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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"At the Cannes International Film Festival in May, in the loud, chaotic bar at the Martinez Hotel, Lee Daniels seemed, as he often does, both ecstatic and nervous. He jumped, he slumped, his mood changing from giddy to anxious. He was the only black man in the crowded bar, a fact that he mentioned and then brushed away. He was dressed unremarkably in a loose, untucked shirt and slouchy khaki pants, but his hair, an electric corona of six-inch fusilli-like spirals, demanded notice. Although Daniels will be 50 this year, he has the bouncy, mercurial energy of a child. The previous night, at the gala screening of his movie 'Precious,' which he directed and helped produce, he greeted the audience by saying, 'I’m a little homo, I’m a little Euro and I’m a little ghetto.' The crowd cheered. Daniels knows what he’s selling: his films combine street-smart bravado with an art-house sensibility. 'Precious,' the harrowing story of a 350-pound illiterate teenage girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father and horribly abused by her mother, is shot in an almost-documentary style interspersed with fantasy sequences. (It opens Nov. 6.)" (Lynn Hirschberg/NYTimes)



"Talib is a male student who is attending or who has graduated from a madrassa and can recite the Koran in Arabic by heart. To learn Arabic and use the language of the prophet to recite in rhythmic tones the entire Koran's 114 chapters and 6,236 verses takes about 10 years. And by the time a Talib graduates at 16, he knows little else, except that the Earth is flat as in a rug or a bed (mentioned many times in the holy book with one exception when it is described as egg-shaped). Most important in a Talib's one-dimensional education is the firm belief that America, India and Israel are mortal enemies of Islam. The original spark plug for Pakistan's 12,500 madrassas originated during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The idea, warmly endorsed by the United States and Saudi Arabia, was the erection of an ideological barrier against communist ideology." (Arnaud de Borchgrave)



"Last Thursday, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller delivered a speech to the paper's digital team at TheTimesCenter on West 41st Street, outlining several tasks and areas of focus for the next couple of months. Since Jon Landman became culture editor, and left behind his position as the liaison between the newsroom and the digital side, Mr. Keller and manging editor Jill Abramson have been getting a 'graduate education' on the digital side, sitting down with editors and developers both one-on-one and in teams, listening to suggestions, complaints and issues. He said their major decision is still whether or not the paper will charge online--which is certainly their most pressing one, as well." (Observer)



"A year ago, at the height of the financial panic, the world yearned for a profitable and confident financial sector. It now has what it wants, but hates it. As joblessness soars and the hopes of hundreds of millions of people are blighted, the financial sector’s survivors are thriving. Even bonuses are back. Policymakers have made a Faustian bargain. Success feels like failure. Yet success it has been. The stock market capitalisation of banks has recovered, to an enormous extent (see charts). This does more than indicate confidence in the future of the banks; it also facilitates the capital-raising the banks must do, particularly, argues the International Monetary Fund’s Global Financial Stability Report, in the eurozone. This recovery has been no accident. When central bank money is almost free, prices of risky assets are recovering and competitors have disappeared or are weakened, making money is a relatively simple matter for the strong survivors. With earnings recovering, can bonuses be far behind? Alas, no. According to a recent note from the London-based centre for economics and business research City bonuses will rise by 50 per cent this year, though will remain 40 cent below 2007 levels." (Martin Wolf/FT)



"Clarence Clemons stopped by (The Howard Stern Show) to promote his new book, 'Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales,' and explained the subtitle: "Some of it was made up, most of it is just bullshit.' Howard noted that Clarence met Bruce Springsteen in 1974, and Clarence nodded, explaining he felt an instant connection with his future E Street Band companion: 'When I first saw him, I knew it. I knew this was it' ... Howard read a quote from Clarence's book in which Redd Foxx told him to 'Watch Bruce Springsteen...just remember that he's white. I don't mean anything bad by that, but when he looks at the world, it's different.' Clarence laughed that he had paid the advice no mind: 'I was never shocked by anything Redd Foxx said. He was kinda pissed off at the world.'" (TheHowardSternShow)



"Considering 'My Dinner With Andre' had a principal cast of two, it wasn’t exactly a feat of logistics to reunite the stars for a screening at the SoHo House in Manhattan last night, as part of the club’s IN-House film series. Both Wallace Shawn and André Gregory were there, dressed in sweaters, looking very much like the tweedy, uptown sophisticates they play in the film, only a bit older. Shawn, pulled away from a deep conversation with the writer Edward Jay Epstein, spoke about the movie during a cocktail reception in the club’s library. The normally verbose playwright and actor had difficulty explaining why 'André,' which centers entirely around a conversation between two theater-world colleagues in a Manhattan restaurant, continues to hold such lasting appeal with audiences (a new Criterion Collection DVD edition was issued this summer). 'I can’t answer it,' Shawn said, adding that his own affection for the movie is tempered by the difficulty of watching a younger, thinly-veiled version of himself on screen. Does the film’s popularity have something to do with the kind of East Coast intellectual life it depicts?" (WSJ)



"WHEN SI NEWHOUSE, who is now 81 years old, went to Condé Nast in the early 1960s, the company was just a small part of the Advance Publications business, which his father had built. The newspaper side of the company was thought to be the more desirable one (Newhouse pere installed his son Donald at the head of it). But Si persevered to build Condé Nast into the force that it became, and in the process changed the magazine world forever ... 'Si is arguably the most knowledgeable guy in the history of American magazine publishing and global magazine publishing,' said Tom Wallace, Condé Nast’s editorial director. 'He is irrefutably the most successful' ... So can the Condé Nast of the future continue to look like the Condé Nast of the past? The company would say yes, although the confidence in that belief seems better suited to boom times than bust. The printed word will endure. Advertising will return. Profits can be what they were a few years ago. Perhaps, thanks to the company’s radical scaling back, some of those things will come true. But that doesn’t mean that Condé Nast will return to being the Si-inspired institution that has been so revered." (Observer)



"Bernie Madoff, cocaine kingpin? New additions to a lawsuit against the jailed Ponzi schemer charge that he presided over an office so fueled by the drug that it was known as the 'North Pole.' The suit, filed Tuesday night in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that Madoff, as far back as 1975, used two street toughs on his payroll to set up a cocaine pipeline into the offices of Madoff Securities. It portrays the firm's headquarters as an animal house with 'a culture of sexual deviance' that often hosted drug-fueled parties featuring topless waitresses who wore little more than G-strings. In addition to Madoff, the suit, which was originally filed in June, adds a host of new corporate defendants, including JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, the Bank of New York, Oppenheimer and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. It also reveals that Madoff shares a cell with a 21-year-old doing time for drug offenses and eats pizza prepared by a convicted child molester." (NYDN)



"Controversial Fox News host Glenn Beck is now travelling with an armed guard. Guests at the other day's preview of Broadway musical 'Memphis' noticed Beck was closely accompanied -- even to the men's room -- by a body guard with a gun partially con cealed under his jacket. Beck, who famously accused President Obama of being 'a racist,' tweeted after the show: 'Just got back from Memphis on Broadway. Amazing cast & music. 2 songs abt Hope & Change. rlly? Only 2?' A rep for Beck declined to comment." (PageSix)



"It’s a frigid October morning, and Donatella Versace has just slinked into the vast back room of a palatial suite at the Waldorf Astoria. She drops gracefully onto a gold settee and lights the latest of today’s cigarettes. Dressed all in black, the petite designer seems impossibly tiny in this enormous room—a grownup Eloise chain-smoking Marlboro Reds. She orders an orange juice with a straw and starts reminiscing about old friends, past trips to New York, the time she went horseback-riding and whitewater-rafting out West with Anna Wintour. She laughs a lot, youthfully. If you didn’t know she was a fashion legend and lifelong party girl just from looking at her, you would know from that laugh ... As for Sarah Palin: 'Honestly! What do I think of her? Nothing. Is that a good answer?'" (Rebecca Dana/TheDailyBeast)



"We're curious - is it George? Despite media reports to the contrary, George Stephanopoulos' coronation as new co-anchor of 'Good Morning America' is not a fait accompli, ABC insists. 'There is no frontrunner,' says network spokesman Jeffrey Schneider. 'It's not done, by any stretch of the imagination. We're taking our time to do it right.' What ignited another round of Stephanopoulos speculation was ABC's announcement that the moderator of 'This Week' would sit in for Diane Sawyer on 'GMA' today through Friday." (TVNewser)

"Last night the calendar in New York was overwhelming. For example: President Obama was in town speaking at a Democratic National Committee Healthcare Rally Event at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Over in the Alexey Brodovitch Gallery of the Hearst Tower Glenda Bailey, Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Stephen Gan, Creative Director of Bazaar, and Valerie Salembier, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Bazaar, hosted a preview of 'Andy Warhol; The Bazaar Years – 1951-1964' with a catalogue introduction by Charlie Sheips. Also ..." (NYSocialDiary)



"ON Tuesday night, New York's Saks Fifth Avenue celebrated the launch of Assouline's American Fashion Cookbook with a party at Café SFA that drew Charles Nolan, Richard Lambertson, Selima Salaun, Yeohlee Teng, Stan Herman and Diane von Furstenberg, all of whom came out to sample Elie Tahari's Lamb Chop with Mint Sauce, Victor Costa's Vidalia Onion Crustless Tart and Zac Posen's Butterscotch Wafers, among other designer delectables. 'Food and fashion both start with an 'f,' said von Furstenberg with a laugh. 'And all designers love to cook!'" (Vogue)

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