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LIKE FATHER … : New York magazine’s newest hire has an awfully familiar last name. Ben Wasserstein, who’s leaving his associate editor post at Vitals for an equivalent title at New York, is the son of Bruce Wasserstein, who bought the magazine in December 2003 for a reported $55 million.

Despite the appearance of nepotism, editor in chief Adam Moss said the Wasserstein fils‘ patrimony was an obstacle, not an inducement, to hiring him. “I have been saying for a year that Ben is exactly the kind of person that we ought to have working here, if he weren’t a Wasserstein,” said Moss. “At a certain point, that was not a good reason not to hire him.” Wasserstein’s credentials are plenty solid: Before joining Vitals (which, like WWD, is part of Fairchild Publications Inc.), he was a frequent contributor to The Los Angeles Times and Slate, for which he started writing as an undergrad at Harvard. Wasserstein, who starts after Labor Day, will work mainly on the Intelligencer section. He’ll be joined at New York by two other recent hires: features editor Faye Penn, previously of the New York Post, and news editor Adam Fisher, previously of Wired.

Wasserstein said it took some getting used to the idea of joining the family business. As one of the beneficiaries of the Wasserstein Family Trust, which owns the title, he will be, in an abstract and distant way, working for himself. “It wasn’t my natural inclination to go and do something like that.”
— Jeff Bercovici

STARS AND STRIPPERS: How does one celebrate becoming an American citizen today, what with the war in Iraq dragging on and sentiment abroad for Americans at a low point? If one is the co-owner of a New York restaurant, one eats. Julian Niccolini, co-owner of the Four Seasons restaurant and an Italian by birth, left a Westchester County courthouse as a naturalized American citizen on Wednesday afternoon. And then, he and his wife, along with Vanity Fair contributing editor Frank DiGiacomo and GQ food critic Alan Richman, went to lunch. At a place called Trotters. In White Plains. One wouldn’t expect Niccolini to like such suburban fare, but on Thursday he said, “It was the best meal I ever had.”

This story first appeared in the July 15, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Trotters’ chef and owner, Anthony Goncalves, described it: “We started with a roasted tomato sheep’s milk ricotta beignet. That was over a chickpea puree with rosemary and unfiltered olive oil….” Goncalves continued for six minutes, listing courses that included zucchini flowers, quince marmalade, a cremificato cheese and a chocolate soufflé.

Later, Niccolini headed back to the Four Seasons for an impromptu party. “It was totally unexpected,” he said. “Sixty people showed up. Henry Kissinger; David Brown — you know, the famous producer — his wife, Helen Gurley; Edgar Bronfman Jr.; Vernon Jordan; Leona Helmsley, I couldn’t get rid of her [and] even had to feed her dinner until 1 o’clock in the morning; Steve Florio, and this incredible-looking woman who was Wonder Woman,” or rather, a scantily clad and very well-endowed young lady wearing little more than a few stars and some stripes. Elaborating on what it felt like to finally be an American citizen, Niccolini said: “Before, I was worried about saying nasty things about people. Now, at least, I can say what I think.”
— Sara James

SEEING DOUBLE: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn must have experienced déjà vu when they posed for Rolling Stone in May. That’s because the two actors, who were promoting their comedy, “Wedding Crashers,” had been shot a month earlier for Entertainment Weekly, wearing nearly identical outfits and in a similar pose. EW’s photo director, Fiona McDonagh, said the shoot “just seemed like the natural way to go with it.” Clearly, Rolling Stone felt the same way.

One might think the actors would, as a courtesy, have notified Rolling Stone’s photographer that he was essentially reprising EW’s shoot. In fact, they did, said Wilson’s spokesperson — but the magazine still chose to go with the look-alike picture. “The image we selected reflects the jovial spirit of both the actors and the characters they portray in the film,” said a Wenner spokesperson. “We are very happy with the result.” Or, at least, will be if it sells well.
— J.B.

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