Courtney Love bid $120,000 at last night's Elton John Foundation benefit lto go out on a date with Bill Clinton. Fortunately for the former president, Love didn't end up winning the auction. But that's okay. She has fond memories of meeting Hillary Clinton a few years ago: "I had breakfast with [Hillary Clinton] once at the Chateau Marmont in about 2004. We have the same hairdresser. We had a great breakfast—she's great, she gossips. We gossiped and we talked about corporate mergers. She's a lot more fun than you would think." [NYM/Vulture]
Fashion photographer Steven Klein opened up his Bridgehampton estate on Saturday evening to host the summer benefit for the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (Acria), which funds HIV and AIDS-related research, treatment, and education. Sponsored by Calvin Klein Collection and Vanity Fair, the benefit attracted Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli, Rachel Zoe, Daphne Guinness, Lauren Santo Domingo, Euan Rellie and Lucy Sykes Rellie, Nacho Figueras, Olivia Chantecaille, Stefano Tonchi, Jane Holzer, and Royal Pains cast members Mark Feuerstein, Jill Flint, Paulo Costanzo and Reshma Shetty, among others. Cityfile correspondent Douglas Marshall took a few mintues to chat with famed artist—and longtime Acria supporter—Ross Bleckner about art, life, and Dash Snow.
Last night was the social event of the year for the finance community: It was the annual gala of the Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-battling non-profit backed by banking heavyweights. The usual suspects from the worlds of hedge funds and private equity were in attendance, as were a smattering of celebs too classy for the Sex and the City premiere, including Jay-Z, Conan O'Brien, Russell Simmons, Tom Brokaw, David Byrne, and Cindy Sherman. Performances by Shakira, Sheryl Crow, and John Legend had noted hoofers like Henry Kravis, Steve Cohen, and Art Samberg tapping their feet underneath their tables.
Oh dippy Gourmet magazine, with your oxymoronic job ads. There's no such thing as a "full-time freelance" job, sillies! Not that the Condé Nast magazine is alone with this shifty little recruitment tactic, designed to get the most out of contractors for as little as humanly possible. So bothersome, those taxes and benefits. More exploity media job ads after the jump. Apply at your own risk!
Over 1,000 lucky MTV Networks contractors are being converted to staff from their previous freelancer status, we've been told, in a move to appease angry contractors upset over December benefit cuts. "In the HR meeting they had yesterday with the middle- to upper-management peeps that have the honor of conveying this (mostly good) news: They paused early on in their presentation to say, "By the way, this is not about the writing and the Gawker...these discussions have been going on for a long time," an MTV source said. We're sure it had nothing whatsoever to do with all those people chanting in the streets, either. And introduced by a definite article? We've arrived. Congratulations on the benefits, kids. Go nuts at the orthopedist's.
Earlier: Memo: Judgment Day On Permanent Jobs For MTV Freelancers
The time has come for MTV Networks beleaguered slavey permalancers to learn their fate. Brand-new human resources lady Catherine Houser issued a memo an hour ago to the Viacom subsidiary's contractors, announcing they would learn if they were among the lucky group whose positions will be converted to staff jobs, as promised in December. On what basis will a permalancer earn job security and benefits? Among the benchmarks: "The position would be staff if there was headcount." Uhh...what? "The position transcends a specific project or show," is another. Considering that a key issue in the uproar over Viacom's benefit cuts last month centered around the frequent rotation of workers (which made it hard for them to accrue the required time needed to qualify for benefits), it sounds like MTVN has given itself a whole lot of leeway with that one. So you've been an MTVN cameraman for nine years? As far as Viacom is concerned, you only spent four months at a time on Pimp My Ride and Cribs, so you're shit out of luck, pal. God be with you, and also with you and you. Let us know how it goes. After the jump, the memo in full.
Better start brown-bagging it if you're a New York Times employee; starting February 4, the cost-cutting newspaper will increase cafeteria prices by 3.9%, according to an email announcement to staffers today. But don't worry! Management would like you to know that coffee prices won't change-hungry employees hopped up on caffeine are both prettier and more industrious! Wonder if those catered lunches for masthead-occupiers are going to get a price-jump? Oh wait, they're already free! To be fair, prices will still be "8% to 10% below the average for the neighborhood," according to the memo. The Times cafeteria is run by Restaurant Associates, which also manages the eateries at Conde Nast, Hearst and Google-anyone know if those companies are also bumping up their prices? Let us know. Memo after the jump.
Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz wants everyone to calm the hell down please! "Health insurance is so central to a sense of security and I realize that this is making people feel really vulnerable, but if they could just know one thing, it's that they really do have health insurance coverage," she told us when we spoke to her this afternoon about the hue and cry raised by the union's membership over a recent change in their benefits. Passing Damage Control 101 with fairly flying colors, Horowitz copped to mishandling how the details of the union's recent health plan switch were circulated to members. "People are clearly frustrated. We really truly apologize for some of these glitches," she said. "It's really our obligation and for a lot of people, we've failed."
The Freelancers Union is telling its irate members today that enrollment forms for new health plans were sent to their new provider on Monday and that all of its members should have ID numbers by tomorrow. Or maybe not! According to one freelancer, Empire's customer service says that FU "had sent over 'only a handful' of enrollment forms, and that it could be weeks before everything is processed." Another union member tells us just the opposite: Blue Cross will backdate applications so that FU enrollees can visit health practitioners today, should they need to. Confusion! Mixed messages! "Needless to say, the Union fucked up completely," said the same member. Did the Freelancers Union learn nothing after helping organize striking Viacom permalancers last month? Cost-cutting happens everywhere and always will. But the way bad news is delivered is, in large part, how people will remember you as an organization. Quit screwing it up!
What's this? Members of the Freelancers Union are up in arms over badly-executed changes to their health insurance benefits! Oh, the irony! On November 30, the union, which says it "represents the needs and concerns of America's growing independent workforce," sent a memo out to its 15,000 New York metropolitan-area members who receive health insurance through the organization, announcing that coverage under their current health plan, HIP, would end December 31 in favor of more expensive coverage under Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. "If you want to wake up with insurance on New Year's Day, you have to let us know which of the plans from Empire or PerfectHealth you want," the announcement read. We're hearing that, despite having completed all the paperwork required for the union-wide switch, plenty of freelancers are indeed waking up this morning to an uninsured New Year! "FU dropped the ball on this," one union member complains on the chat section of the organization's site.
We're hearing that the New York Times has changed its mind about giving buyout packages to six of the employees eliminated in newsroom layoffs announced last month. Instead of a package that would have included benefits for a time, they'll walk away with severance packages, which don't include benefits. A source tells us that the severance packages are worth about a third less than the buyouts originally promised. In November, the Times announced it would cut a dozen newsroom positions and "a number" of clerical administrative jobs.
According to Page Six, socialite and girl genius Lydia Hearst is peeved that Darfur benefit-throwers kept "slapping" her name on their invites after she did a single party with them. Well, now we hear the other side of the story, in a lengthy letter from Malcolm Harris, of Designers for Darfur. EXCLUSIVE! MUST CREDIT THE PEOPLE OF WESTERN SUDAN!
Boss Tweed makes a comeback outside the offices of MTV Networks this morning! Hey, at least he's marginally cuter than the Union Rat, who's needed a serious upgrade since, like, 1974. Viacom is having an information session for freelancers on benefits changes today, according to Mediabistro. When? At the same time as the WGA-MTV protest of course! Tricky and clever!
Uh oh, things almost got ugly up at Viacom today (where there will be a walkout by disgruntled contract workers in a few minutes!) "Today they brought in an Aetna rep to talk about the 'plan' and he was almost lynched. People were yelling at him and the HR people." Hey! No stringing up the Aetna guy! He's an insurance salesman, you can't put him in any hell he's not already in. Of course, if Sumner Redstone walks in, by all means, have at.
Video guy Nick McGlynn hung out this afternoon with the outraged Viacom contractors. (Freelancers? Permalancers? Slave labor?) Actual employees in the eyes of the law, probably, considering how one staffer described her freelance staff. "They're here everyday, these guys comes in Monday to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, weekends, holidays, everything, to work and make this channel run," she told us. Steady paychecks render such commitment completely obsolete—most fully employed people we know support a wide-ranging interpretation of the conventional five-day-workweek. Best slogan heard at the (first!) Viacom Networks Walkout Of 2007: "No one sucks dick for free." (Also great: "No pills, no 'Hills.'" Ha!) Damn straight—we don't even tongue-kiss for anything less than one employer-sponsored retirement plan and a reasonable deductible.
Is anyone confused by all the fuss over freelancer benefits in the Viacom mess? Freelancer, permalancer, part-time employee, full-time employee: What's the difference anymore? Why are Viacom's independent contractors complaining about having their benefits cut when the general impression is that freelancers don't qualify for benefits in the first place? Where does the actual, you know, law come down on this issue? And do most media companies abide by it? Let's learn more!