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Monday, August 03, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Jerry Oppenheimer’s new biography of Bernie Madoff traces the roots of his deceit and his odd compulsions back to a Queens childhood steeped in hustles and scams. The Ponzi King moved on to adult obsessions, from not letting family members sit on the furniture to alleged affairs with 'baby Ruths' in his office, younger versions of his own wife. Some highlights of the biography include:

"Madoff's parents weren't thought to be 'honest people'—they were running a broker-dealer operation out of their home until it was shut down by the SEC for 'failure to file reports.'

"A close friend says Madoff was so 'compulsive' later in life about having expensive clothes, boats, and cars all because his mother wouldn't buy him Keds.

"Madoff met his wife, Ruth, when he was a junior in high school. According to a source, Bernie later began affairs with 'baby Ruths' in his office—pretty blondes who resembled his wife when she was younger."
(TheDailyBeast)



(Nora Ephron with museum director Brent Glass via WashintonSocialDiary)

"All you have to do is read her enduringly terrific book, 'Heartburn,' and you’d be safe to assume writer and director Nora Ephron is not thrilled to come to Washington .. Museum director Brent Glass welcomed Ephron and accepted a small bit of loot from her new film, 'Julie & Julia,' which stars Meryl Streep as the famous chef, author, TV star and general food enthusiast, the late Julia Child. Why the Smithsonian? Because they have Julia Child’s original kitchen from her Cambridge, MA., home, an actual working family kitchen that doubled as stage set for her PBS program ... If you’re too young to be clued in to why Washington gave Ephron legitimate heartburn, take note of the exchange between the writer and director and Stephanie Green, a brave columnist for The Washington Times. In the midst of the party outside the kitchen exhibition, Green asked Ephron, 'Was Carl Bernstein a good cook?' Ephron shot her one of those looks. 'You’re at this and asking me about my ex husband?!!?' I believe the conversation ended there." (WashingtonSocialDiary)



"As we were first to report, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein sent a memo to the Dobbs staff addressing the 'birthers' coverage, writing 'It seems this story is dead.' Dobbs scaled back his coverage of the topic on the CNN program—all while his ratings were declining—only to pick it up on his radio show, forcing Klein to again defend the network. Ire about the issue and Dobbs' handling of it has led to a Media Matters ad blasting Dobbs via a commercial that could air during 'Lou Dobbs Tonight.' While most of the country has no doubts about it, there are surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) still some significant populations that believe Pres. Obama was not born in the United States or are unsure. (by the way, Dobbs believes he was) So where does this leave Dobbs?" (TVNewser)



(Peter Cary via NYSD)

"Saturday night I had dinner at Swifty’s with Paige Peterson whose son Peter Cary (or PC) has been a featured player on a new reality TV show called NYC Prep. I remember when the show was in the talking stages, mother was not in love with the idea of the kid going on TV. It may sound glamorous or financially fabulous, but Paige who started out in adult life as an actress knows things get complicated when the spotlight is on you. I don’t know Peter Cary, except having met him a number of times at one of his mother’s parties. He seems like a pleasant, possibly shy, well-mannered and polite young man who was known to be a very bright student and who maybe wanted to be an actor (although he was going to college). Now he’s an item on Page Six and Gawker and the image it’s projecting of the young man is anything but pleasant or shy. His grandfather, Pete Peterson is a billionaire financier, and so it is assumed in the press that the young man is heir to a fortune. This may play on 'Reality' TV but not in real life. Paige, who is divorced from Peter Cary’s father, lives comfortably but modestly in an apartment on Central Park West where she brought up her son and her daughter Alexandra. Grandfather and his money has never been a considered influence in their lives." (NYSocialDiary)



"A record amount of shoppers came out for the Super Saturday 12 benefit this past weekend, and there were plenty of elements to be dealt with at the annual event: the crowds, the photographers, and-most of all-the heat. The trio of Barbara Walters and Rudy and Judith Giuliani came at noon on the dot for the VIP hour...and left by 12:15 due to the effect of the sweltering rays .. And those who didn't buy had other distractions. Charlotte Ronson, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss and her daughter, Sienna, gossiped and relaxed in a tented food area, while Ali Lohan announced that she could challenge just about anyone in Nintendo. While most left with cars full of Calvin and Ralph, sacrifices had to be made. Gayle King's blue dress was fully stained with sweat marks in the back. 'But at least I have a new wardrobe!' she smiled." (Fashionweekdaily)



"Michael Jackson, the Grateful Dead and The Sound of Music are finding new fans in pension funds, private equity and banks convinced that old hits will play on as technology expands the way people use music. Competition is increasing for music publishing catalogs and the income they generate from stores, radio and Web play, ads and movies. Last month KKR & Co., the private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, bought a majority stake in Bertelsmann AG’s music-rights unit. Unlike recorded music, publishing is buffered from falling CD sales by its more diverse revenue sources. Owners can earn cash returns of 7 percent to 20 percent or more a year, depending on the songs and how they’re marketed, investors and dealmakers say. Jackson’s June 25 death has heightened interest in his stake in a catalog that includes Beatles tracks." (Bloomberg)



"BILLY Joel should have tried to 'Get It Right the First Time' with soon-to-be ex-wife Katie Lee Joel. Sources say the aging pop star, who is legally separated from Katie Lee, is completely distraught over the June breakup and wants to get his woman back. According to friends of the couple, 'Billy is obsessed with her' and is trying to rekindle the relationship. The two split because Katie Lee -- a TV food critic and chef -- wanted to have kids and a family, and Joel did not. Adding to the tension were Katie Lee's many nights out with designer Yigal Azrouel. 'Billy never wanted to go out with her. She wanted to have fun and promote herself, so she started hanging out with Yigal,' a source told us. Insiders say that Joel now believes Azrouel and Katie Lee were never more than friends and he's doing everything he can to win her back. But a friend of Katie Lee told us, 'They're not getting back together. She is trying to move on.'" (PageSix)

"After seven years of the Bush administration's neglect and mismanagement of Afghanistan, President Barack Obama was prompt in ordering the deployment of 21,000 more U.S. troops. Over 55,000 U.S. soldiers will soon be on the ground there. The replacement of General David McKiernan with General Stanley McChrystal at the head of U.S. operations in Afghanistan is also intended to increase force projection there. The United States' allies are under pressure to follow suit, if not with combat troops, then at least with training and money. All are concerned about the Taliban's recent success at persuading thousands of young Afghan men to sacrifice themselves to fight the foreign occupation. The Taliban's followers have pushed the Afghan government and its allies out of large swaths of the countryside and crept up to the gates of Kabul, bringing an alternative administration and sharia courts to the vacated areas. The Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar recently offered, ironically, to give safe passage to NATO forces that choose to leave the country, just as the mujahideen offered safe passage to Soviet troops two decades ago." (ForeignAffairs)



"Comedy heavyweights Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow claimed the number one spot with their new dramedy Funny People which debuted to only moderate results leading the entire top ten to slump to its lowest point of the summer. Two other new releases, the kidpic Aliens in the Attic and the horror film The Collector, both struggled to find ticket buyers helping the North American box office once again fall below year-ago levels for the fourth consecutive weekend. Universal claimed the top spot with Funny People which debuted to an estimated $23.4M making for the lowest gross for a number one film all summer. Playing in 3,007 locations, the R-rated story of a Hollywood superstar facing death averaged a healthy $7,795 per theater. Reviews were mixed for the reported $75M production. Friday generated $8.7M in opening day grosses but sales tumbled 15% on Saturday to $7.5M signaling bad word-of-mouth. The weekend estimate Universal reported was very aggressive as it includes a scant 3% Saturday-to-Sunday decline. Final grosses will be reported on Monday and the three-day figure may end up closer to $22M. Funny People, which co-stars Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and Eric Bana, opened weaker than Apatow's last directorial effort Knocked Up which bowed to $30.7M in June 2007 with a $10,690 average. With Sandler being a bigger and more reliable star, Funny was expected to at least open in the same vicinity." (BoxOfficeGuru)

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