Weinstein’s United Way

By now, most of New York knows that Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was so upset with Mark Green that, on election eve, he told friends to vote for Michael Bloomberg. The morning after Mr. Bloomberg won, the New York Post’s Page Six column reported that Mr. Weinstein was enraged because the Green camp blocked his efforts to broker a last-minute peace agreement with Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and his top supporters, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez, on the Monday before Election Day.

The tabloid’s version of events, however, didn’t take note of a series of conversations that took place between Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Green’s campaign manager, Richard Schrader.

In an interview with The Transom, Mr. Schrader said that Mr. Weinstein was so eager to placate Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Sharpton that he demanded Mr. Schrader fire several top campaign staffers that Mr. Ferrer wanted axed for allegedly racist behavior during the Green-Ferrer runoff.

Mr. Schrader said that Mr. Weinstein told him: “‘Fire these guys and I’ll give the top guy a job at Miramax. It’s not a bad job. He can hang out with Gwyneth Paltrow.'”

Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Mr. Weinstein, said the Miramax co-chairman was simply communicating the demands of Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Sharpton.

“Harvey was joking that there were a number of entertainment-industry jobs that would be far more fun than this political job,” Mr. Hiltzik said. “Among the many potential opportunities mentioned was one at Miramax.”

The episode involving Mr. Weinstein and the Green camp began at around 2 p.m. on Nov. 5, when public-relations consultant Ken Sunshine, a close friend of Mr. Green, informed Mr. Schrader that he and Mr. Weinstein were trying to arrange a last-minute peace agreement between Mr. Green and Mr. Ferrer. Mr. Ferrer was still upset that Mr. Green’s supporters had distributed copies of a New York Post cartoon showing him kissing Mr. Sharpton’s rear end.

Mr. Weinstein called Mr. Schrader later that afternoon. According to Mr. Green’s campaign manager, Mr. Weinstein, hoping to broker the agreement in time for the 6 o’clock news, reiterated Mr. Ferrer’s demand that he fire staffers allegedly involved in the flyer flap.

Mr. Schrader said he refused, then told Mr. Weinstein that “Sharpton and Ramirez were manipulative and that they were going to fleece him. Then Harvey said, ‘These guys [Sharpton, Ramirez and Ferrer] have to save face because they look like assholes.'”

“I told him to end the conversation with them and that under no circumstances would there be a deal,” Mr. Schrader said.

But the Miramax co-chairman continued the dialogue with Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Sharpton because, according to Mr. Weinstein’s camp, he thought that the Green campaign might be open to a compromise that did not include the firing of staffers.

Those same sources said Mr. Weinstein also believed he was acting at the behest of Mr. Green’s advisers, because Mr. Sunshine-who had acted as a liaison between Mr. Green and Mr. Weinstein throughout the campaign-was urging further discussion.

As it turned out, Mr. Weinstein’s continued efforts caught the Green camp by surprise, because they assumed Mr. Weinstein understood there would be no deal with the Ramirez camp.

According to Mr. Schrader, Mr. Weinstein called again at approximately 7:30 looking to make a deal. At this point, Mr. Weinstein was in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel with Messrs. Sharpton, Ferrer, Ramirez, Sunshine and others.

“He was abusive,” Mr. Schrader said. “[Weinstein] said, ‘I’m gonna build a hospital in the Bronx for Ramirez so everybody will be happy.'”

Mr. Hiltzik said Mr. Weinstein suggested the hospital “as a potential collaborative effort between Mark and Roberto.”

According to a Nov. 8 news story in the Post , Bill Clinton was also asked to broker peace in time for the 11 o’clock news. Again, the Green camp was caught off guard. Some of Mr. Green’s aides suspected that Messrs. Sharpton and Ramirez merely wanted a photo op with the President. So they blocked the idea.

But Mr. Weinstein saw it as an 11th-hour way to salvage Mr. Green’s hopes. According to Mr. Schrader, they had a couple of last-minute conversations sometime after 9:00 p.m.

“Harvey says, ‘Get me the President, or this is going to explode,'” Mr. Schrader recalled. “He said [Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Sharpton] are going to go attack your candidate if the President doesn’t get here. I said, ‘They won’t do that. You’re being taken for a sucker. These guys know a sucker when they see one.'”

At this point, Mr. Schrader said, Mr. Weinstein exploded.

“He said, ‘All I want to fucking do is fucking unite this fucking city and you won’t let me!'” Mr. Schrader recalled.

In the end, Mr. Sunshine persuaded the Green camp to allow the President to go to the Four Seasons to bring everyone together. But when Mr. Clinton arrived at the hotel, he reportedly saw the press camped outside and drove away.

“Like many frustrated Democrats, Harvey was only concerned with unifying the party behind Mark,” Mr. Hiltzik said. “It’s unfortunate that Rich Schrader needs to blame someone else for what happened.”

-Greg Sargent

Spruce Bruce

“New Jersey must be doing something right, because it has produced both our honoree and our presenter,” comedian Caroline Rhea, the host of the Creative Coalition’s annual awards dinner, told the crowd at Sotheby’s on Nov. 12. Moments later, Bruce Springsteen took the stage, sporting a black sport coat and open-necked shirt, a goatee and mustache. He was there to present an award for political activism to his friend, E Street Band member and Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt.

The 52-year-old Mr. Springsteen explained that back in the 70’s, he and Mr. Van Zandt decided that “politics is politics and rock ‘n’ roll is rock ‘n’ roll, and one will surely fuck up the other one.”

But 1980 brought the E Street Band their first real world tour and a new political perspective for “a bunch of Jersey guys.” Remembering crossing Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin and the West Berlin concert that followed, Mr. Springsteen said that the “sense of something at stake-along with getting the girls-was what originally drew us to rock ‘n’ roll music.”

Mr. Van Zandt, who was seated with his wife Maureen and Mr. Springsteen’s son Evan, nodded in agreement and continued to smile shyly beneath his tasteful gray schmatta as Mr. Springsteen chronicled his friend’s politically fueled solo work after Mr. Van Zandt moved on from the E Street Band. “Bastard,” Mr. Springsteen said, referring to his bud’s departure.

Mr. Springsteen went on to describe Mr. Van Zandt’s 1984 album Voice of America as “Phil Spector in a head-on collision with Noam Chomsky on Highway 61.” Mr. Van Zandt’s songs, he added, “dealt with taking responsibility for our government’s actions, foreign policy, political consequences of our own ambivalence, and the search for identity and common ground within a world community.”

“No wonder it didn’t sell!” Mr. Springsteen said, dissolving into his trademark giggle before continuing with his speech. “It was one of the first albums to be accompanied by a suggested reading list! I told him not to do that!”

“But that’s Stevie,” he continued. “Stevie and the middle ground-politically and sartorially-do not easily co-exist.”

Then Mr. Springsteen brought Mr. Van Zandt up onstage with one of his James-Brown-meets-Reverend-Ike introductions:

“So, once again: E Street Band member, Jersey guy, New York City guy, funny guy, strange guy, good guy, wise guy, single-handed popularizer of the babushka, rocker, writer, guitarist extraordinaire and star of the Sopranos telly-vision show! Let me present this to you, brother man, Mr. Stevie Van Zandt!

“I hate this!” exclaimed Mr. Van Zandt with his fuzzy lisp. “This is embarrassing!”

-Rebecca Traister

Bread & Wine

Wine Advocate publisher Robert Parker Jr. stood in a private dining room at Tribeca Grill and looked out at the crowd. “As you drink these wines tonight, as we pay homage to a lot of people who cannot be here,” he said, “think of them. Also, think of life. Celebrate your life-our lives. Celebrate our freedom, our pursuit of happiness. Celebrate this great city of New York.”

And then the pouring began.

As a group of chefs that included Daniel Boulud, Aureole’s Charlie Palmer, Veritas’ Scott Bryan and Tribeca Grill’s Don Pintabona prepared some of their signature dishes, 22 of the city’s sommeliers, including Chanterelle’s Roger Dagorn and Best Cellars’ Josh Wesson, served 1,800 glasses of some of California’s best wines. The Nov. 7 event, which was called “Raising a Glass,” had been organized by Montrachet’s wine director, Daniel Johnnes; his Myriad Restaurant Group partner, Drew Nieporent; and Mr. Parker to raise money for the Windows of Hope relief fund, which benefits the families of employees of Windows on the World who were lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

With the promise that the esteemed Mr. Parker would attend and choose the wines, the event’s 100 seats quickly sold out at $2,500 a pop. Among those attending were Wine Spectator publisher Marvin Shanken, who is a competitor of Mr. Parker; Michael’s restaurant owner, Michael McCarty; Goldman Sachs managing director Tom Tuft; and Credit Suisse First Boston managing director Larry Lavine.

As many as five different wines-all of them Parker favorites-were served with each course, in glasses that had been labeled with their contents. According to Tim Kopec, sommelier of Veritas: “The wineries that participated were truly the top 1 percent of the finest wines in California.”

With Mr. Boulud’s Duo of Beef-braised short ribs and peppered beef filet in red wine-diners got glasses of Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Joseph Phelps Insignia 1997, Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Herb Lamb Vineyard” 1995, Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 and Harlan Estate Proprietary Red 1997.

“It was a very decadent event,” Mr. Kopec said. “Realistically, there was probably two or three times the amount of wine that was necessary to pull off an event like this, but when we announced it, it was more like trying to hold people back from participating as opposed to searching for great wines.

But all that vino helped loosen the restraint of bidders in the live auction that capped the evening. Helping matters along was Ann Colgin, the redheaded owner of Colgin Cellars, who’s also quite an auctioneer.

“You have no friends in this room anymore,” Ms. Colgin told the audience in her Texan accent. “It’s competition time. And I know you boys can step up to the plate.”

Ms. Colgin then proceeded to coax more than $430,000 out of the assembled group for Windows of Hope. Goldman Sachs’ Mr. Tuft proved to be one of the night’s big spenders, dropping $60,000 on a lot of Burgundies and $50,000 on a package in which Mr. Boulud and Mr. Palmer agreed to prepare dinner at home for Mr. Tuft and several guests, with Mr. Parker providing a wine for each course.

And after the crowd broke into a chant of “Larry! Larry!”, CSFB’s Mr. Lavine made a last-second winning bid of $35,000 for a double magnum of the first vintage, 1992, of Colgin Cellars’ “Herb Lamb Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon and a specially designed crystal decanter.

As Mr. McCarty said at the end of the evening: “You gotta love rich people.”

-Frank DiGiacomo

The Transom Also Hears …

… Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde had great seats for the Nov. 9 performance of the popular Broadway satire Urinetown. After a first act in which the cast musically informed him that it’s “a privilege to pee,” Mr. Hyde turned to his date and muttered, “Well . . . it’s different,” before excusing himself, presumably to exercise his own Congressional privileges.


… Thank God for Ivana Trump. Our country’s at war, the city’s in upheaval, but the plump-lipped, smooth-faced celebrity stays comfortingly on message. At Denise Rich’s annual Denim & Diamonds benefit for the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research, Ms. Trump told The Transom: “Tonight I am wearing over $2 million worth of jewelry.” And we left it at that.

-Ian Blecher Weinstein’s United Way