Jazzy, the Yorkshire terrier that was propelled to stardom by his owner, New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, has died. Ms. Adams confirmed Jazzy’s death to Off the Record Oct. 7, putting to rest the rumors that had been circulating in Manhattan gossip circles for some weeks.
“It’s still too raw for me,” Ms. Adams said, declining to discuss the details of the dog’s passing.
The subject of her 2003 book The Gift of Jazzy , the terrier and Ms. Adams first met when Jazzy arrived, unannounced, as a bereavement present from New Millennium Press co-president Michael Viner, seven days after the death of Ms. Adams’ husband Joey, the famous comic.
The relationship didn’t take at first, with Ms. Adams quickly discovering the many onerous responsibilities of pet ownership.
But she has said that the relationship grew while she was mourning the death of her husband.
Jazzy’s life with Ms. Adams was one that few humans could afford. For Jazzy’s first birthday, Ms. Adams threw a birthday extravaganza whose a guest list, according to a Post report at the time, included Bryant Gumbel’s poodle Cujo and Isabella Rossellini’s dachshund Uma. Jeweler Judith Ripka fashioned silver dog collars for the occasion, while designer Joanna Pastriani made up silk-lined coats for all the dogs in attendance.
In a recent interview with CBS’s Charles Osgood, Ms. Adams detailed the trappings of Jazzy’s day-to-day existence.
“He has doggy day care. He has a golden sable coat from Dennis Basso, the furrier. He also has a red mink. He has kosher chicken.
Certainly, Jazzy could be difficult. There were run-ins with celebrities, including Imelda Marcos and Manuel Noriega. (In the latter case, Jazzy stepped on Ms. Adams’ telephone just as she was beginning an interview with Mr. Noriega, canceling the call and thereby killing her scoop.) But with the release of The Gift of Jazzy this year, the terrier took on a celebrity status that rivaled Ms. Adams’. Last February, she helped christen the Jazzy Park Avenue Boutique in Macy’s. In April, Jazzy was the honoree at Macy’s annual Flower Show and Petacular. In May, Ms. Adams dispatched Jazzy to interview Bruiser, Reese Witherspoon’s gay Chihuahua in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde .
“Wouldn’t you agree sudden fame is tiring?” Jazzy asked Bruiser.
Joined in Ms. Adams’ townhouse by a companion dog, Juicy, rumors surrounding the health of Jazzy had circulated for several weeks. In the Sept. 30 edition of The Village Voice , Michael Musto wrote: “Insiders buzzed that my pal Cindy Adams’s famous dog, Jazzy, had gone forever bye-bye, but there she was at shows with Jazzy (unless this is one of those cute Siegfried & Roy hoaxes).”
On Oct. 7, Ms. Adams explained to Off the Record that the death had happened “a while back.”
“But I haven’t done it yet in the paper, because I don’t have the energy to get 800 nice blue-haired ladies sending letters and pictures about their Fidos,” Ms. Adams said. “It’s just too painful.”
In the weeks since Primedia first announced the sale of New York magazine, the chatter about potential bidders has filled more cocktail and book parties than if Howell Raines had become the first person to land on Mars. Welcome to the New York bubble-for Henry Kravis’ sake, let’s hope it doesn’t burst. Because interest in this sale is not just more proof of the New York media’s self-obsession. The buzz about the sale is driving the price of the magazine through the roof.
By now, it seems that half the men’s-room attendants in this town can rattle off a list of would-be bidders and their prospects: New York columnist Michael Wolff, with some help from his buddy, the ad mogul Donny Deutsch; Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein; Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. For kicks, there’s also Jimmy Finkelstein, working with the publishing company owned by Wilbur Ross, the spouse of the former New York Lieutenant Governor. There’s Bill Reilly, who helped found the company once known as K-III, which later became Primedia. S.I. Newhouse is in, then out, then in again as a potential bidder, if you follow the rumor mill closely. And what about the Tribune Company? They bought Chicago ! And Emmis? Well, they own a bunch of regional city magazines. Viacom? Did someone say Viacom?
One fixed-income analyst who spoke to Off the Record on the condition of anonymity said the feeling on Wall Street is that the price of the magazine “is going to be set on the level of interest, as opposed to anything more statistical and more financial.
“The sense you get from the talk out there is that the earnings or the profits or the cash flow have been going down over the last few years,” the analyst continued. “If they had sold it a couple of years ago, they probably would have got something between $50 to $75 [million], $60 to $80 million. It appears now that their cash flow or operating-income level is somewhere down near $2 million a year. Generally the way we look at is as a multiple of operating cash flow. Even at that level, it’ll be a 25-times multiple if someone pays $50 million. It doesn’t seem for us on Wall Street to conjecture what the multiple is or what the price is, because it seems like rumors we’ve seen in the newspaper are going to be higher than anything that seems reasonable. Clearly someone’s going to buy this thing, for lack of a better phrase, on their ego.”
“It’s an ego trip,” deadpanned Mark Edmiston, managing director of the media investment firm Ad Media Partners, analyzing the situation.
Of course, there have been other media-property sales that have taken the spotlight in recent years. Primedia kept nervous writers at Folio and Advertising Age up all night when it was trying to find the buyer who would take on titles like Modern Bride and Seventeen .
But this is New York , the magazine born from the brain of Clay Felker, the magazine that gave us Tom Wolfe and Gail Sheehy. And so Primedia has provided us with the material-as the late Mike Royko noted upon the death of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1976-for the best donnybrook we’ve had in quite some time.
“The thing that’s unique about New York is that the interest includes individuals,” said Reed Phillips, a managing partner at DeSilva and Phillips, a media investment-banking firm. “The interest is eclectic-less predictable and corporate than if it was primarily viewed as a magazine opportunity. But it’s not viewed as that; it’s viewed as a soapbox. It’s probably more like the interest from a daily newspaper for sale.”
In the meantime, just being mentioned as a potential bidder has given renewed street cred to the expense-account crowd at Michael’s.
“Anytime a prominent property is for sale, a lot of people don’t mind seeing their names in print being listed as one of the individual buyers,” Mr. Phillips said. “This one is even more pronounced. You’ve got people who are highly unlikely to bid and are even acknowledging they’re interested because it’s nice to be listed as one of the potential buyers at the suggested price.”
Next week, according to sources, Primedia will release the financials of the magazine to potential bidders. The sale should be a definitive moment for Primedia, once a targeted media company undone by late-90’s stock-price lust (c.f., the combined purchases of About.com and emap for over $1 billion). And yet, increasingly, Primedia is becoming the beneficiary of a small media bubble that is driving the price of the magazine through the roof. (A primedia spokesman declined to comment.)
Indeed, while everyone from Mr. Wolff to Mr. Zuckerman shoves each other out of the way to say “I’m interested! I’m interested!”, Primedia itself has remained mum, keeping its head when, all about, future owners are losing theirs.
“In particular in the levels that it’s being talked about, it’s become a real media phenomenon,” Mr. Edmiston said. “If I were them, I’d be quiet, too. Where the fire’s blazing, you don’t need to put extra fuel on the fire. Historically, they don’t make a big deal about the magazines; they let them stand for themselves. I’ve seen too many odd things in my life to say they won’t get that price. I just don’t understand it.”
Beyond the actual cash Primedia will get for New York , the company gets the added benefit of one last major spotlight move to prove to Wall Street that it’s finis with the business of mass-circulation magazines. With a ground-thumping sale, Primedia can finally make the case that it’s the largest publisher of special-interest magazines, that the company has at last thrown off its dreams of being a diverse media company-the kind that, in 1999, represented the synergistic future of the new millennium, and that now seems as current as Robert Moses’ planned superhighway through lower Manhattan.
In fact, what Primedia has proven to Wall Street is that a buzzed-about sale is good business. New York , after all, is a magazine that reportedly makes $1.5 million in profits-only about three times what it pays Mr. Wolff to rant about Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller each week.
“If you’re looking at it from a purely financial standpoint, you’d be hard pressed to get 15 to 20 million [dollars] for it, because it’s not a growth property,” he Mr. Edmiston said. “It not only has a low profitability, but there’s no ability to even recapture the glory days of New York magazine. The advertising will not be there. And the reader base is the same thing-there’s not much you’re able to grow the circulation. That tells me that you should be paying or a six- or seven-times multiple. The best argument is the one for [the Tribune Company], because Tribune has a newspaper. Emmis doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the synergy with Los Angeles is pretty close to zero.”
Of course, Mr. Zuckerman owns a newspaper-which he’s again thrown into upheaval with editorial changes at the top-and one could argue that by working together really, really hard, the combined forces of the Daily News and New York could vanquish the forces of the Post and Time Out New York .
But that’s not what this sale is about. The buyer of New York , with its storied history (even if its present incarnation seems a total repudiation of that history), is getting a place at the table of New York media; in a business that’s all about social-climbing, that’s worth a lot of money.
Speaking from his home in Berkeley, Calif., Mr. Felker-himself in a class above any that can be merely bought-said the interest in the magazine shows that New York still has a shot at being important.
“I think it helps,” Mr. Felker said. “The fact that the attention has put a sort of premium on the magazine shows that it’s a special magazine.”
On Oct. 8, sometime jokeman and New York Post op-ed columnist Robert George will appear in “Republican Riot,” an evening of stand-up “with a conservative bent,” along with Fox News columnist Julia Gorin at Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret in midtown.
Reached at his office in the depths of Mordor-that canyon of 60’s skyscrapers lining Sixth Avenue in midtown-Mr. George, who has done improv for about three years, said he would start his set by introducing his background as a “Catholic, West Indian, black Republican, and ask if there was anyone in the house that was too.”
“For follow-up,” Mr. George said, “I’ll say ‘Don’t all of you stand up at once.’ Then I just make a lot of political humor and observations. It teases Democrats. It teases Republicans.”
Off the Record, which has a prior commitment that evening, asked Mr. George to serve up his best joke.
“I can’t give my best joke,” Mr. George said, but then continued, “But let’s try this one: So, the Republicans are doing their best to attract minorities to the party. But despite their best attempts, they’re falling down on the job. Like, for example, they’re pushing Arnold Schwarzenegger to be governor of California. Shouldn’t they know the Terminator is offensive to black people in two different languages?”
Mr. George paused for a moment and said, “Actually, that doesn’t work in print, because you’d pronounce it ‘ schwarze -nigger.'”
Mr. George continued: “Whenever you’re doing stand-up, you have a particular organization and rhythm that’s actually difficult to express over the telephone.
Asked if he’d drummed up any ripped-from-the-headlines, tigers-living-in-housing-complexes material, Mr. George said he’d “actually been working on that.”
“Some apartments in New York cost an arm and a leg,” he offered. “Especially if there’s an alligator and tiger in there.
“I have to work on the set-up.”
Margaret Talbot, who’s spent the last five years working as a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine , will join The New Yorker as a staff writer in January 2004.
In the course of her tenure at The Times Magazine , she wrote on everything from a Christian fundamentalist family to the pervasive phenomenon of “mean girls.” Ms. Talbot said she’d continue to pursue such topics at The New Yorker .
“I had a terrific time there,” Ms. Talbot, 41, said of The Times Magazine . “I know it sounds really tedious to say, but I was really ready to make a change. For writers, The New Yorker just has that eternal attraction or appeal. You kind of wonder what it’s like to be inside those pages. I was just ready to try for slightly different set of challenges as a writer.”
New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick noted that Ms. Talbot had “an eye for parts of the country-and developments in the country-that are not always easily seen.
“I can’t wait till she gets here,” he said.