Dope Peddler

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts.

What indie film star best-known for her leading role in an Oscar-nominated movie about the assumption of another’s identity is now so coked-out that producers won’t even look at her for off-Broadway parts?

Rushdie’s take on the cartoon controversy

In the midst of the controversy at this paper and others over whether or not to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, we bumped into Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie at a fashion week party for Brit fashion house Temperley London. 

Speaking in a reflective, generous and considered tone, Rushdie told us that he thought it was quite understandable and reasonable for people not to print the cartoons out of fear. But the pandering to Islamic fundamentalism of Blair and Clinton, he said bluntly, was completely chickenshit. 

Dope Peddler

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

We call this column “Dope,” but it’s not everyday that we get to write about such a prize example as you find in the person of Donald Trump—or, as he might more accurately be called, Chump. 

Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

About six months ago, Warner Books released a book on Chump by New York Times business writer Timothy O’Brien. One of a number of books coming out at roughly the same time about the star of TV’s “The Apprentice,” it garnered little attention and was rapidly on its way to being forgotten when Chump showed his business savvy by suing both author and publisher for $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. Why did Chump, supposedly a master of public relations, point eyes towards O’Brien’s tome?

Read it, and you can make a pretty good guess. It’s not only that the book demolishes Chump’s claims that he’s got billions in wealth. It’s also that Chump gave the author total access, and O’Brien used the access to reveal him as a megalomaniacal buffoon and a master of hype rather than a brilliant mogul. Chump isn’t being rational, of course, but then, as the book shows, where money and pride are concerned, he rarely is. 

Among the claims the book documents:

Chump’s father Fred controlled over 25,000 apartments. Chump started out among New York’s richest men. That he has repeatedly neared bankruptcy is in itself a remarkable achievement.

In 1991 Chump was so broke that he had to misuse Chump corporate funds and then borrow from his sister and brother merely so that he could pay off the modest prenuptial terms of his divorce from ex-wife Ivana. And in years to come he would borrow millions more from rich relatives to avoid bankruptcy.

Chump’s Art of The Deal explicitly advises would-be tycoons never to agree to loans that make them personally liable in case of business failure. Yet Chump agreed to $900 million in such loans, an amount in excess of his own net worth and the cause of his subsequent insolvency.

According to Chump’s former head of PR, he spends more time each day talking to gossip writers than handling business affairs.

Chump’s organization has no chief financial officer, no economist and no certified public accountant, and its chief operating officer is his former bodyguard, a man who has never even heard of an organization chart.

Perhaps in consequence of this disorganization within the Chump Organization, Chump paid more for prize ’80s acquisitions like the Delta Shuttle than even the companies themselves ever thought that they could possibly be worth.

Today Chump owns few of the buildings with his name on it. Reduced to being a hired hand for people who really are fabulously rich, Chump mostly just offers his name for use by others to front their projects. Thus, Chump didn’t own the Riverside South Trump properties, the Trump International Building, etc. Much of his wealth now is not in his lost New York real estate properties or in his bankrupted casinos, but in golf courses. Yes, golf courses. Which raises a question: What exactly are the apprentices supposed to learn from him? 

Dope Peddler

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.

Just Asking

What flamboyant media tycoon faces the possibility of unpleasant revelations regarding his threesomes, which included an ex-wife and a strapped-on other woman, in a forthcoming biography?

Art of the game show

There are few people in New York more controversial than painter Mark Kostabi. If Andy Warhol was “the sphinx without a riddle,” as Truman Capote put it (stealing from Oscar Wilde), Kostabi is the sphinx with a money-belt around his loins, the consummate painter-businessman.

Indeed, for many years banners were tacked up at his Kostabi World studio on Broome Street with expressions like “Lots of cash for commercial trash” and “All’s well that ends in a sale.” Yet, like Warhol, he’s never failed to show his sense of humor, even mocking the future prices of his own paintings that he was putting up for purchase.

Hence, Dope Peddler looked forward to attending a taping of his game show, “Inside Kostabi: Name That Painting,” which appears on Time Warner Cable’s Public Access Channel 34 on Wednesday nights at 9:30. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, we can honestly say that we haven’t often had so much fun and would strongly recommend it to anyone who can finagle an invitation.

The purpose of the show is to come up with names for his studio’s renderings. Contestants and judges vote on names for these canvasses, and the audience decides on what each will be called. Wearing a velvet suit, Kostabi emcees. Throughout the show, Kostabi hands out money, tosses off wisecracks and cues up his not untalented live band. Is he an artist? No matter. He’s one of New York’s most engaging personalities.

Buck Shot

An influential trader tells us that the dollar is headed for a fall—and more likely sooner than later.


Our hearty congratulations to our own Jennifer Merin. As one of the hosts of the Women Film Critics Circle, Merin gave a lifetime achievement award to actress Ruby Dee while also honoring the work of young talents like Nine Lives director Rodrigo Garcia—the latter one of the many important directors she’s interviewed of late in these pages.

Dope Peddler

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

Just asking…

Which married movie actor, best known for his starring roles as a monster-fighter wearing a pith helmet, has been very busily seeking male companionship of late?

Which former fashion model, the one-time beard of a famous singer is now said to be turning tricks?


As a new year climbs to its feet, Dope Peddler is reminded of one of the more interesting things about the ages of famous people: their changeable natures.

Here’s a brief list of some of the ages celebs claim they are, and the more likely realities…

Mick Jagger says he’s 62. But a London School of Economics classmate has said that Jagger was in the Class of ’62. He would then have been slated to graduate from college at age 19, and while we’re willing to believe Mick was precocious, we suspect that he was merely sexually precocious.

Playwright Paul Rudnick claims to have been born in December 1957, but he entered Yale in 1973—and he was not 15.

Likewise, buxom American Pie actress Shannon Elizabeth maintains she was born in 1976. But she graduated high school in 1991. (Wikipedia gives her birthdate as being in 1973, making her 32.) And Halle Berry has claimed to have been born in 1968, although she graduated from high school in 1984. Alternative sources have given her birth date as 1966, which means she’ll turn 40 this year.

Similarly strange numbers pop up with actor Laurence Fishburne. The Matrix star says that when he acted in Apocalypse Now in 1975, he was 14. So how did he get working papers to go act in a film shot in the Philippines? And why would director Francis Coppola have cast a 14-year old to play a soldier?

A check of California Driver’s License records reportedly pegs Salma Hayek as 44, not 40.

Right-wing harpy Ann Coulter, who claims to have been born in 1963, voted in 1980, which would have been a crime. (Other sources give her birthdate as 1961.)

Foreign-born athletes, of course, have been notorious fibbers regarding their ages. Dope Peddler sources specifically question whether malcontent Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada isn’t older than his supposed 29 years. n