Friday, July 31, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The US economy continued to shrink in the second quarter, but the pace of contraction slowed as aggressive government spending started to loosen the grip of the longest recession on record. US gross domestic product declined by an annualised rate of 1 per cent in the second quarter after plunging by a revised 6.4 per cent during the first three months of the year, according to official figures released on Friday. While the contraction was much smaller than in the previous three quarters and slightly better than economists had expected, the data showed that the government stimulus and a slowdown in imports had cushioned the drop. Consumer spending, which represents about a third of GDP and has traditionally been the engine of US growth, fell a much worse-than-expected 1.2 per cent as Americans continued to cut back in the face of rising unemployment and the falling value of their homes and investments. President Barack Obama said he was 'guardedly optimistic' about the numbers, but added: 'I realise that none of this is much comfort to those Americans that are still out of work and struggling to make ends meet.'" (FT)

"In what should be the greatest liberal moment in decades, Barack Obama runs the risk of presiding over a socially and politically devastating triumph of conservative strategy and policy. It won't happen at the federal level, where a reasonably progressive president and Congress have begun to renew the critical missions of agencies starved by right-wing predecessors who preached a dated and destructive 'government is the enemy' mantra. Rather, it will play out in recession-ravaged states, counties and municipalities, where basic services are being eliminated, schools are laying off teachers and what remains of the safety net is being shredded. The crisis is severe, and spreading. And only the Obama administration and Congress can prevent an economic strangulation of state and local governments that would exceed all but the wildest right-wing fantasies." (TheNation)

"No two ways about it: The news that director Ridley Scott is returning to the Alien franchise — which he started back with the 1979 original — for a prequel is fantastic. After all, Scott is, as Michael Mann once described him to Russell Crowe, 'one of the top 2 percent of shooters in the history of cinema.' So I’m giddy to see what Scott does with such rich material. (Plus, whatever he comes up with has to be better than Alien vs. Predator 2: The Suckening.) I’ve got got two questions.." (Popwatch)

"Five years after he put his money behind the Swift Boat ads that helped tank John Kerry’s presidential campaign, Senate Democrats gave T. Boone Pickens a warm welcome at their weekly policy lunch Thursday. Or at least most of them did. Kerry skipped the regularly scheduled lunch; his staff said the Massachusetts Democrat 'was unable to attend because he had a long scheduled lunch with his interns and pages.' Sen. Al Franken managed to make time for the lunch – but then let Pickens have it afterward. According to a source, the wealthy oil and gas magnate and author of 'The First Billion is the Hardest' stepped up to introduce himself to Franken in a room just off the Senate Floor after the lunch ended. Franken, who was seated talking to someone else, did not stand when Pickens said hello. Instead, Franken began to berate him about the billionaire’s financing of the Swift Boat ads in 2004. According to a source, the confrontation grew heated. Said Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh: 'It was a lively conversation.'" (Politico)

"One Monday last December, a stranger presented himself at the office of Sanford Ungar, the president of Goucher College, located in a suburb of Baltimore. He introduced himself as Charlie Ebersol, a television producer. A handsome, affable, and royally confident young man--he was sometimes pictured in the gossip pages with his girlfriend, the tennis star Maria Sharapova--Ebersol explained his visit by saying he was doing research for a new prime-time show on NBC. Beyond that, he was cryptic, Ungar recalls. 'He said, We're going to come back tomorrow and tell you about somebody who works here who's done some very, very bad things.' The meeting, Ungar says, left him totally baffled. Ebersol remembers the encounter somewhat differently. 'Literally five minutes into my going into conversation,' Ebersol told me, 'he said, 'Are you talking about Leopold Munyakazi?'" (TNR)

"Last night at Monkey Bar, the bar was packed as always (after-office crowd) and the restaurant was filling up so that by eight it was packed. In the mix: Ron Perelman and his daughters, along with Penny Marshall; also Betsey Johnson, Dennis Basso, Katie Couric, Richard and Diana Feldman and Charlotte Ford. Katie and the Feldmans go way back because Richard and Katie’s late husband used to ride every very early morning in Central Park (Richard still does). She was telling them about her daughters whom they hadn’t seen in a few years and who are growing up. Her eldest is going to become a Yalie in September (making her mother very proud), and the youngest was in sleepaway camp in Maine and, like a lot of kids in the camp, came down with H1N1.(NYSocialDiary)

"For the 23rd week in a row, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" cut into the lead held by "Meet the Press with David Gregory." MTP remains in first place in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo, but the gap, which a year ago was at 1.37M Total Viewers / 650K A25-54 demo viewers, now stands at 320K / 90K." (TVNewser)

"We weren’t planning on becoming a big Katherine Heigl defender. After all, our hatred for her character Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy reaches such apoplectic proportions that we’re surprised we haven’t thrown a glass through our television screen by now. (Oh the horror of seeing Heigl-as-Izzie in cancer patient makeup and a bald cap last season!) But the abuse the outspoken starlet has gotten in recent weeks is just too much for us to bear. Simply, we’re tired of the haters! What really pushed us over the top was an interview that Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow did with Howard Stern (yes, he does still exist!), where the two men commented on the now-18-month-old Vanity Fair cover story where Ms. Heigl called Knocked Up a 'little sexist' and said that it 'paint[ed] the women as shrews.' Mr. Apatow is apparently still holding a grudge, saying, '[You think] at some point I’ll get a call saying, ‘Sorry, I was tired,’ and then the call never comes.' Meanwhile Mr. Rogen commented that Ms. Heigl is prone to saying some 'batshit things' about her various acting jobs." (Observer)

"'I might actually just go home after this,' one New York City socialite lamented at a party on Tuesday night—at 10 p.m. Let's face it: the Manhattan social scene is dead in the summer as country houses beckon, and the city's fashionable people are bored during the week. No charity dinner in your Smythson diary? No text messages luring you to a late-night sojourn at the Rose Bar? Then hunker down in your Park Avenue pad, grab your sterling-silver Maybach roadster, Christian Louboutin shoe, or Panama hat, and play ... Socialitopoly!" (VF)
Gayest Beerfest. Ever.

This was, quite frankly, the gayest beerfest ever. Actually, the elegant gays would probably have gone in for a crisp white wine or mojitos. There was even an appearance by "near beer" in this odd meeting of the alphas (and betas). Then agian, the President's tenuous support of the blue-collar vote -- especially in Pennsylvania and Ohio -- is on the line. From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden were in shirtsleeves; Sgt. Crowley and Dr. Gates wore suits. The four drank out of beer mugs and munched peanuts and pretzels out of small silver bowls.

Mr. Obama had a Bud Lite, Sgt. Crowley had Blue Moon, Dr. Gates drank Sam Adams Light, and Mr. Biden, who does not drink, had a Buckler nonalcoholic beer. (That may be why Mr. Biden had a piece of lime in his beer. Sgt. Crowley, for his part, kept with tradition and had a slice of orange in his Blue Moon.)"

And what's with all the wedges of citrus? Were the mugs made of Lalique crystal? Did they all go see an off-Broadway Liza Minnelli show afterwards? Sheesh.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"QUINCY Jones all over St. Tropez, starting with lunch at Club 55, then a soirée at Hotel Byblos, where he hooked up with moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, then to the VIP Room with Busta Rhymes." (PageSix)

"It took Representative Dan Maffei of New York two tries, $4 million and the retirement of a Republican incumbent to win his House seat last year. After all that, he wants to avoid becoming a one-term wonder because of an unpopular vote on health care. 'We can’t afford to make enemies,' said Mr. Maffei, a former Congressional aide and a Democratic member of the freshman class that played a role this week in slowing House consideration of a health insurance overhaul, upending plans by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to meet President Obama’s goal of approving a bill before the August recess. Of 35 first-term Democrats, Mr. Maffei, who represents the Syracuse area, and 25 others occupy suburban, small-town and rural seats they took out of Republican hands, seats Republicans are eager to take back." (NYTimes)

"Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has shown he knows how to maneuver his way through a bad storm. While leaders in neighboring Louisiana bickered about who loused up the recovery there from Hurricane Katrina, Barbour was taking bows for his work in Mississippi and cruising to re-election with a higher margin than four years earlier.The former national Republican Party chairman is leading the Republican Governors Association, having stepped in to take the wheel after its former chairman, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina flamed out in a scandal that left his career and family in tatters. Barbour takes over the RGA as 37 states prepare to hold gubernatorial elections next year. Thus, Barbour will be raising money and campaigning on behalf of many Republican candidates, increasing his national profile and getting himself up to date with key party officials, politicians and donors across the country. In June he visited the pivotal primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa to help raise money for their state GOP organizations. That combination of appearances is rarely a coincidence." (CQPolitics)

(Olivia Thirlby via fashionweekdaily)

"A smattering of stars like Gabrielle Union, Rachel Bilson, Mandy Moore, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Kate Mara, Camila Alves, Josie Maran, Molly Sims and Olivia Wilde stepped out on Wednesday night to show their support for R.A.D.D. (Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving), a non-profit promoting road safety amongst the entertainment industry. And most were safely driven to the bash by their drivers." (FashionweekDaily)

"Perhaps the most striking aspect of this week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue between top U.S. and Chinese officials is how amicable and sedate it has been. The Washington Post described how Chinese officials heard 'soothing words of reassurance' in lieu of the traditional litany of currency and trade complaints. Secretary Clinton acknowledged that there may not have been a lot of concrete achievements, but said the talks laid the groundwork for closer ties. Meanwhile, the Chinese currency remained roughly fixed against the dollar, just as it has been since last summer. Had this been a Bush Strategic Economic Dialogue, one could have expected howls of outrage: The American worker is being sold out! When will the administration get tough? Don't they know what has happened to manufacturing employment? Let's pass a law and force their hand! I suspect a McCain administration would have been similarly attacked. Indeed, it is a sign of how far Sino-American relations have come that a U.S. leader on the left now enjoys an advantage over his right-wing counterparts in the eyes of most Americans when negotiating economic issues with China." (ForeignPolicy)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The 50-year-old single malt will go on sale in batches of just 50 bottles a year over the next decade and is expected to be bought by specialist collectors and shrewd investors. Experts at the distillery, owned by William Grant & Sons, laid down two casks of whisky 50 years ago for future generations to enjoy. It has since been monitored by David Stewart, who is believed to be the longest serving malt master in Scotland who was tasked with deciding when it was ready. A select few connoisseurs were flown in from around the world to taste the whisky as a special session at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland." (Telegraph) yumm

"Forty-eight hours ago, from India came the news that Gayatri Devi, the Rajmata of Jaipur had died at age 90. Born Princess Gayatri, she was ever known as Ayesha. As you will read in her obituary of her in today’s Telegraph of London, she was the granddaughter of the Maharajah of Cooch-Behar and the Maharajah of Jodhpur, as well as the wife of the Maharajah of Jaipur. Prominent in the last days of the Raj, she was famous in her own country as well as a fixture in international society. Later in life when she became active in Indian politics she gained a new fame. I met her in Beverly Hills in 1980, at a small dinner given for her by our mutual friend Lady Sarah Churchill. Sarah and Ayesha had known each other from the time they were young women in London just before the War. I had heard of her but had never seen a photograph of her before that meeting. I didn’t know, for example that she was a famous beauty also. At sixty-one, she still possessed that beauty. There were grey strands running through her thick and wavy black hair. It added a touch of worldliness and perhaps wisdom to these eyes." (NYSocialDiary)

"Virginia Cherrill, the most beautiful girl of her time, an American beauty who married Cary Grant and the Earl of Jersey, but who finally loved only one man, a poor Polish fighter pilot ... The Maharajah of Jaipur, Jai, was among the best-looking men of his generation, a terrific polo player and sportsman whom I played against back in the Sixties. Virginia and Jai had a long affair, and even after Jersey and she got married the affair continued. Cherrill was up-front about it. She told his lordship (a real cheapskate, who left his mother, brother and sisters without a penny) she did not love him but he insisted on marrying her. Laddie Sanford, another friend of hers, was also a friend of mine. He once asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I was 19. Play a bit of tennis, travel, chase girls, said I. 'Bravo,' he said beaming, 'that’s the stuff; none of that nine-to-five crap.'" (Takimag)

"Comic-Con, the annual feast of geek, crashed into the California coast in San Diego this past weekend, bringing with it more than 100,000 dedicated connoisseurs of such pop-culture delights as videogames, comic books, cartoons, sci-fi and fantasy series, and the Hollywood adaptations of all of the above. It’s marketing mayhem: Major studios teasing fans with exclusive previews or clues about plot twists for shows like Lost, handing out freebies or hosting panels that feature all the major stars—making appearances this year were teen heartthrobs Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart of Twilight promoting the next installment of the series, New Moon; the cast of that other beloved vampire series, True Blood; Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. for Iron Man 2; the new Alice in Wonderland’s Johnny Depp and requisite babe for the Maxim set, Megan Fox of Transformers 2, just to name a few. But the real stars are the fans who come dressed as their favorite characters, making Comic-Con a runway show like no other. Call it costume couture." (TheDailyBeast)

"Forty years ago this summer, an army of ungroomed idealists invaded upstate New York for a three-day concert that changed the world. Ang Lee's latest film, Taking Woodstock, pays homage to that moment, and during last night's downtown screening the weather gods seemed to be in on it, providing an amplified bass line of thunder and the kind of heavy rain that makes for a rip-roaring good time in the mud. 'Just not inside the theater, I hope,' Lee cautioned. Speaking of: It turns out the film's re-enactments of Woodstock's famous free-for-alls weren't entirely authentic. 'It was mud mixed with cooking oil, so that we could slip faster,' lead Demetri Martin revealed ..Perhaps more than his co-stars, Liev Schreiber was in his element. 'My mom and dad were big hippies and I spent time on communes,' the actor recalled. 'I just remember the smell of soybeans everywhere. People were making all sorts of strange things out of soybeans: food, clothing, paper, everything. I suppose if I'd gone to military school, maybe I'd be pining for something like Woodstock. But I'm certainly pining for what it represents, and I think that's what Ang was really after with the film.' " (Style)

"The heretical truth is that rapid economic growth and unionization may sometimes require markets that are deliberately made less competitive by regulation. Monopolistic and oligopolistic corporations are more likely to invest in breakthrough innovation than firms struggling to break even in highly competitive markets. And cartelized industries are far friendlier to organized labor than ultra-competitive markets. If progressives really want to promote technology-driven growth and a union-based middle class, then they need to reconsider the lessons of the New Deal’s successful experiment in utility capitalism." (Michael Lind/DemocracyJournal)

"Sore thumbs abounded on the Lower East Side on Wednesday night at the launch of Sprint’s new phone, the BlackBerry Tour , at the Thompson Hotel. Among the eager-to-text crowd were the ever-pretty Chace Crawford, World Champion (I mean, he’s wearing both a t-shirt and a hat that say it, so it’s true) Judah Friedlander, Ugly Betty stars Ana Ortiz and Mark Indelicato, and New York’s ultimate downtown kid Chloe Sevigny, who wowed in a Kimberly Ovitz dress. Other guests included Brook Shields .. Olivia Palermo, Fern Mallis, Theodora Richards, Robert Verdi, Nicole Miller .. Genevieve Jones, Byrdie Bell, and Marjorie Gublemann Raein." (Guestofaguest)

"Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen stopped by (The Howard Stern Show) to promote 'Funny People' and Judd told the crew he based the movie on the time he spent as Adam Sandler's roommate. Judd said Adam was an honest roommate: 'He'd say, 'Yeah, let's go to the Red Lobster. But give me 10 minutes. I'm gonna go whack it.' Seth said he did the same thing with his old roommates: 'It was a little gay. We realized it was more time-effective if we all jacked off at the same time .. Howard asked Seth about the 'Entourage' episode in which the characters repeatedly call him ugly. Seth explained: 'Apparently the guy who writes the show doesn't care for me that much.' Judd laughed: 'It's funny because it's a bunch of incredibly ugly guys debating whether or not Seth is ugly.'" (Sternshow)

(image via msnbc)

"In his pool spray with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Obama previewed his sit-down with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and James Crowley this afternoon. NOW: Henry Louis Gates Jr. has arrived at the White House ahead of this evening's beer with Obama." (Politico)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: USA Networks. Smart teevee is in (HBO subscriptions revenue was up 8% this last quarter). Whomever came up with the strategy of going after smart television-loving adults with a "character-driven drama" strategy ought to get a medal. On any day of the week The Corsair's TV is on USA Network -- for Monk, for Law & Order: CI, for House repeats -- and we, apparently, are not alone. From medialifemagazine:

"No other cable network is even close to catching up to USA, and they probably won’t be for some time.

"The NBC Universal network snatched up yet another monthly victory on basic cable, coming off its 12th consecutive quarterly win last month.

"USA placed first in primetime in total viewers and all three major adult demographics, showing slight growth in all but one of those categories.

"Most significantly, though, it remained well ahead of the pack on each measure, in a month where several high-profile networks saw year-to-year declines.

"USA averaged 3.15 million total viewers in July, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Turner Networks, up 3 percent from last year and 650,000 ahead of second-place TNT, which was flat.

"Among adults 18-49, USA averaged 1.29 million, off 1 percent from last year and 322,000 ahead of runner-up TNT. Among 18-34s, USA drew 553,000, up 3 percent from last year and 65,000 ahead of second-place TBS, which was off 18 percent."

USA is a channel for those who appreciate solid character actors more than Hollywood A-listers. TV geeks. And, as we noted earlier this week, "the geek shall inherit the earth."

Out: DVDs. Meh. Every media company is having trouble getting rid of DVDs. Viacom, for example. Lower DVD sales have dragged down Time Warner's bottom line. TW division Warner Brothers also had problems with DVD surpluses. Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive officer of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., thinks that 3D tvs will save flagging DVD sales, but that's a long way off through an economy that only shows the faintest signs of green shoots.

In: Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. What did Microsoft get from the Search partnership announced today? A lot more than Yahoo! apparently. From Paidcontent:

"No upfront payment: Microsoft doesn’t have to fork over anything upfront. Considering that the company was once willing to hand over more than $40 billion to purchase Yahoo (mostly in order to get access to its search business), that’s a coup.

"—Distribution: Microsoft’s share of the search market will increase to 30 percent—that additional query volume Microsoft executives have contended will allow them to improve the relevance of search results and monetization. The Bing brand may be buried on Yahoo search results pages (for now) but it will still be exposed to a much larger audience."

Bing is now the number 2 search engine after Google. More of what Microsoft got and what Yahoo! didn't get here.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

(image via nowpublic)

"'What pushed me into this work,' says (Rebecca Kamate), speaking softly in a mixture of Swahili and hesitant French, 'is that I am also one who was raped.' This happened a decade ago; the rapists were from the now-defunct militia of a local warlord backed by Uganda. 'Their main purpose was to kill my husband. They took everything. They cut up his body like you would cut up meat, with knives. He was alive. They began cutting off his fingers. Then they cut off his sex. They opened his stomach and took out his intestines. When they poked his heart, he died. They were holding a gun to my head.' She fought her captors, and shows a scar across the left side of her face that was the result. 'They ordered me to collect all his body parts and to lie on top of them and there they raped me—twelve soldiers. I lost consciousness. Then I heard someone cry out in the next room and I realized they were raping my daughters.'" (NYRB)

"While Obama kicks back over beers with Gates and Crowley, his health-care plan is falling apart. Maybe he should invite the original triangulator, Bill Clinton, to the Hill to save the day. While 48 percent of Americans tell the Gallup poll they don’t understand the health-care debate (and the other 52 percent are probably lying), the White House is preparing for the Beer Summit on Thursday night. Harvard Professor Skip Gates, we are told, will be drinking Red Stripe or Beck’s, while Sgt. James Crowley, the Cambridge cop who arrested him, will be ordering up Blue Moon. The president himself will imbibe a cold Budweiser. Perhaps, like Roosevelt when he mixed one of his famed 'dirty martinis' for Winston Churchill, Obama will fix the drinks himself .. If Obama has lost his customary ability to synthesize, perhaps he should turn for help to that great ol’ explainer William Jefferson Clinton. This administration’s determination not to make the last Democrat’s mistakes on health care has been overlearned by Obama and his advisers. Because the received wisdom about Hillarycare is that it was killed by the unilateral arrogance with which it was handed down to Congress, Obama has gone too far in letting warring committees turn his key campaign promise into roadkill." (Tina Brown)

"I arrived to shoot the hit HLN show Issues With Jane Velez-Mitchell yesterday and found Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the makeup chair! She was doing the show too, talking about her new book, Getting It Through My Thick Skull. (I was there to talk about Sarah Palin's weird demonization of Hollywood, though the land of glittery illusion seems definitely where she belongs.)" (Musto)

"Last night, celebs and movie stars congregated first at Loews 19th St for a screening of 'Adam,' a movie starring Hugh Dancy as a gifted young man struggling with Asberger’s Syndrome and Rose Byrne as his unlikely partner. Other familiar faces included designers Charlotte Ronson and Zac Posen, aging actress Olympia Dukakis, and Wintour spawn Bee Shaffer. The cabal then moved a couple blocks northeast for an afterparty at the Gramercy Park Hotel. The Cinema Society, headed by Andrew Saffir, hosted the event in conjuction with esteemed suitmakers the Brooks Brothers." (Guestofaguest)

"MICHELLE Obama and the girls will do Martha's Vineyard a week earlier than Himself. They'll stay at Caroline Kennedy's." (CindyAdams)

"Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a special advance screening of Dear Lemon Lima, a sweetly spun tale of a young girl’s pursuit of love, acceptance and friendship in the isolated beauty of Fairbanks, Alaska. The film is part of the now-familiar tradition of Cinema Tuesdays, a monthly series hosted by Nike Sportswear and curated by Flux, celebrating avant-garde film at The Montalbán. After the movie, the talented young cast joined writer/director Suzi Yoonessi onstage for a quick Q&A session, where their amicable rapport refuted the stereotype of movie sets rife with tension and inflated ego. The night kept the theme of confectionary dulcitude going with an upstairs afterparty ..." (Papermag)

"John Cheever wrote some of the greatest short stories of the 20th century. On Thursday evening, at 6 pm, there will be a discussion of his life and work. The participants will be Susan Cheever, Brett Anthony Johnson, who heads the creative writing department at Harvard, Blake Bailey, Cheever’s biographer, and Max Rudin, the publisher of the Library of America. The event is free and open to the public and is at the Farragut Monument, Madison Avenue at 25th Street. If the weather is nice, it will be outside. If it’s raining, there will be a tent." (NYSocialDiary/Jill Krementz)

"About 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of New Delhi, along a rutted dirt track through fields of corn and barley, lies an empty plot of land where a power plant was supposed to have stood, pumping electricity to alleviate blackouts in India’s capital. Instead, there are rows of freshly planted saplings, two rusting corrugated metal sheds and a sign on one of them reading, 'Reliance Energy Generation Ltd.' The plant is four years late and a victim of a corporate feud between India’s richest resident billionaires, Mukesh Ambani, 52, and his brother Anil, 50. The two split the Reliance group in 2005 following a fight for control, three years after their father and the company’s founder, Dhirubhai Ambani, died without leaving a will. The conflict has persisted with a legal spat over supply of gas from Mukesh’s company that Anil’s plant needs. 'The loser is not just the brothers, but the whole country,' said Walter Rossini, who manages $283 million in an India fund at Aletti Gestielle in Milan. Power shortages impede development in India as more than 400 million lack electricity and supply falls short of peak demand by 16.6 percent, the World Bank said in June." (Bloomberg)

"I am only guessing here, but the memorial show for artist Dash Snow on display at Deitch Projects on Grand Street is as likely as not to be remembered as a send-off to the youth craze that has seized the art world this decade. More legend than man, and dead at 27, Dash Snow’s trajectory as an artist was self-destructive, and the destruction was abrupt: On July 13, he died in New York City of a heroin overdose. The elliptical show devoted to the theme of Dash Snow includes artwork from his friends and family—T-shirts, flowers, messages straight from the heart—and lots of photography. You could be forgiven for having missed him: Snow first appeared in New York around 1997 as part of a street-graffiti team working under the tag of SACER." (Observer)

"When it comes to U.S.-China policy, Washington is broadly separated into two camps: the functionalists and the strategists. And as the two countries have met in Washington this week, the internal debate has begun to unfold. U.S. President Barack Obama told his counterparts that Washington and Beijing should be 'partners'; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for broad 'strategic level discussions.' Make no mistake: The functionalists are winning. The functionalists tend to be economists and those concerned with the U.S.-China economic relationship. The United States and China are so economically intertwined, the functionalists argue, that they ought to be strategic partners as well. Win-win cooperation -- not zero-sum competition -- is a very achievable goal. Barriers between the two countries are transactional, and any tensions are usually due to mere misunderstanding. Yes, there are profound disagreements, but fix the practical problems, and many obstacles toward a fruitful partnership will eventually melt away. In fact, they will have to melt away -- out of necessity on both sides. As Clinton and Geithner put it, quoting a Chinese proverb, 'When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully.' Strategists, however, don't see quite such a rosy picture. For them, the U.S.-China relationship is one of strategic competition -- an irreversible rivalry already well under way." (ForeignPolicy)

"Howard Stern and Tom Bergeron, host of 'Dancing With the Stars,' are teaming up for a riveting project Friday on Sirius XM radio: a tribute to the Three Stooges featuring long-lost interviews Bergeron conducted with Moe Howard and Larry Fine in the 1970s. Howard and Fine were two of the original Stooges. Bergeron was a teenage radio host and major Stooges fan. Stern has always revered the Stooges, whose films he watched with his father, Ben. On Friday's special, 2 p.m. on Sirius Ch. 101, Stern calls them "the greatest comedians who ever lived.' The Stern bits, which go back years and include Billy West doing his Larry impersonations, are entertaining. But the heart of this special is Bergeron's presentation of the interviews, which he dug out of storage on reel-to-reel tapes after he mentioned them to Stern." (NYDailyNews)

"Democrats giddy with possibilities only six months ago now confront a perilous 2010 landscape signaled by troublesome signs of President Barack Obama’s political mortality, the plunging popularity of many governors and rising disquiet among many vulnerable House Democrats. The issue advantage has shifted as well, with Democrats facing the brunt of criticism about the pace of stimulus package spending, anxiety over rising unemployment rates and widespread uneasiness over the twin pillars of Obama’s legislative agenda: his cap-and-trade approach to climate change and the emerging health care bill. Bolstered by historical trends that work in the GOP’s favor — midterm elections are typically hostile to the party in power — and the prospect of the first election in a decade without former President George W. Bush either on the ballot or in office, Republicans find themselves on the offensive for the first time since 2004. None of this is to say that the Democratic congressional majorities are in serious jeopardy. The GOP has suffered some significant setbacks, ranging from headline-grabbing personal indiscretions to Sen. Arlen Specter’s party switch, and it continues to be plagued by an inability to present its own new ideas." (Politico)
Posting at 4PM ET

I'll be posting at 4pm ET, summer blogging schedule

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ABC News: Bernie Madoff Couldn't Believe He Got Away With It For So Long

From ABCNews:

"In his first prison interview, a buff-looking Bernie Madoff said he couldn't believe he got away with his massive Ponzi scheme for so long.

"There were several times that I met with the SEC and thought 'they got me,' Madoff told Joseph Cotchett, a San Francisco lawyer threatening to sue his wife, sons and brother on behalf of a group of victims.

"Cotchett said he and his partner, Nancy Fineman, met with Madoff for four and a half hours Tuesday afternoon at the federal prison in Butner, NC, where Madoff is serving his 150-year sentence.

"'He looked pretty good and seems to be working out,' said Cotchett. 'He looked a lot better than he has in some months since I've seen photographs of him.'

More here.
Kim Kardashian And Reggie Bush Break Up

(image via eonline)

The couple who had been a thing for about two years are done. From @RyanSeacrest: "Just spoke with @kimkardashian..she's got her chin up and is doing fine..break ups always suck." Kardashian's Twitter feed is mum on the subject, but referring to the trip to Africa where the break up may or may not have taken place she Tweets, "Africa trip was a life changer!"
A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: The G2. China and America: the political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that Russia and America would dominate the 20th century. The 21st, however, belongs -- at least the first half -- to America and China. As Chinese officials meet with Obama administration officials, already agreements on climate change and clean energy technology have been signed, building upon the U.S.-China 10-Year Framework for Energy Environment Cooperation. Now that the light lifting out of the way, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Secretary Tim Geithner will try to adress imbalances in the "Chimerica" relationship. From Foreign Policy:

"Tomorrow kicks off the first meeting of the U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the Obama administration's twist on a process started under former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. That process, known as the Strategic Economic Dialogue (no 'and'), was primarily intended to address bilateral economic issues such as the dollar-renminbi exchange rate.

"The two countries -- which have become known as the 'G-2' in foreign-policy circles due to their preeminent size and geopolitical reach -- will still be tackling economic issues like the global financial crisis. But this time, a State Department official tells Foreign Policy, the agenda is 'much broader and more comprehensive,' encompassing global issues such as climate change, and regional ones such as North Korea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

"Two top-ranking Chinese officials, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, will be in Washington for meetings Monday and Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has just returned from meetings in India and Thailand.

"'Simply put, few global problems can be solved by the U.S. or China alone,' the two secretaries write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published online Sunday. 'And few can be solved without the U.S. and China together.'"

Out: Sumner Redstone. Miracle elixir or not, the Methuselan Sumner Redstone will want to be sitting down when he gets the news that Viacom's second quarter profits were down thirty two percent. Philippe Dauman considers getting higher ratings at MTV a "strong priority," but does anyone -- even kids -- watch MTV? From FT:

"Viacom’s profit fell 32 per cent as a prolonged advertising decline and a steep drop in sales of its Rock Band video game continued to hurt the cable and films company.

"Although Viacom reported US advertising falling 6 per cent, a rate of decline that had moderated during the period compared to the first quarter, losses in other areas including an operating loss of $25m from weaker box office and DVD sales and the timing of the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hurt profits.

"The company that owns the MTV Networks and Paramount movie studios said its second quarter net income fell to $277m, or 46 cents per share, from $406m, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.

"Revenue fell 14 per cent to $3.3bn."

These are not good times for the Chairman of Viacom. Yesterday was embroiled in another one of his many familial feuds that we have come to expect from him over the years. Redtsone started a three-day trial in Boston to determine how much his nephew, Michael, is owed based on a trust with shares in National Amusements left to him by Sumner's father, Mickey. At post time Viacom shares are down 0.55% or 0.14 at $24.46 a share.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Hours before they were to leave office after eight troubled years, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney had one final and painful piece of business to conclude. For over a month Cheney had been pleading, cajoling, even pestering Bush to pardon the Vice President's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Libby had been convicted nearly two years earlier of obstructing an investigation into the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity by senior White House officials. The Libby pardon, aides reported, had become something of a crusade for Cheney, who seemed prepared to push his nine-year-old relationship with Bush to the breaking point — and perhaps past it — over the fate of his former aide. "We don't want to leave anyone on the battlefield," Cheney argued. Bush had already decided the week before that Libby was undeserving and told Cheney so, only to see the question raised again. A top adviser to Bush says he had never seen the Vice President focused so single-mindedly on anything over two terms." (Time)

(image via washpo)

"Yesterday the media world was abuzz over the exit of Ben Silverman, the NBC Entertainment co-chairman who had been on the job just two years. It raises lots of questions for media people, not the least of which is how Silverman’s exit, just six weeks before NBC’s fall slate starts to premiere, could impact the network’s fall schedule, and how that in turn will affect the other networks. Like the other Big Five, NBC is in the midst of upfront negotiations, and while buyers say its fall slate looks much more promising than last year, the fourth-place network is still sustaining the biggest year-to-year declines in what it's fetching for its ad inventory. That reflects in part NBC’s riskiest move under Silverman, slating 'The Jay Leno Show' as a weeknight strip at 10 p.m. in a bit of bottom-line programming that has not impressed many media buyers. Shari Anne Brill, senior vice president and director of programming at Carat USA, talks to Media Life about what Silverman’s exit means for media people." (Medialifemagazine)

"Isn't it amusing how Jeff Zucker couldn't find one positive specific to say about Ben Silverman in the official NBCU news release this morning beyond 'Ben brought us tremendous new thinking in this changing media age.' Because Silverman leaves behind a record of abject failure. (By the way, the coming fall season's primetime network development was taken out of Ben's hands and put in Angela Bromstad's. And, voila, the first decent programming.) Instead, some really talented NBCU executives were let go in a vainglorious attempt to prop up this dumbass. Oh, but who needs NBCU when Ben has Ryan defending him on Twitter .." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"SUPREME Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, in an elegant black-and-white pantsuit, lunching with her staff on Puerto Rican cuisine at Sazon in TriBeCa." (PageSix)

(image via patrickmcmullen)

"The Griffin was packed with hip-hop heads on Monday night as rapper Fabolous launched his latest album, titled 'Loso’s Way.' The concept album, loosely based on the film 'Carlito’s Way,' marks the rapper’s comeback after a two-year absence from the music scene. Stars, including DJ Cassidy, DJ Clue, Idris Elba, and Adrienne Bailon came out to support the rapper’s latest record, which features guest performers Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, and Ne-Yo." (Guestofaguest)

"Hugh Hefner paid $1 mil to spend eternity next to Playboy's original cover girl 50 years ago. He says: 'I came in with Marilyn Monroe, I'll go out with her.' His marker will read: 'He lived a good life.'" (CindyAdams)

"If you live in one of the fractious swing districts — the ones that went for John McCain for president but sent Democrats to Congress — Republicans on a road trip may be heading your way. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is getting ready to send four teams of GOP House members on cross-country forays. Their mission: Go after the swing-district Democrats in their own back yards. 'We will be going around the country to talk to people in districts that have previously had a Republican in Congress and where there is a good base,' Sessions said. 'We will be in those areas trying to not only give a message of what their member is doing but also seeking and supporting candidates that we have.' Sessions said the GOP hopes to expand his party’s 178 House seats by attacking centrists for siding with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, whose favorability ratings nationally have been mixed, with one survey finding her polling to be comparable to that former Vice President Dick Cheney. 'The Speaker is on the ballot this next time,' Sessions said." (CQPolitics)

"The sun never sets on the NBC empire, and the test pattern never rises. Synergy gone wild has given Al Roker, the 'Today' show weatherman, his own 6 a.m. micro talk show, 'Wake Up With Al,' which began on the Weather Channel last week. On MSNBC on Monday, the tongue-in-cheek co-host of 'Morning Joe' introduced his own 5:30 a.m. spinoff, 'Way Too Early With Willie Geist.' Poking fun at the news before most people have had a chance to see it is no small feat. Mr. Geist’s first show got off to a promising start, partly helped by the departing Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, and her acid farewell to the news media on Sunday, in which she exhorted, 'So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?' Mr. Geist said with deadpan gravity: 'Quit making things up? I can’t agree to that deal.'" (NYTimes)

"Robert Wilson's Watermill Center was the hottest place this summer when the 'Inferno' erupted on Saturday night as Bob celebrated his annual event of fabulous art, fashion and entertainment! Arriving in my 'flaming' Kai Kuhne as mandated by this year's dress code, I was greeted by a fire performance by Todd Robbins. Trying not to get burned and hoping not to lose a Louboutin heel, I was had one hand on William Morris agent Mark Mullet, and the other on hedge-fund manager Keith Bloomfield. As we strolled through the fabulous gardens, we were treated to the winningest smile in the world from one of the winningest Polo player in the world, Nachos Figueras." (Fashionweekdaily)

"The great Merce Cunningham died this past Sunday at age 90. I’d only become familiar with him in the years that I’ve been covering this beat. So I didn’t know him although I was in his company a number of times. He was such a remarkable looking character – he looked like a wizard, a wizard of the arts, a cultural hero. He looked like an artist, a choreographer, a philosopher. One of the great things about New York life is you see these people (like Jackie Onassis also) who are larger than life and yet right there before you on the ground, on the street, at the table. My friend Patsy Tarr really introduced me to him by inviting me to watch his work. So modern that I had thought of it as even old, I was surprised that the audience was mainly twenty-something men and women. When I remarked on that to Patsy, she explained that this particular audience was Merce’s biggest following. 'Because they just naturally get it,' she said." (NYSocialDiary)

"Has pop culture found its way into your therapy sessions? Here's why I'm asking. Today, I'm reading about Jon Hamm signing on to costar in a Ben Affleck-directed movie, thinking that its storyline of two men -- one law (Hamm), one criminal (Affleck) -- with the hots for the same woman is the closest I'm ever going to get to my much-desired Tequila Sunrise sequel, when I'm forwarded a Best Week Ever link to photos of Jon Hamm on vacation. (It would be totally creepy if writer Michelle Collins wasn't so funny and apologetic: 'Here’s to hoping this isn’t too much of a violation of privacy. It’s just, people need to see these. Because we have so little to live for as Americans. With many thanks, The Non-Blind.') I IM'd the link to a friend, who, after the requisite amount of swooning, said, 'My therapist and I actually had about a 5-minute chat about him this a.m.'"

"You'd think the long haul out to Brooklyn, in the rain no less, would have dampened the fashion set's enthusiasm for Thursday night's Prospect Park Summer Soiree. But as host and junior committee chair Sally Singer pointed out, a hefty piece of that set is local now. 'It used to be that people thought they couldn't live in Brooklyn because they wouldn't get messengers. But since we started doing this party five years ago, the number of editors, contributors, models, and fashion designers that are here—I mean, 'quadrupled' would be to sell it short,' the Vogue editor said .. On the tented terrace, Cobble Hill resident Maria Cornejo was kibitzing with MObama fashion adviser Ikram Goldman and looking totally at ease in black wellies. 'The quality of life is much better here than in Manhattan,' the Chilean-born designer told us. 'I like to ride my bike to Red Hook and sit by the water. Actually, one of the prints I did for my Resort collection was from a photo I took there, of the sunset. It looks very glam, but it's Red Hook.'" (Style)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Corsair Classic

This was one of my favorite books in Pre-K at The International Play Group at Kip's Bay in Manhattan. I still remember Ms. Labastina and Ms. Roth reading Where the Wild Things Are to our class in the mid 1970s during nap time. I wonder where they are now? I wonder where my nursury school crush Mimoko Suzuki is?
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Human rights advocate and Russian journalist Natalia Estemirova was murdered almost two weeks ago under mysterious circumstances. Her fearless criticism of the prosecution of the Chechnyan wars is believed to have something to do with her disappearance and tragic death. Fellow human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who had spent the last days of their respective earthly existences critically examining the the Kremlin and its policy toward Chechnya, both died under similarly mysterious circumstances. Coincidence?" (AWEARNESSBlog)

"I generally never make fun of the way people look unless it's the result of something voluntary, like excessive surgery or rotten dye jobs. But occasionally someone's natural-born visage will scream 'sleazy' and I'll have to comment on it--especially when the awful first impression turns out to be totally true. For me, the worst offense is when they have no upper lip whatsoever." (Musto)

(image via msnbc)

"Howard (Stern) started off the show welcoming George Takei to the studio - he'll be sitting in all week .. Robin came in late--she caught a red-eye after the Joan Rivers roast in California--and said she was joined on the dais by Gilbert Gottfried, Greg Giraldo, Jeffrey Ross, Whitney Cummings and Brad Garrett. Carl Reiner was probably the biggest name besides the roastee: 'He was very funny...he just said dirty words.' Robin said Gilbert also did well: 'Nobody could do what Gilbert did. He told this story about Joan Rivers f’ing him when he was a young comedian.' George told a story about William Shatner asking him do a one hour special with him on A&E, but when George asked Bill about some of the things he'd said about him in public, Bill dismissed them and insisted they both 'move on.' George said he refused to rebuild their relationship on Bill's terms and hung up: 'I would have been willing to do that if it was a forthright conversation.' Howard applauded George's decision .." (

"Tomorrow and Wednesday, former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean will guest host Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Expect a lot of health care talk as Dean is the author of 'Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform.' The question: will there be opposing viewpoints during his healthcare segments? Sitting in tonight is Lawrence O'Donnell. Richard Wolffe guest hosts Thursday and Friday. Olbermann is back next week." (TVNewser)