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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"You have to hand it to Jo Wood. Almost a year ago, she became suddenly single after her rocker hubby traded her in for a teenage blonde. But she didn't buckle, oh no. Instead she reinvented herself. 'I've been through a hellish time,' Jo admits, as she sits down for a glug of water halfway through our photo shoot. 'But even at my very, very lowest, I knew inside that I wouldn't allow myself to be tossed aside.' When Jo, 53, discovered her husband Ronnie, Rolling Stones guitarist and legendary hell-raiser, was having an affair with a Russian cocktail waitress, most people expected him to beg his glamorous wife for a second chance. But Ronnie chose to stay with 20-year-old Ekaterina Ivanova - who looks uncannily like a younger version of his wife. Jo was devastated, but she's not bitter. 'I wasn't going to be broken by my marriage falling apart,' she says firmly. 'When things get rough, Jo gets going. I picked myself up and recycled myself for a whole new life - and the truth is, I think I'm happier now than I ever was before.'" (NewsoftheWorld)



"The world's attention was riveted in April 2009 when Somali pirates tried to seize the Maersk Alabama, a U.S. cargo vessel delivering relief supplies to Africa. Although the crew was able to fight off the intruders, the pirates seized the ship's skipper, Richard Phillips, and spent the next five days holding him hostage in a lifeboat bobbing in the Gulf of Aden, until U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed the three remaining pirates and freed Phillips. There was a sigh of relief back in the United States, but it hardly meant an end to the pirate menace. In fact, within two days of Phillips' rescue, pirates had seized four more merchant ships and more hostages. Piracy off the coast of East Africa is growing at an alarming rate, with 41 ships attacked in 2007, 122 in 2008, and 102 as of mid-May 2009. The more high-profile captures include a Saudi supertanker full of oil and a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks and other weapons. An estimated 19 ships and more than 300 crew members are still being held by pirates who are awaiting ransom payments from ship owners or insurers. Such fees have been estimated to total more than $100 million in recent years, making piracy one of the most lucrative industries and pirates one of the biggest employers in Somalia, a country with a per capita GDP of $600." (ForeignAffairs)



"Sir Tom Stoppard turned 72 last week and I ran into him in front of the John Sandoe bookshop. He was about to tell me an interesting story about writers when we were interrupted by fans of his. Never mind. I wanted to talk about Arcadia (which is having a revival at the Duke of York’s) and the references to summer heat in the play, as I had written something about what heat does to young people in this space a month or so before .. Mind you, I didn’t see any playwrights in the royal box at SW19 last Sunday. I saw .. a certain buddy of mine—I shall not reveal his or her sex—who reported to me that Princess Michael of Kent also broke a record during the record-setting fifth and final set. The one she broke was her own, established last year during the final. She managed to eat 79 eclairs after having devoured close to 47 small ham-and-cheese sandwiches." (Takimag)



"Comedian Artie Lange opened up about his recent arrest on the 'Howard Stern Show' on Monday. Lange said he was on his way to pick up a prescription for his ailing mother when his 2009 Nissan rental car struck the back of another vehicle in central New Jersey. Even though the comedian’s lawyer told Lange not to speak about the case, Lange did manage to give a few details about his latest incarceration. Lange said, he was not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs at the time of his arrest and intimated he was innocent of all charges. Lange was arrested Friday afternoon for suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and careless driving, in Toms River, New Jersey, following a minor fender bender in which no one was hurt ... Lange told Howard Stern on Monday, that the police did administer a breathalyzer test and that he blew a 0.0 The funny man also agreed to let police take a urine sample for a drug and alcohol screening." (Examiner)



"Deng Xiaoping famously said that it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice. These days, China seems to be applying Deng's logic to its neighbors: It doesn't matter if they are democratic or despotic, so long as they safeguard China's interests. That simple premise helps explain why, after years of working with the military junta in Burma, China may now be looking to change tack. It's not that China is concerned that such a government is morally suspect; it's that Beijing worries that Burma's leaders are incompetent. And any slippage in that country's stability could have harsh consequences for China's own fortunes. From the neighbors' side of the fence, China looks like a rising hegemon, keen to throw its weight around. The country's decisive intervention in support of the government in the recently concluded civil war in Sri Lanka -- a country outside its usual sphere of influence -- seemed to prove this. Yet seen from Beijing, it is China's allies who at times string the country along for a ride. Two supposed subordinates in particular -- North Korea and Burma -- leave China feeling helpless to intervene, fearful that any instability abroad might upset China's delicate internal political peace." (ForeignPolicy)



"The slump at HBO is apparently over. In 'True Blood,' the pay cable giant has its first hit since 'Rome,' and the numbers indicate it may be the biggest thing on the channel since 'The Sopranos.' If that sounds surprising, it may be because few saw it coming — inside HBO or out. In the three episodes measured so far this, its second, season, 'True Blood' has amassed viewer totals that any network, including broadcast networks, would be excited to own: 12.1 million, 10 million and 10.3 million. And HBO has attracted those viewers from an audience base about a third the size of fully distributed networks. 'This is hopefully a long-running franchise for us,' said Michael Lombardo, the president of programming for HBO. In just about every way 'True Blood' is a buoyant story for a network that needed one." (NYTimes)



(image via WashingtonSocialDiary)

"But on a bright note, we hosted our last Q&A Café at Nathans and the guest was just right: Georgetowner (and New Yorker), and friend, author Jane Stanton Hitchcock. We sat on barstools across from each other, before the cameras and audience, to talk about her new high society murder mystery, 'Mortal Friends.' We had a packed house, including good sport Jim Kimsey, who is undeniably the model for her character Bob Poll, a mysterious, newly rich, man about town with a taste for women, strip clubs and letting his life be run by others. Even his chauffeur, Kissingeur (Maxwell), his number two, Nancy Merritt (Felicity) and his ex girlfriend, Holidae Hays (Melody) are characters in the book. His signature Bentley, however, has become a Rolls Royce. Jane’s husband, columnist James Hoagland, comes out the best, naturally, as the very cantankerous but wise and charming Sen. Grider. I can’t figure out whether characters Violet and Grant Bolton are Izette and Neil Folger or George and Liz Stevens, or some combo of the two, but when I suggested this idea to Jane she gave nothing away, only a Cheshire grin. Roland and Peggy Myers are clearly Vernon and Ann Jordan. Gay Harding is Katharine Graham. Jean and Sander Herrend are Jane and Sidney Harman. Braden Boyd is Boyden Gray, and, with a lovely turn of name, Carolyn Peachy is Carmen Appleton. I’m Joy Croft. Even Assistant DC Police Chief Peter Newsham is in the book as Norman Peterson. But who in the hell is Corinna Huff? Maureen Dowd if she had a husband? Or is she Sally Quinn with a powerful husband? Clever readers will decide. The most notorious character of the book, one of Jane’s great signature sinister rich girls, is socially carnivorous, boudoir-obsessed home wrecker Cynthia Rinehart, who without doubt is based on controversial Washington philanthropist Catherine Reynolds." (Carol Joynt/NYSocialDiary)



(image via vanityfair)

"KURT Andersen takes a cheap shot at Donald Trump in his new book -- and the developer is firing back. In 'Reset,' his take on the financial crisis, Andersen writes: 'Who do you think enjoys life more, Donald Trump or Warren Buffett? They are both symbols of an era just ended, but one is a clownish reality-show artifact living the high life in Manhattan and Palm Beach, and the other a respected and beloved avatar who lives in a modest house in Omaha and has already donated most of his fortune to charity.' After reading the insult, Trump bristled to Page Six: 'Kurt Andersen has always been a third-rate writer and an unsuccessful one at that. Actually, I'm surprised he was so nice to me, and wouldn't he like to know how much money has been made on this reality show, 'The Apprentice,' and how much money from it was given to charity'" (PageSix)

"What’s Austrian for 'not as good as we thought?' It was a tale of two weekends for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno. On the one hand, the guerrilla comedy pulled down an estimated $30.4 million in ticket sales to pace the field; on the other, the total gross came in well below the high expectations that were set after Brüno opened with $14.4 million on Friday. There was no splitting the baby with the weekend’s other wide release: I Love You, Beth Cooper was a humongous bomb, landing in seventh place with just $5 million. As we do each Monday, here’s a breakdown of the top five at the box office." (Observer)

"ARTIE Lange, the overindulging comic on the Howard Stern Sirius XM radio show, was arrested for driving his 2009 Nissan under the influence yesterday after he rear-ended a car near his summer house in Toms River, NJ. No one was injured. 'Officers observed behavior that indicated he was intoxicated,' a police spokesman told Page Six. Lange, who's been open about his abuse of alcohol and drugs, was issued summonses and released." (PageSix)



"The debut of Lynn Shelton’s 'Humpday' led this weekend’s specialty box office, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The Magnolia Pictures release—starring Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard as two straight men attempting to have sex on camera for 'art’s sake'—grossed $29,000 from its two screens in New York and Shelton’s hometown of Seattle. That number was good enough for a $14,500 average, tops among all films in release (including dissimilarly gay wide release 'Bruno,' which grossed a disappointing $30.4 million from 2,756 screens). 'Humpday' also had the second highest debut of Magnolia’s 2009 slate thus far (beating out 'Two Lovers' and 'The Girlfriend Experience,' among others), behind only Robert Kenner’s doc 'Food, Inc.,' which passed a new milestone this weekend. The documentary—an expose of the food industry—grossed another $250,000 on 81 screens, dropping only 1% in grosses despite actually losing 2 screens." (IndieWIRE)

"Howard (Stern) said he and his agent were stuck in the room with Michael (Jackson) and he was just staring at them. Howard said he asked Michael about meditation and Deepak Chopra and Jackson just giggled when he mentioned the guy. Howard said he had nothing to say to him. Howard said he gave up on the meeting and just sat there staring at the guy. Howard said he told the guy that he didn't' want to do the rally thing but he would do an interview with Michael. He wanted to do that over at ABC because he had a deal with them at the time. Howard told the guys he wanted to do that but Jackson and his guy really didn't want to do that. Dianne Sawyer ended up getting that interview a few days later. Howard said he could have done that rally for Michael but he figured he would have looked like and asshole if he had. He said it was tempting to do it for Jackson but he figured he would have gotten sold out or something so he decided not to do it." (Marksfriggin)

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