We’re flattered by all the attention from our friends at Gawker. But perhaps they should spend a little less time obsessing over Radar and more time minding the store. Last month Sploid, the “anarcho-capitalist” news site that Nick Denton vowed would take on the Drudge Report, debuted with a resounding thud. Now Denton’s longtime lieutenant, Choire Sicha, who oversaw the site, is fleeing to the New York Observer. Sources say Sicha has just accepted an offer to edit the peach-hued weekly’s Transom column, Manhattan’s preeminent chronicle of the drunk and wealthy. His departure promises to be a big blow to the penny-pinching Denton, who has always had trouble holding on to talent.
Sicha, 33, took over the editorship of Gawker after founding editor Elizabeth Spiers escaped to New York in 2003. Two years later he was promoted to editorial director of the Gawker Media group, a role he’s since relinquished to the former managing editor of something called Hamptons Cottages and Gardens. Chasing his previous success with Gawker, Defamer, and Fleshbot, Denton has spent the last year launching a series of increasingly ill-conceived (and ridiculously named) flops, including Kinja, Screenhead, Kotaku, and Gridskipper. Wonkette, which drew huge traffic and attention during last year’s election with a mixture of nihilism and anal sex jokes, has seen its traffic drop dramatically since it was more or less abandoned by editor–turned–talking head Ana Marie Cox. Denton’s big dream is to assemble 17 titles under the Gawker Media umbrella, “just as Si Newhouse has at Condé Nast.” But success may be a little more elusive without Sicha, who is viewed by many as the real creative force behind the company. Meanwhile, Gawker, which is currently helmed by a revolving roster of underemployed freelancers, is this week being anonymously co-edited by an actual journalist, Newsweek staffer Michael Hastings, who’s planning to write a piece about the experience.
FRIEND WITH BENEFITS
Michael Jackson’s consigliere and alleged enforcer Frank Cascio may soon be rewarded with a songwriting career—if he can manage to keep his mouth shut. A frequent overnight guest at Neverland with his younger brother Vincent when they were in their teens, the 24-year-old Cascio, a.k.a. Frank Tyson, has already been well compensated for his loyalty to the deposed King of Pop. As Fox411 columnist Roger Friedman previously reported, Jackson loaned Cascio’s father Dominic $600,000 to open Aldo’s Restaurant in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. (We stopped in for a bite recently. Although the decor—particularly the photo shrine to the Gloved One—is noteworthy, the menu’s no Thriller.) But in view of Cascio’s current status as an unindicted co-conspirator in Jackson’s child-molestation trial (for reportedly trying to silence the star witness), the cash-strapped moon walker may be looking for other ways to keep his old pal happy. A source tells us that radio legend Frankie Blue, a close confidante of Jackson and a former program director for New York’s WNEW, has been asking his contacts to hook Cascio up with a songwriting contract. Two music-industry managers who have met with Cascio concede that his songs are “pretty damn good.” Better than his testimony would be for Jackson’s defense, we presume. Jackson’s representatives did not return calls or e-mails, and neither Blue nor Cascio could be reached for comment.
THE EXORCISM OF MIMI
If you ever run into Tommy Mottola, we suggest you don’t mention Mimi. A few weeks ago, a visitor to the home of the legendary music man, which he shares with his third wife, Mexican chanteuse Thalia Sodi, received an unexpected earful after making a passing reference to his second wife Mariah Carey’s comeback. The Emancipation of Mimi, the songbird’s first hit album post Glitter, has sold an impressive million copies since its April 12 release. At the mere mention of Mariah, says our source, “Tommy went ballistic! He started yelling, ‘Don’t ever mention that name in front of me again! I don’t want to know about her!’” Once he’d regained his composure, Mottola joked that he had even hired a priest to perform an exorcism of his home, says our source. If nothing else, the rite has done wonders for Mariah’s SoundScan numbers.