Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: Hilary Swank dropped by her PR agency over Chechen party appearance, Wendi Deng Murdoch screens her new movie in D.C., and Marc Anthony's midtown Manhattan confusion.
- Hilary Swank has already fired her manager and two CAA agents for not stopping her from partying down with Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov at his birthday last month, despite allegations he had a hand in "torturing dissidents, killing political opponents, and encouraging citizens to abuse women who dress immodestly," according to The Independent. Now Swank's been dismissed by her PR agency 42West. A source indicates the split was "over a disagreement on how best to deal with the fallout from the Oct. 5 event." Swank initially apologized and promised to donate her appearance fee to chairty, but resisted blaming herself for the snafu, explaining: “If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be. I would never have gone." [EW]
- Hours before Deadspin posted a story reporting allegations that former ESPN executive Keith Clinkscales had been caught "masturbating in his seat, beneath his iPad" while seated next to sideline reporter Erin Andrews on a cross-country flight, Clinkscales filed a defamation suit. Not against Deadspin, but against Joan Lynch. She's the ESPN employe he believes leaked the allegations to Deadspin. In the lawsuit, Lynch is accused of orchestrating a "smear campaign" against Clinkscales, andmaking up the whole inflight iPad masturbation story. The lawsuit also charges Lynch "lied when she told ESPN colleagues that Clinkscales assaulted her in a production truck in 2007." Clinkscales is seeking $75,000 in damages. [New York Daily News]
- Wendi Deng Murdoch -- wife of Rupert, bane of limelight seeking pie-throwers-- was on-hand Wednesday for the Motion Picture Association of America's screening of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which she produced. MPAA chair Chris Dodd hosted the event, which was also attended by Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui and Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry ("Gotta keep the boss happy," Henry was heard to remark.) The movie itself was dismissed as a "Beaches-style tearjerker, with Hugh Jackman as the guy," but Murdoch thinks it's going to be huge in China. She explained the film's central message: "It happens in China but speaks to all people and all cultures. It’s how friendship helps you to cope with life’s challenges — suffering, sacrifice and sharing secrets.” Just like Beaches! [The Reliable Source]
- Marc Anthony was supposed to have a noon lunch Tuesday with Bank of America's private wealth manager Jane Heller at at the Four Seasons restaurant on East 52nd Street, but "in a mistake others have made," he wound up going to the Four Seasons hotel on East 57th Street. Heller reportedly waited "alone in the restaurant’s Grill Room for a half-hour" before she and Anthony realized they were at different restaurants. At which point Anthony "summoned his driver and rode five blocks to the restaurant," finally arriving at Heller's table around 1 p.m. [Page Six]
- Gretchen Viehmann, the photo editor for the New York Daily News, "has walked out and presumably resigned," according to newsroom sources. Tensions have apparently been building at the paper ever since "senior managing editor Stuart Marques was fired last month." Shortly after that, editor-in-chief Kevin Convey created confusion and anger among his staff when, according to the New York Post's Keith Kelly, he "called in seven [Daily News] managing editors and told them the paper was going to a new management structure, which would have only three managing editors on the masthead." [The New York Observer]