• The Wall Street Journal has the Times in its sights. The paper is hiring a dozen reporters to cover local news and will launch a NYC edition next year. [NYT]
• As expected, a big round of layoffs at Time Inc. is underway. [Gawker, NYT]
• Harvey and Bob Weinstein may be looking to buy back the Miramax name from Disney now that it's being disbanded. That's the rumor anyway. [Wrap]
• Bloomberg plans to make BusinessWeek "bigger, glossier, and more international." Oh, and it may start charging for access to the BW site. [MW]
• The Oscars will have two hosts: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. [LAT]
Michael Moore turns 55 today. Social fixture (and Estee Lauder heiress) Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer is turning 39. Model Jessica Stam is 23. Writer Ken Auletta is turning 67. Former NBC CEO Bob Wright is 66. Actor Kal Penn is turning 32. Model/actress Jaime King turns 30. Former New Line co-chief Michael Lynne is 68. Real estate heiress and socialite Beth Rudin DeWoody is turning 57. Comedian George Lopez is turning 48. Valerie Bertinelli is 49. And Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel is 19.
Early Saturday morning I dragged myself to the New Yorker Festival in Midtown, to see media mensch Ken Auletta moderate a panel discussion with Times editor Bill Keller, Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates, Slate press critic Jack Shafer, and breathless WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, the token conservative. I'll leave out the boring recap parts and distill the experience down to its key point: Peggy Noonan should go back to writing political speeches, because—even taking into account the fact that she's a Republican hack—her dishonesty is embarrassing to watch. Ugh. Noonan, remember, was caught on a live mic talking about how the selection of Sarah Palin as VP was "bullshit." A fact that was referenced repeatedly by Ken Auletta! So what did Noonan spend the bulk of her time on the panel (subject: "Covering the Candidates") doing? Defending Sarah Palin. It was far too early to take notes, but I'll sum up Peggy's arguments: "Sarah Palin, fresh, new, American, real, six-pack, women, sexism?, the American people." The experience was strange because every single person sitting in the room—the panelists, the moderator, the audience, the security guards—was well aware how dumb Sarah Palin is. But there was Peggy, gamely searching for some all-American Reaganesque prose to elevate Palin into something legitimate. The panel was about the media, so the bold political hackery was jarring and out of place, like when those crazy Christians wave signs at the funerals of dead soldiers saying God killed them because of fags. There's a time and a place for your brand of lying, Peggy. It's on the weekend talk shows, after you sign on as a speechwriter for the sure-to-be successful Palin administration. There are lots of political hacks writing columns; but Noonan always wants to pop up as some sort of spokeswoman for Middle America, in the most patronizing way possible to actual Middle Americans. You failed at the New Yorker Festival, Peggy Noonan. The contrast between Noonan and the other panelists was what made the entire ordeal grimace-worthy. Bill Keller has more political pressure on him than almost anyone in the entire media. But when Ken Auletta asked him how it affected him when the McCain campaign charged the Times with being in the tank for Obama, Keller said (approximately): "It makes me want to find the toughest, hardest story about McCain we have and put it on the front page the next day." That's called honesty, Peggy Noonan. Retire with your trademark false grace. [Pic via Startraks]
Google CEO Eric Schmidt shared his deep thoughts in a conversation with the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, and News.com's Dan Farber was there to transcribe the sermon. Shareholders might be a little surprised by statements like "Our goal is to change the world. Monetization is a technology to pay for it." But the real nut is how Google executives have been slowly backing away from the company's "Don't be evil" pledge.
Both today's New York Times and New Yorker offer lengthy pieces about Rupert Murdoch. And when we say lengthy, we're not exaggerating: The New Yorker piece clocks in at 7409 words, while the Times offers a more sprightly 3868-word story. If you're interested in the Murdoch story but don't have the eight hours it would take to get through 11,000+ nouns and verbs, what's the better choice?
This morning, Doree roused herself at an ungodly hour to attend a panel discussion called "Do Newspapers Have a Future?" at the W Hotel in Midtown, with the New Yorker's Ken Auletta lobbing questions at Times Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet and McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt.
Unless you subscribe, you'll have to visit your local newsstand to read this week's New Yorker profile of P.R. megastar Howard Rubenstein. Is it worth going out into this arctic wonderland and dropping $4.50, or is the piece, as Nikki Finke puts it, just "the usual CEO porn that [Ken] Auletta spins out on a semi-regular basis"? We donned our overcoats and headed into the freezing tundra of SoHo to find out. Here's what we learned when we thawed:
Oh dear, Harvey Weinstein will be really insufferable now. Last night at the Golden Globes, Miramax won best director for Gangs of New York, best drama for The Hours, and three awards for Chicago. Cue a chorus for the great leader that wouldn't have been out of place at a Ba'athist party conference.
Ken Auletta's explosive article on Harvey Weinstein in this week's New Yorker is sure to warrant Auletta an unpleasant visit from the fat man in blackand probably already has. Harvey insists that he's really lovable guy who just has a passion for movies and occasionally gets carried away. Very Michael Ovitz of him.
This week in the New Yorker [New Yorker]