OWN Rearranges the Deck Chairs; Malia Obama's Redacted Spring Break
Also: Gwyneth Paltrow insists she knows how to write a cookbook.
Welcome to the Smart Set: Oprah's OWN network axes one-fifth of staff, the coverage of Malia Obama's spring break trip to Mexico appeared and disappeared, and Gwyneth Paltrow insists she wrote her cookbook all by herself.
Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network cut loose 30 staffers on Monday, roughly one-fifth of its workforce. In addition to the layoffs, the network also "restructured its network operations in Los Angeles and New York," and added Neal Kirsch, a longtime Discovery executive, to upper management. He'll now serve as chief operating officer and chief financial officer at OWN and report to Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, who Oprah named as presidents during the last OWN reshuffling just eight months ago. Monday's news followed the announcement Friday that OWN had cancelled Rosie O'Donnell's The Rosie Show after six months, multiple format changes, and backstage drama between O'Donnell and her production team. When The Daily Beast asked a former Rosie Show staffer for an assessment of what it was like to work on the show, the unnamed staffer was blunt: "It was a f------ hellhole." [The Washington Post and The Daily Beast]
The AFP ran with a story Monday mentioning that Malia Obama was "vacationing in Oaxaca, Mexico, along with a number of friends and 25 Secret Service agents." Completely inoffensive, but also kind of tacit violation of the media- politician "My kids have the right to a private life when they're doing things out in the public eye" bargain. The story of Malia's spring break was promptly "picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as UK publications like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph." By Monday evening, the majority of those stories were down. The original AFP story "links to a story titled 'Senegal music star Youssou Ndour hits campaign trail,' as does the Yahoo page," while The Huffington Post page "links directly back to the Huffington Post homepage." As for The Daily Mail, Telegraph, and The Australian, those stories "now lead to 404 error pages, reading 'page not found." A version of the International Business Times story on the spring fling can be found here. The Obama White House and reps from the various news agencies have yet to respond for comment about what prompted the potential beach week spiking. [Politico]
Duck bacon enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow has taken to Facebook to let the world know she did not enlist the services of a ghostwriter on her 2011 cookbook My Father's Daughter. That runs contrary to the version of events given last week in a New York Times essay about the sometimes hard-scrabble literary life of the cookbook ghostwriter by Julia Moskin, who claimed that a writer named Julia Turshen worked in "collaboration" with Paltrow on the 2011 title, and apparently will soon be starting work on a second book with the actress. Paltrow suggests Moskin's "facts need checking," and claims she wrote "every word" of the cookbook. Both accounts do seem like they could be kind of right, and hinge mainly on semantic points about the difference between ghostwriting, collaborating, and just hanging around and helping out. In the author's acknowledgements section of My Father's Daughter, Paltrow praises, "the tireless, artful assistance of Julia Turshen, who stood over my shoulder at the stove and chopping block for the better part of a year, bringing a method to my freestyling madness," which certainly makes Turshen sound like a valuable member of the team, though not exactly Paltrow's Nom de Viking Range. Page Six notes previous articles about the book have credited Turshen as Paltrow's "kitchen assistant," which seems fair enough. [Facebook and Page Six]
May 25. That's going to be Beyoncé's first live show since giving birth to registered trademark Blue Ivy Carter. The performance is part of a trio of shows the singer has booked for Atlantic City over Memorial Day. Fans should be delighted, as long as they don't accidentally stumble into a roofer's conference, instead of the Revel Resort nightclub. [New York Post]
It sounds like Robert De Niro turned in his least mailed-in performance since Jackie Brown last night during a fundraiser at his Tribeca restaurant Locanda Verde, with First Lady Michelle Obama on-hand as the guest of honor. America's greatest living actor even did a little pre-planned bit, telling the crowd in the restaurant's back room. "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" At which point somebody apparently yelled "No!" and De Niro responded, "Too soon, right?" Hi-larious. Tickets for the 85-person event cost $5,000 and benefitted the Obama Victory Foundation. Other boldfaced names in attendance included Ben Stiller, Gayle King, Harvey Weinstein, Beyoncé Knowles, Whoopi Goldberg, Star Jones and Angela Bassett. [Politico]
There's a rumor making the rounds that Jennifer Aniston spends $8,000 a month on various unguents, pumice stones and free-range lip gloss, in order to continue looking like the Jennifer Aniston Americans adored on TV and haven't really given much thought to in movies. According to the actress, the $8,000 monthly makeup tab is way off. “Although I am a sucker for an amazing moisturizer, love a great facial, have been using the same cleansing bar since I was a teenager and have always been a dedicated tooth-brusher," she told People, "reports that I am spending eight thousand a month on a beauty regime are greatly exaggerated." So what's a more accurate number? "By my tally,” Aniston, “this month I’m in for about two hundred bucks." More reasonable, though we'd note that is still quite a bit of cheddar and the month is only a little more than halfway done. [People]
It seems that Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hartnett have been "quietly dating" since January and are just now letting the world know about it. You who we bet feels silly today? The Los Angeles broker who "pulled the plug" on his casual romance with Seyfried back in early February, pre-Valentine's Day. Because not only is he now not dating Amanda Seyfried, it turns out she might have liked Josh Hartnett more this entire time. Crisis of confidence could be looming for that broker. [Us Weekly]
Politico media reporter Keach Hagey is headed for The Wall Street Journal, where she'll join the media desk as a reporter starting in mid-April. According to The Journal's internal memo, Hagey will "cover newspapers, magazines and online news media." She'll be joined on the media desk by John Jannarone, who will cover "major media companies" after moving over from the paper's "Heard on the Street" column. According to Capital New York's Joe Pompeo, Russell Adams -- who has been covering the media beat for The Journal since 2008 -- is "moving over to the markets desk, where he recently accepted a job as an editor." [Capital]
According to Politico's Mike Allen, the "4,600-word inside-the-room narrative by The Washington Post on Sunday" about the collapse of the debt ceiling negotiations last summer written by Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown arrived when it did in order to try and "preempt [a] NYT Mag tick-tock on [the] grand bargain" that Matt Bai is working on. [Playbook]
C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb is stepping down from the top post at the public-affairs cable juggernaut he created back in 1979, effective at the end of the month. His longtime deputies, Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain will take over as co-chief chairmen effective April 1. Lamb will remain with the network as "executive chairman," and continue to host the Sunday night interview program Q&A. Those interviewed about the departure emphasized such a move had been in the works for some time and that the decision was made completely by Lamb, who is 70. Monday marked the 33 anniversary of the first C-Span broadcast. [The New York Times]