Monday, August 31, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via cnn)

In: Bob Iger. Iger's reign at the Mouse House is smoothly differentiating itself from that of the more tyrannical -- by comparison -- reign of Eisner. While the choleric Eisner seemed unfriendly to content creators, Iger appears to be just the opposite, romancing (and buying) the creative firmament. From The Wrap:

"The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy independent entertainment company Marvel in a deal worth $4 billion, the two companies announced on Monday morning.

The acquisition ends a long dry spell on media deals in an economy that has seen shareholder value erode dramatically over the past year, and that has caused conventional wisdom to lean away from the bigger-is-better model.

"But Marvel has become a hot property as the comic-based company - which was in bankruptcy a decade ago -- has seen one hit after another. Those have included the relaunching of the Spider-Man series and the phenomenal success of Iron Man, with the next in that series -- Iron Man 2 --expected out next May.

"The deal gives Disney access to popular characters and potentially more movies to carry through its distribution system, which has dialled back on its number of annual releases.

"And it follows other major deals by Disney under the leadership of CEO Robert Iger, including the acquisition of Pixar in 2006 for $7 billion, and the alliance with DreamWorks this year, in which the studio beat out the favored Universal.

"'Creativity, technology, global growth will all be better served by bringing Marvel into the fold,' said Disney CFO Tom Staggs on an analyst call on Monday morning."

Iger quickly shored up his relationship with Steve Jobs -- which grew cantankerous under Eisner -- and now Marvel, which, all things told seems, at this early date, a brilliant content move.

Out: The Daytime Emmys. Testament, perhaps, to the fact that soap operas -- and daytime tv in general -- are less and less relevant in a 500-1,000 channel universe, the Daytime Emmy's tanked. From TVBytheNumbers:

"CW’s 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards delivered a 0.6 rating/2 share / 2.68 million viewers, down -50% from ABC’s coverage of the event last year (1.2 rating/4 share on Friday 6/20/08). The Red Carpet pre-show special at 7pm drew an (0.3 adults 18-49 rating/1 share / 1.21 million)."

Ouch. Worse: Preseason football and a "60 Minutes" repeat kicked its tush.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"George F. Will, the elite conservative commentator, will call in his next column for U.S. ground troops to leave Afghanistan, according to publishing sources. '[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,' Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week. President Obama ordered a total of 21,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan in February and March, and casualties have mounted as the forces began confronting the Taliban more aggressively. August saw the highest monthly death toll for the U.S. since the invasion in 2001, the second record month in a row. Will’s prescription – in which he urges Obama to remember Bismarck’s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870 - seems certain to split Republicans. He is a favorite of fiscal conservatives. The more hawkish right can be expected to attack his conclusion as foolhardy, short-sighted and naïve, potentially making the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attack." (Politico)

"In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks, a conservative writer who joined the Times in 2003 from The Weekly Standard, had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. 'I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,' Brooks recently told me, 'but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.' That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. 'I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,' Brooks says, 'and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.' In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama’s The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was 'Run, Barack, Run.' These days, the center-right Brooks frequently seems more sympathetic toward Obama than the liberal Paul Krugman. He has written columns praising Obama’s Afghanistan policy, education proposals, and economic team. Even on broad areas of disagreement--deficit spending, the sprawling stimulus bill, health care reform--Brooks tends to treat Obama and his administration with respect. 'My overall view,' Brooks told me, “is ninety-five percent of the decisions they make are good and intelligent. Whether I agree with them specifically, I think they’re very serious and very good at what they do.” It is an odd situation to say the least: David Brooks, prominent conservative, has become the most visible journalistic ally of arguably the most liberal president of his lifetime. How did this happen?" (TNR)

"If The Oscars are, say, Barbie, The Golden Globes are Skipper, and The Tony’s are the slightly effeminate Ken, then The Daytime Emmy’s are like .. Barbie’s weird cousin twice removed, that she is slightly embarrassed of. So what weird sightings could be spotted on the red carpet last night? ... Some stars definitely came out for the Emmys, including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, Tyra Banks, Vanessa Williams who hosted (and made out onstage?), and Sandra Oh. Then, there were the stars that were probably very exciting to certain demographics: Betty White was there (to the delight of diehard Lifetime Television For Women fans), Dr.Phil (to the delight of conservative Middle America), and Alex Trebek (to the delight of my grandparents)." (Guestofaguest)

"Conventional wisdom of the day: Magazine mogul Jann Wenner, the man who made his mark with Rolling Stone in the 60s and 70s, and then again with US Weekly in this decade, has blown it on the Web. And now it’s too late for him to catch up.And who knows? It may even be true. But here’s one bit of nuance to chew on: Magazine mogul Jann Wenner has made money — as in, a profit — on the Web for the last 5 years. How so? By licensing to RealNetworks (RNWK) and letting that company bear almost all of the costs of running the site. True, that site didn’t blow anyone away. But it did generate cash. I’m told the RealNetworks deal was worth 'several' millions in profit per year. That’s the kind of performance that wouldn’t be that meaningful for a title owned by someone like Time Warner’s Time Inc. (TWX), where it would be important to show Wall Street that you’ve harnessed the power of the Web and turned it into your own personal growth engine. But for Wenner’s privately held company, which owns all of three titles, a few million bucks a year in profit is a few million bucks a year in profit." (Peter Kafka/AllThingsD)

"Cindy Adams. Gossip columnist, dog-lover. Doing a one-woman show to raise money for the A.S.P.C.A. Opening up her Park Avenue apartment for four nights. Did I mention it’s a penthouse? That Doris Duke used to live there? Now it’s just Cindy and Jazzy and Juicy. Toy Yorkies. Eight pounds of canine entitlement. 'Living on Park Avenue with these two has its limitations,' she says. 'Take them for a walk? What walk? I got terraces all around that cost me a fortune. My babies don’t walk—they take a limo. Juicy’s legs are two inches long! This is not a marathon runner. I have more hair under my arms than Juicy has on her whole body.' Relaxing at home, Cindy’s wearing a black T-shirt with heart-shaped photos of the pooches on the breast. 'My breeder makes them every Christmas or New Year’s, or the day the incinerator got stuffed up—whatever day there is to celebrate,' she says. 'I have hundreds of them.' So is Cindy going to pull a Leona? 'And leave Jazzy and Juicy twelve million dollars? I don’t think so. But I love them so much that if they could afford the maintenance I would leave them the apartment.'" (NYer)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- two of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's closest friends in the Senate -- said on CNN they thought his widow, Vicki, would be a good temporary replacement for him if Massachusetts legislators change the law to allow an interim appointment. Said Dodd: 'We talk frequently. Whatever Vicki wants to do, I'm in her corner. She knows that. She has expressed to me her own reluctance to do that. But she could change her mind. And if she did I'm for it. I think she'd be great, I think Orrin's right, she brings talent and ability to it... we can certainly use her in the Senate. But leave it up to her. She has a lot on her mind right now. And, frankly, I leave it up to her decision-making process.' Said Hatch: 'Sure, I think Vicki ought to be considered. She's a very brilliant lawyer. She's a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted's life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her.'" (PoliticalWire)

"The Walt Disney Co. has agreed to acquire Marvel Ent. in a stock and cash transaction worth $4 billion. Under the terms of the deal, Marvel shareholders would receive $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion. Disney will acquire ownership of more than 5,000 Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor. The boards of both companies have approved the pact, which is subject to antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders." (Variety)

"Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin this week will begin accepting and rejecting the more than 1,070 invitations she has received for paid speeches and political appearances since she resigned from office, aides said. Twenty speakers’ bureaus made offers to represent her. She has signed with Washington Speakers Bureau, which represents everyone from George and Laura Bush to Bob Woodward and Katie Couric to Alan Greenspan, Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani. More than 950 requests for speeches have poured in for Palin, and over 120 candidates for office have asked her to appear, including folks running for Senate, House and state Legislature, aides said. Palin will be doing both paid speeches, which are expected to go for six figures apiece, and unpaid speeches for political and charitable causes, including Christian organizations, groups that support families with special-needs children and military families." (Politico)

"Spike Lee, DJ Mark Ronson, Q-Tip, and Reverend Al Sharpton are just four out of an estimated 10,000 New Yorkers who came out to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday. Rain didn’t dampen celebrations in Prospect Park, where fans showed off Jackson-inspired outfits .. Later that evening, fans who hadn’t gotten enough 'Thriller' that day (or all summer-long…) headed over to the Nokia Theater in Times Square where Mark Ronson (wearing an 'I Heart AM' t-shirt in tribute to DJ AM) and Q-Tip performed .." (Guestofaguest)

"NEW YORK NBC's 'Today' show has hired someone with White House experience as a new correspondent former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager. Hager, a 27-year-old teacher in Baltimore, will contribute stories about once a month on issues like education to television's top-rated morning news show, said Jim Bell, its executive producer. The daughter of former President George W. Bush said she has always wanted to be a teacher and a writer, and has already authored two books. But she was intrigued by the idea of getting into television when Bell contacted her. 'It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do,' she said. 'But I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change.'" (AP)

(image via Jill Krementz/NYSD)

"Once again our country mourns the loss of a Kennedy brother. On Saturday, under big black umbrellas, family and friends arrived at Boston’s Catholic church Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to remember the man — husband, father, brother, grandfather, cousin, friend, colleague — and the Senator who served in the United States Congress for nearly 47 years. His eldest son, Teddy, who lost his leg to cancer when he was twelve, spoke about the time when he was trying to make it up a hill with a new prosthetic leg and was about to surrender in despair. His father put his arms around his son and said: 'We are going to climb that hill if it takes all day and we’re going to climb it together.' It was the perfect image for all of us who have always felt that Senator Kennedy had our backs." (NYSocialDiary)

"It has never gone away, the nightmare of November 22, 1963. Each time one revisits the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, 'one hopes for once the story will be different—the car swerves, the bullets miss, and the splendid progress continues. But each time, like a recurrent nightmare, the handsome head is shattered,' as Gore Vidal wrote in his World Journal Tribune review of William Manchester’s highly detailed, passionate, and greatly beleaguered account, The Death of a President. Of all the books written about the Kennedy assassination — by some counts more than 2,000—the one book commissioned by the Kennedys themselves and meant to stand the test of time has virtually disappeared. The fight over Manchester’s book—published on April 7, 1967, by Harper & Row after more than a year of bitter, relentless, headline-making controversy over the manuscript—nearly destroyed its author and pitted him against two of the most popular and charismatic people in the nation: the slain president’s beautiful grieving widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and his brother Robert F. Kennedy. And the struggle would bring to both Jackie and Bobby a public-relations nightmare." (VanityFair)

"If you’re under 17 and reading this, we have to ask: What on earth did you do this weekend? The top four movies at the box office were all rated R, with the field paced by The Final Destination; the 3-D horror sequel opened in the top spot with $28.3 million. Also debuting was Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, slashing into third place with $17.4 million. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all peace and love for the other R-rated opener: Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock was a bad trip, stumbling into ninth with a paltry $3.7 million. As we do each Monday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office." (Observer)

"GERALDO Rivera's last book, 'His Panic,' was about Latinos. His new book, 'The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity,' is about Latinos. Presumably, his next will be the history of the rhumba. OK, so how's this one particular ethnic group leading us all to a new era of prosperity? 'This is a coming-of-age bio of the entire Latino community,' said Geraldo. 'This country so far has been off about immigration. Latinos are already part of our society. Interwoven inextricably with America.' Yeah, but so are the Chinese, Irish, Jewish, Italians, Africans, even a couple of Australians. 'Average age of the whites is 40. Average age of Latinos, 27. Take the Russians, for instance. They're an aging people. We're a hedge against aging. Justice Sonia Sotomayor's last house in The Bronx was the same house as my aunt Anna. We've been on Puerto Rican boards together. I jumped out of my seat when she was elected.' As the star of Fox News Channel's "Geraldo at Large" rumbled on with facts, figures and flowers to Sotomayor, I interrupted to ask what's my old friend the talk-show host think of today's talk shows? 'I'm very disheartened. A whole generation came of age on my program. Today it's all about who's shacking up with who. Is this what we're all about? Caring only about those who don't care about themselves? Kids now stay home on beautiful days to watch dehumanizing degrading people humiliate themselves. I mean Jon and Kate? I'm no saint. If I still had a talk show and they rated, I guess I'd have them on, too, but I'd sneer at them. I'd say, what are you doing to your children? And these TV traumas are controlled by producers who create artificial cliffhangers. There's not a moment of true spontaneity. There's a difference between a fake Jon Gosselin and a real Sonia Sotomayor.'" (CindyAdams)

"The story of the day, Sunday, August 30th, would have been that, after an opening set by Beach House (who played after Vega) followed by a brief introduction by Senator Chuck Schumer, Grizzly Bear closed out the 2009 Pool Party season at the Williamsburg Waterfront with a beautiful 1+ hour set in front of the Manhattan skyline on a perfect Brooklyn day. Instead, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce who brought her husband Jay-Z decided to show up and watch Grizzly Bear from the soundboard. And that become the real topic of conversation for twitterers, texters, and the throngs of people walking toward Bedford around 7:30pm when the concert was over." (BrooklynVegan)

"Yesterday marked the final *tear* JELLY pool party in Brooklyn for the 2009 season, and an unannounced Jay-Z came to help close down this summer’s run of the popular Sunday series with wife Beyonce. Grizzly Bear, Beach House and Vega made the roster for the Williamsburg waterfront concert taking place against a beautiful sunset on the city backdrop, which was a huge improvement on the last show’s sweaty, sunny swelter. The music fans filled the space, crowding up close to take in the music or lazily lounging on the field. After the show the rocked out band fans ventured to Brooklyn Bowl, for the traditional afterparty to the party." (Guestofaguest)

"Whether you follow sports or not, you probably have a pretty good idea of the big names in America's major events. Bret Favre, Alex Rodriguez, and Kobe Bryant are just a few that come to mind for me right off the bat, and I follow team sports about as much as I eat chilled monkey brains. Which is to say, not at all. Distance running is a different matter. Most Americans I know can't name a single elite runner, but they do know this: most of them are from East Africa. Beyond that, zilch. They don't know the difference between Robert Cheruiyot and Genna Tufa, Catherine Ndereba and Serkalem Abrha. But the differences are great, beyond the fact that Cheriuyot and Ndereba are Kenyan while Tufa and Abrha are from Ethiopia. The first two in that list are world-famous athletes and earn enough in prize money and appearance fees to live like kings in their native Kenya. The latter two live a monastic life among several other runners in a single apartment in the Bronx, surviving on whatever they can earn at smaller, less-televised events around the country." (David Alm/AWEARNESSBlog)
Is This The End Of Hollywood Stars?

Disney's acquisition of Marvel took us by surprise. It is, in retrospect, a brilliant idea. Time Warner and Viacom are probably wondering: Why didn't we do that? Marvel, for people of my generation -- mainly men -- is to our childhood what Disney was to previous generations of Americans. There is an organic alliance between characters like Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America and The Dazzler. All of those all-American fictitious characters are as comfortable on the page in colorful, cheap print as they are on the big-screen (but unlike their A-List counterparts, they don't demand larger trailers and a piece of "back-end."). But what does this mean to the traditional A-List Hollywood celebrity, the overcosmeticized Vanity Fair covergirls and coverboys, who have not, of late, been doing so well as this digital age progresses?

Is this the end of Hollywood stars? At this weekend's box office, the top two performers -- Final Destination and Halloween 2 -- the *stars* are the horrific special effects and 3-D technology. Are A-Listers worth their $20 million paychecks? Is this the rise of the un-celebrity? Nicole Kidman as metaphor? From The New York Times: "Ms. Kidman’s last three big-budget films, Australia, The Golden Compass and The Invasion were box-office disappointments, and an auteur-directed indie, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, was a moderate success at best." The article continues: "So while her red-carpet appeal is undiminished (her life in Nashville with her husband, the country star Keith Urban, and their daughter, Sunday Rose, is still tabloid worthy), her big-screen clout may be." And a Vanity Fair pin-up like Kidman is not alone among the A-Listers. The celebrity weeklies like People and Us are all about the "reality stars." Where once one expected to see celebrities confiding health problems and addictions, nowadays Us Weekly is more likely to place Jon and/or Kate on the cover. And the Internet has brought people like Perez Hilton, a decidedly un-celebrity presence, to the fore. Tom Cruise, Angelina, Brad Pitt, Julia, Denzel, Jennifer Anniston, Will Smith, Sandra Bulloch and Jim Carrey -- all are still do brisk box office, but their star-wattage has somewhat diminished. As The New York Times noted, "The spring and summer box office has murdered megawatt stars like ...Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell."

From The Telegraph:

"The three biggest US films of the summer have been the latest versions of the Transformer and Harry Potter franchises, starring newcomers Shia LaBoeuf and Daniel Radcliffe, and a computer-animated Pixar offering, Up.

"The one movie luminary to live up to his billing for drawing audiences has been Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds - the new violence-packed Quentin Tarantino number that took in $38 million last weekend.

"'In the past, studios believed that if they wanted a box office hit, they needed a big star for presence and visibility,' Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Pictures production company and former studio chief at Sony Pictures, with films such as Midnight Express, Rain Man and batman to his name, told The Sunday Telegraph."

"'But this year, we've had a summer filled with sequels, remakes and franchises that don't come with big names. There are still very talented stars of course but not every movie needs them for commercial success.'

"The tough economic climate started the transformation but the revolution in technology and social networking has driven home the fundamental upheavals this summer."

This Great Recession may have accelerated that process. Even before the economy stumbled, B-Listers -- at best -- like Paris Hilton and LiLo and Britney arrested our declining collective attention with their buffoonish antics rather than their actual professional accomplishments. Then Reality 2.0 kicked in, and the manner in which lesser luminaries mis-mananged their lives -- the VH1 formula -- began to overshadow the over-polished publicity machines of times past. Even the TMZs and the Gawkers, who pride themselves on critical takes on celebrities and un-celebrities like Julia Allison, have played their part. The fall of the American economy has created an even stronger "felt-need" for celebrity schadenfreude. Cover stories of celebrities that appear to have been fed to the glossies by publicists are a quaint thing of the past. Those glossies themselves -- ironically -- also to appear to be a thing of the past. Instead of a worshipful relationship with glamorous celebers -- like we had in the now-dead Kennedy era -- we demand blood, sweat and a decided lack of panties.

Enter: Superheroes. Unlike Tom Cruise -- whose PR people always painted him to be something of a superhero -- Wolverine does not bleed. And Captain America, unlike Brad Pitt, does not do hash (although the ingredients of the super-soldier formula are still classified). Superheroes, in fine, are that to which celebrities have always aspired, role models but without the human, all to human frailties. Of course, it also helps that superheroes are purely fictional characters with perfectly-pencilled bodies and non-visible pores. Superheroes don't age. They don't have extramarital affairs. And they kick the asses of supervillains. But what does this say about our collective psychology that we are now veering -- dangerously? -- into an era where hundreds of millions will be spent valorizing comic book unreality.

Is this the end of the $20 million club? Can we expect to see a Captain America Vanity Fair cover in the near future in which the films star is covered up by red, white and blue pajamas?

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"This morning, the cable and broadcast networks spent their time closely watching the parade of political celebrities as they arrived at Sen. Kennedy's funeral Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Health. We spotted former-Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Also in attendance were VP Joe Biden and former-VPs Al Gore and Dan Quayle. Some newsers who appear to be there today as guests are David Gregory, Tom Brokaw, Al Hunt, Judy Woodruff, Maureen Orth, and Luke Russert (A reader noticed Hugh Downs as well). We also spotted Tony Bennett, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Russell." (TVNewser)

"Meanwhile, Bernie Madoff’s feeders are back in the news. Some not-so-wise investors are suing the auditors of the feeder funds who made Madoff and his family very rich, and themselves eventually very poor. It’s about time. My special bad guy is Andres Piedrahita, the Colombian whose motto, according to the Wall Street Journal, was ‘As long as I make more money than those investing with me’. I’ve known Piedrahita for years but he was canny enough not to approach me. He’s a loudmouth braggart who still swans around in his yacht and private jet despite the misery of many of his investors. My particular bone with him has nothing to do with Madoff. Years before he had taken down the Swanee Adam Shaw, son of that wonderful writer Irwin Shaw, a friend of mine and a very brave second world war correspondent. Irwin wrote some of the finest short stories ever, including ‘Girls in their Summer Dresses’, and good novels like The Young Lions, Two Weeks in Another Town, Evening in Byzantium, and Rich Man, Poor Man. Irwin had only one son, Adam, who went to school in Gstaad and turned out to be a fine writer as well as a tough guy, like his old man. I have not heard any news about him for years, but it seems he invested his inheritance with Piedrahita, who lost it all. After Piedrahita struck it very rich with Madoff, Adam Shaw should have tracked him down, beaten the crap out of him and demanded restitution. But that’s not the way of the world, is it? If he had, he probably would have ended up in jail, which is what this column is all about. Those who most deserve prison are running Western governments and getting fat on oil moolah." (Takimag)

"Eight months after receiving the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival - the second time she’s won the coveted documentary award - filmmaker Ondi Timoner is bringing her latest film to theaters herself. After raising money for the release and tapping Richard Abramowitz to execute the plan, Timoner is opening 'We Live in Public' today in New York City. 'I didn’t care for any of the deals that we were offered at Sundance and thereafter,' she recently told indieWIRE. Among the high-profile suitors she reportedly turned away was HBO, a dream distributor for most documentary filmmakers. But, Timoner has ambitious goals for her movie, which looks at Internet guru Josh Harris and his pre-Web 2.0 move to constantly document his life via the Internet. After debuting her film at Sundance in January Timoner hit the road, often with subject Josh Harris in tow. The two have made public appearances at numerous festivals and along the way, Timoner has appropriately used Twitter (@onditimoner) to build a a fan base for her movie, constantly documenting her travels with TwitPics and tweets from around the world. She’s hoping that online tools will stir grassroots awareness for the movie that will effectively replace an expensive marketing campaign." (IndieWIRE)

"THERE was a time in the late 1990s when Josh Harris was a king of sorts. A Silicon Alley pioneer, he was flush with millions of dollars made from his first Internet company, and he was spending it wildly on a series of legendary SoHo parties, businesses and social experiments. Mr. Harris wired his loft with Webcams, even in the refrigerator. He wired a loft with Webcams to broadcast everything he and a girlfriend did (including bathroom visits). He enticed 100 people to live in an underground 'bunker,' outfitted with a stylized altar, a see-through shower and a firing range. He created some of the first Webcasts through a company called Pseudo Programs. And now it is all gone. These days, Mr. Harris sleeps in a friend’s pool house in Los Angeles and earns a meager living playing poker at a racetrack. Last week, in his first extended visit to New York in eight years, he said the $741 in his pocket was all the money he had in the world. He was in town for the opening of a documentary about him, 'We Live in Public,' which portrays him as a visionary of the digital age, an eccentric who eventually retreated to an apple farm upstate to reboot his brain after a lifetime’s worth of media static. 'He is one of the 10 most important people in the history of the Internet,' said Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur of digital media who once chronicled New York’s tech scene in his publication, The Silicon Alley Reporter. 'He may not be the most famous.'" (NYTimes/Style)

"Denis Leary is about to put out his last fire. FX's 'Rescue Me' is set to end its run in 2011, 10 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that provided the creative impetus for the series. New York-shot drama from Sony Television will continue for 19 more episodes after the current season finale airs on Tuesday. It's undetermined how the network will release the final shows, though most likely in two different seasons of 10 and nine episodes, or vice versa. Production on the final episodes begins in September." (Variety)

"Who says 'hot tranny mess' is a bad thing? Reality TV stars, pop stars, porn stars and even Russell Simmons (who needs Diddy?!) crammed into Owl's Lab last night to celebrate former Danity Kane bad girl (and the only one anyone remembers) Aubrey O'Day's Dare to LoveT-shirt line launch. The hostess (who yes, looked better in Playboy than Heidi Montag, and who happens to be one of the 25 25-year-olds gracing our 25th Anniversary cover, on newsstands next week!) rocked a 'My sex tape comes out next week' tee from her line while keeping busy making her fan's ultimate Facebook default picture dreams come true (Aubrey Twittered the RSVP invite before the event). Even cuter than Aubrey's Maltese with turquoise highlights was the pic I snapped of Aubrey and her hot mama. The oh-so-colorful crowd boogied to funky sounds provided by DJ Prince Peter and DJ Suhel and guzzled down the super misleading fruity cocktails (they were green and had pretty lollipops in them people!). I overheard one attendee asking if we were in a disco, but I'm pretty sure discos didn't even get down 'n dirty before 10 p.m.. The most appropriate song that we danced/shvitzed the night away to? Aubrey's fun Eddie Murphy cover of 'Party All The Time,' aka my new pregame song." (Papermag)

"As the summer winds down, studio execs needing a vacation are getting punchier (and their quotes to me snarkier). But even Hollywood is embarrassed by the fact that this weekend's Top 4 competing films featuring horror, death, gore, mayhem, war, Nazis, aliens, and sci-fi all did so well at the box office Friday. 'What a sad statement on movie-going humanity,' a top studio exec emailed me tonight. 'And let's look at the ratings for the top 4 movies at the box office tonight: 'R', 'R', 'R', and 'R'. Yikes.' While Final Destination 3-D and Halloween II were playing in almost the same number of theaters (3,121 vs 3,025), 3-D made the big difference in gross receipts at 1,678 outfitted dates. Sure, The Weinstein Company has been claiming that the sequel to its Rob Zombie horror reboot cost half ($15M) what New Line/Warner Bros' suspense thriller did ($30M). But the fact that these two movies stayed on the same weekend to battle for the same horror fans stunned marketing experts -- especially when this Friday through Sunday is traditionally weak moviegoing-wise as college kids head off to school again." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"Has a proxy war broken out in Yemen? The Los Angeles Times has reported that 100 Shiite rebels are dead and 100,000 refugees are on the move in the Saada region of northwestern Yemen after the Sunni-dominated government attacked rebel positions with tanks, artillery, and air strikes. According to The Economist, the rebels retaliated with volleys of Katyusha rockets. The current round of fighting, now in its second week, is the sixth uprising in this area since 2004. What raises the profile of this development are accusations of foreign intervention in the conflict. The Yemeni government has accused Iran of providing funding and weapons to the Shiite rebels. Iran's news media has in turn reported that Saudi Arabia's military forces have joined in the fighting. The Saudi government acknowledges consultations with Yemen but denies any direct participation by its forces. Evidence of foreign intervention in the conflict is sparse. But Yemen's foreign minister was at least concerned enough to summon Iran's ambassador his office. Meanwhile the Saudi and Yemeni defense ministries have stepped up consultations. According to The Economist, Iran's Arabic language news service has been reporting the latest round of fighting, including Saudi Arabia's support of the Yemeni government. Even if the actual foreign material support in Yemen's civil strife is minimal, the conflict is probably the newest front in a broadening proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is one front. Iranian attempts to gain influence over Shiite populations in eastern Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf is another. Some factions in Iran may feel obligated to support what they believe are oppressed Shiite minorities around the mostly Sunni Middle East. In the case of the rebellion in Yemen, some nervous officials in Riyadh may see an Iranian plan to achieve control over the Red Sea shipping lane. Now there is another dimension to Saudi-Iranian competition. Despite having the largest crude oil reserves on the planet, the Saudi government recently announced plans to build a nuclear power plant." (ForeignPolicy)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

Veni, Penisy, Vici (image via thecobrasnake)

He had a severe allergic reaction following exposure to an idea. (image via thecobrasnake)

"And this little piggy had roast beef. And this little piggy had none. And this little piggy went to Quentin .." (image via thecobrasnake)

The tightness of this spiral staircase's space contrasts nicely with the loose accessibility of its present occupant load. (image via thecobrasnake)

Patrons said that they found the bartender's acute lack of chin to be entertaining, touching and it simply made them feel more comfortable. (image via thecobrasnake)

"Your eye goes along, lulled into complacency, and then.. That's just... Look at this. That's really terrible." (image via thecobrasnake)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Mr. (Dominick) Dunne's appearance was also something that stood out for Ms. (Joan) Rivers. 'He always looked like an unmade bed,' she said. "He was always rumpled and he always looked like what he was, which was a writer. You could never call him spiffy.' Ms. Rivers ran into Mr. Dunne on the street about eight weeks ago, on East 62nd between Madison and Park. He was coming one way; she going another. They talked about his TV show on Court TV (now TruTV), but not his health, though he did not look well, Ms. Rivers said. She asked him how the show was going. He told her he got renewed for another season. 'I love every minute of it,' he told her. 'And they're paying me very well. What I adored about him was that he loved being on television,' Ms. Rivers said. Someone walking by said to Mr. Dunne, 'Love your program! Love you!' He seemed to enjoy this. 'He loved being stopped on the street at a time when he was fighting cancer and he was going through such bad months in his private life and walking on his way to chemo.'" (Observer)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Teddy was a late bloomer, a long work in progress, a man trying to find who he was, fighting large shadows, finding himself, embracing the legacy, and then sharing the goods with all. I hope he gets as close as the Senate can come to a State-level farewell for a colleague. If we still did those things, if we were the Vatican, he would be buried somewhere in the walls of the Senate side of the Capitol, with a carved sailboat on his headstone. I have this special memory of Teddy, too. I always got a kick out of the way he showed up at various black-tie soirees around town, where all the men were in tuxedos, knowing they looked a little ridiculous, because the event wasn't necessarily all that formal. Teddy would arrive in a pin-striped suit, looking a little superior, of course, but also just right for the occasion, like he had some common sense." (NYSocialDiary)

"In steamy August, my wine of choice is easy-drinking prosecco, the now fashionable Italian fizz that’s still a bargain. This summer, producers are celebrating its promotion to Italy’s A-list wine classification, D.O.C.G., and new European Union rules protecting use of its name, starting with the 2009 vintage. Maybe they should toast Paris Hilton, too. Let me explain .. 'When an Austrian company launched Rich prosecco two years ago in gold soda-pop cans and promoted it with ads featuring Paris Hilton naked, covered in gold paint, Italian producers felt assaulted,' said Vittorio Zoppi, marketing manager for the Consorzio del Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, in a phone interview. 'They felt they had to protect the wine’s image.' Because prosecco is named for a grape, it’s not so easy to give it an official territorial identity. The official solution, starting with the 2009 vintage, is a tangle that involves renaming the grape, elevating the flat plains to a D.O.C. zone that includes the town of Prosecco, and promoting the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene to the higher category of D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). As a result, the region was able to get the European Union to include prosecco in new protected-origin regulations, making it illegal for producers outside these zones to use the name prosecco on a label, at least in the EU." (Bloomberg)

"At 83, Hugh Hefner's legacy is pretty much bulletproof. His Bunnies have their own hit TV series; the Playboy Mansion remains a celebrity hop-stop. Hefner's life is, in many ways, a fantasy blueprint for many an American male: He started a small business (Playboy magazine) that made him a millionaire, earned him fame, and got him plenty of sex with younger women in the process ...Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, highlights Hefner's work as a civil-rights activist and an early champion of women and gays .. This, even though Hefner's existence provided Steinem the opening for her big break. The woman who would later co-found Ms. magazine first gained attention as a writer in 1963, when she penned her now-infamous exposé on working conditions for Playboy bunnies. (The article became a Movie of the Week, A Bunny's Tale, starring Kirstie Alley in 1985.) Something that didn't make it into Berman's documentary is the fact that prior to that article's publication, Steinem and Hefner had been in touch, as a mutual friend was trying to set them up on a date ..Gloria Steinem, declined several requests to appear in the film, citing an overloaded schedule. (Steinem also declined, through a publicist, to comment for this article.) Strange but true, says Hefner: 'Harvey Kurtzman, who had founded Mad magazine, told me he had this hot secretary who he was convinced was made to order for me. He thought she had the same way with men that I had with women. After exchanging letters, I went out to New York for some kind of event we were organizing. We threw a party and Gloria was invited, but she didn't show up. The reason was she was working on that article.'" (TheDailyBeast)

"Action-themed tentpoles and comedies are in, adult dramas are out, 3D really works. And fear not the critics, fear Twitter. Those are the lessons studio executives have learned from a record-breaking summer season at the box office that delivered an impressive ratio of hits to misses, while leaving only one studio, Universal, licking its wounds. 'It’s the quality of the product that counts,' said Disney distribution president Chuck Viane. 'We had a lot of good movies come out this summer.' In fact, going into this weekend, moviemakers have earned more than $4 billion domestically since the summer movie season kicked off May 1 -- nearly a full percentage point above last year’s record-breaking revenue haul, according to Exhibitor Relations." (TheWrap)

"The networks still preach adults 18-49, but the Big Three are all expected to post median ages above 50 this fall -- with Fox not too far behind.
According to a recent study by former Magna Global EVP Steve Sternberg, the broadcast networks as a whole have once again grown older than ever. The five broadcast nets' average live median age this year -- in other words, not counting DVR usage -- was 51. That's a whopping 8-year uptick from 10 years ago, when the nets' median age was 43. In comparison, the median age of TV households has grown much less from 1998-1999 to 2008-2009, to 38 from 36. 'While CBS' average median age remains over 50, ABC has aged up to hit 50 for the first time, and NBC has been hovering close to 50 for a few years now,' wrote Sternberg, in his final report for Magna (which he departed earlier this summer). 'And with Leno taking over the Monday-Friday 10 p.m. time slots next season, it will be hard-pressed not to surpass 50 as well,' he added." (Variety)

"Tickets are now on sale for the Raekwon release party at Santos that lists an insane lineup of rappers. It takes place two days before the release show happening at SOB's which is also on sale. (Ed Note: Lineup at Santos: Raekwon with Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Beanie Sigel, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Lyfe Jennings and DJ Kid Capri, hosted by Diddy and Peter Rosenberg)." (BrooklynVegan)

"One of the more fascinating byproducts of the political upheaval unleashed by Ted Kennedy’s death could be an unexpected—and brief—return to the public stage for Michael Dukakis. The former Massachusetts governor’s name has been widely circulated this week as a possible interim successor to the late senator—someone who would hold the seat until next January, when the state’s voters will choose a new senator in a special election. It’s been more than 18 years since Dukakis took the 'lone walk' out of the Massachusetts State House and into political retirement. Back then, he didn’t have much choice. He’d come home from his 1988 presidential campaign intent on pouring himself into state business, but almost nothing went right. A souring economy and gaping budget deficit conspired to wreck his popularity, so running for re-election in 1990 wasn’t an option, and since then he’s largely contented himself in academia." (PolitickerNY)

"Reading Rainbow, the PBS television series and first thing children of the ’80s think of when they hear 'LeVar Burton,' airs for the last time today after 26 years. The reason? Contract expiration. My most vivid memories of the ‘bow are the old-school opening credits, which I usually watched with my sister before wandering away to go read a book. As I haven’t watched them since, I’m in a mild state of shock and awe right now because now I know why, whenever we learned about explorers in social studies or history class, I pictured a giant sand castle next to, like, Vasco da Gama." (Popwatch)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: Sam Raimi. Raimi, who has some time to spare as he will not be a part of Spiderman 5 or 6 is going to do some tv work. From THR:

"Sam Raimi is making a move in primetime television.

"Raimi and Joshua Donen's Stars Road Entertainment has inked a two-year, first-look deal with Sony Pictures TV and has tapped CBS senior vp drama Robert Zotnowski to spearhead the company's TV efforts.

"Zotnowski has been running the CBS drama department with Christina Davis since the ascent of Nina Tassler to entertainment president in 2004. Davis is expected to run the department solo after Zotnowski exits Friday.

"Tassler called Zotnowski 'one of the most talented executives I have had the privilege to work with. He has played a key part in developing some of the most successful dramas on the network.'

"Zotnowski said the goal for Stars Road is to expand its presence on broadcast TV and cable, with a primary focus on drama. Stars Road will develop in all genres except horror, which will continue to be handled by Raimi's Ghost House Pictures."

Sony, clearly, is trying to keep Raimi -- who launched their Spiderman franchise -- in their orbit. It is, to be sure, an inspred deal. Although Raimi is an A-List director, he follows his own muse. He doesn't seem particularly ambitious to follow the bullshit Hollywood game of keeping in films once you get in films. Raimi is also particularly well-versed in producing television fantasy (Xena) and sci-fi genres (the beloved "American Gothic")-- so the horror exemption won't be a hindrance.
Corsair Interview: Josh Harris

Remember Josh Harris, the internet entrepeneur/ performance artist? It is not inconceivable that Josh Harris, one of the founders of Jupiter Communications, was very much ahead of the curve. Josh also founded Pseudo, a company -- which he now calls performance art -- that threw the best parties in the 1990s (a significant achievement, to be sure). Pseudo can only be properly construed as a digital equivalent circa the late 90s and turn of the millennium, of Andy Warhol's Factory. In both instances, everything was caught on camera.

In retrospect, Josh's obsession with digital self-chronicling anticipated Webs 2.0 and 3.0. I interviewed Josh, an acquaintance, a while ago via email. As the documentary on him -- by Ondi Timoner -- won a Sundance award, and opens at the IFC Center tomorrow, I thought now was as good a time as any to dust it off. At the time of the interview Josh was head of Operator 11, a Hollywood-based startup. Now, curiously, Josh's most recent venture was running an entertainment company in Sidamo, Ethiopia.

Josh Harris, a Silicon Alley dot-bomb survivor, is quite a character. Literally. In a previous incarnation, he was “Luvvy,” his alter-ego in clown makeup (I am not kidding about this). And previous to that, Josh was CEO of Pseudo Programs, Inc., which, at the time, was the largest producer of original Internet TV content. At the turn of the century Harris was a 38-year old full of hubris seeking to take And Warhol one step further. Josh Harris told CBS News correspondent Bob Simon in an infamous “60 Minutes” telecast on the irrational exuberance of the Alley, “Our business model is to take you guys out of business … I'm in a race to take CBS out of business. That's my focus. That's what my bankers are telling me to do. The race is on. We're in the hunt and we're out to get you guys." Howard Stern – then at Viacom -- and even CBS had shown some initial interest, “Howard and Mel (Karmazin) looked at us,” Josh emailed me. “Howard claimed Pseudo's asking price was too high. Mel did not want to invest in the future. We didn't smell right to two seasoned professionals.” (Ironically, Stern may just end up online after his Sirius-XM contract expires in 2010) And then, all at once, the dotcom flameout engulfed Pseudo and the party was over. Harris took it in stride: “In February 2001 I left New York City. I farmed apples in Livingston, NY until 2004 … Sold the Farm. Lived in various hotel rooms in Madrid for one year. Began development on Operator11 with a Spanish Count (unmonied but a major shareholder in Operator11) and the deflowered Belgian nun he pulled from a convent. “Had the choice of joining the Madrid television mafia or moving to Hollywood.”

Or living in Ethiopia.

We Live in Public, which chronicles Josh's obsession with self-chronicling opens in limited engagement on August 28.
Sheryl Weinstein: Being "Underendowed" May Help Madoff In Prison

There's something about Cindy. How does she ensorcell these fiends? Is there witchcraft involved? For some reason a veritable Mos Eisley cantina worth of cultural bottom feeders -- dictators, their wives, annoying lapdogs, amoral Ponzi mistresses -- all gravitate towards the NY Post's amiable dunce Cindy Adams with the quickness. There, they unload their conscience with a blooodlessness. And, duly, Adams relays the proceedings leaving us all wondering: What the fuck is it about Cindy? Whta is it that inspires villany to gloat in her presence? From Cindy Adams:

"THE married Sheryl Weinstein, who wrote the book 'Madoff's Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie and Me' about her affair with civilization's worst con guy of all time, came over for lunch. She's been everywhere talking about it but, still, I felt happy to meet her. I'm happy to meet anyone who screwed Bernie Madoff.

"The woman with the eyeglasses and prim, proper beige suit talks repeatedly about his teeny weenie eenie weenie. Over a chicken leg, she circled her thumb and forefinger to suggest its approximate width (almost more than I needed to know). 'Think,' said Mrs. Weinstein, 'of the tiny opening of that small honey jar a hotel's room service does for breakfast. Not very large, y'know. That's about its circumference.

"'It was narrow. Tiny in terms of girth, not length.'

"I suddenly no longer wanted my chicken leg."

But our fearless reporter regains her appetite:

"So, if he was this undermanned, how could he have satisfied her as a lover?

"'Well, there are ways. Did you ever hear of being on top?'

"I picked up my chicken leg again."

At this point it would be instructive to point out that Cindy is talking about a drumstick over lunch, not her own inscrutable gams (Averted Gaze).

"He was a player. He had women before me. He didn't find his wife sexual. Ruth's actually quite mannish. The way she walks and moves. He'd say she kept him on a short leash, indicating she didn't think he could be trusted, and he said when he'd travel she'd always go along to keep an eye on him.

"He knew the art of seduction. As Hadassah's financial officer I was handling its funds, so we met to talk business. There were innuendoes he'd throw. Then lunches progressed to dinner. And hotels. We'd go to the Palace, Hilton, Lowell, the Willard in DC.

"Not as though he had to hide or be furtive. The public didn't know him. Before everything broke Dec. 11, he wasn't anybody. He was just Bernie. We'd order in. He'd eat shrimp, Dover sole. And we'd talk. Bernie didn't like talking to people. But because I'd met presidents and prime ministers, he found it attractive talking to me -- about golf, his adored sons, his grandchildren, the movies.

"He loved going to movies. I once found myself sitting in the same row as he and Ruth. Always cool, he walked over to me to say hello. A preamble so I wouldn't walk over to where she was."

"Does she think his 'cool' will help him in prison?

"The man's a survivor. He can manipulate his environment. And being under-endowed may help, too -- that may convince them to leave him alone.'

There is something astonishingly bloodless about this Weinstein. Why would she recount, in graphic detail, the sex she had with such a universally reviled sociopath as Madoff? What is the upside? It cannot possibly benefit her social worth. I understand, vaguely, that she has to do the book promotion. Book sales equals making up for her financial loss. Also, sure, the story is her own, to profit off as she wishes. But I'm fairly sure that expressing her intimate familiarity with Madoff's goddam joystick is not a part of any contractual agreement with the book company.

Anyhoo: the full monte -- so to speak -- here.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Congressional officials are in the process of finalizing transportation and security arrangements for the dozens of lawmakers expected to fly to Boston on Friday to attend Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral service. Lawmakers themselves are scrambling to rearrange their weekend plans so that they may attend Kennedy’s funeral service in Boston on Saturday, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver one of the eulogies. An extreme example is Rep. James McGovern, who heard the news of Kennedy’s death while on a congressional delegation trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. McGovern cut that trip short and embarked on a marathon 26-hour journey from Kabul to Boston, with stops in Kuwait and Germany along the way, to ensure arrival in Boston for the Kennedy funeral." (TheHill)

"What does it take to be a great social chronicler? Perhaps one of the key attributes is an understanding of what it feels like to fall from grace. Dominick Dunne, the best-selling novelist and defining voice for so many years of Vanity Fair magazine who died of cancer Wednesday at 83, was living proof that the best qualification for a writer’s life is a checkered past. I met him for the first time in July of 1983 at a dinner party—of course (hosted by the writer Marie Brenner at her Manhattan apartment). Dominick was a keen-eyed leprechaun in owlish glasses whose chief charm was his voice—mellow, humorous, and suggestive of past lives and forgiven sins. It was a writer’s voice for sure as I realized after two hours of listening enthralled at the table to his observations of people he knew and stories he had heard in Hollywood and high society. At the time, he introduced himself as an erstwhile movie producer who 'was finished with all that' and now, after some lost years in bad shape and A.A. and shunned by Hollywood, he had begun again as a writer of novels .. forte, unsurprisingly, became crime. Nick loved nothing more than to be dispatched to study the foibles of such Dynasty-era divas as Aaron Spelling’s wife Candy in her preposterously large Beverley Hills mansion and turn her into a delicious cartoon of Reagan-era excess. But his real forte was the dark side." (TheDailyBeast)

"Michael’s was busy but not its usual pandemonium. Summer’s not quite over. The beautiful and (not adolescent) sexy Patricia Duff was lunching with Joel Silverman. At the table next to them, Paula Zahn, looking like Jane Fonda’s younger sister, was lunching with a group ladies and gentleman. Around the room: Francine LeFrak, Nick Simunek, David Adler, Herb Siegel, Dan Wassong; Pamela Fiori with Carolina Herrera; Jerry Inzerillo, Henry Schlieff, Peter Price, Rob Weisbach, Ted Forstmann, Jon Dolgen, Fredi Friedman, Stuart Sundlin. And dozens more just like ‘em. Dominick Dunne died yesterday morning at his East 49th Street penthouse apartment. It has been said that, for reasons unknown to this writer, his family had tentatively planned to keep his passing a secret briefly, at least until the Senator Ted Kennedy's demise came down a font or two in the media. All of this is ironic, considering the subject." (NYSocialDiary)

"GRAYDON Carter has put his 83-year-old mother, Margaret, to work. The restaurateur, who edits Vanity Fair on the side, has a new dessert at his Monkey Bar -- Mrs. Carter's Butter Tart. 'Yes, they are indeed my mother's butter tarts,' Ottawa-bred Carter informed Toronto columnist Shinan Govani. "I felt it important to have Canada's national confection on the menu, inasmuch as folks like Dan Aykroyd, David Steinberg, Martin Short, Bruce McCall and other such north-of-the-border notables are frequent customers.' But Mom is a perfectionist. She found them good, but, 'They did not precisely conform to her rigid specifications,' Carter said. 'We are therefore continuing to engineer them to a more Canadian level of butter-tart excellence. Even in their present state, though, they are a huge hit with the Americans. For them, it's like tasting an oyster for the first time -- you just can't believe anything so disgusting-looking could taste so good.'" (PageSix)

"If you ask Manhattan’s female authors—specifically of the urban chick-lit genre—whom they would want to option their novels, the answer is often Sarah Jessica Parker. They would also like her to produce the film adaptation, star in it, and maybe even have a say in the wardrobe, if she has a spare moment. This has made Ms. Parker, 44, very busy. Currently in development at her production company, Pretty Matches, is The Washingtonienne, an HBO comedy series about the lives of three 20-something women working on Capital Hill, based on Jessica Cutler’s naughty novel of the same title; The Late Bloomer’s Revolution, a film adaptation of Amy Cohen’s memoir about how she and her father both entered the dating world after the death of her mother; and a Project Runway–style art competition picked up by Bravo a year ago. Just last month, Pretty Matches also optioned Amy Sohn’s novel, Prospect Park West, about child-rearing and sex among the Park Slope mommy tribe, for a half-hour HBO series. Having Ms. Parker option your book has become a badge of honor." (Obseerver)

"As the long, hot summer of our discontent came to a close, vacationers the world over reluctantly reshelved the books they had dipped into during their precious days of leisure, as they sought escape from the anxieties of the global recession. In the best of times, such reading is more attentive and suffused with wish-fulfillment than the harassed skimming that book lovers manage during the busy work year. But these are far from the best of times. This year, as Italians, French, and Spaniards drove to the mountains or to the Mediterranean; as Russians with rubles headed to Sochi and Cyprus; as Germans flocked to Baltic Sea cottages; as the Japanese jetted to America or Europe or trained to Tokyo's Shonan beach; and as Britons went anywhere with a forecast for sun, they packed engrossing reads they hoped would plunge them into imagined worlds more satisfying than the reality outside the printed page. Rarely has this kind of distraction been more needed than now, in the midst of an economic annus horribilis that has seen inflation, unemployment, and fiscal crisis rise and spread across the globe. Americans had a great hand in causing this tumult, but it was an American author, the Mormon fantasist Stephenie Meyer, who was most useful in beguiling both overseas and American readers away from their troubles -- at least for a while -- as they devoured the four volumes of Twilight, her red-hot, cold-blooded teen vampire series. Those books were bestsellers on every continent that has a bestseller list -- even if the euphemistic French romantically rechristened it Fascination and the Germans called it Bis(s), meaning 'bite.' It's interesting to see, through Twilight's global reach, that American cultural hegemony persists, even as the economic catastrophe Americans helped feed has taken a bite out of everyone else's peace of mind." (ForeignPolicy)

"Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer together again? Get out! It’s true—and this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly goes on the set with Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards, who joined old pal Larry David for the new season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Over the last six seasons, viewers have come to expect the outrageous from Curb, Larry David’s comedic exploration of a man named Larry David. For season 7, the co-creator of Seinfeld decided it was finally time to reunite the gang from his old, pathologically revered NBC sitcom, who up until now had resisted the urge to re-emerge." (Popwatch)

"A Sundance Film Festival selection, Big Fan premiered last night, followed by an afterparty at Headquarters gentleman’s club. Kristian Laliberte, Adrien Field, Alexandra Alexis, Briana Swanson, Melissa Berkelhammer, R. Couri Hay, Tia Walker and David Chines were among the film and party goers, eager to see this directing debut from the writer of 'The Wrestler.'" (Guestofaguest)