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Friday, November 13, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"What should we make of the news that President Obama is still not happy with the proposed strategy for Afghanistan, and that his doubts are being reinforced by a skeptical report from retired general Karl Eikenberry, who is now the U.S. ambassador in Kabul? .. First, I think it's a sign that deep down, Obama knows he has no good options. He’s figured out that the stakes aren’t as great as he may have once thought, that the commitment is potentially endless, that we have no local partner for the kind of centralized, 'state-building' approach that remains at the heart of U.S. strategy, and that going all in will commit him to a war we won't win. No wonder he keeps looking for an alternative. Second, he's painted himself into a corner with his earlier tough talk, and he’s worried that the GOP and FoxNews and various armchair generals will all accuse him of appeasement if he gives McChrystal anything less than what the general asked for, or if he dares to put a time limit on a continued U.S. effort. So all those recent news stories stressing how seriously Obama is taking this and how much he’s grilling his advisors are designed to convince us that he’s looked really, really hard at all the options. The goal is to build support for whatever decision he ultimately makes, even if everyone secretly knows it’s not likely to work. Third, this is an issue where Obama's instinct for compromise and his natural gift for reconciling conflicting positions is not serving him well. Given the range of problems that the United States is facing at home and abroad, bold action is badly needed." (ForeignPolicy)



"Howard (Stern) played some more audio and Charla was talking about having another incident where the chimp had attacked her. Oprah then told Charla what she looks like and described her since Charla can't see. Oprah said it must have been horrifying for her to realize what had happened ...Howard played more of the audio of Oprah describing this woman's face to her. She was talking about the bulbous nose she has and how they created it. Charla can't breath through that nose. They were able to create a mouth for her too. Howard said he can't watch stuff like that on TV. He said he feels so bad for that woman. Robin couldn't believe that she was going on TV. Howard said no one should be able to own a monkey. Robin agreed ... Howard said Oprah got to wipe Charla's eyes during the interview. Gary said that they said that Charla was going to expose her face on her terms. They really milked that and saved it for after a commercial break. Howard said that's great work on Oprah's part. He said that's the tease to keep people tuned in." (Marksfriggin)



(Andy Warhol, Self Portrait 1965 via artnet)

"It was just another day in the art market at the evening sale of contemporary art at Sotheby’s New York on Nov. 11, 2009 -- though admittedly it was a pretty good day. Sotheby’s sold 52 of 54 lots, or more than 96 percent, for a total of $134,438,000 with premium. The sum is well above the $74.1 million total at Christie’s New York the night before, and a bit more than the $125 million Sotheby’s did in May 2009, when we were less far along in our jobless economic recovery .. The sale’s star lot, Andy Warhol’s 200 One Dollar Bills (1962) -- one big-time dealer predicted, mistakenly, that the auction would be a 'one-lot sale' -- opened at $6 million, and steadily moved in $1 million jumps up to a total of $39 million at the hammer, or $43,762,500 with premium .. One winner in the room was London jeweler Lawrence Graff, a big auction player, who purchased the much-ballyhooed Warhol Self-Portrait from 1965, which had sat in the Pop artist’s one-time secretary’s closet for several decades, for $6,130,500. Graff was sitting in the front row beside an enthusiastically beaming Tony Shafrazi, who was flanked on his other side by Hollywood mogul Mike Ovitz. Also in the front row, in their usual aisle spots, were Valentino and his partner, Giancarlo Giammetti (any reader who has not yet seen the documentary about these two men, The Last Emperor, is urged to do so). With Giammetti bidding -- Valentino never touches money -- the two won David Hockney’s early painting, California Art Collector (1964), for $5,458,500 ('They let you in their homes,' Hockney remarked, 'but you never see the husbands.')" (ArtNet)



"The blizzard in Yosemite came thick and fast, yet the two outdoorsmen were glad to be at Sentinel Dome. Ignoring the five feet of snow already on the ground, they built a base camp with a bed of ferns and cedar boughs. One of the men grabbed a flaming branch from the bonfire to ignite a nearby dead pine, and merrily danced a Scottish jig when the tree went up with a roar. Unable to contain himself, the other ran around shouting 'Hurrah! Hurrah!' over and over. The unlikely pair communing in the wilderness were President Theodore Roosevelt, in his trademark jodhpurs and Stetson, and wilderness visionary John Muir, resembling a hobo in his oversize coat and loose pants. It was May 1903 and Roosevelt was on his Grand Loop tour of the American West, but for three precious days he ducked official duties to explore Yosemite with Muir. The two were in agreement on the urgent need to preserve forever the country’s great natural places, clashing only because both wanted to do all the talking." (Bloomberg)



"Jon Bon Jovi will take a break from his artist-in-residence duties at NBC to headline a birthday event for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo next month. The birthday party is a fund-raiser for Andrew Cuomo's 2010 campaign--a campaign that has yet to settle on the exact office Mr. Cuomo might be seeking--and it comes just a few weeks before the next campaign finance filing deadline, on January 15. A strong filing from Mr. Cuomo, the thinking goes, could hasten calls for Governor David Paterson to cede the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to the ascendant attorney general. Tickets for the Bon Jovi bash range from $1,000 dollars to $50,000 dollars .." (Observer)



"The Alaska governor’s new memoir will have no index, robbing D.C. insiders of their favorite game: seeing their names in print. Samuel P. Jacobs on the death of the 'Washington Read' ... Sarah Palin’s book hits stores on Tuesday. For Washington’s navel-gazing elite, particularly its Republican branch, the publishing event of the season carries with it a crucial question: Does the former vice-presidential candidate mention you? It used to be that there was an easy way to find out. All the big names in town would do it: stop by the Georgetown Barnes & Noble or Politics and Prose, stare admiringly at the cover, then furtively flip to the index to make sure your place in the power structure was secure. But, according to a source at the book’s publishing house, Palin has a surprise for Washington’s self-important set: Going Rogue has no index." (TheDailyBeast)



"Playboy Enterprises Inc., the men's magazine publisher, is in talks to sell itself to Iconix Brand Group Inc., according to two people close to the situation. Playboy's stock jumped 42 percent on the news. Iconix, the owner of the Candie's and London Fog clothing brands, has looked at Chicago-based Playboy's finances, said one of the people, who declined to be identified. The discussions may not lead to a transaction, the person said." (TheWrap via SunTimes)



(Liliana Cavendish, Geoffrey Bradfield, and Monique van Vooren via NYSD)

"Monique van Vooren, who played the 'woman at '21' in 'Wall Street' 20 years ago, is back in Oliver Stone's sequel. The ageless Belgian beauty bumps into Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), shortly after he's been released from prison, at a black-tie gala at the Metropolitan Museum. The scene was actually shot in the Cunard Line building, at 23 Broadway. The two compliment each other, and Monique tells Gekko, 'Jail suits you!'" (PageSix)



"Last night in New York at the St. Regis Roof, the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust held their annual dinner dance In The Presence of HRH Princess Alexandra, the Honorable Lady Oglivy. Princess Alexandra who is a cousin of the Queen (their fathers were brothers). Hugh Hildesley, the chairman of the American Associates and Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, President of the Royal Academy, and Princess Alexandra presented the awards to this year’s honorees Dame Jillian Sackler DBE who was given the Benjamin West Award and Jeff Koons who was the recipient of the John Singleton Copley Award. This is a glittering and glamorous affair, enhanced by the surroundings and made moreso by the presence of Her Royal Highness who is the most gracious and relaxed of any of the British royals to visit these shores." (NySocialDiary)



"About 60 Muslim fishermen and their families congregated in a community hall on Sri Lanka’s east coast to pray for Raj Rajaratnam after he was arrested for alleged insider trading at his New York hedge fund. The billionaire co-founder of Galleon Group LLC helped build 240 apartments in Kalmunai with a $5 million donation following the 2004 tsunami that swept away people and houses in his homeland, leaving 30,000 people dead. 'We don’t know Raj Rajaratnam. But we were told that the funds were given by him for the housing project,' said K.M. Farook, who attended last month’s service in Islamabath Village. 'When we heard that he had fallen into some trouble we only wanted to express our gratitude to this person by pleading to almighty Allah to bless him and give him relief.' Rajaratnam’s Oct. 16 arrest, in what U.S. prosecutors say is the largest insider-trading case involving hedge funds, was an unsettling jolt to an island that took pride in his success and benefited from his wealth. He invested tens of millions of dollars in an economy ravaged by civil war and donated millions more." (Bloomberg)



"While I was out to dinner, this news came in, and Alex Young must be gnashing his teeth. That's because Emma Watts has been named President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox signed to a multiyear contract. She will report to Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos. The 11-year Fox veteran finally assumes sole leadership of the production division after serving for the past two years as co-prez of production with Alex Young, who's now a producer on the lot. Watts is currently overseeing a number of pictures set for release next year, including Date Night, Tooth Fairy, Marmaduke, and some of the films which Alex had been in charge of like Wall Street 2 and The A-Team." (NikkiFinke)



"'That's really what they're calling it?' laughed Carolina, walking into the 'Temple of Herrera,' as a certain crew had rebranded the Temple of Dendur for last night's Apollo Circle benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carolina Herrera has sponsored the event for the last three seasons, and in that time, it has developed into a veritable third fashion show, stocked with testaments to the power of a good gown. Is it the best-dressed charity event of the year? It's certainly a contender..." (Fashionweekdaily)

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