Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2003 / 10 Kislev, 5764
The knives are out; Who's sorry now?; JWR in the news
NEW YORK NEW YORK Is the young whippersnapper of New York's power-lunch world finally getting to the old codger?
It certainly sounds that way from this column's chat yesterday with Julian Niccolini, managing partner of the 44-year-old Four Seasons Restaurant.
The subject was his tooth-and-nail competition for high-spending moguls and celebs on expense accounts with the folks who run the 100-day-old Lever House Restaurant a block away.
When asked about the rivalry, Niccolini burst into peels of disdainful laughter.
Why was this man laughing?
"I laugh because it's incredible that nowadays Lever House is associated with The Four Seasons," he answered. "We don't have the same clientele. I'm just very surprised to hear 'power lunch' and the two names together. What anything that's within 15 feet of The Four Seasons is a power lunch?"
Niccolini added: "I've never been there for lunch. I've been to Michael's and that is definitely a power scene."
But that didn't stop Niccolini from giving this assessment of the typical Lever House lunch: "It's the same people all over and over. Boring, boring, boring. The same faces all the time.
"Honestly, I'm not trying to start anything. I respect those people," Niccolini went on. "I'm not worried about Lever House."
Lever House owner John McDonald responded: "That wouldn't surprise me that he said that. I think we've always said that their crowd is their crowd. This has a more youthful spin and a more contemporary state of mind. It's very diversified and there is a sense of youth and excitement. They are so established, we are new. . . . The irony, I guess, is they are saying that we have the same faces over and over, but I'm assuming they have the same people every day sitting in the same table. I would assume that's the goal to establish a clientele."
McDonald stressed: "In no way do I mean to start anything that's theirshtick: they are Old World, we are New."
WHO'S SORRY NOW?
In the venerable tradition of Emily Litella, Susan Estrich said something like "Never mind!" Thursday when challenged on the premise of her latest syndicated column an impassioned attack on Hollywood liberal Laurie David for allegedly putting "Hate Bush" on an e-mailed invitation.
Estrich is a University of Southern California Law School professor and Fox News commentator who gained fame in 1988 as losing Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis' campaign manager.
Litella, of course, was the late Gilda Radner's "Saturday Night Live" character who delivered ranting, fist-pounding editorials on "Weekend Update," only to back down immediately when told that she had misheard a central point.
Thus Estrich scorched David, the organizer of this week's celeb-studded, closed-door Democratic strategy session at the Beverly Hilton, for hurting Democrats everywhere by sending "an e-mail forwarding invites to the 'Hate Bush 12-2 Event.'"
"Who is Laurie David?" Estrich demanded in her column. "In news clips, she is identified as Larry David's wife. Who is Larry David? He's the star of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' Maybe his wife should curb hers. It is only helping Republicans."
But Estrich promptly changed direction when made aware of an item in our Tuesday column, which concluded that David wasn't to blame. Indeed, a man with a different e-mail address from David's, and no apparent connection to her, identified himself as the culprit.
"My apologies to Ms. David if she was not in fact the individual who was so foolishly sabotaging the Democratic effort," Estrich wrote me. "Somebody was."
BAD MARRIAGE?: Angry conservatives are apparently up in arms over this week's report on the Jewish World Review Web site that a religious coalition against gay marriage including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman's Orthodox rabbi, Barry Freundel, and Rabbi Marc Gellman, who appeared regularly on "Good Morning America" as a member of the so-called God Squad has links to the Islamic Society of North America.
The group is described by terrorism expert Steve Emerson as "a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation."
But I hear that the conservatives are mad at the Web site, not the coalition. Editor in chief Binyamin Jolkovsky tells me more than 100 faithful readers angry that JWR would publish a piece critical of conservatives of any stripe have canceled their subscriptions.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate