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Monday, August 10, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The President's health agenda needs a boost, and the nationally televised prime-time address from his Oval Office desk is about all that's left in Barack Obama's public relations tool box. He's tried everything else -- press conferences, town halls, television interviews -- but the anti-reform message machine is outflanking him. Democratic lawmakers are getting hammered in town halls by organized gangs of diversionary protesters. Polls show a near-even split over his initiative, and growing fear about higher taxes to pay for it .. But the president's approval ratings are drifting down along with prospects for his health legislation. He needs a bonding moment with the whole country to make a forceful case. The Oval Office address offers that opportunity and, if it rallies demonstrable support, sends a clear signal to lawmakers that there are political risks in opposing him." (Craig Crawford/CQPolitics)



"With a big pricetag of $175 million, and bad buzz preceding it, Paramount's G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra seemed certain to tank. Then the Stephen Sommers- directed pic came on tracking with incredibly high awareness among males. Now, despite all the sniping and snarking, it's the 2nd biggest August domestic opener for a non-sequel, and a $100M worldwide hit -- giving Paramount three big summer movies (+ Star Trek and Transformers 2). But what the studio predicted this AM to be a $60M North American weekend turned into a mojo-losing $56.2M opener. G.I. Joe earned $22.2M Friday but dropped -16% for only $18.2M Saturday despite a huge release into 4,007 theaters. The pic even made a B+ CinemaScore (A- for under 18). This would be a great result if the film weren't so expensive." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)



"Hot sunny weekend in New York. The rumor going around is that Sarah Palin, the now ex-governor of Alaska, has been looking at real estate in the Hamptons and is considering three different properties in Hampton Bays. The presumed projection is that Ms. Palin is going to write a multi-million dollar best seller, then have a talk radio show and then will rally the troops and run against Obama in 2012. Supposedly she resigned her office because she found out she could make a lot of money and great political strides in the aforementioned way. If so, she will be the first governor of a state in the history of the Republic to leave office before it was over so that she could make a bundle and prepare for the Presidency." (NYSocialDiary)



"Frank DiPascali, the finance chief at Bernard Madoff’s investment advisory business who agreed to plead guilty, could help prosecutors build criminal cases against other players in his boss’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme. DiPascali, 52, is scheduled to enter his plea tomorrow in federal court in Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin told a judge in an Aug. 8 letter that didn’t specify the charges. DiPascali would waive indictment and plead guilty, which signals to lawyers that he is cooperating to lessen his prison term. 'I believe he’s cooperating,' said John J. Fahy, a former federal prosecutor not involved in the case. 'He would be very valuable to the government because he has been close to Madoff for so many years and had to have seen some of the fraudulent transactions that went on. From what we know of Madoff, he trusted very few people.' Madoff, 71, is serving a 150-year prison term after pleading guilty to running the largest fraud to pay early clients with money from new investors. Madoff’s failure to identify accomplices or substantially help the receiver locating assets of his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, makes DiPascali valuable, said attorney Andrew Hruska." (Bloomberg)

"Republican congressman-turned-television host Joe Scarborough—a native Alabaman who represented Pensacola, Florida for three terms in the 1990s—notes that for at least the past 20 years, the GOP has fought and often won national campaigns by stressing cultural and social wedge issues that are still red meat in the South but damaged goods almost everywhere else. The divisive tactics date back even earlier, to Richard Nixon’s vaunted 'Southern Strategy' of 1968, which appealed to Southern whites, especially Democrats and Independents, who resented and feared the social turmoil of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. But that, Scarborough points out, 'is a 50.1 percent strategy' that tends to succeed, if at all, on the margins. 'Forget ideology,' Scarborough says. 'If you were an independent that’s not overly ideological in New Hampshire or Maine, are you going to really be attracted to a party whose leaders have been George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and Lee Atwater? Culturally, no! It’s a party of Texas, it’s a party of Georgia. It’s a party that is culturally disconnected from New England, from the Midwest, and from the Pacific Northwest.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"Frank Langella will join the cast of 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,' the Oliver Stone-directed sequel for 20th Century Fox. Shia LaBeouf stars with Michael Douglas, who'll reprise his Gordon Gekko role. Josh Brolin is reportedly circling a part in the Allan Loeb-scripted drama as well. Langella is in talks to play Lewis Zabel, an old-time broker who mentors LaBeouf's character, a young Wall Street broker. The mentor's fate plays a major part in the film's plot." (Variety)



"I had never had to say I was different. My mom started asking when I was 12, 'Is there anything you want to tell me?' I then told her I was bisexual. And she said, 'You’re so trendy, but you are not bisexual, you are gay.' She cut to the chase. What can I say?" (Michael Kors/VanityFair)



"NBC’s Thursday night was once known as 'Must See TV,' but perhaps that distinction now belongs to its cable cousin USA. It’s become the king of Thursday on cable. Last week at 8 p.m. the season finale of 'Burn Notice' averaged 7.6 million total viewers, 2.8 million viewers 18-49 and 3.5 million 25-54s, giving it series records in all three demos and making it the most-watched scripted series program this summer on cable as well as the most-watched scripted show in USA history. Meanwhile, 'Burn’s' 9 p.m. lead-out 'Royal Pains' averaged 6.7 million total viewers and 3.0 million 25-54s, also series records. For the night USA averaged more than 2 million viewers 18-49, making it the top cable network in the demo and also finishing ahead of broadcast networks ABC and NBC. The pair of shows gave the network its best Thursday night ever among total viewers (6.2 million) and 25-54s (2.7 million), and its top overall night among 25-54s since July 15, 2006, when it aired the movie 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.'" (Medialifemagazine)



"Rhode Island, a state known for its idiosyncrasies in voting, may elect its first independent governor next year. If former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who now has no party affiliation, gets in the race, campaign strategy will become more complicated for both Democrats and Republicans. Chafee enjoyed some popularity as a Republican — in a state that usually elects Democrats to the House and the Senate — by voters who had shown years of loyalty to another Republican: his father, four-term Sen. John H. Chafee, who died in 1999. The younger Chafee was appointed to complete his father’s Senate term, then won a full six-year term in 2000. A moderate who often split from his GOP colleagues on such issues as reproductive rights and the Iraq War, he enjoyed healthy approval ratings, but got swept up in the anti-Republican sentiment of the 2006 midterm elections and lost to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse." (CQPolitics)



"It is no exaggeration to say that what is at stake in the break caused by Iraq is the future of the transatlantic West. The contributors to The End of the West? disagree among themselves over just what caused the rift and whether it can be bridged. Charles Kupchan argues that the divide is deep and structural, while Henry Nau attributes it to the vagaries of partisan politics in each camp -- a hypothesis that might be tested by how the alliance fares during the more Europe-friendly Obama administration. Kathleen McNamara and Jens van Scherpenberg argue that economic interdependence will not be enough to sustain the alliance, and Thomas Risse ponders what a real split might look like." (ForeignAffairs)



"Saturday night were the Teen Choice Awards, and it’s no surprise that the celebrities came out en masse: after all, there are no fans quite as fervent as teen fans. The Gossip Girl Cast, The Twilight Cast (who isn’t in Twilight, by the way?), The Black Eyed Peas, and Disney Channel Princesses all made appearances, but the crown jewel was definitely Britney Spears, who was presented with the Ultimate Choice Award. We would say that this marks the culmination of a successful comeback for the pop-princess, but let’s face it: comeback? She’s had this demographic in her pocket the whole time." (Guestofaguest)



"On Saturday, Aug. 8, East Hampton's Main Street was packed with people making their way to the Fifth Annual Authors Night at the East Hampton Library. So long was the line of parked cars that one of the presenting authors, Allen Planz, an elderly poet and charter captain, sprawled himself out on the sidewalk, shoe in hand, taking a rest before continuing on to the event. The library party was comprised of a large tent about 50 yards in length with two long rows of white covered tables, behind which authors sat, signing their books. It was crowded thick with shoppers and spectators .. Inside the tent was the actor Alec Baldwin, signing whatever he is handed and yakking with Anne Heche, who was making her way down the line of writers. He’s currently reading a book called Hunting Eichmann, and said that the literary theme that best represents his life is 'It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. No, that’s a movie, actually. I wouldn’t know what to say. Something Dickensian.' Barbara Walters tapped him on the shoulder from behind and they said hello as a large crowd surrounded them. Ms. Walters said she was reading Crime and Punishment for the first time since she 'was a kid, a hundred years ago. It’s not exactly summer reading, but I’m going to try.' When I ask her what literary theme might be represented in her life, she says, 'No, I can’t play these games. My life was a book and I wrote an autobiography.' I shrank away to where Candace Bushnell was sitting and signing." (Observer)

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