• Veteran theater producer Rocco Landesman has been nominated to be the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. [NYT]
• Why did David Geffen try to buy a stake in the New York Times? It wasn't because he thought he'd make money, that's for certain. [Newsweek]
• After taking some heat over a $75,000 speaking fee he received last week, the Times's Tom Friedman says he now plans to return the money. [LAT]
• Sarah Palin's book deal with HarperCollins is a go. How much money was involved isn't clear but the memoir will be out in 2010, which just so happens when she'll be running for reelection in Alaska. [LAT, AP]
• Bad news, hooker fans: Craigslist is dropping its erotic services section. [WP]
• Jim Dolan's Cablevision says that Newsday is not for sale, which is good since there isn't a company on the planet that wants to buy it. [E&P]
• David Geffen made an offer to acquire the stake in the New York Times Co. controlled by Phil Falcone's Harbinger fund; Harbinger passed. [Fortune]
• The mood isn't too upbeat at the Cannes Film Festival, unsurprisingly. [THR]
• 60 Minutes' segment on Anna Wintour should air this Sunday. [Gawker]
• As of the publishing biz didn't have enough to worry about, "web pirates" are now posting copies of books on the Internet. [NYT]
• Anderson Cooper's ratings have been on the decline all year. [LAT]
• OK! appears to be dissolving into chaos. [ASSME, Gawker]
• Bank of America sold off a $7.3 billion stake in China Construction Bank as it seeks to raise cash. Good news: only $26.6 billion to go! [DB]
• Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce that Hank Morris has pleaded guilty in the pension fund probe and will be cooperating with the investigation. [WSJ]
• Citigroup has lent out the same amount it's taken from Washington ($45 billion), a sign that Vikram may have a heart, after all. [AP, Dealbreaker]
• AIG's Ed Liddy will defend his company's rep in front of a Congressional panel today. At the very least, he can report the busted insurance giant is $1.2 billion richer now that it's sold off its Tokyo headquarters. [WSJ, DB]
Ivana Trump turns 60 today. Anderson Cooper's mother, heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, is 85. Cindy Crawford is 43. Sidney Poitier turns 82. Coach president Reed Krakoff is 45. Grace Hightower De Niro is turning 56. Knicks guard Stephon Marbury is 32. Patty Hearst is turning 55. Architect Deborah Berke is turning 55. Charles Barkley is 46. Senator Mitch McConnell is turning 67. Actress Lauren Ambrose is 31. And poor Rihanna turns 21 today. Weekend birthdays after the jump!
We mentioned it before, but it was sad when, on Election Night, America once again said thanks, but no thanks, to recognizing the rights of gay people. Specifically, California's Proposition 8, which banned the state's previously legal gay marriages, passed. Now, hey, everyone's going nuts. The gays are currently blaming Black People, Mormons, the governor, Barack Obama, and others, and they're protesting and demonstrating and doing all the other things everyone forgot to do before the vote happened. We know everyone was totally distracted by Barack Obama and his magical election, but guys, even we out here in New York knew you faced a well-funded, well-organized, media-savvy campaign of lies and misinformation, and the pro-gay marriage response was abysmal. Now—now!—Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says it's a shame gay marriage was banned, oh boo hoo. He didn't lift a finger to campaign against Prop 8 before! Now David Geffen is quoted in The Daily Beast babbling about the lack of outreach to black voters. Where was his money, before? [Update: Geffen gave $200k, out of his billions.] Did he get his rich liberal friends to contribute as much as the Mormon Church did? Did they use the money to build a grassroots movement as well-organized as the pro-Prop 8 guys did? Check out the list of Hollywood's non-donors as of September 10—many of them did eventually donate, but see how they didn't feel the need to until the last second? Blaming the blacks is ridiculous and unhelpful and stupid. There aren't enough black people in California to have make the ultimate difference, even with bigger turnout, unless you consider these black voters a subset of religious voters, a giant group everyone should've known they'd have to contend with months ago. Black people certainly posed less of an electoral threat than Catholics did in the California polls. It seems like everyone just assumed Prop 8 would fail, magically, even when the polls tightened significantly. And now—now!—the protests are ramping up. Now—now!—Keith Olbermann delivers his heartfelt Special Comment. Hey, let's all boycott Sundance! That'll show the Mormons! They won't meddle in our affairs ever again! Of course the anger and resentment is already hardening. But yes, outreach and education and organization and money (and maybe some genuine help from Barack Obama, who was against Prop 8, though you'd never know it) might've won the battle. Garnering support for gay rights in Arizona, in Arkansas, even in Florida, are difficult challenges that will still probably take years of work, but to get a gay marriage ban passed in California smacks of enlightened rich liberals not trying hard enough.
If you've not yet discovered the LAT "Follow the Donors" feature yet, it's a searchable database tracking every individual who donated to either side of the Prop 8 campaign, alongside their corresponding place of business. It's a great way to check up on that receptionist with the troll dolls on her computer who's always yammering on about how great the new Michael W. Smith album is. You can also plug in celebrity names, of course, and see what pops up.We already found two donations from David Geffen amounting to $200,000, and, confirming reports, another $100k each from a "self-employed" Brad Pitt and Ellen DeGeneres. And what of donations in support of the measure? We managed to ferret out an "unemployed" Mel Gibson living in Cameron Park who gave $250 to the Yes side. Alas, this was probably not the star but a gay-hater of lesser means bearing the same name, as Cameron Park is a community about 25 miles outside Sacramento. Then again, you never know where the Malibu land baron might have a little pied-a-terre. We'll just assume it is the Apocalypto director until we hear otherwise.
Though Hillary Clinton was once seen as the inevitable pick in this year's presidential election, the first stain on her pantsuit may have come as early as February 2007, when gay mafia don/beach hog David Geffen broke ranks with the Clintons to endorse Barack Obama. "I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is — and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? — can bring the country together," Geffen told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd then, as his second assistant provided a helpful yes-man chorus of "Oh snap!" and "No she did not just say that!" Now, the LAT's Patrick Goldstein has caught up with Geffen to get his thoughts on Obama's once-unlikely victory, and Geffen dropped this tidbit about his own kingmaking ability:
A tender postmortem in today's New York Times reminds the world yet again that seriously — like, really, this time — David Geffen is leaving DreamWorks. Having shepherded the monolith through the Hollywood establishment from conception to its first marriage (and divorce) before giving the frazzled bride away a second time in an arranged marriage to its dashing Indian suitor, Geffen's tenure is remembered fondly by his 'Works co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Not that they'll admit to knowing what they're doing without him.Such modesty! To a point, anyway: If and/or when his Reliance Big Entertainment honeymoon ever tapers off, Spielberg and DreamWorks president Stacey Snider really won't have the Geffen touch to help woo another international conglomerate into bed. But by then Spielberg, 62, will probably be ready to scale back anyway, and survival will be less about braintrust than brand (and the library it manages to develop with its new distribution partners at Universal). He shouldn't even be there now, if one of his more illuminating disclosures today is to be believed:
♦ Campbell Brown is reportedly pregnant. [TVNewser]
♦ Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown aren't in competition. They're best friends! [NYT]
♦ The Robb Report is on the market. The price? "Upwards of $100 million." [Folio]
♦ NBC has exiled the struggling Lipstick Jungle to Friday nights. [Variety]
♦ CNN's new (and appallingly unfunny) political humor show starring D.L. Hughley debuted this past weekend. [NYT]
♦ In his new book, Alec Baldwin goes off on TMZ's Harvey Levin, and says that the fallout from his infamously leaked voicemail made him want to commit suicide. [R&M]
♦ Barbra Streisand sang four songs at an Obama fundraiser last night. Attendees included Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. [Fox News]
♦ Anne Hathaway acted like a bit of a diva at an event in Toronto. She also smokes, which her publicist doesn't want you to know. [OK!, R&M]
♦ Sarah Palin's "secretive circle of stylists" dressed her in a $2,500 Valentino jacket for her big speech at the Republican convention. [P6]
♦ Bad news: Hugh Hefner says all three of the Girls Next Door are getting spinoffs. [E!]
♦ Even worse news: Heidi Montag and her sister Holly are "developing a top-secret project" together. [LAT]
From the Dept. of Mildly Pressing Questions Worth Asking on A Slow Wednesday Afternoon comes this new query: "Why Is This DreamWorks-Reliance Deal Taking So Long?" It features an accompanying clock and everything — 63 Days, 18 Hours, 34 Minutes and counting! — to emphasize the hold-up since Indian conglom Reliance Big Entertainment was reported to be within weeks of saving Steven Spielberg and co. from Paramount. Indeed, what is taking so long, and why do so many sources supposedly in the know keep jumping the gun?The timekeeper cites three news sources in as many weeks that have noted that the $500 million Reliance/DreamWorks deal is "a week" away from closing. The Wall Street Journal was a little more vague when breaking the story last June, reporting only that the parties were "close" to a deal. A fun theory floated at the time suggested outgoing 'Works partner David Geffen fed the story to the Journal to entice a bid from Rupert Murdoch himself, whose 20th Century Fox is on the short (if unlikely) list of potential DreamWorks distributors:
- Christian Bale is set to get a "caution" about his alleged assault on his Mom and sister in London, but only if he admits guilt first. Comedian Russell Brand: "In England, we have such good manners that if someone says something impolite, the police will get involved. Christian Bale, I believe whilst in a restaurant, rolled his eyes at the lighting. That is an offense punishable by five years in prison in the United Kingdom."
Simon Doonan may have a brilliant eye for design, fabulous taste in decor, and a wicked sense of humor, but blind items don't seem to be his forte. In this week's Observer—and in between talk of his noble battle with toe fungus—Doonan recounts a special invite he and partner Jonathan Adler received during a recent trip to Capri:
Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb is making good use of his leave from the magazine! Well, besides writing John McCain's official blog. [Update: This is a different Michael Goldfarb. Who knew?] He also wrote a letter to Romenesko, as all concerned journos must at some point, with a suggestion about saving the very institution of journalism. It involves capitalism!
Steven Spielberg and David Geffen are offering Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA a large stake in their production company Dreamworks in exchange for $600 million. What none of the press has mentioned? That Reliance was accused by Universal of selling pirated DVDs. Universal, though, is a rival of Dreamworks parent company Paramount, which in turn is a division of Viacom — who are busy suing Google for $1 billion in copyright infringement damages. Your move, MPAA. [Current] (Photo by AP/Kevork Djansezian)
Think of how easy it might have been to understand Arianna Huffington's bloggy animus toward Tim Russert if there were a book out chronicling all the sordid details of their decade-and-a-half-long secret feud. (There is.) Every gossip-mongering gadabout should know the full backstory on every spat, falling out, and long-running mutual antagonism in media. Below are the volumes no shelf should be without.