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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image via esquire)

"Anyone who's ever spent any amount of time reading Nikki Finke's essential Deadline Hollywood Daily site understands that, of the myriad 'personal vendettas' she engages in, the one person she really has it out for is impeccably eyebrowed NBC wunderkind (and Vulture hero) Ben Silverman. We're not quite sure exactly what fueled their rivalry to begin with, but Finke just took their fight to a new high (or new low, depending on your perspective) with a blog post that ran at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. You see, someone leaked the results of market research that NBC Universal conducted on the new Amy Poehler Office-spinoff-that-isn't-really-an-Office-spinoff, Parks and Recreation, to Finke. And, needless to say, the results were not pretty. Looks like someone brought a gun to a knife fight!" (NYMag)

"Even as Obama drops to a 59 percent approval rating from 64 percent last month and is starting to give his supporters little flutters of panic, Geithner’s geekiness has started to feel reassuringly authentic. The market—that testosterone-fueled imponderable—certainly loved his bank plan, and the beleaguered Treasury secretary is now being helped by the lowered expectations built up by his botched debut. Maybe thoughtful is OK after all! Maybe being a slight, quizzical infant prodigy is actually right for now—after all, chrome-domed Hank Paulson looked like a CEO is supposed to look, but he got it all wrong! He wasn’t a thinker! He didn’t understand financial markets! He was a salesman, not a strategist! When the market jumps by 500 points, Timid Timmy is suddenly Tiger Tim. (Especially when he unveils his plan without cameras.) A fascinating aspect of these frantic times is the speed with which reputations soar and crash and are suddenly made over. Just as we have seen demigods like Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin and all those high-flying CEOs toppled from their pedestals, we now see the ascendance of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as the unexpected man of the hour. He looked great when he went after Merrill Lynch’s commode-loving CEO John Thain over the obscene bonuses he paid out just before Merrill was taken over by Bank of America, and even better when he subpoenaed the excessive bonus details from AIG. Last night, he scored big when he announced that 15 of the top 20 retention-bonus recipients in AIG’s financial-products unit had agreed to give back their spoils, bringing Cuomo’s haul to $50 million—a pittance in the scheme of things (only 50 percent of the bonus bucks), but a big haul of psychic satisfaction to the walking wounded seething for some vestige of reparation." (Tina Brown/The Daily Beast)

"Even though President Obama was not there to join in the fun, the 124th annual Gridiron Club Dinner went on Saturday without a hitch, some saying Vice President Biden stole the show. 'Talk about the audacity of hope... President Obama does send his greetings, though. He can't be here tonight- because he's busy getting ready for Easter. He thinks it's about him,' Biden opened. FBDC was the first to report that President Obama would miss the Gridiron Dinner, the first president since Grover Cleveland to skip out. 'We were all very pleased with the evening.' The audience was very responsive to the show, especially when Andrea Mitchell, in a bear costume, introduced the Alan Greenspan number and Bob Schieffer, wearing a big 'W,' sang 'It's not my problem now' as George W. Bush. While we were disappointed President Obama did not come, the three speakers were all very good and each had some memorable lines," secretary of the Gridiron Club Carl Leubsdorf tells us. Speakers included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, noting the press enthusiasm for candidate Obama, said his absence meant 'he's just not that into you,' and Gov. Jennifer Granholm who said that Sarah Palin 'really set back the cause of hot governors. And you know where I'm coming for, Ed Rendell.'" (DCNewser)

"Late in the afternoon, a producer from CNN named Alex Weininger called and asked if she could speak to me about Marie Douglas-David, the countess. It’s funny, she looks more like a girl from the Midwest or Southern California. Ms. Weininger asked me what I thought of Mrs. Douglas-David’s divorce suit against her husband (or is it vice-versa). She mentioned yesterday’s Post where Mrs. D-D was interviewed by Andrea Peyser, a news columnist who is not exactly hearts and flowers when assessing the players in the circus .. At six CNN sent a car to take me over to the studio. I met Ms. Weininger and Ms. Menon. They took me to make-up, had a little powder daubed on my face. Then off to the studio where I was seated behind a desk in front of a large camera with a lot of lights on me. Ms. Weininger stood where I was supposed to look. They plugged an audio piece in my good ear. Suddenly I heard a male voice identifying himself as >>>>> (I couldn’t quite hear him), and telling me he was in Atlanta. It’s weird being interviewed in a dark room by a voice while being expected to respond to a person (which is the camera). He asked me what I thought about the Douglas-David divorce and the countess’s quest for more millions. I told him this kind of stuff goes on a lot among the rich. I can think of four other marriages in New York in the process of ending and settling up. In the end it’s all about the money." (NYSocialDiary)

"China’s call for a new international reserve currency may signal its concern at the dollar’s weakness and ambitions for a leadership role at next week’s Group of 20 summit, economists said. Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan yesterday urged the International Monetary Fund to create a 'super-sovereign reserve currency.' The dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve said it would buy Treasuries and the U.S. government outlined plans to buy illiquid bank assets 'China is concerned about the potential for a slide in the dollar as the U.S. attempts to stimulate its economy,' said Mark Williams, a London-based economist at Capital Economics Ltd. The 'rare' sight of a Chinese official attempting to reframe an international debate may be 'a sign of China becoming more engaged,' he said." (Bloomberg)

"Some pundits are already pronouncing the O Era a bust--or suggesting it's near the cliff's edge. In the White House press room, reporters routinely ask press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama White House has already lost its mojo. Over at The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes has declared Obama's stint a 'flailing presidency.' Given that Barnes considers the Bush presidency one of the best in this country's long history, his success-o-meter may be in need of recalibration. Barnes verdict is based mostly on the AIG bonus mess, which he calls a 'crisis.' Maybe for Senator Chris Dodd. But for most folks--including the man in the White House--the true crisis is the collapse of the economy. Certainly, the White House did not handle the AIG business well last week. But by bringing up Watergate while referring to the AIG business, Barnes shows how desperate he is to turn a bruise into a coma." (David Corn/CQPolitics)

"DEREK Jeter likes to live large real large. The Yankee captain is building a gigantic, 30,875-square-foot mansion with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms on Davis Islands in Tampa. But some locals believe Jeter isn't thinking clearly when it comes to building in today's economy. One insider mused to Page Six: 'Can you hurricane-proof a house that big on the waterfront? And how much water and electricity will it take to run a house like that? Also, does Derek already have a possible wife in mind who's helping him plan? Because, news flash to him: No woman in her right mind is going to move into a 31,000-square-foot house unless she has had input on how it's decorated.'" (PageSix)

"Rob (Schneider) told the (Howard Stern Show) that he recently got divorced: 'I got to keep the dog and she got all the money.' Howard asked if the marriage broke up over infidelity, so Rob joked: 'No. You're confusing me with David Spade.' Rob went on to praise David's ability to pull top-tier ass: 'He's put in his time...he's got all the moves figured out.' Howard agreed with him .. Rob also told the crew about hanging with Sylvester Stallone 'He called me and said, I want you to come to New England for six months and bang college chicks and make this movie. I'll send you the script. And I'm like, Just send me the ticket!'" (HowardStern/Rundown)

"CBSSports.com, in partnership with CBS Sports and the NCAA, today released traffic figures for NCAA March Madness on Demand (ncaa.com/mmod) for the first four days of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. In total, there were 5.6 million unique visitors to the NCAA March Madness on Demand video player, a 60% increase over 2008 figures. Additionally, there have been 6.5 million total hours of video and audio consumed thus far, a 71% increase over 2008 figures." (CBSSports)

"Capt. Sullenberger's two-book deal, handled by a Texas agent, and without any outline, brought $3.4 million. They're gambling he'll stay famous a long time .." (Cindy Adams)



"I called Warner Bros early today for confirmation when I heard that Barry Meyer and Alan Horn had re-upped their contracts. And I was lied to by Warner Bros. Just like I was lied to by the studio last summer when I first heard the duo were starting to negotiate, and Jeff Bewkes was balking at giving Meyer and Horn a full 3-year, or 4-year, or 5-year vote of confidence. So instead I'd been discussing this situation with my sources inside parent company Time Warner. I heard from them on March 2nd that Bewkes ultimately would offer to re-sign Meyer and Horn. But the issue was for how long. In the end, after not wanting to renew the pair, Bewkes is keeping them on a 2-year choke chain." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"Of course, Europe is going to be hurt much worse than the U.S. Europeans are much more heavily taxed and much more heavily regulated. The average European is much more reliant upon the state psychologically as well as economically. So it’s all over for Europe and this doesn’t even count the problems that they’re going to have in the continuing war against Islam, which are much more serious for Europe than they are for the U.S. So, no, Europe is fated to be nothing but a source of houseboys and maids for the Chinese in the next generation." (Goldseek)

"Q: What's your take on politics? Bob Dylan: Politics is entertainment. It's a sport. It's for the well groomed and well heeled. The impeccably dressed. Party animals. Politicians are interchangeable. Q: Don't you believe in the democratic process? Dylan: Yeah, but what's that got to do with politics? Politics creates more problems than it solves. It can be counter-productive. The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles." (ExpectingRain via Politico)



"The Savannah College of Art and Design held their annual SCAD Style Etoile Awards at New York City’s James Cohan Gallery honoring five influential trend-setters in the fields of style and design. This year’s honorees included hip-hop mogul and designer Russell Simmons, Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion editor Robin Givhan, actress and socialite Cornelia Guest, and NYC Planning Director Amanda Burden." (Guestofaguest)



"It’s the first day in business for Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, LLC, the rather ambitious and perhaps inevitable outgrowth of Whitney’s fifteen-year career as an analyst covering financial stocks. While working at Oppenheimer, Whitney became famous for issuing an October 2007 research report that said Citigroup would have to raise $30 billion by cutting its dividend or selling assets in order to survive. The subprime-mortgage market had already fallen apart, but the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the paralysis of the financial system were then still practically unimaginable .. The next big moment in Whitney’s career—the one that will seal her reputation, or possibly spoil it—is when she changes her mind about the future of the banks and says so publicly. When I suggest this to Whitney, that Wall Street is waiting for her to call the rebound in financials, she gets prickly. 'You hear that over and over again, as a way to disparage calls,' she says. 'I have not missed a bottom yet. It’s just not the bottom. You know,' she adds, angrily, 'I might do better when the market turns. When things go up, it’s a lot easier living.'" (NYMag)



"Wrestler Kurt Angle visited The Howard Stern Show today to promote a TNA pay-per-view wrestling event. Kurt Angle used to wrestle with the WWE, and before that he earned an Olympic gold medal for wrestling. Although there to promote an April 19th TNA event, Kurt was obviously distracted by Stern side-kick Robin Quivers. Kurt is recently divorced from his wife of 14 years and definitely on the prowl. Kurt said he had 'feelings' for Robin, and had actually written her a poem! Howard then convinced Kurt Angle to read Robin the poem. As Kurt recited the poem, Howard laughed." (Gather)

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