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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"It's George Clooney like you've never seen him: immensely charming but vulnerable in ways never before displayed on the screen. That's the consensus on the sublime 'Up in the Air,' which wowed the press at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday in advance of its red-carpet premiere here tonight. Clooney gives the performance of his career as a slick corporate downsizer whose sole interest in life -- besides one-night stands -- is accumulating 10 million frequent-flier miles from American Airlines as he crisscrosses the US as a hired hatchet man ... Since "The Perfect Storm" nine years ago, the preternaturally handsome star has not had a major moneymaker outside the 'Ocean's 11' ensemble comedies. That may change with 'Up in the Air,' which taps straight into the recession zeitgeist in an awards-friendly way but still manages to be enormously entertaining for date-night crowds ... Clooney, who reportedly serenaded a woman at a Toronto restaurant Thursday night on her birthday, is also here with the wonderfully goofy 'The Men Who Stare at Goats,' the directorial debut of his longtime producing partner, Grant Heslov." (NYPost)



"As President Barack Obama relentlessly speechifies his way toward the close of his first year in office, world trouble spots are poised to give him more trouble. If the past eight months were full of international thrills, the next ones are more likely to teem with spills. It should be said that the blame for almost all of these foreign crises-to-be will rest not with him. Rather, the fault will reside mainly with the foreign perpetrators themselves and also with the Bush administration’s poor policies. But when you’re in the White House and you’re the president, it’s always your fault. That said, better to be president of the United States than top dog in China, India, France or wherever. Washington still matters most of all major powers by far, and the world still will be looking to President Obama to tame the whirlwinds ahead." (TheDailyBeast)



"Sandra (Bernhard) told (Howard Stern) crew about being offered the role of Miranda on 'Sex and the City': 'When I was offered the role, they were paying everyone $7500 a week. The script – the original script? Was horrible.' Sandra added: 'I'm gonna play third/fourth fiddle to Sarah Jessica Parker and put up with her shit? It would be hideous to work with her. Ask any of the women that were on that show.'" (HowardStern)



"With the statement of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserting that his country would not support sanctions against Iran and his dismissal of U.S. calls for a negotiating timetable with that country, several important questions are raised. They are: First, how do you like your Iranian nukes? Fried or over-easy? In other words, without sanctions Iran's program progresses. That leaves two choices: Israel steps up and takes military action to set back the program or second, we simply roll-over and get used to the world's largest state-sponsor of terror producing the nuclear weapons the U.S. intel community now believes they are capable of making. My sense is that the risk of Israeli military moves just went up dramatically ... and it was pretty high to begin with." (ForeignPolicy)



"Yesterday there were two very important memorials in New York. The first was for Dominick Dunne at 2:30 at St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church on 66th and Lexington, and the second was for Charles Gwathmey, the American modern architect who was not only prominent in his field but also prominent in his community as a professional but also as a friend. The Gwathmey memorial was held at the Metropolitan Museum at 6:30. Both services involved several eulogies. Six for Dunne and eleven for Gwathmey .. After Griffin Dunne came Tina Brown who first hired Dominick to write for Vanity Fair in the early 1980s when he was first back in New York trying to put his life back together again. Tina recalled the pleasure of working with the man, and the excitement they shared in creating the articles. Tina Brown has a very efficient personality and it is not one which publicly would be associated with any kind of emotion, but yesterday afternoon her voice cracked, broke and rumbled when she finished up her memory and bid her friend Goodbye." (NYSocialDiary)



"In July, President Obama met for 45 minutes with leaders of American Jewish organizations. All presidents meet with Israel’s advocates. Obama, however, had taken his time, and powerhouse figures of the Jewish community were grumbling; Obama’s coolness seemed to be of a piece with his willingness to publicly pressure Israel to freeze the growth of its settlements and with what was deemed his excessive solicitude toward the plight of the Palestinians. During the July meeting, held in the Roosevelt Room, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told Obama that 'public disharmony between Israel and the U.S. is beneficial to neither” and that differences 'should be dealt with directly by the parties.' The president, according to Hoenlein, leaned back in his chair and said: 'I disagree. We had eight years of no daylight' — between George W. Bush and successive Israeli governments — 'and no progress.' It is safe to say that at least one participant in the meeting enjoyed this exchange immensely: Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder and executive director of J Street, a year-old lobbying group with progressive views on Israel. Some of the mainstream groups vehemently protested the White House decision to invite J Street, which they regard as a marginal organization located well beyond the consensus that they themselves seek to enforce. But J Street shares the Obama administration’s agenda, and the invitation stayed." (NYTimesMagazine)

"Graham Taylor, agent and true believer, is the last of the great cheerleaders of the independent film industry. Either that or he’s the among the first to see the start of a robust return to viability with interest from capital, smart producers and companies with libraries to sell. 'The whole independent film space is ripe for change,' he says, chain-smoking (brave!) outside the Four Seasons in Toronto. We knew that. But Taylor has a notion how. The agent now runs the newly-merged William Morris Endeavor independent film division, having displaced longtime indie world agents Cassian Elwes and Rena Ronson, who were ousted by the agency’s board after the two agencies merged earlier this year. Taylor’s approach to the independent film business differes from the volume sales approach that once allowed such hard-sellers as Cinetic’s John Sloss to dominate festivals with a long list of films for sale that he would leverage in bidding wars among distributors. With so few distributors left, and an indie world left struggling for air, this approach can no longer suffice." (TheWrap)

"Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, dined Wednesday night in a back room at Almond on East 22nd Street with Laura Ling, one of the two reporters the former president helped free from North Korea last month, and Laura's sister, Lisa Ling, who used to be on 'The View.' 'When they finished, Bill went in to thank the kitchen, and he got a standing ovation from the other diners,' said our witness." (NYPost)

"As we approach this anniversary, though, I’ve begun to question that conventional wisdom. Yes, the fall of Lehman Brothers set off a contagion of panic. And I’m still convinced that Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke could have found a way to save Lehman had they been so inclined (more on that in a moment). But I’ve become convinced that, if Lehman had been saved, the collapse would have occurred anyway. John H. Makin, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote recently, 'If the Lehman Brothers’ failure had not triggered the panic phase of the cycle, some other institutional failure would have done so.' I’ll go a step further: it is quite likely that the financial crisis would have been even worse had Lehman been rescued. Although nobody realized it at the time, Lehman Brothers had to die for the rest of Wall Street to live." (NYTimes)



"indieWIRE has an exclusive clip from Harmony Korine’s ('Gummo,' 'Mister Lonely') latest, 'Trash Humpers,' which, crazily enough, delivers pretty literally on the film’s title. Shot in an ultra lo-fi aesthetic in Korine’s hometown of Nashville, the film is set to premiere tomorrow, September 12, at the Toronto International Film Festival. According to TIFF: 'A film unearthed from the buried landscape of the American nightmare, ‘Trash Humpers’ follows a small group of elderly ‘Peeping Toms’ through the shadows and margins of an unfamiliar world. Crudely documented by the participants themselves, we follow the debased and shocking actions of a group of true sociopaths the likes of which have never been seen before. Inhabiting a world of broken dreams and beyond the limits of morality, they crash against a torn and frayed America. Bordering on an ode to vandalism, it is a new type of horror—palpable and raw.'" (IndieWIRE)

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