Friday that the order came from the president, but we hear that Laura Bush was furious after seeing her 21-year-old daughter Barbara in a cleavage-baring blouse on the front page of the Daily News straddling Basabe’s leg at a party for designer Jennifer (Jack’s daughter) Nicholson. It has since been reported that the 25-year-old—who was also spotted at Calvin Klein’s and Zac Posen’s parties with the First Daughter—is wanted on three warrants in California, after skipping court dates for offenses including trespassing and driving under the influence. The son of an Ecuadoran businessman of uncertain wealth, Basabe was featured on E!’s Young, Rich & Famous special. (We’ll concede that he’s young.) He’s also slated to appear on a new TLC reality show called Faking It.

The Latest on Mrs. Latte: Bring Back Biff!
Amanda Hesser, 32, isbecoming the New York Times restaurant critic—temporarily—and some of the city’s chefs are already complaining about it. “She only loves Mario Batali and Tom Colicchio,” moans one. Last week, Hesser apparently terrified the waiters at Riingo, Marcus Samuelsson’s new Japanese restaurant in the Alex hotel. They recognized her only at the end of her meal, when she paid with her own credit card. Previous critics have been a tad more discreet, using credit cards with pseudonyms, and Ruth Reichl famously donned a wig. Riingo is likely to be Hesser’s first review now that she has stepped in for Marian Burros, who had been filling in since William Grimes vacated the post last December. Rumors have been flying that wine columnist Jay McInerney and The New Yorker’s Bill Buford were up for the gig, but Buford says he’s out. A Times spokeswoman says Hesser doesn’t want the critic job permanently and that a Grimes successor will be named later this winter.

Wonder Horse Exits
“Somebody get a torch and I’ll pass it,” grinned Tom Brokaw, with an arm around heir apparent Brian Williams at the Museum of Television & Radio’s gala at the Waldorf-Astoria. On hand to support Brokaw as he approaches retirement later this year were Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Conan O’Brien, and Jane Pauley, who lamented that network news was losing its most handsome anchor. But no one seemed to believe that “Duncan the Wonderhorse” (Brokaw’s nickname) would actually be able to stop working. “Oh, bullshit, he’s not throwing in the towel,” bellowed 60 Minuteslifer Morley Safer. “I’m looking forward to unleashing myself,” Brokaw insisted, adding that he planned to “disappear into the wild for a while.”

Blodget on the Run
Martha-trial chronicler has his own domestic crisis
We hear thatHenry Blodget, the former Merrill Lynch Internet analyst who last spring agreed to pay a $4 million fine to the SEC and is now covering the Martha Stewart trial for Slate, recently sold his Greenwich Village brownstone and moved to Brooklyn Heights—only to have to move again (to an undisclosed location) because of high levels of lead paint. (Somehow we’re not surprised that Blodget had thought the apartment was worth more than it actually is.)

The Bedbugs Bite: SoHo Louse
They were annoying and completely unwanted, and Soho House management couldn’t get them to leave. No, no, not the fashion publicists. The little black mites. Our spy reports that one couple’s romantic getaway at the exclusive club, which also offers hotel rooms, got off to a bad start last fall when they noticed that their bed was crawling with them. They complained and were told that management was “aware” of the problem. Soho Housekeepers rushed in to exterminate, but it wasn’t long before the pernicious insects had returned (just like Toby Young). The couple, who braved the mites for the night, says their room was comped. A spokesman says the club has long since taken care of what he called a “beetle problem,” which had also pestered “a famous actress” back in June.

Talk of the Office: Dirty Magazine
The New Yorker staff is buzzing about Better Than Sane: Tales From a Dangling Girl, an upcoming memoir by Alison Rose, a Californian model and actress who started as a receptionist at the magazine (which she calls School in the book) in the eighties and later became a staff writer. In addition to writing about her kinship with other staffers—they formed a club, called Insane Anonymous—she also discusses her relationships with five legendary writers, including Harold Brodkey (“perhaps the king of all my old boyfriends”), George W. S. Trow (“who was my absolute favorite”), and Gardner McKay. (“I believe that I must have loved him. And that he loved me back.”) The other two get pseudonyms. Rose is hardly the first New Yorker hand to dish about her co-workers (remember Lillian Ross’s revelations about William Shawn?). But who knew the venerable mag was such a Maxim-like place to work?

Kim Cancels: No Time for Sex
Kim Cattrall couldn’t find time in her busy schedule to attend the Sex and the City wrap party at Capitale on Valentine’s Day, fanning rumors that she doesn’t get along with other cast members. According to her rep, Cattrall was out of town for another commitment that had been scheduled weeks ahead of time. But our insider says otherwise: “I know a car was arranged to pick her up the day before the party.” Kristin Davis didn’t seem too concerned about the no-show. “We had our big wrap party and there were like 1,200 people there!” she gushed at another recent event. Where was Kim? “Don’t know, couldn’t tell you.”

Laura Bush Bans Boyfriend…The Times’s Ne […]