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Posts Tagged ‘John Connolly’

The Dubious Beginnings of The National Enquirer

In terms of seed financing, Harvey Levin, the late Jim Paratore and Warner Bros./Telepictures have nothing on The National Enquirer.

When The New York Enquirer was purchased in 1952, it was a modest 17,000-circulation broadsheet favored by amateur horse racing handicappers. It would later, after a move to Florida, become the precursor to the modern era of celebrity news and gossip reporting. In a fantastic feature article in DuJour magazine, John Connolly shockingly reveals where some of the original funding came from:

For decades, rumors have swirled about the purchase price — placing it between $10,000 and $75,000 — and [owner Generoso] Pope Jr.‘s source of funds. According to exclusive interviews for DuJour magazine with former employees, the money came from two men: a $10,000 loan from Pope’s godfather, Frank Costello, the boss of the Luciano crime family and head of a national gambling empire, and an equal amount from the lawyer Roy Cohn, a friend of Pope’s who had helped convict Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and was soon to gain notoriety as counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy.

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Tory Burch’s Ex Dines With Ron Perelman; Kelly Bensimon Goes Back to School

1003_mockup.gifAs much as we’d like to, we can’t deliver dish from Oscar winners (Shirley MacLaine) and supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha and Karolina Kurkova) every week. After a head-spinning cycle of chats with A-listers, the celebrity quotient at Michael’s was of the low-wattage variety today with reality television refugee Kelly Killoren Bensimon and comedian Robert Wuhl representing the famous (infamous?) contingent. We suspect after the Academy Awards and most schools’ winter breaks are over next week, things will be back to the usual Fellini-esque circus at 55th and Fifth.

I was joined today by SELF vice president and publisher Laura McEwen and the magazine’s director of public relations, Lauren Theodore. It was a fortuitously timed lunch (isn’t it always?), because the newly reinvigorated title is on a roll. Even before our lunch, the colorful cover of the March issue featuring starlet of the moment Julianne Hough caught my eye. It turns out, the issue debuted a new, more “extroverted” all-black logo which seems to capture the forward motion of the Conde Nast title perfectly. Since its launch in 1979, the magazine has been the bible for young fitness-focused women. Now, says Laura, the title has stepped up its mission and embraced a more encompassing philosophy of “Body/Looks/Life.”  ”They are all inseparable today,” explains Laura. “When it first launched, SELF started a movement but now it’s a way of life that has gone mainstream.”

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Henry Kravis, John Huey & Kim Kardashian’s BFF

1003_mockup.gifThe usual suspects were (mostly) present and accounted for at Michael’s today. The people watching parade included the money men (Henry Kravis), entertainment moguls (Richard Plepler), and social types (Binky Urban) with the random reality show curiosity (Kardashian sidekick Jonathan Cheban) thrown in for good measure.  You were expecting a Real Housewife again, were you? Sorry, we just can’t deliver a Bravolebrity every week.

I was thrilled when Atria Book’s founder and publisher Judith Curr invited me to lunch, since I’ve long been a fan of the  Simon & Schuster imprint. Next year marks Atria’s 10th anniversary, and Judith has plenty of big things lined up for the 80 books she’ll publish in 2012. “It’s our birthday, but ‘the reader’ gets all the presents,” she told me. I’ll say.

Since launching Atria in 2002 with Marlo Thomas‘ runaway best seller, The Right Words at the Right Time, Judith has been the guiding force behind many books  that tapped into the zeitgeist. It was Judith who brought Rhonda Byrne‘s The Secret into the cultural lexicon and helped it sell 20 million copies worldwide in 51 languages. In March, she’ll publish Byrne’s latest, The Magic, which takes readers on a 28-day personal discovery based on the power of gratitude. “I’m up to Day 10,” she told me, explaining that Byrne instructs readers to write down 10 things to be thankful for on a daily basis and to use recitation and affirmations to bring all good things into their lives. “It’s working for me!” she said. We can’t wait to read it.

Diane Clehane & Judith Carr
Diane Clehane & Judith Curr

Curr’s love of all things books extends to how one looks (“They should be gorgeous!”) and to how a story should resonate with readers. Having worked for Christian Dior in public relations and marketing in her native Australia before landing her first job in publishing in 1996 for Bantam Doubleday Dell, aesthetics have always been a key element in the packaging of her titles. She arrived at lunch today with a copy of the just out Culo By Mazzucco, a stunning tome with over 200 photographs and works of art by Raphael Mazzucco celebrating the female form. Never one to rely on looks alone, Judith also made sure the book had an interesting and headline making point of view. To wit: Culo is edited by Jimmy Iovine and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

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Scientology Might Have a Spy Working Within New York Media

John Cook, writing for The New York Observer, has a very interesting piece today that alleges John Connolly – a former NYPD detective turned journalist, who has written for Vanity Fair, Gawker, and The Daily Beast – is a paid informant for the Church of Scientology.

The claims come from two previously high ranking members (they both defected) of the church: Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder. Supposedly Connolly has been using his reporter credentials to pump other media members for information on anything they were going to write regarding Scientology.

Rathbun says that Connolly has been working for the church for almost 20 years, and Rinder supported that claim to Cook:

Rinder, who was responsible for, in church parlance, ‘handling’ the news media, corroborates Rathbun’s account. ‘Connolly was a resource to deal with media problems,’ he told me. ‘Ingram [an L.A. private investigator with links to the church] used to tout Connolly’s virtues pretty often—’Connolly can handle this; he’ll find out what’s going on and he’s got lines into all media.’

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Lunch: Hoda Kotb, Dan Abrams & George Stephanopoulos Brave the St. Pat’s Crowds

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The hardcore Michael’s regulars weren’t about to let a little thing like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade get in the way of their power lunch today. After a slow start, the dining room filled up nicely with plenty of media mavens and talking heads. The Today show’s Hoda Kotb was among the first to arrive and looked smashing in her emerald floral sheath by Adrienne Papel. “I’m meeting Dan Abrams, but he’s coming from downtown so I hope he makes it,” said Hoda, having made her way through the few thousand extra people clogging up the sidewalks on the East Side.

With Kathie Lee Gifford on vacation this week, Hoda has been enjoying something of a television time warp with her guest co-hosts. On Monday, she was joined by Beverly Hills 90210‘s resident good guy Jason Priestley, Growing Pains‘s Kirk Cameron came by on Tuesday, and his TV dad Alan Thicke was today’s blast from the past. “Tomorrow, Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid is coming in and Friday it’s Andrew Shue. I’m having a lot of fun.” Turns out Hoda is something of a sitcom aficionado and can easily reel off her TV favorites from days gone by: “I loved Growing Pains, Who’s The Boss, Rhoda, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We could have talked about iconic TV hits forever, but luckily Dan did make it uptown and lunch went on as planned.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. This year’s “Kelly Gang” contingent: New York Post‘s media man Keith Kelly with a table full of revelers, including Jim Kelly, Tom Kelly, and Kelly Delaney.

2. George Stephanopoulos and David Anton. I caught George on his way to his table to ask who he thought should take his Sunday morning seat. “I don’t know!” he said with a smile and dashed off before I could get in a follow-up.

3. Margo McNabb Nederlander and another stylish blonde gal we didn’t recognize

4. Hoda Kotb and Dan Abrams

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Can Starr Get Jeffrey Epstein Off? John Connolly In Radar

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John Connolly reports in Radar that Kenneth Starr is rushing to the aid of beleaguered billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. And why? Here’s why:

He was arrested last year and documents were revealed that detailed Epstein’s alleged private prostitution ring, in which he’d pay high school girls as young as 14 an average of $300 a pop for erotic massages while he fondled them and masturbated into a towel, often employing the use of brightly colored sex toys.

Will Starr use his powerful connections to get Epstein sprung from the Palm Beach pokey?