Crowe Eats Crow
A Hot Temper Could Mean a Cool Million
Reports of the Russell Crowe incident and the promises made on the Mercer Hotel Web site appear to be at variance.
At the Waldorf-Astoria, The Rittenhouse, The Peninsula, Raffles, Claridge's, or the George V, were a concierge to get into a physical altercation with a $3,000-a-night guest in the lobby then immediately head off to a personal injury lawyer to seek $1 million in damages?
What is a luxury hotel?
What is a concierge?
Indisputable is the fact that Hollywood's most riveting and volatile actor, was paying $3,000 a night at the Mercer Hotel in trendy Soho, and could not get the telephone to work at 4:30 a.m. when he tried to call home to Australia.
Frustrated, Crowe took the faulty phone down to the front desk presumably to get a replacement. Instead, Crowe's representative said that the actor saw red after the man at the front desk gave him "attitude."
Crowe hurled the telephone--either at the wall or at 28-year-old Nestor (Josh) Estrada, inflicting a small cut on the man's right cheek. Estrada was transported to St. Vincent's Hospital, where the injury was not deemed worthy of stitches, and released.
The police were called. Crowe was handcuffed and, amidst a media feeding frenzy with helicopters overhead, was carted off to a detention cell at the First Precinct station house where he spent eight hours until a noon court appearance.
The Academy Award winning actor was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on September 14.
Meanwhile, later that day, reporters caught up with Estrada and his fiancée at the Empire State Building offices of personal injury attorneys Levine and Blit, where he showed off his injured right cheek.
Google Levine & Blit and here's what comes up:
VERY EFFECTIVE & AGGRESSIVE
Levine &Blit , PLLC EMPIRE STATE BUILDING 350 Fifth Avenue Suite 6902 NY, NY 10118.
this is in or around NYC & NY State ...
Click on this craigslist classified entry and you are told ,"This posting has been deleted."
Reportedly Estrada is seeking $1 million damages.
Crowe went on the "David Letterman Show," where he apologized profusely. Estrada will not take Crowe's calls.
To spend time on the Mercer Hotel Web site is to be promised "24-hour concierge service including car rentals, courier service, secretarial, business and translation services and foreign currency exchange." In addition, "Cellular phones are available."
At a luxury hotel, one should expect the concierge to be always elegantly attired, unfailingly courteous and there for one reason only: to spring into action when a guest has a need--whatever that need may be.
Reuters, CNN and The New York Daily News called Estrada the "concierge."
The New York Times referred to him a "an employee behind the desk" and went on to say that he "lives in a building with a broken buzzer and peeling paint on Metropolitan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn."
The title of Gemma Jones' account in The Daily Telegraph is, "Hotel clerk holds key." And U.K. celebrity Web site www.femalefirst.co.uk starts its story:
Russell Crowe is to be sued for £1million by the New York hotel worker who claims he was assaulted by the actor - with a telephone. Hotel porter Nestor Estrada is taking civil action against the Hollywood heavyweight to seek compensation for his injuries.
All of this raises the question: Was Estrada the elegant, soothing concierge promised on the Mercer Hotel Web site? Or was he simply an employee/clerk/hotel worker/porter, as various writers dubbed him?
If he was not the concierge, was a trained concierge on duty--as was promised on the Web site--whom Estrada could have immediately summoned to deal with a Hollywood icon who was angry, frustrated and known to be hot-tempered?
Did Estrada have the authority to do whatever was necessary to make things right? Did he know--or not know--whether he had the authority? If not, why not?
The old saw that "Any publicity is good publicity so long as they spell your name right," does not hold here. A situation was allowed to get out of control, a luxury hotel phone system was on the fritz and a guest is being sued by a hotel employee—none of which is flattering to the Mercer Hotel.
In the coming weeks both Russell Crowe and Mercer Hotel owner André Balazs will have many questions to answer.
Meanwhile, plenty is being said on the ever-irreverent blogosphere. A sampling:
When you pay $3000 a night for a hotel, you expect a phone that works, or at least staff competent to handle the problem and get it resolved.
For $3,000 bucks a night, a complementary assault should come with the room!
Seven years is the state-mandated minimum for attack with a deadly telephone with intent to dial.