Same Party, Separate Corners
The friendship between David Geffen and Sandy Gallin may have cooled for the time being, but apparently they don’t dislike each other so much that they can’t be in the same building together.
Revelers at a party that artist Ross Bleckner threw at the White Street loft building he owns on Feb. 7 took note that both Messrs. Geffen and Gallin took part in the festivities. Mr. Gallin, the preternaturally tanned talent manager whose Sandollar Productions produces the WB Network’s cable TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer , had a big reason to be there. The overwhelmingly male crowd, which included designer Calvin Klein, had turned out to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Gallin’s boyfriend, Scott Mitchell.
A spokesman for Dreamworks SKG, the studio that Mr. Geffen co-owns with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, told The Transom that “we don’t have any information” about the current status of Messrs. Geffen’s and Gallin’s relationship. (Neither Mr. Gallin nor Mr. Bleckner returned phone calls.)
But The Transom hears that the two men, once famous friends, are still on the outs. The falling-out is said to have something to do with Mr. Gallin’s management of the scandal-scarred pop music artist Michael Jackson. It was Mr. Geffen who apparently had hooked Mr. Jackson up with Mr. Gallin. But Mr. Geffen reportedly was not happy with the way that his friend managed Mr. Jackson’s foundering career. Last year, Mr. Jackson split with Mr. Gallin, and now, according to the New York Post , Mr. Jackson has also split with his most recent manager, Tarak Ben Ammar.
Sources who attended Mr. Bleckner’s party told The Transom they could not recall if Mr. Geffen and Mr. Gallin were ever seen together. The two men could have managed to avoid each other all night. Mr. Bleckner’s living quarters are big enough to accommodate a dance floor, and the place was crowded (as a precautionary measure, his paintings had been turned around to face the walls). As one partygoer put it, “Sure, they were in the same room, but they were big rooms.”
Sexual Harassment Makes Strange Bedfellows
“My boyfriend is innocent and Clinton was guilty. That may not matter to the feminist squadron, but it matters to me.”
So said conservative lawyer Ann Coulter, who has been raising eyebrows over her romance with former Spin editor Bob Guccione Jr.
Her comparison of Mr. Guccione and Mr. Clinton stems from the editor’s having to defend himself last year in Federal District Court in Manhattan against charges of sexual harassment at the magazine. Mr. Guccione was found innocent of the most serious charges against him, namely that he discriminated against specific female staff members. But witnesses’ court testimony of his management style-from expensing a European trip with an intern he was seeing romantically to suggesting to one writer that she bring her story over to his apartment so they could edit in bed-were enough to make Spin sound, at best, like an untraditional workplace. (Mr. Guccione has since sold Spin and has plans to launch a men’s magazine called Gear in the fall.) So Ms. Coulter’s recent Republican Babe appearances on shows ranging from Rivera Live (Geraldo’s latest vehicle) to This Week With Sam and Cokie seem particularly ironic in light of her link to Mr. Guccione.
By virtue of her long blond locks and her job at the conservative Center for Individual Rights, Ms. Coulter has had many on-air opportunities of late to attack President Bill Clinton for his alleged dalliances with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Coulter is convinced both of Mr. Clinton’s guilt and his perjury in denying that the relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was of a sexual nature, and she has described the President as everything from a “traveling salesman” to “trailer trash.” Though she said that feminists have been “nattering on” for 20 years about workplaces that contain “men objectifying women,” she seemed to take their line when she conceded that “this whole … sordid scheme seems to be just the worst possible example of it,” considering the “imbalance of power” involved between President Clinton and his former intern.
In the end, while Ms. Coulter may not benefit from Mr. Guccione’s professional reputation, it was her big mouth that first brought the two together. After all, it was Bill Maher, the host of ABC’s Politically Incorrect , who set up his friend Mr. Guccione with the lawyer. Apparently, after seeing Ms. Coulter in a typically vitriolic debate on the late-night program last fall, Mr. Guccione felt he had to meet her.
Ms. Coulter saw no hypocrisy in the fact that she could absolutely believe in one set of sexual allegations (“I think if [President Clinton] were innocent, I mean, after 10 days have gone by and it’s been, you know, 24 hours on ABC, CNN, MSNBC.… I mean, if he were innocent, he doesn’t have to sit around and check with his lawyers”) and not another.
“I think [the allegations against Mr. Guccione] were false, as the jury found,” she said. “I mean, there can be false allegations.”
Torts and Tears
Forgive James Finkelstein if he’s feeling a little weepy these days.
Mr. Finkelstein is the chief executive of the National Law Publishing Company, which puts out The New York Law Journal and National Law Journal , among other legal publications. In October, when the investment banking firm of Wasserstein Perella Securities acquired the company-reportedly for nearly $200 million-in order to merge it with American Lawyer Media Inc., Mr. Finkelstein, who had a large minority stake in the National Law Publishing Company, made a tidy sum. But since then, his future at the new company has been in question.
In a letter dated Feb. 10 and addressed to “All Staff of the National Law Publishing Company,” Mr. Finkelstein-the son of publishing mogul and old-time political powerbroker Jerry Finkelstein and the younger brother of onetime mayoral candidate Andrew Stein-gave a glimpse of just what that future might be. “I intend to stay until late June in my capacity as president, chief executive officer of the company and publisher of our publications,” he wrote. “Shortly thereafter, together with Boston Ventures, I plan to acquire and manage major communications and publishing companies outside of the legal field.” Mr. Finkelstein added that Wasserstein Perella’s chief executive, Bruce Wasserstein, “has asked me to serve on the board of American Lawyer Media, and I have told him that I would be honored to do so. He also asked if I would remain as chairman of the National Law Publishing Company, and I have also agreed to do that.” Mr. Finkelstein’s successor is expected to be announced as early as Feb. 11.
The next paragraph of Mr. Finkelstein’s letter should have either made the company’s reporters laugh or get out their résumés, depending on their individual paranoia levels. Wrote Mr. Finkelstein: “Let me say that my future plans in no way reflect any lack of confidence in the future of the company. I have every confidence first of all in you and in Wasserstein Perella’s desire for excellence.”
Then Mr. Finkelstein got a bit soppy. “Now the hard part,” he concluded. “As tears come to my eyes, let me thank you for the years of friendship, creativity, brilliance and support you’ve given me.”
Change has been in the wind for Mr. Finkelstein as of late. On Feb. 1, at the age of 49, he married custom-publishing mogul Pamela Gross.
Mr. Finkelstein told The Transom that the move was his decision. “I really have to push myself not to continue to do it,” he said, referring to his new professional, rather than his personal, status. “All I can say is that I wanted a change after 25 years.”
Even though he hosted the damn thing, comedian Norm Macdonald didn’t show at ESPN Espy Awards after-party at the Grand Havana Room on Feb. 9. But Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels-whose Broadway Video Inc. co-produced the sports awards program-did. Asked whether Mr. Macdonald’s excision from SNL ‘s opening credits meant he was leaving the show altogether, Mr. Michaels said only that he wanted to let “Norm comment on it first.” Back in January, Mr. Macdonald was relieved of his duties as SNL ‘s “Weekend Update” anchor. Apparently, he’s now in negotiations with the NBC brass over how he’ll exit the show. Calls to Mr. Macdonald and his spokesman, Matt Labov, were not returned. As for Mr. Macdonald’s writer buddy, Jim Downey, Mr. Michaels noted that Mr. Downey had written two sketches for the last show.
Meanwhile, SNL cast member Will Ferrell’s impersonation of the Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Carey seemed to draw the most blood of the evening, judging from the televised faces of his targets, John Elway of the Denver Broncos and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners. Mr. Ferrell-as-Mr. Carey told Mr. Elway from the stage: “How about goin’ a little nuts and gettin’ those teeth fixed?” He told Mr. Griffey that his father was “10 times” a better player than him. At the after-party, Mr. Ferrell said only that Mr. Griffey was probably “looking for me.”
The Transom Also Hears
…Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president Michael Greene’s tiff with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may mean more than the Grammy Awards show moving to Los Angeles. A highly placed source in the recording industry told The Transom that a number of “record label heads,” embarrassed by the controversy, had spoken with each other in the last few days about asking Mr. Greene to step down as president. A call to Mr. Greene’s office was referred to spokesman Maureen O’Connor, who did not return The Transom’s call.
…Even tanked up on a barge load of Dom Pérignon, the fashion flock that attended this year’s Council of Fashion Designers of America awards ceremony had trouble making sense of the film that accompanied Marc Jacobs’ award for women’s wear designer of the year. As with previous years, each of the winners was introduced via a short film. The short for Mr. Jacobs, though, did not feature him. Rather, viewers watched a rather long short that seemed to be an SCTV parody of an Ingmar Bergman film that featured Kirsten Owen, a model with five o’clock shadow of the armpits, as she played with her children, Maël and Billirose. In addition to causing a mini-exodus from the event site, 55 Wall Street, the short prompted Nanny star Fran Drescher to lean over to a table mate and remark: “Now it’s getting esoteric.”
…Speaking of the C.F.D.A. awards, word at the party was that the sequined high-collared dress Kate Moss sported, inspired by the dress that Julie Christie wore in Shampoo , was a gift from her reinstated boyfriend, Johnny Depp.
…When Hollywood socialite Dani Janssen throws her annual home-cooked Oscar party, invitees can count on two nominees being there. Word is that this year, Ms. Janssen’s party will be in honor of her old friend Jack Nicholson, who’s up for best actor for his role in As Good as It Gets . But The Transom hears that lately, Ms. Janssen has been seen out on the town with another actor, Robert Forster, whose work in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown earned him good reviews and an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. Most recently, the couple were seen at the opening of Merv Griffin’s Coconut Club at the Beverly Hilton. Ms. Janssen did not return calls.
…When he set about opening his new store, Campagna Home, across the street from his Italian restaurant, Campagna, chef Mark Strausman registered his company’s official name as S.M.w/Taste L.L.C. What’s the abbreviation stand for? “Straight Man with Taste,” said Mr. Strausman. The title was coined by the late writer Kiki Mason, who did publicity work for Mr. Strausman and often said that the chef was one of the few straight men he knew with taste.
…Campagna Home, which will serve prepared foods and include a butcher shop, coffee bar and a housewares department (linens, pots and pans, etc.), is scheduled to open at 29 East 21st Street sometime in April.