It was nearing 7 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 6 when stately,
plump Viacom chief operating officer Mel Karmazin and his wife, Terry, blew
into the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom for the Museum of Television and
Radio’s black-tie gala.
Because he was only the second celebrity to arrive- Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon had
come in moments before-as well as one who was reportedly embroiled in a power
play with his boss, Viacom chief executive Sumner Redstone, Mr. Karmazin
quickly drew a lot of attention.
A couple of reporters from Access
Hollywood asked Mr. Karmazin for a word as he walked through the press
line. “Sorry!” he said. “You guys are on too many NBC affiliates.” Viacom owns
He had no comment for The Transom, either, but Mr. Karmazin did
have something to say to nearly everyone who wasn’t in the press. With the
missus in tow, Mr. Karmazin wended his way through the pre-dinner cocktail hour
exhibiting precisely the behavior that Mr. Redstone is said to dislike: loud
interjections, aggressive handshakes and whimsical jabs at the TV business.
Henry Schlieff, who runs the Viacom-owned Court TV, gave Mr.
Karmazin a particularly warm salutation. “Nice to see you, Mel!” he cheerily.
“Nice to see you, Henry!” Mr.
At dinner, the Karmazins sat with 60 Minutes co-anchor Steve Kroft while Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave
a boilerplate talk about the city: “New York is still the Big Apple,” Mr.
At the end of the evening,
Mr. Schlieff approached Mr. Karmazin again. “So you had the bar mitzvah?” Mr.
Karmazin asked Mr. Schlieff about his son.
“Yeah, it was four months ago, but we’re still getting gifts,”
Mr. Schlieff replied.
“Oh, did you get mine?” Mr. Karmazin asked sarcastically.
“We’ll take stock!” Mr. Schlieff said.
“You don’t want our stock,” Mr. Karmazin replied, laughing.
The comment reminded The Transom of something that CBS Network
chief Leslie Moonves had said at the Center for Communications luncheon
honoring Mr. Karmazin back on Nov. 19 at the Pierre Hotel. Invoking the “spirit
of David Letterman,” Mr. Moonves had ticked off a numbered list of traits that,
he said, “make Mel Mel.” No. 6 was: “If you ask Mel what he thinks about
something, he’ll always tell you-even if you don’t remember to ask him,
As the Museum of Television and Radio revelers waited their turn
at the coat-check station, Mr. Karmazin cut to the front of the considerable
line. There, he spied a CBS colleague, veteran 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt.
“Don, I’ll give you a quarter if you get my coat,” Mr. Karmazin
said to Mr. Hewitt as he tossed a quarter at the producer. Mr. Hewitt, who
reportedly tangled with Mr. Karmazin over the creation of 60 Minutes II -the former was against it, the latter for it-winced
as if he’d just heard a bad Borscht Belt joke. He didn’t get Mr. Karmazin’s
“Don Hewitt took my quarter!” Mr. Karmazin brayed when the 60 Minutes producer disappeared into the
Mr. Karmazin retrieved his coat on his own. On his way down to
the Waldorf’s lobby, he passed Kevin Carton, the head of accounting firm
PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ media and entertainment department. “Hey, Kevin!” Mr.
Karmazin said. “Boy, Disney sold you out! Michael [Eisner] really sold you
out!” Mr. Karmazin seemed to be referring to the Walt Disney Company’s
announcement, in the wake of the Enron scandal, that it would no longer enter
into consulting contracts with its auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Mr. Karmazin got on his cell phone and barked some instructions
to his driver. Then he and his wife left the milling media crowd and walked off
together into the cold night.
So Happy Together
Sex and the City ‘s
Sarah Jessica Parker and The Producers ‘
Matthew Broderick were clearly aiming to put a damper on gossip about the allegedly
rocky state of their union at the Feb. 10 gala for the New York Stage and Film
Company at Pier 60.
The eerily fat-free Ms. Parker and her baby-faced spouse were all
over each other as they faced a small army of photographers at the event, which
honored Wunderkind playwright Jon
Robin Baitz. But their groping abated as soon as they reached the dining room.
– Rebecca Traister
If Bill Blass head designer Lars Nilsson surveyed the crowd that
surrounded his catwalk during the label’s Feb. 12 fall fashion show, he would
have seen that he had the undivided attention of New York’s fashionable women.
The Bryant Park space seemed to be crammed with the entire Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar
teams and a whole lot of socialites. Anne Bass and Judy Peabody represented the
old guard; Anne McNally and Nina Griscom, the younger guard; Nathalie Kaplan
and Alex Kramer, the baby guard; and actress Kim Cattrall and TV journalist
Willow Bay, the demi-monde.
The ultimate validation, however, came from the presence of a
foreigner: British eccentric Isabella Blow. Ms. Blow, a fixture on the European
fashion scene, is perhaps best known as the muse and benefactor of designer
Ms. Blow has also been recognized for her daring taste in hats,
and on the morning of Mr. Nilsson’s show, she was sporting a bright red Philip
Treacy number that consisted of a head-hugging dome from which a series of
feathery yet rigid strips of felt jutted out at different levels in front of
her face. They gave the impression that Ms. Blow was peering at the world
through a Dali-esque set of Levolor blinds.
“Nice hat,” a security guard told Ms. Blow.
“Oh, thaaaaank you,”
she replied with an accent straight out of Gosford
Park -the upstairs portion. With her dark brown hair in a bob, her bright
red hat and lipstick and bottomless blue eyes, Ms. Blow looked like a handsome
40′s movie star.
Over the rest of her form, she wore a black McQueen tailored
suit, vintage jewelry and a fur wrap.
“Monkey, I’m afraid,” she said of the wrap.
Ms. Blow described her look as “Spanish widow.” “My husband
recently died and I’ve been left incredibly wealthy,” she said breezily. Ms.
Blow, who is married to the art dealer Detmar Blow, seemed to be kidding.
After Mr. Nilsson had shown
his 61 different men’s and women’s looks, Ms. Blow swooped backstage, carrying
with her the wind of another era. She marched straight to Mr. Nilsson. “It was wooonderful ,” she cooed, after Mr.
Nilsson bent down deep under the red darts and kissed her. “When can I come and
see you for a fitting? Tomorrow?”
Then she pounced upon the new Blass clothes, which had already
been wrapped up in protective plastic.
This did not deter Ms. Blow. She pulled a navy blue lacy
shawl-dress out of its bag. “I haven’t worn Bill Blass since Andy Warhol’s
memorial service,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Ms. Blow had been flown in by the Swarovski crystal company, for
which she sometimes consults-enticed, as she put it, by the promise of “the two
C’s”: Concorde and the Carlyle Hotel.
She told The Transom that she wasn’t going to many shows,
although she had been to see Imitation of Christ’s collection on Feb. 10. She
compared it to a “one-night stand.
“It was interesting , the way they played with human desire,” she said. “But
they can’t go on finding these antique dresses forever, can they? And I’ve been
buying clothes since I was 13, so I had all that. Every single thing I liked I
had in my wardrobe already-which was kind of weird, don’t you think?”
Ms. Blow didn’t seem to know
which show she would attend next. “I haven’t had a chance to sniff around,” she
But she was happy to be
pounding American pavement. “Give me an American accent; I’m a sucker for it
every time,” she said, sounding like a 40′s movie star. Then she told The
Transom how different New York’s atmosphere has been since Sept. 11. “Almost spiritual,”
she said. “And I love church.”
Behind her, Vogue ‘s
Andre Leon Talley was giving a television interview. As he told the camera that
the Bill Blass customer wants quiet, wearable clothes, Ms. Blow noticed that
her skirt was coming undone. “McQueen isn’t known for his zippers,” she said as
she fiddled with the garment. Finally, she pulled the monkey off her back and
draped it around her ass before continuing about her business. A fashionable
woman knows how to improvise.
Photographer Peter Beard and his former business partner, Peter
Tunney, are at war again. Just days after the expiration of a legal truce
between them, the two men have launched a second round of lawsuits at each
other in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
In July 2001, Mr. Beard abruptly broke off his partnership with
Mr. Tunney, whose gallery, The Time Is Always Now, had served as the exclusive
dealer of the photographer’s work. Soon after, Mr. Tunney filed a
breach-of-contract suit against Mr. Beard that sought $1 million in damages.
Mr. Beard countersued to get his jumbo-sized photo collages of elephants,
models and other wildlife out of Mr. Tunney’s custody.
In August, Mr. Beard and Mr. Tunney settled their beef out of
court. According to the deal, Mr. Tunney was temporarily allowed to sell
certain parts of Mr. Beard’s existing oeuvre ,
and Mr. Beard was free to pursue other dealers to exhibit his new work. They
further agreed that on Jan. 15, Mr. Beard would take control of his entire
corpus, old and new.
On the morning of that day,
Mr. Beard’s movers came to Mr. Tunney’s Soho gallery to collect his work. But
Mr. Tunney did not like the way the crew conducted its business. “They behaved
badly; they were ransacking my personal place,” Mr. Tunney told The Transom. “I
was pissed off-I felt totally violated.”
When the movers came back the next day to pick up more of Mr.
Beard’s photos, the gallery allegedly wouldn’t let them in. This standoff
continued for several days, during which, Mr. Beard’s suit alleged, the gallery
“continued to display a large banner and window sign containing [Mr. Beard's]
Mr. Tunney filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Jan. 16,
asking a judge to oversee the move. His suit alleged that Mr. Beard’s movers
were making off with his property: Mr. Beard, it said, “amazingly continue[s]
to claim that all items within the gallery are [his] property.” Mr.
Tunney, however, claimed the gallery had “countless items within its leasehold
such as frames, print books, slides, etc., which are wholly owned by [the
gallery] and which [Mr. Beard is] threatening to forcibly seize and remove.”
On Jan. 17, Mr. Beard filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court
against Mr. Tunney and his gallery. He asked for his art back, plus $1 million
On Jan. 24, Judge Charles Ramos heard the case. “If Mr. Tunney is
unable to keep track of what’s going out the door, that’s his fault,” the judge
said. “He’s dragged his feet …. “
Mr. Tunney interjected: “That is not true, Your Honor.”
“Mr. Tunney, keep quiet,” Judge Ramos said.
The judge began talking again, and again Mr. Tunney interrupted:
“Your Honor, my counsel has-”
The judge threw Mr. Tunney
out of court, and ordered him to let Mr. Beard’s movers in. “If he doesn’t know
what’s in the boxes by now, that’s his problem, not their problem,” the judge
Now Mr. Tunney says he has complied with the order, though his
lawyer, Fred Seeman, said of the matter: “I don’t think it’s resolved.”
Mr. Beard’s attorney, Karen
Shatzkin, agreed that things are up in the air.
Mr. Tunney was clear about one thing: “I’m broken-hearted. I
worked my ass off for eight years for Peter Beard, and I don’t have anything to
show for it.”
Now Mr. Tunney is working on his own art for an exhibition at the
gallery on Feb. 21- Peter T. Tunney: It’s
About Time . One of the pieces is about the case; it’s called No Good Deed Goes Unpunished .
Red Hot Chili Pepper frontman
Anthony Kiedis surveyed the crowd shuffling into the State Armory on Lexington Avenue and 26th Street for Marc Jacobs’
Feb. 11 fall show. “It’s a kind of human potpourri you don’t get in L.A.,” he
said. There was Fran Drescher from The
Nanny , wearing a bouffant skirt; cosmetics executive Aerin Lauder; Yankee
Derek Jeter; actresses Kirsten Dunst and Natasha Lyonne; Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her minions, Andre Leon Talley and
Hamish Bowles, as well as her beau, Shelby Bryan; Donald Trump with his model
appendage, Melania Knauss; and model Kate Moss, in a furry black jacket and
black leggings, chewing her nails and openly smoking an against-the-fire-code
cigarette as she sat with her boyfriend, Dazed
and Confused editorial director Jefferson Hack. Mr. Kiedis said he liked to come to New York for events like this
to see “all these characters, this kind of montage of New York social freaks.
Really, they’re so beautiful.”
… Actor Charles (Roc) Dutton
was in Canada directing his first feature, so he couldn’t be on hand to accept
the award that the Fortune Society, a not-for-profit group that helps
ex-convicts to re-enter society, gave to him and Oz creator Tom Fontana at its
“Changing Minds, Building Lives” benefit at the W Hotel New York in Union
Square on Feb. 11. Mr. Dutton asked Law and Order co-star S. Epatha Merkerson
to accept the award on his behalf, but not before giving her some instructions
via phone: “Don’t embarrass me up there.” So when the actress admitted, near
the end of her speech, that she was nervous, she quickly implored that no one
snitch on her to Mr. Dutton. “Don’t tell him that,” Ms. Merkerson said. Then,
whispering into the microphone, she said: “Tell him I talked a whole lot of
shit about him.”