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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"This morning, the cable and broadcast networks spent their time closely watching the parade of political celebrities as they arrived at Sen. Kennedy's funeral Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Health. We spotted former-Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Also in attendance were VP Joe Biden and former-VPs Al Gore and Dan Quayle. Some newsers who appear to be there today as guests are David Gregory, Tom Brokaw, Al Hunt, Judy Woodruff, Maureen Orth, and Luke Russert (A reader noticed Hugh Downs as well). We also spotted Tony Bennett, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Russell." (TVNewser)



"Meanwhile, Bernie Madoff’s feeders are back in the news. Some not-so-wise investors are suing the auditors of the feeder funds who made Madoff and his family very rich, and themselves eventually very poor. It’s about time. My special bad guy is Andres Piedrahita, the Colombian whose motto, according to the Wall Street Journal, was ‘As long as I make more money than those investing with me’. I’ve known Piedrahita for years but he was canny enough not to approach me. He’s a loudmouth braggart who still swans around in his yacht and private jet despite the misery of many of his investors. My particular bone with him has nothing to do with Madoff. Years before he had taken down the Swanee Adam Shaw, son of that wonderful writer Irwin Shaw, a friend of mine and a very brave second world war correspondent. Irwin wrote some of the finest short stories ever, including ‘Girls in their Summer Dresses’, and good novels like The Young Lions, Two Weeks in Another Town, Evening in Byzantium, and Rich Man, Poor Man. Irwin had only one son, Adam, who went to school in Gstaad and turned out to be a fine writer as well as a tough guy, like his old man. I have not heard any news about him for years, but it seems he invested his inheritance with Piedrahita, who lost it all. After Piedrahita struck it very rich with Madoff, Adam Shaw should have tracked him down, beaten the crap out of him and demanded restitution. But that’s not the way of the world, is it? If he had, he probably would have ended up in jail, which is what this column is all about. Those who most deserve prison are running Western governments and getting fat on oil moolah." (Takimag)



"Eight months after receiving the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival - the second time she’s won the coveted documentary award - filmmaker Ondi Timoner is bringing her latest film to theaters herself. After raising money for the release and tapping Richard Abramowitz to execute the plan, Timoner is opening 'We Live in Public' today in New York City. 'I didn’t care for any of the deals that we were offered at Sundance and thereafter,' she recently told indieWIRE. Among the high-profile suitors she reportedly turned away was HBO, a dream distributor for most documentary filmmakers. But, Timoner has ambitious goals for her movie, which looks at Internet guru Josh Harris and his pre-Web 2.0 move to constantly document his life via the Internet. After debuting her film at Sundance in January Timoner hit the road, often with subject Josh Harris in tow. The two have made public appearances at numerous festivals and along the way, Timoner has appropriately used Twitter (@onditimoner) to build a a fan base for her movie, constantly documenting her travels with TwitPics and tweets from around the world. She’s hoping that online tools will stir grassroots awareness for the movie that will effectively replace an expensive marketing campaign." (IndieWIRE)



"THERE was a time in the late 1990s when Josh Harris was a king of sorts. A Silicon Alley pioneer, he was flush with millions of dollars made from his first Internet company, and he was spending it wildly on a series of legendary SoHo parties, businesses and social experiments. Mr. Harris wired his loft with Webcams, even in the refrigerator. He wired a loft with Webcams to broadcast everything he and a girlfriend did (including bathroom visits). He enticed 100 people to live in an underground 'bunker,' outfitted with a stylized altar, a see-through shower and a firing range. He created some of the first Webcasts through a company called Pseudo Programs. And now it is all gone. These days, Mr. Harris sleeps in a friend’s pool house in Los Angeles and earns a meager living playing poker at a racetrack. Last week, in his first extended visit to New York in eight years, he said the $741 in his pocket was all the money he had in the world. He was in town for the opening of a documentary about him, 'We Live in Public,' which portrays him as a visionary of the digital age, an eccentric who eventually retreated to an apple farm upstate to reboot his brain after a lifetime’s worth of media static. 'He is one of the 10 most important people in the history of the Internet,' said Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur of digital media who once chronicled New York’s tech scene in his publication, The Silicon Alley Reporter. 'He may not be the most famous.'" (NYTimes/Style)



"Denis Leary is about to put out his last fire. FX's 'Rescue Me' is set to end its run in 2011, 10 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that provided the creative impetus for the series. New York-shot drama from Sony Television will continue for 19 more episodes after the current season finale airs on Tuesday. It's undetermined how the network will release the final shows, though most likely in two different seasons of 10 and nine episodes, or vice versa. Production on the final episodes begins in September." (Variety)



"Who says 'hot tranny mess' is a bad thing? Reality TV stars, pop stars, porn stars and even Russell Simmons (who needs Diddy?!) crammed into Owl's Lab last night to celebrate former Danity Kane bad girl (and the only one anyone remembers) Aubrey O'Day's Dare to LoveT-shirt line launch. The hostess (who yes, looked better in Playboy than Heidi Montag, and who happens to be one of the 25 25-year-olds gracing our 25th Anniversary cover, on newsstands next week!) rocked a 'My sex tape comes out next week' tee from her line while keeping busy making her fan's ultimate Facebook default picture dreams come true (Aubrey Twittered the RSVP invite before the event). Even cuter than Aubrey's Maltese with turquoise highlights was the pic I snapped of Aubrey and her hot mama. The oh-so-colorful crowd boogied to funky sounds provided by DJ Prince Peter and DJ Suhel and guzzled down the super misleading fruity cocktails (they were green and had pretty lollipops in them people!). I overheard one attendee asking if we were in a disco, but I'm pretty sure discos didn't even get down 'n dirty before 10 p.m.. The most appropriate song that we danced/shvitzed the night away to? Aubrey's fun Eddie Murphy cover of 'Party All The Time,' aka my new pregame song." (Papermag)



"As the summer winds down, studio execs needing a vacation are getting punchier (and their quotes to me snarkier). But even Hollywood is embarrassed by the fact that this weekend's Top 4 competing films featuring horror, death, gore, mayhem, war, Nazis, aliens, and sci-fi all did so well at the box office Friday. 'What a sad statement on movie-going humanity,' a top studio exec emailed me tonight. 'And let's look at the ratings for the top 4 movies at the box office tonight: 'R', 'R', 'R', and 'R'. Yikes.' While Final Destination 3-D and Halloween II were playing in almost the same number of theaters (3,121 vs 3,025), 3-D made the big difference in gross receipts at 1,678 outfitted dates. Sure, The Weinstein Company has been claiming that the sequel to its Rob Zombie horror reboot cost half ($15M) what New Line/Warner Bros' suspense thriller did ($30M). But the fact that these two movies stayed on the same weekend to battle for the same horror fans stunned marketing experts -- especially when this Friday through Sunday is traditionally weak moviegoing-wise as college kids head off to school again." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)



"Has a proxy war broken out in Yemen? The Los Angeles Times has reported that 100 Shiite rebels are dead and 100,000 refugees are on the move in the Saada region of northwestern Yemen after the Sunni-dominated government attacked rebel positions with tanks, artillery, and air strikes. According to The Economist, the rebels retaliated with volleys of Katyusha rockets. The current round of fighting, now in its second week, is the sixth uprising in this area since 2004. What raises the profile of this development are accusations of foreign intervention in the conflict. The Yemeni government has accused Iran of providing funding and weapons to the Shiite rebels. Iran's news media has in turn reported that Saudi Arabia's military forces have joined in the fighting. The Saudi government acknowledges consultations with Yemen but denies any direct participation by its forces. Evidence of foreign intervention in the conflict is sparse. But Yemen's foreign minister was at least concerned enough to summon Iran's ambassador his office. Meanwhile the Saudi and Yemeni defense ministries have stepped up consultations. According to The Economist, Iran's Arabic language news service has been reporting the latest round of fighting, including Saudi Arabia's support of the Yemeni government. Even if the actual foreign material support in Yemen's civil strife is minimal, the conflict is probably the newest front in a broadening proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is one front. Iranian attempts to gain influence over Shiite populations in eastern Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf is another. Some factions in Iran may feel obligated to support what they believe are oppressed Shiite minorities around the mostly Sunni Middle East. In the case of the rebellion in Yemen, some nervous officials in Riyadh may see an Iranian plan to achieve control over the Red Sea shipping lane. Now there is another dimension to Saudi-Iranian competition. Despite having the largest crude oil reserves on the planet, the Saudi government recently announced plans to build a nuclear power plant." (ForeignPolicy)

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