Grrr! De Niro ... I Heard Some Things

Legendary actor Robert De Niro was none too pleased after a New York regional paper painted him as a legal angel to cop-killer suspect actor Lillo Brancato Jr. last week.

"Mr. De Niro's sympathy lies exclusively with Officer Enchautegui's family and fellow officers," his representative, Thomas Harvey, wrote in a letter to the editor of The Journal News.

The paper, which serves New York's northern suburbs, quoted Brancato's lawyer, Harvey Kaminsky, as saying De Niro would pay his "A Bronx Tale" co-star's legal bills — with the stipulation that Brancato switch to defense attorney Mel Sachs.

Sachs has represented such famous clients as Russell Simmons, Mike Tyson, David Copperfield and, according to, the New York Yankees and some of the team's biggest stars.

"Mr. De Niro has never spoken with either Harvey Kaminsky or Mel Sachs and they did not represent him. Moreover, he has not spoken with the accused killer in sometime," the letter, obtained by via e-mail, said.

The Journal News ran a story over the weekend that included quotes from Harvey's letter, but it stopped short of issuing the apology demanded from De Niro's reps.

"On behalf of Mr. De Niro, and without waiving any of his claims, I demand an apology from your publication with respect to the offensive, false and defamatory statements. I strongly suggest you mitigate your damages by publishing a statement in the same conspicuous fashion as your original published statements."

The letter also insisted the paper remove the "false and malicious statements" from its Web site immediately. A search on does not return the original story.

De Niro has a legitimate Grrr! here. According to the letter, The Journal News "did not contact a single representative of Mr. De Niro to ascertain the truth of the statements printed."

As for Sachs, he told The Journal News that he had "no financial agreement with De Niro to represent Brancato" in the follow-up story.

Brancato is recovering from two gunshot wounds he suffered at the dying hands of Officer Stephen Enchautegui. His alleged cohort in crime, Steven Armento, is doing the same.

Enchautegui was laid to rest last week after a ceremonial funeral attended by thousands of NYPD officers.

This is a tragic story with no Hollywood ending.

The Apprentice Controversy

This season of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" didn't perform as well as previous ones, but Trump could have done well to aid his ratings for next season's run at the conclusion of last week's finale.

You may know that Trump's choice for hire, Randal Pinkett, was asked by the outspoken billionaire if he wouldn't mind sharing his title with runner-up Rebecca Jarvis, a well-liked Chicago business journalist who performed well on the NBC show.

"If you're going to hire someone tonight, it should only be one," Pinkett said.

Since that now infamous statement, fans of the show have cried foul, from both sides of the aisle. Many people think Pinkett acted selfishly, while many others feel Trump should not have asked Pinkett to share the spotlight.

Both sides are correct.

Pinkett, for someone so smart and so successful, demonstrated a tremendous lack of public relations management skills. In that one moment, he went from classy competitor to selfish whiner in the eyes of millions of television viewers.

However, to business people, Pinkett demonstrated the icy toughness that one needs in order to swim in the shark-infested waters of the New York City business world. He was nice during the show.

At the end however, he took her head off. To many, that's the way it needed to be done.

The bottom line is: Trump hired the right person, but he himself goofed by asking for Pinkett's opinion. In fact, it was very un-Trump-like to allow his newest hire to dictate whom he should and should not hire, and that weakens the image-conscious man more than even the bankruptcy reorganization of his Atlantic City casino empire did.

But it also weakens the premise of "The Apprentice" program. Who wants to watch two full hours of a heavyweight boxing match only to see both fighters get their hands raised at the end?

Unless there's going to be a rematch. Had Pinkett agreed to see Jarvis hired during the finale, it would have set a bad precedent for the show. Period.

As for Jarvis, I believe she is better off now than if she had been hired by The Donald.

While Pinkett earns his six-figure salary — working his butt off for the Trump Organization, Jarvis is sure to be on her way to making much more money as a television financial reporter. She's got the brains, the drive and the looks to make it in the big time.

When it's all said and done, she should thank Randal.

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