Jewish World Review June 4, 2004 / 15 Sivan, 5764
Gwyneth gets hers in the U.K.; lost and found in translation; ladies who lunch and the men they won't eat with; more
NEW YORK When told she'd have to party with inkstained wretches, did screen-teen Scarlett Johansson pitch a diva-worthy hissy fit?
It sure seemed so Thursday morning, when I was abruptly disinvited from that night's launch festivities, hosted by the 19-year-old "Lost in Translation" starlet, for the new Calvin Klein fragrance "Eternity Moment."
This was after being aggressively wooed for more than a week by the party's PR firm, Harrison & Shriftman, to come, please come, to the roof of the Hotel Gansevoort and join "confirmed attendees" Lauren Bush, Lorne Michaels and Topher Grace.
But then came that slap in the face.
"I am so sorry but . . . they are not allowing anyone up in the party," a PR type e-mailed. "Scarlett really just wants to enjoy herself so they are now just telling me that press has to basically get what they need on the red carpet."
On the phone, the party publicist confirmed: "Scarlett just wants to hang out and do her thing."
So who gets to go?
"Only media elite."
Ouch. It's not like I was asking to ride the elevator with her.
I was stewing about all this, and nursing a bruised ego, when Johansson's personal publicist phoned in to relate a completely different story.
"None of this is coming from Scarlett," Marcel Pariseau insisted. "We have someone from The New York Times, ET, Access, Us Weekly, etc. We're proud of this (Calvin Klein) campaign, and we want to speak to the press."
So how did this column get the shaft?
"There were four people from the (New York) Daily News covering the same event," Pariseau explained, "Decisions were made to allow one person. It wasn't my choosing I just said narrow it down to one. And that one person was Baird Jones."
After being informed that Webster Hall curator Jones, though a very good fellow, isn't on staff here, Pariseau immediately re-instated this column's invite. And Harrison & Shriftman offered a whole new scenario.
"This had to do with capacity issues more than anything else," the PR type explained.
MICHAEL WOLFF'S ADVENTURES IN JOURNALISM
Vanity Fair media columnist Michael Wolff is an eloquent critic of "off the record" especially when the practice is abused by public figures at semi-public events.
"There is an enormous amount of off the record quote-unquote that's complete bulls -," he recently argued to Women's Wear Daily. "It's people whose interest is their own agenda, it's people who are manipulating journalists."
But when it comes to his own speeches, Wolff follows a different rule: Don't do as I do; do as I say (but don't say what I said).
Wolff asked that his May 17 appearance in Evanston, Ill., at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism for a lecture titled, "The Self-Referential Press: Reporting on the Media" be off the record.
The student-written Medill News recounted: "Some audience members said they were taken aback by Wolff's request . . . " The story added pointedly: "Wolff reviewed this piece prior to granting permission for its publication by Medill."
On Thursday, Wolff told me that when he speaks to journalism students, he frequently asks that his remarks be off the record.
"I give them the choice: If I can go off the record, I can be more spontaneous and I can talk about all the obvious suspects in a more humorous way," he explained. "But if not, I can stick to the script."
But David Abrahamson, Medill's Helen Gurley Brown Research Professor of Journalism, recalled that Wolff was pretty insistent. "He wanted it to be off the record."
Medill News reporter Malika Bilal, 20, told me: "I was surprised that this was an off the record public speech. I tried to kind of hide from him that I was taking notes. I was told to write the story anyway, but I didn't put in the juiciest things. He did a lot of name-dropping, but I don't even remember the names."
Bilal didn't learn that her story was cleared with Wolff until after publication. "I was definitely surprised by that," she said, adding that only a couple of words were changed.
"Maybe it's because I'm a novice journalist and unlettered, but I just didn't understand."
Bilal is not alone.
THE FUR FLIES: Monday is going to be a day of decidedly mixed emotions for fashionista Donna Karan. Good: She's picking up a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Bad: She's being targeted for using animal fur in her clothing designs by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Those PETA zealots are staging a noon protest (complete with a huge photo of a baby seal being clubbed and the caption "Karan's Killer Look") in front of DK's flagship store on Madison Ave. No comment Thursday from the Karan camp.
LADIES WHO LUNCH AND THE MEN THEY WON'T EAT WITH: Prevention magazine is hosting a for-women-only luncheon next Thursday for pregnant-with-twins CNN "American Morning" anchor Soledad O'Brien, the mag's July cover girl. Among the invited guests at Lever House will be O'Brien's mom and her pal Katie Couric but not O'Brien's husband, Brad Raymond, not her co-anchor, Bill Hemmer and not me. Female chauvinist piggies? "C'mon you never heard of a ladies lunch?" O'Brien chided. But what's up with the double standard? "Let me put it this way, I can't think off the top of my head of any men's lunch I'd want to get into."
PLEASE, PLEASE, BE TRUE: The British gossip site popbitch.com has this irresistible item: "Gwyneth Paltrow was in the papers yesterday at a London restaurant for the first time since the birth of Apple. What the photos didn't tell was her conversation with the doorman as she entered the room. Gwyneth: "I don't want to be recognised at all. I'm feeling fat and ugly at the moment."
Doorman: "I don't think you'll have a problem. I have no idea who you are."
Alas, Paltrow flack Stephen Huvane insisted Thursday: "I just spoke with Gwyneth. This never happened. It is completely 100 percent fabricated."
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate