LLOYD’S SANGFROID: If Lloyd Grove is nervous about the security of his job at The New York Daily News, he’s not showing it. At a party Monday night at the home of Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, the “Lowdown” writer bantered lightly with his boss, bringing up a recent article in which Zuckerman was quoted as saying, “I think, over time, he’ll be the dominant [gossip] columnist in New York.”

“Thanks for lowering the bar for me,” Grove cracked.

This story first appeared in the August 18, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Tuesday Grove dismissed rumors his tenure at the Daily News may be cut short. He also downplayed the pressure that he, as a veteran of the Capitol Hill gossip scene, faces to produce big scoops during the Republican National Convention: “I think all eyes are going to be on the Republicans, not me.” — Jeff Bercovici

BLOG ETC.: Good news for all those who prefer to conduct their consumer binges without leaving the house: Shop Etc. is online. Shopetc.com went live this week as the new Hearst title arrived on newsstands nationwide. The site features about 30 pages from the premiere issue, with individual items linked to pages where visitors can buy them (or at least learn where to find them in a store). While the number of pages featured on the site will increase with future issues, don’t expect to see the whole magazine up there any time soon, said Peter Schmidt, business development director at Hearst. “If we made the whole magazine shoppable, we’d probably have to put it behind a wall because we’d lose newsstand and subscription sales,” he said. Other offerings on the site include Where to Shop, a calendar of events such as store openings and sales; Help Desk, a question-and-answer forum, and Shop Talk, a blog run by Shop Etc.’s editors. The only thing it lacks is thin mirrors. — J.B.

FAMILY MATTERS: “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert took a break last Thursday from some R&R on Nantucket to talk shop and offer a plug for his book, “Big Russ & Me.”

Russert recalled writing “a heartfelt inscription” in a copy of his book, which is pretty much a Valentine to his father, sending it and waiting patiently for his old man’s reaction. Day one: no word. Days two and three: still no news. Day four: Russert called “Big Russ” to ask what he thought, only to hear, “I’m reading a chapter a night. I’ll let you know.”

Tim Russert recalled how afterward, Maria Shriver — “who is now the First Lady of California, who would have thought” — treated the Russerts to dinner at Spago. After ordering a Bud and spotting one of the signature miniature pizzas being made with alfalfa sprouts, Big Russert ordered two of them — only larger and with pepperoni. Once wine was served, he asked a waiter to grab some brews to stash in the ice bucket. Shriver laughed, “Hey Big Russ, I love you. But if I’d known all you wanted was a six-pack and a large pizza, we would have gone to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Russert didn’t hog the limelight. “There’s a much better writer in my family — Maureen Orth,” he said, referring to his Vanity Fair-writing wife. “She has a new book, too, which is also on sale at Mitchell’s [a nearby bookstore].” Orth penned “The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity-Industrial Complex.” — Rosemary Feitelberg

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