Monday, July 06, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

(image via johnjohnsaidit)

"For the Fourth of July, West Coasters clamored to get all up in Diddy’s grill: The rap mogul moved his infamous annual White Party from the Hamptons to Beverly Hills. This time, he teamed up with fellow Twitter addicts mrskutcher and aplusk -- that would be Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, for those non-followers out there -- and their pet charity Malaria No More. Needless to say, the tweeting was out of control. 'A man of vision!' chirped Demi under a photo of Ashton in slitted 80s sunglasses. 'we are dancing now!!!' iamdiddy announced. It’s hard to believe they found the time. But dance they did to a set that included an hour of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. Joining in the tribute: Chris Brown, who proved he still has the moves (even if he no longer has the fans). While many have tried – ahem, Jamie Foxx – Brown actually nailed the King of Pop’s moonwalk. And if any of the guests -- including Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon, Lindsay Lohan, Jonah Hill, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Viola Davis, Lil Kim, Estelle, Faith Evans, Blair Underwood, Rashida Jones, and Andy Samberg -- looked less than fresh after the sweat session, MAC and Lab Series Skincare were on hand for touch-ups and treatments." (TheWrap)

"WHICH unnaturally thin celebrity chef credits her bony frame to good eating habits, but really is addicted to laxatives?" (PageSix)

"Democratic strategist James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton’s presidential bid in 1992, is helping another challenger: a U.S.-educated rival of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Carville, who has close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said his advisory role to former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani shouldn’t be interpreted as tacit backing by the U.S. for a change of leadership in Afghanistan. In an interview before leaving for Kabul, Carville said he hadn’t discussed his trip with Clinton, and was going for an exploratory visit as a private consultant. 'I don’t think anybody would veto me doing this,' said Carville, 64, who said he has worked on campaigns in 18 countries. 'I’ve worked in Israel when Bill Clinton was president. It’s what I do.' Ghani, 60, who has a Ph.D in anthropology from Columbia University in New York and worked at the Washington-based World Bank, is one of 41 Karzai opponents competing in the Aug. 20 elections. Ghani, who became finance minister in 2002, said in an interview with the New York Times in January that he stepped down from that post in 2004 because Afghanistan had been taken over by drug traffickers. Karzai, 51, came to power with U.S. backing following the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 and has amassed a power base largely through patronage. His government is under increasing criticism at home and abroad for inefficiency and corruption." (Bloomberg)

"Why 'milk it,' as she put it, when you can quit it? 'Only dead fish go with the flow,' she said, while cold fish can blow out of town. Leaving Alaska in the lurch is best for Alaska. She can better 'effect change' in government from outside government. She can fulfill her promise of 'efficiencies and effectiveness' by deserting Juneau midway through her term — and taking her tanning bed with her. 'We need those who will respect our Constitution,' said Palin, who swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution. She said she can’t fulfill that silly old oath of office in the usual way because she’s not 'wired to operate under the same old politics as usual.' Naturally, she dragged the troops in, saying that her trip to see wounded soldiers overseas 'fortified' her decision to give up because 'they don’t give up.'" (Dowd/NYTimes)

"Purdum, writing with a polite disdain, does flatter Palin as 'the sexiest and riskiest brand in the Republican Party,' before he goes on to mention unnamed McCain campaign sources who tell stories of Palin's erratic behavior on the trail supposedly caused by her 'post-partum depression.' Kristol asserts as evidence that Schmidt was the source of this defamatory rumor that Kristol knows that Schmidt has recently emailed Palin out of the blue. 'Perhaps Steve was nervous someone would finger him for the Purdum piece,' Kristol proposes. Firing back, Schmidt immediately emailed a reference to Bill Kristol's distant youth when he worked for the perennial GOP chump, Vice President Dan Quayle: 'I'm sure John McCain would be president today if only Bill Kristol had been in charge of the campaign.' Meanwhile, the sniping continues to deteriorate, with erstwhile McCain campaign advisers like Randy Scheunemann choosing sides with Kristol (Scheunemann hates Schmidt, who tried to force him out of the campaign as a leaker and confiscated his BlackBerry), while Schmidt reveals that he had the permission of McCain and Palin to ferret out who was leaking unkind details on Palin to the media. No comment yet from the senator and the governor on their genius of a Plumbers Unit. Another campaign aide, Nicole Wallace, and her husband, Mark Wallace, are mentioned as founts of poison on Palin. 'This is all news to me,' Nicole Wallace proclaims. Is this normal after a losing presidential campaign?" (JohnBatchelorShow)

"With her last-minute cancellation of Moneyball, a film that was to star Brad Pitt with Steven Soderbergh directing, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal fired a shot heard 'round Hollywood. But then came news that Pascal had made a production deal with George Clooney. Pitt, international box-office draw, is out and Clooney, who can’t seem to open a movie, is in? What gives? Within days, the Moneyball decision was thoroughly picked over in the press and there was lots of bloggy speculation about the real motive. On the surface, the studio’s simple explanation seemed plausible: At the last minute, Soderbergh turned in a rewrite of Steve Zaillian’s script that left Pascal cold. 'The draft he turned in wasn’t at all what we’d signed up for,' Pascal told the Los Angeles Times. 'He wanted to make a dramatic reenactment of events with real people playing themselves...He wanted to do the film in a different way than we did.' Given that much of Soderbergh’s recent work has been cerebral and often chilly, it’s easy to believe that his script lacked mass appeal. (Aside from Ocean’s Eleven to Thirteen, in recent years Soderbergh has directed a pile of money losers: Solaris, The Good German, Bubble, and the two-part Che.) Why entrust him with the better part of $60 million to make an idiosyncratic film about baseball, of all things—a topic that doesn’t draw well outside the U.S.? But looking at the broader picture, it may be that Pascal’s decision to cancel Moneyball is not quite a sign that she’s signed on to the ever-more-stringent financial discipline in Hollywood." (TheDailyBeast)

"(A)nonymous sources have been talking for years about a secret meeting two Bush administration Pentagon officials had in Rome with a notorious Iranian arms dealer, in December 2001. It’s been said that the officials, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode, along with former Reagan White House intelligence operative Michael Ledeen, were scheming to sabotage a deal that Bush administration 'moderates' were trying to make with Iran. Another version was that they were 'rogue operators' plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime. Yet another tale about Rome has Italian intelligence officials passing along a fabricated document purporting to show that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whom the Bush White House was plotting to overthrow, was buying uranium from Niger for a bomb. All such accounts were based on anonymous sources. But this week, one of the participants, Franklin broke a yearslong public silence to discuss what happened in Rome. Or at least his version of events." (CQPolitics)

"President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha are on a weeklong trip with stops in Europe and Africa. The president attends a wreath-laying ceremony Monday at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. Then Obama will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE'-tree med-VYEH'-dyev), after which the two leaders plan an evening news conference. The president is expected to meet Tuesday with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. After Russia, Obama heads to Rome on Wednesday for the G-8 summit. He will then travel to Ghana on Friday before returning home to Washington on Saturday." (Google via AP)

"The big news that broke on Friday was about Sarah Palin resigning her office as Governor of Alaska. The mainstream media and the public reaction were curiously uncurious about the circumstances and the governor’s explanation of this surprise move. A financial opinion web site that I follow called Market Ticker took a position of common sense that seems to be missing almost anywhere else. The site’s author is a man named Karl Denninger. His opinions have authority, whether or not you agree. I am not certain of his political affiliations although I don’t think he’d call himself a classic liberal by any stretch. He is hard-hitting in making his points, non-naïve and no-nonsense." (NYSocialDiary)

"He came, he saw, but Russell Crowe failed to conquer his favourite seats at the Wimbledon men's final yesterday. The fiery Gladiator actor was attempting to secure a better view of the tennis, but he met his match in one of the tournament's Royal Navy security guards. The guard made his point politely but firmly and Crowe eventually settled down somewhat sulkily to watch Roger Federer become the first player to win 15 grand slams, in an epic fight against Andy Roddick. Crowe, 45, has been involved in a number of rows over the years — the most memorable being the incident where he threw a telephone at a hotel worker in 2005." (Thisislondon)

""We were not invited to one (4th of July) party this year! So we are going to stay in our house and have a beautiful dinner outside with our bulldog and celebrate our first summer as husband and wife! And perhaps I'll wear my new eyelet white Chloe dress with some red flip-flops." (Beth Stern/ Fashionweekdaily)

"Saturday's Fourth Of July box office was even lower across the board than the studios expected. But the 5-day domestic holiday weekend blasted off with something for everyone: families, fanboys, and adults fed up there's been almost nothing for them in movie theaters. Fox's Ice Age 3-D: Dawn of the Dinosaurs opened very promisingly with $13.8 million Wednesday, $11.2M Thursday, $17M Friday, and $11.2M Saturday from 4,099 venues for a $41.8M 3-day weekend -- in a photo finish with Transformers 2. The battle was decided by Monday's actuals. Rival studios claimed Ice Age 3-D wasn't tracking well with young boys, and that's why 20th sneaked it at 330 theaters recently. But Fox said it "added an additional marketing layer prior to the onslaught of TF2.' ... The actioner's domestic cume is now a huge $300.5M for 12 days and just passed Up and Star Trek to become the highest-grossing pic of 2009. This weekend it scored $55M overseas so that's over $300.5M from international, and a new worldwide total of a staggering $593.9M." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"If democracy hit Central America like a wave in the mid-1980s, it was one that left more than a few bubbles of authoritarianism behind. As recent turmoil confirms, the region's transitions from dictatorship to democracy were interrupted or left incomplete. Now, a coup in Honduras, electoral fraud in Nicaragua, and assassinations in Guatemala are just a few signs of trouble ahead. The region's crisis is one of leadership -- of a cadre of elite who promised democracy but have failed to provide it. Central Americans today are tired of the same-old political elites and parties, many of which are left over from three decades ago. Today, they can boast only neglected public bureaucracies and economies wracked by global shocks. Yet in spite of their failings and a groundswell of discontent, ruling parties across the region are refusing to go. Nobody fits this description better than the ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, whose expulsion followed his attempts to stay in power beyond what even the ruling elite could tolerate." (ForeignPolicy)

"He does not own a sprawling Texas ranch, a family compound on the coast of Maine or a retreat tucked away in the Santa Ynez Mountains of California. So President Obama, in this regard at least, is much like Bill Clinton: He has no vacation home to call his own. With the summer getaway season in full swing, the White House is busy arranging the president’s first vacation since taking office. The destination — officially, at least — is classified. Yet it is hardly a secret to the people on Martha’s Vineyard, several business owners and others said, where reservations have been made and preparations are under way for the Obama family’s August arrival. Still, questions abound on the Massachusetts island. Will they settle in Oak Bluffs, Chilmark or another town? Will they rent the home of the filmmaker Spike Lee? Will they be there at the same time as the Clintons? 'The rumor mill is rampant because people want to get information and want to flesh out their plans,' said Charles J. Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard, a summer Vineyard resident and a longtime friend of the Obamas. 'I hope that people will respect their privacy and need for rest. The best thing we can do is let him recharge his batteries and prepare for the tasks ahead.' The White House is mum on the dates, duration and precise destination of the trip." (NYTimes)

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