Saturday, July 11, 2009

Page Six: Ruth Madoff Clips Coupons for Pizza

Page SixPhoto

Richard Johnson / NEW YORK POST

RUTH Madoff had a rough time at California Pizza Kitchen the other night. Slinking into the East Side eatery with a young female friend, she ordered a salad and white wine, but quickly got flustered. "The waiter said she was upset because she had coupons and they expired before she could use them," a witness told us, adding that several diners told the waiters they shouldn't serve her. One bit of good news for Ruth, though -- she'd just learned her Ponzi-schemer hubby, Bernie Madoff, will be locked away in upstate Otisville, the prison his lawyer had requested. "I'm so glad! It's just what we wanted," she gushed to her dining companion. On her way out, one female diner shouted "Goodnight, Ruth!" The frosty-blond Madoff ignored her, but her dining partner cringed

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Anna Kournikova in a bar fight

via Spicy @ Celebrity Smack:


Anna Kournikova was involved in a bar scuffle last weekend in Las Vegas after a woman in a club threw a drink at her.

Now mind you, the way that the New York Post tells the story, you’d think it came out of the blue. There are obviously a lot of missing details about Kournikova’s involvement with the woman pre-drink tossing.

What we do know is that Anna was somehow invading the woman’s space, or so she thought, and at some point felt justified in slinging her cocktail at the tennis star. After she did Anna came flying at her, screaming and pushing.

After everyone broke it up and the hair extensions settled, Anna was left with claw marks on her neck and the drink tosser was booted from the club. Which I’m sure she expected, because stars never get kicked out of clubs. Like, ever. Unless you’re 2007 Andy Dick, that is.

More NYTimes Nepotism

Following up on our posts of last Wednesday and Thursday, GalleyCat gives more info:

...Gawker reported on the favorable treatment of The Forger's Spell by the husband of Times board member Lynn Dolnick who is also the cousin of Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. A Times rep responded on July 12 to allegations in the New York Post's Page 6: "We would disclose the family relationship if the author was employed by the company, a member of the board or otherwise influential in the operations of the company."

However, according to a tipster:

Ms. Dolnick's husband (Edward I. Dolnick) *IS* "influential in the operations of the company." Per Times 2008 SEC filings he controls 30,685 Class A shares of NYTimes Corp (voting shares reserved for Sulzberger family). He also controls jointly with his wife 10,300 more Class A shares. In total, Edward Dolnick, who received 4 favorable notices for his new book in NYTimes in 2 weeks, controls 40,985 Class A shares of NYTimes Corp. See page 7, footnote 5: This conflict should have been disclosed clearly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gawker: Exorcise Your Gay Demons in Connecticut

Feeling gay? Wishing you could rid yourself of the evil gay demons haunting your soul? Well you're in luck! The Manifested Glory Ministries Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut will exorcise your gay demons, just like they did for this 16-year-old boy.

The pastor of the church explains their motivations:

"We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man," the Rev. Patricia McKinney told The Associated Press. "We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle."

Ha! How very Christian of Rev. McKinney to contradict her "We have nothing against homosexuals" statement with the "I just don't agree with their lifestyle" statement that immediately followed. Truly breathtaking.

The church caused a stir after it posted a video of the exorcism onto their YouTube page. In the video, which has been removed but can be seen in the news report below, various church members weigh in on what's taking place in front of them.

"Rip it from his throat! Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!"

"Come out of his belly...It's in the belly - push."

"Right now in the name of Jesus, I call the homosexuality, right now in the name of Jesus."

Somebody drive to Connecticut tonight and rescue this poor kid from these crazy people. He's already going to have to work 80 hours a week as an adult just to pay for all the therapy he's going to have to go through after this. Who knows how much more damage they can inflict upon him if he remains under their influence.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Media Catfight: Rachel Sklar vs. Jeff Jarvis - From Gawker

Former Huffington Post media reporter and Dan Abrams' henchwoman Rachel Sklar is pissed at her friend, blogger-journalist Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis posted a now-infamous email of hers to his blog and absolutely lit her up in the process. Sklar fired back.

To recap: Sklar sent New York's media set abuzz after going wide with an email soliciting writers for a new "Drudge Meets Huffington Post" media blog she's running called Mediaite, which will be funded by former MSNBC journalist Dan Abrams. Abrams also owns a much kvetched-over corporate consulting company, Abrams Research, that aims to employ journalists and bloggers in advising Abrams clients how the media will react to issues clients are involved in. In case you didn't notice, that premise could be perceived as more than a little conflict-of-interest-y and scandalous.

Sklar's email was a request for submissions with a 12-point list of somewhat patronizing and legalese-heavy guidelines. One of the email's more interesting points was that payment and "compensation issues are still being hammered out." She sent out the email at about 4PM on Thursday. By 6:06 PM, Jarvis had a full-scale retort to Sklar's email posted to his blog. Some of the juicer parts:

This is the same Dan Abrams - lawyer, thus the legalese, and failed MSNBC host and executive - who is starting a PR company - oh, excuse me, media strategy firm - to advise companies on media while promising access to media people - the same media people, one imagines, he is getting to write about media for his media site. Gawd, it's positive hermaphroditic: A bunch of worms who can't figure out who's fucking whom how. I think I'll stay away. Don't want any of that on me...I don't need any lawyers-turned-flacks-turned-media-commentators-turned-publishers. I can publish on my own...If [Dan Abrams] had just started a blog or a group blog about media, cool. But announcing that he's also starting a PR company offering access to media people makes it stink. And then trying to throw on the cloak of legalese does nothing to relieve the stench.

Burn. The rest of it's mostly crunchy media arguing. But Sklar - an notoriously cheeky, ubiquitous New York media character - had been laid into on a very public forum by someone she counted as a friend. So she emailed Jarvis her retort, and then posted the email to her blog after Jarvis provoked her again. And now, folks, we've got a ballgame.

First, Sklar asks why her friend Jarvis didn't just email her with his issues before going live with them:

You know exactly who sent you that email - me, not Dan - and you know how easy it is to get it touch with me.

Then she goes on her toes to defend her credentials:

...don't call me a "fellow lawyer turned media person" like it's a pejorative (I'm going to ignore the imprecise "lawyers-turned-flacks-turned-media-commentators-turned-publishers"). I graduated in the top 5% of the top law school in Canada, was Valedictorian, and got the top public service award. When I bring my legal training to bear on my work it is to be precise and nuanced and detailed and meticulously fair.

After which she gets in the shotgun formation to attack Jarvis as a writer, noting that she wouldn't pay nothin' for his work:

I wouldn't recommend paying you for your contributions to HuffPo over the past year - for example, this one was over 1700 words - I definitely would have sent it back to you with a deep edit. This one was a repurpose from your blog, which is fine, but I [sic] there are a few holes...In this one, I would have pointed out that "Craigslist" needs to be capitalized...The one berating newspaper-people for losing their jobs was maybe a tad unkind; at the very least, I would have asked you to move your semi-mea-culpa up a bit...

She makes a spirited - if somewhat insubstantial - defense of her employer...

I couldn't help but notice that you totally don't seem to get the difference between Abrams Research and Mediate, and you didn't really care to check, either. "But announcing that he's also starting a PR company offering access to media people…" - um, Abrams Research launched in November. Mediaite is a separate site, and Dan won't have any editorial role. They are two separate concerns.

And closes it out with a solid kicker, like any good journalist blogger media consultant would:

You can write what you want - you're Jeff Jarvis! Who cares if it's not your best work - or even if it's not the best work it could be? That's fine for those sites, it's part of the process. Mediaite has a different process: we want to address the stuff above before we publish. (And also it shouldn't be racist of sexist or homophobic! I know, how inconvenient!) But anyway, all of the above - all of it! - is beside the point: That blog post was easily one of the biggest dick moves I've ever seen.


As crunchy, old, and kvetchy as Jarvis comes off, we're going to have to award this round to him. Sklar stooped to his level, took this thing personally (which, maybe she should have, but still!), and also, made a weak, roundabout argument regarding Abrams' conflict-of-interest issues without actually addressing them, though if Sklar does count old media fogey Jarvis as a friend, she's right: he was being kind of a dick. But hopefully, like two other friends-turned-foes, neither party in this "violent" "battle" of "epic" proportions won't turn to violence.

Meanwhile, while Mediaite clearly still has yet to launch, their Twitter is up and running, and one of the crew decided to launch a little fire Jarvis's way:

Except they forgot to disclose within that 140-character limit that they're as "independent" in so much as Mediaite and Abrams Research ("AR") are owned by the same guy. They're gonna have this problem a lot, aren't they?

*Full Abrams Research-esque disclosure: I know Sklar socially/personally - like everyone in New York media - and have emailed with her over her responsibilities at Abrams Research. "Dan Abrams' Henchwoman" is not her official title.

By Foster Kamer at Gawker

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Art of Nepotism...

From Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes
Sign of the times: The three headlining art books of the season are as much about commerce as they are about art.
Cynthia Saltzman's Old Masters, New World examines the acquisition of art by western oligarchs;
Jonathan Lopez's The Man Who Made Vermeers looks at a master-forger seduced by the Nazis and by the opportunity to fake-for-a-buck;
Edward Dolnick takes on the same topic in The Forger's Spell, which Peter Schjeldahl says in the New Yorker is just a lesser version of the Lopez book. (Incidentally: Gawker noticed that the NYTimes seems to be, er, incestuously boosting Dolnick.)
The Saltzman book is pretty directly about the market and the other two less so. But I think there's a pretty common theme running through a lot of art-related journalism and publishing: The zeitgeist is about the market first, and art last. If the art world decides that's an unfortunate focus, it's going to have to do something to change it.University press to the rescue: The University of California press is releasing an updated version of Lawrence Weschler's classic book on Robert Irwin, complete with a new cover picture that seems to be from Irwin's recent MCASD exhibition. [via] The hardcover will retail for $50 (!), but you can pre-order the paperback for under $17. (Also from UC Press: A quarter-century of Weschler's conversations with David Hockney.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Times Fawns Over Insider's Book...Again!

Bioimage Lynn G DolnickTimes editors can't stop lavishing praise on books linked to their corporate overlords — and one corporate overlord can't seem to keep her family members from enjoying the fruits of this self-dealing. Times board member Lynn Dolnick yet again has an immediate family member whose book is featured in her newspaper, and yet again there is no disclosure of the connection to the board or to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who is Dolnick's cousin. And this time, the newspaper really went to town. A book by Dolnick's husband Edward about Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren got an early review ("engaging"), an "editor's choice" recommendation, a special plugon page A4, and a friendly write up on the Paper Cuts blog ("delightful book"). And the Times is not likely to be making any apologies for the situation, judging from its handling of Lynn Dolnick's last nepotism controversy.

Last year, you'll recall, it was Lynn Dolnick's son Ben who was the recipient of a helpful Times notice — one he wrote himself, in the form of an op-ed piece. The scandal made Gawker, and was then picked up in Page Six, but the Timesshrugged off the incident, setting aside its normally delicate ethical sensitivities.

How could there be a conflict of interest, the Times asked the Post, if "members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family have no more or no less opportunity to appear in the pages of the Times" than anyone else? In other words, Times editors are such ethical superheroes that there doesn't need to be so much as a disclosure when they handle a book from a member of the clan that writes their paychecks.

Later, Ben Dolnick's agent was quoted in a friendly Washington Post feature saying that it was not a challenge or big deal to get his op-ed published, as though that wasn't precisely the point.

In either Ben or Edward Dolnick's case, disclosure would at least have let readers discount the paper's praise as they saw fit. Such was the case when Times vice president Alyse Myers received both a glowing review and room for her own magazine essay this past May in connection with the publication of her book about her mean mom — and even with the disclosure, we heard, Times staffers were still in an uproar.

Readers aren't the only ones with reason to feel cheated by the way the Times has handled Ed Dolnick's latest book. A tipster — who from the sounds of things has a dog in this fight — puts forward the name of a competing author as another aggrieved party:

...a serious, competing book [is] coming out in four weeks from
Harcourt. "The Man Who Made Vermeers" by Jonathan Lopez is based on
years of archival research conducted in Dutch and English, as well as
interviews with descendants of Van Meegeren's accomplices. (Dolnick
neither speaks nor reads Dutch.) Parts of "The Man Who Made Vermeers"
have already appeared as major articles in the London-based Apollo
and as a cover story in De Groene Amsterdammer, the oldest
continuously-published news magazine in the Netherlands. The book has
already been praised as "remarkable" by major museum curators. But
it's absent from the New York Times.

The Times has had advance readers' copies of "The Man Who Made
Vermeers" for months.

...By placing Dolnick's title in so many
outlets – Sunday Book Review, daily paper, blog – it has
effectively blocked the competition from being covered in any of them,
the general topic having been so recently treated.

Unlike his son Ben, Ed Dolnick is an established writer. He is former chief science reporter at the Boston Globe and author of at least three other books. His work on van Meegeren might do just fine without all this notice in the Times, and perhaps he would have recieved some — maybe even all — of it without being part of the extended Times family. Which is precisely why the newspaper should handle his book more transparently. Keeping his extensive connections in the dark makes them look all the more sinister.