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Friday, August 21, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Shawn King (aka Mrs. Larry King) stopped by (The Howard Stern Show Thursday) to promote the Michael Jackson tribute she’s working on and Howard immediately started hitting on her: 'You got some ass.' To which Shawn joked: 'It's all wasted on Larry' .. Howard then turned to the friend Shawn had brought with her and learned he was Damon Elliott, Dionne Warwick's son. Damon told the crew that Dionne was a 'great mom' but he tried not to use her name: 'It opens a lot of legs but closes a lot of doors.' Damon also noted that he was 'very close' with Michael Jackson and was working with Shawn on a tribute single titled 'Will You Be There?' Shawn and Damon then sang a country song they were working on – a cappella." (HowardStern)



"When Zalmay Khalilzad was U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 2002 war, it was a given that President Hamid Karzai would never make a decision without first consulting him. And Khalilzad also ruled over the American agencies in the country, including the military. More than ambassador, Afghan-born Khalilzad was America’s pro-consul in Kabul. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Karl W.Eikenberry, the ambassador nominated by Barack Obama earlier this year, enjoys no such pre-eminence .. For the first time in its history, the State Department has appointed a deputy ambassador, career ambassador Frank Ricciardone, to the embassy in Kabul instead of the more usual deputy chief of mission. The appointment is presumably intended to provide Eikenberry with high-level diplomatic expertise, but some believe it also gives State a backchannel to the embassy. When, earlier this month, Eikenberry sent a memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making the case for an additional $2.5 billion (to the $4.1 billion already committed) in non-military spending in 2010, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew said--somewhat archly, it was thought--that "the [Kabul] embassy had done a lot of good work" but the department was 'still working on it.' He added that there was enough money in the pipeline (about $6 billion) for Afghanistan already. Casting his shadow over Eikenberry's operation is Richard Holbrooke, the president’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan recently described by The New York Times as 'looming, theatrical, passionate, indignant.'" (TNR)



"Eventually, I was able to get onto 'The Guiding Light,' and I did that for a year, so I was able to stop waiting tables and really just be an actor.After I’d been on the show for a year, they asked me to extend my contract for another two years. Again, it was one of those moments when I thought, OK, now I’m on a soap, now I’m making some money, more money than I’ve ever made; I can do theater at night; I’m in New York; why wouldn’t I extend this contract for two years? And something just didn’t feel right about it. Something just felt like, I can’t get too settled. I’m a person with a restless mind. And I thought, I’m too young to make life this easy and to just take this money and stay on this soap opera. People were like, You’re out of your mind. I mean, why would you turn this down? I had no other work. My agent thought I was crazy. Then, about a week after my contract ended and I said goodbye to everybody, I auditioned for “Diner.'" (Kevin Bacon/TheWrap)



"In repeats, David Letterman has managed something he struggled to do for years with originals: Beat 'The Tonight Show.' For the second straight week, reruns of Letterman bested originals of 'The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien' among total viewers, though O’Brien continues to lead among adults 18-49. CBS’s Letterman averaged 3 million total viewers, 300,000 ahead of NBC’s 'Tonight,' which was down about 200,000 from the previous week. Letterman’s viewers were slightly up from the previous week, when he was also in encores. That’s according to Nielsen data for the week ended Aug. 16. ABC’s 'Nightline' actually placed ahead of both shows with 3.4 million total viewers, the eighth straight week that it has bettered 'Tonight' in viewers." (Medialifemagazine)



"Where is Ted Kennedy? The cacophonous silence on the part of Massachusetts' senior United States Senator in the thick of this health care battle -- an issue, we cannot fail to note, that has shaped nearly a half a century of public service -- is deafening. Of course, the Senator has been ill. Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last Spring, Senator Kennedy has been physically unable to do the legwork of championing the reformation of American health care. This has allowed the bill to be shaped by the more conservative members of the Senate Finance Committee, like Max Baucus. It is bitterly ironic that the issue that Kennedy was born to lead the fight over arrives at a moment where his health is at its most fragile." (AWEARNESSBlog)



"How worried are Goldman Sachs executives about their ability to manage the coming media tsunami when bonus season comes around? Paranoia might not be too strong a word to describe the mind-set. People inside Goldman tell me that some senior executives say they believe the onslaught of negative stories detailing Goldman’s manifold ties to upper levels of government, charges that it somehow fraudulently profited from the subprime crisis, and now the press about the firm’s record earnings is so out of proportion to reality that the coverage contains an element of anti-Semitism—subtly playing off the racist myth of a conspiracy of Jewish bankers controlling the world for their own benefit. (Goldman was founded by a Jewish immigrant, and after years of being run by Gentiles Jon Corzine and Hank Paulson, is once again run by a Jew, Lloyd Blankfein.)" (Charlie Gasparino/TheDailyBeast)



"Don Hewitt was every reporter's dream — a veritable quote machine. The irrepressible '60 Minutes' creator, who lost his battle against pancreatic cancer Wednesday at age 86, had absolute opinions about absolutely everything, and he delivered them with evangelical passion. Hewitt wasn't always right, but he was always certain. What else would you expect from a guy whom 91-year-old Mike Wallace liked to call 'kid?'" (TVNewser)



"PRINCESS Firyal of Jordan won't be cowed by the sons of her longtime boyfriend, Lionel Pincus, 78, who accuse her of extracting $62 million from the mentally incapacitated cancer patient. 'They lived together since 1996. She made him very happy. She was clearly the love of his life,' said one friend of the princess. The sons, Matthew and Henry, are suing to prevent Firyal from getting their father's $50 million apartment in the Pierre Hotel, and from inheriting more than $100 million from his future estate. 'Both sons have several, hundred-million trust funds their father set up for them. Plus, he gave them the Ram Island estate in Southampton and a ranch in Utah, which are each worth over $10 million,' said Firyal's friend. 'The point is, they've made her out to be a gold-digger, when they are both silver-spoon trust-funders.'" (PageSix)



(image via NYSD)

"At six in the evening I went down to the Paley Center for Media (originally called the Museum of Television and Radio) to see the new documentary by R.J. Cutler, 'The September Issue' about the making of the September 2007 Vogue. That issue was the magazine’s biggest ever. When I arrived, I ran into Boaz Mazor in the lobby talking to Grace Coddington, the magazine’s creative director. Boaz, who is the very successful longtime sales director of Oscar de la Renta, is as much a part of the fashion community as Coddington. He told me in front of her that the New York Post said Coddington was the real star of the movie. I’d never met Grace Coddington before although I’d seen her many times with Anna Wintour at the runway shows. She’s a striking figure because of her massive flaming coiffure, her pale-as-milk skin and the almost severe simplicity of her look. I am not a reader/follower of fashion magazines and so I really knew nothing about her or what she was like until we were introduced. She has a wide, bright, warm smile that tells you everything." (NYSocialDiary)



"Quentin Tarantino stopped by (The Howard Stern Show earlier this week) to promote 'Inglourious Basterds' and immediately had to answer for some of his confusing casting decisions. Quentin said he always had his reasons choosing some actors but didn't befriend them all: 'I'm very immature about that kind of a thing...you get close but you only see each other every couple of years. We don't go out and meet at the corner bar or anything like that.' Quentin refused to confirm or deny that he'd slept with Uma Thurman: 'I'm not going to talk about stuff like that.' He did admit to making out with Kathy Griffin. Quentin also admitted to banging Margaret Cho, calling her 'pretty crazy' and laughing that she wasn't the best sex he'd ever had. Howard commended Brad Pitt's performance in 'Inglourious Basterds' ('He's actually a great actor.') and asked how much Quentin paid him. Quentin wasn't specific, saying 'something like $9 million.'" (HowardStern)



"A. G. Sulzberger is about to get a new friend on the third floor of the Times newsroom! The Observer has learned that Sam Dolnick, a reporter for the Associated Press and grandnephew to former Times publisher Arthur Ochs 'Punch' Sulzberger, is joining the metro desk at The Times. His first day is September 14, a Times spokeswoman said. Mr. Dolnick most recently had been working in New Delhi for the Associated Press. His stories with New Delhi datelines stretch back to 2007. Back in 2001, when he was cutting his teeth as a reporter, he was an intern for The Village Voice's investigative writer Wayne Barrett. 'He’s really a sweet guy,' said Mr. Barrett. 'He came to me as a raw reporter. It was at the very start of his reporting career, but he really had the right instincts.'" (Observer)



(Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon via fashionweekdeaily)

"Charlotte Ronson and JCPenney successfully transformed a fĂȘte full of designers, models, actors and other chic elites into eager children licking cotton candy from their sticky fingers last night during the I Heart Ronson summer BBQ bash ... 'Family is absolutely what makes me happiest,' Charlotte gushed as she wiped her brow in the bayou-like heat. Her sister Samantha Ronson was the first to arrive, making a b-line for the DJ booth where she would join her brother Mark. Mother Ann Dexter-Jones and half-sister Annabelle Dexter-Jones followed shortly, completing the clan of support ..Mischa Barton, Hilary Duff, Sophia Bush, Sean Lennon, Eva Amurri, among others indulged in mini burgers, mac n'cheese and ice cream while wearing Charlotte's own confections." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Gee whizz, couldn’t someone have told me about it 19 years ago? Did I have to read it in Toby Young’s column? Someone should be held responsible, but who? It was only two weeks ago that I discovered that there is a scale of recognition in British public life—'an unofficial honours system’—and that Desert Island Discs is undoubtedly near the top. Hooray! Had I known, I would have done something about it. Such as snubbing slobs like the (Roman) Abramovich, (Sir Alan) Sugar and Green lot, not to mention parvenus like the Blairs." (Takimag)



"For those who say that comparing the current war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War is taking things too far, here's a reality check: It's not taking things far enough. From the origins of these North-South conflicts to the role of insurgents and the pointlessness of this week's Afghan presidential elections, it's impossible to ignore the similarities between these wars. The places and faces may have changed but the enemy is old and familiar. The sooner the United States recognizes this, the sooner it can stop making the same mistakes in Afghanistan. Even at first glance the structural parallels alone are sobering. Both Vietnam and Afghanistan (prior to the U.S. engagement there) had surprisingly defeated a European power in a guerrilla war that lasted a decade, followed by a largely north-south civil war which lasted another decade. Insurgents in both countries enjoyed the advantage of a long, trackless, and uncloseable border and sanctuary beyond it, where they maintained absolute political control. Both were land wars in Asia with logistics lines more than 9,000 miles long and extremely harsh terrain with few roads, which nullified U.S. advantages in ground mobility and artillery. Other key contributing factors bear a striking resemblance: Almost exactly 80 percent of the population of both countries was rural, and literacy hovered around 10 percent." (ForeignPolicy)



"The rich have been getting richer for so long that the trend has come to seem almost permanent. They began to pull away from everyone else in the 1970s. By 2006, income was more concentrated at the top than it had been since the late 1920s. The recent news about resurgent Wall Street pay has seemed to suggest that not even the Great Recession could reverse the rise in income inequality. But economists say — and data is beginning to show — that a significant change may in fact be under way. The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon. For every investment banker whose pay has recovered to its prerecession levels, there are several who have lost their jobs — as well as many wealthy investors who have lost millions. As a result, economists and other analysts say, a 30-year period in which the super-rich became both wealthier and more numerous may now be ending." (NYTimes)

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