Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: People other than Rick Perry screwed up Rick Perry's campaign, Sarkozy and family get "the new palace" treatment in Morocco, and Derek Jeter might be getting back with his old girlfriend and a brief, swag-heavy stint as a bachelor.
Texas Governor Rick Perry won't officially be pummeled in the Iowa Caucuses until next week, but his handlers are already hard at work explaining who screwed up the presidential hopes a man who could only remember two of the three government agencies he pledged to close upon taking office. Along with Perry's not-so-nimble, not-so-quick debating style, there was also "an intense, behind-the-scenes power struggle that took place largely between a group of the governor’s longtime advisers and a new cadre of consultants brought on this fall," with the outsiders eventually seizing power on the campaign away from Perry's inner-circle. The hired guns seem pretty clearly to be the ones helping shape Politico's narrative of the campaign's dysfunctional nature. The heroic consultants "marginalized Perry’s longtime chief strategist while crafting a new strategy in which the Texan has portrayed himself as a political outsider and culture warrior." Also: someone who's not doing very well in the polls. The consultants sniff that when they arrived at Perry headquarters for the first time, they witnessed "the political equivalent of malpractice by the previous regime," which was led by longtime Perry confidante Dave Carney. Apparently, Carney "thought they could run a presidential campaign like a larger version of a gubernatorial race" and just focused on raising money for a shock-and-awe TV ad buy. As one Perry adviser puts it: “You have to be a total rube to think a race for president is the same as a race for governor.” As recently as October, the hired guns were shocked to discover a trip down to Texas that the old team was not "executing the most rudimentary elements of a modern presidential campaign: no polling or focus groups, no opposition research book on their own candidate to prepare for attacks and debate prep sessions that were barely worth the name." Perry wife Anita gets credit for saving the day. She was the one who told him to "effectively exile" his pal Carney and let Joe Allpaugh -- a veteran of the Giuliani campaign four years ago, who George W. Bush gave the job of vetting Dick Cheney to in 2000 -- take over the operation. [Politico]
Apparently Katy Perry wanted Russell Brand to sue her for divorce and not the other way around because "she didn't want to upset her religious parents" who would have been devestated if she was the one who actually filed the paper work to end her marriage to an English comedian that Americans will never warm up to. At best, the religious fervor of the Perry family seems to have all the consistency of a Kevin Costner accent. On the one hand, TMZ says that because "Katy's parents are evangelical Christians, we're told she didn't want to be the one to 'officially' end the marriage by filing the docs." Fine, but doesn't it feel like we should have heard more from Katy Perry's strict, evangelical parents when she was singing about kissing a girl and liking it and wearing a va-va-va-voom dress on Sesame Street? The good news is, Russell Brand's reportedly gone back to England to be near home, which is understandable. Once the divorce is final, we'll probably be seeing less and less of him on American talk shows and in Hollywood movies as an English guy (theoretically) doing things. If things go smoothly, five years from now, we'll only see him when he's handing out BAFTA Awards. [TMZ]
French President Nicolas Sarkozy won't be spending New Year's Eve in France. He won't even be in Europe. The stealthy head of state was spotted "jetting out last night to Morocco to spend New Year’s with wife Carla Bruni and King Mohammed VI at the new royal palace in Marrakech." Sarkozy, Bruni, and their new French baby are guests "the king and his wife, Princess Lalla Salma" along with other friends and family members who are royal personages. Everyone's staying in "the new palace" which King Mohammed IV built just after taking the throne in 1999 and is quite proud of. According to a witness on the ground, the mere fact the king and his whole family (and the Sarkozys) are inside has led to widespread hoisting of "The Royal Standard of the King, the red flag with the green star in the center," which as of this morning is apparently "flying all over Marrakech, a sign the king and his family are in the new palace." And, again, the Sarkozys. [Page Six]
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was spotted palling around Paris with ex-girlfriend Minka Kelly, who is also the ex-star of ABC's canceled Charlie's Angels reboot. The pair split back in August, but sources say they saw the two "strolling through Le Musée d’Orsay Thursday and brunching at a Parisian hotel yesterday morning." What does it mean? Well, if things go well and they're able to recapture the proverbial cape magic, it could mean the end of -- or at least a nice hiatus from -- the Yankee captain's odd new practice of giving "a gift basket of signed memorabilia" to any woman he necks with in his apartment. A friend says Jeter's morning after memorabilia two-step gobbled him up over the summer like the once-routine grounders that he now struggles even to make a play on. According to the friend, Jeter failed to realize he's already made time with a lady once before, so he "gave her the same identical parting gift, a gift basket with a signed Derek Jeter baseball." Maybe getting the girlfriend back will change that, but it's unclear how far along they are in the pointless reconciliation process that never works, because you're still the same people. A tipster notes they sat on the same side of a booth (good sign) and that "she looked really excited to see him" (also a good sign, particularly if she's been keeping up with the tabloids) but that when they kissed "they didn't kiss romantically...It was more of a hello hug." This sounds like it could be the result of a failed Parisian kiss-hello by the two jet-lagged celebrities. If they did have the real "We can always try again...I'm changed. We've changed" co-dependent crazy talk, it seems likely it happened more private. Give it two weeks and the changed couple will again be jousting over silliness like white white, the look one partner gives the other when they go in for a third class, and why we come to these parties together if you're just going to go off and make inside-jokes with your friends from college and boarding school that are designed to leave everyone out. Jeter and Kelly's conversation won't follow that script per se, but it takes a special kind of weariness to decide months after the fact to take a mulligan on multi-year coupling that went kablammo. It's sweet because Jeter and Kelly are celebrities and in Paris, but do not do this in real, non-famous life. Better to get back on the horse and see where the horse goes. [Page Six]
Madonna's brother Anthony Cicconne -- who was homeless and destitute before people found out he's Madonna's brother -- is still homeless and destitute. For Radar, this simply does not compute. Why would a man with "a multi-millionairess for a sister, and his father and stepmother owning a vineyard 20 miles away from where he sleeps" in Traverse City, Michigan, not go home for the holidays? He says his sister didn't invite him, then as if to show his own generosity, threw a few bucks together for "lunch at a burger joint with a friend where he ordered onion rings, a beer and Jack Daniels on the rocks." That makes it sound like he could have a drinking problem, which is doubly sad if his sister knows and isn't at least offering warm him up and maybe dry him out. There remains another possibility that he's not a stumblebum, but merely saw his sister's new movie and is sensibly trying to erase the memory with cold stoops, onion rings and Jack Daniels. [Radar]