REMEMBERING DAVID: The pews of Riverside Church were packed Tuesday afternoon with the friends and admirers of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam, who died in a car accident on April 23. Kurt Andersen, Terry McDonnell, Victor Navasky, Joan Didion, Ralph Nader, Joe Lelyveld, Richard Holbrooke, Frank Rich and Ken Auletta represented a small sampling of the literary, political and journalistic heavyweights who turned out. Honorary pallbearers included Graydon Carter, David Remnick, Ben Bradlee and Calvin Trillin.
Paul Simon noted he often would watch Yankees games with Halberstam, as well as the Giants, Mets and Knicks. Even though Halberstam was a lifelong Red Sox fan, Simon said, “I have no Ted Williams song,” before singing a quiet rendition of “Mrs. Robinson.” Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary sang “Sweet Survivor” and talked about his longtime friendship with Halberstam, remembering how the two lived in the same building and how their two small dogs often got into tiffs.
Tributes were given covering almost every phase of Halberstam’s career, from the early Vietnam years to his last book to be published this fall, called “The Coldest Winter,” about the Korean War. Ralph Hockley, a Korean War veteran, talked about the fast friendship and trust built during the series of long interviews and research he did with Halberstam. Several speakers said Halberstam felt it was his best book ever — although one friend laughed, “David always said that about all his books….”
Doris Kearns Goodwin cited the lesson of Halberstam’s life as being his ability to balance work, love and play. As for his work, tributes praised the late journalist’s ability to immerse himself in the subjects he covered. “He became one of us,” Congressman John Lewis said of Halberstam’s reporting during the civil rights movement. Fireman Sean Newman commented on Halberstam’s delight when many in the firehouse who were the subject of his book “Firehouse” didn’t know who the journalist was, but he quickly became absorbed as “one of the family.” Neil Sheehan recounted the partnership the two formed during their Vietnam War years — Sheehan with AP and Halberstam with The Times — as they shared a desk in Saigon in 1963.
This story first appeared in the June 13, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gay Talese said, “He had answers for everything. Should the Yankees have kept Sheffield? Is Condi Rice a better pianist than secretary of state? Will The New York Times ever get rid of Michiko [Kakutani]?”
Writer Michael Arlen said Halberstam’s highest compliment was when he called anyone “ferocious,” yet that tenacity was balanced by a basic kindness and generosity — another theme throughout the service. Dexter Filkins, a Times reporter in Iraq, said journalists routinely ask themselves, when their experience on the ground doesn’t match the U.S. government line: “What would David do?”
It was another refrain throughout the memorial, as Anna Quindlen said, “All of us would do well, with all due respect to Jesus, to ask ourselves, ‘What would David do?'”
BACKING KATIE — FOR NOW: Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer at CBS Corp., gave a vote of confidence to Katie Couric, took a swipe at Dan Rather and gave a thumbs up to Rupert Murdoch — and that was only breakfast. Moonves said he was fully behind the CBS Evening News anchor and that, after only nine months on the job, she deserves a break from the constant barrage of criticism, including the microscope on everything from her clothes to her boyfriends. “The number of people who don’t want their news from a woman is surprising,” he said during his conversation with The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications breakfast at the W Hotel in Manhattan. He acknowledged the broadcast has gone through several changes, some more successful than others, but his aim is to reach out to viewers in the under-60 category. “We’re trying to put on a different kind of news show,” Moonves added. On that subject, he briefly spoke to Rather’s pithy comments made Tuesday, about Couric “tarting” up the broadcast. “A pretty sexist thing to say,” Moonves offered.
During the roughly 30-minute interview, Moonves talked at length about CBS’ digital efforts and how the goal is to “get paid.” In fact, he repeated the phrase “get paid” so often that it could have been the title of his talk. He added that CBS didn’t join in News Corp. and NBC Universal’s online video joint venture earlier this year because of the exclusivity of content. “We’d like to be in lots of different places,” he said. But he appeared to back Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones Corp., saying: “I’d never bet against Rupert Murdoch.” — Amy Wicks
DO OR DON’T?: There are lots of bridal magazines in the Condé Nast stable, so it might come as a bit of a surprise — at least to their editors — that the Style Network has turned to Glamour for an hour-long TV wedding special airing Saturday. Sure, Glamour is known for its “Dos and Don’ts” feature, but, face it, isn’t exactly renowned for its pages and pages of bridal gowns and pretty table settings for the reception. So what gives? Well, according to Salaam Coleman Smith, executive vice president of the Style Network, the magazine is ideal for the cable channel’s 18- to 49-year-old demographic. “We have the most affluent female audience in all of cable,” she added. Besides, Coleman Smith has a history with Glamour. Two years ago, the Style Network and E Entertainment Television aired “Glamour’s 50 Biggest Fashion Dos and Don’ts.” Editor in chief Cindi Leive said she still sees reruns from that show, adding the magazine had a bump at the newsstand after it aired. “Glamour’s 20 Wedding Dos & Don’ts” will be hosted by Leila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali and a recent contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.” The show will provide tips from designers including Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrera, Mark Badgley and James Mischka. Style advice will be dished out from Bobbie Thomas, Jay Manuel and Robert Verdi.
And, for the record, Leive’s wedding “don’ts” are oversize veils and turquoise and bright purple taffeta bridesmaid dresses. — A.W.
TINA’S TURN: Most first-time authors would be lucky to have one real book party thrown in their honor. For her new book “The Diana Chronicles,” about the late Princess of Wales, Tina Brown has at least half a dozen. “David Remnick had one last Thursday,” she said Monday night at the fete thrown by Sony Corp.’s Sir Howard Stringer. “I have one in Washington,” she said. “Bert Fields is doing one in Los Angeles and Arianna [Huffington] is having a lunch.” William Randolph Hearst 3rd is hosting her in San Francisco, and Reuters is toasting her at the Serpentine Gallery in London, which was the place the Princess of Wales showed up the night Prince Charles‘ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles became public. “It’s where Diana wore her famous f— you dress,” Brown recalled. “I guess I have to get a f— you dress, as well.”
Sir Howard said Diana didn’t need a special dress to seduce him. “I met her three or four times. She was like Marilyn Monroe. You just wanted to save her.”
Others in the crowd included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tom Freston, Bill Keller and Emma Gilbey, Norman Pearlstine, Susan Lyne and Barry Diller. — Jacob Bernstein