• U.S.

People: Oct. 14, 2002

5 minute read
Michele Orecklin


It wasn’t loud wallpaper, bad shag carpet or an unmatched desk set that drove her away. When MARTHA STEWART resigned her seat on the board of directors for the New York Stock Exchange (N.Y.S.E.) last week, it was, according to a statement, because she felt the media attention surrounding her would “distract from the important work of the N.Y.S.E.” Stewart had been elected to the board only four months earlier, shortly before allegations arose that she had participated in insider trading. Stewart sold all her shares of ImClone one day before the biotech company disclosed that its new cancer drug would not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Stewart has denied doing anything improper. But adding to her woes last week was the guilty plea entered by Douglas Faneuil, who was an assistant to Stewart’s broker at Merrill Lynch. Faneuil admitted that he had accepted gifts from the broker in exchange for withholding information from prosecutors investigating the case.


since learning that former prime minister JOHN MAJOR carried on an extramarital affair 14 years ago, British citizens seem divided over whether they should chastise or cheer him. The revelations came with the serialized publication of the diaries of EDWINA CURRIE, who disclosed that between 1984 and 1988, when both she and Major were married and serving in government, they shared a passion for more than just Tory ideology. Major, who became Prime Minister in 1990, had a reputation for being a bland bureaucrat, an image reinforced by his “Back to Basics” campaign, an attempt to upgrade the image of the Conservative Party after several members were caught in sex scandals. With Currie offering details about three-hour “exercise” sessions, many Britons are discovering a newfound admiration for Major, who has admitted to the affair. Though Major was frequently dubbed the “gray man,” it seems he had some colorful habits, including, according to Currie, a fondness for blue underwear.


The American music-buying public is either incredibly nostalgic or incredibly bored by current singers. More than 25 years after Elvis Presley died, a compilation of 30 of his No. 1 hits debuted at the top of the charts. Chances are, most Elvis fans already have Heartbreak Hotel, Return to Sender and Love Me Tender in their record collections, but apparently more than 500,000 of them couldn’t resist the opportunity to have them all on one disc. The album also provided an occasion for the world to share a rare moment of international consensus, as it also reached No. 1 in the U.K., Canada, France, Brazil, Australia, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries. Don’t be surprised if the next meeting of the United Nations is kicked off with a rendition of Hound Dog.


They may have had conflicting ideas about the magazine’s content, but ROSIE O’DONNELL and the publisher of her eponymous magazine share a vision of how to resolve the problem: lawsuits. In a fifty-fifty partnership, O’Donnell and Gruner & Jahr launched Rosie magazine in April 2001; last month, amid feuds over the magazine’s staff, articles and cover subjects, O’Donnell quit, saying the editorial content no longer reflected her views. Publisher G & J is suing the former talk-show host for $100 million for what it claims is her “unilateral and wholly unjustified abandonment” of Rosie. The suit also claims O’Donnell was abusive toward employees and publicly disparaged the company. O’Donnell countersued for an undisclosed amount, saying the publisher failed to live up to its contract and forced her to walk away.


Public service is not a field for those concerned about making a lot of money, which explains why the profession generally draws two kinds of people: idealists and Kennedys. Proving that she is both, CAROLINE KENNEDY has accepted a position in the New York City school system as the chief executive for the Office for Strategic Partnerships. Appointed by new schools chancellor Joel Klein, the former Microsoft prosecutor, she will be in charge of raising money from the private sector. Kennedy, the daughter of the former President, lives in New York City, where her children attend private school. Until the end of the year, she will work three days a week at the school system’s headquarters and receive a salary of $1. In January she will work full time and renegotiate her compensation. She’ll probably be a bargain.


You may be surprised to learn that U.S. states have poet laureates. You may be further surprised to learn that New Jersey’s poet laureate is not Bruce Springsteen but AMIRI BARAKA, the former playwright once known as Le Roi Jones. A month after being named to his post, Baraka recited a work titled “Somebody Blew Up America,” which includes the verse: “Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day.” The suggestion that Israel knew of the Sept. 11 attacks or that Jews stayed home that day prompted New Jersey Governor James McGreevy to ask Baraka to resign, but he refused. McGreevy has no power to force Baraka out, though maybe he can get him to run for Senator.

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