Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: Tracy Morgan makes his return, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" jacket finds an owner and the Coen Brothers eye a folk musical.
- Tracy Morgan played two shows at Carolines Comedy Club in New York Saturday, his first appearances since his homophobic remarks earlier this month during a show in Nashville. The performance was described as "pretty much controversy-free," but only to a point. Morgan denied he was homophobic ("I don't have that in me. I believe gay, straight, anybody, everybody's supposed to be happy in this world, man."), but still "earned groans and shouts of 'uh-oh' from the audience" with another tasteless joke. ("Don't ever mess with women who have retarded kids. Them young retarded males is strong. They're strong like chimps.") [The Hollywood Reporter]
- Commodities trader Darren Verret from Austin, Texas purchased one of the two jackets used in the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video for $1.8 million at auction yesterday. Verret indicated the black-and-red calfskin coat will be "sent on tour and used as a fundraising tool for children's charities." Portions of the sale will be going to "Shambala Preserve, a big cat sanctuary caring for two tigers Jackson once owned." [AP]
- The Coen Brothers are working on a new music-heavy project about the "Greenwich Village folk scene seen through the eyes of its larger-than-life patriarch." That would be the late Dave von Ronk, the "legendary musician who presided over New York City's iconoclastic coffeehouse period of the mid-20th century" and helped cultivate the talents of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. The Coens first hinted that they were working on a musical (or at least a biopic with music in in) at Lincoln Center earlier this month. [24 Frames]
- New York Times media columnist David Carr spent Thursday and Friday of last week in Los Angeles checking out the TMZ newsroom for a column in today's paper. This is not totally surprising. Carr has made no secret of his affection for the gossip brand, particularly its television show. Back in March he tweeted, "TMZ is one of the best cast, best written shows on TV. There, I said it." So the biggest surprise in the piece comes from TMZ boss Harvey Levin, who had a confession about tabloid staple Lindsay Lohan to make: "I root for her." Carr agrees, up to a point. Of Levin, Carr writes, "He seems to care deeply about Lindsay, even as he feeds her into the wood chipper." [The New York Times]
- Literary agent Luke Janklow--apparently "the hottest straight man in book publishing" is said to be "devastated" that heiress Jemima Khan broke up with him, reportedly to take up with Restrepo and The Tillman Story producer John Battsek, although it's possible he should have seen it coming. Says a friend, "Jemima just bought a country estate in England and hates flying, so he would always have to travel to the UK to see her." Khan is the daughter of the late Sir James Goldsmith. [Page Six]