By Keith J. Kelly
The late Michael Kelly is still bringing people together nearly a year after he became the first American journalist to die in the Iraq war.
It’s not often that New York Post Publisher Lachlan Murdoch and New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. see eye to eye – but both are corporate backers of tonight’s Kelly Gang gathering at Michael’s restaurant honoring former Atlantic Monthly editor and syndicated columnist Michael Kelly. He would have turned 47 today.
At the event, the first copies of “Things Worth Fighting For” – a posthumously published collection of Kelly’s writings – will also be on sale. Ann Godoff, publisher of Penguin Press and the editor of the book, will be on hand.
ABC’s “Nightline” anchor, Ted Koppel, writes in the introduction, “If you’re unfamiliar with the works of Michael Kelly, [the book] will introduce you to what you’ve missed. If you’re an old fan, it will remind you of what we’ve lost.”
Mayor Mike Bloomberg has proclaimed today “Michael Kelly Day in New York City.”
Kelly died on April 3, 2003, after the Humvee he was riding in with the 3rd Infantry Division came under fire and tumbled off a bridge.
His widow, Madelyn (or “Max”), and their two sons, Tom, 7, and Jack, 4, were flown down from Boston yesterday by Donald Trump. The New Yorker and New York magazine are also behind the event tonight, which benefits an education fund for the two boys – who will be marching with their mom near the head of today’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, accompanying NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Other sponsors of tonight’s Kelly Gang benefit include GQ magazine, American Express Publishing, Hachette Filipacchi Media, AOL Networks, Time Inc., Newsweek, Gruner + Jahr USA, Wenner Media, CBS and The Atlantic Monthly.
You don’t have to be a Kelly – or even Irish – to attend the event. New Yorker Editor David Remnick will be there, leading a posse of New Yorker writers, as will his predecessor, Tina Brown, now a CNBC talk show host and Washington Post columnist.
Also expected: GQ Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson and his Men’s Health rival, David Zinczenko; Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, People Managing Editor Martha Nelson and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who was a longtime Kelly friend.
Matthew Rose, new Page 1 editor for the Wall Street Journal, will be there, as will his longtime rival at the Times, David Carr. So will the man who is taking over the publishing beat at The Journal, James Bandler – the former Boston-based Journal reporter who broke the news of the affair between GE Chairman Jack Welch and Suzy Wetlaufer, then the editor of the Harvard Business Review.
Fellow Iraq war embedded correspondents will be on hand, including Fox News’ Greg Kelly and the NYT’s Jim Dwyer.
Michael Kelly’s parents, former Washington Daily News reporter Tom Kelly and his wife, Washington Post columnist Marguerite Kelly, will trek up from D.C. for the event, as will the late writer’s siblings, Nellie Kelly, U.S. News and World Report’s Katy Kelly and TV writer Meg Kelly.