Has Jane Pauley been taking lessons on how to win friends and influence colleagues from her famously grouchy former Today Show co-host Bryant Gumbel?
Ms. Pauley was recently called up for active publicity duty as her prime-time news magazine, Dateline NBC , celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 23.
Ms. Pauley’s contributions to the media blitz began the first week of April, when she finally admitted to Ladies Home Journal that it had been a swelling illness called “delayed-pressure urticaria” that had kept her off the air for a portion of last year.
On Monday, she attended a corporate anniversary luncheon where she reportedly sat next to General Motors advertising executive Rick Serviatis. The coupling was notable because in 1992, Dateline came notoriously close to getting axed when it rigged a Chevy truck to explode on impact during a story about dangerous vehicles.
On Tuesday, Ms. Pauley and her co-host Stone Phillips dutifully hauled ass downstairs to Ms. Pauley’s former haunt, the Today show, where they chatted it up with Katie Couric. Later, they appeared with Rosie O’Donnell. And, of course, Ms. Pauley co-hosted the pre-taped big anniversary show on Tuesday night.
But on Wednesday afternoon, when 300 NBC employees-including Mr. Phillips, Today star Anne Curry, NBC News president Neal Shapiro and NBC chief operating officer Andrew Lack-gathered at the Judson Grill to toast Dateline ‘s decade on the air, the 51-year-old anchor was a no-show.
One Dateline source said that when it was announced that Ms. Pauley wouldn’t make the lunch because she’d left on a vacation, there was a “collective gasp” of appalled surprise.
“And she didn’t even send word,” said that source. “No message, no letter.”
Ms. Pauley, who is married to Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, could not be reached for comment. An NBC spokeswoman confirmed that “Jane is on a long-planned vacation,” but added that the trip was “planned months ago and she feels terrible that she had to miss the lunch.”
I Want to Buy You (P.Y.T.)
Michael Jackson’s reported financial woes didn’t keep him from perusing the paintings that were offered at Christie’s April 24 sale of 19th-century art. According to one source familiar with the situation, Mr. Jackson, who was in town to perform at the Apollo Theater, visited the auction house on Monday, April 22, to check out the artworks, some of which feature scantily clad frolicking children. The King of Pop, on the other hand, was strangely clad in pajamas, a pair of Versace sandals, a white terry-cloth bathrobe and a baseball cap. According to the source, Mr. Jackson also held a wash cloth in front of his mouth to protect him from whatever creepy-crawlies might be emanating from the Christie’s staff.
A little before 8 p.m. on April 24, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University professor, New Yorker contributor and one of the evening’s table hosts, ambled into the lobby of the Pierre Hotel in search of fellow writers. Leaning on a silver-knobbed cane, Mr. Gates was looking for the P.E.N. Literary Gala and wondered aloud if he was in the right place. “I was thinking I got it wrong,” he told The Transom. “It wasn’t noisy enough.” In a “room full of egomaniac authors,” Mr. Gates explained, “it’s going to be noisy.”
Upstairs in the hotel’s Regency Room, where the cocktail portion of the event was in full swing, the brouhaha lived up to Mr. Gates’ expectations. A few hundred of the city’s literati, including Salman Rushdie, Arthur Miller, Amy Tan and Grace Paley, had gathered to honor two imprisoned foreign writers, Aung Myint of Myanmar and Tohti Tunyaz of China, and a Houston nonfiction writer, Vanessa Leggett, who had recently spent 168 days in federal detention for refusing to give up her sources. Ron Howard, Dan Rather and Jessye Norman were also adding to the din.
When everyone moved to the dining room, the evening’s speakers had trouble quieting the crowd. Fund-raising consultant Toni Goodale, who was one of the event’s chairs, accomplished the task by stroking the mob of egomaniacs. “There hasn’t been this much talent in one room since Emily Dickinson sat at her desk,” Ms. Goodale shrieked.
The room went silent. “At 9:30, I’m outta here,” Mr. Gates told his dinner companions.
Once video presentations of the honorees started, the room hushed for a good 10 minutes. Mr. Myint and Mr. Tunyaz are both serving prison sentences in their native countries for their writing. And when Ms. Leggett came forward to accept her award, the room gave her a standing ovation.
Once the speeches ended, the roar of the egomaniacs resumed and successfully drowned out the orchestra. It died down an hour later when most of the guests began to leave. Still, there were persistent pockets of chitchat. At one table, Nation publisher Victor Navasky and actor Ron Silver sat having what Mr. Navasky called a “reasoned” discussion about the Middle East.
Reasoned and loud. “I don’t think you-you-you or me,” Mr. Silver said, thrusting his index finger toward the guests gathered round the table, “I don’t think-and my family has been through a lot, and so has yours-I don’t think we’d say, ‘Let’s put this little bomb on you, little girl, and go and shoot yourself, and we’re going to get $25,000!’” Mr. Silver’s voice kept rising, and Mr. Navasky couldn’t get a word in edgewise. “Arafat goes out there with a bomb, then he’s a martyr. But Arafat giving little bombs to a 10-year-old girl, to a 10-year-old boy? Fuck him. Fuck him . I don’t want to live in a world with that man.”
Mr. Silver finished his tirade. He and Mr. Navasky were among the last men in the room. Slowly, they got up to leave. And silence returned to the Regency Room.
– Elisabeth Franck
The April 18 e-mail inviting New York’s media mafia to “Death Before Dishonor,” a May 1 “Commemoration of Richard Blow’s American Son and Fond Wishes for Its Safe Passage Into Obscurity,” has attracted as much attention as the actual party.
The invitation was sent by former George magazine employees aiming to stage a congenial and probably drunken protest against the publication of former George editor Rich Blow’s tell-all book about George ‘s late founder and editor in chief, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Manny Howard, a writer who worked at George during its launch (and who has written for this newspaper), helped to spearhead the project along with Mr. Kennedy’s famously loyal assistant, RoseMarie Terenzio, by arranging to reserve space at Sebastian Junger’s Half King bar on 23rd Street and 10th Avenue.
Ms. Terenzio, who is communications director for Me & Ro jewelry, explained that “a bunch of us were just talking about the book and venting, and we figured this would be a good excuse for all of us to get together.”
But no matter how the party goes off, media fetishists have already gotten a kick out of the invitation itself: All of its 120 recipients were disclosed.
According to sources familiar with the invitation, the mailing list was culled from the party organizers’ databases of friends and contacts. It includes Spy co-founder Kurt Andersen, Elle editor in chief Robbie Myers, The New Yorker ‘s Hendrik Hertzberg, humorist David Rakoff and author Thomas Beller.
There was a lot of laughter at the Monday, April 29, screening of Richard Schickel’s Woody Allen: A Life in Film at the Tribeca Grand-but at one point, that laughter became downright uncomfortable.
Mr. Schickel’s homage to the notoriously neurotic director, which will air on Turner Classic Movies on May 4, features interviews with Mr. Allen intercut with clips from his movies. After a scene from 1979′s Manhattan in which Mr. Allen’s character breaks up with his high-school-age girlfriend, played by Mariel Hemingway, Mr. Allen the interview subject raised his eyebrows and said, in what seemed to be a moment of self-awareness: “I always feel young people do have a certain beautiful innocence to them that’s touching and remarkable to see.”
In 1992, Mr. Allen, then 56, became involved with former lover Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who was 21 at the time. The two are now married and have two children. But the scandal could not easily be banished from the minds of those watching Monday night’s screening. A bitter Ms. Farrow-who appeared in 13 of Mr. Allen’s films, including Hannah and Her Sisters -has insisted that no footage of her be used in Mr. Schickel’s project. The result is that the second half of the film includes a disconcerting number of shots of Jeff Daniels talking to himself in The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Any remaining X-Files fans-don’t let the door hit you on the way out-will surely be aware that even as life continues here on planet Earth, series creator Chris Carter’s suspicion-riddled world has been quietly shuddering to an end somewhere in California.
The X-Files May 19 finale will mark the end of conspiracy theorists’ longest-running wet dream and feature the return of prodigal cast member David Duchovny as special agent Fox Mulder.
On Wednesday, April 24, X-Files star Gillian Anderson, on location in the Borrego Springs desert for the show’s final week of shooting, wrote to fans about how it feels to be running in heels, bullying cigarette-smoking cripples and stoking the fires of sexual tension for the last time.
“There is a wind that has picked up and threatens to blow my whole caseda [sic] on its side,” began Ms. Anderson’s note, which was posted on her official Web site, gaws.ao.net. Extending the Wizard of Oz analogy, she wrote, “I am not in Kansas anymore and … when I finally land and crack open the door of my future, a whole new and wonderfully foreign world will span out before me.”
Because the final scenes-which, according to Ain’t It Cool News, show Mulder and Scully running through Native American ruins holding hands-are shot during the day, cast and crew have been getting rowdy with squirt guns at night.
But since Ms. Anderson has been abstaining from alcohol and suffering from a “dreadful headache and absolutely no energy to be social whatsoever,” she’s been a buzz-kill.
She’s also off-limits in the squirt-gun wars. “I am the safe zone behind whom everyone gets to hide,” she wrote. “It is both a frustrating yet satisfying position to be in; to be on the outside yet needed and included all the same.” She added, “The irony is not lost on me … in a purely psychological way, it is just the way I like it.”
According to Ms. Anderson, X-Files creator Chris Carter and Mr. Duchovny, who staged a legal battle in 1999 over Mr. Duchovny’s royalties, are now training together for a triathlon.
The whole running/biking/swimming thing, Ms. Anderson noted, is “a safe way for them to compete.” Besides, it’s not like Mr. Duchovny has any movie work or anything.
Sounding downright apocalyptic, Ms. Anderson went on to wonder whether Mr. Carter “maintains his smile and quiet contemplation because he is grounded and at peace with the end or if it is a mask that holds back a storm of emotion. I guess that can be said for us all as we reside together in this far away melting pot taking our last steps on the yellow brick road towards the unknown.”
The Transom Also Hears ….
When, on April 9, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling consolidated seven civil suits against accused Hamptons party-crasher Lizzie Grubman into one, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers told reporters, “It … should speed everything up.” In actuality, the order ensured that the case against Ms. Grubman would drag on past this summer. Ms. Grubman is tentatively scheduled to be deposed on Sept. 4, nearly 14 months after the alleged incident. Ms. Grubman’s lawyer, Stephen Scaring, did not comment.
An item in April 27′s Transom incorrectly stated that the Swarovski crystal crucifix auctioned by Kathy Hilton as part of the Henry Street Settlement fund-raiser was part of her QVC collection. The cross was designed by Ms. Hilton’s daughters, Paris and Nicky, and is a part of their jewelry collection, currently available in Hong Kong and Tokyo retail stores. The elder Ms. Hilton sells her collection of home items on QVC and has no retail connection to her daughters’ line. The Transom regrets the error.