Chef Matt Kenney On the Hot Plate With the I.R.S.

Pell Mel It was nearing 7 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 6 when stately, plump Viacom chief operating officer



It was nearing 7 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 6 when stately,

plump Viacom chief operating officer Mel Karmazin and his wife, Terry, blew

into the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom for the Museum of Television and

Radio’s black-tie gala.

Because he was only the second celebrity to arrive- Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon had

come in moments before-as well as one who was reportedly embroiled in a power

play with his boss, Viacom chief executive Sumner Redstone, Mr. Karmazin

quickly drew a lot of attention.

A couple of reporters from Access

Hollywood asked Mr. Karmazin for a word as he walked through the press

line. “Sorry!” he said. “You guys are on too many NBC affiliates.” Viacom owns


He had no comment for The Transom, either, but Mr. Karmazin did

have something to say to nearly everyone who wasn’t in the press. With the

missus in tow, Mr. Karmazin wended his way through the pre-dinner cocktail hour

exhibiting precisely the behavior that Mr. Redstone is said to dislike: loud

interjections, aggressive handshakes and whimsical jabs at the TV business.

Henry Schlieff, who runs the Viacom-owned Court TV, gave Mr.

Karmazin a particularly warm salutation. “Nice to see you, Mel!” he cheerily.

“Nice to see you, Henry!” Mr.

Karmazin replied.

At dinner, the Karmazins sat with 60 Minutes co-anchor Steve Kroft while Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave

a boilerplate talk about the city: “New York is still the Big Apple,” Mr.

Bloomberg said.

At the end of the evening,

Mr. Schlieff approached Mr. Karmazin again. “So you had the bar mitzvah?” Mr.

Karmazin asked Mr. Schlieff about his son.

“Yeah, it was four months ago, but we’re still getting gifts,”

Mr. Schlieff replied.

“Oh, did you get mine?” Mr. Karmazin asked sarcastically.

“We’ll take stock!” Mr. Schlieff said.

“You don’t want our stock,” Mr. Karmazin replied, laughing.

The comment reminded The Transom of something that CBS Network

chief Leslie Moonves had said at the Center for Communications luncheon

honoring Mr. Karmazin back on Nov. 19 at the Pierre Hotel. Invoking the “spirit

of David Letterman,” Mr. Moonves had ticked off a numbered list of traits that,

he said, “make Mel Mel.” No. 6 was: “If you ask Mel what he thinks about

something, he’ll always tell you-even if you don’t remember to ask him,


As the Museum of Television and Radio revelers waited their turn

at the coat-check station, Mr. Karmazin cut to the front of the considerable

line. There, he spied a CBS colleague, veteran 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt.

“Don, I’ll give you a quarter if you get my coat,” Mr. Karmazin

said to Mr. Hewitt as he tossed a quarter at the producer. Mr. Hewitt, who

reportedly tangled with Mr. Karmazin over the creation of 60 Minutes II -the former was against it, the latter for it-winced

as if he’d just heard a bad Borscht Belt joke. He didn’t get Mr. Karmazin’s


“Don Hewitt took my quarter!” Mr. Karmazin brayed when the 60 Minutes producer disappeared into the


Mr. Karmazin retrieved his coat on his own. On his way down to

the Waldorf’s lobby, he passed Kevin Carton, the head of accounting firm

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ media and entertainment department. “Hey, Kevin!” Mr.

Karmazin said. “Boy, Disney sold you out! Michael [Eisner] really sold you

out!” Mr. Karmazin seemed to be referring to the Walt Disney Company’s

announcement, in the wake of the Enron scandal, that it would no longer enter

into consulting contracts with its auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Mr. Karmazin got on his cell phone and barked some instructions

to his driver. Then he and his wife left the milling media crowd and walked off

together into the cold night.

-Ian Blecher

So Happy Together                                                                                  

Sex and the City ‘s

Sarah Jessica Parker and The Producers ‘

Matthew Broderick were clearly aiming to put a damper on gossip about the allegedly

rocky state of their union at the Feb. 10 gala for the New York Stage and Film

Company at Pier 60.

The eerily fat-free Ms. Parker and her baby-faced spouse were all

over each other as they faced a small army of photographers at the event, which

honored Wunderkind playwright Jon

Robin Baitz. But their groping abated as soon as they reached the dining room.

– Rebecca Traister


Blows In

If Bill Blass head designer Lars Nilsson surveyed the crowd that

surrounded his catwalk during the label’s Feb. 12 fall fashion show, he would

have seen that he had the undivided attention of New York’s fashionable women.

The Bryant Park space seemed to be crammed with the entire Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar

teams and a whole lot of socialites. Anne Bass and Judy Peabody represented the

old guard; Anne McNally and Nina Griscom, the younger guard; Nathalie Kaplan

and Alex Kramer, the baby guard; and actress Kim Cattrall and TV journalist

Willow Bay, the demi-monde.

The ultimate validation, however, came from the presence of a

foreigner: British eccentric Isabella Blow. Ms. Blow, a fixture on the European

fashion scene, is perhaps best known as the muse and benefactor of designer

Alexander McQueen.

Ms. Blow has also been recognized for her daring taste in hats,

and on the morning of Mr. Nilsson’s show, she was sporting a bright red Philip

Treacy number that consisted of a head-hugging dome from which a series of

feathery yet rigid strips of felt jutted out at different levels in front of

her face. They gave the impression that Ms. Blow was peering at the world

through a Dali-esque set of Levolor blinds.

“Nice hat,” a security guard told Ms. Blow.

“Oh, thaaaaank you,”

she replied with an accent straight out of Gosford

Park -the upstairs portion. With her dark brown hair in a bob, her bright

red hat and lipstick and bottomless blue eyes, Ms. Blow looked like a handsome

40’s movie star.

Over the rest of her form, she wore a black McQueen tailored

suit, vintage jewelry and a fur wrap.

“Monkey, I’m afraid,” she said of the wrap.

Ms. Blow described her look as “Spanish widow.” “My husband

recently died and I’ve been left incredibly wealthy,” she said breezily. Ms.

Blow, who is married to the art dealer Detmar Blow, seemed to be kidding.

After Mr. Nilsson had shown

his 61 different men’s and women’s looks, Ms. Blow swooped backstage, carrying

with her the wind of another era. She marched straight to Mr. Nilsson. “It was wooonderful ,” she cooed, after Mr.

Nilsson bent down deep under the red darts and kissed her. “When can I come and

see you for a fitting? Tomorrow?”

Then she pounced upon the new Blass clothes, which had already

been wrapped up in protective plastic.

This did not deter Ms. Blow. She pulled a navy blue lacy

shawl-dress out of its bag. “I haven’t worn Bill Blass since Andy Warhol’s

memorial service,” she said. “I’m really excited.”

Ms. Blow had been flown in by the Swarovski crystal company, for

which she sometimes consults-enticed, as she put it, by the promise of “the two

C’s”: Concorde and the Carlyle Hotel.

She told The Transom that she wasn’t going to many shows,

although she had been to see Imitation of Christ’s collection on Feb. 10. She

compared it to a “one-night stand.

“It was interesting , the way they played with human desire,” she said. “But

they can’t go on finding these antique dresses forever, can they? And I’ve been

buying clothes since I was 13, so I had all that. Every single thing I liked I

had in my wardrobe already-which was kind of weird, don’t you think?”

Ms. Blow didn’t seem to know

which show she would attend next. “I haven’t had a chance to sniff around,” she


But she was happy to be

pounding American pavement. “Give me an American accent; I’m a sucker for it

every time,” she said, sounding like a 40’s movie star. Then she told The

Transom how different New York’s atmosphere has been since Sept. 11. “Almost spiritual,”

she said. “And I love church.”

Behind her, Vogue ‘s

Andre Leon Talley was giving a television interview. As he told the camera that

the Bill Blass customer wants quiet, wearable clothes, Ms. Blow noticed that

her skirt was coming undone. “McQueen isn’t known for his zippers,” she said as

she fiddled with the garment. Finally, she pulled the monkey off her back and

draped it around her ass before continuing about her business. A fashionable

woman knows how to improvise.

-Elisabeth Franck



Photographer Peter Beard and his former business partner, Peter

Tunney, are at war again. Just days after the expiration of a legal truce

between them, the two men have launched a second round of lawsuits at each

other in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

In July 2001, Mr. Beard abruptly broke off his partnership with

Mr. Tunney, whose gallery, The Time Is Always Now, had served as the exclusive

dealer of the photographer’s work. Soon after, Mr. Tunney filed a

breach-of-contract suit against Mr. Beard that sought $1 million in damages.

Mr. Beard countersued to get his jumbo-sized photo collages of elephants,

models and other wildlife out of Mr. Tunney’s custody.

In August, Mr. Beard and Mr. Tunney settled their beef out of

court. According to the deal, Mr. Tunney was temporarily allowed to sell

certain parts of Mr. Beard’s existing oeuvre ,

and Mr. Beard was free to pursue other dealers to exhibit his new work. They

further agreed that on Jan. 15, Mr. Beard would take control of his entire

corpus, old and new.

On the morning of that day,

Mr. Beard’s movers came to Mr. Tunney’s Soho gallery to collect his work. But

Mr. Tunney did not like the way the crew conducted its business. “They behaved

badly; they were ransacking my personal place,” Mr. Tunney told The Transom. “I

was pissed off-I felt totally violated.”

When the movers came back the next day to pick up more of Mr.

Beard’s photos, the gallery allegedly wouldn’t let them in. This standoff

continued for several days, during which, Mr. Beard’s suit alleged, the gallery

“continued to display a large banner and window sign containing [Mr. Beard’s]


Mr. Tunney filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Jan. 16,

asking a judge to oversee the move. His suit alleged that Mr. Beard’s movers

were making off with his property: Mr. Beard, it said, “amazingly continue[s]

to claim that all items within the gallery are [his] property.” Mr.

Tunney, however, claimed the gallery had “countless items within its leasehold

such as frames, print books, slides, etc., which are wholly owned by [the

gallery] and which [Mr. Beard is] threatening to forcibly seize and remove.”

On Jan. 17, Mr. Beard filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court

against Mr. Tunney and his gallery. He asked for his art back, plus $1 million

in damages.

On Jan. 24, Judge Charles Ramos heard the case. “If Mr. Tunney is

unable to keep track of what’s going out the door, that’s his fault,” the judge

said. “He’s dragged his feet …. ”

Mr. Tunney interjected: “That is not true, Your Honor.”

“Mr. Tunney, keep quiet,” Judge Ramos said.

The judge began talking again, and again Mr. Tunney interrupted:

“Your Honor, my counsel has-”

The judge threw Mr. Tunney

out of court, and ordered him to let Mr. Beard’s movers in. “If he doesn’t know

what’s in the boxes by now, that’s his problem, not their problem,” the judge


Now Mr. Tunney says he has complied with the order, though his

lawyer, Fred Seeman, said of the matter: “I don’t think it’s resolved.”

Mr. Beard’s attorney, Karen

Shatzkin, agreed that things are up in the air.

Mr. Tunney was clear about one thing: “I’m broken-hearted. I

worked my ass off for eight years for Peter Beard, and I don’t have anything to

show for it.”

Now Mr. Tunney is working on his own art for an exhibition at the

gallery on Feb. 21- Peter T. Tunney: It’s

About Time . One of the pieces is about the case; it’s called No Good Deed Goes Unpunished .


Eau de


Red Hot Chili Pepper frontman

Anthony Kiedis surveyed the crowd shuffling into the State Armory on Lexington Avenue and 26th Street for Marc Jacobs’

Feb. 11 fall show. “It’s a kind of human potpourri you don’t get in L.A.,” he

said. There was Fran Drescher from The

Nanny , wearing a bouffant skirt; cosmetics executive Aerin Lauder; Yankee

Derek Jeter; actresses Kirsten Dunst and Natasha Lyonne; Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her minions, Andre Leon Talley and

Hamish Bowles, as well as her beau, Shelby Bryan; Donald Trump with his model

appendage, Melania Knauss; and model Kate Moss, in a furry black jacket and

black leggings, chewing her nails and openly smoking an against-the-fire-code

cigarette as she sat with her boyfriend, Dazed

and Confused editorial director Jefferson Hack.  Mr. Kiedis said he liked to come to New York for events like this

to see “all these characters, this kind of montage of New York social freaks.

Really, they’re so beautiful.”


The Transom

Also Hears…

… Actor Charles (Roc) Dutton

was in Canada directing his first feature, so he couldn’t be on hand to accept

the award that the Fortune Society, a not-for-profit group that helps

ex-convicts to re-enter society, gave to him and Oz creator Tom Fontana at its

“Changing Minds, Building Lives” benefit at the W Hotel New York in Union

Square on Feb. 11. Mr. Dutton asked Law and Order co-star S. Epatha Merkerson

to accept the award on his behalf, but not before giving her some instructions

via phone: “Don’t embarrass me up there.” So when the actress admitted, near

the end of her speech, that she was nervous, she quickly implored that no one

snitch on her to Mr. Dutton. “Don’t tell him that,” Ms. Merkerson said. Then,

whispering into the microphone, she said: “Tell him I talked a whole lot of

shit about him.”

-Frank DiGiacomo Chef Matt Kenney On the Hot Plate With the I.R.S.