Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inside SHOWTIME's Homeland

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Sumner Redstone celebrated his 90th birthday with a host of Hollywood and media moguls. The executive chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom threw a lavish, 1930s- themed party at his Beverly Hills mansion Monday. Guests included Tom Cruise, Sidney Poitier, Paramount chairman Brad Grey, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, CBS’s Les Moonves, Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer, Michael Milken, Al Gore, producer Robert Evans and Mark Wahlberg. A source tells us, 'There was a red carpet complete with photographers from the Hedy Lamarr era. Sumner was in great spirits and was shown a video with birthday wishes from those who couldn’t make it, like [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft.'" (PageSix)

"Anyone want to buy a digital-only weekly magazine? Looks like Newsweek is for sale…again. And just like the last time Newsweek was for sale, when Barry Diller bought the magazine for a song and merged it with The Daily Beast , it isn’t really about the (low) price, it’s about the assumption of liabilities. So it’ll cost ya in the long run. Although now that Newsweek is all digital, it does presumably cost less to produce. And it remains to be seen what the sale will mean for editor in chief Tina Brown ... The Times‘ Carolyn Ryan, who moved over from Metro to head the Politics section earlier this spring, thought about hiring The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball and Politico’s Maggie Haberman for the politics desk. Last week, the Times announced that Politico’s Jonathan Martin will cover politics for the paper of record. Apparently, looking at Politico reporters for political positions shows that Ms. Ryan is thinking outside of the box ... CBS This Morning‘s Norah O’Donnell is getting sick of taking a back seat to co-host/Oprah BFF Gayle King. But the drama hasn’t risen to Matt Lauer and Ann Curry level drama or anything." (Observer)

"Sunday night I watched the Liberace movie 'Behind the Candelabra' with Michael Douglas in the lead role and Matt Damon as Liberace’s boyfriend Scott Thorsen. Debbie Reynolds played Liberace’s mother. Liberace came onto the scene about the same time that Elvis did and they couldn’t have been farther apart in terms of audiences. Liberace’s was mainly older women – mothers, grandmothers – while Elvis of course profoundly amazed the teenagers. Liberace had a half hour weekly television show in which he played popular American tunes as well as classics. He was famous for gussying up the act with a candelabra on the piano and wearing formal clothes that were fancier than just a tuxedo. He was also famous for his effusive personality which had more than a hint of mint to it. Adults probably figured he was gay but gay wasn’t a word that was known in the American vernacular at the time. It was known that he lived with his widowed mother and that seemed to fit into his audience’s idea of a wholesome boy/man. Comedians made fun of him and minced about in imitation but his popularity only grew and grew, and he was greatly respected for it in the business where box office talks. I remembered him for his first house in Hollywood where the fan magazines showed a swimming pool was shaped like the top of a grand piano – very cool to a kid who played the piano and couldn’t imagine having a swimming pool in the backyard." (NYSocialDiary)


"Venerable Village Voice columnist Michael Musto — whose departure from the weekly this month caused outrage from devotees — tells us he’s starting a slew of new gigs. 'I’ll be doing a weekly interview feature for Gawker, covering all manner of celebs and viral sensations,' he said. 'I’m also doing a weekly column on called ‘Musto the Musical!’ It will span gossip, Broadway, movies, nightlife, everything. Also, I’ll do a column in Advocate magazine.' Nice. We hear the man who penned the Voice’s La Dolce Musto for nearly 30 years will also contribute to Scene and the New York Times. He also recently popped up on NBC’s 'Smash' and Andy Cohen’s 'Watch What Happens Live.'" (P6)

"It’s raining, the stars are hiding, the hacks and paparazzi are waterlogged and frustrated, and the shimmering images of the beautiful people walking up the red carpet are just that—images of glories long gone. The Cannes Film Festival used to be a glamorous affair when I was a young man. I remember the brouhaha when a French wannabe starlet ripped off her bra and showed her assets to Robert Mitchum, reputedly the most intelligent actor of his time by far. He raised his eyebrows and congratulated her. He was walking alone on the Croisette without heavies or PR pests clearing his way. No one bothered him. That was then, and this is now, and now stinks. It stinks almost as much as the Gatsby movie, although some think the latter is the worst thing to come out of Hollywood since Paris Hilton. She is also here, trading on her great talent for, I suppose, having such an ugly horse face. So why am I here? As I wrote last week, my film Seduced and Abandoned is being shown a day after I write this, which means a star may have been born by the time you read this. I can see the headline in Nice-Matin: 'Une Étoile est Née.' Not bad for a 76-year-old, plus I just finished a documentary for Graydon Carter along the lines of My Dinner With Andre, but in my case it’s called My Lunch With Reinaldo. And, eat your heart out fellow Pugs member Sir Christopher Lee—I am filming Sex School this summer, playing a janitor. Who knew that Taki would become a major star in his mid-seventies? But back to Seduced and Abandoned. It is a nonfiction film, a hybrid between an adventure narrative and a documentary. Alec Baldwin is the main star along with Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Marty Scorsese, Coppola, Polanski, and Bertolucci. I play myself, mostly on my boat, and I was described as having an exotic, mysterious eroticism that sizzles." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

"A surprise for a lot of NYSD readers was learning that the woman who played Liberace’s mother Frances in the HBO production of Stephen Soderbergh’s 'Behind the Candlelabra' was none other than Debbie Reynolds. It wasn’t that she wasn’t listed in the cast credits, because she was. Or that there hadn’t been previous publicity on it because there was. It was that the performance was so 'real' that it almost seemed as if it were indeed, Liberace’s real mother. The performance which was brilliant in even the classical sense, reminded me of Lillian Burns Sidney who was Debbie’s mentor and lifelong supporter of her talent. Lillian had been the head acting coach at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1938 through 1952 when Mr. Mayer himself occupied the mogul’s suite in the Thalberg Building, and was the veritable King of Hollywood.  Lillian was a tiny woman, no more than 4’11” and standing (always) erect. She bore a natural air of distinction in her presence. She was always smartly dressed, poised; a forthright, plain spoken, right-thinking woman who loved the 'picture business,' as it was called, and all kinds of the creative talent that went into it. Especially actors, writers and directors. In her position during her time at Metro – from 1938 until 1952 when Louis B. Mayer resigned – Lillian was the highest paid non-actress on the lot earning more than $100,000 a year (or several million in today’s dollars) in the industry in the 1940s." (NYSocialDiary)

"Last year, I'd spent three-and-a-half hours running around Cannes with Alec Baldwin and James Toback as they filmed their highly entertaining documentary, Seduced and Abandoned, which chronicles their failed attempts to drum up financing for a sexually brazen art house reinterpretation of Last Tango in Paris set during the Iraq War, to be directed by Toback and starring Baldwin and Neve Campbell. This year they brought the completed doc to the festival, and when we met up again I found myself recounting a harrowing experience I’d had coming home on the night of the Seduced and Abandoned premiere party two days prior, when I'd been mugged by two young women, but fought off my attackers. 'Let me shake your hand!' said Baldwin. 'God damn it, I'm proud of you. Go down swinging, I say. You're going to have to earn that purse.' There’s been a perceived uptick in crime at the festival this year, with prominent jewel thefts and hotel robberies; most people I've talked to theorize that it has something to do with current European economic conditions. But it’s hard to say, as crime is always a problem; this much money in a concentrated area is bound to attract lowlifes along with the cinephiles. Even if the Euro were thriving, last Tuesday night it was not smart of me to be walking back to my rented apartment alone through an underpass behind a train station at four in the morning after a night of reveling. That evening, as I approached the underpass entrance I noticed two girls in their twenties — one skinny, one large and robust — get up and walk quickly into the tunnel ahead of me. It seemed sketchy, but the driving urge to get to bed made me follow them down. But they stopped on the steps, and suddenly I found myself right next to them, one on either side. 'Hello,' said the big one, who greedily and determinedly grabbed my right hand and tried to wrestle away the phone I was clutching as her smaller friend pulled at the handbag on my left side. We tussled and I screamed, 'Fuck you!' in their faces and kicked them before managing to run away, phone and handbag still in possession. I was running in high-heeled boots down the street, at least five blocks from my apartment door, screaming as loudly as possible. Then I tripped and fell to my knees. As I turned to get up, the smaller one was on top of me, grabbing at my phone and bag, while I think the big one was keeping watch at the underpass exit. I'm extremely lucky that they didn't pull weapons and that they weren't men, because my instinct was to just scream in my assailant’s face and wrestle with her (difficult since one of my hands was still gripping my phone, the other my handbag). No one showed up, but my assailant did finally step off, leaving me lying on my back on the sidewalk. I heard them making fun of me in French and imitating my screaming as they trotted down the underpass steps back to the train station. Once safely inside my temporary apartment I collapsed, shaking, on my bed, looking at my painfully bloody knees, torn tights, ripped dress, strained leg muscles, and wounds along my knuckles. The next day I was jumpy getting through the unavoidable festival crowds; anyone who walked behind me, or accidentally brushed up next to me felt like a threat. I felt stupid for putting myself in such a vulnerable position; and embarrassed that I'd given off the air of being a pushover, a foreign rube. That is, until I talked to Alec Baldwin. After congratulating me for my refusal to hand over my phone and purse, he commiserated by sharing a tale of how he was mugged in 1983 in Venice, California." (Jade Yuan)

"The jail writing class is voluntary and no special dispensation is offered anyone beyond the gratification of a couple of distracting hours. Those who attend, about twenty, are made up of an evolving array of faces. Some are still there since before my first visit last summer, others pop in for a quick stint, never to be seen again. And then the third group, those who come and go and know the rules better than the guards, know the laws better than their court appointed lawyers. Yet, for myriad reasons, they return. At 7:30pm on Saturdays, Candace (my fearless leader and program creator of twenty years) and I hand in our IDs at the main check in area, and after a brisk frisk of our persons and possessions we make our way. Buzzed through thick doors, and along corridors painted the color of untanned Caucasian skin, deep into the interior of the structure, to the ladies wing. Here we enter a classroom and gradually the ladies roll in. Once everyone is settled, to warm things up we assign a five minute writing exercise. For example, one week we asked them to write their bio, for a book jacket. Or we’ll create a scenario, eg: you have just woken up, it is morning and you are in a desert, beside you is a cat and a red pillow. What happened? Last night we brought in fake mustaches for us all to wear during class, and then asked them to write about what it might be like to go on a date with a werewolf. We had some laughs! At the end of class we give assignments for them to write through the week, to read at the following week’s class. Candace and I then add their work to a website we’ve made. When we return with comments from the general public, the satisfaction they experience is palpable. Depending on their strengths we might assign custom themes. For example, one lady, a grandmother, is writing an expose of the jail system as seen and experienced through her eyes. She signs off as Anon, as she is already in enough trouble. Her writing ably covers needlessly brutal shake-downs and ritual bureaucratic messes." (Chjristina Oxenberg)

"Roughly three years into Comcast’s ownership of NBC Universal, and Chief Executive Steve Burke has dispatched with all but a tiny vestige of the old Peacock network regime. With the naming of ITV’s Deborah Turness as the new president of NBC News last week, Burke’s makeover of NBC Universal in his image is basically complete. Since taking control in 2011, Burke has brought in new executives or realigned the organizational chart at NBC’s broadcast, cable, sports, news, and advertising sales departments. Pretty much the only division he hasn’t touched is Universal Studios, which makes sense since movies are the one area inside NBC Universal in which Comcast is least familiar.  The result, based on interviews with more than a half dozen current and former NBC Universal executives, is an executive suite lower on drama and personality, but one that also leaves some still trying to figure out where they stand in the corporate structure and with Burke himself.
'All the heat and passion is gone,' said one executive who recently left the company. 'He’s all business all the time.'  For many, that’s a plus." (Peter Lauria)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Howard Stern Interviews SNLs Bill Hader

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Nat Rothschild, dressed in a hooded sweater, jeans and hiking boots, perches on a cowhide sofa in his relatively modest chalet-style apartment in the Swiss ski resort of Klosters. He recalls the fateful day in October 2010 when, as he scanned the globe for business opportunities, he first heard the word Bumi.Ian Hannam, a well-known JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)investment banker, had e-mailed Rothschild suggesting he look at two coal companies, including PT Bumi Resources (BUMI), linked to the Bakrie family, a powerful Indonesian business dynasty. 'He said it was the best deal he had ever seen in his life,' Rothschild says. Hannam’s approach was the first step down a path that would lead to an ugly boardroom brawl pitting Rothschild against the Bakries. As it unfolded, the clash would see the two sides trading claims of e-mail hacking, bad faith and fraud. It would leave few reputations, including Rothschild’s, unscathed.'I am the first to admit we made a terrible mistake,' Rothschild, 41, says of his decision to partner with the Bakries ... Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of a family synonymous with financial success, is the youngest of four children of Jacob, the 4th Baron Rothschild, 77, who heads RIT Capital Partners Plc (RCP), which managed 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) as of March 31.t the University of Oxford, Nat acquired a party-boy image that would haunt him throughout his 20s. Rothschild, who’s dating a 22-year-old model, Daisy Cummings, doesn’t drink or smoke these days and generally is in bed by 9:30 p.m. 'I lead a very boring life,' he says. Rothschild’s professional life has been anything but boring." (Bloomberg Markets)

"I went down to the Wednesday Michael’s to lunch with Jamee Gregory who contributes to the NYSD from time to time, and has published two big coffee table books on New York Apartments and New York Parties.Michael’s was its busy busy selfDan Rather put in an appearance, lunching at a corner table with Eliot Sptitzer. Right next door to them, Da Mayah of Michael’s, Joe Armstrong was present for the first time in many weeks, back from two months in Jerusalem working on one of Paul Newman’s special school projects, lunching with Dave Zinczenko and his partner who have just re-launched Men’s Fitness. Right next door, Donny Deutsch with two ladies. At Table one, the gang -- Bonnie Fuller, Gerry Byrne, Carlos Lamadrid were hosting a tableful of media  and public relations honchos" (NYSD)

and public relations honchos.  
"'It’s grotesque! I hate this hotel!' says Sir John Richardson as I enter a fourth-floor suite giving on to a sweeping vista of the Thames and the London Eye. 'I’m in my 90th year but this place makes me feel 100.' High quality global journalism requires investment.  Richardson is in town to receive the London Library’s Life in Literature award, one of many honours, including a knighthood, accorded him for his multi-volume, still unfinished biography of Pablo Picasso. Volume One appeared in 1991, Volume Four is expected next year.But such has been his varied, busy life – he launched Christie’s New York; watched Georges Braque ('so good-looking!') complete his last paintings; got ejected from WH Auden’s villa on Ischia for seducing the poet’s secretary in the garden; owns a legendary art collection, ranging from Picassos to a whale’s penis, housed in his Fifth Avenue apartment; and is now consultant to über-dealer Larry Gagosian – that queues of artists, publishers, collectors, scholars supplicate for his attention on this brief visit to England. A sculptor precedes me (the first breakfast), a trip to Oxford follows – to give the inaugural lecture at Ertegun House, the new humanities centre launched by the widow of Richardson’s old friend Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. 'Ahmet was a great character, very intelligent and well-read, you’d have loved him. He was the son of the Turkish ambassador in Washington. He noticed that the ballroom in the embassy wasn’t being used so he got these jazz musicians, working as taxi drivers, to come and play. He went into the record business and made a hell of a lot of money.'" (FT)

"The DreamWorks Animation chief talks about his first big break at Paramount and other high points of his career." (Businessweek)

"I started out as a Greta Gerwig fan, awed by her lovely, loopy performance as the titular lost post-grad in 2007's Hannah Takes the Stairs. She was as refreshingly familiar as she was Aryan and unknowable, like Grace Kelly had allowed her eggs to be fused with Gilda Radner's in a genetics experiment dreamed up by an anxious hipster. Gerwig's comfort in her own skin and her discomfort with the pained social code of the 20s male made her an instant heroine to me and a fantasy friend. Cut to September 2008. I was taking my dog for an evening walk, and we stopped into the lower Broadway office space of Red Bucket Films. There was Greta: hangin' out, fresh-faced, gesticulating wildly. I was excited by her and she was excited by my dog, and I forced the conversation to go on and on. Later we shared a cramped office space for a while in that same building, where we made an audition tape for Greta that included the line 'the pterodactyl retreats!' which she delivered with surprising subtlety. It's been a true thrill to witness what some might call 'Greta's dizzying ascent' and what I call 'Greta kicking ass.' Her self-assuredly self-effacing performance in Greenberg made Ben Stiller look like he'd just taken a ride on a tilt-a-whirl (in a good way -- he was also great, she just threw him for a loop!), and she brings a third and fourth dimension to the sassy sidekick in No Strings Attached. Every time she's on a talk show, the host's eyes seem to ask, 'There are girls like this!?' And soon everybody's going to get a double dose: Arthur (in which she takes on another dude -- comedy dynamo, Russell Brand) in April (2011), and in Whit Stillman's deeply anticipated summer film, Damsels in Distress. We met for breakfast at Odeon so I could ask her probing questions and revel in the fact that she's finally my friend." (Lena Dunham/Papermag)

"Nabokov’s conception of the artist as quasi-divine inventor means that—as is the case with one of his great heroes, James Joyce—critics tend to find themselves in the role of enchanted hunters looking for clues and connections, spotting recondite allusions, praising the novels’ elaborate artistry, or elucidating labyrinthine patterns. It would take a bold critic to read such a dazzling, seemingly omniscient, and utterly self-conscious oeuvre as depicting the bars of Nabokov’s own cage. Andrea Pitzer doesn’t, perhaps, go quite that far, but she does invite us to step back a little and ponder the oddness of the relationship Nabokov’s writings create between the fictive and the historical. She does this by contrasting him with another Russian writer much lauded in the West, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Shortly after Solzhenitsyn was deported from the Soviet Union in 1974, he arranged to meet Nabokov and his wife for lunch at the Montreux Palace Hotel. Pitzer’s opening chapter describes the Nabokovs awaiting the arrival of the Soviet Union’s most famous dissident in a private dining room of their hotel. While their personalities and experiences could hardly have been more different, the two writers’ shared hatred of communism would surely have created plenty of common ground for discussion. In the event, Solzhenitsyn never showed up, possibly fearing a put-down from the aristocratic Nabokovs, who indeed thought little of Solzhenitsyn as a writer. Pitzer, however, makes deft use of this aborted encounter, tracing the different paths each had taken to literary stardom: Solzhenitsyn in the Gulag, Nabokov in Cambridge, Berlin, and Paris, then at Wellesley and Cornell; the one compiling a vast and irrefutable indictment of Soviet abuses, the other studiously avoiding direct treatment of this harrowing topic in his fiction. Animating Pitzer’s retelling of Nabokov’s life, however, is her contention that Nabokov did in fact weave various explicit references to historical events into his fiction, and indeed that ;behind the art-for-art’s sake façade that Nabokov both cultivated and rejected, he was busy detailing the horrors of his era and attending to the destructive power of the Gulag and the Holocaust in one way or another across four decades of his career.' Dazzled by Nabokov’s 'linguistic pyrotechnics,' readers and critics have simply overlooked these details." (NYRB)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

MIA and Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman in Bitter Split

One of the craziest couplings ever ends badly. Opposites attract, then repel. From PageSix:

"Rapper MIA has fired a new legal salvo in her child custody battle with Benjamin Bronfman, son of Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. Brooklyn-based MIA is trying to use international law to secure the right to take their son back to her native England. She filed her latest bid under the Hague Convention, an international treaty that focuses on child custody. MIA had asked a Brooklyn federal court judge to call the case 'Anonymous v. Anonymous.' That was rejected by Judge Margo Brodie, who ruled their dispute should be heard in the open in the public interest. MIA took a different position on her privacy recently when she tweeted, 'Ben you cant take my son away from me.'"
The romantic in me kind of wished that it had all worked out between them as a couple, if only for the sheer weirdness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Chaz Ebert’s first Cannes Film Festival was 23 years ago, in 1990, when she was still a trial attorney and she and Roger Ebert had just started dating. This year’s Cannes marks another, much sadder, beginning: her first festival without Roger, who died in April at age 70 from the cancer that had already claimed part of his lower jaw and his ability to speak, but not the Chicago Sun-Times film critic’s ability to write enthusiastically about his love of movies. When they met, Roger was almost 50 and perpetually single; he’d refused to marry while his mother was alive, fearing her disapproval. But he skilfully wooed Chaz, eleven years his junior, by taking her to see Tosca at the Lyric Opera in Chicago and giving her volumes of Shakespeare, his favorite author. 'Roger was always very romantic,' says Chaz, as we sit on the beach near the American Pavilion, a festival hub visited often by Roger that now prominently displays his picture and hosted a tribute panel to him this afternoon. 'He always gave me flowers, but primarily books. He loved giving books.' Roger also loved taking Chaz to top restaurants along the French Riviera, and set aside one day each festival to rent a car and take a break from Cannes. In 1991, they drove to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix, and Roger spontaneously decided to ask Chaz to marry him. 'He did not know that he was going to propose that day,' she says. 'He said just everything felt right.'" (Vulture)

"Privacy. In this week’s New Yorker in their 'Talk of the Town' section, there is a piece by Raffi Khatchadokurian on a photographic exhibition at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea by photographer Arne Svenson. Mr. Svenson was given a Nikon telephoto lens by a bird-watching friend a few years ago, and in his effort to learn how to use it, he began taking photos of people in the building across the street from him. Soon it became an obsession. Svenson likened the experience to Alfred Hitchcock’s 'Rear Window' with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly (and Raymond Burr as the villain). Anyone who has ever seen the film, will never forget it. Photographer Svenson ended up taking thousands of pictures of people – men, women, children, dogs in all kinds of private domestic situations. 'Only the dogs' noticed him, he recalls. After the exhibition was installed, it was written up in the Tribeca Citizen. Some of Mr. Svenson’s neighbors (and subjects), having heard about it through the article, were very upset (I’ll bet) ... Many years ago, my oldest childhood friend studied astrology on the side when he was in college. This was back in the late 60s, early 70s. He’d often talk about the wonder of his discoveries about 'the future.' One of his most incredible observations taken from the zodiacal activity of the world was that by the 1990s, early 2000s, there would be No Privacy in our world because of technology. The idea seemed absurd at the time. Not only absurd but impossible. But this was before the cell phone or the computer. Now we are living with that reality." (NYSocialDiary)

"Don’t call Tumblr mogul David Karp a 'hipster.' The 26-year-old, shaggy-haired CEO — who sold his site to Yahoo for $1.1 billion — scolded ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday for branding him 'the original hipster CEO.' 'I don’t know about ‘hipster,’ ' Karp scoffed. 'I don’t know if I really appreciate that one.' Square Stephanopoulos asked, 'That doesn’t work for you?' Karp, a Bronx HS of Science dropout, rolled his eyes, shrugged and replied, 'I prefer not.'" (PageSix)

"Paul Allen and Denise Rich both hosted exclusive bashes on their yachts in Cannes Monday. But Alec Baldwin didn’t make it to his own movie’s after-party on Rich’s 'Lady Joy' so he could stay by the side of his pregnant wife Hilaria Thomas. A private dinner followed by a late-night blow-out was in celebration of Baldwin and James Toback’s 'Seduced and Abandoned,' and guests went through 100 cases of Perrier-Jouët Champagne, spies said. But Baldwin was MIA. Spies said he and Thomas’ flight to France was delayed and they’d had to race from the airport to the red carpet for the film’s debut. After that mad dash, pregnant Thomas wasn’t up for partying and Baldwin dutifully stayed with her. Aboard another yacht, Allen’s 'Tatoosh,' the billionaire hosted his annual Cannes party for guests including Goldie Hawn, Adrien Brody and Michael Douglas. The Microsoft mogul provided entertainment by jamming with his band, spies said." (P6)

"My sincerest apologies to anyone who bought these ‘books’. I know they are full of typos and formatting errors, all entirely my fault. Sadly my skill set is narrow, and I ought not to be in charge of anything beyond the writing. I should have nothing to do with editing or production or distribution. Therefore, I am offering refunds to anyone suitably disgruntled, equally I offer the solace of you being the owner of collectors items. Why collectors items? Well, because on my most recent, the third and final trip to NYC I encountered the greatest success of all. I settled on a powerful literary agent and a publisher and now all my books will be proofed, correctly formatted and reprinted (without photographs). I am thrilled about this. To cap it off, after a day of airports and missed connecting flights and the overall discomforts of modern travel, I made it home in time to shower and change into party attire and off I went to meet Henry Bisharat and John Hemingway, two new-yet-old friends first met on Facebook and now included, for all time, in my personal coterie. The party was for the launch of Papa’s Pilar, a new brand of rum, and the guest of honor was John Hemingway, grandson of one of the greatest writers of all time." (Christina Oxenberg)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mad Men Gif of the Week

via papermag

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Q: What do Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone have in common? (Besides being rich white men, that is.) A: All of them joined Jamie Dimon in battle as the JPMorgan Chase CEO fought to keep his job as the bank's board chairman. Corporate governance isn't usually a sexy topic. But as JPMorgan held its annual meeting in Tampa today, all of Wall Street was watching one specific governance proposal on the ballot — a nonbinding resolution that would have split the bank's CEO and board chairman roles. If the proposal had been passed by shareholders and adopted by the board, Dimon would have been stripped of half of his powers, effectively dealing him a no-confidence vote after a year of regulatory problems and investigations stemming from the London Whale trading losses. The threat of having Dimon taken down a peg — and potentially having him quit altogether in protest — was enough to send JPMorgan into a furious behind-the-scenes lobbying effort to keep the popular CEO in power. The bank's countercampaign worked: Only 32 percent of the bank's shareholders voted to split the roles, fewer than had voted for a similar proposal last year. That will come as a relief to the bank, which has spent hundreds if not thousands of man-hours trying to keep Dimon in his seat. 'It was very much an effort across the bank,' one person familiar with JPMorgan Chase's lobbying efforts told Daily Intelligencer, adding that 'Jamie was not the one making calls on this.'" (NYMag)

"Harvey Weinstein hosted an intimate lunch in Cannes with Len Blavatnik on the billionaire’s 164-foot yacht Odessa. Guests at the Sunday event included CBS chief Les MoonvesJulie Chen, actors Naomie HarrisRooney Mara, Casey AffleckKeanu ReevesOctavia Spencer andMichael B. Jordan and filmmaker Ryan Coogler. Blavatnik, who owns Warner Music and is an investor in The Weinstein Co., introduced Joss Stone, who gave a surprise live performance on deck. A witness told us, 'Crowds gathered on the dock as the celebs came out of their cars, and they got a free concert as they could hear Joss singing.'" (PageSix)

"Nancy Jo Sales published 'The Suspects Wore Louboutins' in Vanity Fair in March of 2010. Sofia Coppola announced optioning the article by December of 2011; Emma Watson was cast by February of 2012; the resulting movie, The Bling Ring, opens in a month. But first! Tomorrow comes The Bling Ring—the book. Nancy Jo Sales started afresh. She already had, after all, endless hours of interviews with the crowd of young people in Southern California who burgled celebrity homes. In case you missed the original story, or have buried its fuzzy outline under later tabloid scandals, the case concerns five kiddos (and two friends who did reselling) who best liked to steal outfits, shoes, photos, watches and anything else that felt personal. And they did it quite a bit: they hit Brian Austin Green's house just a week after Lindsay Lohan's house, back in August of 2009. Poor Brian Austin GreenAnd it turns out this book is basically The Journalist and the Murderer for the TMZ age. It's really pretty devastating. "Corporations are now people and people are now products, known as 'brands,' Sales writes, in a history of what is either the degradation or the democratization of celebrity. ('Either/or doesn't seem right, but you know.) Both the path to getting fame and the resulting benefits (money, mostly) became obvious to us all. This is true—and happened so quickly—to the point where, Sales notes, theft victim Paris Hilton began to look as if she had an 'Old Hollywood glamour to her.' (Before noting that Hilton's popularity's rise and fall mirrored George W. Bush's. This is a book, after all, that mentions Bobby Kennedy, Donald Trump, Michael Milken, Richard Nixon, Salomon Brothers and Glenn Greenwald all on the same page.)" (TheAwl)

"last Tuesday, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Muffie Potter Aston and Somers Farkas hosted the cocktail party for jewelry designerJudith Murat, creator of House of Murat, to celebrate the release of her gold-leafed hardcover book, 'Judy’s Journey into the Land of Murat,' with a private book-signing event and trunk show to benefit Alzheimer’s Association at the home of Andrea and John Stark. The reception brought out friends and supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association including Jean Shafiroff, Nicole Noonan, Sharon Bush, Michele Gerber Klein, Geoffrey Bradfield, Cassandra Seidenfeld, Cole Rumbough, Elaine Sargent, Joanna Mastroianni and Maggie Norris, Stephania Conrad, Christine Schott and Liliana Cavendish, Susan Jacob Allison Lang, Alison Minton. Murat signed books with co-author Charles (Sunny) Castor for friends including with a first look of Judith Murat’s latest collections." (NYSocialDiary)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Ever since Marissa Mayer’s new job as CEO of Yahoo and her pregnancy were announced nearly simultaneously last July, every one of her personal and executive decisions has been picked over by a million rubberneckers. First, there was the statement: “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it,” which spawned a thousand frothing blog posts for her and against her. Then she followed through on that promise and took only two weeks off and it sparked another spasm of praise and fury. After that, news broke that she built a nursery next to her office at the same time as she was putting an end to Yahoo’s telecommuting policy, which led to widespread criticism of Mayer as anti-family and out of touch; then she announced that Yahoo was expanding maternity leave to 16 weeks and paternity leave to eight weeks, which inspired mostly cheers. Now people are complaining that her new acquisition strategy will destroy employee morale. Whatever one thinks about Mayer, it’s undeniable that no other current CEO, male or female, is scrutinized in the same nitpicky, ad hominem way. Are there articles about how much maternity leave Sam’s Club CEO Roz Brewer took? Or what parental leave policies Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi has instituted? Brigid Schulte at The Washington Post points out that numerous male CEOs—including Best Buy’s Hubert Joly and Bank of America’s Brian T. Moynihan—have scaled back their company’s telecommuting policies with no public blowback. It is Mayer’s job to do what she believes is best for her company and her board, not what the peanut gallery thinks is best. So is this kind of obsessive tracking of Mayer’s decisions going to affect her tenure as CEO? And, worse, is it also bad for the women who hope to follow in her footsteps?" (TheDailyBeast)

"Is waking up to Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning and ending a hectic weekday by watching Mr. Rose’s interview show just not enough Mr. Rose? Good news: starting in July, PBS viewers will be able to kick off their weekends with the well-respected newsman. Charlie Rose Weekend , a new 30 minute series hosted by Mr. Rose, will air on Fridays at 8:30, the non-profit public broadcasting service (funded by 'viewers like you') announced this morning. 'PBS is my first broadcast home and I’m excited to embark on a new project that, while distinctly different in nature from Charlie Rose, will build on its history and harness the possibilities of the future by a full use of technology and social media,' Mr. Rose said in a statement. 'We will offer a fresh look at the people shaping our lives and the questions that demand answers and context. By bringing together top newsmakers each week and engaging the audience in innovative ways, we will invite viewers to start their weekends on Friday with PBS.' The show, which will draw on Mr. Rose’s nightly news show, will focus on 'the events and conversations shaping the week and the week ahead'  in politics, science, business, culture, media and sport." (Observer)

"Society is swirling with word that Leonard Lauder, the billionaire chairman of the Estée Lauder company who lost his beloved wife, Evelyn, in 2011 after 52 years of marriage, may not be a single man for much longer. Page Six revealed the 79-year-old has been dating Linda E. Johnson, the 54-year-old president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library. Now we are told, 'They are very happy and are talking about marriage.' The news will devastate some socialites, who view Lauder, who is worth nearly $8 billion, as a huge catch. But Johnson, an attractive brunette, is rather distinguished in her own right. A Lauder rep said, 'We do not comment on executives’ personal relationships.'" (PageSix)

"Last week in New York. Women in the news. Looking over the myriad events and activities, I noticed there were many women prominent on the calendar. Wednesday night over at 583 Park Avenue, generationOn whose mission is to 'inspire, equip, and mobilize youth to take action that changes the world and themselves through service,' honored Bank of America, Chelsea Clinton and Julie Fisher Cummings for their commitment to youth service ... Silda Wall Spitzer introduced me to this organization several years ago when she founded Children For Children – an organization that has since merged into what is now generationOn. Their objective is two-fold: empowering children and young people to make decisions, take responsibility and become leaders through service to their community and to their contemporaries in the communities. Aside from inspiring the children who participate, their works potentially inspires all of us. In her acceptance speech, Chelsea Clinton pointed out that 'GenerationOn helps to empower young people by providing the tools they need to become compassionate leaders, community activists and change agents, a mission that is crucial to the future of our country' ... There were 350 attending the evening which helped raise more than $797,000. The evening was hosted and co-chaired by longtime generationOn advocates Kevin Arquit, Brian and Barbara Goldner and Silda. Among those attending were Deborah Roberts and Al Roker, Andrea and Maurice DuBois, Amy Carlson, and Lauren Bush Lauren." (NYSocialDiary)

"The Bushwick drag scene is positively on fire right now, and promoter Trey LaTrash's Dizzyland, a monthly underground party and its venue, The Spectrum are right in the middle of the blaze. In addition to the usual nightlife accompaniments, Dizzyland's flyer also lists a credit for "Vibe Assistance" (that's by Kerry Farias, if you're wondering). We checked out these vibes Saturday night (and well into Sunday morning -- we left just before sunrise, at which point the dancefloor was still going strong). " (Papermag)

"I’m a physician in my early forties. I make $450-500K. I read a lot about finance and I know that technically I am in the 1%, but I don’t feel rich at all. I don’t know if it was the way I was raised or because for a time I was living paycheck to paycheck or if it’s because I have three kids (and hence, eventually will have three tuitions to pay), but I don’t feel wealthy yet. Maybe it’s because I live in an affluent suburb of a big city and most of my neighbors seem to be doing really well. I don’t know. Have you run across other folks like this?" (TheBillfold)

"In 1968, Donald Judd — the artist known for his boxy, implacable sculptures and wall pieces — paid $68,000 for 101 Spring Street, a graceful but dilapidated five-story cast-iron building, and began his renovation by hauling out truckloads of trash. Over the years, he kept installing art and modifying the architecture in pursuit of an ideal balance. After his death in 1994, the building sat, stilled. Starting on June 3, after a three-year, $23 million restoration, the Judd Foundation will open 101 Spring to the public for guided tours in groups of eight by reservation. Art critic Jerry Saltz and architecture critic Justin Davidson walked through it together." (NYMag)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Is Network TV Doomed?

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"At an art shindig on Park Avenue, I spotted Baz Luhrmann, the director of the latest and very noisy version of The Great Gatsby. I found him a charming man before I was shocked—shocked à la Captain Renault—to hear the dwarfish mayor of the (NYC) suggest an honorary American citizenship for that Russian son-of-a-bitch Roman Abramovich. Too bad I didn’t have my American passport with me, because I would have thrown it at him and told him to keep it. I can understand why some broken-down English toffs need to kiss Abramovich’s behind because they mistakenly think it beats working, but the grotesque Bloomberg is a billionaire many times over and needs not genuflect in front of a former plastic-duck salesman who belongs behind bars. The ex-duck salesman parked his monstrous floating brothel downtown and came to Park Avenue with his floozy la Zhukova, both posing as art connoisseurs. If any of you reading this feel like puking, go ahead—I’m amazed that I didn’t, and I actually was close enough to touch them. Yuck!  Then I thought of poor old Scott Fitzgerald. He wrote Gatsby, sold only 24,000 copies, died very much in debt, and now his masterpiece sells 500,000 paperbacks every year, the novel has been turned into a movie five times, and the latest version cost $105 million. How’s that for irony? I’d say worse than Bloomberg and the duck salesman posing as gentlemen. The actor playing Nick Carraway, Tobey Maguire—who’s as tall as Bloomberg at 5 foot 8 inches—was asked whether he had loved the book and answered, 'But I read the script, of course.' No Fitzgerald expert he. The movie is exactly what I had predicted a couple of months ago: Pearls, cloche hats, dropped waists, and lots of fireworks. It’s a tumultuous work that has about as much style as the fictional Gatsby parties." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

"If you were a veteran columnist for a well-known weekly paper, and increasingly the only reason people picked up a copy of that paper, and that paper laid you off after 25 years, you might be tempted to say some negative things about that paper. But Michael Musto refrained from doing so in his Facebook farewell to the Village Voice, which unceremoniously canned him this week. In fact, the only mention he makes of the publication by name is a glowing one ... If Musto has his next move lined up, he hasn't made it public, but he told Gawker on Friday that 'so many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities).' Given the enduring affection readers and his fellow media types have for the guy, we're sure he'll land on his feet." (NYMag)

"Nancy Pelosi is beaming as she bustles into the House of Representatives dining room on Capitol Hill, which combines the busyness of a staff cafeteria with the grace of a late 19th-century reception room. A large painting of George Washington on the battlefield hangs on the wall, gazing across a full room of congressmen and women and their advisers and guests. The smile might seem odd, as she has come straight from the House floor, where the Democrats have lost another vote. It is a predictable enough event in the Republican-dominated chamber but Pelosi marks down the vote on the country’s labour standards board as a victory by a different standard. 'We didn’t lose a single Democrat. That was very big for us,' she says, taking pride that not one member of her party had voted with the Republicans. In Congress, if a measure is certain to be defeated, leaders sometimes give members leeway to break the party line so that they can vote in a way that helps them in their districts. This is not a practice that sits well with Pelosi. 'Desertion?' she says. 'Would ‘desertion’ be the word?' With Congress in session, often sitting from morning until late at night, she has little leeway in her choice of venue for lunch, a short walk down a flight of stairs from her office." (FT)

"The social calendar is still in high gear. This past Wednesday night was another busy one. Over at 583 Park Avenue GenerationON was honoring Chelsea Clinton with their Humanitarian Award. I did get to that one. There were almost 400 guests and they raised more than $720,000 for their very good cause inspiring children to give service to other children and their communities. A week ago Wednesday, New York lost one of the last of its great characters of the Beat Generation and Warhol Factory stars, Taylor Mead, who died in Denver at 88. Mead was a member of the Warhol Underground – which is the way it seemed in its earliest days. What seemed far out and even weird back then is so mainstream nowadays that it hardly seems relevant to mention. There was no SoHo, no East Village, no Tribeca, no Chelsea and the artists-then-sleek-downtown culture. However, at the time, this group, these people – the poets, the actors, the painters, the characters – were at the center of the bursting art and media scene in the early 1960s in New York. They were pre-hippie yet certainly reflected in the hippie movement. Mead turned out to be one of the very last of them. He lived his last days as an indigent downtown resident, a habitué of the local bars where they’d fill his glass(es) on the house and appreciate or at least respect his then ancient poet’s point of view. He was born into a well-do-family in Grosse Pointe, and came to New York as a very young man to pursue a career as an actor, and to pursue life as he felt like it as have so many millions of Americans who made the city what it is. Leaving Grosse Pointe, he shed himself of all touchstones of bourgeois respectability, and apparently enjoyed every minute of it. He was never famous in the American media sense but he was certainly famous to generations of students and fans of the Beats and the Warhol Factory, as well as the poets and artists of the city." (NYSocialDiary)

"The New York Times Book Review is modernizing under the editorship of Pamela Paul, who was appointed to the positon in early April. The section announced three changes in a new column in this Sunday’s issue (it was posted online today). Starting this weekend, the e-book bestseller list, which first joined the printed list in early 2011, will be online only. Additionally, book prices will no longer be included for any books. 'The e-book list has migrated online, the digital world being its natural habitat,' the Times announced. 'Given the fluid variety of pricing in today’s marketplace, we have also stopped including cover prices on the lists. The third change is the one you’re reading right now.' The third change is a more bloggy look." (NYTimes)

"Jo Wood, the second ex-wife of Rolling Stones’ rocker Ronnie Wood, claims in her new memoir that she and the musician once 'smuggled smack' into the Bahamas back in 1978. In an early excerpt from her tell-all, 'It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll: 30 Years Married To A Rolling Stone' published by RadarOnline, the former model claimed that an alleged 'sharp suited' dealer named Victor had them sneak cigarettes laced with heroin during their vacation to Nassau. She wrote that while Victor was on their flight to the island nation, he was 'acting like a mad man as he was smoking ‘dirty cigarettes’ or DCs – little roll-ups containing smack – which he was intending to take in to the Bahamas.' Jo claimed that Ronnie snuck into the plane’s bathroom, allegedly to indulge as well. 'I didn’t touch them, as they had the most revolting smell — if I think about it even now I gag — but Ronnie went into the bathroom for a sneaky puff.' She recalled, 'Shortly after he stumbled back to his seat, a flight attendant came over and crouched next to me [and said], ‘Excuse me, but I think your friend has left this in the toilet.’' 'Oh god, I’m sorry,' he said. 'Thank you ever so much. I’ll get rid of them.”
Jo wrote, “She smiled warmly. ‘Not to worry. Would you like another drink?’' As the flight descended, Jo wrote that Victor then 'dumped the bag of drugs' in her lap. 'As he was a drugs trafficker, I assumed that Victor would already have a plan in place to smuggle his stash through Customs, but as we started our descent he suddenly dumped the bag in my lap. It turned out that I was the plan.' Jo claimed that Ronnie then 'got a carton of duty-free cigarettes, removed all the cigarettes from the middle packet, stuffed Victor’s stash in there, then carefully packed it up again to look like new.' As they went through Customs, she recalled that agents 'immediately zeroed in on me; I must have been giving off guilty vibes.' She continued, 'as they went through my bag, I offered up a silent prayer of thanks that we hadn’t hidden the stash in there. Then the inspector held up the duty-free bag containing the carton of cigarettes. ‘Is this yours?’ he asked me. '’No,’ I said, pointing at Victor. ‘They’re his!’ I was damned if I was going to risk life in prison for him." (PageSix)

"'It’s ballet at speed,' Malcolm Borwick, captain of the Sentebale team, said Wednesday morning, referring to polo, the so-called sport of kings. Like many top athletes in the sport, Mr. Borwick follows a peripatetic international circuit, playing 110 games a year that take him from Florida to the Gulf States to Brazil. Most prominent among his three teammates on Wednesday, the man who had drawn the satellite trucks and the camera crews and 200 members of the international press and another couple of hundred paying guests to the Greenwich Polo Club on a cold and rainy Wednesday morning was, of course, Prince Harry, the ginger-haired rake who currently stands third in line of succession to the British throne. 'If you’re super optimistic, and very positive, as Harry is,” you’ll be effective on the field, suggested Mr. Borwick, a six-goal player. As it happened, the prince’s optimism, if that’s what it was, carried the Sentebale team, named for the charity he sponsors in the African nation of Lesotho, to success. As polo goes, it was a middling game, notable for some strategic defensive plays by Dawn Jones, the sole woman player; some spirited runs by Nacho Figueras, the Argentine heartthrob (and six-goal player) and Ralph Lauren model; and for the reality that nobody in the stands paid the slightest attention to the doings of anybody but the English prince.
'It must be so hard, being Prince Harry all the time,' said the Canadian model Jessica Stam, who despite the suburban setting and soggy weather, was dressed in a severe structured black dress by Thom Browne and a pair of that designer’s stiletto wing tips." (NYTimes)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cable Network Ranker

via tvnewser

Jon Stewart on the IRS Scandal

Media-Whore D'oeuvres

"The White House took a series of steps Wednesday to make up with the Washington press corps.
The wooing took several shapes and followed a disastrous press briefing on Tuesday at which White House press secretary Jay Carney was torn apart over the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records. To bolster President Obama’s free-press credentials, the White House announced Wednesday it had asked Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a press shield law that would allow media organizations to challenge subpoenas of phone records and offer legal protections for protecting confidential sources. The White House also took the step of handing out records of emails related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which is designed to push back at suggestions it has not been transparent and bolster its case it has been truthful about the attack. Finally, Carney started his daily briefing on Wednesday with a bit of self-mockery, standing before a screen showing a montage of facial grimaces and contortions he made during Tuesday’s contentious briefing. He called it 'The many faces of Jay.' Obama has had a relatively good relationship with the press, which conservatives often complain is a potent part of Obama’s political base." (TheHill)

"Peter Baker reports that President Obama occasionally fantasizes, as many presidents do, of imitating a 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a politician who suddenly started saying exactly what he thought ... You can see Obama’s Bulworth fantasies popping out from time to time, especially when reporters ask him why he can’t force Republicans to pass sensible compromises ...
The trouble is that these answers, while true, don’t actually help Obama. Any political scientist will tell you that the scope for possible legislation in this term is very narrow: The median House member is a very conservative Republican who represents a district that voted for Mitt Romney, and whose biggest political risk is losing a primary to an even more conservative Republican. But most political reporters and analysts don’t pay attention to the political science. They like narratives that revolve around the president as a protagonist. When you confront them with structural analysis that confounds their narratives, they just get upset with you. It serves no purpose. That’s why I advised Obama to use 'less real talk and more bullshit.'A post-presidency Obama who actually spoke his mind, rather than fashion himself a post-partisan eminence, as post-presidents do — now that would be awesome. But the reason politicians don’t go Bulworth is that it doesn’t work. The truth about legislative dynamics is complicated and depressing. People don’t want to hear it." (Jonathan Chait)

"While Daniel Webster died an American in 1852, his political legacy does not belong to just one state, but two: New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Born in New Hampshire, Webster represented the Granite State in the House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. But he then moved to Massachusetts seeking to improve his legal career, only to wind up returning to the House as a Bay State congressman in 1823. (Republican ex-Sen. Scott Brown is currently pondering the reverse move.) Webster went on to have a lengthy stay in the Senate, becoming part of the upper chamber’s revered 'Great Triumvirate' with Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. As a transplanted New Hampshirite representing Massachusetts, Webster’s individual case demonstrates how politics can be affected by the movement of Americans from state to state. In the aftermath of the 2012 election, the'demographics as destiny' discussion has dominated political analysis, with the latest data being provided by last week’s U.S. Census report on the 2012 electorate. But one demographic statistic hasn’t received much attention in the conversation: state nativity rates — that is, the percentage of people residing in a state who were born there. Does that statistic tell us anything about the politics of a state? If we order the states by nativity percentage (Chart 1) while also considering which party each state supported in 2012, we find that there are more Blue states than Red states with lower levels of nativity. Yet it’s obvious that high nativity rates in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin did not keep Barack Obama from winning those states in 2012." (Sabato)

"Donald Trump and wife Melania were among mourners at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on the Upper East Side last night expressing condolences to prominent real estate developer Richard LeFrak and sister Francine after the death of their mother, Ethel, who died on Tuesday at age 93. Also in the room filled with white roses were Richard’s wife, Karen, Ethel’s grandsons Jamie and Harry, and close friends Somers Farkas, Dennis Basso and his husband, Michael Cominotto. The funeral for well-known philanthropist Ethel is today at 1 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. Ethel’s husband, famed housing developer Samuel J. LeFrak, died in 2003." (PageSix)

"Last week certainly was the apex of this season’s contemporary art events here in New York. This time it had a decidedly New York/London spirit. There was the inspiring source of the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture, which was London in the 1970s. There was the fantastic Frieze Art Fair (now in its second year) at Randall’s Island, the satellite creation of the London magazine and art fair that bears the same name. And then, there were the masses of artists, museum professionals and collectors that pack the triennial fundraising dinner thrown for the Tate Americas Foundation, which supports the acquisition of art from the 'new world' for one of the UK’s most important and dynamic institutions — The Tate. I just returned from a month in England so perhaps I felt the British vibe more this year. And Tracey Emin, one of Britain’s best known contemporary artist installed a sculpture, entitled Roman Standard on view all summer at Petrosino Square at Spring and Lafayette Street in Soho as an adjunct to her two-gallery show at the Lehmann Maupin galleries on 26th in Chelsea and on Christie Street in the Bowery.  While I don’t know if he has any interest whatever in contemporary art, we also have Prince Harry in town this week." (NYSocialDiary)

"The cowardly move by the Justice Department to subpoena two months of the A.P.’s phone records, both of its office lines and of the home phones of individual reporters, is potentially a breach of the Justice Department’s own guidelines. Even more important, it prevented the A.P. from seeking a judicial review of the action. Some months ago, apparently, the government sent a subpoena (or subpoenas) for the records to the phone companies that serve those offices and individuals, and the companies provided the records without any notice to the A.P. If subpoenas had been served directly on the A.P. or its individual reporters, they would have had an opportunity to go to court to file a motion to quash the subpoenas. What would have happened in court is anybody’s guess—there is no federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to testify before a criminal grand jury—but the Justice Department avoided the issue altogether by not notifying the A.P. that it even wanted this information. Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts. It is not, again, as if the government didn’t have options. The D.C. Circuit (in a 2005 opinion upholding a finding of contempt against the Timess Judith Miller and Times Matt Cooper for refusing to testify about who had disclosed Valerie Plame’s identity as a C.I.A. operative) has held that there isn’t a First Amendment privilege for journalists to refuse to testify before a criminal grand jury, as has the Second Circuit (in a 2006 case in which the government was trying to find out who told the Times about a planned raid on two foundations suspected of providing aid to terrorists). In the wake of the decisions, there was a renewed effort to pass a federal shield law—though the proposed law would not have provided absolute protection in cases of national security—but, with the rise of WikiLeaks, that discussion died." (NewYorker)

"We've all heard the stories. The friend of a friend who wrote a $50,000 check from the maternity ward to secure Junior's spot in the high school graduating class of 2030. The couple that built a library/parking structure/music room as a well-meaning gesture after they toured the school and 'saw a need." Then there's the one about the admissions director who pointed to two stacks of paperwork on her desk and said, "This is the pile of candidates we're considering. Yours is in the other one.' Over the past 18 months these tales have tagged along with me as I toured 12 private schools, attended open houses, and simulated playdates with my five-year-old twins, who on one occasion cavorted in a schoolyard with numbers pinned to their shirts like livestock at a state fair, all in the name of kindergarten admission. We live in Los Angeles, a city where the private school process is just as cutthroat as in New York, as it is in Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The incessant babble about where little Wolfie or Juniper or Harlow (remember, I live in L.A.) will learn to hold a pencil correctly, to the tune of $25,000 per year, often includes the terms fundraising, development, advancement, and capital campaigns. In a word: money. Money is not my native language, which explains why I'm a writer, not a hedge fund manager. So I needed a crash course in private school economics. What are the real financial expectations of the families applying to private schools these days?" (TownandCountry)