Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Early critics have argued that Dick Cheney’s forthcoming memoir, held under strict embargo until its official release on Aug. 30, is a predictable reprise of old arguments. Like most examples of the genre, In My Time has plenty of those. But a careful reading of Cheney’s narrative, obtained by TIME, turns up quite a bit of new material. Sometimes subtly and sometimes starkly, the vice president’s story takes issue with the public record on pivotal events. One of Cheney’s most surprising claims involves the Bush administration’s internal crisis over domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency. That episode, which came to a head in a 2004 hospital visit by White House aides to a gravely ill Attorney General John Ashcroft, was among the most dramatic in Bush’s two terms. It was notable, if not unique, in presidential history because subordinates forced the commander-in-chief to reverse a high-stakes order in wartime. In Bush’s memoir, he wrote that he had to back down ('accommodate the Justice Department’s concern,' as he put it) or watch 'my administration implode' in 'the largest mass resignation in modern presidential history.' My book on Cheney quotes Bush’s lieutenants, including communications director Dan Bartlett, as comparing the event to Watergate and describing it as a turning point in the Bush-Cheney partnership. At issue was a closely held secret: that Cheney had devised, and Bush approved, an NSA operation to monitor the phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant, part of which later became known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. After more than two years of going along with 'the vice president’s special program,' the Justice Department concluded that parts of it were illegal. Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey later told Congress, and authoritative sources confirmed privately last week, that Ashcroft decided on March 4, 2004 to stop certifying the surveillance as lawful unless the White House scaled it back. That same afternoon, Ashcroft fell ill with a nearly lethal case of pancreatitis." (Time)

"I happened to spend several weeks in Texas earlier this year, while the Lone Star State lay under the pitiless glare of an unremitting drought. After a protracted arid interval, the state's immodest governor, Rick Perry, announced that he was using the authority vested in him to call for prayers for rain. These incantations and beseechments, carrying the imprimatur of government, were duly offered to the heavens. The heavens responded by remaining, along with the parched lands below, obstinately dry.
Perry did not, of course, suffer politically for making an idiot of himself in this way. Not even the true believers really expect that prayers for precipitation will be answered, or believe that a failed rainmaker is a false prophet. And, had Perry's entreaties actually been followed by a moistening of the clouds and the coming of the healing showers, it is unlikely that anybody would really have claimed a connection between post hoc and propter hoc. No, religion in politics is more like an insurance policy than a true act of faith. Professing allegiance to it seldom does you any harm, at least in Republican primary season, and can do you some good. It's a question of prudence. Or is it? Since his faintly absurd excursion into inspirational meteorology back in the spring, Perry has begun to show signs of starting a religious auction on the right, with himself as the highest bidder." (Christopher Hitchens)

"I have been championing Threeasfour -- the amazing and radical fashion design trio comprised of Adi Gil, Gabi Asfour, and Ange Donhauser -- for years now. And their upcoming Fashion Week show, inspired by the Middle East, sounds like one for the record books. Here, I e-chat with them about their Fashion Week preparations, which surprisingly enough, involve headstands. Of course, as usual, they answer with one voice -- much the same way as they design!  Kim Hastreiter: Are you sad or happy that summer's over? Threesafour: Not sad, but not happy it's over. KH: Why? Did you do anything super-fun? TAF: We participated in a super interesting show in Holland: Arnhem Fashion Biennale, and then escaped to the desert of Sinai with our lovely Bedouin friends. KH: Were you inspired by anything in particular this past summer that we might see in some future collection? TAF: 1. Crop circles; 2. The Middle East; 3. The nature of unpredictability and the unpredictability of nature." (Kim Hastreiter/Papermag)

"Babs knows the sting of 740 Park Avenue. Barbara Walters, too. She and Ms. Streisand have been among those rejected by the tony co-op that angles toward old money and away from entertainers.
'Its polished granite entrance reeks of the prospects of satin sheets and the promise of the echoes of fine crystal,' architecture critic Carter Horsley once wrote. Lately, though, the co-op has become bifurcated between the haves and the haves-more. While Blackstone co-founder Steve Schwarzman reigns in what may be the city’s largest luxury apartment, Liz Swig (née Macklowe) faces what is possibly 740 Park’s first foreclosure. The building represents a certain irony of the exiting Great Recession in New York: it was harsh on everybody but the very rich, and the very rich know that better than anybody. Seven-forty Park was developed by James T. Lee, grandfather to Jackie O. (the future first lady grew up in the building), just as the markets crashed in the fall of 1929. Soon after opening, the building struggled to attract wealthy residents in the nasty economic climate, eventually turning into a rental. 'The building was effectively bankrupt three years after it opened,' said Michael Gross, author of 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building. The building recovered sufficiently enough to attract John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1936. Other oil families followed suit, and soon several of New York’s prominent names called 740 Park home." (Observer)

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"According to an October 2008 cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow, reported this week by the Moscow Times, Russia's Foreign Ministry 'remains a bastion of Slavic males who went to Moscow's top schools.' The ministry's director of personnel, Vladimir Morozov, is quoting as saying that diplomacy is traditionally the 'domain of the stronger sex' and argues that 'men were better equipped to handle long-term absences from home, harsh climates, and the 'complex political and military situations' in which Russian diplomats often found themselves.' According to the cable, while the number of women in the institution is increased, they are traditionally limited to public affairs, or secretarial work rather than diplomatic assignments. Overall, the author reports that the culture of sexism, micromanagement, limited technology and rigid top-down management style, limited use of modern communications technology, 'a Soviet-like effort to maintain control of information' all contribute to a "challenging environment' for conducting diplomacy. Another gripe at the ministry is the low pay. Sources within the Foreign Ministry told the cable's author that diplomats' wives who work in the private sector frequently earn more than their husbands do. Seems there are a lot of good reasons smart women would rather work elsewhere." (ForeignPolicy)

"'Kill the body, and the head will die.' -- Joe Frazier ... President Obama is preparing to fight a political war this fall on two fronts -- the first against Republicans who want his job and the second against Republicans who want to make his job more difficult. Obama is taking dead-aim at the latter group, targeting Congress in a fall offensive that the president’s reelection campaign hopes will bruise the overall GOP image beyond repair. Right now, few people in Washington are as expert on damaged images as Obama. Obama has seen his overall approval ratings along with his numbers with constituencies key to his reelection hit new lows this August. He needs a villain and fast. Enter Congress, the villain set to return to work next week. It clocks in with a 13 percent approval rating, having suffered more from the July brawl over the debt ceiling than even Obama. When GOP lawmakers return, the president and his team are ready to deliver a flurry of attacks, castigating Congress for inaction on jobs, being on the wrong side of taxes and eager to destroy social safety net programs. If Obama and his team have their way, Americans will come to see every Republican as a Tea Party extremist. The president previewed this effort when he started throwing jabs while on the road in August." (TheHill)

"'The myth is that the price war put so much pressure on our profits that I was forced to steal money to maintain my opulent lifestyle,' Conrad Black tells Vanity Fair’s Bryan Burrough. 'It’s part of the whole News Corp. mythmaking apparatus,' he explains. 'It was Rupert, you know. He originated that one. He certainly parroted it. Rupert always says reasonably nice things about me, but then he throws in something like that for effect. I don’t really blame Rupert. He’s not a non-friend. Rupert is just Darwinian.' Black opens up to Burrough about every aspect of his experience in jail at Coleman Federal Correction Complex where he served for over two years and where he is likely to return this fall. 'I’m not embarrassed in the least bit I was in prison—not the slightest,' he says. 'There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You can’t talk to Martha Stewart about it, or Alfred Taubman. They didn’t see it as I did, as a nightmarish change in careers. I see it as a temporary vocation. I quickly developed alliances with the Mafia people,' Black says, 'then the Cubans. I was friendly with the ‘good ol’ boys’ and the African-Americans. They all understood I had fought the system, and I do believe I earned their respect for that. Everyone got along,' he says, 'except with the child-molesters. There was the occasional scuffle there, I heard.' He recalls the welcome he received from a senior member of the Genovese crime family: 'No one will bother you here. If you catch a cold, we will find out who you got it from. You know, we have much in common .… We are industrialists. The myth, in all the Canadian papers, was that I would not hold up in prison, that I would be physically and sexually abused …. I realized, well, it would be a little tedious, but it wouldn’t be difficult to endure.' He recalls the indignities of anal inspections, telling Burrough: '[I] was slightly mystified at the extent of official curiosity about that generally unremitting aperture.'" (Vanityfair)

"It looks like Da Brick is a go at HBO. I hear the pay cable network has handed out a pilot order to the drama project about a young boxer from Entourage creator Doug Ellin, filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and writer John Ridley. Ridley wrote the script for the pilot, which will be directed by Lee. Set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed 'brick city,' Da Brick is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Search is under way for an young black actor to play the lead. Da Brick stems from Tyson’s 2010 guest appearance on Ellin’s HBO comedy Entourage, a series inspired by executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early years in Hollywood. “That’s when Mike asked me, why don’t we do with my life what we did with Mark’s life,' Ellin told me back in June when Da Brick was still in development. “The initial idea was ‘Entourage meets The Wire,‘ an edgy story about an up-and-coming boxer and his crew that is much more dramatic than Entourage.'" (Deadline)

"I'd like to tell you that he travels with an entourage, that he's unapproachable, that you play by his rules. But I've never met a celebrity so honest, so unguarded, so willing to go on the record as Mark Cuban. He's got no agenda, he's just being him. Maybe you know him as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA champs. Maybe you saw him on 'Dancing With The Stars'. But to those paying attention, it was his huge financial victory selling to Yahoo that put him on our did this happen? I hate to tell you, but rich guys are smart. The self-made ones. Those who inherit tend to piss it away, they just don't know about hard work. And that's what it takes to make it and keep it. So Mark graduates from college and moves to Indiana where he's living in a veritable frat house, six guys, working as a bartender. So what does he do? He buys a Texas Instruments computer and learns how to program. Now let me be clear, he's got no degree in computer science. He's not being paid to learn. But he can see the future, and he wants to participate. Can you see where we're going as opposed to where we've been? Are you willing to put in the hard work to get there? Hell, I'll be honest, I was stunned Mark Cuban knew who I was, never mind wanted a meeting with me. To shoot the shit no less, with no agenda, because he thought it would be fun... I'm just a guy sitting in front of a computer screen in my underwear, how did this happen? Hard work and a paradigm shift. When I was printing my newsletter and sending it via snail mail, my audience was limited. But the Internet opened the world to me, and if I can just write something special enough, it's astounding who I can reach." (LefsetzLetter)

"Meanwhile, back to our Saturday late morning real life, JH and I drove down to Santa Monica to get some breakfast and visit the Promenade on Third Street where they have the Farmer’s Market set up every weekend until 2 in the afternoon. The Promenade is closed off to cars and under the bright blue sky and the warm sun, Los Angelenos fill the streets, shopping, walking, looking, exhibiting themselves (often like characters out of Nathaniel West) and having a good time. Afterwards we took a long and leisurely stroll on the pathway in Palisades Park when runs on the western side of Ocean Avenue, on the cliff overlooking the Pacific. It was this part of Santa Monica – the beach – where the early moguls of the film industry built their houses. It was known as the Golden Mile and all the big names were there – the Mayers, the Zukors, the Laskys, the Zanucks, the Thalbergs, the Talmadges and most of all William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies who occupied a 114-room beach house right on the sand where they entertained the famous and the infamous (although W.R. didn’t have much truck for infamous other than in his papers’ headlines) and even Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw." (NYSocialDiary)

"Irene cleared the air for Mitt Romney to dominate the Hamptons scene this weekend and exclusively rub shoulders with Wall Street elite as he raises money for his presidential campaign. Romney and rival candidate, distant cousin Gov. Jon Huntsman, both planned to attend East End fund-raisers over the weekend but canceled because of the storm. Huntsman’s camp said the event hosted by real estate developer William Mack will be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the fund-raiser for Romney at former US Assistant Treasury Secretary Emil Henry Jr.’s East Hampton home has been rescheduled for Saturday. Moore Capital Management hedge fund king Louis Bacon, Jets owner Woody Johnson and New York Republican State Committee Chairman Ed Cox are to attend the bash, at $2,500 per person. Sunday, Romney will attend a fund-raiser at billionaire John Paulson’s Southampton estate. Romney has raised four times more cash than any other Republican candidate, raking in $18 million." (PageSix)

"This week when it was announced that Paris Hilton’s latest reality-TV show venture, The World According to Paris was being canceled after barely scraping together 400,000 eyeballs for the premiere, it seemed like the end of an era. After all, it’s been 10 years since the celebutante, now 30, first graced us with her sometimes infuriating, often shocking, but always entertaining presence. In a way, Hilton ushered in the modern era of gossip rags and—along with Britney and Lindsay and Jessica—fueled a multimillion dollar dirt-digging industry. Without Paris, we wouldn’t have Perez Hilton. 'That’s hot' would never have entered the national lexicon. And night-vision photography would never have been deemed sexy. We take a look back at the modern 'It' girl, the woman who made being “famous for being famous” an art form, and her greatest hits and misses. In another era, a sex tape would have been ruinous to any aspiring starlet. But this was 2003, the beginning of Generation Me, and just a year before Facebook launched. Instead, the leaked sex tape with her ex-beau Rick Salomon—shot in sickly green night vision—had the opposite effect: it made Paris an instantaneous infamous, international celebrity, breaking her permanently out of the New York tabloids and into feature articles in major magazines like Rolling Stone and Maxim. The week after the tape leaked, Paris’s first reality show, The Simple Life, launched. The tape ushered in the trend of reality-TV star as porn star, paving the way for Kim Kardashian. Um, thanks?" (TheDailyBeast)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Viacom "Gets" Social TV

click to enlarge
Social TV-wise, this was the summer of Viacom.

Viacom, whether a force for good or a force for evil, gets social media; Viacom gets social TV. The numbers bear this out. " At 10:35 p.m. ET, Beyonce’s live performance and baby bump reveal generated 8,868 tweets per second," writes Mashable. And according to Trendrr, the daily total volume was 5.5 million -- about 5.4 million via Twitter and 66,317 via Facebook -- and 48% of the user agents accessed those social sites via a mobile device. These are profoundly delicious statistics.

Viacom, it appears, has discovered the social media Holy Grail -- that their awards shows are powerful tools to drive social engagement. Awards shows are also, when done effectively, ratings magnets. This week's VMA awards drew their largest audience -- 12.4 million viewers -- in history. To put that number in proper perspective, NBC preseason football drew on average 7.3 million viewers. "MTV said that 8.5 million of those watching Sunday's show were 12-34 year-olds, making it the most watched telecast of all time in that age group," writes Reuters. In other words, more 12-34 year olds watched the VMA's than the total average audience of NBC preseason football on Sunday.

It is not inconceivable that "socially friendly" programming like Teen Wolf, by the very fact that it is geared towards a young audience is eo ipso "socially friendly" because young people are the most socially engaged.

But back to the data. According to their press release (using Nielsen as their source):

MTV Digital saw its highest VMA day ever on Sunday, with VMA content attracting two million unique visitors, an increase of +33% year over year. In addition, more than 10 million page views were garnered on Sunday, up +18% year over year. VMA video content generated 2.3 million streams for the day, up a whopping +41% vs. the day of the 2010 VMAs. MTV’s mobile site reached its highest day in history thanks to the VMAs as well, with over 2.7 million mobile views for the day, more than +50% higher than the previous record. Also MTV Digital hosted its biggest live event ever on Sunday; over 1.2 million streams were generated on, tablet, and mobile devices across a multitude of cameras giving users the ultimate backstage experience. It was the most social VMA day ever, with social networks driving +76% more traffic than a year ago.

The Social Summer of Viacom

In June, according to Trendrr BET was the top cable network by social activity. This was, of course, driven by the BET awards ( over 1.4 million impressions in June ).Viacom's young, pop-culturally focused cable networks -- VH1, BET, MTV -- are all working on the same social media page. I wrote earlier this month, "In June, BET was the top cable network by social activity, followed by MTV. The BET Awards, which propelled the network in June, was a perfect storm of young and interactive. That a single event could propel a cable network to the top in social is quite interesting and the MTV Music Video awards are very well situated indeed if that continues to be the case."

In July, VH1 was the top social cable network with 12% "share of voice," according to Trendrr. TeenNick -- owned by MTV, a subsidiary of Viacom -- was the #4 social cable network with 9% of the July share of voice. And MTV rounded out the top 5 cable networks at #5 social cable networks with 7% of the July share of voice. in other words, of the top 5 cable social networks, Viacom owned 3. Further, of the Top 5 social cable shows for July, HBO's True Blood reigned supreme (with 10% share of voice)-- but VH1's Basketball Wives was #3 (with 6% share of voice), and MTV's Teen Wolf was #5 (with 3% share of voice).

In August, Viacom has built on what they have learned from the BET awards, according to Trendrr. Positive sentiment for the VMAs was 80%.

It is no exaggeration to say that the social TV summer of 2011 belonged to Viacom.


Finally, I cannot fail to note in closing that the Academy Awards -- down 7% since 2010 for ABC -- and the Emmys -- which ran a *meh* even in 2010 compared to 2009 -- both have a lot to learn Viacom's handling of their marquee brand awards shows this summer. The Emmys air on September 19th.

And this blog will be watching ...
Amy Landecker

image via lesliekahnartists

I'm getting a crazy amount of hits this morning for Amy Landecker (for some reason), so bear with me on this. This is Larry David's new girlfriend. That is all ..
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"As we pull up to the Airbus A340, there's a cluster of people milling about under the door, but no staircase to actually climb up into the plane, which looms high above our heads. A foreign TV crew decked out in flak jackets and helmets is swarming around it, trying to get aboard. We approach cautiously. After we wait five minutes in the blaring high noon heat, the rebels wheel over a small metal staircase, which stops about four feet under the actual door. The TV crew bombs up the stairs to get into the plane, pulling themselves up gymnast-style, a gaggle of onlookers scrambling up behind them. Before long, at the bottleneck, a fight nearly breaks out between a group of local civilians demanding their right to enter before the foreign press, and the rebels, who are clutching their AK-47s and trying to enforce order. It's a small slice of the uncertainty that's everywhere in post-Qaddafi Libya. The entire mass is yelling and no one is backing down. Everyone is packing heat. The mood is buoyant, but the possibilities for violence are endless. I had spent the day with Ahmed moving smoothly through checkpoints manned by grinning young men with Kalashnikovs -- but when people start shouting, I have to wonder: Is everything about to unravel, right before my eyes?" (ForeignPolicy)

"If there’s anything close to a political certainty in 2012, it’s that Barack Obama will get more than 90 percent of the African-American vote. But that doesn’t mean every black Obama supporter will vote for him happily — nor does it guarantee that turnout will approach the stratospheric levels of 2008, even though Obama needs a huge showing from his base to offset the expected loss of swing voters in states like North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. With that in mind, prominent black leaders — fearing Obama is not only taking them for granted but avoiding them in public — have turned up the heat on the nation’s first African-American president, transforming all-in-the-family concerns into open criticism of the president at a time when they had hoped the completion of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. near the National Mall would bring a moment of unity. The leaders are tired, they say, of Obama dog-whistling his support for a broad black agenda rather than explicitly embracing the kind of war on racism, poverty and economic segregation embodied by King. 'You can spend a lot of time trying to win over white independents, but if you don’t pay attention to your base, African-Americans, if you have not locked up your base yet, you’ve got a serious problem,' said CNN contributor Roland Martin." (Politico)

"Ralph Lauren is due to host the Bush political dynasty at his Colorado ranch for the lavish wedding of his son David to Lauren Bush this weekend. David will marry Lauren, the granddaughter and niece of former presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, at the fashion icon’s 17,000-acre ranch on Sunday. Ralph and wife Ricky have planned days of festivities around the wedding -- a picnic and softball game on Saturday, a rehearsal dinner Saturday night and a rodeo on Monday. The events will take place in Telluride with the wedding itself at the scenic Rocky Mountain ranch called Double RL, which includes a saloon, teepees and cabins, and is where parts of John Wayne’s 'True Grit' were filmed ... Among the 200 guests expected include David’s sister, Dylan Lauren, and Lauren’s father, Neil Bush. Her grandfather George H.W. and former First Lady Barbara Bush, currently at Walker’s Point in Maine, will not attend, possibly because of the ranch’s altitude. A rep for George H.W. Bush told us, 'They are not going to be able to make the trip to Colorado this weekend.' A spokesman for George W. would not comment if he and wife Laura will attend. Mother of the bride, Sharon Bush, who went through a tough divorce battle with Neil in 2003 after 23 years, will be escorted by her friend, dapper New York-based bachelor Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia." (PageSix)

"Los Angeles. One of my favorite activities when I lived out there was giving tours of the area to friends visiting from the East. I’d usually start somewhere around Sunset Plaza and Sunset Boulevard, drive up into the hills and slowly move west up and down through the web winding, hilly streets until we got to Bel Air or sometimes Brentwood. Then I’d turn around and sometimes take Beverly Glen up to Mulholland Drive, turning east so that everyone could get a look at both sides of L.A. — the vast San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles Basin from the top of the Santa Monica mountains, continuing on east until Laurel Canyon and then back down to Sunset and on over to Doheny Drive where I lived most of the years I was there. I took JH, an almost first-time visitor to Los Angeles, on part of that tour. Although I altered the route greatly in order to take advantage of the Digital’s eye. In the early days of Los Angeles after the movie industry started, the flat land of Beverly Hills was a real estate development of houses built from the 19-teens through the 1950s, many of which were occupied by famous movie stars, directors, producers, writers and designers." (NYSocialDiary)

"When I started this blog four years ago, I had no secrets. Admittedly, my over-sharing cost me a couple friendships, as it took me a while to work out that not everyone wants the details of private life blogged about on the interweb. But now I feel like I’ve gone to the other extreme and hardly talk about myself or the people close to me at all, and when I do it’s in the form of really vague, 'deep' short-story vibe posts that are cool too but are different from the confessional diary-style posts of yesteryear. Why am I thinking about this now? Well, I was reading Tavi’s blog this morning, and my eyes were welling up with tears of joy as usual, and I started thinking: why do I love this blog so much? Sure, I like seeing pictures of her in cool outfits and reading all of her real-talk fashion musings, but that’s not really why I keep going back to Style Rookie. The real reason Tavi's blog is so addictive/powerful is because she shares everything with us, even if it’s embarrassing or uncool, and in the end we really feel like we know her and how her teenage brain works. We see pieces of ourselves reflected in her idiosyncrasies and insecurities, and it makes us feel more conformable in our own bodies and minds to know that we are not alone. Really, I don't know where I'd be without her. So, the new goal is to find a happy medium where I can talk about my issues/desires/problems honestly (without offending anyone), and also interview deaf people who fuck aliens or whatever it is I’m into these days. Deal? OK." (Slutever)

"The only word which can touch on our feelings of Henry being diagnosed with cancer is devastation. Ask anyone who knows this guy and they’ll tell you that he’s the last one (not that any dog does) who deserves to be sick. He’s the most loyal and loving dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I’ve met a lot of dogs. When we were told Henry had 1-3 months to live ('30 to 60 days if he’s lucky') my heart fell and has been broken. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for the death of a loved one but, my bouncing and loving 9 year old puppy’s illness really caught us off guard. I’ve tried to wrap my head all around what I could have done differently. Loved him more, pet him without complaining, never ever stopped throwing the ball? Needless to say Hen has been swimming, playing catch, and eating more human food then his stomach should probably hold. I’ll still never feel like I’ve done as much for him as he has for me." (Maggie Rizer)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Kinder, Gentler Anthony Bourdain
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain sounded contrite on WNYC's Leonard Lopate's show this afternoon. Almost. He was half-apologetic about Paula Deen, backtracking on his recent blindsides, saying he "came across as crass" during the whole fiasco. But -- "... that being said Is a bacon cheeseburger between 2 doughnuts...what America needs right now?"

Like I said -- almost contrite.

Regarding Top Chef head chef Tom Collicio, who recently told Page Six Boudrain was afraid of him: "I geniuinely respect and like the guy," said Bourdain.
This is, to be sure, "a kinder, gentler" Tony Bourdain.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"If ever there was a showman who knew how to end on a high note—leaving his awed and adoring audience begging for more—it is the man in the trademark black mock turtleneck. Even as an ailing Steve Jobs announced to the world last week that 'unfortunately, that day has come' for him to step down as chief executive officer of Apple, his timing was—yet again—impeccable. In the 14 years since Jobs regained control of his company in the summer of 1997 after a long, bitter exile, Apple shares have increased a stunning 110-fold. Having surpassed rival Microsoft a year ago, Apple’s $350 billion in market capitalization places it behind only ExxonMobil as the most valuable company in the world. Apple has made money so quickly and so prodigiously that it holds an outrageous $76 billion in cash and investments—an awesome sum thought to be parked in an obscure subsidiary, Braeburn Capital, located across the California border in Reno because the state of Nevada doesn’t have corporate or capital-gains taxes." (TheDailyBeast)

"Amply supplied for the weekend of potential meteorological catastrophe being promoted by the weather forecasters, I returned home to hunker down and await the lady called Irene. By then she had been downgraded officially. Earlier in the day I got an email from my sister who was on the West Coast of Florida. A friend of hers in Georgia had reported to her that the hurricane had already been downgraded before it hit the Carolinas. although that was not 'official.' The mayor’s shutting down the mass transit virtually shut down the city, making it problematic to go anywhere outside of your neighborhood. People with jobs who use mass transit to get to work couldn’t go unless they had a car. Many people who use mass transit do not have cars. The doorman at a building in my neighborhood told me that he took a taxi from his home in Brooklyn but because of the 'zone' fares, he took one cab to the Brooklyn Bridge for $15, walked over the bridge and took another cab uptown for a total of $31. Forty-six bucks to get to work. He also didn’t have to show up because of the weather and the rules but he did because he knew that if he didn’t someone else would have a double shift and then have trouble getting home. New Yorkers, you see, can be very thoughtful of others." (NYSocialDiary)

"Diane von Furstenberg canceled her celebrity-heavy 'Tanner Hall' Saturday screening after personally speaking to Mayor Bloomberg. She and Barry Diller were due to host the event at the UA Theater in Southampton with an after-party at Nobu, but called it off after heeding hurricane warnings from hizzoner. The film was co-directed by Diane’s daughter, Tatiana von Furstenberg, and Francesca Gregorini, the stepdaughter of Ringo Starr. Among the star-and-socialite studded crowd that had been expected were its star Rooney Mara, billionaire Ron Perelman, Andres and Lauren Santo Domingo, Vito and Lola Schnabel, Jay McInerney, Jane Wenner, Stefano Tonchi, Gina Gershon and Stavros Niarchos." (PageSix)

"A member of the '70s vocal group Labelle once told me that they broke up because they could no longer top their outfits and entrances. There was nowhere to go but out! For a while, I've felt that Lady Gaga might end up facing a similar problem. (No, she wouldn't break up as a result of it, but she could conceivably break down.) So, playing the vaguely Pacinoish (and Annie Lennox-ish) Jo Calderone on the VMAs last night was a very clever way to lose all the accessories yet flaunt a whole new persona. Gaga was wearing meat again--but this time it was in her pants. But I want to propose something even more radical for her next incarnation. For her own sake, here's what the woman needs to do next time..." (Musto)

"Readers of the online versions of Condé Nast publications will have to look no further than the bottom of their screens to see what content other readers have deemed worthy of a 'Tweet' on Twitter or a 'like' on Facebook. And right below that social media will be a hefty dose of advertising. On Monday, the magazine publisher will begin using a module called the Condé Nast Social Sidekick at the bottom of article pages for the Web versions of magazines like W,, Glamour, Self, Teen Vogue and Lucky. 'Consumer engagement has become a top priority,' said Louis Cona, chief marketing officer at Condé Nast. The company is hoping the new tool will encourage readers to view content from other Condé Nast sites, while giving advertisers like Gucci, the premiere sponsor, the option to showcase their own multimedia promotions." (Decoder)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Magazines have always sent their stories off to Hollywood — movies like 'Saturday Night Fever,' 'American Gangster,' 'Goodfellas' and 'Grey Gardens' all began as stories in New York, as did television shows like 'Taxi' — but this summer they’ve become more aggressive. New York and The Atlantic have signed contracts with International Creative Management to help formalize the process of turning stories into films or TV shows. Todd Hoffman, one of the firm’s top agents, will oversee deal-making for the magazines when filmmakers take an interest to one of their stories and also mine the magazines’ archives for old stories that weren’t scooped up by Hollywood when they first came out. The New York Times has had a similar relationship with Hoffman for more than five years. Whether these new contracts will change the role of writers like Lee, who have long fielded their own requests from filmmakers and even signed on with agents of their own, is unclear. Equally unclear is whether these deals will make any difference to the magazines, since Hollywood’s tradition of buying film rights has never been a major moneymaker for the publishing world. The details and structures of different deals depend largely on the magazine’s rules and relationships with the writers (at The New Yorker, for example, all writers retain full copyright to their work and many of them, accustomed to spinning their stories into larger projects, have their own agents). At the Times, it’s more cut and dried: the newspaper owns everything. 'The Times owns all of the content so it’s ours to represent and to do with what we want,' said Stephanie Serino, the director of domestic sales and licensing at The New York Times Syndicate. At New York magazine, the terms of the deals will depend on the magazine’s agreement with different writers." (WWD)

"From her front row seat at the fall and spring fashion shows, a nod or frown from Anna Wintour can make or break what comes down the runway and send tremors through the fashion industry.
As one of President Barack Obama’s most successful fundraisers, the Vogue editor memorably played as a controlling ice queen by Meryl Streep in 'The Devil Wears Prada,' exerts her influence in another way.27 Obama supporters who have used their connections to each solicit $500,000 for the president’s re-election campaign. In less than a year of making fundraising calls and hosting a string of dinner parties, Wintour has more than tripled the $100,000-plus she helped raise for the campaign in 2008.The fashion matriarch’s support for Obama is not a complete positive for the Obama campaign. On the one hand, Wintour, who was named the 69th most powerful woman in the world this week by Forbes, brings a certain panache to a campaign that promises to reach the billion dollar mark. On the other, she highlights Obama’s celebrity ties at a time when the administration is tackling a down economy. Last year, before Wintour, 61, hosted a fundraiser at her Greenwich Village home, the Republican National Committee sent out an e-mail with the subject line 'The President Wears Prada.' In their press release, they blasted Obama for his 'elitist disconnect from the American people.'" (Politico)

"Shauna Taylor, the model who got a Damien Hirst-designed butterfly permanently tattooed on her most private area for the cover of Dasha Zhukova’s Garage magazine, says she has no regrets becoming part of Hirst’s body of work. 'I love it,' Taylor told us, adding, 'I would have been stupid not to be part of this project. I have a piece of art on my vagina. Not one single person can ever say they gave birth through a Damien Hirst piece of art. I can [if I ever give birth].' A London-based illustrator, Taylor, 23, got involved through an ad. Tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta was handpicked by Hirst to ink the green-and-black tat. 'It’s a part of the body you can’t reach well,' he said, and it took two sessions to complete from Hirst’s design. Did it hurt? Says Taylor, 'I was hoping it might feel kind of nice, but it was probably the worst pain I have felt. I thought I was going to pass out.' Taylor met with Hirst -- who didn’t sign the piece -- to show him, and also threw a garden party with friends to celebrate." (PageSix)

"Everything about the new Galaxy Macau casino and hotel is big. The $2 billion complex, which opened in May, has three hotels with a total of 2,200 rooms. The gaming floor is 39,000 square meters, with 600 tables and 1,500 slot machines. A rooftop beach features 350 tons of white sand and a 4,000-square-meter wave pool.  Running the Galaxy takes some 8,000 workers—and in a city of just half a million people that boasts a jobless rate below 3 percent, finding them is not easy. From accountants and IT professionals to housekeepers and croupiers, there aren’t enough qualified people to meet the needs of the city’s casinos, says Trevor Martin, Galaxy Entertainment Group’s senior vice-president for human resources. 'We do the best we can in a tight market,' he says with a sigh. The former Portuguese colony (like Hong Kong, now a special administrative region of China) is the only place in the country with legalized casino operators. Since the government let foreign-owned casinos in, Macau’s economy has been on fire—real gross domestic product grew 26.4 percent last year and is growing at a 21.5 percent rate this year. In the first half of 2011, gaming revenue jumped 44 percent.  Macau’s gambling revenue is now four times larger than that of Las Vegas, and the gap should keep growing as more casinos open." (BusinessWeek)

"Feature film writer David Benioff (Troy, The Kite Runner) and novelist D.B. Weiss found mega-success as co-showrunners of their very first TV show, HBO’s freshman medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones. It hauled in 13 Primetime Emmy nominations, including honors for top Drama Series and Writing for an episode they co-penned. That’s more nods than any drama series except Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. Deadline TV contributor Ray Richmond talked to Benioff and Weiss via email about how they’re dealing with overnight success and where Thrones will go in Season 2:
DEADLINE: So has the early success of Game of Thrones surprised you? This is probably a difficult question to answer honestly: if you say ‘No’ it sounds immodest, and if you say ‘Yes’ it appears insecure. DAVID BENIOFF and D.B. WEISS: We, the insecure, say ‘Yes.’ We always believed the show would find a loyal audience, but our fear was that it could be an audience of 40. Both the number and the passion of the viewers stunned us .." (Deadline)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"About 40 yards away from the house, in the middle of a large grass lawn, is an ordinary looking rectangular hedge. What’s inside is far from ordinary. A set of stairs go down and down, about 40 feet altogether, into a heavily reinforced bunker with neon lights, a fire alarm system and wall-mounted telephones. Light green steel doors about a foot thick separate a complex series of tunnels and rooms, which seem to have been built as a last-ditch hideout. Neighborhood residents say they found a fully equipped operating room in the bunker which included an X-ray machine. Surgical masks are strewn around various rooms in the bunker, too. The usable medical equipment was taken out and donated to local hospitals. A couple of the rooms are decked out with bunk beds, perhaps for a security detail or other family members. Gaddafi, or his son Mutassim, did like to muse about self-defense in their underground lair. In one room, there is a 404-page book by Jane’s Consultancy called Protection of Libyan Military Assets. But it’s not all business down in the bunker: there were a number of magazines in English, including Playboy, Vogue, and National Geographic, scattered around various rooms, along with an empty box of Corona beer. 'He’s one freak,' says Ashraf al Khadiri, a 30-year-old doctor who also lives in the neighborhood. 'He’s been preparing for this moment for a long time.' Neighborhood residents had long suspected there was an underground facility on the property because of the large amount of dirt that was trucked out during construction. 'We always thought he could be walking under our houses,' says Khadiri with a smirk and a shrug. 'We didn’t know.'" (TheDailyBeast)

"He was once hailed by Vanity Fair as 'a sartorial genius of our time', despite a look that appeared to be a fusion of Michael Jackson and Sylvester Stallone – with an added flanking battalion of virgins – but what we've seen of Colonel Gaddafi's interior design taste so far has been disappointingly tasteful. Given that he had a merciless will, billions of oil dollars, a well-established hierarchy of minions, and even a signature colour, you might have expected something more spectacular than the recent pictures of his daughter Aisha's palace (AKA 'the prostitute's palace') suggested. True, the gold-mermaid-with-Aisha's-face sofa in the stairwell pushed the right buttons. But other images of the home revealed that the swimming pool had a rather nice vaulted timber structure, the bedrooms were discreetly wood-panelled and the gym was utilitarian. Yes, they were objectionably oversize and luxurious, and spoke of obscene, ill-gotten wealth, but where were the stuffed rhinos, the gold-and-onyx swans, the lifesize replica of the Albert Memorial? The Gaddafi family is in danger of failing to live up to our expectations of dictator chic." (TheGuardian)
"Regular readers may have seen and been following Augustus Mayhew’s installments of an archival collection of photographs taken by Ellen Glendinning Frazer of her friends and family in Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Bar Harbor, Paris, New York, London and Arizona between 1929 and 1940. Taking pictures and putting them into albums came into vogue by the early 1930s on a mass market level. Many American families had begun photograph albums, as well as 8 mm movie cameras recording the same situations. Ellen Frazer was one who took it a step further. She became a serious amateur photographer. She used the best equipment and had her own darkroom. It was a hobby but the lady was as respectful of it as an great artist is of his work. The same interest and diligence today would probably been realized as a professional. Frazer’s subjects are her friends and family. These were the common subjects. Her group traveled regularly between Philadelphia (as well as other cities such as New York) to Palm Beach and other destinations of social leisure. It was the pre-jetset crowd where time was still required and expected. People didn’t travel hundreds or thousands of miles for a weekend, or even a week, if they could help it." (NYSocvialDiary)

"Goldman Sachs has kicked off an internal probe into who’s running Twitter feed @gselevator, which claims to dish the dirt on things said in the company elevators. A source told us that following 'a failed attempt to force Twitter to freeze the account, they are investigating who is behind it. They believe it is an intern or a young gun, but there are enough facts on the feed for bosses to suspect it is someone with access inside the company. The culprit may just be riding elevators, but that is caught on camera.' There is no absolute proof that the tweeter, who claims to be a Goldman banker but uses an anonymous Gmail account, really works for the firm. His tweets of overheard conversations include: 'Suit#1: ‘Was that really an earthquake?’ Suit#2: ‘No, I just dropped my wallet.’ (laughter).' And, 'My garbage disposal eats better than 98% of the world.' Also, 'Suit #1: ‘I let him present one slide. He was sweating and stuttering like Michael Jackson in Mothercare.’ Goldman denied there is an investigation." (PageSix)

"The New York Times got ahold of former vice president Dick Cheney’s forthcoming memoir, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. Skipping over the bits about his insatiable warmongering, the paper uncovered some interesting information in the epilogue. According to the Times: 'Mr. Cheney’s long struggle with heart disease is a recurring theme in the book. He discloses that he wrote a letter of resignation, dated March 28, 2001, and told an aide to give it to Mr. Bush if he ever had a heart attack or stroke that left him incapacitated. And in the epilogue, Mr. Cheney writes that after undergoing heart surgery in 2010, he was unconscious for weeks. During that period, he wrote, he had a prolonged, vivid dream that he was living in an Italian villa, pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers.' But what does it mean? For help, we checked with top Freud scholar According to the 'Dream Themes' user guide, a driveway symbolizes the following: 'To see or drive up to a driveway in your dream, symbolizes an end to your journey. It also represents security and rest. Alternatively, it denotes your path toward achieving inner peace and toward finding your spirituality.' As Cheney was in a coma at the time, the 'inner peace' theory checks out. A villa, or 'mansion' in parlance, 'suggests that you need growth. You may feel that your current situation or relationship is in a rut.'” (VanityFair)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"With the end of the Gadhafi regime seemingly in sight, it is an opportune time to step back and revisit one of the themes we discussed at the beginning of the crisis: What comes after the Gadhafi regime?
As the experiences of recent years in Iraq and Afghanistan have vividly illustrated, it is far easier to depose a regime than it is to govern a country. It has also proved to be very difficult to build a stable government from the remnants of a long-established dictatorial regime. History is replete with examples of coalition fronts that united to overthrow an oppressive regime but then splintered and fell into internal fighting once the regime they fought against was toppled. In some cases, the power struggle resulted in a civil war more brutal than the one that brought down the regime. In other cases, this factional strife resulted in anarchy that lasted for years as the iron fist that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions in check was suddenly removed, allowing those issues to re-emerge. As Libya enters this critical juncture and the National Transitional Council (NTC) transitions from breaking things to building things and running a country, there will be important fault lines to watch in order to envision what Libya will become." (STRATFOR)

"In 1996, the teenage son of a prominent political figure in Washington, D.C., got suspended from his tony prep school. Not wanting to see himself, his family or his boss embarrassed by his son’s actions, the father scrambled to keep the incident out of the news. One of the calls he made was to the chief executive of the parent company of a local television station that was planning on running a story. The owner of the TV station assured the politician that he'd have the story killed as a favor from one father to another. Behind-the-scenes favors between the rich and powerful is nothing new. In this case though, the father in question was Vice President Al Gore, whose son Albert III had gotten suspended from St. Albans. The owner of the television station was media mogul Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp. Spokespeople for both News Corp. and Gore declined to comment on the story, which was confirmed by three former News Corp. executives with direct knowledge of the matter. Although there is no evidence of any quid pro quos for Murdoch’s willingness to quash a negative story about Gore’s son, the personal favor for the vice president couldn’t hurt." (LATimes)

"Larry David has found love on the set of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' with actress Amy Landecker, who appeared as 'Jane' on an episode called 'The Bi-sexual' last Sunday. A source tells Page Six their romance “sparked on set' when the episode was filmed six months ago. Since then, they have been spotted out and about together in both New York and Los Angeles. Landecker is known for her role as 'Mrs. Samsky' in the 2009 flick, 'A Serious Man.' Before she and David clicked, there were rumors that the caustic comic was connected to alluring Eva Mendes, which he has denied. HBO had no comment on the talent’s personal lives." (PageSix)

"Bright, sunny, 79 degrees, low to no humidity and a soft steady breeze. In our ongoing retrospective during these last days leading up to the end of summer, we had intended to run today’s piece on yesterday but was pre-empted by the news of Casey Ribicoff’s passing. Coincidentally, today’s, almost yesterday’s, Diary entry was also about the final departure of another fashionable figure, CZ Guest, who died in November 2003. Sleek, chic, swank, blonde on blonde; she was one of Truman Capote’s 'Swans,' and lo, the longest surviving one. Born Lucy Douglas Cochrane, daughter of a Boston banker, a Proper Bostonian. When she was in her early 20s, the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted a long horizontal nude of her which he was said to have hung upon a wall over a bar in Mexico City. When she was 24, the lithesome and horsey girl from Back Bay got herself a job as a showgirl in a revival of the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. Probably because she was as beautiful as a movie star, 20th Century-Fox signed her to a contract. But the movies weren’t big enough: the world was to be her stage." (NYSocialDiary)

"She was one of the most elegant women. A size zero. Loved Ralph Rucci clothes. A great beauty—coal-black hair, bright-red lips. But one of the great marriages, to Abe Ribicoff: one of the great love affairs. She never wanted anyone after that, except for friends. A wonderful friend—she took care of Bill Blass when he was ill, took him to every doctor’s appointment. She took care of Dominick Dunne when he was ill . . . she was the most wonderful, loyal, devoted friend. She died of lung cancer. She knew it—I mean, when it was diagnosed, it was inoperable. I never heard her complain. I never heard her say, 'Why me?' I never saw her cry. And thank God she died without pain, with her very devoted son and daughter-in-law by her side—one on each side." (Barbara Walters on Casey Ribicoff/ VanityFair)

"The majority of voters in New Jersey say President Obama does not deserve a second term, according to a new Rutgers poll. Only 43 percent of New Jersey voters in the poll said Obama deserves to be reelected, while 47 percent said he deserves to be voted out of office. Those findings are a troubling sign for Obama, since New Jersey has traditionally been a stronghold for Democrats. In an earlier Rutgers poll taken in February, only 39 percent of New Jersey voters said he did not deserve reelection.  The poll comes on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll last week that showed New Jersey voters disapprove of Obama’s job performance by a 52 percent to 44 percent margin, the president's lowest score ever in the state." (TheHill)

"But back to Gstaad and the coming fight to the death. Europe has 2.9 million millionaires, while North America has 3.1 million of the same species. Asian  (millionaires) have reached 3 million, and at times it feels as if all of the above descend upon this village during the third week of August. Among the nine million is one German woman married to a billionaire who has decided to buy the whole of Gstaad—and I mean the whole kit and kaboodle, as they say in Kansas. Her husband has a couple of ex-wives and children with his exes, so the little lady has decided to ensure her future by having the old boy buy her Gstaad. (The old man is not feeling his best.) Some of us old Gstaad hands have tried to poison the bitch, but to no avail. She has Libyan food-tasters and such." (Taki)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Steve Jobs: To Sir, With Love

I wrote my Senior thesis at Marlboro College on a Mac. I edited MacDirectory, at the turn-of-the millennium, for the Apple community -- developers, creatives, techies -- as my first real job. What can I say about Steve Jobs, who brought aesthetic excellence and showmanship and wonderfulness to American business in a way that spoke to my generation and so many others ...

Thank you, sir ...
Steve Jobs Resigns as Apple's CEO

cannot. believe. this.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"There is a more important reason of principle that the fate of the Gaddafis must not be left to the Libyans. The colonel is charged with crimes against humanity—the mass murder of civilians by perpetrating offenses so barbaric that the very fact that a fellow human being can commit them demeans us all. Ordering the massacre of 1,200 captives in a prison compound, blowing 270 people out of the sky over Lockerbie and almost as many in a UTA passenger jet over Chad a few months later, are merely the most egregious examples of international crimes committed by the worst man left in the world. It is essential, therefore, that he face justice in The Hague and not in Benghazi. Moreover, liberation has come to the Libyans by courtesy of international law, and they have a reciprocal duty to abide by it." (TheDailyBeast)

"Here in New York, late Tuesday night Casey Ribicoff, the widow of the late Senator Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut died peacefully at home after being ill for several months with throat cancer. I don’t know the exact date of diagnosis, nor would I have asked, but when she told her closest friends, she added that she was not going to seek treatment .. The last thirteen years of her life, after her husband died, she kept an active social schedule in New York, often attending charity galas, opera, ballet and theatre openings as well as frequent dinners and lunches with friends with a wide variety of interests and professions. She had a lot of much younger friends, both men and women from 30 on up. She attended the fashion shows, with Ralph Rucci as her most favorite designer, sometimes buying much of a season’s collection. Casey was chic." (NYSocialDiary)

"Nearly 50 employees were laid off at Jive Records yesterday when the iconic label was folded into RCA. As we first reported in June, Jive, which signed Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, would be dumped into RCA as Sony Music consolidates its labels. An insider said that none of the artists have been axed -- yet -- but most of the promotions department has been demolished. Usher, Chris Brown and Pink will now be managed under RCA. A label rep declined to comment." (PageSix)

"'I was very angry when Consuelo died. We were so close for 82 years. That’s longer than any marriage.' Over dinner at the Colony Club, New York’s oldest and most exclusive private club for women, Gloria Schiff was talking about her identical-twin sister, Countess Consuelo Crespi, who had passed away three months earlier, on October 18, 2010. The daughters of upwardly mobile Irish immigrants, Consuelo and Gloria O’Connor—they were said to have been named after Consuelo and Gloria Vanderbilt—were famous models in their teens, in the 1940s, and went on to become international fashion trendsetters and high-society insiders, protégées of Diana Vreeland in her heyday at Vogue, confidantes of Jackie Kennedy’s in her White House years and beyond, connected to everyone who was anyone from the Via Veneto to Locust Valley. Both girls made what in those days were called brilliant marriages: Consuelo to Count Rodolfo Crespi, a handsome Italian P.R. man whose grandfather had made a fortune in cotton in Brazil; Gloria to Frank Schiff, an equally good-looking and even richer New York insurance magnate whose father had been the first Jew to have an apartment at 740 Park Avenue, albeit having adopted the Episcopalian faith long before taking up residence a few floors below John D. Rockefeller Jr. These unions lasted till death did them part, Rudi Crespi going in 1985, Frank Schiff in 2004." (Vanity Fair: iPad app)

"When Horrible Bosses passed the $100 million worldwide gross mark recently, it became the eighth film in the last eight years to hit that milestone with Jennifer Aniston in a starring role. Right now, only a few actresses mean much at the box office, a list that includes Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl. Has Aniston quietly joined that group? While Aniston hasn’t had to carry all of those films, her worldwide gross track record compares favorably to the other actresses over the same eight-year period. Aside from Horrible Bosses, Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty all passed the $100 million mark worldwide. Over the same corresponding period, only Jolie had that many cross the $100 million WW mark. I didn’t count animated films, but for Jolie I did include Beowulf, because she gave a performance that was converted to performance capture format. Jolie’s other films that passed $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: The Tourist, Salt, Wanted, Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alexander, and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel." (Deadline)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a nation. Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances have given rise to a Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be unexceptional. However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors are coping with their own internal issues. Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that replaced him. Add to this the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst of ongoing regional crises." (STRATFOR)

image via

"Elizabeth Warren’s combative history with Wall Street could create a fundraising dilemma for her burgeoning Senate campaign.  Her ardent grassroots following on the left — forged during stints as TARP watchdog and as mastermind of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — would likely make her a formidable Senate candidate in Massachusetts.But her reputation as sheriff to Wall Street could also be a liability against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a popular Republican who has been stockpiling campaign cash in anticipation of a tight 2012 race. If Warren runs, she will have to decide whether to court high-rolling donors in the financial services community — an awkward choice both personally and politically, given her carefully crafted image as antagonist to big finance. 'I think it's pretty clear she's going to run the classic, grassroots campaign here in Massachusetts,' said Mary Anne Marsh, a longtime Democratic operative in the state. 'That means she's going to rely on folks here to give low-dollar donations here a number of times.' But without the support of heavy-hitting donors in Massachusetts, many of whom work at hedge funds and other financial firms, Warren might find it difficult to keep up with Brown’s fundraising juggernaut. Dubbed 'Wall Street’s Favorite Congressman' in a Forbes article last year, Brown reported having more than $9.6 million in the bank at the end of June." (TheHill)

"Tarot cards have been in use for more than five hundred years, first in trick-taking card games and, since the late eighteenth century, as aids to fortune-telling and occult divination. The artist Francesco Clemente got interested in them about three years ago. Clemente, born in Naples but a New York resident, off and on, since 1981, studied reproductions of fifteenth-century tarot decks, and delved into the voluminous literature on the subject. 'A friend got me Aleister Crowley’s unpublished notes on the cards,' he said. 'I read Italo Calvino’s wonderful text. I had my own cards read, and I read cards for my friends.” The result of his delving is a series of drawings, one for each of the seventy-eight original tarot cards, but larger (approximately nineteen inches tall by nine and a half inches wide), executed in several different media: watercolor and gouache, ink, pastel, colored pencil. The drawings go on view next month at the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence—not a bad place to be seen, although the locals may draw a blank on some of the visual references. All the figures in the Higher Arcana (the twenty-two trump cards in a tarot deck) and quite a few in the Minor Arcana (ace to ten, plus four face cards) are portraits of Clemente’s New York friends." (NewYorker)

"Early the next morning, a 28-year-old woman named Jennifer Mayer is driving a Subaru from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge with an opaque takeout container in the passenger seat. Inside the container is a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and inside the bag is Jennifer Hughes’s placenta. Mayer—an upbeat, blue-eyed blonde from upstate New York—is a professional placenta-preparer. Her job is to transform placentas into supplements that are said to alleviate postpartum depression, aid in breastmilk production and lactation, act as a uterine tonic, and replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. Her clients are mostly middle-class, like Hughes and her husband, Doug, who are college-educated, in their thirties, and live on a gentrifying street in Crown Heights. On this dreary April morning, Mayer is driving the afterbirth to their apartment to begin preparing it. 'It’s the freshest placenta I’ve ever worked with!' she says, glancing over at the container as the car lurches through traffic. Mayer speaks about the organ in tones most women reserve for newborns: ­'perfect,' 'beautiful,' 'precious.' Her enthusiasm isn’t unfounded. The placenta feeds the baby until birth, filtering toxins while letting in vitamins, minerals, oxygen, and other nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. It even helps reduce the risk of transmitting viruses, including HIV, from mother to child. Mayer, who also works as a massage therapist and doula, first became interested in placentas as a student at the University of Colorado. After reading up on the purported benefits of consuming one’s afterbirth and learning that a client was planning to try it, Mayer decided that she wanted to offer her customers placenta capsules: dried, ground afterbirth packaged into a clear pill no bigger than a regular vitamin supplement." (NYMag)

"'The Taliban no longer own the districts around Kandahar city,' Petraeus told me a few weeks ago. 'They've had to move much farther from population centers ... to stage their operations,' which are most often individual attacks on Afghan government officials and facilities. This is significant, if iffy, progress. Petraeus said his forces are now trying to solidify those gains, training local police and militias, trying to build governance from the bottom up (rather than down from the corrupt top in Kabul). But there is real trouble in the east, where the Haqqani Taliban network, which gets direct support from Pakistan, still can launch aggressive small-unit operations against U.S. forces. The general said he hoped to make a major push in the east starting this fall. That may still happen, but not at the strength Petraeus — who will leave Afghanistan this July — had hoped." (Joe Klein)