PERSPECTIVE - After 19 years spent mostly in elected office, where he has gained a reputation as a frenetic promoter of both himself and the city, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was busily working an A-list room once again — this time inside the posh Sunset Tower Hotel at Vanity Fair's Feb. 24 Oscar party, one of the swankiest events on LA's social calendar.
As waiters served In-N-Out burgers and cupcakes to Oscar winners Ben Affleck and Daniel Day-Lewis, and actress Melissa McCarthy sipped on a Stella Artois, Villaraigosa spotted conservative Fox News superstar Bill O'Reilly in the crowd.
He immediately headed O'Reilly's way.
The liberal-to-moderate Democrat Villaraigosa and O'Reilly actually had something in common to chat about. Villaraigosa had been a recent frequent guest on Fox, appearing eight times in the final three months of 2012 on Fox News, Fox Business and Mundo Fox — part of his transformation of the mayor's office into a PR machine hearkening back to the era of inveterate self-promoter Mayor Sam Yorty. Yorty campaigned for governor and president while mayor and was a regular on The Tonight Show, but his pace can't hold a candle to Villaraigosa's, who gave nearly 100 media interviews in the last quarter of 2012 and has been criticized as "the 11 percent mayor" for spending a fraction of his working hours on more pressing mayoral duties.
But this night, Villaraigosa wasn't thinking of a guest spot on Fox News — he was thinking about his search for a job. He had fervently hoped, friends and colleagues say, to land an Obama cabinet post as secretary of transportation. But after hamming it up with Charlie Sheen in Cabo San Lucas in January, he was seen in Washington, D.C., as having too much baggage. In early February, Villaraigosa announced late on a Friday afternoon that he was "flattered" but not interested in the cabinet position.
Three weeks later, he glided past film stars and caught up to O'Reilly, flashing a welcoming grin, according to an Oscar partygoer. Then Villaraigosa loudly asked O'Reilly for help landing an on-camera job. Villaraigosa said he wanted "to speak to [Fox News CEO] Roger Ailes" about "going to work" at the network. O'Reilly appeared genial, but his response could not be heard.
When Villaraigosa's mayoral run ends June 30 due to term limits, he could use not just a job but one that affords him the multimillionaire lifestyle to which he's become accustomed as a flamboyant public servant. His concerned allies have even determined how much Villaraigosa should earn: About $750,000 a year to replicate the life of luxury hotels, nomadic air travel, taxpayer-supplied Getty House mayoral mansion, thousand-dollar seats at sporting and entertainment events, SUV with Los Angeles Police Department security detail attached and innumerable evenings over fine food and wine paid for by wealthy friends and supporters.
"He doesn't have a car to drive," says influential City Hall lobbyist Harvey Englander, "he doesn't have a place to live — and he needs a lot of money." (Read the rest … including the view of friends that the Mayor is broke and comments from CityWatch columnist Jack Humphreville… here)
Vol 11 Issue 42
Pub: May 24, 2013