Delta and Northwest to Fly in FormationFINANCE
• High fuel prices and a soft economy have sent Delta and Northwest Airlines running into each other’s arms. The two could announce a definitive plan to merge as early as next week. [NYT]
• Senate Republicans have axed a proposed economic-stimulus bill. The Dem-proposed $158 billion package, which sought to avert a full-fledged recession, came up one short of the required 60 votes. [FT]
• But, no worries. Economists put odds of a U.S. recession at 49 percent, which means we’re not technically there yet. Also, for what it’s worth, this video is funny. [WSJ]
The Writers’ Strike Has Amy Poehler Expressing Her Creativity in New WaysThe writers’ strike may end soon, and the SNL gang may have their day jobs back, but in the meantime, Amy Poehler’s getting her groove back. “I went to a hip-hop class at Crunch today,” she told us Friday night at actor Justin Theroux’s week-long public installation in Soho with a baseball-capped Will Arnett, her actor hubby. “Let me tell you something, those natural endorphins I’ve heard about — they really work.” Didn’t she ever do aerobic activity? “No,” she said. “Unless crying is considered an aerobic activity. I gotta get back to work.” So what else was she doing with her spare time? “I’ve doubled my therapy,” she said. But didn’t less work stress require less therapy? “No,” she replied. “I’m a thousand times more stressed when I’m not working. When you can’t blame everything on being too busy, a lot of shit comes up.” Totally. Last time our computers crapped out on us, we had to face that we had grown up to become bloggers whose high point of the week was Gossip Girl, and, well, it wasn’t pretty. Well, we told Poehler, at least you’re out doing new things, right? “Yeah,” she agreed. “And I’m learning how to become a midwife!” Wow! Really? “No.” —Tim Murphy
Click here to read all our writers strike coverage from New York’s Vulture blog.
Hathaello Checks Out Miss Sixty
•Lela Rose thinks she’s still in the running to design Jenna Bush’s wedding dress, despite a first family visit to Oscar de la Renta last week. [NYDN]
•Anne Hathaway totally lied when she said she wouldn’t be attending any fashion shows this week. She and Raffaello Follieri were at Miss Sixty. [The Cut]
• Sheryl Crow enters the fashion arena, with an affordable denim line by the same people who make Victoria Beckham’s dVb line. [WWD]
Is the Writers’ Strike Finally Over?Just as we were finally beginning to accept the reality of a future without scripted television, it seems as though the writers’ strike may actually be nearing an end.
Rupert Plucks ‘Journal’ From Its Home and Carries It Back to His LairMEDIA
• Like a bird of prey with a juicy morsel in its claws, Rupert Murdoch is moving the Journal back to his midtown News Corp. nest to feast on its carcass. New plans include more entertainment coverage and a sports page! [NYT]
• A mouse was spotted at the Times building! And as all apartment dwellers know, for every mouse you see, there are seven you don’t see. [Gawker]
• The Writers Guild has struck a deal that allows them to write for the Grammys. Good thing, because improvised speaking never really sounds as good as improvised music. [USAT, Vulture]
Hillary Clinton Is Going to Get So Busted by Anna WintourMEDIA
• Hillary Clinton pulled out of a Vogue shoot this past fall because she was afraid of looking too feminine, and editor Anna Wintour subsequently wrote an editor’s letter about how disappointed she was. Now, Hillary’s in Bazaar’s February issue, wearing a miniskirt and platform heels! (That bears repeating: A miniskirt and platform heels.)* Anna’s going to be pissed. [WWD]
• Sam Zell has ordered that the Tribune’s Internet content filters be removed. “I do not see how a member of the Fourth Estate, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, can censor what its own employees and partners can see,” he writes. “You are now exposed to the dangers of YouTube and Facebook. Please use your best judgment.” Also, apparently if said judgment compels you to send internal communications to Romenesko, so be it. [Romenesko]
• The WGA took two big demands off the table — unionization for animated movies and reality TV — and negotiations may now finally focus on paying writers for digital content. [LAT]
Giants Player Has ‘Abandonment Issues’New York Giant Osi Umenyiora, who is dating Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks, says he’s a difficult guy to love because he has “abandonment issues.” Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy, was arrested for doing 39 mph in a 30 mph zone in Florida. An upcoming reality show on the Mojo Channel forces a handful of semi-prominent New Yorkers to survive without their cell phones and computers. Julia Stiles sat down and ordered a bunch of food at Indochine but requested that it all be doggy-bagged so she could take it home. CNN has been getting better daytime ratings than MSNBC over the past two months, though Fox News still does better than both. Georgina Chapman on fashion: “I’m like a magpie. I like anything that sparkles.”
Breaking: Someone Fancy Went to Mohegan Sun!Vanity Fair style arbiter Amy Fine Collins went to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. Central Park carriage owners responded to Pink’s animal-cruelty charges by deriding them as the “ignorant comments of a B-list pop star.” Nets chairman and real-estate developer Bruce Ratner is getting married to plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin. At Sundance, Paris Hilton gave a lap dance to Jared Leto, David Katzenberg took pictures of his privates for girlfriend Nicky Hilton, Cisco Adler got into a shoving match, Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian made out, and Adrian Grenier lost his drumsticks. John Legend says he doesn’t get caught up with dating models and that he’s “more concerned with (his) happiness.”
Hillary Clinton Dismays Anna WintourMEDIA
• Anna Wintour took Hillary Clinton to task for backing out of her Vogue photo shoot because she feared looking “too feminine.” Wintour: “The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying.” Ouch. [WWD]
• The Directors Guild showed up the writers in striking, heh, fashion: After just one week of negotiations, the directors struck a deal with the studios that includes the all-important online-video money. The writers are cautious, though, since the last time they followed the directors’ lead they got screwed on the home-video market. [WP]
• Wal-Mart, responsible for 20 percent of all “newsstand” magazine sales, announced it would dump more than 1,000 titles from its shelves. Shocking twist: The New Yorker stays, but Boar Hunter Magazine is out! [NYP]
National Board of Review Awards Lacked Writers, BrevityIf ever there were a case to be made for ending the WGA strike before the Oscars, it was last night’s lengthy National Board of Review awards gala at Cipriani. The WGA let the awards go on as planned because the NBR isn’t televised or otherwise connected with “money-grubbing moguls.” But that also meant no TV time limits on speeches. About an hour in Juno’s Ellen Page and screenwriter Diablo Cody became heroes for their quickly mumbled acceptance speeches (they were the fifth award of twenty). “We felt bad for just going up and saying a couple of ‘awesome’s,” Cody said during a break around hour four, “but now we realize we were being merciful.” Josh Brolin accepted award No. 7 (for Best Acting by an Ensemble) on behalf of the No Country for Old Men cast. “I’m going to take soooo long, because everyone before me took so friggin’ long,” he threatened, as the crowd let out a great cheer. But the baiting didn’t stop introducer Mike Wallace from talking so long he actually had to ask: “Now why am I up here?”
The only other hero was an animated George Clooney. Introducing the Coen brothers, he cracked: “These guys hate this kind of shit. They are the worst people you could have seen at this kind of event. It’s like March of the Penguins. Ethan won’t even talk.” Sure enough, Joel and Ethan Coen shuffled up to the stage, grabbed their award, muttered “Thanks” into the mike, and shuffled off. The bit got a big laugh, and suddenly the crowd seemed to get a second cocktail-fueled wind. Which only lasted two speeches of the remaining sixteen. —Jada Yuan
Hear more from George Clooney, Diablo Cody, and Ben Affleck at our complete coverage of the National Board of Review awards.
in other news
Bronx Science Students Walk Out, Risk College RecommendationsWhen we were in high school, the superintendent of schools tried to eliminate the school’s home-economics curriculum. Because everyone liked the home-ec teacher (we still fry eggs in the hole of a slice of toast), all the students marched down to Town Hall to protest. It was front-page news the next day in our town of 8,000. What was not front-page news today was the walkout that happened yesterday in the Bronx. The students of Bronx Science (the city’s competitive, second-ranked public school) walked out because they hate their principal, Valerie Reidy. Why do they hate their principal? Because (a) she seems to be what the kids these days call a “jerk” and (b) because she was firing a teacher that they liked. Oh, and because she went around telling people to call her “Dr. Reidy” even though she doesn’t have a Ph.D., which is classic. The Department of Education denies the claims about the fired teacher and the “doctor” line but seems to be evasive on the whole “jerk” thing.
Now, from the outside, a protest of 100 students (at a school where there are more than 2,500) may seem sort of like small potatoes. But try to remember: Walking out of class in high school is kind of a very scary thing to do. And standing up against the powerful principal of your school is kind of like facing off against Lord Voldemort: Basically, you’re bound to lose unless there’s a last-minute technicality with someone’s wand. So to those students, a moment of respect. Just a word of advice: If you try that whole “walkout” thing in college, no one will care, and if you try it at work, you’ll get canned faster than you can say “Bull’s-eye.”
Students Stage a Walkout at Bronx Science [NYS]
Earlier: The Kids at Stuyvesant Aren’t Gonna Take It
Oprah Will Eat Ellen DeGeneres for BreakfastMEDIA
• CNBC’s Dylan Ratigan proposes a toast at the anniversary of his show Fast Money: “Here’s to destroying … well, ‘destroying Fox’ is what I was going to say, to be totally honest about it. And I was going to say something even more profane than that except there’s press in the room.” [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Oprah Winfrey won’t stand for Ellen taking her place as America’s favorite TV personality. The Queen of Talk announced plans to start her own network. And what’s it called? OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Which is only appropriate for a woman worth upwards of $2.5 billion. [HuffPo, NYP]
• Will the Academy Awards suffer the same fate as the Golden Globes? WGA president Patric Verrone confirmed the guild has no plans to give the Oscars a pass if the strike hasn’t been settled, and it’s still unclear whether the Screen Actors Guild will cross picket lines to attend the awards. [B&C]
A Designer Explains the Effect of the Writers’ Strike on FashionAfter the Fug Girls got us thinking about the effect the WGA strike would have on the fashion industry, we caught up with designer Phillip Lim and asked him about it at Repetto’s 60th-anniversary party last week. Lim is a well liked, quickly rising designer who has been showing since fall 2005, and is therefore a good example of a designer who is established but by no means on as stable ground as any of the giant houses that have been around for much longer. So what does he think about the strike, which is appearing to affect more and more people as time goes on? “It’s about how it trickles down to retailers, how it trickles down to restaurants, how it trickles down to the community,” said the bubbly Lim. “They’ve got to work it out and get on with it. It’s almost selfish to just keep on with the struggle.” So if it affects everybody, it must be affecting Lim himself, right? “For us, we have a distribution in Los Angeles. Our stores, people we sell to, they’re affected by it. So in the end it affects us.” And the loss of award shows? “[A presence on the red carpet] boosts business, but we didn’t build our business on that premise, so in the end it doesn’t hurt us a ton,” Lim explained. “We make clothes for the ‘everywoman,’ you know.” Still, we’re guessing some other, more gown-oriented designers (Marchesa, much?) would have killed for the opportunity to dress Keira Knightley last Sunday…—Jada Yuan
Earlier: No Golden Globes? Now Everything’s Fugged Up
Related: Mr. In-Between [NYM]
Blogging ‘The Colbert Report’Last night, like you, we were thrilled to sit down and watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as they returned from their WGA–strike-induced hiatus. It was going to be great, we assumed. Either that, or it was going to suck, which would also kind of be great, in the whole “this will get us a lot of mileage by the office soda machine tomorrow” kind of way. So we tuned in, AND, in a Daily Intel first, we IMed about it with our culturally superior colleague, the Vulture blog. As it turned out, the two shows weren’t all laughs and rubber faces. In fact, The Daily Show turned out to be a bit of a tough act to swallow (and follow; as a lead-in, it must have cost The Colbert Report some viewers). Since Vulture knows more about the nuances of the writers’ strike, they are hosting our conversation about Jon Stewart’s somber effort. But below, here’s what Vulture editor Dan Kois and Intel editor Chris Rovzar had to say about last night’s glorious episode of Colbert:
Kois: HAHAHAHAH. “This is the ColberT ReporT.”
Rovzar: HAHAHA. We’re already laughing! He pronounced it the white-trashy way.
Rovzar: Did you read that GQ story about when he changed his last name at Northwestern? I loved that.
Rovzar: It used to actually be COLbert. With the “t” pronounced, when he grew up in South Carolina or whatever
Kois: So he just did it to be intentionally snooty? Awesome. ColBERTian, actually.
The Return of Aleksey VaynerFINANCE
• Aleksey Vayner, everyone’s favorite bizarre self-promoting video maker, is back with a new Website and perhaps a book! Impossible may be nothing after all. [Gawker]
• Goldman Sachs set new records with their $20.2 billion bonus pool, including $67.9 million for Lloyd Blankfein, but rumor has it the bank decided to stiff their back-office employees. [NYP]
• Blankfein’s salary still pales in comparison to hedge-fund kings like John Paulson and Paolo Pellegrini, who raked in more than $1 billion each in 2007 betting against the housing market. [NYT]
Jay Leno: Scabby Scab or the Scabbiest Scab?Though the newly returned Tonight Show is not allowed to use writers during the ongoing strike, WGA member Jay Leno has been telling monologue jokes he claims to have written himself for the past two nights — but the Writers Guild, like many of us, isn’t laughing.
CNBC to Roger Ailes: ‘Nanny Nanny Boo Boo’MEDIA
• Despite Roger Ailes’s declaration that Fox Business Channel would start a “revolution” against rival business channel CNBC, this war appears to have petered out after a skirmish: Only about 6,300 people a day, on average, watch the babes of FBN, compared to the 283,000 who tune in to CNBC for that dreamy hunk Charlie Gasparino. [NYT]
• Let the stunts begin! David Letterman plans to shave off his beard on the air next Monday: “Can we get a guy in here Monday to shave me? Now, a good guy, because the last time we did this, I looked like—when he was done, I looked like I’d been in a knife fight.” No word yet on whether Conan O’Brien, who’s writers unlike Letterman’s are still on strike, will lose his whiskers. Meanwhile, Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel turned down Colbert’s invite to appear on his show, showing solidarity with the strikers. [NYDN, NYO]
• The Writers Guild is facing its own little labor problem: The East Coast branch’s internal staff claims that the contract they signed back in October was later changed without their permission. Let’s see, what’s that word … something writers always love. Oh, right, irony. [NYP]
The ‘Times’ Touches Upon Checkbook Journalism — With Two Fingers, Of CourseMEDIA
• “OK!, the celebrity magazine, could not possibly have purchased all the attention it enjoyed in late December after it got the scoop that Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger and until then less sensational sister of the troubled pop queen Britney Spears, was three months pregnant. Or could it?” [NYT]
• Josh Stein isn’t actually leaving Gawker; Emily Gould will write for Jezebel; Choire Sicha will continue contributing columns; and recently departed Wonkette editor Ken Layne returned after just a few months off the job. Can anyone escape the tentacles of Nick Denton? [HuffPo]
• The Writers Guild plans to picket Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O’Brien as the three late-night hosts return to the air. Letterman gets off easy since he struck a deal with the writers and may get a big boost since big stars (like Robin Williams, natch) won’t have to cross the pickets to go on his show. [NYO, NYT]
Spike Lee to Knicks Fans: ‘Don’t Die’Spike Lee advised a fellow Knicks fan, “Don’t commit suicide.” Chace Crawford and Carrie Underwood danced together at Marquee, but not well. Jules Nasso, who may or may not be an associate of the Gambino family, will chair the 2008 Staten Island Film Festival. 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden exchanged her ravioli for a salad at the dinner at the Four Seasons for Juno. LeBron James sang and danced with Oompa Loompas at Marquee.
The Fug Girls: A New TV Diet for Spring!With Hollywood’s warring writers and producers seemingly spending more time on PR statements than negotiations, it’s going to be a long, wretched winter for television fans. To patch scheduling holes, networks are rushing out “mid-season replacements” (everything from game shows to reality hours) — essentially, shows that are handy in a pinch, but weren’t good enough to debut in the fall. It’s the idea that if there’s no water at the oasis, we’ll just drink the sand; too bad for them we’re not so easily satisfied. However, we ARE easily bored without our stories, so if our holiday wish for a speedy, fair strike resolution is impossible, then it’ll take some crafty TV-diet substitutions to get us through the drought.
Here are a few simple swaps:
American Gladiators. The show that brought us such spandex-wrapped warriors as “Turbo” and “Zap” obviously occupies its own vital place in TV history. But it also ably replaces the absent 24. Think about it: Jack Bauer runs a lot. He sweats. He does things to America, for America. And he likes to hit people with blunt objects. If he’d had the wherewithal to do it all with a Speedo and a tennis-ball cannon, you’d never even know the difference.
Gucci Would Prefer a More Flattering CutFASHION
• The Gucci family is up in arms over Ridley Scott’s biopic. They fear he’ll focus on the family scandals. You know, instead of making a movie about all the boring stuff. [British Vogue]
• Helmut Lang is opening a pop-up shop in the meatpacking district. Just what we need, another fabulous place to spend our money while we are drunk. [Fashion Informer]
• Kaiser Karl rocked the U.K. with a Chanel fashion show. [WWD]
Jon Stewart Suddenly Not Looking Like the Nice GuyMEDIA
• Is Jon Stewart really the only late-night host not currently covering the salaries of his laid-off, non-striking employees? [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• The key lines from the n+1 essay that helped convinced Choire Sicha and Emily Gould to quit: “The purpose of Gawker Media was always to improve on the print publishing business model. It was never, as the content of Gawker sometimes seemed to suggest, to produce critiques of the waste that model created. The content at Gawker, like most Condé Nast titles, is a service to the advertisers. … You could say that as Gawker Media grew, from Gawker’s success, Gawker outlived the conditions for its existence.” Joshua David Stein announced his own departure, due mostly to personal loyalty, on Saturday. [n+1, Media Mob/NYO]
• Meanwhile, Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici proves that Condé and Gawker really are at the same level: “By the way, those who feel wronged by Gawker over the years can take some satisfaction in the uniquely terrible timing of the walkout for Denton, who is pumped full of painkillers after a recent back injury. Last week, the pain became so intense he needed an ambulance to get to the hospital. As he was being loaded into the ambulance, he says, his greatest fear was that he would be spotted by someone from Gawker, which is headquartered just down the block from his home.” [Mixed Media/Portfolio]
John Mack Gives Zoe Cruz the Heave-hoFINANCE
• John Mack decided to can Zoe Cruz just three weeks after naming her as a strong potential successor at Morgan Stanley. Two execs, Walid Chammah and James Gorman, will take Cruz’s place as overseeing the firm’s trading and risk operations. [NYT]
• Eddie Lampert has lost quite a bit of his luster: The star investor sometimes mentioned as the heir to Warren Buffett lost millions on a big investment in Citigroup, and the earnings debacle at Sears is only making things worse. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• A small local council in Scotland managed to trump the Donald’s $2 billion plan to build “the world’s greatest golf course.” It was just never clear on where Trump’s hair would fit in the course. [NYP]
Hillary Tries to Have It Both Ways With RupertMEDIA
• Today’s negotiations between the Hollywood writers and producers, who some say have already struck a deal, reportedly will be held in an “undisclosed location.” We always knew Cheney would come to the rescue! [HR]
• German Vanity Fair is being sued for an interview with an infamous neo-Nazi who denied the Holocaust. [Jerusalem Post via HuffPo]
• Rift in the house of Murdoch? Rupe complains that his son James can’t dumb down the news to his father’s tough standards. Meanwhile, a savvy voter in Iowa pressed Clinton on her Murdoch connections, and the senator, no surprise, tried to have it both ways. [FT via Mixed Media/Portfolio, The Caucus/NYT]
Guess the Mystery Scab!Vulture buddy Nikki Finke is reporting that a “high profile TV writer-producer” who is “also a member of another guild” has been accused of “doing rewrites on his currently airing TV series as well as two projects in pre-production, one of which is still on schedule to begin shooting very soon.”