• Ted Kennedy's death late last night sent the media into a predictable scramble. Some newspapers stopped the presses in the wee hours to change out the front page; every news network has been busy mobilizing its troops and planning various TV specials; Time announced plans to publish a commemorative edition; and the publication date of Kennedy's forthcoming memoir has been moved up to September 14 from early October.
• Some people watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's shows because they think it makes them look cool, according to a new research report. [NYT]
• The premiere of True Blood on Sunday night reeled in more than 5.3 million viewers and generated HBO its biggest audience in years. [MCN]
• Because The View is determined to provide a home to the most insufferable women on earth, Kate Gosselin has signed on to guest host the show next month, joining the likes of Meghan McCain and LaToya Jackson. [E!]
Mr. Heidi Klum (or Seal, if you prefer) turns 46 today. General Electric chief Jeff Immelt is 53. Jonathan Lethem is turning 45. Sony CEO Howard Stringer is turning 67. New York Times finance reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin is 32. New York art critic Jerry Saltz is 58. Carolyn Maloney is turning 61. Hearst's Ellen Levine is turning 66. Novelist Siri Hustvedt is 54. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is 50. Architect Peter Pennoyer is 52. Naked Angels artistic director Jenny Gersten is 40. Politico Norman Adler is turning 67. Phish drummer Jon Fishman is turning 44. Benicio Del Toro is 42. Justine Bateman is 43. Jeff Daniels is 54. Smokey Robinson is 69. And Haylie Duff celebrates her 24th today.
♦ It was the Metropolitan Opera's 125th opening night on Monday and so naturally a long list of recognizable faces trooped out for the occasion. In floor-length gowns and tuxes to walk the red carpet and watch Renée Fleming: Barbara Walters, Howard Stringer, Michael Bloomberg, Helen Mirren, Christie Brinkley, Faye Dunaway, Molly Sims, Taylor Momsen, Martha Stewart, Hilary and Bryant Gumbel, Henry Kravis, Mercedes Bass, Ann Ziff, Georgina Chapman (left), Helena Christensen, Jane Fonda, John Lithgow, Juliana Margulies, Joy and Regis Philbin, John Turturro, Parker Posey, Peggy Siegal, Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, Deborah Norville, Julie Macklowe, and Tory Burch. [Park Ave Peerage, NYSun, Wireimage, PMc]
Jonathan "novelist-hot" Lethem's Omega the Unknown is a project that you might not know about unless you're a geeky comics reader. Then again, even if you are a comics reader, sales figures indicate that you might not know about it either. The most recent numbers place Omega's third issue at 177th among the most sold comics at retail—trounced by Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #4, but kicking the butt of Zombies vs. Robots vs. Amazons #1.
Jonathan Lethem and the other authors behind the newest Brooklyn book of wonder, Brooklyn Was Mine, have banded together in a valiant, selfless pledge. They will donate the book's proceeds to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the group opposing Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project. Huh! Anyway, the book is brought to you by Vogue authors Valerie Steiker and Chris Knutsen, and contributers include Jonathan Lethem, Darcey Steinke, and Jennifer Egan. They've all written for no pay in the hopes that big changes will be made. Clearly they are anticipating big sales if the royalties on a marginal literary anthology are going to make a dent on a $4 billion project!
What does 'Motherless Brooklyn' and 'The Fortress of Solitude' and 'That Other More Recent Book, What Was The Name Of It' author Jonathan Lethem eat? The same things most people eat: bagels and sandwiches and macaroni and cheese from a box, and sometimes fancy meals out at restaurants or at friends' houses. "I love Jonathan Lethem. Can we hear about his grooming habits and/or laundry secrets next? Please keep these peeks into his life coming!" writes a commenter who is probably not being sarcastic. [NYM]
The fun on today's Times corrections page never stops. Ben Schott's March 4 back-matter essay "Confessions of a Book Abuser" (which—irony alert—we've honored previously in the "most bizarre ethical distinction" T.M.I. category) apparently cribs ideas and a whole, highly specific anecdote from Anne Fadiman's "Never Do that to a Book," part of her 1998 essay collection Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. No, people don't read much no more, but we sure love to know about destroying culture, one trade paperback at a time; unfortunately Schott's methods were rather too similar to Fadiman's, and neither involved the thermodynamic constant 451 deg F. When they weren't awkwardly wrestling/awkwardly making out with n+1, the lit blogs have been on the Schott story for a while, and now the Times comes clean, sort of. Spicy details follow about the subconscious internalizations of European chambermaids.
Our preferred Brooklyn Jonathan author chatted live with the ladies of the Jane magazine messageboards yesterday to promote his forthcoming book, You Don't Love Me Yet. His answers to their questions revealed a lot—about how dumb the questioners are. But it's okay! According to Jonathan, you don't have to go to college to be smart!
As we continue our perusal of the latest issue of the most important literary magazine of our time, we skipped over that long part in the middle so we could get to the fun part: the letters section! And we must admit, we weren't disappointed. There, nestled between a somewhat rambling note from Jacob Shell (ooh, he's utterly cute!) and one from "S.C. Gummer" (a pseudonym? Perhaps) on Berlin was this squirmy missive from one Jonathan Lethem.
We get a lot of invitations for random book parties here at Gawker HQ, but an email that came through our tips line about Brooklyn dreamboat Jonathan Lethem's new collaboration with photographer Kate Milford inspired enough interest for us to send newly-minted editorial assistant Heather and her trusty photog sidekick Kate on an inter-borough mission to check out the scene. In Brooklyn. Peruse our gallery of bookworm joy here, or sample Kate's full gallery here.After the jump, Heather comes to terms with wasting a perfectly good Thursday night "partying" with toddlers and quasi-literary types.
This year's MacArthur "genius" grants were announced today — $500,000 over five years, with no strings attached — and six New Yorkers are among the 25 winners. Our geniuses (well, our official geniuses — our mother convinced us at a young age, as we're sure yours did for you, that we're geniuses, too) are:
1. Hear Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief/Adaptation), Michael Cunningham (The Hours), and Louis Begley (About Schmidt) discuss the realities of adapting books for the big screen, with writer Jonathan Lethem moderating.
2. Swipe chocolate and green tea fortune cookies from 66.
3. Check out the Italian fashion exhibit at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Novelist Jonathan Lethem has become an evangelist in literary circles for a party game called "Mafia" that involves lies, deceit, and heavy doses of social paranoiaall of which are readily available at any serious Manhattan cocktail party. The game is played with twelve people, three of which, unbeknownst to everyone else, are designated "mafia." The mafia attempt to turn the rest of the group against each other as mafia suspects are voted out of the group. People that have played with Lethem find it a little disconcerting. The skill at psychological manipulation required to play well ("social torture," The Observer calls it) greatly exceeds that of the average Manhattan-variety social climber. The true protagonists are not to be trusted.
The Lying Game [Observer]