Hedge fund titan John Paulson is turning 54 today. Former Hollywood titan Michael Ovitz is turning 63. Tween queen Vanessa Hudgens turns 21. Novelist Benjamin Kunkel turns 37. Cliff Richards, the AC/DC bassist (and father of MTV's Erin Lucas), is 60. Writer Stanley Crouch turns 64. Child actress Patty Duke is 63. Aussie model/actress Sophie Monk is 30. Social fixture Eleanor Ylvisaker is 33. And Jane Birkin, the actress and singer who also inspired the Hermès bag by the same name, turns 63 today.
• It's only been a week since Conan took over the top-rated Tonight Show, but David Letterman has already passed over him in the ratings. [NYT]
• Also: Dave Letterman's new contract will keep him at CBS through '12. [LAT]
• Yesterday the Boston Globe's largest union rejected the New York Times Co.'s proposed package of cuts. The NYT responded by implementing a 23 percent pay cut anyway and now the union is taking the matter to court. [NYT]
• Ratings are down for CNN's Lou Dobbs. And thank God for that. [NYO]
• It's official: Ari Emanuel is the new Mike Ovitz! Both the New York Times and The Daily Beast invoke Ovitz's name in lengthy pieces on "the pre-eminent power player in Hollywood" and "Hollywood's new don." [NYT, TDB]
• Sound the alarms! Swine flu has returned to Condé Nast! [Daily Intel]
• The recession ain't stopping Marc Jacobs: He's opening seven new boutiques this year. [WWD]
• Alexander McQueen stunned crowds at Paris Fashion Week with a collection that "oozed with imagination," but was "plenty unsettling," too. [IHT, WWD]
• Reviews from some of the other shows in Paris the past couple of days. [NYT, WSJ, Vogue UK]
• Détente! Anti-fur crusader (and PETA honcho) Dan Mathews was spotted shaking hands with none other than Anna Wintour. [NYP]
• Apparently the economy is forcing women to rush over to consignment shops to sell their "beloved Louis Vuittons at pennies on the dollar." [NYP]
• J. Crew is thinking of opening a bridal salon. [Racked]
• You can credit Twilight for boosting sales at Hot Topic. [NYM]
• Neiman Marcus reported that sales dropped 21% last quarter. [Reuters]
• A peek at a new collection by Kimberly Ovitz, daughter of Michael. [Pipeline]
• At John Galliano's show in Paris, "toxic" fake snow had editors like Hamish Bowles, Grace Coddington, and Glenda Bailey most unhappy. [Fashionologie]
News that won't be surprising to anyone: The art world is still steeped in gloom, as evidenced by the scene at last night's opening gala for the Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory. The benefit, which used to be sponsored by Lehman Brothers and be a riot of hedge funders dropping millions on pieces to add to their collections, was attended by the likes of Donald Marron, Steve Schwarzman, John McEnroe, Glenn Lowry, Agnes Gund, and Michael Ovitz, but still saw "meager" sales.
Ed Koch is turning 84 today. Happy birthday, Mr. Mayor! Jennifer Connelly is 38. Actor Tom Wilkinson is turning 60. Hollywood powerhouse Paula Wagner is turning 62. Fox Business anchor Liz Claman is 45. Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Bobby Kennedy, is 40. Model Bridget Hall is turning 31. Dionne Warwick is 68. Mayim Bialik (yes, Blossom) is 33. And your favorite game show host ever, Bob Barker, is celebrating his 85th. Weekend birthdays below!
Nicita Has Left the Building: Not a day too soon, it appears, 42-year agency veteran and CAA partner Rick Nicita is ditching his Death Star digs for the co-chairman spot at Morgan Creek. Nicita joins a distinguished list of CAA defectors to studio front offices, led by Michael Ovitz's spectacular Disney flame job and Ron Meyer's decidedly improved turn heading up Universal. The latter studio's distribution partnership with Morgan Creek will come in handy for Nicita, who will be charged with restoring the Creek to its late-'80s/early-'90s golden years after a string of recent underachievers including The Good Shepherd and Man of the Year. We admit we're a little surprised; at a time when most of his old CAA contemporaries are slowing down and/or testifying in federal court, Nicita's move is that of a man with something to prove — most likely with wife Paula Wagner and client Tom Cruise looking on studiously from their own perches at UA. That's just the kind of mensch he is. Good luck, Rick! [LAT, Photo Credit: Getty Images]
A sweeping profile of Endeavor hit The NY Times on Sunday, placing the agency's arduous climb to power in a welcome new perspective. By virtually all accounts, ETA has "grown up" — from a puckish, oversexed boys club to a puckish, oversexed employer of Jodie Foster's rumored lesbian paramour (and more than a half-dozen female partners, up from zero just a few years ago). But despite all Ari Emanuel's progressive brio, he still can't outrun CAA or his own choppy past — Michael Ovitz gets a fun body-blow in by the eighth paragraph, Ari not-so-strenuously deflects those nagging sale and/or merger rumors, and, for those who missed it, there's a recap of Endeavor's somewhat experimental sexual/ethnic chemistry:
Old Dog, New Tricks: The heartbreaking vacancy of the old CAA headquarters, which drew nearly 20,000 Michael Ovitz-era mourners to like a sprawling, marble mecca to extinguished power, has been resolved at last. After haggling with a star chamber of landlords including Ovitz himself, Sony BMG Music Entertainment closed a deal Wednesday to relocate its West Coast headquarters to the 65,000-square-foot black hole at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica. Reports put the lease at $4 per square foot and "operating expenses of between $700,000 and $900,000 per year," which include inherited maintenance like office exorcisms, vintage employee execution chambers and a mysterious $370,000 annual allowance for something called "asshole removal." Security guards, maybe? Moving boxes? Your guess is as good as ours. [Variety]
Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has always resented the fact that peers made more money than him with what he deemed to be inferior films. These days, he's obviously overcome this problem by milking reality shows for millions to prop up his more artsy products; but he couldn't always be so sanguine. Here we have a priceless and EXCLUSIVE classic from the archives: a recording of a phone call between Weinstein and Disney exec Joe Roth, taped shortly after Michael Ovitz-a spectacular failure as head of Disney-was paid more than $100 million to leave the company in 1996. Weinstein is galled beyond belief (and perhaps a bit envious). "Let's quit today!" he jokes. Why, he works his ass off and what does he get? A fucking lecture. "Joe, you're a success, so therefore you're a failure in this business," Weinstein complains. Then he insults his fellow moguls: "Between Peter Guber and Mike Ovitz and everybody who fucked up...Everybody got wealthy on failure." Weinstein just cares too much about the films, you see; "We have character flaws that must be overcome," he sighs. Thanks to Project Runway, he's done so. Click to listen to the titan of Hollywood in all his expletive-spitting glory.
And so it ends: The long local nightmare that was the Anthony Pellicano trial has ended with essentially the same whimpering inertia that marked its duration. Those early reports of Pellicano's convictions have fleshed out in the hours since: guilty as charged on 76 of 77 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, wiretapping, wire fraud and identity theft, yet acquitted of "a single count of unauthorized computer access," according to The New York Times. (His four co-defendants were convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy.) Pellicano will be sentenced Sept. 24.
All kinds of drama unfolded Wednesday in one of the more turbulent days of the Anthony Pellicano trial, with ex-journalist Anita Busch following fork-tongued Michael Ovitz to a slow death on the witness stand. As if you had to ask, the cross-examination showdown between Busch and Pellicano — whom the writer all but accused in court of infamously harrassing her out of writing articles about Ovitz after joining the LA Times — did not go smoothly:
Michael Ovitz hit the Pellicano witness stand this morning with a heart full of gratitude for his former private investigator, whose ongoing wiretapping trial became a state-sanctioned love-in as the ex-CAA/Disney/AMG boss recalled all the fun they had back in the day while paranoiacally destroying people's lives:
Rumblings from the inner sanctum of the CAA Death Star hint that co-pilots Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd are taking an early lunch today to plot an legal attack of wonderfully (if predictably) bloodthirsty ferocity. Their target: Who else? CAA emperor emeritus Michael Ovitz, whose misadventures with Anthony Pellicano upon returning to the agent game almost 10 years ago reportedly involved wiretapping the old joint for a not-so-subtle stab at talent poaching:
The LAT is reporting that former Times and THR reporter Anita Busch has named Michael Ovitz, erstwhile Most Powerful Man In Hollywood and current Most Powerful Man Being Upgraded From An Anonymous Name In A Civil Action Today, in her lawsuit alleging that wiretap-happy PI Anthony Pellicano attempted to intimidate her on behalf of those unhappy with her entertainment industry reporting, giving the former superagent a profile-rising bump from the quiet indignity of previously being known only as "Doe 4." Says the Times:
In an unexpected collision of players from the Payola Six scandal and the Anthony Pellicano Wiretapping Trial of the Century (yes, we must: "Hey, you got your eavesdropping private dick in my extorted supermarket billionaire!" "No, you got your extorted supermarket billionaire in my eavesdropping private dick!"), today's NY Times reports that Hollywood PI Pellicano tried to shake down Ron Burkle (you know him as "the rich guy who bravely refused to pay protection money to Page Six freelancer Jared Paul Stern") to the tune of $100,000 to $250,000, claiming that erstwhile Most Powerful Man in Hollywood Michael Ovitz had hired the detective to dig up dirt on Burkle. Ovitz's lawyer was quick to poo-poo the Pellicano story, asking, "Who are ya gonna believe, the rat who listens in on phone calls, or my client, an upstanding member of the weasly former superagent community?" Reports the Times:
We almost feel sorry for erstwhile Most Powerful Man in Hollywood Michael Ovitz, who's learning the hard way that making one teensy-weensy paranoid comment to a national publication claiming that a secret society of powerful homosexuals is trying to destroy your career can result in a lifetime of watching your back. Says Page Six:
We're a little tired of waiting for the Anthony Pellicano Wiretapping Trial of the Century to yield some of the Hollywood-players-frog -marching-out-of-Kate-Mantilini's excitement we've been anticipating for months to finally materialize. Today, at least, we're tossed a proverbial bone as the NY Times reports that prosecutors are poking around an old dispute between Michael Ovitz, the former Most Powerful Man in Hollywood (and current Most Powerful Man in Line At Starbucks, If He Avoids The One In Brentwood), and Cathy Schulman, a producer who once worked for Ovitz at the now-defunct AMG:
If there is a job in Hollywood that sounds less appealing that being the erstwhile Most Powerful Man in Hollywood's (current title: Man in Hollywood) nanny, we've yet to hear of it. (Actually, probably any job in "excitable" producer Joel Silver's office that involves daily exposure to blunt projectiles whizzing by one's head is no picnic, but we digress.) A former Michael Ovitz nanny has written the inevitable tell-all about her experience in the Other House That Ovitz Built, You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again, in which she accuses him of threatening her with the dreaded "nanny blacklist" and the following litany of sins, as catalogued by Rush & Molloy: