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DENTON CANCELS NEW YEAR’S: Gawker Media founder Nick Denton – who was just named one of “2005’s 10 Sexiest Geeks” by Wired News – has canceled the blowout New Year’s Eve party he was planning for Saturday night. Denton is evidently stuck in London, attempting to renew an expired work visa. (Yes, even Internet moguls have to deal with immigration snafus.)

Nevertheless, he’s hardly using this as an opportunity to take a break from overseeing his flagship Web site. co-editor Jesse Oxfeld said Wednesday, “It’s making no practical difference: I’m still getting the same trickle of e-mails from him, as always. And I’m seeing him log on and off AIM [AOL Instant Messenger] with his usual reckless abandon.” (Denton and Gawker Media managing editor Lockhart Steele could not be reached for comment.)

“He’s like the Grinch of New Year’s,” said one of Denton’s now disinvited party guests, who was scrambling to make other plans. Perhaps the solution would be for the Gawker minions to still host the bash and just patch Denton in by Web cam. – Sara James

THE REAL THING: Is it possible to make a lifestyle show without a lifestyle guru hosting it? Real Simple seems to think so.

WWD got an advance look at the first episode of the magazine’s new PBS series and, surprisingly, the faces selected to represent the brand on public television are a former soap star, an improvisational comic and an actress whose primary credits to date are a Papa John’s commercial and an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” According to the bios of Brooke Alexander, Rob Keefe and Cydnee Welburn, none of them has any discernable work experience that would appear to qualify them to talk to women about managing their lives, though Real Simple’s managing editor Kristin van Ogtrop doesn’t see it that way.

“They’re professional actors, but they’re also people who’ve lived these Everyman sort of lives,” said van Ogtrop. She cited two of the actors’ status as single parents, and added that viewers would be able to relate to them because they, too, will be “learning as they go along.” Fair enough, but the actor-as-wide-eyed-host routine is occasionally reminiscent of an infomercial. Rather than follow the Martha Stewart model of letting service stand alone on TV, Real Simple has seasoned its lifestyle how-to with some wacky humor. Keefe, for instance, juggles a rubber chicken and steps out of a swimming pool in a scuba suit during the intro.

This story first appeared in the December 29, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“He’s an incredibly funny and intelligent guy,” van Ogtrop said of Keefe. “If you look at a lot of the stuff we cover, these are issues readers are dealing with every day, fairly routine matters. You have to embrace that sort of thing with a sense of humor.”

“Real Simple” on PBS, which is produced by Real Simple Productions, premieres nationwide on Jan. 7, and in New York on Jan. 14. – S.J.

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