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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Leaders of some of the world’s most powerful economies gathered Tuesday to discuss how they can exert more control over the global financial system as it takes its first wobbly steps toward recovery. Yet not an American or Western European was in the bunch. The first summit meeting of the so-called BRIC group — Brazil, Russia, India and China — was intended to underscore the rising economic clout of these four major developing countries and their demand for a greater voice in the world. And Russia, the group’s host and ideological provocateur, was especially interested in using the summit to fire a shot across Washington’s bow. Shortly before the BRIC summit opened, a senior Kremlin economic adviser told reporters that Russia was considering moving some of its currency reserves out of dollars and into bonds issued by the other three BRIC countries." (NYTimes)



"The leaders of the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- hold their first stand-alone summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday, June 16. One can easily picture Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill, who invented the 'BRIC' term in 2001, grinning at Chinese President Hu Jintao's elbow and scribbling notes for an updated version of Present at the Creation, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson's memoir of the shaping of the Cold War-era global order. The timing of the BRIC summit, just a few weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama's arrival in Moscow and the G-8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, is hardly accidental. The event caps months of high-profile -- and largely constructive -- policy moves and statements by BRIC officials who have demonstrated that the commanding heights of the global economy are no longer the sole province of the so-called G-3: the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Yet it will take far more than summit photo ops, high-minded press releases, and Goldman Sachs research reports to turn the BRIC countries into the architects of the post-crisis international financial system, let alone the masters of the new global order. And it is far from clear that Russia, hamstrung by a severe recession and its continued dependence on energy exports, is well-equipped to play an outsize role in shaping what comes next. The BRIC countries are rightfully angry about the reckless practices of Western financial institutions and governments, which have triggered unprecedented wealth destruction, a wrenching (yet incomplete) correction in global imbalances, and painful slumps in industrial production and international trade." (ForeignPolicy)



"Chickens are the only females allowed entry to Greece’s holy Mount Athos. A new exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris, though, allows even women to get a glimpse into the forbidden world of the ancient monasteries. Most of the 200 objects in the show have never left Greece before; only once did a small selection of items travel abroad - - to Helsinki in 2006. The show at the Petit Palais assembles an impressive cross section of treasures -- icons, liturgical vestments, chalices, reliquaries, illuminated manuscripts, medallions and mosaics. Some of the most spectacular items are chrysobulls -- imperial decrees with golden seals. To give visitors a feeling for the medieval architecture, a catholicon, or central church of one of the monasteries, has been reconstructed. Why did hermits and monks settle on the remote, virtually impassable northern peninsula that, even today, can only be reached by boat? Historians say that they were fleeing from the wave of iconoclasm that swept through the Eastern Church in the 9th century and from the bishops in Asia Minor who raged against the veneration of images. The first monastery was founded in 963 and received, eight years later, a charter from the Byzantine emperor. By 1542, the number of monasteries had grown to 20, where it still stands today." (Bloomberg)



"Jack Black stopped (The Howard Stern Show) by to promote his new movie, Year One, and commended Kobe Bryant for finally winning a Shaq-less championship .. Jack added that he wasn't doing so well - he picked up a nasty flu while filming 'Gulliver's Travels' in London: 'No matter which end you're putting in the toilet, something's coming out' .. Jack told the crew about Jennifer Love Hewitt hitting on him on the set of I Know What You Did Last Summer: 'She gave me the impression that I could lay down with her. And I really should keep my mouth shut, but when I get the impression...she was like, 'Hey if you wanna chill, you can chill in my room - go chill in my room. It's 1B'...so I went there and I realized there was no trailer 1B. It was a hotel room.'" (HowardStern/Rundown)

"Spotted at the White House: Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey's husband, getting a tour of the briefing room. Cannon is here shooting a promo for NBC's 'America's Got Talent' on the North Lawn." (Politico)



"The weather gods would seem to approve of the CFDA Awards' new Lincoln Center venue. After an afternoon of showers, the clouds parted just in time for 60 models—20 each wearing Womenswear Designer of the Year nominees Rodarte, Marc Jacobs, and Narciso Rodriguez—to array themselves on an amphitheater outside Alice Tully Hall ..There were more changes to come inside. This year saw the introduction of a Popular Vote Award (won in a case of plus ça change by perpetual CFDA honoree Ralph Lauren) and the debut of Tracey Ullman as host (the comedienne had apparently turned down CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg at least twice before). Ullman's routine had its misses, but she earned big laughs with a number about fashion's determination to soldier on despite the sagging economy. 'From the sands of Dubai to the basement of Daffy's, we will never surrender, never,' she sang. Perhaps next year von Furstenberg could turn to another friend, Graydon Carter. The Vanity Fair editor almost stole the show when he appeared in a video introducing the Menswear Designer of the Year nominees and made fun of his own grand reputation." (Style)



"Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc., Duncan Jones’ Moon and Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro helped put a positive spin on the indie box office this weekend, according to estimates providing by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. Each film scored per-theater-averages in the $18-21,000 range, making them a rare triple threat for this underwhelming year - this is the first time in 2009 three specialty openers found $15,000+ PTAs in the same weekend. Magnolia Pictures’ Food, a doc exploring how modern developments in food production pose grave risks, led the trio, grossing $63,000 on 3 screens for a $21,000 average. That puts it just slightly behind Valentino: The Last Emperor‘s opening PTA of $21,762, which is thus far the highest doc debut of 2009, and comes after a remarkable slew of press. Last week, the film was featured on Nightline, Good Morning America, NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS’s NOW, Regis and Kelly, The Colbert Report and Howard Stern, and had big features written about it in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. At one point last week it ranked #20 out of all searches in Google." (IndieWIRE)



(image via nytimes)

"THE elbow-tossing among the media elite is about to get even sharper, thanks to Dan Abrams. We hear certain top-tier advertisers have gotten a sneak preview of the former MSNBC anchor's new Web site, Mediaite, which promises, among other things, 'a proprietary mathematical algorithm (using a host of factors) to rank the relevance of hundreds of top media figures in various categories.' Marketers could use the site to measure Tina Brown versus Arianna Huffington, or Diane Sawyer versus Katie Couric, or Jim Cramer versus Jon Stewart. So, is it time to start sucking up to Abrams? He'd only say, 'I will not be the one making any of those decisions.'" (PageSix)



(image via JH/NYSocialDiary)

"I hadn’t been to Brooklyn in a long time and I can’t remember when’s the last time I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge .. Michael Thomas drew a large crowd from over the bridge .. I got a picture of Michael’s host, David Walentas with another Michael, Michael Gross whose newest book is Rogues Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum. You’ve read about it here before. It’s a wonderful history of that gargantuan culturally iconic institution that sits on the edge of the Central Park facing Fifth Avenue in the low 80s. The official reception for Michael’s book has been very cool. The New York Times, which mentioned his previous book, 740 Park, ninety times in print, has mentioned this one notta jotta. Let alone review it. The established ones who preside as cultural assessors of the first order have declared the history 'rubbish.' They, of course, would know, having concealed any number of secrets themselves." (NYSocialDiary)



(image via boston.com)

"Now that Ahmadinejad has claimed victory, the blogosphere, Twitterverse, and the rest of the social networking sphere is on virtual fire. Tens of thousands of messages per minute condemning the results as fraud are passing to and from Iran, as angry Iranians and sympathetic outsiders exchange datapoints, analysis, and on-the-ground coordinates. While only a small minority of these posts are from people actually organizing protests, rooting out provocateurs, or sending aid to victims of violence, it's too easy to discount the more virtual interactions as trivial. Ahmadinejad sure hasn't. His regime is working hard to stifle protest without completely unplugging Iran's telecommunications infrastructure. Their tactics: limit cell service to in-country only, shut off text messaging, block transmissions to and from Facebook, and even shut down access to Friendfeed, a messaging aggregator extremely popular in Iran. They're also identifying and then blocking messages from offending users and websites. Iran's Internet savvy youth have fought back, however, exploiting "proxy servers" to make their messages appear to be coming from different sources, and exchanging the digital addresses of the ever-changing list of servers still capable of transmitting packets. Iran's government counter-attacked with a blockade, closing off the four Internet access routes it controlled, leaving just one pipe through Turkey for messages to breach it." (TheDailyBeast)

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