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DreamWorks Deal a Fantasy Made True

Thu, 15 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

There was something heartwarming about the sale of DreamWorks for an irrationally exuberant $1.6 billion to Viacom's Paramount Pictures this week instead of to its longtime suitor, General Electric's NBC Universal. It proved all over again that even if Hollywood looks overrun with corporate suits and marketing drones, it's still activated by emotion and perception.

The Future Face Of Network News

Thu, 08 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

Joe Gillis (William Holden): You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.

Anonymous Sources And a Known Quantity

Thu, 01 Dec 2005 00:00:00 EST

Media life seems to have turned into one long cannibal feast, a fratricidal Thanksgiving dinner minus the giving of thanks. No sooner have we finished dining out on roast Judith Miller with stuffing than we are ready for a nice, big slice of Bob Woodward pie.

The Ambassador's Undiplomatic Maneuver

Thu, 17 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

LONDON There's a new catchphrase in London: Are you a skier? And it has nothing to do with winter sports. It's a quasi-acronym for Are You Spending the Kids' Inheritance? In the age of celebrity culture and instant news, cash is not the only fast currency. Former pillars of the establishment are shorting their Reputation, too.

Long Out of the Kitchen But Still Taking the Heat

Thu, 10 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

It's been an unsettling few months for women of a certain age. Between the flameouts of Judy Miller and Harriet Miers, the frantic reentry of Martha Stewart and the sight of former CBS News producer Mary Mapes shaking her gored locks on ABC's "Good Morning America," everywhere you turn there's a power woman either in extremis or declaring she's indestructible, which are usually the same thing.

The Late-Blooming Prince

Thu, 03 Nov 2005 00:00:00 EST

Most people don't have to wait till the age of 56 to come into their own, but you can't help feeling that the Prince of Wales has finally caught up with the zeitgeist. Or maybe it's the zeitgeist that's caught up with him.

This Time, the Prosecutor's a Corker

Thu, 27 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

It's one of the ironies of our media culture that the mystique of Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case, grew to mythic size simply by virtue of Fitzgerald keeping his mouth shut until he has something to say.

Seeing Right Through The Times's Transparency

Thu, 20 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The age of the blogosphere has produced a new genre of mainstream journalism: fake transparency. The New York Times has become its foremost practitioner. The paper of record has been arraigned for arrogance so many times in the past three years that it has forgotten how useful arrogance can be. The Gulliver of West 43rd Street has gotten so spooked that now it preemptively lies down, affixes bonds to its wrists and ankles, and invites the Lilliputians of cyberspace to walk all over it.

Media Files:

You've Come a Long Way, Ladies

Thu, 13 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The healthiest aspect of the Harriet Miers nomination is that women haven't rallied to her cause. Ten years ago, there would have been a lot of reflexive solidarity about keeping the Sandra Day O'Connor spot on the Supreme Court from reverting to male type. But every female lawyer I've spoken with in the past week skips right past the sisterly support into a rant about Miers's meager qualifications or her abject obeisance to power. The good news is that for women, it seems, Miers's nomination is like the moment for blacks in Hollywood when it was suddenly okay to cast an African American actor as something other than a perfect hero. The Sidney Poitier phase is definitively over.

Lips Bearing a Presidential Seal

Thu, 06 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

You would think one of the side effects of the president's slide from Top Gun would be an eruption of disloyal memoirs. Since the outbursts of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and terrorism czar Richard Clarke, there's been a lack of literary lava out of Washington's Mount Vesuvius.

Bill Clinton, Beyond the White House

Thu, 22 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The big surprise of Bill Clinton's Global Initiative conference at the Sheraton Hotel in New York last week was how strangely calming it was. You would expect to emerge begging for mercy from a three-day talkathon on the world's most intractable problems emceed by history's most garrulous president -- especially if you were a survivor of one of his book tour gigs.

Rupert Murdoch, Bending With the Wind

Thu, 15 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Could the post-Katrina mood swing take the heat off the bellicose Fox News brand?

Floods Scour the Political Landscape, Too

Thu, 08 Sep 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Even though it is so familiar in our imaginations, it is still a wonderful moment in the upcoming Discovery documentary "The Flight That Fought Back" when the doomed passengers on Flight 93 seize the food cart and race it down the aisle toward the cockpit like a battering ram, united in courage and rage. At the preview of the movie at the Bryant Park Hotel in Manhattan you could feel the exhalation of tension in the audience during the reenactment: the wish-fulfillment, the satisfaction at the virility of the gesture.

Beyond Rummy, the Stars

Thu, 30 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Bono looked very much at home on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday talking about Third World debt. So much so that the future path for Sunday morning talk shows became blindingly obvious: Dispense with politicians altogether. They have passed their sell-by date. They don't smell so good.

Hillary Clinton Attacked by Man From Mars

Thu, 23 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Maybe it's a secret fantasy of girl-on-girl action that makes Ed Klein obsess about Sen. Hillary Clinton's supposed lesbian ethos in his new book "The Truth About Hillary." It's hard to know what else he has to draw on. Yelling "lesbian" at powerful heterosexual women has always been the pathetic projection of the menaced male, but it's especially baffling in Klein's case. As the former editor of the New York Times Magazine, with some bestsellers behind him, Klein used to be a workmanlike scribe with glamour aspirations when he was flat-footing around in the Jackie O crypto-sphere. He's not the usual sniper in the Republican stage army, which is perhaps why such paid-up members as the New York Post's John Podhoretz have elected to play smart and trash the book, too. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that misogyny is a sure boomerang.

Kofi Annan, Served and Grilled

Thu, 16 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Spare a thought, in all his troubles, for Kofi Annan's official social life.

Fame Is No Excuse For the Rest of Us

Thu, 09 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Russell Crowe's rumble in the Mercer Hotel in New York this week suggests a possible new use for Neverland after the Jackson verdict is rendered. It could be refitted as a rehabilitation facility for stars, CEOs and ersatz billionaires afflicted with the classic symptoms of Narcissistic Celebrity Disorder.

Honor Thy Father

Thu, 02 Jun 2005 00:00:00 EDT

There's no such thing as a perfectly truthful memoir. Anyway, who would want one? Much of the interest in reading personal history is decoding what's real about a remembered life from the author's baggage of partial understanding or simmering resentment or wishful thinking.

It's Only Publicity Love

Thu, 26 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

As Tom Cruise's promotional campaign for his "romance" with baby-faced starlet Katie Holmes shifts into high gear, it's running into a brand-new PR problem: No one believes it's for real. Or, no one is prepared to pretend to believe it's for real.

It's Only Publicity Love

Thu, 26 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

As Tom Cruise's promotional campaign for his "romance" with baby-faced starlet Katie Holmes shifts into high gear, it's running into a brand-new PR problem: No one believes it's for real. Or, no one is prepared to pretend to believe it's for real.

Death by Error

Thu, 19 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

The Newsweek imbroglio, coming on the heels of the plagiarism epidemic in newspapers and the CBS National Guard fiasco, is another sharp sciatica pain in the media psyche, but unlike those other reputation-wreckers, this one comes with a body count.

The Which Blair Project

Thu, 05 May 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Until this week, Brits I spoke to in London seemed more excited about the reunion of Cream at Royal Albert Hall than about the election that will decide whether Tony Blair and Labor get a mandate for another five years. Being told every day that Blair would win a big majority cast the national mood into one of surly indifference.

Trapped in the Celebrity Web

Thu, 28 Apr 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Now that every celebrity has become a human home page, we are assailed by their brand extension at every turn. Each time Martha Stewart announces another new deal it makes me want to slip quietly away and take a nap. In addition to pretending to no longer run her magazine, television and merchandising empire, she has now committed to a 24-hour channel with Sirius satellite radio, a daily NBC-TV cooking show and a spinoff of "The Apprentice." Not content with this frenzy of rebirth, she has stirred up another feds flap -- this one by turning up at the Time 100 Most Influential People dinner at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Time Warner Center instead of staying tucked up at home in her 450-thread-count sheets and locator bracelet.

Reverence Gone Up in Smoke

Thu, 21 Apr 2005 00:00:00 EDT

"Secular and the City" is a weird show to be in at the moment. For those of us who came to Manhattan precisely because you're guaranteed never to meet anyone who has read the "Left Behind" series, America's much-celebrated spiritual revival can have its trying moments. The papal marathon of the past three weeks, though, had the paradoxical effect of making the non-born-againers among us feel a little less left out.

Grande Dames

Thu, 14 Apr 2005 00:00:00 EDT

At the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel luncheon celebrating the Matrix Awards for New York Women in Communications on Monday there was something so glorious about the confident roll of Oprah's behind in its tight couture suit as she powered up to the podium to present an award to Amy Gross, the editor in chief of O, the Oprah Magazine. "When I interviewed Amy," the queen of all media declared, "I knew right away she was a real woman, not an aging female." All the estrogen in the packed room seemed to answer with a collective hot flash of recognition.

From Caterpillar To Monarch Butterfly

Thu, 07 Apr 2005 00:00:00 EDT

LONDON According to the Daily Mirror, when Prince Charles learned that the pope's funeral had been scheduled for the same day as his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, he wailed, "Why me?"

Hungry Media Fill Up on Rice

Thu, 17 Mar 2005 00:00:00 EST

All the hype about Condi Rice's new rock-star persona is just because politics has lost its fizz. White House correspondents are bored. The newly self-infatuated bloggers are bored. There is no juice in the Social Security debate. Hence the sudden daft flurry of stories about a possible Hillary/Condi matchup in '08. In this Eros-deprived administration, it gives the Sunday morning news guys something to fantasize about: two girls going at it.

Michael Jackson's False Front?

Thu, 10 Mar 2005 00:00:00 EST

The strange thing about the Michael Jackson trial is that the supporting actors are more interesting than the star. The weirdness of the King of Pop is so overexposed that no new revelation can shock. Either Jackson is a complete lunatic who slept with young boys and didn't fondle them or he's a complete lunatic who slept with young boys and did.

Martha Stewart and the Pros of Being a Con

Thu, 03 Mar 2005 00:00:00 EST

The Jail Thing is working so well for Martha Stewart it may become the PR strategy of choice for other public figures who have run afoul of the image police.

No Plans for a Sequel

Thu, 06 Jan 2005 00:00:00 EST

Is it really too late for a comeback for Mike Ovitz? James B. Stewart's article in this week's New Yorker, packed with piquant new details, and Dominick Dunne's flavorsome diary of the Disney trial in the soon-to-be-out February Vanity Fair actually managed to make me feel some sympathy for Ovitz.

The Year of the Rats

Thu, 23 Dec 2004 00:00:00 EST

Two thousand and four was the year when malfeasance discovered niche marketing. There was something for everybody in the rap sheets. Sports fans had Kobe Bryant. Music fans had Michael Jackson. Park Avenue had Martha Stewart. Boardrooms had Conrad Black. Hollywood had Michael Eisner, Michael Ovitz and the shareholders of Disney facing off in Delaware over Ovitz's $140 million payoff.

Giuliani's Warped Reflection

Thu, 16 Dec 2004 00:00:00 EST

It turns out that all that Capitol Hill huffing and puffing for three weeks about how our mighty intelligence agencies should share information was irrelevant. They have no information to share, whether it's about Iran, Iraq -- or Bernie Kerik.

Diana, Still Full Of Surprises

Thu, 02 Dec 2004 00:00:00 EST

Every time Princess Diana's ghost returns for another haunting, as it did this week on NBC's "Dateline," our perceptions of her change. The only thing that stays the same is the revolving cast of clapped-out courtiers, posh lowlifes and fleabag turncoats who continue to cash in on her memory.

Those Post-Election, Pitiful Yankees, Big Apple Blues

Thu, 18 Nov 2004 00:00:00 EST

New Yorkers are feeling a severe case of heat withdrawal. They were used to being the red-hot center of American news and opinion. Suddenly they're flyover country, relics from a dying tribe, seedy and unloved. They are as forlorn as those fiery partisan books that once pulsed with an angry beat on the bestseller list and now linger on the remainder tables in Barnes & Noble.

Requiem In Blue

Thu, 04 Nov 2004 00:00:00 EST

In the next four years Democrats will look back on the heady afternoon of Nov. 2, 2004, with the kind of nostalgia they used to reserve for their honeymoons. It was a buoyant, sunny afternoon of the new Kerry administration and it felt as light and airy as it must for the women of Afghanistan when they first throw off their burqas.

Catching Election Fever, Be It Fahrenheit or Celsius

Thu, 28 Oct 2004 00:00:00 EDT

People tell each other they can't wait for the election to be over, but in the last days the suspense has become its own addiction. The big finish will be bigger than the last episode of "Friends," bigger than the finale of "The Apprentice," bigger than Mr. Big's reunion with Carrie.

An Election Process Deflated by Airheads

Thu, 21 Oct 2004 00:00:00 EDT

In the end this election is probably not going to turn on something important. The October surprise, the grand, explosive news finish everyone talks about, is less likely to close the deal than some dopey, misappropriated sound bite that cuts through to the undecided airheads. The Mary Cheney flap brought this home with a vengeance, as the latest Wall Street Journal poll showed with Kerry slipping in four battleground states after the third debate. The one thing a candidate can't do when looking for sly new ways to put the boot in is behave out of character. Never in a million years would the elegant, stentorian John Kerry lean across the dinner table and say, "So, Dick -- how's that LESBIAN daughter of yours?" -- let alone do the equivalent in front of 50 million people.

Slouching Toward Washington

Thu, 14 Oct 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Election tension is worse in New York now that John Kerry seems to have a chance of winning. It was almost easier when his was a sort of Children's Crusade with no one actually believing he would make it to Jerusalem.

In His Seat of Power, Cheney Stands His Ground

Thu, 07 Oct 2004 00:00:00 EDT

It was the giant armadillo vs. the baby cougar. The split screen wreaked its havoc on the Cheney-Edwards debate Tuesday night. If you'd been listening on the radio John Edwards would have won by a pencil, but in a 90-minute two-shot the gravitas gap was a problem for him.

Waiting for Kerry's Big Finish to Start

Thu, 30 Sep 2004 00:00:00 EDT

On the eve of the debates people are so on edge in New York that every gathering has become like a visit to the dentist. In this town of Democrats, Karl Rove's real or imagined brilliance has got people dangerously psyched out. Someone in a group always produces some new vulnerability of Kerry's to drill down on, some fresh tactical error to palpitate about.

Breaking the News, Then Becoming It

Thu, 23 Sep 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Are the media having a nervous breakdown?

Kitty Kelley, Derided And Delicious

Thu, 16 Sep 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Matt Lauer's opening one-on-one with Kitty Kelley on the "Today" show this week was an example of a new genre of TV journalism: the interview as Hells Angels initiation ceremony. After being smacked around, stomped on and having her leathers urinated on from a great height by Lauer, Kelley was then welcomed back for two consecutive mornings to plug her new doorstopper, "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty."

Time for Kerry to Change His Pitch

Thu, 09 Sep 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Does Bush have winner's luck? Just as Kerry launches his fall offensive with Cannonball Carville and other Clinton vets onboard, the wonder boy himself goes under the knife. One of the best campaigners in political history is suddenly benched.

The Democrats' Topical Depression

Thu, 02 Sep 2004 00:00:00 EDT

While Republicans just move on when they make mistakes, Democrats in New York go into therapy. It took no time at all for last week's righteous rage against the Bush campaign's stoking of the Swift Boat Veterans' smear campaign against John Kerry to morph into self-flagellation about the way the candidate is blowing it.

Old Warriors Giving Their Last, Worst Shot

Thu, 26 Aug 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Bob Dole's nasty swipe at John Kerry's war wounds this week made you understand why Viagra has been losing market share to Cialis. The sight of that bitter old face piling on to protest that Kerry did not bleed enough is instant detumescence.

The Governor Slips Out Under Cover of Gayness

Thu, 19 Aug 2004 00:00:00 EDT

New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey's gay declaration of independence, when he advanced downstage to muse about his inner turmoil, brought an oddly Shakespearean turn to the national soap opera. The difference is that when Shakespeare's Richard III goes on about what it's like to be a hunchback, he's talking only to himself. That's what a soliloquy is -- a character's inmost thoughts, overheard only by the audience. Whereas Jim McGreevey was cleansing his soul in front of all the other characters in the drama of a family and a state, including millions of strangers. His thoughts are no longer inmost. They're outmost.

Paranoia Sneaks Up On a Suspecting Electorate

Thu, 12 Aug 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Among New York Democrats there's a weird fatalism about John Kerry's chances in November. The city's mania to see the president routed does nothing to lift the mood of bullish defeatism. What you hear is that Bush will still win by a hair -- not because Kerry fails to rev the electorate's engine, but because "they" will "pull something."

Barack Obama, Shaking Up The Sound-Bite Culture

Thu, 05 Aug 2004 00:00:00 EDT

In the media-saturated Hamptons, the summer's poolside reading is emblematic of life in the 21st century: the 9/11 commission report and Us magazine. There doesn't seem much alternative to the daily diet of terror and trivia -- except for the lingering impact of Barack Obama, which continues to reverberate as the only bounce worth talking about.


Thu, 29 Jul 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Tina Brown is away. Her column will resume when she returns.

Unapologetic, Martha Is Left Holding the Bag

Thu, 22 Jul 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Martha Stewart's statements on the courthouse steps after her sentencing last Friday unleashed a whole new round of schadenfreude.

Looking for an Angel to Outfox Murdoch

Thu, 15 Jul 2004 00:00:00 EDT

If you hoped to get away from the U.S. political campaign this summer by going to London, forget about it. Right now in the United Kingdom, unless people are talking about soccer, it's all about Blair and Iraq -- and since Blair and Iraq are inextricably tied up with Bush and Iraq, this provides no vacation from rancor.

Democrats Warm To 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

Thu, 17 Jun 2004 00:00:00 EDT

After more than a week of round-the-clock Reaganolotry, New York was so ready for the rollout of Michael Moore's Bush-bashing movie. I mean really, really ready. There was such demand to get into a small screening at the Beekman Theatre on Monday night that executive producer and host Harvey Weinstein moved the celebrity crowd to the thousand-seat Ziegfeld Theatre. This was a canny PR move. There was only a one-week frenzy window between Gippermania and the pending Clinton memoir, and Weinstein flew right through it.

Dancing Into Hearts and History

Thu, 10 Jun 2004 00:00:00 EDT

One of Ronald Reagan's unsung achievements is that he saved Vanity Fair. By March 1985, I had been editor in chief for a year, but the glossy monthly that had been launched in a blaze of hype a year before and then belly-flopped under its first two editors was still in the throes of a severe identity crisis. We needed something big and we needed it fast, since Conde Nast Chairman S.I. Newhouse had just made it plain that we had only six more months to fool around before he kissed this money-losing turkey goodbye.

For Baby Boomers, Greatest Moments Disappeared in a New York Minute

Thu, 03 Jun 2004 00:00:00 EDT

The pileup of World War II ceremonies is causing an outbreak of Greatest Generation envy among the media baby boomers who are covering them. In her Sunday column in the New York Times, Maureen Dowd spoke wistfully of the "moral clarity" of World War II. In the Hamptons on Memorial Day weekend, most of the pundit class spent evenings arguing about exit strategies in Iraq and then beating a nostalgic retreat to watch "The Longest Day," "Patton" and "Saving Private Ryan."

Disaster, Waiting To Happen

Thu, 27 May 2004 00:00:00 EDT

It's not surprising the networks didn't air the president's speech on Monday. At last week's previews of the upcoming TV season, the big three revealed that they would cut back on summer reruns. And aside from the special-effects addition of blowing up Abu Ghraib prison, there were no more new ideas to be found in Bush's Iraq address than in an old episode of "The Bachelor."

Now and Then: A Hankering for History

Thu, 20 May 2004 00:00:00 EDT

History is hot. And not just because of Brad Pitt's flying thighs.

Images of Horror, Glimmerings of Hope

Thu, 13 May 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Ever since the first snapshots of the hooded, wired-up Iraqi on the box we were yearning for some powerful defining image of American goodness to expunge Abu Ghraib's postcards from hell. Instead, we got an image of unfathomable horror and helplessness: Nick Berg decapitated before our eyes. His slaughter happened three days before we saw it, but as he dies and dies again on the video his death will always be in real time.

'Friends,' Letting The Good Times Roll On and On

Thu, 06 May 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Since the finale of "Friends" has been declared a national day of mourning, I am trying to whip up an appropriately solemn sense of loss. If NBC can charge up to 2 million bucks for 30-second ad segments, there must be something more going on than the hope that the cast's Special Bond will survive, along with Joey's spinoff. After all, how nostalgic will we feel when "Fear Factor" or "I Want a Famous Face" eventually die their well-deserved deaths?

Taking the GOP Bait, Hook, Line and Stinker

Thu, 29 Apr 2004 00:00:00 EDT

There was a surreal moment at a serious Manhattan dinner party Tuesday night when 12 power players who had all been talking at once about the mess in Iraq suddenly fell silent to listen to the waiter. He dove in shortly after he had served the coconut cake with lemon dessert -- perhaps to give moral support to the only Republican present, who was beginning to flag. Or perhaps he just thought it might be helpful for the guests to hear from one of the Ordinary Americans whose unhappiness with the status quo they are in the habit of earnestly invoking.

Bucks Without the Buzz: Democrats' Sedate Party

Thu, 22 Apr 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Democrats in New York are bummed that when they raised $6.5 million for Sen. John Kerry in a single night last week at the gala fundraiser at the Sheraton New York (and $2.5 million more for the Democratic National Committee at a breakfast the next day), their triumphant blowout garnered hardly a line of ink or an instant of prime time.

At Bush & Co., No Threat Of a Pink Slip

Thu, 15 Apr 2004 00:00:00 EDT

Maybe part of the thrill of hearing Donald Trump utter the words "You're fired" on "The Apprentice" has to do with the fact that in public life no one ever seems to get canned. What are the chances of seeing Paul Wolfowitz trundling his wheelie bag out of the Pentagon for being wrong about Ahmed Chalabi and WMD? Or John Ashcroft admitting manfully that after his failure to take terrorism seriously it was only right for him to get the boot?

Granddaddies of Rock-and-Roll

Thu, 18 Mar 2004 00:00:00 EST

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction gig at New York's Waldorf-Astoria on Monday night (to be televised Sunday), it was a frisson to see rickety heroes such as Keith Richards, who was disintegrating into his dinner seat in a rainbow bandanna and chewed-up sneakers -- cred incarnate. Thirty years down the road, the obsession is not how hot they look but how coolly they've aged.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Defendants

Thu, 11 Mar 2004 00:00:00 EST

The Martha Stewart verdict sent another chill through the chastened world of post-Enron America.

Scared Boring: Hollywood's Timid Streak

Thu, 04 Mar 2004 00:00:00 EST

Everyone has trashed the soporific Oscar show this year, but what can you expect from the new tippy-toe culture in which no one can risk being controversial? One false move and you might unleash a fiery "Eventoid" -- a media cataclysm that at any moment can streak down from the sky like a rogue asteroid to obliterate your reputation, your earning capacity, or both.

A Welcome Diversion for Democrats

Thu, 26 Feb 2004 00:00:00 EST

Jon Bon Jovi's last big gig was in front of 70,000 people at Giants Stadium, but on Monday night in Manhattan he was playing a dining room.

Girls' Night Out: The True Joy of 'Sex'

Thu, 19 Feb 2004 00:00:00 EST

As the HBO hit "Sex and the City" builds to its four-handkerchief finale Sunday after six estrogen-soaked seasons, I've gotten addicted all over again.

Meanie Martha Made a Mess

Thu, 12 Feb 2004 00:00:00 EST

Among women I know in Manhattan, the stock on Martha Stewart's reputation has been trading downward again.

Stress Test: The Candidates With Staying Power

Thu, 05 Feb 2004 00:00:00 EST

When Joe Lieberman got voted off the island Tuesday night, it was a relief to say goodbye to that mild, admonishing fist. There comes a point when humiliation is excruciating to watch. Or as Bob Dole commented to Larry King, time to remember that old W.C. Fields line -- if at first you don't succeed, try, try again and then give up.

First Lady Contenders Who Are Women First

Thu, 29 Jan 2004 00:00:00 EST

The wives of the Democratic candidates have been something of a visual relief to those of us who have overdosed on fabulousness. Enough of the long, waxed legs of the Oscars and the silk-sheathed golden globes of the Golden Globes, enough of Paris, Nicole, J. Lo and Jennifer. Here come the worthy women of politics.

Not Putting Their Money Where His Mouth Is

Thu, 22 Jan 2004 00:00:00 EST

The ebbing of Howard Dean was a palpable relief to most of New York's big Democratic donors. "We are alive!" one leading fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee exulted the morning after Iowa. "I've finally got a product I can work with," was the way John Kerry fundraiser Toni Goodale put it.

Paul O'Neill, Odd Duck Out of Water

Thu, 15 Jan 2004 00:00:00 EST

Former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill has chosen to tell his story about his two unhappy years in the Bush Cabinet in a form that's as weird as he is: the Third Person Memoir.

The Real Reality Show: An '80s Survivor

Thu, 08 Jan 2004 00:00:00 EST

You would think in the age of 9/11 that no one could be more beside the point than Donald Trump. Yet tonight he gets to dust off his act again, playing his cartoonish self in a new reality show, "The Apprentice," in which a bunch of out-of-town entrepreneur-wannabes compete to work for him.

A Month Full of Dates With Destiny

Thu, 01 Jan 2004 00:00:00 EST

January is the month when the other shoe drops. The news that the Bush administration just got itself a special prosecutor -- a man described as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard law degree and a sense of humor" -- to investigate the Valerie Plame leak is just another cause for people in power to sing "O Crappy Day!" as the new year rolls around.

Tough Time For Democrats

Thu, 18 Dec 2003 00:00:00 EST

The night before the announcement of Saddam's capture (round about the time that the tyrant was having a flashlight shone up his nose) I was at a media-heavy Manhattan dinner party that vividly dramatized the pre-spider hole mood. The guests -- mostly Democrats, with a smattering of moderate Republicans -- were unanimously kissing off Bush. It had been a particularly obnoxious week for a crowd that favors a more metrosexual approach to foreign relations: The Pentagon had displayed its upraised middle finger to France, Germany and Russia just as James Baker was due to leave for the Continent to romance the Euros into forgiving Iraq's debt. From appetizer to espresso, the guests bemoaned the administration's crudeness, incompetence and dangerous lack of diplomatic finesse.

Paris Hilton, in an Age Beyond Embarrassment

Thu, 11 Dec 2003 00:00:00 EST

The success of society babe Paris Hilton's reality TV show "The Simple Life," hard on the heels of the bootleg porn tape showing her steamily in flagrante delicto with her dirtbag then-boyfriend Rick Solomon, proves once again there is no such thing as bad press. We live in the post-embarrassment age. New promotional and marketing offers are pouring in for Paris, and a sequel (to the Fox series, not the sex tape) is in the works. Today, if some private sex act of yours winds up on the Internet, the only appropriate response is: How did I look?