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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"PRINCE on a first-class flight from Minneapolis to La Guardia, reading Elle magazine, carrying a gold- and diamond-encrusted walking stick and wearing flip-flops with sparkly silver socks." (PageSix)



"In a region known for cutthroat espionage, these five intelligence chiefs have leveraged their skills and connections to gain influence far above their pay grades." (ForeignPolicy)



"Howard Stern interviewed friend of the show and retired U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato live in the studio during Monday’s broadcast. D’Amato talked to Howard Stern about America’s war on two fronts, legalizing marijuana, sex during pregnancy and his love of internet poker. D’Amato .. told Howard Stern that he believes that America should get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, stating that both wars are unwinnable. D’Amato also spoke about current efforts to reform the U.S. healthcare system. D’Amato stated that he preferred 'marginal' reform to overhauling the entire system, which he states would result in huge tax increases for most Americans. 'What about legalizing pot?' asked Howard Stern, pointing to new reports about the flourishing legal marijuana industry in California. After thinking on it carefully, D’Amato responded: 'I think there’s some merit in it.' It wasn’t all shop talk for Alfonse D’Amato. Howard Stern asked D’Amato some of his classic questions. Alfonse D’Amato admitted that he still regularly has sex with his 6-month pregnant wife, spoke about it openly, and then sheepishly followed up his response by saying: 'This isn’t going to be on TV is it?'" (Examiner)

"Hillary Clinton on Monday agreed a keenly awaited deal allowing the sale of sophisticated US defence technology to India in a sign of deepening ties between two of the world’s largest democracies. The agreement, which came alongside another deal to boost US co-operation in New Delhi’s ambitious space programme, was made as the US secretary of state ended a five-day visit to India in which she demonstrated a firm resolve to support Asia’s third largest economy as a global power. The so-called 'end-use monitoring' pact allows Washington to check up on sophisticated weapons systems that it will sell to New Delhi while the space co-operation agreement paves the way for US technology to be used in India’s satellites. A civil nuclear deal, agreed with the former Bush administration, transformed the ties between the two countries, which had a history of tension during the Cold War. In a move that will advance this deal, Mrs Clinton said she had discussed with Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, sites where US power companies would build nuclear power plants to help the fast growing nation overcome an energy deficit. She encouraged India to proceed with legislation governing nuclear power that would free billions of dollars of investment and transform the lives of India’s 1.2bn people." (FT)



"Two square canvases by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami flash Louis Vuitton logos, cutesy pink and yellow graphics and the price of $350,000. Ubiquitous in the auction salesroom, Murakami’s work now greets the visitors at Rental, a Lower East Side gallery overlooking the Manhattan Bridge and $20 buses to Philadelphia and Washington. The downscale venue, known for showing emerging art, has installed 20 upscale works by fashionable and commercially tested names for its summer group exhibition. 'Don’t Panic! I’m Selling My Collection' assembles pieces from four anonymous private collections, with price tags prominent. 'It’s a sign of the times,' said owner Joel Mesler, 35. 'There’s been a huge paradigm shift in the art market. People who know how to adapt and are not rigidly operating the same way they have been for the past five years are going to prevail.'" (Bloomberg)



(The Peek's via NYSocialDiary)

"If CIT were to go bankrupt, IF Jeff Peek were to lose his job (last night’s reports have him securely in place), this would surely have an effect on a number of philanthropic/cultural institutions as well as the lives of countless numbers of people. Perhaps, even under the worst of circumstances, the Peeks would continue to fund and work for those organizations that interest them; I don’t know anything about their personal fortune. I bring this up not as a defense of CIT, the government and its policies, or the individuals, Jeff and Liz Peek. To me they exemplify how the community is dependent on people like them. Philanthropy is what keeps the focus on quality of life for the citizens of New York and the world. It makes the difference not only for a lot of individuals but for the society itself. Its corporate connection has been crucial and is now life-threatening to a lot of organizations. The other night I was talking to a very active committeewomen for a number of charities about the state of things. She told me the big name charities were holding their own. The smaller ones were having a harder time because they were losing their corporate support right and left. Corporate support always has brought in more volunteers from the CEO’s wife on down. The Liz and Jeff Peeks of the world. The attrition in the philanthropic ranks on the corporate side could easily end a lot of that volunteerism also." (NYSocialDiary)



"WHEN it came to protecting Jenna and Barbara Bush, the Secret Service truly had its hands full, with President George W. Bush's wild and crazy daughters doing everything in their power to escape them, a new book reveals. 'Jenna would purposely try to lose her protection by going through red lights or by jumping in her car without telling agents where she was going. As a result, in a total waste of manpower, the Secret Service kept her car under surveillance so agents could follow her,' Ronald Kessler writes in 'In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,' out next month from Crown. The author claims that at a 2005 Halloween party, Henry Hager, Jenna's boyfriend and soon-to-be-hubby, got so drunk the Secret Service took him to Georgetown University Hospital. He also got boozed up with Jenna in a Georgetown bar and picked a fight with several other patrons, with agents having to intervene to avoid a brawl, writes Kessler, an ex-Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter." (PageSix)



"When it gets parched in Los Angeles the weather service issues a 'red-flag' warning to indicate that the risk of fire is high. A red flag is flying over the entertainment industry at this point, but nowhere is it more visible than atop the black tower at NBC Universal, where the television network and the film studio have been very dry indeed. Those were some lousy second-quarter numbers that NBC Universal reported last Friday. With parent company GE under pressure with its own lousy numbers, there has been lots of speculation in the media and in Hollywood commissaries about possible shakeups at the company. Two recent stories in the New York Post about Universal in particular have led some high-level insiders to wonder whether their boss, NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker, could have planted some rumors himself—presumably to make it clear to his bosses at GE that those who deserve to walk the plank (not him, mind you) are trussed and ready. Similar speculation about Zucker and the Post has sloshed around in the blogosphere before. An NBC Universal spokeswoman dismisses the idea that Zucker had a hand in the reports as 'patently absurd.' Based on my experience with my own sources, guesswork about who is behind a story is often wrong. But the internal speculation reveals a toxicity in the environment at the company these days. And a top NBC Uni executive observes with some bitterness that the bosses haven’t done much to quell these reports. 'They allow rumors to gestate,' he says. And to him, some of these recent Post stories seem to follow a pattern." (Kim Masters/TheDailyBeast)



"As someone who's long covered the highs and lows of the glitterdome, I know how devastating it is when a metaphorical slip-up on the red carpet precipitates a tumble towards oblivion. So I totally feel for Mischa Barton, who was admitted to a psych ward the other day, no doubt suffering from an acute case of career remission. The former O.C. starlet was clearly addicted to her fame--there was never a photographer in the vicinity without Mischa's face being there too--and as her visibility seemed to be outweighing her actual success, she clearly suffered behavioral setbacks, with DUIs, weight fluctuations, and a general sense of show-biz-specific unease." (Musto)



"Frances Kiernan, biographer of Brooke Astor and Mary McCarthy, is writing her next book about Elizabeth Hardwick, Lady Caroline Blackwood, and their respective marriages to the poet Robert Lowell. Gerry Howard, who worked with Ms. Kiernan on her McCarthy biography when he was at Norton, will edit the book, which is tentatively titled The Two Mrs. Lowells. The book will be published through the Nan A. Talese imprint of Knopf Doubleday; the deal was brokered by the Wylie Agency. Hardwick, the literary critic, novelist, and co-founder of The New York Review of Books, was married to Lowell from 1949 until 1970, at which point Lowell met Blackwood—a novelist in her own right—while on a visiting professorship at Oxford. Lowell and Blackwood were married in 1972 and broke up in 1977, when Lowell resolved to reconcile with Hardwick only to die of a heart attack while in a taxi cab on his way to her apartment on the Upper West Side." (Observer)


"Concern about the US current account deficit—the excess of expenditures over receipts in a country's balance of payments—long preceded the financial crisis. By 2005, it had already ballooned to 5 percent of GDP. How had this happened? The conservative explanation was that the US monetary and fiscal authorities had provided Americans with the money to make payments to foreigners for imports far in excess of the payments they received from foreigners for exports. This "spending beyond your means" is the classic road to ruin, for households as well as for countries. In the case of households, it is normally brought to an end by a notice from your bank or credit card company saying that you have reached your credit limit or your account has been frozen. In the case of countries, it is normally ended by the refusal of other countries to lend the profligate country the means to continue its spending spree. The puzzle, though, was why the countries with surpluses continued to pour their hard-earned savings into the debt-ridden American economy. In a notable lecture in 2005, Ben Bernanke, about to become chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave the answer. At first, he said, it was because the US was a highly productive economy. But following the financial crisis of 1997–1998, East Asian countries had deliberately started accumulating foreign exchange reserves to guard against another flight of capital similar to what they had just suffered or observed. To accumulate reserves they had to run current account surpluses, by earning more in exports than they spent on imports. This tied in with their policy of undervaluing their currencies against the dollar in order to maintain export-led growth. After the collapse of the dot-com boom in 2000, the US became a much less desirable place for direct foreign investment. So East Asian countries, especially China, started to buy US Treasury bonds." (NYRB)



"Perceived wisdom asserts that India and China are natural energy rivals, a reading that appears to stem from three main areas. The first is the historical animosity between the two nations, epitomized by the 1962 border war, which completely wrong-footed an India that had long prided itself on peaceful relations with its huge neighbour. The Chinese-Indian border is dotted with areas of disputed territory, many of which emerged as a result of colonial-era activities. In these areas, the short war, which began in June 1962 and ended in November 1962, saw Chinese troops attack their Indian counterparts north of the McManon Line, which demarcated India from Tibet. The conflict quickly escalated and fighting broke out in the Aksai Chin region, which the British had once given to China in a decision that it later reversed in India’s favour. China still regards Aksai Chin as part of its territory. Once Chinese forces had retaken Aksai Chin, China’s leaders declared a ceasefire that brought the war to a close. Notably, the conflict remains unresolved. More than four decades later, China continues to lay claim to territory in India's northern states of Jammu and Kashmir as well as all of Arunachal Pradesh. Secondly, China’s long-standing alliance with Pakistan, India’s nemesis, creates a sense of natural antagonism. Worse, China has an ongoing history of lending considerable support to Pakistan's energy programme. Seemingly in response to India's landmark nuclear deal with the United States, China last October announced its decision to fund the construction of two nuclear power plants in Pakistan. Beyond this, China has been instrumental in key construction projects in Pakistan, notably the port at Gwadar on the south coast. China is contemplating a long-term agenda: using the port among other things as a key supply route for crude oil supplies to its western region." (HarvardInternationalReview)



"The wait was over for Hogwarts fans who rushed out to theaters around the world to see the much-anticipated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince powering the wizard sequel to a strong number one opening and the largest worldwide debut for any film ever. In North America, the PG-rated fantasy pic grossed $77.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday span, according to final studio figures, and a colossal $158M since its debut on Wednesday. Prince beat out the opening of the last installment of the franchise, 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which also bowed on a Wednesday in July generating $77.1M on the weekend and $139.7M across the same five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday span. That put HBP 13% ahead in grosses and 6% ahead in admissions. Anticipation was extra high this time around since Warner Bros. delayed the release of the new pic from last November to mid-July resulting in the longest gap ever between Potter films. Plus no new book has hit the market in nearly two years. The first film in the series, 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, still ranks as the top-grossing pic in the franchise with $317.6M which translates to about $413M at today's prices." (BoxOfficeGuru)

"The Kennedy assassination. The moon landing. The Nixon resignation. Walter Cronkite had a few lifetimes’ worth of signature, career-defining, on-air moments during his 20-year career as host of the CBS Evening News. But what about the network anchors who came after Cronkite? To be fair, Cronkite didn’t have competition from cable news or the Internet to deal with. His coverage of the moon landing, for instance, garnered a 45 percent share of the 125 million viewers who tuned in to watch—imagine how fragmented those shares would if the moon landing happened now. I asked a few TV experts if the comparison between Cronkite-era news and now is a fair one. "What is so strikingly different today is that the news consumer is in the driver's seat,' Chris Ariens, editor of TVNewser.com wrote in an e-mail. 'There's no more waiting until 6:30 to get your news and the idea of just one trusted source of information does not exist.'" (TheWrap)



"U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia are always something of a proverbial black box. And President Barack Obama's meeting with Saudi King Abdullah last month was no exception. A late add-on to Obama's planned June itinerary to Egypt, Germany, and France and conducted at King Abdullah's horse ranch outside of Riyadh, the June 3 meeting was quickly overtaken by coverage of Obama's high-profile June 4 speech to the Muslim world from Cairo. But two sources, one a former U.S. official who recently traveled there and one a current official speaking anonymously, say the meeting did not go well from Obama's perspective. What's more, the former official says that Dennis Ross has told associates that part of what prompted Obama to bring him on as his special assistant and NSC senior director for the 'Central Region' last month was the president's feeling that the preparation for the trip was insufficient. The White House vigorously disputes all of that, some of which was previously reported by the New York Times. Sources say Obama was hoping to persuade the king to be ready to show reciprocal gestures to Israel, which Washington has been pushing to halt settlements with the goal of advancing regional peace and the creation of a Palestinian state. 'The more time goes by, the more the Saudi meeting was a watershed event,' said the former U.S. official who recently traveled to Riyadh. 'It was the first time that President Obama as a senator, candidate, or president was not able to get almost anything or any movement using his personal power of persuasion.'" (ForeignPolicy)



"It was very hot in New York yesterday. Summer in July. Humid. The weatherman has been forecasting thundershowers and a break. We’ll see. This past Tuesday, as reported here, I had lunch at Michael’s with Pia Lindstrom, the longtime television journalist and entertainment reviewer who has a new radio show on Sirius called 'Pia Lindstrom Presents' every Sunday night at 7:30 and rotating on the Sirius schedule through the week. Our meeting was arranged by her public relations people on her new show. I was especially interested in talking to her because we are of the same generation and, as the daughter of Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish-born movie star, Pia had a famous childhood with an infamous (at the time) subtext." (NYSocialDiary)



"Michael Barone, writing in March on U.S.News's Thomas Jefferson Street blog, noted that the electorate's portion of 'under-30 downscale whites' has been stagnating, while the participation of both young upscale whites and African-Americans generally has spiked upward. The pool is shrinking; thus he thinks Republicans should now focus on wooing upscale whites, banking on their disenchantment with Obama's moves to fix the economy. Author and former Bush speechwriter David Frum recently made the argument, on the occasion of the split between Palin's single 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, and the 19-year-old father of her child, that 'it is marriage that creates culturally conservative voters—and young downscale Americans are not getting married. When they do marry, they do not stay married: While divorce rates among the college educated have declined sharply since the 1970s, divorce rates among high school graduates remain ominously high .. Another thing that makes some elite conservatives nervous in this recession is the sheer level of unhinged, even violent irrationality at the grassroots. In postwar America, a panicky, violence-prone underbrush has always been revealed in moments of liberal ascendency. In the Kennedy years, the right-wing militia known as the Minutemen armed for what they believed would be an imminent Russian takeover. In the Carter years it was the Posse Comitatus; Bill Clinton's rise saw six anti-abortion murders and the Oklahoma City bombings. Each time, the conservative mainstream was able to adroitly hive off the embarrassing fringe while laying claim to some of the grassroots anger that inspired it. Now the violence is back. But this time, the line between the violent fringe and the on-air harvesters of righteous rage has been harder to find. This spring the alleged white-supremacist cop killer in Pittsburgh, Richard Poplawski, professed allegiance to conspiracist Alex Jones, whose theories Fox TV host Glenn Beck had recently been promoting. And when Kansas doctor George Tiller was murdered in church, Fox star Bill O'Reilly was forced to devote airtime to defending himself against a charge many observers found self-evident: that O'Reilly's claim that 'Tiller the baby killer' was getting away with 'Nazi stuff' helped contribute to an atmosphere in which Tiller's alleged assassin believed he was doing something heroic. At least in the past, those who wished to represent their movement as cosmopolitan and urbane could simply point to William F. Buckley as the right's most prominent spokesman. Now Buckley is gone, and the most prominent spokesmen—the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Becks—can be heard mouthing attitudes once confined to the violent fringe." (Rick Perlstein/Newsweek)



(John de Mol via THR)

"Call it 'The Real World' meets 'Big Brother.' John de Mol, the Dutch billionaire producer who created the globally successful format for 'Big Brother,' is acquiring Bunim/Murray Prods., the company behind MTV's groundbreaking reality series 'Real World,' through his Talpa Media company. The parties involved declined comment, but sources peg the value of the deal at $50 million-$70 million -- considered a great price for a company that owns very few of its formats. It speaks to the credentials of Jonathan Murray, who, along with his late partner, Mary-Ellis Bunim, singlehandedly createda genre of television with 'Real World.' Bunim-Murray's series include E!'s 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians,' and the company also took over production on 'Project Runway' when the show moved to Lifetime, as well as its spinoff, 'Models on the Runway.'" (THR)



"All of a sudden, young women started squealing and running past the Hilton's Bridges Bar on the hotel's 54th Street side to a side entrance. 'Is it the president?' one woman asked one of the Bridges Bar's waiters. 'That wasn't the president. That was Puff Daddy,' the waiter, a middle-aged Asian man, said, as the girls and some more mature women screamed, 'Puff Daddy just passed me by!' and 'P-Diddy, that's P-Diddy!' On the large screen television fixed to the wall of Bridges Bar, people watched the entertainer, dressed in a tuxedo, as he made the rounds inside the ballroom two floors above them, shaking hands with Newark Mayor Cory Booker and posing for cell phone pictures. At 6:45, the patrons of the Bridges Bar, wearing their green NAACP conference credentials and sipping cocktails, watched the television as Prince walked onto the stage." (Observer)



"HILLARY. Getting a weenchy teenchy weary of playing the good soldier. Done all the White House expected of her. Praised and repraised her one-time opponent. Performs this No. 2 (No. 3?) role well. Been of invaluable help to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Understand, Obama for sure didn't know all these kings and emirs and sheiks and commanders and presidents and dictators and generals and international wiseasses. Could have taken anyone else light years to be able to make these personal connections. Hillary knows this cast of characters. Probably knows their birthdays, what they eat for breakfast and the names of their dogs. No small accomplishment for any incoming administration. But, one now hears, she's begun to think, 'Enough . . . they're getting what they need. I'm not getting what I need.' ast week, for the first time, she publicly voiced displeasure in our chief of state's delay in naming an agency head, which is critical to her and without which her accomplishments can be stymied. Camp Hillary is whispering she's being deliberately reined in and, sufficiently stellar in her performance, she may feel she's got nothing to worry about if she now lashes out and is a slightly less good soldier. Not as if she can be canned and they don't need her anymore." (Cindy Adams)



"When Khadijah Williams, 18, put on her custom-made Keith Lissner gown prior to attending the N.A.A.C.P.’s 100th-anniversary celebration last night in New York City, there was no way she could have predicted that later in the evening, the event’s keynote speaker, President Barack Obama, would empower his fellow African-Americans with a message that education is the path to a better future—and that black Americans have to seize their own fate, each and every day. 'No one has written your destiny for you,' Obama said to the packed house at the Hilton Hotel ballroom. 'Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that.' Obama’s theme certainly resonated with Khadijah: she’s a homeless girl from Los Angeles who is going to be a freshman at Harvard this fall." (VanityFair)

"President Barack Obama’s poll numbers are slipping, and nowhere have they slipped more dramatically than in the Midwest, where his favorable ratings are now below 50 percent .. If Obama really wanted to emulate Lincoln and Roosevelt, he would not be telling Americans that their future lies in windmills and diploma mills. He would learn from the example of the agricultural A&Ms and of Defense Department research during the Cold War of the need for massive, permanent increases in federal R&D in basic science and technology—not incentives in the tax code for Wall Street venture capitalists to fund research, but directly funded government research. If he wanted to promote U.S. industry as Lincoln and Roosevelt did, he would favor 'Buy American' domestic-content legislation and other policies to reward the onshoring of production in American borders, by domestic and foreign companies alike, rather than outsourcing of American industries. Instead of peddling the fashionable but silly idea of a boutique 'green economy' composed of windmills and rooftop solar power, the president would favor a 'clean economy' based on efficiency and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from any workable technology, including possibly clean carbon and nuclear energy. This assumes, of course, that Obama wants to be an industrial president, like Lincoln and Roosevelt, rather than the president of a post-industrial nation with an economy divided between rentiers and menial service-sector proles. If he continues on his present course, ignoring the intensifying global competition for manufacturing while telling Americans comforting fairy tales about windmills and diploma mills, then Barack Obama, the postindustrial president, may be a post-president in 2013." (Michael Lind/TheDailyBeast)



(image via nzherald)

"Anyone wondering about corruption in China should consider the number 21. That’s China’s ranking among 22 economies assessed as part of Transparency International’s latest bribe payers index. Only Russia has a lower score than the world’s third-biggest economy. That deflates the Chinese government’s claim that Rio Tinto Group executives may have engaged in bribery. No formal charges have been filed in this case, one that risks pitting Australia against its biggest trading partner. Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, an Australian national, was detained on July 5 with three others from the company. Officials in Canberra are fuming; Beijing authorities aren’t talking. There’s been considerable soul-searching about what this brouhaha means. To me, it shows that China just isn’t ready. Yes, its $3.2 trillion economy accelerated to an impressive 7.9 percent in the second quarter. Yes, its 1.3 billion people have vast potential. Yes, China’s financial clout is increasing, as shown by its foreign-exchange reserves now topping $2 trillion. Yet is China comfortable with its status as a global power? Not if the Rio episode is any guide. Pundits are being too hard on Kevin Rudd. Australia’s Mandarin-speaking prime minister has avoided politicizing the issue. Perhaps he’s recalling how France last year found itself on China’s grudge list for supporting Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama." (Bloomberg)



"Boaz Yakin’s 'Death in Love' revolves around a Jewish woman (Jacqueline Bisset) who saves her life thanks to a love affair with a doctor in charge of human experiments in a Nazi concentration camp. The woman then marries and moves to New York, where she raises two emotionally stunted sons. The eldest son (Lucas Haas) battles his sense of disconnection from life while working at a scam modeling agency, where he befriends a charming young co-worker (Adam Brody) who begins to restore in him a sense of excitement and purpose. The neurotic younger son is locked in a compulsive, co-dependent relationship with his mother. The film opens in limited release Friday, July 17 in limited release." (IndieWIRE)

"NBC Universal profits tumbled 41% last quarter, as robust cable networks couldn't offset the broadcast blues. The company, which is a unit of giant General Electric, posted earnings of $539 million for the three months ended in June. Revenue dipped 8% to $3.6 billion. GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said NBC Uni's 'overall performance is not as negative as it looks' since the 2008 numbers were buoyed by the sale of the Sundance Channel to Cablevision for nearly $500 million. The division also took a hefty write-down on its remaining investment in broadcaster Ion Media. Immelt told investors on a conference call Friday that cable networks USA, Oxygen, Bravo, and news nets NSNBC and CNBC continued to deliver strong growth but noted ongoing pressure in advertising, and local television markets. A brutal economic downturn has slammed advertising, media's bread and butter." (Variety)



"In the current retail climate, there's extra reason to celebrate when an enterprising young designer's store reaches its first anniversary. On Wednesday night, Vogue and Rachel Bilson pulled out all the stops to toast Phillip Lim and his 5,000-square-foot, 12-month-old, foam-walled L.A. boutique. While listening to the DJ stylings of Devendra Banhart and Myles Hendrik (cue a mix of Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, and Blondie), partygoers reflected on the secret of Lim's success. 'He's affordable and he hits that very good mix of modern and vintage,' said Molly Sims, who just placed an order from the label's lingerie collection." (Style)

"Have the late-night wars ended almost before they’d begun? A pattern seems to be emerging less than two months after Conan O’Brien took over for Jay Leno at the long-dominant 'Tonight Show.' CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' has moved ahead among total viewers; O’Brien wins among adults 18-49. The question may be how much longer before Letterman becomes competitive in that demo, considering how easily he snatched the total viewers crown from O’Brien. For the week ended July 12, Letterman averaged 3.7 million total viewers while O’Brien sunk to 2.8 million, according to Nielsen, an all-time low for NBC’s long-running 'Tonight.' Both shows actually finished behind ABC’s surging 'Nightline' for the third straight week, as that show attracted 4.0 million total viewers on the strength of its Michael Jackson coverage. 'Late Show' had its largest margin of victory over 'Tonight' in nine years, since Letterman returned from heart surgery. O’Brien maintained his edge among 18-49s, averaging a 1.1 rating to 'Nightline’s' 1.0 and Letterman’s 0.8." (Medialifemagazine)



"One of the odder side effects of the extraordinary success of the Harry Potter film franchise has been the positioning of the actress Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) as a budding fashion icon. By the time she hit Leicester Square in vintage Ossie Clark for the London premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opened on Wednesday, she had already hit newsstands as a punk rocker on the cover of British Elle and as a Marie Antoinette coquette in the American magazine Teen Vogue. She is about to hit everywhere else in the world via the Burberry autumn/winter advertising campaign. There hasn’t been a hat trick like this since Nicole Kidman’s commercial and creative ubiquity post-Moulin Rouge. No wonder rumours emerged (later denied) that Watson was getting the accessory every celebrity needs to reach ultimate trendsetter status: her own fashion line. She’s Natalie Portman-meets-Kate Moss – all before the age of 21." (FT.com)

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