The Transom

060506 article transom The Transom

After Martha

On Thursday, May 26, Martha Stewart, mogul and homemaking fetishist, filed a lengthy and aggressive response to the charges in the Security and Exchange Commission’s civil suit against herself and her former broker, Peter Bacanovic. Those documents showed that she would deny all insider-trading charges.

“The Martha Stewart thing was a very sad experience for me,” said Doug Faneuil later that same day, at a party in Chelsea Market. Mr. Faneuil had been a witness in the 2004 criminal trial of Ms. Stewart on obstruction of justice, false statements and other charges.

“I know a lot of people didn’t see it that way,” Mr. Faneuil said, “but it was very sad for me. I cared for Peter”—Mr. Bacanovic, his former boss—“and I didn’t want it to end the way it did.”

Marc Powers, who was Mr. Faneuil’s lawyer at that trial, was at the same party. Now he’s on the board of Mr. Faneuil’s nonprofit, Living Proof, a suicide-prevention organization. The evening’s event was Living Proof’s first benefit.

Mr. Faneuil’s sadness over the two-year Martha Stewart ordeal was surely not disentangled from his feelings about the suicide of his sister, Nichole Pagliaro, in 1999. “Nobody had any idea,” said family friend Ruth Tosi. “Christine”—Nichole and Doug’s mother—“thought she knew everything about her. She had no clue. She spent a week with her right before it happened, and Nichole seemed peaceful and calm. She was so beautiful, so together, so successful, and she was married …. Such a beautiful girl.”

People are so often stuck on the beauty of suicides. Lenny Fine, now married to Mr. Faneuil’s mother, remembered Nichole. “She was a knockout, beautiful. She lit up a room.”

“Suicide?” asked Mr. Fine. “Whoever heard of such a thing? I grew up in Boston—everybody was happy! Or maybe they were miserable and I just thought they were happy. There was no such thing as suicide. I mean, of course there was, but—I used to get so stressed, I didn’t study for exams and I’d get so stressed, and now, people blow their brains out over these things.”

This was in many ways a very fun party; it was also quite odd. There was crying; giggling; a “pre-bebop” band; and near-arguments about the reasons people might take their own lives. There was Dmitri, a tanned young man who works as a trader on Wall Street with Jerry Faneuil, Doug’s father.

“I think about suicide every day,” this Dmitri said. “I suffer from depression and anxiety. I’ve felt this way for as long as I can remember. Things are going really well for me—objectively. Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill myself. But I would like to.”

“We’re all isolated,” Doug Faneuil said. “The social net isn’t as tight as it once was. You can sit in your apartment all day and reach out to people by e-mail and it seems that you’re connecting—but really, you’re not. With things that have happened in my family, with Nichole, and in my life, including the Martha Stewart thing, I’ve become very aware of how your choices affect others.”

Judson Kniffen, who attended Vassar with Mr. Faneuil 10 years ago, stood to one side with his pretty, dark-haired friend Judy Elkan. They talked about a character in a play she was writing. “Now I’m stuck—I don’t know what should happen,” she said. “Should he blow his brains out in the parking lot?”

She wore a T-shirt of her own design and a home-dyed skirt. “Why doesn’t Martha Stewart tell us girls,” she asked, “what to do with our dingy whites?” Mr. Kniffen looked uncomfortable.

The next Martha Stewart trial is scheduled to commence on Nov. 6, 2006.

—Lidija Haas

Best. Summer. Trailer. Ever.

New York’s best big-budget Memorial Day theater thrill wasn’t the blowsy X-Men flick, or the rumbly and waterlogged Poseidon; certainly not The Da Vinci Code. It was the three-minute trailer for The Devil Wears Prada.

The trailer has no voiceover, no summary montage—just a crisp little narrative sequence, apparently taken straight from the early moments of the film. The doors of a forbidding company not at all unlike Condé Nast swing sexily open as a young journalist, played by Anne Hathaway, comes unprepared to interview for a job with the terrifying Meryl Streep. Ms. Streep plays a magazine-editing creature entirely unlike Anna Wintour—her hair is a swooping titanium sculpture, not a hair-colored bob—but one who is possessed of the same devastating status.

Ms. Streep, almost all but her feet and bag menacingly hidden outside the frame, invades the building; assistants change to better shoes in terror; Ms. Streep makes her chilling, full-face entrance. Ms. Hathaway’s cruel job interview begins and quickly ends. As does the trailer.

Perfectly selected”! said Cinemarati.org. “Quite amusing”! said Cinecultist.com.

Certainly it was far more satisfying than most of the films it preceded—even for those viewers, including most definitely The Transom, who despised the terrible book on which the film is based, and who snorted in derision when the film shot for a day outside The Observer’s offices.

Well: The Transom rescinds its premature snorts.

“It came up in a brainstorming conference,” said Pam Levine on May 30 by phone. As the president of domestic marketing for 20th Century Fox, she oversaw the marketing program for the film.

“Moviegoers are really sensitive to being shown the best jokes,” she said of one of the considerations in the making of the trailer-as-character-introduction, “even times when it’s really not true. They still feel that because they’ve been burned a lot of times.”

Indeed. For decades now, as well, the formula of the movie trailer has been stagnant. Years ago, Janeane Garofolo would get knowing laughs onstage from simply intoning “In a world … ” in a gravelly, masculine voice.

“Testing and focus groups and that kind of traditional research groups are tools,” said Ms. Levine. “Sometimes they’re valuable. A trailer like this, I’d never expect it to test”—meaning, in Hollywood parlance, to test well. She said that she evaluates trailers anecdotally as well: Do friends call? Do family members e-mail when they like what they’ve seen?

So is Hollywood, which famously depends on its precious market research, about to give it all up? Probably not. But, hooray! “Sometimes you have to put it aside,” happy Ms. Levine said.

—Choire Sicha

Full Blouse

On June 13, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will be, at least by just-post-industrial-revolution standards, kissing their adolescence goodbye; hello, 20.

And to celebrate their adulthood, they served as honorary chairs of a very grown-up benefit: the Free Arts NYC auction last Tuesday at Phillips de Pury & Company.

“Sponsorship dollars, honey,” benefit co-chair Amy Sacco said in her velvety voice. “Ha, ha! You can’t get sponsors without hosts, you know, without famous hosts. So the fact that Mary-Kate and Ashley agreed to do this with me is really amazing.”

The twins were all doe-eyed and identical—little women, except for their coiffure: long and teased for Mary-Kate, peasant-braided and upswept on Ashley.

The evening’s least-selfless sale turned out not to be a donated work of art, of which there was an abundance—“All the artists are really super-influential,” said Ms. Sacco—but a pair of tickets to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. They went for $25,000 to a 29-year-old bond trader who couldn’t quite believe he’d done what he’d done. He was a short man with black hair in a light blue shirt and beige jacket. “It’s exciting and it’s a great cause, but I just feel like I want to be anonymous,” was all he’d say.

The now-ripened Olsens made a quick walk-though to see the artwork and then they too were gone. Left behind was a blown-up Polaroid of the twins making pouty lips at each other.

—Nicholas Boston

A Book Party

Supposedly there was a House of Murdoch ban preventing New York Post employees from attending former Page Sixer Ian Spiegelman’s book party last week. (Or was that story just a publicity ploy? Who can tell!) Columnist Braden Keil showed up, though—and so did at least two other Posties, who asked not to be named.

And everyone from Miramax Books was there—except Harvey Weinstein, who was at Cannes—but most of all, there was family. “My cousins are all over this fucking party,” said Mr. Spiegelman, surveying Marquee. “There’s Guy. There’s Jen. Who’s that?”

“That’s her boyfriend, Anthony,” said Mr. Spiegelman’s cousin on his dad’s side, Steven Durante.

“Oh,” said Mr. Spiegelman. “I thought that was fucking what-his-face’s kid.”

“I’m the only fuckin’ made guy here,” said Mr. Durante. “You can’t be made unless you’re full-blooded. They’re all fuckin half-breeds here.”

“No one made you,” Mr. Spiegelman said. “You drive a fuckin’—”

They continued their red-checkered-tablecloth, pasta-fazool, Amos-and-Ant’ny routine for a while.

Hovering at the open bar was Random House superflack Sloane Crosley. She used to work with James Frey, and she theorized that the new flood of gossipy romans à clef was nothing more than coincidence.

“I think it’s silly to say that something’s a genre because all the books happen to be coming out in the same week,” she said of Mr. Spiegelman’s gossip-world Welcome to Yesterday and others. “It’s like if a rash of short-story collections came out that all involved bananas, would people say that, like, the banana industry was up? Probably not. So I don’t think it’s really a genre.”

Outside; red carpet. “Listen, Jersey, I will put you down. I will—down like a sick dog,” Mr. Spiegelman told his 23-year-old second cousin, Natalie Durante.

“Have another Scotch,” Ms. Durante said. “Have another Scotch, then we’ll fight.”

“I’ll have another Scotch out of your skull,” he said.

Candace Bushnell passed by on her way to a cab. “He’s such a great character,” she said. “I met him years ago when he was writing for Page Six. And he always wanted to be a novelist. And now he is a novelist!”

Mr. Durante poked his head out the club doors. “O.K., everybody, go back inside, ’cause that’s where the party is. You want to hang out and smoke cigarettes, you could do that anytime.”

“I’m gonna stab you in your belly and pull your guts out and rub ’em on your bald head,” said Mr. Spiegelman.

“Don’t talk to my father like that!” Natalie Durante said.

“And what are you gonna do?” asked Mr. Spiegelman.

“You can do what you want,” Mr. Durante said. “I just want my family inside. I want the needle exchange done right.”

Toward the end of the party, future novelist and sometime-gossip Elizabeth Spiers arrived. “I’m friends with Ian and I haven’t been banned by anyone, so I’m here,” she said.

—Spencer Morgan

But Wait! More!

On Wednesday, erstwhile New York Post reporter and self-proclaimed “pushy Brit” Bridget Harrison didn’t know why actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, her hair scraped back, cruised through her book party at the Gansevoort. “I don’t know her at all,” Ms. Harrison said. “People keep asking why there aren’t loads of celebrities here, but I just wanted it to be a bunch of my mates.”

Ms. Harrison had borrowed the night’s dress from Page Sixer Paula Froelich; panels of the gold material that encased her breasts hit the light hard. The New York Post’s photo editor, another British transplant, stood smiling gently as his wife embraced Ms. Harrison with gusto. “That dress is gorgeous—I almost fancy you!” she proclaimed in a Liverpudlian accent. Ms. Harrison was, yes, eyed hungrily throughout the night by men and others.

Ms. Harrison’s parents, both journalists themselves, had come over from England to celebrate. Even before the book—it’s called Tabloid Love—they had been loyal readers of her confessions-of-an-unknowing-adventuress column in the Post. “Of course, often you think, ‘Oh God, I hope she made this up!’” said Mr. Harrison.

His wife seemed to think it had been more nerve-racking for her daughter than herself. “I expect it’s easier to tell the world than your mother,” she said.

Ms. Harrison thought her party was getting too polite. “We should pay someone to jump in one of those pools! I would if I’d had a few drinks, but luckily I’m all right.”

A drunkish English man was debating the difference between Plum and Lucy Sykes. The latter Sykes stood nearby, clasping her Chanel bag and various acquaintances.

Ms. Harrison then decided she was nervous about the party, and sat down next to a man holding an infant. Ms. Harrison said that she wanted to be very supportive, in principle, at least, of “the next generation of pushy Brits.” She expressed some guilt over someone who had tried to pitch a book that was deemed too similar to her own. “There’s probably room for all of us,” she said generously. “They say there are only seven stories in the world. Maybe one of them is ‘English girl in New York.’”

—L.H.

Hicks

In the neoclassical batcave of Cipriani 42nd Street last Wednesday, local CBS reporter Kirstin Cole made a faux pas. To the crowd assembled for the fifth annual gala dinner benefiting Edwin Gould Services, she asked if everyone wanted to know the results of that night’s American Idol finale.

It wasn’t that anyone cared about the spoiler. It was that they didn’t care.

Who was watching that show anyway? people wanted to know. “There’s a lot of stupid people in California,” said former Ford model and handbag designer Lydia Brado.

“I don’t watch it. I don’t like it; I think they’re bad, untalented singers,” said Emma Rivers, an artist and a coordinator of the event. “I’d rather watch someone good. I tried to watch it once for like 10 minutes, and I had to hold my ears. I had to turn it off.”

Was performer Mario Winans excited? “Not at all,” he said. (O.K., there was one confession: “I TiVo’d it,” said reality half-star Lisa Gastineau.)

Hmm. And where was Bruce Willis, supposedly the night’s guest of honor? “Probably out in California doing American Idol,” said Ms. Brado.

Christine Dowling—very British—maintained she was unfazed by the actor’s absence. “I haven’t seen him, and I’m not upset he didn’t come,” she said. “There was a rumor—no, that’s a bunny.”

Err, what’s a bunny?

“Well, what’s Bugs Bunny?” Ms. Dowling said.

—Alex Gartenfeld