Elegy for The $treet

On Dec. 7, the grim news came that Fox had canceled The Street –pardon me, The $treet . Apparently the slinky stock-market soap, the latest offering from producer Darren Star, was ranked 101st in the ratings, averaging 5,083,000 viewers per episode.

You Nielsen idiots . You were watching The West Wing . Don’t you get enough of that stuff from CNN?

After an initial skepticism, we’d started quietly shuffling social engagements to make it to the couch by 9 on Wednesdays. That was a cozy, familiar feeling. The $treet was fixing to be our new Melrose Place , with 90210 alumna Jennie Garth in the Heather Locklear “special guest star” role.

The pleasure wasn’t all selfish–that show was going to make careers: Jennifer Connelly (as Catherine Miller) would at long last be remembered for more than just Labyrinth , the 1986 clunker with David Bowie. Tom Everett Scott (as Jack Kenderson)–a peculiar yet somehow sensible hybrid of Tom Hanks, Rupert Everett and Campbell Scott–would set himself apart from all those other young actors with strong jaws, three names and thick shocks of hair. The loopily cunning Bridgette Sampras-Wilson (named simply “Bridget” on the program) was poised to justify her tennis-champion husband Pete’s recent losing streak. Now she’s just another Brooke Shields!

Thanks a bunch, Fox. You cowards .

Maybe The $treet just possessed too much genuine New York color to succeed in the hinterlands. In real life, the premiere’s after-party was held at Eugene, a nightclub on 24th $treet; meanwhile, on the show, chump intern Sherman had a birthday party held at a boîte called Eugene. The leading lady played by husky-voiced unknown Nina Garbiras was named Alexandra Brill ( Brill! ). Ethnic and class diversity abounded. Some of us had already taken the time to develop a crush on the sweet working-class trader Mark McConnell, played by Sean Maher. Time wasted.

If you watch a lot of TV, you might remember Mr. Maher from his role as Neve Campbell’s abusive boyfriend on Party of Five . And indeed, part of the appeal of The $treet was its nods, obvious or otherwise, to shows or stars that were somehow sibling. That guy who played Sherman, Christian Campbell? He’s actually Neve’s little brother. The nebbishy intellectual Evan Mitchell bedded a woman because she fulfilled his Xena fantasies. (What’s more, the actor who played Evan, Adam Goldberg, starred in another short-lived drama, Relativity, which also starred Kimberly Williams, a former flame of … Pete Sampras .) Even Molly Ringwald, our old friend from the 1980’s, popped up for a few scenes in Episode 2.

Yet this combination of clever references, fresh young faces and frenetically buzzing electronic tickers was, alas, not enough for the fools who failed to flock to The $treet .

– Alexandra Jacobs

No Helen Hunt

The following current films do not feature a performance by Helen Hunt:

Rugrats in Paris; Vertical Limit; Dungeons & Dragons; Unbreakable; Dude, Where’s My Car?; Meet the Parents; Billy Elliot; 102 Dalmatians; Charlie’s Angels; Quills; Bounce .

–Jason Gay

The Perfect Portfolio

[Sebastian] Junger puts his net worth at about $1.5 million …. Through his accountant, Mr. Junger met Richard Wald, a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch who now manages his portfolio. Mr. Junger’s mandate was simple. “I told my broker: ‘Just don’t lose it. Keep up with inflation,'” he said. “But even if I lost it, I could just write another book.” Staying within those constraints, Mr. Wald said he had invested 35 percent of Mr. Junger’s portfolio in tax-free municipal bonds. The balance is in

equities, weighted heavily toward brand-name stocks like Cisco Systems, Merck, Citigroup and America Online, he added.

–from a Sunday, Dec. 3, New York Times article, “Talking Money With Sebastian Junger; From ‘The Perfect Storm,’ A Passage to Financial Freedom.”

The week of Dec. 3 through 9 was one of the tightest on record for Andrew Goldman, a 28-year-old journalist living and working in New York. Mr. Goldman had gotten paid on Dec. 1, and after a weekend of burritos, he didn’t have any money left over. That fact did not concern him greatly. That’s because Mr. Goldman–like a lot of young professional writers in similar circumstances–has developed creative strategies to deal with his cash shortfall.

“The deal I made with myself is that I just wouldn’t open my mail for a while,” a groggy Mr. Goldman said on a recent morning. “It’s not such a big deal. The landlord’s friendly. Con Ed’s all about hollow threats.”

Wishing to sleep in, Mr. Goldman referred specific questions about his personal finances to his accountant and investment adviser in Portland, Me., Carlene Goldman. Ms. Goldman, who is also Andrew Goldman’s mother, has prepared her son’s taxes for the last five years. Though Ms. Goldman said that Mr. Goldman was now in a “much higher” income bracket than the days when he was paid $3.75 an hour to wear a bear suit to advertise for a local Maine toy store, she did concede that her client’s portfolio was “decidedly weak and underfinanced.”

Mr. Goldman’s long-term financial planning is particularly problematic. Mr. Goldman’s lone investment, Ms. Goldman said, is an interest-bearing savings account at the People’s Heritage Bank in Portland, Me. The balance of the account is $487.56, according to Ms. Goldman. “However,” the financial counselor said, “you have to remember that the bank book hasn’t been updated since May. I would estimate that since May, it could yield an additional $2.50, since the interest accrues at a monthly rate, anywhere from 31 to 34 cents.” Ms. Goldman added that Mr. Goldman also possessed approximately eight dollars’ worth of pennies in a glass jar in Maine.

Ms. Goldman was vague about Mr. Goldman’s other assets. She did say that if her son were ever tight on cash, she was prepared to liquidate some of his rare book collection, the centerpiece of which is a near-complete set of Howard the Duck comic books, as well as what Ms. Goldman described as “some really despicable pornography.”

In the meantime, Ms. Goldman has recommended that Mr. Goldman try his best to limit his expenditures–until, as he has promised, his first multimillion-dollar script is purchased by a major Hollywood studio. So unlike a lot of his fellow twentysomething writers, Mr. Goldman has declined to purchase a townhouse; instead, he pays $725 per month to share a narrow fifth-floor walkup in the Lower East Side with a subletter he’s “pretty sure” is named Chris.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Goldman greeted a visitor at his apartment. It was 1:30 p.m., and the journalist was unclothed except for a Joe Camel towel jammed like a loin cloth between his legs.

“So you want the tour?” Mr. Goldman asked, spinning around in the submarine-tight front hallway. “Here you go. This here is the subletter’s room, those are his piles of old magazines, that’s the kitchen, that’s the bathroom, and that’s my room.”

Mr. Goldman has taken a minimalist approach to furnishing his apartment. His white plastic love seat, for example, was left behind by a previous tenant. So was his television set–though, he added, the previous tenant has been asking for it back. Mr. Goldman’s bed–which he had just vacated–also came with the apartment. “The trick was, taking off the old apartment sheets and putting my personal sheets on it,” Mr. Goldman said. “After about nine months, it stopped smelling weird.”

As for clothing, Mr. Goldman said he has not shopped for clothes in a year. He remembered a trip to Century 21 when he first arrived in New York, and an afternoon emergency in which he went to Bergdorf Goodman to use the men’s room. Mr. Goldman then pointed proudly to the Joe Camel towel around his waist. “This!” he exclaimed. “I got this for 50 Camel Bucks!”

Dining in New York also presents some problems for Mr. Goldman. “You know, I went out to eat the other night, and when it came time to pay, I was like, ‘How much money do you need?'” he recalled. “You know, I could have been the guy going around the table collecting the money– maybe, you know, I could come out of it three or four dollars richer. But when it comes down to it, the stress of, you know, figuring out who ordered the steak or who got dessert, it’s just way too much for me. I’ll leave it to the pros.”

As he headed off to take a shower, Mr. Goldman said he couldn’t say exactly what his net worth was. As for future investments, Mr. Goldman again mentioned those multi-million-dollar screenplay ideas, and also spoke wishfully of “getting hurt in an accident at work–not so bad that I couldn’t still write, but bad enough so that I’d get worker’s comp and wouldn’t have to go into the office.”

A few minutes later, Mr. Goldman thrust his hand out through the shower curtain to show a reporter a bottle of Olay shower gel.

“I think this stuff came in a gift bag from some movie premiere,” he said. “It ‘ s great because it works as soap and as shampoo, and I didn’t pay a dime for it.”

–Andrew Goldman Elegy for The $treet