Is Time Inc. Spying on Its Editors?

A number of staff members suspect so, citing a couple of strange devices that make them think a hidden camera had been trained on them.

Specifically, they believe that Susan Casey, the managing editor of Sports Illustrated Women , was being secretly videotaped.

In the first week of September, Ms. Casey was told by a colleague at Sports Illustrated that a security camera hidden without her knowledge had been taping her office around the clock for the three months she had been on the job, sources said. According to the sources, the colleague told her he had seen some of the videotape shot of her.

Ms. Casey refused to comment. But according to sources at the magazine, she is furious and pressing Time Inc. management for answers. They said she only backed off briefly so she could close the next edition of her magazine.

A spokesperson for the magazine publisher refused to discuss the matter, citing a policy against discussing “internal workings of the magazine,” but acknowledging that hidden security cameras are being used in the building. But a few days later, the spokesperson denied there had ever been a camera in Ms. Casey’s office; coincidentally, at about the same time, the recording device in the magazine’s offices disappeared.

Sources said that Ms. Casey had been told by Michael Boas, an employee on the business side of Sports Illustrated , that a hidden camera had been in her office since she moved to Sports Illustrated Women in June. Asked by The Observer about this, Mr. Boas referred calls to the Sports Illustrated public-relations staff.

But the sources said Mr. Boas told Ms. Casey he passed by an office where some men were viewing a videotape of her in her office. The videotape is not believed to be too racy, but Ms. Casey’s office is the only one in the editorial offices that offered privacy because it had frosted glass rather than the clear glass in other offices. They said some of her staffers, who are mostly women, sometimes used her office to change clothes. Ms. Casey reportedly wants to know, among other things, who has copies of the tapes.

According to the sources, Ms. Casey had long been wondering about the VCR in her office, which she said never worked. She had told people she suspected there was a camera in it-so she took the precaution of turning it towards a tacky painting of happy and sad clowns that someone on her staff had found in the trash.

Staff members had earlier shared their concerns about another device found in the office of another Sports Illustrated Women editor. Senior associate editor Yishane Lee, who started at the magazine in August, had found a strange electronic box hooked up to wires and a small video monitor under her desk. Concerned that the apparatus was some sort of monitoring device-especially given its potentially revealing vantage point under her desk-Ms. Lee asked for the device to be removed from her office, staff members said. Ms. Lee refused to comment.

No one on staff knew exactly what the device was, and on several occasions, sources said, staff members would unplug the wires connected to it, only to find it hooked up and turned on again the next day. Finally, as a SI Women staffer was fiddling with the box one day, trying to figure out just exactly what it was, a video tape ejected, labeled with that day’s date. Despite complaints, the box remained in Ms. Lee’s office.

Reached for comment on Friday, Sept. 7, SI Women ‘s director of public relations, Alison Keane, said it was common for security cameras to be placed throughout the Sports Illustrated offices, located in an annex office building on West 50th Street separate from the main Time-Life Building.

“I can tell you why it was there,” Ms. Keane said. “Unfortunately, there’s been theft throughout the building, so the reason for the cameras is to prevent and to end the theft.”

When asked to confirm that there was a security camera specifically in Ms. Casey’s office, she said, “I can tell you that there are security cameras throughout the building-there always have been-but I can’t really get into specifics with you, on the advice of our security department.”

On Monday, Sept. 10, Ms. Keane said the security department at Time Inc. had since told her that “there was never a camera in her office.” Pressed about why Ms. Casey was told there had been a camera in her office, Ms. Keane again said: “This is an internal issue that I’m really not at liberty to discuss.”

That same day, a source reported that the mysterious recording equipment had disappeared from Ms. Lee’s office over the weekend.

– Gabriel Snyder

At his farewell party at the New York Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 5, outgoing New York Times executive editor Joe Lelyveld attempted one last great managerial act: trying to make some peace between his two feuding predecessors, Abe Rosenthal and Max Frankel.

During his remarks at the Times party, Mr. Lelyveld said that he loved both Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Frankel, and commented that both of the former executive editors had a big influence on his career. Mr. Lelyveld said that the tenures of Mr. Rosenthal (who served as executive editor from 1969 to 1986) and Mr. Frankel (1986-94) continued to have a deep impact on the paper, but that “scandal-mongers” had made it difficult for the two men to personally get along. The succession of executive editors, Mr. Lelyveld said, “is not a contest; it’s a relay race.”

Of course, sometimes Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Frankel did the scandal-mongering themselves just fine. For those of you just tuning into the Abe-and-Max show, they were bitter rivals throughout their 40-plus-year careers at The Times . In his 1999 book, The Times of My Life and My Life at the Times , Mr. Frankel painted Mr. Rosenthal as self-promoting, petty and arbitrary, noting that his own goal as executive editor was to be “Not-Abe.” For his own part, Mr. Rosenthal dismissed the book in an interview with the Jerusalem Post : “I’m a city boy and I know enough that when I walk along and I see a dog shitting in the street, not to stop and examine his dung. I just walk on and forget his existence.”

So how did the two former editors take Mr. Lelyveld’s conciliatory appeal? Well, they posed for a picture together, along with Mr. Lelyveld and incoming executive editor Howell Raines, and as one party attendee reported, even shook hands.

Off the Record called Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Frankel several days after the party to ask whether Mr. Lelyveld’s remarks had any lasting effect. Mr. Frankel didn’t get back to us before deadline.

Asked if he thought Mr. Lelyveld was trying to bring them together, Mr. Rosenthal told us, “No, not at all. I just think he was saying what he said.” And just what did that handshake mean? “I don’t think you can call it a shaking of hands-just a tapping, a civil gesture.”

-G.S.

This weekend’s New York Times 150th-anniversary bash should sure be fun for the city’s serious-newspaper-reading populace. But The Times ‘ chapter of the Newspaper Guild of New York wants the paper’s staffers to know they can sit this party out.

In a memo dated Sept. 5, the guild railed against a Times e-mail requesting that staff members volunteer to work certain 150th-anniversary events. The e-mail read: “No one can or should be coerced into volunteering …. While the Guild has long encouraged acts of volunteerism by its members, the Guild believes such ‘good faith’ efforts on the part of its members should in some way be rewarded.”

A Times spokesperson said this wasn’t a matter of work-the-Conan-O’Brien-panel-or-face-the-consequences.

“It’s a major happening where lots of people will be coming in and out of the building,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve asked various employees if they’d be willing to help out. It’s purely optional.”

-Sridhar Pappu

On Aug. 12, The New York Times ‘ Arts & Leisure section featured an enthusiastic piece by Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella about the Nicole Kidman thriller The Others . Mr. Minghella, the director of such films as The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley , raved that The Others had “genuine integrity” and was “a striking advance” for its director, Spain’s Alejandro Amenábar. He went on to hail Ms. Kidman’s “wrenching performance,” praise The Others’ “percipient” executive producer-Ms. Kidman’s ex and the world’s biggest movie star, Tom Cruise-for championing Mr. Amenábar’s English-language debut.

Mr. Minghella called the film “a pungent antidote to the slash and tickle teenage horror movies more commonly associated with its distributor, Dimension Films.” He went on to say: “It is a relief to watch a contemporary horror movie that restores innocence to the genre, making its mark without irony, exploitation, or reflexiveness.”

But what Mr. Minghella’s Times piece did not say-and The Times itself did not note-was that the director had made his two films with assistance from Dimension’s mothership, Miramax, which is also co-producing his next film, the Civil War drama Cold Mountain. The Times piece also didn’t mention that Mr. Minghella and Miramax were known to be actively pursuing Mr. Cruise to star in the latter film. A couple of weeks after the Times piece came out, in fact, it was reported that Mr. Cruise had agreed to star in Cold Mountain.

Had The Times gotten played by Mr. Minghella and Miramax’s famously savvy P.R. juggernaut? Times Arts & Leisure editor John Rockwell-who often assigns prominent artists to write pieces about their colleagues’ work-said he was aware of Mr. Minghella’s connection to Miramax, but said he didn’t consider mentioning it, because “the breadth of the Miramax organization … was just too big.”

Mr. Rockwell said that The Times had been after Mr. Minghella to write something for a while. He said the paper’s film editor, Anne Colson, “heard through the grapevine” of the director’s excitement about The Others , and that the paper approached the director about doing the piece. (Ms. Colson did not return phone calls for comment.)

As for whether Mr. Minghella may have at least partially used his piece to toss a bouquet at Mr. Cruise-whom Liz Smith reported in July was being pursued by Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein to star in Cold Mountain -Mr. Rockwell didn’t sound suspicious.

“What can I say?” said Mr. Rockwell. “Probably all to the better if that sequence of events had not happened, but I still don’t think it invalidates the piece, or [Mr. Minghella’s] enthusiasm for the movie.”

Spokespeople for Dimension, Mr. Minghella and Mr. Cruise vigorously denied that Mr. Minghella had used his Times piece to assist Miramax or appeal to Mr. Cruise. A Dimension spokesperson-who said that company chief Bob Weinstein did send Mr. Minghella a copy of the film for his perusal-said it was simply a case of the director thinking a piece “would be a nice thing to help a fellow filmmaker. The idea that it would have anything to do with casting another movie is simply false.”

Mr. Cruise’s representative, Pat Kingsley, agreed, saying that any connection between Cold Mountain and Mr. Minghella’s Times piece would be “way off-base.” She also told Off the Record that Mr. Cruise’s commitment to Cold Mountain “is not firm yet.”

Mr. Mingella’s rep, Leslee Dart, noted that Mr. Minghella “has written many pieces on many other films” in British publications. She added that last year he went to bat for Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic -a film that took on Miramax at the Oscars-by hosting a series of screenings in London.

And at The Times , Mr. Rockwell said he would continue to use prominent artists to write pieces in his section. “There is always the possibility that someone might have an agenda, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to get a good piece,” he said.

-Rebecca Traister

More than a few jock writers were dumbfounded last week when word arrived that the New York Daily News had fired its popular sports columnist, Mark Kreigel. The 38-year-old Mr. Kreigel was considered one of the more popular sports scribes in town, and had just signed a three-year deal with the News in December 2000. But on Aug. 30, he went into editor in chief Ed Kosner’s office-sources said he thought he was going in to discuss getting a cubicle-and walked out an unemployed man.

“It was a straight money deal,” said one Daily News source. Word was that Mr. Kreigel had been making approximately $200,000 per year. “It was just Mort Zuckerman in his constant quest to cut down expenses.”

But said another Daily News source: “Yes, the budget was the reason. But it seems totally weird, and totally random.”

Indeed, at least initially, there were other suspicions as to why the News let Mr. Kreigel go. Chief among them: Mr. Kreigel’s long-simmering feud with fellow columnist Mike Lupica.

Sources said the feud traced back to 1994, when Mr. Lupica had left the paper-for the second time in four years-for New York Newsday , and the News replaced Mr. Lupica’s Sunday Shooting from the Lip column with one called On the Mark. Like his predecessor, Mr. Kriegel would start with one big topic, then spend the rest of the column making funny observations and quips.

Mr. Kreigel’s Sunday run didn’t last long. When Mr. Lupica returned to his Daily News home the next year, he got his bully pulpit back, forcing Mr. Kriegel and On the Mark to Fridays.

From then on, the relationship was tense. “He [Mr. Lupica] definitely wanted Mark out of the paper,” said one sportswriter who knows them both. “He always felt threatened by that Friday presence. He felt having that on Friday was a big, big problem. Frankly, I think Mike’s problem was that it was better-written.”

Mr. Kriegel did have his faults, sources said. Despite his impressive writing ability, sources said, he could get neurotic about every word. “He was a great writer, but he just wasn’t prolific,” said one source.

Another problem for Mr. Kreigel was that Mr. Lupica was a good friend of Mr. Zuckerman’s.

“Years and years of Mike telling Mr. Zuckerman that he didn’t want Mark around was probably not conducive to the health of his employment,” said one source.

Another source said: “As far as I’m concerned, Mike Lupica has blood on his hands. If Mike had wanted Mark Kriegel at the Daily News , had he said ‘We can’t afford to lose Kriegel,’ he’d still be at the Daily News .”

Mr. Lupica scoffed at that suggestion.

“If I had as much power as people say I do at the Daily News ,” Mr. Lupica said, “Barry Stanton, who’s my best friend, who writes for the Gannett papers, would be at the Daily News , too. I didn’t want Ian O’Connor to leave [in 1998 for Gannett], and when I found out about it, it was too late.”

Mr. Lupica said he had “no idea” the paper was planning to fire Mr. Kriegel and was “shocked” when he found out from News columnist Pete Hamill. He characterized his relationship with Mr. Kriegel as one where “I’d see him at the ballpark the same way I’d see [fellow columnists] Filip Bondy or Lisa Olson.”

Though the move was apparently budget-related, that hasn’t stopped rumors from circulating about who might eventually fill Mr. Kreigel’s vacated slot. The two leading candidates, sources said, were Shaun Powell of Newsday and Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star . Mr. Whitlock occasionally appears with Mr. Lupica on the ESPN program The Sports Reporters .

For now, the News is mum on the replacement talk. Said a spokesperson for the paper, “We don’t comment on personnel decisions, particularly hypothetical ones.”

For his part, Mr. Kriegel declined to go into either his relationship with Mr. Lupica or his termination, but did tell Off the Record: “I worked with Ed [Kosner] at Esquire and the News , and he was always straight with me. I’ll miss the people I work with very, very much.”

-S.P.