Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: Bernie Madoff was a creep with women, and Ashton Kutcher only pretends to know about football, and Piers Morgan gives up on spotting America's talent.
- In addition to being a crook and wearing quilted jackets, Bernie Madoff was also "inappropriately letchy," according to his son Andrew's bride-to-be, Catherine Hooper. "He came up behind me at Christmas and grabbed my butt,” Hooper recalled Wednesday. “When I told Andrew about it, he said, ‘That’s so weird, that’s so creepy. Let’s never talk about it again.'" She continued, "With the women at the firm, friends of the family, yeah, [Bernie] was inappropriately letchy.” [Page Six]
- Piers Morgan is leaving America's Got Talent after six years on the NBC reality show. In an announcement on his CNN show last night, Morgan conceded "juggling's harder than it looks" and said he was "going to focus on CNN," and not giving ventriloquists a shot at fame and fortune. Morgan signed a three-year extension with NBC back in July 2010, but was allowed to do double-duty and serve as King's replacement on CNN. [TVLine]
- Ashton Kutcher was adamant that his Two and a Half Men character be a billionaire fantasy football mastermind, but his grasp of real-world football is shaky at best. This was on display last night shortly after Penn State fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno, prompting Kutcher to tweet: "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste" It was only later he found out about the sexual abuse scandal enveloping Penn State's football program, at which point he said he "fully recant[ed]" the previous tweet. Then he issued a solemn Twitter vow: "As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed." [People]
- In the days since Heard on the Hill reported on the Eastern Shore hijinks of Rep. Steve Palazzo's staff, they have been receiving "hastily assembled, totally pre-emptive, nondenial denial[s]" from various offices denying their staffers had anything to do with the boozy Columbus Day bash. Right now, they're trying to nail down reports that staffers for Texas Reps. Blake Farenthold, Bill Flores, and Henry Cuellar were in attendance. [Roll Call]
- Dr. Conrad Murray and lawyer Michael Flanagan have "parted ways" and Flanagan won't be helping Michael Jackson's former doctor with his appeal. A source says Murray thought Flanagan was too "abrasive" in how he cross-examined suspects. Flanagan, for his part, at least got a first-class trip to New York (possibly on NBC's dime) just before his relationship with his client collapsed. [Radar]