Madonna Returns to Africa; A-Rod Gets Spiritual

cityfile · 10/23/09 06:27AM

• Madonna is taking a quick trip over to Malawi this weekend "to lay the foundation stone" at the new "multi-million dollar girls school she's building." That's funny. We could swear we heard about another celebrity doing almost exact same thing not too long ago. Oh, yes, her! Hopefully this time around there's a little less controversy. And let's also hope Malawian schoolchildren are ready to study Kabbalah from dawn till dusk. [Reuters]
• In related news, Madonna's ex, Alex Rodriguez, now appears to be taking an interest in Buddhism thanks to girlfriend Kate Hudson. Or at least he's pretending to be interested in it to make her happy. You decide! [NYDN]
• Ashlee Simpson-Wentz—sister of Jessica, wife of Pete, and the character Violet on The CW's Melrose Place—is now unemployed. Melrose's producers are taking a "It's not you, it's me" approach and saying the decision to cut her out of the show had nothing to do with the fact she can't act, but was because that had been their plan for the character from the beginning. [EW, People]

Simon van Kempen, Cheap Boss

cityfile · 09/25/09 09:44AM

Simon van Kempen and wife Alex McCord of the Real Housewives of New York City spent much of Fashion Week attending parties for the free champagne and gift bags. One of his employees, however, clearly wasn't in the mood to party. Last week a maintenance worker at the crummy hotel that van Kempen manages, the Hotel Chandler, slapped the property with a lawsuit for refusing to pay workers for overtime, a violation of New York's labor laws. Does this mean Simon's chances of winning the award for "Hotel Manager of the Year" are now totally dashed? While you ponder that very real possibility, you can look at the full lawsuit after the jump.

Social Networking For Socialites

cityfile · 07/01/09 09:16AM

BusinessWeek conducted a little investigation recently and discovered that while a number of prominent CEOs have joined social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn over the past few years, very few had managed to make many friends. What about New York's population of socialites and do-nothing fameseekers? Naturally, they have no trouble making friends when it comes to Facebook. But that isn't the case with business-centric LinkedIn, where many of them lead lonely online existences and—worst of all—they've been forced to actually fill something in under the headers "job title" and "employer." How can you possibly be expected to have either if you spend your days sleeping and your evenings out at parties? A few examples—including Annabel Vartanian and Alex McCord (left)—after the jump.

Life Goes On for 'Social Life' Magazine

cityfile · 05/26/09 01:57PM

Given Social Life is "one of the most popular magazines in Manhattan and the Hamptons" and only covers "the hottest celebrity parties," it's a bit of a mystery why the mag's season opener at the "Social Life estate"—hosted by botorious editor-in-chief Devorah Rose—didn't attract any actual celebrities. Fortunately, "Real Housewife" Alex McCord and her hotel manager husband, Simon van Kempen, didn't have anything else to do and kindly turned up to add a little C-list glam, so the event wasn't a complete disaster. Devorah's big get after the jump.

Dick Fuld Flip-Flops, Bella Sapir Flips

cityfile · 05/22/09 07:35AM

• That was quick. On Tuesday, it was reported that former Lehman chief Dick Fuld and his wife Kathy had unofficially put their 6,200-square-foot pied-à-terre at 640 Park on the market for $32 million. But now it seems the Fulds have changed their minds and decided against selling it. Better luck in 2010? [WSJ]
• Bella Sapir, the ex-wife of billionaire (and endangered animal skin fan) Tamir Sapir has sold the penthouse at 250 East 53rd Street that she bought for $8.895 million in November 2008 and re-listed for $13.5 million a few days later. Sapir sold the 4,511-square-foot apartment for $10.5 million. [Cityfile]
• Columbia Law professor Hans Smit has lowered the price of his 12,000-square-foot townhouse at 351 Riverside Drive, which first went on the market for $31 million back in 2006. The mansion, which Smit bought for just $325,000 back in 1979, is now listed for $25 million. [Cityfile, BHS]

Eating & Drinking: Wednesday Edition

cityfile · 05/06/09 04:52PM

Frank Bruni weighs in on David Burke's Fishtail in the Times this week, giving the eatery a single star for its "real charms" yet "deeply fatiguing" menu. [NYT]
• A look at the menu at Table 8, which opens tonight. [GS]
• Jay Cheshes hits up Silvano Marchetto's two new outposts in this week's Time Out, Scuderia and Da Silvano Bistecca. [TONY]
• Oprah's KFC sandwich giveaway sparked a riot today. [Gothamist, Gawker]
• Eight "new" rules on ordering wine while dining out. [NYP]
• "Real Housewife" Alex McCord's top food pics in Cobble Hill. [GS]
• Four Seasons co-owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder were roasted in honor of the eatery's 50th last night. Daniel Boulud on the duo: "The only thing these guys know about food is how much to charge for it." [NYT]

The Hotel Manager With Groupies

cityfile · 04/29/09 06:54PM

Real Househusband Simon van Kempen doesn't spend all of his time shopping for pink pants and planning off-season trips to St. Barts. He's also the general manager of the crummy Hotel Chandler in Murray Hill, of course. So who actually stays at the hotel that Simon claims has an occupancy rate of 96 percent since "conspicuous consumption is out of favor at the moment"? The usual suspects, like "screenwriters and actors taking advantage of discounts offered to folks in the entertainment industry," as well as die-hard Real Housewives fans, some of whom have "refused to check out until they get my autograph or photograph." And who could blame them? [Chicago Sun-Times]

The Housewives Always Have Each Other

cityfile · 04/23/09 08:52AM

We've heard rumors that the "Real Housewives" of New York have been blacklisted at various high-profile social events around town. That certainly makes sense: Would you want Jill Zarin or Alex McCord lapping up attention on your red carpet? Sadly, the same seems to apply to events hosted by the ladies from the Bravo show.

Brangelina Goes Shopping, LiLo Plans to Go Topless

cityfile · 04/21/09 06:19AM

• Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie went to the Stop & Shop in Oyster Bay with two of their kids on Saturday and were "very friendly" to employees of the store. Please try to contain your amazement. [Us]
• Lindsay Lohan must be hard up for cash, since she's reportedly in discussions to star in a topless show in Las Vegas. Even worse: She seems to think it will "really revitalize her career and give her some serious theater cred." [Fox]
Early Show anchor Julie Chen and her boss/husband, CBS chief exec Les Moonves, are expecting their first child this October. [P6]
• Speaking of kids, Amy Winehouse's rep says that the rumors the singer is adopting a child from the Caribbean are untrue. Be thankful for that! [DE]

Alex McCord Afflicted with Virus

cityfile · 04/07/09 03:01PM

Alex McCord is still unemployed and still blogging over at the Huffington Post. But now she has some bad news to share: It seems she's come down with a nasty case of Fifth's Disease, which has resulted in a dreadful rash that runs up and down her legs. How unfortunate! In other McCord news, her neighbor was terribly nasty to her two sons and she also thinks there may be a rudeness epidemic exploding across the city, but that's probably just McCord generalizing based on personal experience. [HuffPo]

The Wednesday Party Report

cityfile · 04/01/09 11:04AM

Topshop hosted a private dinner at Balthazar last night to celebrate the opening of its new store in Soho. Attendees included Karolina Kurkova and Georgina Chapman (left), Harvey Weinstein, Jay-Z, Jimmy Fallon and Nancy Juvonen, Zach Braff, Amy Sacco, Mark Ronson, Ann Dexter-Jones, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Andrew Saffir, Theodora Richards, Steve Stoute, Cathy Horyn, Stefano Tonchi, Sally Singer, Amy Astley, Eva Amurri, Greg K., Leigh Lezark, Jessica Joffe, Michelle Trachtenberg, Taylor Momsen, Le Call, Jonathan Saunders, Sue Stemp, Steven Kolb, Christopher Kane, Brent Bolthouse, Emily Mortimer, Emma Roberts, Cecilia Dean, Meredith Melling Burke, Nikolai Fraiture, Santigold, Steve Aoki, Benny Shabtai, Michelle Monaghan, and Topshop's very own Sir Philip Green, along with his wife Tina and daughter Chloe. [PMc, Wireimage, Getty, Paper]

Alex McCord: Blogger, Shakespearean Actor

cityfile · 03/27/09 12:07PM

"Real Housewife" Alex McCord lost her job at Victoria's Secret a few weeks ago, a development that insures that construction of her Brooklyn townhouse won't be complete until 2017 or so. Unfortunately, her new gig won't help pay for the granite in her kitchen or French lessons for her son, since blogging for the Huffington Post doesn't come with a salary of any sort. But it does give her a platform to share her deepest feelings! McCord says that fear "has been a big, shadowy monster creeping up behind" her recently, especially as she hears about more and more people joining her in unemployment-land. But there are positive aspects to not having a job: "It feels great to actually make a date with someone you really want to see," she says, as if there are people in the city who are actually taking time out of their day to make such "dates." Clearly, though, she can't remain unemployed forever given her husband's modest salary managing a budget hotel, so she's currently on the hunt for new sources of income:

Natasha Richardson's Family Gathers to Say Goodbye

cityfile · 03/18/09 06:31AM

• Following conflicting news reports, it now appears that Natasha Richardson was pronounced brain dead sometime yesterday following her skiing accident in Canada on Monday. She's now reported to be at Lenox Hill on the Upper East Side, where her family members have gathered to hold a vigil and say goodbye. [NYP, People, NYT]
• Rihanna and Chris Brown might be "taking a break," although neither one says it's a "formal breakup," whatever that means. [E!]
• Lindsay Lohan's driver crashed her SUV into a wall outside the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles at 3:30 am Tuesday morning. [E!]
Graydon Carter has already started inviting friends to visit Monkey Bar, the restaurant he's opening on East 54th Street. [P6]
• Just what the world needs: Justin Timberlake recently returned from Mexico, where he's been working on launching his own brand of tequila. [P6]

Ashley Dupre Lands a Mentor

cityfile · 03/11/09 06:19AM

• What's Ashley Dupre been up to recently? She's been doing lots of yoga, which she credits with saving her life. And it also introduced her to Russell Simmons, who is now her "mentor" and is making her feel more "liberated." Is that the term they use these days? [P6]
• LiLo and Sam Ronson got in another fight outside a club. This one was caught on tape, however. [TMZ]
• Rumor has it Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel may be engaged. [NYDN]
• Breaking! George Clooney got drunk at a bar St. Louis last weekend. [NYDN]

The Friday Party Report

cityfile · 03/06/09 01:28PM

Valentino and Vogue co-hosted a cocktail party to benefit New Yorkers For Children at Valentino's Madison Avenue store last night. Guests included Fabiola Beracasa and Erin Fetherston (left), Fern Mallis, Tinsley Mortimer, Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Maggie Betts, Paul Sevigny, Bebe Neuwirth, Jennifer Creel, Selita Ebanks, Alina Cho, Kate Schelter, Antony Todd, Tatiana Platt, Kevin Liles, Denise Wohl, Di Petroff, Felicia Taylor, Erica and Geraldo Rivera, Sylvester and Gillian Miniter, Dori Cooperman, Maggie Rizer, Allison Sarofim, Lydia Fenet, Vanessa von Bismarck, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Susan Shin, Tracy Stern, Melissa Berkelhammer, Stephanie LaCava, and, yes, "Real Housewife" Alex McCord and her husband Simon van Kempen. [PMc, Wireimage, VF, SF]

Up for Bids: Kelly's Sneakers, Chloe's Refrigerator

cityfile · 03/03/09 02:25PM

Aren't you in for a treat! This Saturday, all sorts of wondrous items will be auctioned off at the Tribeca Spring Preview Housing Works sale, and almost all of the ladies of Bravo's Real Housewives of New York are participating. Alex McCord has donated a "bolero jacket with beads all over it," which she tells the Observer she bought at an estate sale a decade ago but has only worn once. LuAnn de Lesseps chipped in a Furla handbag, and Ramona Singer donated one by Christian Dior. And while Kelly Killoren Bensimon is participating as well—she's donating a dress and this pair of John Varvatos Converse sneakers—she'd also like to point out that, unlike her low-class castmates, her pieces have never touched human skin:

Real Housewives: Officially Over Before It Even Begins

cityfile · 02/17/09 04:07PM

So much for the Real Housewives of New York City. The show hasn't debuted yet—it starts tonight on Bravo—but it's already been ravaged by critics, even ones who willingly admit to being fans of the 17 other iterations of the show. (After all, it's not too often that a critic tells the entire cast of a reality show to "drop dead.") The main beef? Not that the show focuses on horrible women who happily spend a weekend afternoon "gearing up for an event for a magazine called Social Life." That's nothing new, of course. It's that the show is hopelessly out of touch with the current economic climate. It was all well and good for Simon Van Kempen to pretend he had a dollar to his name when the economy was cruising along. Now that the world is falling apart and Simon is still "spending" $8,000 on resort-wear? "The whole enterprise, like so much else on Bravo, the 'affluencer' network, feels like a moldy leftover from the pre-Obama age," writes Ginia Bellafante in the Times.

A Brief Guide to the Real Housewives of New York City

Richard Lawson · 02/17/09 02:20PM

So tonight marks the premiere of The Real Housewives of New York City's second season. No, that strange ache you felt near your heart wasn't indigestion. Never watched before? Here, let me introduce you.