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Monday, October 19, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Under heavy international pressure, President Hamid Karzai conceded Tuesday that he fell short of a first-round victory in the nation’s disputed presidential election, and agreed to hold a runoff election with his top challenger on Nov. 7. Flanked at a news conference in Kabul by Senator John Kerry, the head of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Kai Eide, the top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said he would accept the findings of an international audit that stripped him of nearly one-third of his votes in the first round, leaving him below the 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a runoff and declare victory over his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. 'I call upon this country to take this as an opportunity to move this country forward and participate in this new round of elections,' Mr. Karzai said, according to the English translation of his remarks, adding that he was grateful to the international community for its help." (NYTimes)



"In an interview with the Times of London, Bill Murray excitedly discussed his new film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and also revisited some less-than-happy memories of movies past. After raving about his Mr. Fox director, Wes Anderson, Murray was asked about some other directors he had worked with over the years. And when the conversation circled around to his Charlie’s Angels director, McG, the funnyman went to a very dark place. When asked about McG’s recent claim that Murray had head-butted him on the set of 2000’s Charlie’s Angels during a creative flair-up, Murray replied, 'That’s bulls—! That’s complete crap!' The 59-year-old actor then added, 'I don’t know why he made that story up. He has a very active imagination … No! He deserves to die!' Then Murray gets specific (and creative) as to how McG should, in fact, meet his demise. 'He should be pierced with a lance, not head-butted.'" (Popwatch)



"On 'Good Morning America,' ABC News' Kate Snow will be the first American journalist to report from inside Balmoral Castle of Scotland, which is the summer home of the Queen of England. 'GMA' will air the live report tomorrow." (TvNewser)



"According to Tracy Morgan's new book, the comic was dissed and patronized by his white costars on Saturday Night Live way back in the golden age. 'I had my finger on the pulse of urban comedy,' Morgan relates, but alas, the other SNL stars just didn't get it and couldn't manage to see his stellar future (though he concedes that Tina Fey was up in there and pretty cool about it). And where did their refusal to latch on to Morgan's blinding brilliance get these wannabe superstars? Nowhere, he gloats. 'Where's Chris Kattan now? Where's Cher Oteri now? That bitch can't even get arested!' Of course Morgan can--for DUI." (Musto)



"The U.S. increasingly displays characteristics that we have seen many times in middle-income 'emerging markets'--new dimensions of vast inequality, forms of financial instability that benefit the best connected, and consistently easy credit for the privileged. But this raises the question: Who exactly is going to dominate our economic and political landscape moving forward? In most emerging markets, a major crisis means that some powerful people and their firms fall from grace. After the Asian Financial Crisis (1997-98), some of the biggest Korean chaebol disappeared or broke up, numerous Thai bankers lost their top positions, and there was a discreet reshuffle among the Malaysian business elite. Russian oligarchs rise and fall with the price of oil; the process in Ukraine is similar, although somewhat murkier. With every sharp turn of the cycle, new people rise to the front--taking advantage of low asset prices and the fact that most people struggle to borrow on reasonable terms. In Mexico, after the crisis of 1994-95, Carlos Slim consolidated his position in telecoms and used this as a launching pad to become one of the world’s richest people. Three sets of players look positioned to do the same in the U.S. today, mostly based on the amazing set of “carry trades” available if you have access to large amounts of cheap short-term funding (e.g., along the yield curve, from dollars into other currencies, and--arguably--into equity in some parts of the world)." (TNR)



"She's been working up to four days a week, bringing in $1,000 for every boy-girl scene, $800 for a girl-on-girl scene, and about $1,200 for anything with more than one partner. She earns $500 for a day of dialogue. San Dimas estimates she has earned more than $30,000 since they moved to L.A. Her days vary from high-class feature movies for Penthouse, to internet videos for MonstersofCock.com, to a PlayStation 3 commercial with Ron Jeremy. The full-time regular work with the same companies means the men she has sex with have now become repeats. San Dimas estimates she has had sex with 25 to 30 guys on camera, but her total isn't likely to skyrocket as she gets more work. Most companies use a small selection of male talent in all of their features ... Offers for work vary from week to week, but her agent adheres to her 'No' list: No anal, no hardcore bondage, 'nothing super degrading,' she says." (CityPages)



"Tom Ford hosted yet another screening of A Single Man during the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival in London and all early reviews point to the same exciting conclusion…the designer might, in fact, land at the Kodak Theater come Oscar time as a nominee. This confirms what countless blogs and sites have been chatting about for months; Ford can very well become the very first Oscar winner with his own CFDA statue. Sure, this is ambitious, but so is Ford’s career path." (Fashionweekdaily)



"The euro has become a currency on steroids. Its relentless nominal and real appreciation since the end of 2000 was briefly interrupted in the second half of 2008, but resumed with a vengeance during 2009. The strength of the currency is hurting the exporting and import-competing sectors of the Euro Area. Unemployment and excess capacity continue to rise. The euro’s excessive strength is also contributing to a significant and persistent undershooting of the rate of inflation the ECB deems to be consistent with price stability in the medium term: headline HICP inflation in December 2008 was 1.60 percent in December 2008, hit zero in May 2009 and has been negative since then." (FT)



"The old soldier’s eyes are open. Sometimes he’s propped up in front of a TV, where images of nature and animals, especially cows, flicker across the screen. His family tells him the day’s news, the goings on at his beloved farm. They read to him, alternating between two books at a time, just as he used to do for himself. They play classical music. When his white hair grows long, they trim it. And once in a while, when someone tells him to move a toe, he does. Whether Ariel Sharon takes in any of this activity, no one knows for sure. Because Israel’s once-robust prime minister and legendary battlefield hero—the decorated warrior, the controversial hawk and finally, beginning in 2001, the centrist prime minister who transformed the political landscape—has been in a coma for nearly four years, felled by a massive stroke. While not brain-dead, the 81 year old exists in a persistent vegetative state. He generally breathes on his own, but must be fed by a tube. He cannot speak, walk, or think. Probably." (Lynn Sherr/TheDailyBeast)



"The Whitney Museum of American Art hosted its annual Gala and Studio Party last night. The evening began with a black tie dinner. At 9 p.m., the mood lightened and more guests streamed in the front door past a gaggle of photographers, and moved downstairs to the Lower Gallery for the Studio Party. The crowd grew larger and more impenetrable as the night wore on, and with a DJ playing upbeat dance music, the museum began to feel more like a nightclub than a vaunted art institution. Lindsay Lohan arrived around 11 p.m.; she was so accosted by photographers that event staff had to step in to prevent the aggressive shutterbugs from following her downstairs." (NYSocialDiary)



"Last night, Rag & Bone celebrated the opening of a new SoHo store. Guests and fans including Sienna Miller and Euan Rellie congratulated the label’s designers, Marcus Wainwright and David Nevill, on hand for the event. Already a staple in NYC’s department stores, the West Village and some uniforms at a few Jason Pomeranc hotels, the new location is a welcome addition the shopping stops where we search out our city threads." (GuestofaGuest)



"Howard Stern Show co-host Artie Lange made a 'triumphant' return live on Tuesday morning. Artie Lange attributed his four days of missed work on The Howard Stern Show to a "mini nervous breakdown.' Artie Lange sounded chipper as he told the story of his week in bed as The Howard Stern Show rolled on without him. 'What’s up guys? How ya doin? I just want to say I love all you guys,' said Artie Lange after a short introduction from Howard. Artie Lange explained that he had been "feeling better" for a while and then met up with a 'perfect storm' of anxiety and depression after he participated in a benefit for a quadrapelegic. Lange says he was reminded of his quadrapelegic father, and was doubly depressed when he reached age 42--the same age that his father was after his disabling accident. Artie Lange says that he essentially paralyzed himself and set himself into a week long panic attack." (Examiner)



"Industrial designer Marc Newson and his fashion stylist wife, Charlotte Stockdale, opened up their London house last night to art and fashion world types in town for Frieze for a celebration of T magazine's Anglomaniacs issue. 'I love fairs like this,' said Angela Missoni, who brought children Teresa and Francesco in from Milan. 'They reinvigorate me and my work.' The evening's host, Nadja Swarovski, admitted she hadn't made it to Frieze yet—'but I figured I would be getting some good art in tonight' ... Let's just say the most G-rated part was Gareth Pugh giving Katie Grand a whipping outside the marble bathroom." (Style)



"Warner Bros.' 'Where the Wild Things Are' topped the domestic box office in a wild and woolly October weekend that saw a number of films thrive, driving ticket sales up as much as 40% over the same frame last year. The Spike Jonze-helmed 'Wild Things,' based on Maurice Sendak's children's classic book, played more like an adult movie than a family pic, grossing an estimated $32.5 million from 3,735 theaters. Overture Films saw its biggest opening yet with Jamie Foxx-Gerard Butler starrer 'Law Abiding Citizen,' which took an estimated $21.3 million from 2,890 to place No. 2. Sony/Screen Gems' 'The Stepfather,' the weekend's third nationwide opener, bowed to an estimated $12.3 million from 2,734 to place No. 5 behind Paramount's sleeper hit "Paranormal Activity" and Universal laffer 'Couples Retreat.' 'Paranormal Activity' took the No. 3 spot with $20.2 million as it expanded to 760 theaters in its fourth weekend, posting a 155% uptick and a boffo per-screen average of $26,530. Par's micro-budgeted pic has cumed an estimated $33.7 million, and the studio plans to expand to some 1,800 locations starting next weekend." (Variety)



"Every weekday at 8:35 a.m., Galleon Group’s 70 analysts, portfolio managers and traders pack into a conference room on the 34th floor of the IBM Building, a gray- green polished granite skyscraper on New York’s Madison Avenue. Tardy arrivals are fined $25. At the head of the table, Chief Executive Officer Raj Rajaratnam fires off questions to the staff of his $3.7 billion hedge fund firm: Which companies’ margins are peaking? What would change your mind about this stock? What’s the risk of that company failing to win an expected contract? The 52-year-old billionaire expects his analysts to have an edge: better information than anyone else, say people who have attended the meetings. U.S. prosecutors allege that Rajaratnam’s own edge was illegal. He was arrested on Oct. 16 at his home on Manhattan’s Sutton Place, charged with using inside information to trade shares including Google Inc., Polycom Inc., Hilton Hotels Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., according to complaints. Five other defendants also were arrested in New York and California in a $20 million scheme that prosecutors say is the largest-ever insider trading case involving hedge funds. 'Every trader wants an edge, and there are many gray areas when it comes to aggressive research,' said Ron Geffner, a lawyer at New York-based Sadis & Goldberg LLP, whose clients include hedge funds." (Bloomberg)



"Beyond the red carpets and talk shows, Oscar buzz and celebrity cameos, Precious remains rooted in two key figures: its titular protagonist Claireece Precious Jones and Sapphire herself. Precious, the character, is a flow-chart of human misery achingly brought to the screen by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. Raped from infancy by her father and horrifically abused by her shut-in mother, Precious is barely educated, woefully overweight, and pregnant (for the second time) via incest at 16 years old. Slipping through the cracks of a social services system fated to fail her, she is taunted for her size, teased for her dark skin, and nearly tossed aside for her lack of schooling. But mostly, Precious is invisible – a faceless, voiceless outlet for her father’s lust, her mother’s rage, and a crack-fueled 1980s culture of expendability." (TheDailyBeast)



"When A Moveable Feast was published in 1964, I had been living in Paris for six years. I was 27 and in love with Papa Hemingway’s favorite city, one that he described as 'a mistress who always has new lovers.' One didn’t speak this way back then, but the book really blew my mind. Totally. Papa had died three years before that, and reading his obituaries, I had decided to follow the writing life, despite the fact that I had failed English in school and—according to my father—was incapable of writing a coherent letter asking for money. Obituaries have a tendency to concentrate the mind." (TakiTheodocrapoulos/Takimag)



"It just may have been the most enticing job posting ever, certainly to a subset of stoners. 'Do you have a medical condition that necessitates marijuana? Do you have a way with words? If so, Westword wants you to join the ranks as our freelance marijuana-dispensary reviewer.' Since then, Westword, the Denver-area alternative weekly, has received hundreds of resumes from potential reviewers, a surprising number of whom are actually qualified candidates (the rest are just high). Everyone from The New York Times to the Wall Street Journal has run stories about the ad, and editor Patricia Calhoun addressed the media storm of attention in a humorous blog entry earlier this month, noting that despite the myriad investigative pieces Westword has done in the past, "all those journalistic scoops are just so much smoke compared to the attention attracted by an ad we posted on the web last week — for a medical marijuana dispensary reviewer.'" (Medialifemagaine)



"Baltimore may be called Charm City, but for WBAL -- the local television station that carries NBC's 'The Jay Leno Show' -- there isn't much to smile about lately. Usually, WBAL is in a neck-and-neck race for viewers against arch rival WJZ. But since NBC debuted 'The Jay Leno Show' in prime time five weeks ago, the station's 11 p.m. newscast -- where silver-haired Rod Daniels' 25-year run as anchor is the longest in Baltimore history -- has been shellacked in the ratings. Now WBAL is a distant second. Call it the Leno effect. NBC's controversial decision to shift the late-night talk show host to 10 p.m. has been billed as a savvy business move that enabled NBC to substitute a low-cost talk show for expensive scripted dramas. But now it's playing havoc with many of NBC's more than 200 affiliates, where Leno's weaker 'lead-in' is undermining audiences of 11 p.m. newscasts. News programs are crucial for local stations, which draw upon them for a third of their revenue." (LATimes via TVNewser)



(Scott Goodwin, Miranda Raab, Jennifer Raab, and Michael Goodwin via JH/NYSD)

"I wasn’t able to get up to Riverdale to the 60th birthday party for Michael Goodwin given by his wife Jennifer Raab. But JH got there. Mr. Goodwin and Ms. Raab are friends we made a couple or three years ago about this time in Abu Dhabi ... Mr. Goodwin is a political pundit who once had his own column in the New York Daily News and a regular guest on Lou Dobb’s show on CNN. He has now has gone over to the other side, so to speak, with a Whole Page to himself in the New York Post. From left to right, you could say, less a sea change however, and more a kind of journalistic sleight of hand which most journalists possess especially in the face of a steady paycheck." (NYSocialDiary)



"The Roundabout Theater company celebrated the opening night of hit musical Bye Bye Birdie Thursday night for an excited audience including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Howard Stern with Beth Ostrosky, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jonathan Kirk, and many more at the newly renovated Henry Miller’s Theater. The bar was set high as last night marked the first New York City revival of the film in over 50 years with a cast featuring the talent of newcomers Nolan Gerard Funk and Allie Trimm along with Broadway veteran Bill Irwin and TV star John Stamos. Yep, Full House’s Uncle Jesse made it to Broadway ..." (Guestofaguest)



"Norman Pearlstine, best known as the former editor-in-chief of Time Magazine, has been chief content officer for Bloomberg LP since June 2008. Last week Bloomberg bought BusinessWeek for a reported $2 million-$5 million, a bold gesture of support for newsprint at a time when venerated titles like Gourmet are being shuttered, and magazine ad pages are in a downward spiral. Pearlstine got grilled by TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman. TheWrap: Everyone else is getting out of print. What do you know that everybody else doesn’t know? Norman Pearlstine: ... The two interesting business stories have been The Economist, which has doubled its circulation to 1.3 million and 850,000 in the U.S. And the renewal rate is $116. And The Week’s U.S. circulation is around 550,000. And when I went online to get a subscription, it cost me $50. Meanwhile, I”ve been offered Fortune for $10. And Time and Newsweek for mid-$20s. BusinessWeek is $34 on average. It’s a very difficult equation, but if we can really be committed to a true weekly with expanded coverage, we can make that transition from the BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune set." (TheWrap)

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