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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"On the Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius OutQ yesterday, perky Kristin Chenoweth was joined by the more worldly Janeane Garofalo, who told the Broadway/TV star exactly what teabagging is. Well, DeCaro explained the more popular usage-- 'It's when you put your balls in someone's mouth'--while Garofalo filled her in on the teabagging protest against the White House by 'literally tens of people.' JG: But [the protest] has nothing to do with anything factual, it has everything to do with their distaste for the black man in the White House." (Musto)



"John Bruton, the European Union's ambassador to the United States, stopped by Philadelphia to talk to the World Affairs Council yesterday, part of Europe's public relations campaign as it wrestles with the U.S. on economic and military issues .. 'Europe is handling the crisis very differently from the U.S.,' Bruton said, when asked about the economic crisis on a ride from the airport. 'It's not borrowing or spending so much.' Partly that's because the influential Germans don't like government borrowing, and fear inflation. Also, Bruton said: 'We're trying to create a European currency on a scale that would gain extraconfidence. One has to be extra prudent in the early years of establishing something like this." If the United States comes out of this mess deeply in debt, isn't the euro likely to replace it as the world's dominant currency? 'In the long run that could be good for the U.S.,' Bruton told me. 'I've spoken to senior people in the Federal Reserve who hope the euro would emerge as an alternative. It would force the U.S. to use greater fiscal discipline' if global investors stopped buying piles of U.S. debt, due to chronic U.S. budget and trade deficits." (PhillyInquirer)

"Michael, 34, a straight man who lives in Midtown Manhattan and who has been using the Casual Encounters board on Craigslist for five years, said, 'In a city of eight million-plus, this sort of thing was bound to happen statistically.' Although sex is solicited online in many places — legally and otherwise — the Casual Encounters listings are a major hub, offering to do for casual sex what the rest of the site does for no-fee apartments, temp jobs and old strollers. Like bathhouses and sex clubs, the Casual Encounters section caters to the erotic underbelly of society, where courtship gives way to expediency and anonymity is a virtue (or at least a turn-on). The section was introduced in late 2000 and is available in all cities served by Craigslist, for users gay and straight, male and female. The ads range from prim to raunchy; a good number of people include photographs of precisely what they have to offer. (The site has a policy against posting pornographic pictures, but it does not seem to be enforced very vigorously.) .. Within Casual Encounters, the most traditional of the categories — men seeking women — seems to raise the most tantalizing questions, given the reasonable assumption that most women (and even a few men) would prefer earnest courtship to a quickie with a stranger, no strings attached. For instance, does it really work?" (Style)



"AMONG the things you expect to see on the set of 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent': interrogation rooms, firearms, shifty-eyed suspects. Among the things you probably don’t expect to see: a baby grand piano. Among the things you definitely don’t expect to see: Jeff Goldblum improvising a jazz tune on that baby grand piano ... Mr. Goldblum was referring to his role as Detective Zack Nichols, who joins the ranks of 'Criminal Intent' on April 26, following the show’s return to the USA Network on Sunday .. It was this essential quality that Dick Wolf, the creator and executive producer of the 'Law & Order' franchise, wanted from the actor when he cast him to replace Chris Noth, the 'Law & Order' veteran who left the series last year. As Mr. Wolf recalled in a telephone interview, when he met with Mr. Goldblum to offer him the part, he said, 'I’m hiring you to be you, because it has to be like the oldest, most comfortable leather jacket in your closet. If you walk onto a set and think, ‘What would my character do?,’ we’re not writing the right character' .. Mr. Wolf added that, as the most character-driven series of the 'Law & Order' franchise, 'Criminal Intent' requires character actors. 'I think Jeff would certainly identify himself as a character actor rather than a leading man,' he said." (Arts&Leisure)



(Oluchi Onweagba via style)

"Sorry, ladies, but New Yorkers for Children's annual Fool's Fête, held Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental, was all about the fellas. Josh Hartnett, Joshua Jackson, Robert Buckley, and Jack Huston sent New York's social set into a frenzy that kept the cocktail portion of the evening running long: The guys made it easy for their admirers, lingering as they did by the bar during the pre-dinner gab and photo fest ...Bopping between Vanity Fair's Jessica Diehl and designer Chris Benz to 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun,' Eva Amurri said, "This is like prom." " (Style)



"Standing in front of the packed audience at Zurich’s gilded opera house three years ago to celebrate Credit Suisse’s 150th anniversary, Oswald Grübel was a man deeply out of context. In his standard attire of black suit and muted tie, the Swiss bank’s chief executive could barely hide his unease. Other banking chiefs, drawing comfort from privileged backgrounds, elite education and carefully honed social graces and public speaking skills, might think nothing of another big night out. But Mr Grübel, hauled out of retirement two months ago to run UBS, the biggest continental European casualty of the credit crisis, does not fit the image of an international banker. An orphan brought up by his grandparents in east Germany, Mr Grübel is not comfortable in front of a crowd. The German-born executive has already shattered precedent in his adopted country by being the only person to have headed both UBS and Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s two top banks. The reasons for his re-emergence, almost two years after stepping down from Credit Suisse, have been twofold. Mr Grübel’s track record as a single-minded restructuring specialist with a keen nose for risk made him a natural choice for UBS. And, unlike some younger executives also approached for the job, he was, as a pensioner, instantly available." (FT.com)



"The international reaction to 47-year-old Susan Boyle's performance singing 'I Dreamed a Dream' from 'Les Miserables' in the auditions for 'Britains Got Talent' last week has surpassed anything that could be managed and executed by a battalion of PR experts. Her modest story as much as her singing has captured the imagination of an unlikely assortment of people in a way that is possibly unprecedented. The self-belief this wee woman had before she took to the stage was infectious and defiant even as the audience was sharpening its knives. As she faced the judges and the giggling audience there was a moment when it seemed she would fall prey to the crowd. As with anything involving Simon Cowell, contrived cruelty is inevitable and this show thrives on freakery as much as ability -- look for Gwyneth Marichi on YouTube if you need convincing. The very first syllable from Boyle swayed the audience and judges in a manner unmatched in any of these talent format programs and Boyle's glorious innocence as she trooped off, oblivious to the judging process, was priceless as was her reaction to their approval. When one considers that Britney Spears is charging her fans a small fortune to mime to them, it is infuriating that so many talented people languish in obscurity." (TheWrap)



(image via marvel)

"China’s 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus plan has shown 'better-than-expected' results in reviving growth in the world’s third-largest economy and helped restore market confidence, Premier Wen Jiabao said. 'China’s rapid reaction in rolling out the stimulus package has resolved some prominent problems in the economy, strengthened market confidence and stabilized people’s expectation,' Wen said today at the Boao Forum in southern China’s Hainan province. The Chinese economy grew 6.1 percent in the first quarter, urban fixed-asset investment expanded, and loans rose amid record car sales in March, signaling a tentative recovery. Investors snapped up Chinese equities, boosting the Shanghai Composite Index by 38 percent this year, the second-best performer among 88 indexes tracked by Bloomberg." (Bloomberg)



"Trendsetters and It girls alike all descended upon LES hipster hangout Thompson Hotel last night to witness the Lucky Magazine launch of the 'Made With Love' swimsuit collection created by fashion designers/childhood friends Charlotte Ronson and Shoshanna Gruss. The collaboration is a first for the duo, but surely will not be the last if guests like Alexandra Richards, Ann Dexter Jones, Dani Stahl, and even Real Housewife Jill Zarin have anything to say about it!" (Guestofaguest)



(image via fishbowlla)

"While NBC Universal is barely more than a footnote among the varied holdings of General Electric, which owns 80 percent of the entertainment company, its losses did stick out, even as its parent’s profits dropped 35 percent to $2.9 billion ($0.26 per share) on revenue of $38.4 billion. GE could point to some good news, as it beat Thomson Reuters’ analyst consensus of $0.21 per share, TheStreet.com reported. There wasn’t much help from NBCU on that front, as the media company’s profits dropped 45 percent. As has become common during the last few quarters, cable continues to trend upward by 'double digits,' GE said, but the weak ad market and soft DVD sales made for a particularly tough period, as revenues slipped 2 percent. As we reported after media companies posted their Q408 earnings, cable networks have been holding up relatively well in the recession, thanks to their subscription revenue and greater interest among advertisers in cable than broadcast TV." (David Kaplan/Paidcontent)

"The many different arrangements that prevail regarding recognition, autonomy, and effectiveness of governance show that sovereignty does not mean just one thing. Sovereignty has not been displaced by other ways of ordering political life -- such as trusteeships, tributary states, regional or world government -- precisely because it has been so malleable, not because it provides a fixed, universal template. No legislature sets authoritative rules for how sovereignty should be enacted; no court or umpire settles competing claims. Any kind of deal is possible, and the reason particular arrangements succeed or fail is not whether they conform to a conventional pattern, but whether they align with the interests of important domestic and international players. Sovereignty, in other words, is whatever the relevant actors say it is. Kosovo, which declared its independence in February 2008, is an example of how the international community can choose to grant sovereignty to a small, badly governed community surrounded by potentially hostile neighbors. By early 2009, Kosovo had been formally recognized by 54 countries, including most members of the EU, the United States, Canada, Turkey, and all of its immediate neighbors with the exception of Serbia. Russia rejected Kosovo's declaration outright, as did some countries that are concerned about potential breakaway regions within their own borders (such as Spain and Sri Lanka). China expressed "grave concern." Others, including most members of the Organization of Islamic States, sat on the sidelines. South Ossetia has not fared as well in the recognition sweepstakes. So far, only Russia and Nicaragua have recognized its sovereignty. Although South Ossetia is smaller, poorer, and at least as problematically governed as Kosovo, the real difference between the two is not their underlying structural characteristics, but rather the interests of other states. By recognizing South Ossetia, Russia wants to discipline Georgia and maintain its authority in a region that it considers to be its sphere of influence. The United States and others in the West, however, would rather keep Georgia intact than allow it to fragment de jure as well as de facto." (ForeignAffairs)

"I'm glad I got to Michael's early today because by 12:30 they were literally lining up outside the front door to get in the joint. Even the Garden Room (Siberia to the uninitiated) was SRO. The groups of wannabe diners at the bar and in the lounge were enviously eyeing the tables occupied by the famous and fabulous in the front room as they dined and dished without notice. Who says there's no class system in America? Ah, but you know better, and so do the regulars who, despite hurricane winds and the worst traffic we've seen all year, found their way to their power perches to see and be seen by Gotham's glitterati. Perception is reality these days and from where I sat, it's business as usual for these folks. We spotted Michael Fuchs working the room like nobody's business, shaking hands with Matt Blank, Jon Tisch and an assortment of moguls who crossed his path. Others, such as Barry Diller, were riveted to the conversation at their own table. Working on some killer deal, no doubt." (LunchatMichaels/FishbowlNY)



"Leonard Cohen tipped his hat to the audience as he took the Outdoor Stage at the Coachella Festival today (April 17) to give one of his first US performances in 15 years. The legendary singer-songwriter began his very first song on his knees, winning over the huge crowd with his affecting baritone and earnest delivery." (NME)



"The calendar says spring, but the economic climate remains chilly. Still, the Drawing Center's gala on April 15 attracted 270 guests, bringing in $375,000, including several sales of a limited-edition print by Matt Mullican, offered at $1,000 — and nearly 10 New York arts organizations are planning similar benefits in the coming weeks to boost their budgets. Expectations are restrained, and some groups are taking low-cost approaches, but most are hopeful about raising needed funds .. At the other end of spectrum is Creative Time’s annual gala, scheduled for May 6, with tickets at $1,000. 'People still want to be supportive,' says president Anne Pasternak, 'they're just slower to confirm because they're just watching the market and deciding whether they're going to be in the mood to party.'" (ARTINFO)

"The 10th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival got off to a fab start Friday (April 17), thanks to Sir Paul McCartney, who headlined the event with a marathon performance worthy of his long and lauded musical legacy. Proving himself the ultimate showman, Macca played a thrilling 2 hour 45 minute set that included a healthy collection of Beatles, Wings and solo material that kept the crowd of young and old singing along well past Coachella's midnight curfew. Kicking off with the Wings classic 'Jet,' the 66-year old McCartney made the most of Coachella's new main-stage soundsystem (its first in six years), and delivered hit after hit to the audience packed onto the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California. Contrary to rumors circulating throughout the day, McCartney's set featured no appearances by Ringo Starr nor George Harrison's son Dhani, but Macca, dressed in a crisp white shirt and black suspenders, didn't disappoint Beatles die-hards, as he included anthems like 'Drive My Car,' 'Blackbird,' 'Back in the U.S.S.R.,' 'Eleanor Rigby,' 'Let It Be,' 'I Got a Feeling' and 'Hey Jude' into his 34-song, three-encore set." (Billboard)

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