Under Cover


Silver’s namesake lining

Efforts to keep investment bank Merrill Lynch in Lower Manhattan were on hold “at least a little” while the company searched for a new C.E.O., Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told UnderCover Tuesday.

Now that John Thain, C.E.O. of NYSE Euronext, has been named to the post, Silver is hoping to convince Merrill Lynch to take advantage of incentives and relocate to the World Trade Center.

Stan O’Neal, Merrill’s recently sacked C.E.O., seemed to be the one pushing for an expensive move to Midtown.

Keeping Merrill Lynch would “guarantee the viability of Downtown as the financial capital of the world for the next 50 years,” Silver said.

I’m SAG and I vote

Last week we told you it took three hours for the first voter to show up at Tribeca’s Hudson St. polling place. Now we hear, civic-minded actor Harvey Keitel was one of only 21 people to vote there on Nov. 6. Express readers may recall that our own Tequila Minsky snapped Keitel’s picture last year after he voted. The good news is Keitel reads us, the bad news is he didn’t like our photo, feeling his big blue bandana around his head was not his best look. C’mon, Harvey, you always look cool!

Friendly bid

Guess who’s interested in being the Friends of Hudson River Park’s new executive director now that Al Butzel is set to leave the park’s leading advocacy group at the end of the year? Village waterfront leader Arthur Schwartz, who emailed Douglas Durst, the Friends’ chairperson, to say he was resigning from the board in the hopes of snaring the paid position.

Scwartz said he’d request reappointment to the board if he didn’t get the job. How Schwartz would be able to be the Friends’ director is beyond us, what with his responsibilities as a top union lawyer, chairperson of both Community Board 2’s Waterfront Committee and the Pier 40 Working Group and local Democratic state committeeman. Schwartz told us the job listing did not mention the salary.

“I think it’s a great job. It would definitely be a change of direction in my life,” said Schwartz, former counsel to the Transport Workers Union. Schwartz currently represents 10 unions in the city, but said he’d farm out more of the work to the two other lawyers in his firm if he became Friends executive director.

Keeping government friendly

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Spitzer had not one but two appearances together Downtown this week, giving the press plenty of opportunities to grill them about Spitzer’s unpopular driver’s license proposal.

The pair walked into one press conference talking and laughing, and Bloomberg refused to criticize Spitzer’s policy even when pressed. If Bloomberg had any concerns, he would express them to Spitzer privately, since they live “around the corner” from each other, Bloomberg said.

Later, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver affirmed that he is not concerned about the governor’s leadership.

“The problems for undocumented workers are not created by New York State,” Silver told reporters. “They’re created by the federal government.”

Spitzer dropped his driver’s license plan later that day.

Ticket blitz

Since the temporary closing of Liberty St., the city is having a field day writing parking tickets on South End Ave., a Battery Park City tipster tells us. In a one-two punch, the M.T.A. had to move the bus stop, but then some agency merely taped over half the double arrow on the alternate parking sign.

“You have to have an eagle eye to notice something is changed,” he said.

He said when he noticed his neighbors getting tickets he mentioned the problem to the officer writing them. “Yeah we told the M.T.A., and he said ‘hunh,’” was the reply.

Year round fest

Staff changes are in the air at the Tribeca Film Festival, along with a push for year-round programming.

Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and company. have created a new industry department to plan more events apart from the main festival, like Tropfest, the outdoor short-film festival from Australia that debuted in New York this year. The biggest challenge, a festival spokesperson told UnderCover, is keeping it all in the neighborhood—space Downtown is tough to find. Last year, most of the screenings were in Midtown.

Julie La’Bassiere is now running the new industry department. Her past film work includes American Cinematheque, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Writers Guild of America.

David Kwok, who has been with the festival since its inception in 2002, was named director of programming. Genna Terranova, who has worked for the Weinstein Company and Miramax Films, was named senior programmer.