Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons couldn't be bothered to go to the White House on Monday to meet the president—he has an extremely active social life, let's not forget!—but the bank continues to enjoy special treatment in Washington, you'll be pleased to hear. On Friday afternoon, the IRS granted a special exemption that will allow Citi to hold on to a $38 billion tax benefit. [NYT]
Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, and Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons were all supposed to be in Washington yesterday to meet with President Obama at the White House. But then a tiny patch of fog materialized in the skies overhead and they had to retreat to their offices, victims of a force even more powerful than Wall Street's mightiest: Mother Nature. So how did that go down in Washington?
Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons hasn't been all that successful in fixing the ailing bank. Although Citi indicated yesterday that plans to reduce the government's stake in the bank—and return part of the $45 billion of taxpayer money it's received—it remains the most troubled major financial institution in America. (And it continues to be led by Vikram Pandit, who is probably the worst CEO of a major financial institution that still has a full-time job.) But don't let that stop you from pursuing a little freelance work, Dick.
The past six months or so haven't been much fun for Dick Parsons, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner. Back in May, it was revealed that he'd had a child with his mistress, who also happened to be 29 years his junior. Since the beginning of the year, he's served as chairman of the board of Citigroup, and that hasn't gone all that well, has it? But you'll be happy to hear that Parsons' personal troubles are about to melt away very shortly. The grape harvesting season in Tuscany kicks off in few weeks, which means Parsons will soon be heading off to his winery in Montalcino, Italy! At least that's what he usually does every September when he turns up to lend a helping hand and pluck grapes off the vines personally. Parsons has called visits to Il Palazzone a form of "mental medicine." A few pics of the therapy that awaits him are below.
New York turned out to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the historic Apollo Theater on Monday night. Prince, Mariah Carey, Steve Harvey, Bill Cosby, Fantasia Barrino, and Chanj all took turns on the stage; Jamie Foxx introduced Quincy Jones, who was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame; and the crowd included Michael Bloomberg and Diana Taylor, New York First Lady Michelle Patterson, Patti LaBelle, Dick Parsons, Al Sharpton, Gayle King, Sherri Shepard, Phylicia Rashad, Clarissa and Edgar Bronfman Jr., Ruby Dee, Ron Perelman and daughter Samantha Perelman, Sade Baderinwa, Devyn Simone, Kevin Liles, Jonelle Procope, Susan Magrino, Robin Roberts, Doug E. Fresh, Bryant and Hilary Gumbel, Bethenny Frankel, Denise Rich, and designer (and secret soul music fan) Roberto Cavalli. [PMc, Wireimage, VF]
• Presumably this is what happens when you spend time hanging out with John Mayer: Dick Parsons (right), the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner and currently the chairman of the board of Citigroup, not only cheated on his wife of three decades with a "model-philanthropist" 29 years his junior, he fathered a child with her, too. [NYDN]
• Sean Penn and wife Robin Wright Penn may not be getting divorced after all. Weeks after filing for legal separation, Penn has withdrawn the motion, either because he only did it in a fit of anger, or because he got jealous after seeing Robin flirting with a handful of men at the Cannes Film Festival. [NYDN, P6]
• The "Real Housewives of New York" have all reportedly signed on for a third season and are expected to make upwards of $30,000 per episode. [MSNBC]
• The New York Times Co. has reached a "tentative agreement" with its union to impose a 5 percent pay cut on employees through the end of the year. [NYP]
• Disney's ABC is joining Fox and NBC and taking a stake in Hulu. [AdAge]
• As expected, Time Warner said it may spin off AOL. But it may end up selling it, too. Either way, Gerald Levin, Dick Parsons and Steve Case will still be responsible for the worst merger in American corporate history. [NYT]
• Viacom reported that first quarter profit dropped 34 percent amid falling revenue at both its film and TV networks businesses. [AP]
• Related: Viacom boss Sumner Redstone is as senile as ever. At the Milken conference in Beverly Hills, he said he wouldn't comment on his competitors before lashing out at Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, and Jay Leno. [THR]
Citigroup's annual meeting today was rather tumultuous, not surprisingly. Although the bank's incumbent directors were re-elected by a wide margin, a number of angry people got up to the microphone to vent their frustrations. When Citi's new chairman Dick Parsons took a moment to recognize the directors stepping down from the board—like former chairman Sir Win Bischoff and Bob Rubin—one man in the audience yelled out: "Thank God you've gone!" Gone, perhaps, but certainly not forgotten! [AP]
Dick Parsons stepped down as Time Warner's chairman at the end of 2008, and handed over the reigns as the company's CEO to Jeff Bewkes a year before that. That isn't stopping Time Warner from sprucing up his office, though! The company disclosed it plans to spend $776,000 this year to make heading into the office every couple of months a more pleasant experience for Parsons, and the company will also pay to provide him with a secretary. Considering Parsons is now the chairman of Citigroup, presumably he'll also be getting a fancy new office at 399 Park Avenue just as soon as Citi CEO Vikram Pandit is finished with his $10 million renovation of the second-floor "executive suite." And yet despite two new spaces, he still won't have access to a Zen garden! (At least not one that Citigroup or Time Warner will be paying for.) But he can always make one himself if really wants to.
• The Treasury is expected to announce in the next few days that it will be extending bailout funds to a handful of life insurance companies. [WSJ]
• Brian Moynihan, who took over Merrill Lynch after John Thain was ousted, is emerging as a potential successor to Bank of America chief Ken Lewis. [WSJ]
• Not that Lewis necessarily needs to be replaced, at least according to Meredith Whitney, who (bizarrely) says Lewis has "done a great job." [BN]
• Blackstone, KKR, and Carlyle are in the running to acquire the mobile phone operations that Verizon Wireless is selling now that it's acquired Alltel. [BN]
• Looks like Jim Cramer has a new enemy. Nouriel Roubini is calling the CNBC star "a buffoon," and Cramer has since responded in kind, of course. [NYP]
Alec Baldwin turns 51 today. Eddie Murphy is turning 48. Pop princess Leona Lewis is 24. Amanda Bynes is turning 23. 90210's Jennie Garth is 37. Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, is turning 67. Former ski champion Picabo Street is 38. Legendary actress Doris Day is turning 87. Actor David Hyde Pierce is 50. And Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach is 41. Weekend birthdays after the jump.
• Hachette is looking to sell a big bunch of magazines, including Road & Track, Car & Driver, American Photo, Boating, Cycle World, Sound & Vision, and Flying. Package deals available; financing not so much. [AdAge, MW]
• Dick Parsons will step down from the Time Warner board in May. [Crains]
• Time Warner is buying a stake in Ron Lauder's European TV company. [PC]
• Discovery chief David Zaslav is "cable's fastest rising star," according to Forbes. Also: You're welcome to call him "Zazz" if you'd like. [Forbes]
• More on the media tour that Eliot Spitzer has been on recently. [NYO]
• It seems the Obama administration is looking at ways to avoid the "filter of the mainstream media." That sounds familiar, doesn't it? [Politico]
• Further proof that CNBC sucks, assuming you need some. [MediaMatters]
• Barry Meyer and Alan Horn will spend two more years at Warner Bros. [THR]
• George Lopez has a new talk show on TBS. Contain your excitement. [NYT]
• Paris Hilton hasn't given up on her dream of musical superstardom. At a Grammy after-party on Sunday, she accosted Paul McCartney and asked him if he'd be interested in doing a duet with her. Paul politely explained that he didn't think he'd have the time. [The Sun]
• Gwyneth Paltrow didn't join Chris Martin at any of the Grammy after-parties, so he found another chick to hang out with instead. [NYDN]
• The Chris Brown-Rihanna situation has taken a turn for the worse. Rihanna's injuries are reportedly "horrific," and include bite marks, facial contusions, and a bloody nose. Brown has hired attorney Mark Geragos to defend him. Both stars have cancelled upcoming appearances. And Brown's Doublemint gum ad has already been pulled. [People, TMZ, NYP]
• Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has a girlfriend. Except it's not Caroline Kennedy as some have suggested. Sulzberger, who separated from his wife in March, is dating a "vivacious" lady named Helen Ward, who he met in Peru a year ago and who is separated from her husband, too. [P6]
• Jeremy Piven brought his cocktail waitress girlfriend to the SAG Awards on Sunday night, but the poor thing didn't even get to sit with him during the ceremony. [NYDN]
• Michael Lohan is asking fans of his daughter to help him free Lindsay of Samantha Ronson's "bondage." [NYDN]
What happens when your plan to run for mayor is disrupted by a change to term limit laws, and then the other job you really wanted—a sweet cabinet postion in the Obama administration—doesn't pan out? You take over as Citigroup's new chairman, of course! The beleaguered bank announced this afternoon that Dick Parsons will take over for Win Bischoff as Citi's chair on February 23rd—assuming, of course, that the bank is still in existence by then. The good news for Citigroup shareholders? Given the bank doesn't have any money and no one is particularly interested in buying it, it's unlikely Parsons will preside over another disastrous $182 billion merger, only to dismantle it a few years later.
• More than 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, the most since World War II ended in 1945. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.2 percent. [CNN]
• Steve Rattner may be Barack Obama's car czar, assuming several potential conflicts of interests are sorted out. [ABC, NYP]
• Hedge funds lost 18.3 percent on average in 2008 [DB]
• Merrill Lynch exec Gregory Fleming is headed off to teach at Yale. [DB]
• Dick Parsons says he has no plans to become Commerce Secretary. [DB]
• Sometimes there is justice in this world: Marc Rich was a victim of Bernie Madoff, too, and lost $10-15 million as part of the scheme. [BN]
• Bernie Madoff's home in the south of France is actually fairly modest. [BN]
• Not surprisingly, nearly every major network is planning "longer and more exhaustive" coverage of the inauguration compared to years past. [NYT]
• Ugly day at Time Warner: The company is reporting its annual first loss in six years and is writing down $25 billion in the fourth quarter. [BN]
• Is Dick Parsons in line to become Commerce Secretary? [B&C]
• Forbes laid off 19 people yesterday. [ATD]
• People's Jess Cagle is taking over as managing editor of EW. [NYP]
• Michael Hirschorn thinks it's possible the New York Times will go bust in the next year; the Observer says Times boss Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is the "media mensch of the year." Go figure! [Atlantic, NYO]
• Lloyd Grove's 4,100-word article on Sumner Redstone is online. [Portfolio]
• If a cable news doctor can be Surgeon General, we probably shouldn't be surprised to see that Joe the Plumber is now a war correspondent. [NYP]
Obama's plan to have a cabinet full of politico-celebrity superstars is turning out to be the least successful Obama plan ever. Already, Al Gore and Colin Powell have taken themselves out of consideration. That was a major emotional blow, because they are both known to get the party started right. And now former Time Warner chief Dick Parsons, one of the most successful black men in corporate America (by some standards), has taken himself out of consideration too. And he wasn't even asked!