The Boston Phoenix
April 1 - 8, 1999

[Loosely Speaking]

Aw, shut up and play ball

Loosely Speaking by Nancy Gaines

The headline on the Boston Herald page-one "special report" two weeks ago trumpeted the news that the nieces of the late Red Sox owner Jean Yawkey were "stunned at being left out of her will." The second article of the two-part "special" went on to say that the two aging nieces, Yawkey's only living relatives, were less than pleased with Yawkey's executor, Sox president John Harrington, who, they contended, cut them off. The nieces' comments came "one day after a Boston Herald report that Harrington [and another trustee] reaped millions from the Yawkey trust." So what's new? Boston magazine reported the same story almost three years ago, including interviews with the disaffected nieces and the news that Harrington was pulling in two salaries to manage the Yawkey estate as well as run the Red Sox. A common thread to the Boston and Herald stories is Scott Farmelant, who wrote the magazine article in June 1996 and, as a temporary reporter at the Herald during the past year, assisted staffer Jack Sullivan in preparing the newspaper pieces. Farmelant, now freelancing for the Boston Globe's City Weekly section, says he gave his Boston article to Sullivan seven weeks before the Herald published its stories. "I dug those ladies up out of the mothballs in '96," says Farmelant, annoyed that the Herald failed to credit him or Boston magazine. "I expected better from Jack." Sullivan, making no apologies, contends that he discovered the nieces while examining court records.

In a predictable postscript, Globe columnist Will McDonough -- the subject of an unflattering profile by Farmelant two years ago, which accused him of being a mouthpiece for Harrington -- chimed in a few days later. McDonough said he believed the Herald stories were a ploy to discredit Harrington and stop construction of a new Fenway Park. McDonough and his sources ("four top businessmen in Boston, all sports savvy, all chief executives" -- all unnamed) theorized that the Herald stories were aimed at diminishing the value of the Sox, thereby making a purchase of the team more accessible to local businessmen. A logic only Yogi Berra could love.

When Dustin met Ben

Dustin Hoffman and Ben Affleck go way back, it turns out.

"I knew your father when he looked like you," Hoffman, 61, says he told Affleck, 26, when they met a few years ago. Hoffman, recalling his days as a struggling actor in the mid-1960s at David Wheeler's storied Theater Company of Boston, said that when he lived in a rooming house at 124 Marlborough Street, the guys he partied with down the street included Timothy Affleck.

"Affleck, that's not a common name," Hoffman says he said upon meeting Ben. "I think I knew your father."

Hoffman strolled down memory lane in a recent interview for Sara Edwards, entertainment reporter for WHDH-TV (Channel 7). In a promo for his new movie, A Walk on the Moon, Hoffman got carried away at the tag-team interview sessions, where studio PR people literally hold cue cards warning when the Q&A is up. Hoffman and Tony Goldwyn (yes, of the MGM family -- director of A Walk on the Moon and a Brandeis alum) went into a riff about Boston. Not once, but at least three times, Hoffman told the timekeeper to shut up and put away the cue cards. Evidently he was having fun remembering the wisecracking, poor-living days at the theater group some 33 years ago, when, pre-Midnight Cowboy, he worked and played here with then-unknowns such as Jon Voight and Al Pacino. "Dustin shanghaied the interview," says Channel 7 producer Ann Sawyer. "He was in such a great mood.

"The timecard said ':30.' And Dustin, who was having fun talking about old times, didn't want to stop. At one point, he grabbed the timecard and turned it sideways. Picture it: it looked like boobs. He showed it to the camera and said, 'Look at this. I'm gonna show this right into the camera. . . . This is unacceptable, this is so offensive,' he said, and everyone broke up," said Sawyer. At the end of the taped interview, Hoffman, laughing uproariously, can be heard saying, "Let me guess -- we're gonna get sued."

The sons also rise

The gay after-hours club Rise is suing the city for its right to operate without an entertainment license. Proprietor Tom Beaulieu said the three-month-old club, which is open to members only, gained an injunction against the city's licensing board and will soon be going to court to defend its position as a "truly private" nightspot that doesn't serve alcohol. Rise, which is near Park Square, soundproofed its quarters "lest we offend any neighbors," said Beaulieu, although the dance club is open only from 1 to 6 a.m. on weekends.

Thin ice

Not a bad month for the Gifford/Mleczko clan. Uncle Chad of BankBoston pulled off the merger that gave him a catbird seat -- even as he saw his bank amalgamated into Terry Murray's Fleet. Niece A.J. Mleczko, of Nantucket, who brought home the gold as star of the US women's Olympic hockey team two years ago, took her Harvard team to its first national championship, won the top national scoring award, and came within two points of the NCAA single-season scoring record. Granddad must be proud -- perhaps taking the curse off his having to hear earlier in the month from son Chad that Murray -- whom the elder Gifford reportedly once turned down for a job -- is now Chad's boss.

Native intelligence

Look for the new nightclub Venu to open its doors mid-month, replacing Nick's Comedy Stop on Warrenton Street. Veteran club promoters Igor Blatnik, Alex Yunis, and Heather Light will host the nightspot, which is bound to attract the Euro crowd that populates the trio's nights at Club Nicole. . . . Some 1000 captains of industry, politics, and media partied Monday night at the Museum of Fine Arts fête celebrating the merger of venerable Boston law firm Sherburne Powers & Needham with Holland & Knight, the nation's fifth-largest arsenal of attorneys. US representative Michael Capuano joined Boston Herald editorial-page editor Shelley Cohen, Greater Boston host Emily Rooney, and a bevy of legal eagles for the private viewing of the Mary Cassatt exhibit and an official welcome to the firm for former state senator Warren Tolman, defeated in his run for lieutenant governor but said to be gearing up for a gubernatorial bid. . . . Club kid Buster (a/k/a Justin Altschuler) is saying good-bye to his WBCN Saturday nocturnal stint as a techno DJ, as well as to nightclub dance gigs and Newbury Street it-boy stints, and moving to Miami Beach. The sendoff is slated for later this month at the Exchange. . . . Stockbroker/author John Spooner, featured this month in Stuff magazine, has sold the first-serial rights to his forthcoming book, titled Do You Want to Make Money, or Would You Rather Fool Around?, to Playboy. The excerpt of what he describes as an Angela's Ashes about money will appear in August.
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