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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The party started early for some patrons of the black-tie shindig for the Museum of Contemporary Art, when honorary gala chair Larry Gagosian welcomed them to his Beverly Hills art gallery for a brunch and preview of new paintings by Jeff Koons. One quick look at the brunch dispelled any notion that last weekend's festivities held appeal for locals only. On the scene were artist Takashi Murakami from Japan; heavyweight boxer Vladimir Klitschko from Kiev, Ukraine; art collectors Victor Pinchuk and his wife, Elena Franchuk, also from the Ukraine; Oleg Baybakov from Moscow; and Sydney Picasso from Paris, among others ...Indeed, an estimated one-third of the guests at MOCA's 30th-anniversary gala on Nov. 14 came from outside Los Angeles. Earlier this year, gala chairs Maria Arena Bell and (Eli) Broad traveled to the world's great concentrations of art aficionados: the Venice Biennale in Italy and the Art Basel fair in Switzerland to talk about the museum. 'After reading so much of the press about MOCA, people had big question marks about what [its] future would be,' Bell said. 'People there expressed so much concern. They really cared. We talked about the situation and about how the museum had turned around, and we invited them to attend the gala.' The organizers also invited artists, and Bell counted 150 established and emerging artists in a crowd thick with celebrities such as Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Alba and Zoe Saldana; musicians such as Kenna and John Legend; and scores of other museum supporters, including honorary gala chair Dasha Zhukova; Robert Tuttle, former U.S. ambassador to the U.K.; and Maria Hummer-Tuttle." (LATimes)



"The beltway consensus was that Harry Reid’s ability to get wavering Democratic senators to allow the health care debate to proceed has been a 'test of the majority leader’s leadership'—a test that Reid looks likely to have passed, what with Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Lousiana having come on board Friday, and Blanche Lincoln looking like an 11th-hour 'yes' vote. But this entire debacle was really a test of whether Barack Obama can throw a punch. And on that, the verdict is still out." (TheDailyBeast)



"I didn't have a chance to comment on the revelations that foreign-policy insider Peter Galbraith received a 5 percent stake in an oil field in the Dohak region of Iraqi Kurdistan, for his role in helping the Norwegian oil company DNO negotiate drilling rights there. Galbraith was also involved in the constitutional negotiations that gave the Kurds substantial autonomy over the region and thus made the proposed deal possible, and the Times reports that he could make roughly $100 million or so for his efforts. Not surprisingly, the exposure of Galbraith's dealings has caused some controversy in Iraq, though remarkably little in Washington One of the Iraqi participants said 'the idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless,' and the whole business is bound to reinforce the widespread (and in my view, false) belief that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a 'war for oil.' Galbraith is publicly unrepentant, arguing that his deal with DNO was arranged while he was a private citizen and declaring that 'What is true is that I undertook business activities that were entirely consistent with my long-held policy views. . . I believe my work with [DNO and other companies] helped create the Kurdistan oil industry which helps provide Kurdistan an economic base for the autonomy its people almost unanimously desire. . . So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict.' Of course, as a number of other critics quickly pointed out, the problem is not that Galbraith is in line to receive millions of dollars in compensation; the problem is that he failed to disclose his financial interests while he was busy writing op-eds and articles and engaging in other public activities on behalf of Kurdish autonomy. His behavior is no different than a medical researcher who takes millions of dollars from a pharmeceutical company and then writes articles or offers expert testimony about the efficacy of that company's products. The testimony may be entirely consistent with the scientist's 'long-held views,' but anyone exposed to the testimony has a right to know about the potential conflict of interest." (ForeignPolicy)



"On Friday, Oprah Winfrey will look into the camera and tell her loyal viewers what they already know: She will end her talk show in September 2011, after 25 years on the air. No doubt she’ll be teary, as will members of her audience. And so will executives at CBS and possibly at ABC, whose pocketbooks will be hurt as a result of this decision. Winfrey does not have the No. 1 syndicated show on television; nor even the No. 2, though you might suppose that she does. Those titles belong to even longer-reigning champions: Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. But Winfrey still has by far the dominant talk show in daytime television. And despite ratings that have slipped, and despite her failings—unleashing Dr. Phil on an unsuspecting world; ditto with James Frey and his faux memoir, A Million Little Pieces—Winfrey was, relatively speaking, a class act in the daytime television wasteland. On Wednesday, she aired her interview with Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, and Penelope Cruz about their upcoming movie, Nine. Her protégée, Rachael Ray, was telling viewers how to make 'stuffin’,' and Dr. Phil was doing 'Inside Infidelity, Part 2.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"WHO: Minnie, reality princess Olivia Palermo and Vogue's Valerie Boster were sporting dresses from Minnie's Spring 2010 collection. Other stylish folks in attendance included Paper's Luigi Tadini and Zandile Blay, Johannes Huebl, Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict, Ali Wise, Hayley Bloomingdale, Michael Musto, Gigi Mortimer, Amanda Ross, Georgia Tapert, Bettina Prentice and Rachelle Hruska.
OVERHEARD: "Peter, Tinsley and Topper -- they're like the preppy Ronsons!'" (Papermag)



"Don't be fooled by your ticket's 8 p.m. start for tonight's Victoria's Secret show at the Lexington Armory. The impressive contingent of models actually started arriving to the location as early as 8 a.m.--with cereal, pedicures, an army of hair and make-up pros, and sparkly VS robes awaiting the likes of Miranda Kerr, Marissa Miller, and Julia Stegner. The beautiful cast of dozens endured countless hours of rehearsal calls, interviews with German press, and many, many hair extensions while we followed their every move. 'It seems like we've been here since breakfast,' smiled Behati Prinsloo while petting her puppy. 'I'm just I'm just anxious for everything to start!' Some relieved their nerves with food. 'I had yogurt, berries, and coffee,' smiled a veteran Caroline Winberg. 'Then I had some steak, pasta, and chocolate cake! I don't believe in not eating--I would get in a very bad mood if I don't munch on something.' Chanel Iman agreed. 'Last night, I've had a big feast,' she confessed. 'I always eat a lot, but I wanted to fill myself up and feel sexy next to these real women. Because sometimes I feel like I have a baby body!'" (Fashionweekdaily)



"Yesterday grey and not very cold in New York, with a touch of rain (hardly), but more of it in the evening. At one I went down to Michael’s to meet Nicky Haslam who has just published his memoir, Redeeming Features (Knopf). Michael’s was buzzing. Lynn Nesbit the uber-literary agent came in and told me that I had been expected at the National Book Awards last night ... Wednesday night Gore Vidal was introduced by his old friend Joanne Woodward who presented him with a special award. He didn’t have a planned speech so his talk uncharacteristically wandered a bit. Gore (whom I don’t know but that’s how I think of him) has been in bad health for quite sometime but he’s continued to be productive, having come up with another memoir, another kind of memoir – a photo album with reminiscences and anecdotes." (NYSocialDiary)



"Gore Vidal, the novelist, social critic, and bon vivant, received the award for distinguished contribution to American letters at the National Book Awards on Wednesday night. Joanne Woodward, the actress and widow of Hollywood legend Paul Newman presented the award to 'my dear friend, the second love of my life.' Pushed onto the stage in a wheelchair to a standing ovation, Mr. Vidal, who brought no prepared remarks, spoke elliptically, drifting from subject to subject, very little of which touched on writing or publishing (except when he referred to a recent collection of photos published by Abrams) ... In introducing his wheelchair-pushing companion, a 'a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and a veteran of the Gulf War,' Mr. Vidal began to talk about Afghanistan before he suddenly seemed to realize he was losing focus. 'If I had a speech, I would be giving it,' he said. 'That is a promise, an absolute promise, bottom line. We are in a curious position in the world,' he continued. 'We are not really needed and it used to be just as an idea, the United States was something quite remarkable and now I wonder whether we’ve been crowded over.'" (NYTimes)

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