Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Very Rupert Christmas: The News Corp Holiday Party

I had the rare honor of attending the lavish holiday party last night for Rupert Murdoch's monstrous, many-tentacled News Corp. What is News Corp, you ask? It is:
  • The New York Post and more than 170 other newspapers
  • All things Fox, including Fox News, the Fox network, and 20th Century Fox
  • TV Guide
  • DirecTV
  • HarperCollins Publishing
And much more! I attended as a guest of an employee of HarperCollins. The party was held at the Hilton Rockefeller Center Hotel on 53rd and 6th in Midtown, and it took up many, many banquet rooms.

The party had an airline theme, with catering staff decked out in stewardess and captain outfits. The ticket to get in was printed out like an airline ticket and each banquet room represented a different continent, including Rupert's home of Australia. We were greeted outside the Australia room by a fat man sitting on a platform playing the didgeridoo. The room was full of picnic tables papered with Australian tabloids. There were buckets full of Australian candy like the disgusting Violet Crumble. The food was shrimp skewers and barbecued chicken. As in every room, there was enough bar space and bartenders so that party goers didn't have to wait very long for drinks. And everything was free.

With a company as big as News Corp there are lots of every kind of people. Some types stood out though. I was positively tickeled by how many fierce comb-overs I saw on middle-aged men. There's something truly disarming about seeing a fat, dapper gent with a comb-over, grinning under his mustache as he does a little shuffle over to a table full of young women.

My group of HarperCollins workers spent a lot of time in the Americas room, which had a dj and a large dance floor. We watched as their co-workers -- Look, is that so-and-so from production? She should not be dancing like that -- made asses of themselves on the floor. I was constantly on the look-out for celebrities, and I was not disappointed. There, on the dance floor was a woman with a shaggy head of bleached yellow hair, a sheer top with a band over her breasts but no bra, a face like a bulldog and dance moves like a drunken bovine. She could be none other than Rupert Murdoch himself -- in drag. I'm sure of it. What better way to cut loose and mingle with the commoners?

There were many bright spots in the evening. Like when one of our group returned from the men's room to report a peculiar sight. Not drug paraphernalia. Not used condoms on the floor, but a tube of Fixodent, left in the bathroom stall. Yes, we all agreed, now it's a party, a News Corp party. Another highlight was watching morbidly obese women clamoring over a Häagen-Dazs cooler full of ice cream bars. When the stampede cleared I grabbed one for myself, only to find that every one of the bars had expired last August. You can't be as rich as Rupert by being too generous.

But the true highlight of the evening was when an IT guy came over to our side of the dance floor to show off a internal memo he had just received on his Blackberry. The young women gathered round to read the tiny glowing screen: HarperCollins has just terminated the employment of Judith Regan, effective immediately. The shrieks of delight were deafening. A couple women jumped up and down. Judy Regan is the head of Regan Books, the imprint of HarperCollins that came up with the idea to publish O.J. Simpson's quasi-confession "If I Did It." The Fox side of News Corp was incensed by the notion, and before anyone could make any money on the deal, Rupert Murdoch personally canceled the book and the accompanying television special. So it was very interesting that the company waited to fire her for the night of the mammoth corporation-wide holiday party. The party started at 6pm and she was fired at 7. Regan was, according to my sources at HarperCollins, notoriously difficult to work with, which explained the spontaneous celebrations over her demise.

After that it was downhill. We retired to the Asia room, where a boy in a Chinese peasant hat rang a gong at the end of each karaoke number on a big stage. Thirty-something salesmen in their dark suits weren't loosening their ties, even as they cheered for "New York, New York" and swilled from Amstel Light number eight. Is that HarperCollins HR wunderkind Greg Giangrande singing "Living La Vida Loco"? Nope. Just another dude from the marketing department at Fox.

And while I swear I saw Justin Timberlake, Flavor Flav, Joe Scarborough (wait a minute, isn't he from MSNBC?), Wesley Snipes (wait a minute, isn't he on the run for tax fraud?), and Christopher Hitchens (wait a minute, I think it is the drink-soaked popinjay!), I cannot confirm a single celebrity sighting. Except for Ruper Murdoch in drag. I'm sure about that one.



Blogger k said...

Did I ever tell you that I really like Rupert Murdoch?
I remember reading an article about him when I was twelve and have been hooked eversince. I also started reading NY Magazine because of it's amazing story on Lachlan Murdoch and his departure from News Corp.

Check the story, if you haven't -

1:04 PM  

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