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Friday, July 31, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The US economy continued to shrink in the second quarter, but the pace of contraction slowed as aggressive government spending started to loosen the grip of the longest recession on record. US gross domestic product declined by an annualised rate of 1 per cent in the second quarter after plunging by a revised 6.4 per cent during the first three months of the year, according to official figures released on Friday. While the contraction was much smaller than in the previous three quarters and slightly better than economists had expected, the data showed that the government stimulus and a slowdown in imports had cushioned the drop. Consumer spending, which represents about a third of GDP and has traditionally been the engine of US growth, fell a much worse-than-expected 1.2 per cent as Americans continued to cut back in the face of rising unemployment and the falling value of their homes and investments. President Barack Obama said he was 'guardedly optimistic' about the numbers, but added: 'I realise that none of this is much comfort to those Americans that are still out of work and struggling to make ends meet.'" (FT)

"In what should be the greatest liberal moment in decades, Barack Obama runs the risk of presiding over a socially and politically devastating triumph of conservative strategy and policy. It won't happen at the federal level, where a reasonably progressive president and Congress have begun to renew the critical missions of agencies starved by right-wing predecessors who preached a dated and destructive 'government is the enemy' mantra. Rather, it will play out in recession-ravaged states, counties and municipalities, where basic services are being eliminated, schools are laying off teachers and what remains of the safety net is being shredded. The crisis is severe, and spreading. And only the Obama administration and Congress can prevent an economic strangulation of state and local governments that would exceed all but the wildest right-wing fantasies." (TheNation)



"No two ways about it: The news that director Ridley Scott is returning to the Alien franchise — which he started back with the 1979 original — for a prequel is fantastic. After all, Scott is, as Michael Mann once described him to Russell Crowe, 'one of the top 2 percent of shooters in the history of cinema.' So I’m giddy to see what Scott does with such rich material. (Plus, whatever he comes up with has to be better than Alien vs. Predator 2: The Suckening.) I’ve got got two questions.." (Popwatch)



"Five years after he put his money behind the Swift Boat ads that helped tank John Kerry’s presidential campaign, Senate Democrats gave T. Boone Pickens a warm welcome at their weekly policy lunch Thursday. Or at least most of them did. Kerry skipped the regularly scheduled lunch; his staff said the Massachusetts Democrat 'was unable to attend because he had a long scheduled lunch with his interns and pages.' Sen. Al Franken managed to make time for the lunch – but then let Pickens have it afterward. According to a source, the wealthy oil and gas magnate and author of 'The First Billion is the Hardest' stepped up to introduce himself to Franken in a room just off the Senate Floor after the lunch ended. Franken, who was seated talking to someone else, did not stand when Pickens said hello. Instead, Franken began to berate him about the billionaire’s financing of the Swift Boat ads in 2004. According to a source, the confrontation grew heated. Said Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh: 'It was a lively conversation.'" (Politico)



"One Monday last December, a stranger presented himself at the office of Sanford Ungar, the president of Goucher College, located in a suburb of Baltimore. He introduced himself as Charlie Ebersol, a television producer. A handsome, affable, and royally confident young man--he was sometimes pictured in the gossip pages with his girlfriend, the tennis star Maria Sharapova--Ebersol explained his visit by saying he was doing research for a new prime-time show on NBC. Beyond that, he was cryptic, Ungar recalls. 'He said, We're going to come back tomorrow and tell you about somebody who works here who's done some very, very bad things.' The meeting, Ungar says, left him totally baffled. Ebersol remembers the encounter somewhat differently. 'Literally five minutes into my going into conversation,' Ebersol told me, 'he said, 'Are you talking about Leopold Munyakazi?'" (TNR)



"Last night at Monkey Bar, the bar was packed as always (after-office crowd) and the restaurant was filling up so that by eight it was packed. In the mix: Ron Perelman and his daughters, along with Penny Marshall; also Betsey Johnson, Dennis Basso, Katie Couric, Richard and Diana Feldman and Charlotte Ford. Katie and the Feldmans go way back because Richard and Katie’s late husband used to ride every very early morning in Central Park (Richard still does). She was telling them about her daughters whom they hadn’t seen in a few years and who are growing up. Her eldest is going to become a Yalie in September (making her mother very proud), and the youngest was in sleepaway camp in Maine and, like a lot of kids in the camp, came down with H1N1.(NYSocialDiary)

"For the 23rd week in a row, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" cut into the lead held by "Meet the Press with David Gregory." MTP remains in first place in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo, but the gap, which a year ago was at 1.37M Total Viewers / 650K A25-54 demo viewers, now stands at 320K / 90K." (TVNewser)



"We weren’t planning on becoming a big Katherine Heigl defender. After all, our hatred for her character Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy reaches such apoplectic proportions that we’re surprised we haven’t thrown a glass through our television screen by now. (Oh the horror of seeing Heigl-as-Izzie in cancer patient makeup and a bald cap last season!) But the abuse the outspoken starlet has gotten in recent weeks is just too much for us to bear. Simply, we’re tired of the haters! What really pushed us over the top was an interview that Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow did with Howard Stern (yes, he does still exist!), where the two men commented on the now-18-month-old Vanity Fair cover story where Ms. Heigl called Knocked Up a 'little sexist' and said that it 'paint[ed] the women as shrews.' Mr. Apatow is apparently still holding a grudge, saying, '[You think] at some point I’ll get a call saying, ‘Sorry, I was tired,’ and then the call never comes.' Meanwhile Mr. Rogen commented that Ms. Heigl is prone to saying some 'batshit things' about her various acting jobs." (Observer)



"'I might actually just go home after this,' one New York City socialite lamented at a party on Tuesday night—at 10 p.m. Let's face it: the Manhattan social scene is dead in the summer as country houses beckon, and the city's fashionable people are bored during the week. No charity dinner in your Smythson diary? No text messages luring you to a late-night sojourn at the Rose Bar? Then hunker down in your Park Avenue pad, grab your sterling-silver Maybach roadster, Christian Louboutin shoe, or Panama hat, and play ... Socialitopoly!" (VF)

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