The Fix

Rocco DiSpirito on his dispirited mother, Bob Dylan boosts sales at Victoria's Secret, and Rupert Murdoch embraces America.

Salon Staff
April 6, 2004 5:36PM (UTC)

Afternoon Briefing:

Food fight: Celeb chef and restaurateur Rocco DiSpirito on his ongoing battle with his partners (China Grill Management) in Rocco's on 22nd Street (he just filed a countersuit against them yesterday): "My family and I put our souls into Rocco's. It was like a rebirth for my mother at 79. She spent the day crying in the corner when I got the court papers." (N.Y. Times)


The times sure are a-changin': For some reason Bob Dylan agreed to sing his song "Love Sick" in a Victoria's Secret television ad as a model parades around Venice in bra and panties. A spokesman for V.S. says that it's been running for a week and already sales are up. (NBC 5)

Rupert hits the Street: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who became an American citizen in 1985) has announced that he will make the News Corp. -- one of the world's three largest media companies -- an American company and will have its main listing on the New York Stock Exchange. He'll still list it on the Australian exchange as well. Murdoch says he thinks the stock has been valued less than comparable stocks such as Disney and Time Warner because investors see the News Corp. as a foreign entity. (The Australian)

He's taking his ciggies and going home: Ronald Harwood, Oscar winner for "The Pianist" screenplay, says he won't direct his play "The Dresser" in Winnipeg, Canada, because of its strict no-smoking laws. Said Harwood, "I had no intention of allowing myself to be forced out into the street in winter to partake of one of my great pleasures." (Ananova)


-- Karen Croft

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Last week's mysterious press release -- "A Major New Investigation Into the Suspicious Death of a Rock Star" -- didn't leave much doubt about whom publisher Simon and Schuster was referring to; the phrases "timed perfectly for a key anniversary" and "the book exposes the extraordinary behavior of a current superstar" weren't exactly brain-teasers. And since the publisher's planned press conference was set for Monday -- what is believed to be the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death (his body was found on the April 8, 1994, but he had died several days before) -- everyone who showed up already knew it would be Max Wallace and Ian Halperin speaking about their new book, "Love and Death." Though most of the tension was sapped from the event after "Dateline" ran a story on the book last Friday, there was still a healthy mob of print, radio and TV journalists there, perhaps hoping Courtney Love would show up and start tossing mike stands.


The conference itself featured the standard address by the authors and a Q&A period at the end, but also a video of Kurt Cobain's grandfather, Leland Cobain, saying he believes Cobain was murdered, and taped phone conversations between Courtney Love and her erstwhile private investigator Tom Grant. The press conference was just one stop of many on the book's P.R. train, timed in the most obvious way possible. Besides "Dateline," they've been on the "Today" show, "Catherine Crier Live" and "Paula Zahn Now," and at Monday's event there were reporters from outlets as various as the New York Times, MTV News and El Mundo. As Wallace said, "It would be disingenuous to suggest that we didn't time the book to come out now."

But for all the hype surrounding the book, most of the evidence it claims to present is old news, and can be found speculated upon all over the Web, and even in their first book on the subject, "Who Killed Kurt Cobain?" That book received mixed reviews, from "Halperin and Wallace have written a very good and interesting book" (Booklist) and "a judicious presentation of explosive material" (New Yorker) to "much of what's presented here is wispy" (Publisher's Weekly) and "this is a book about suspicion, implication, possibility. They write that their intent is, simply, to get the case reopened. It might prove interesting if it were" (Boston Globe).


What is new are the tapes that Grant -- whom Love had hired to help find Cobain after he escaped from a drug rehab center just before he died -- has finally released, tapes in which Love talks about the possibility of divorce and other "extremely damning" topics. In a grainy version of her recognizable alto, we hear her fretting over money and talking about Cobain's earlier overdose in Rome, which was later seen as a suicide attempt. Both the authors and Grant, who was also present at the press conference, referred ominously to other, as-yet-unreleased tapes with even more troubling conversations, which will only come out, they said, in the event that the case is reopened.

In a statement that Grant read to members of the press, he asked for the case to be opened again based on his tapes, and ended with a plea directly aimed at Love: "Why not, Courtney? What would it hurt? How could this uncomplicated request do anything except help you move on with your life and career?" At the same time, the authors went out of their way to say they're not pointing fingers. "We're not saying, 'We have proof that she did it,' we just want her to clear a few things up," said Wallace.

The first question from reporters was whether any of the three have received threats. They all said they had.


-- Scott Lamb

Turn On
With only five episodes left, "Frasier" (9 pm EDT; NBC) continues to run up its guest-star tab, tonight featuring Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart, and Jennifer Tilly. The Discovery Channel continues its excellent series with "Animal Face-Off: Lion vs. Tiger" (9 pm EDT; Discovery) -- our vote goes to the lion, who, according to the Discovery Web site, can "run over 35 mph for short distances and leap up to 40 feet in a single bound."

-- S.L.


Morning Briefing:
Mr. Formality: At a press conference on Iraq and the 9/11 commission, President Bush snapped at an Associated Press reporter who failed to address him as "Mr. President." "Sir, in regard to --" began the A.P. journo, who was interrupted mid-query by Bush. "Who are you talking to?" asked the president, prompting the reporter to stammer out "Mr. President" and Matt Drudge to label Bush "cranky." (Official transcript is here. Audio, courtesy of Drudge, is here.)

Big winner: Jennifer Lopez's mother, Guadalupe Lopez, won a $2.4 million jackpot when she slipped $3 into a "Wheel of Fortune" slot machine at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City on Saturday, making her the biggest slot machine winner since the casino opened last year. "It was divine intervention," Guadalupe Lopez said. (N.Y. Daily News)

JFKZzzzzz: In the May issue of Vanity Fair, Sally Bedell Smith reports that Jackie Kennedy was less than satisfied in the sack during her marriage to John F. Kennedy. "He just goes too fast and falls asleep," she reportedly told a doctor friend of hers, who prescribed foreplay. "Nobody had ever talked to her this way," the friend, Dr. Frank Finnerty, recalls. (Page Six)

Fightin' words: Howard Stern has accused Jay Leno of using canned laughter to sweeten the effect of his jokes. "Jay, and I'm not sure for how long now, but for a while, is using a laugh track," Stern told his listeners on Friday. "I know it for a fact. They have to sweeten Jay's laughs 'cause his monologue's so g-damn lame." (Page Six)


Money Quotes:
Bill O'Reilly on radio these days: "It's worse than TV. The ghost of Joseph Goebbels haunts most radio talk stations, and the music people should all be in jail." (N.Y. Daily News)

-- Amy Reiter

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