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Monday, November 09, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Lee Daniels’ 'Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire' has exceeded even the highest of expectations in its opening weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today. The film - which has been the source of much anticipation and buzz since its Sundance debut in January - grossed a stunning $1,800,000 from just 18 theaters over the weekend, averaging an essentially unheard of $100,000. That gives it the third best live action per-theater-average of all time, surpassed only by 2006’s 'Dreamgirls' and 2005’s 'Brokeback Mountain.' However, those two films had opened on 3 and 5 theaters respectively. 'Precious‘s' wide-by-comparison 18 theaters make it all the more impressive. 'Precious' was distributed by Lionsgate, who had acquired the film shortly after Sundance in a heated bidding war. The deal, brokered by Cinetic, was said to be worth $5.5 million, and weaved in the support of both Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, who came on board as executive producers. The plan obviously seems to have worked so far, with theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta reporting large crowds and sell out shows for 'Precious.'" (IndieWIRE)



"Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell. And as soon as it did, a myth began to arise: that it was Ronald Reagan’s uncompromising anti-communism that brought the Soviet Union to its knees. The myth’s consequences have been immense: Again and again, post-Cold War hawks have invoked Reagan to oppose negotiations with America’s enemies, and to justify the threat—if not the actual use—of force. There’s just one problem: The myth is almost entirely false. Two decades later, it’s high time ordinary Americans learn what most serious historians already know: that Reagan didn’t end the Cold War because he was a hawk. He ended it because he turned into a dove. To be sure, Reagan began his presidency as a hawk: He jacked up defense spending, created "Star Wars," and called the Soviet Union an 'evil empire.' That’s the Reagan conservatives know and love today. What they conveniently forget is that Reagan began to ditch that hard line in early 1984—more than a year before Mikhail Gorbachev took power. In a dramatic January 1984 speech, Reagan abandoned his previous hostility to negotiations, declaring that 'the fact that neither of us likes the other’s system is no reason not to talk.'" (Peter Beinart/TheDailyBeast)



"Last night at the hip Lehmann Maupin Gallery, art lovers gathered to celebrate Tracy Emin’s latest American exhibit, 'Only God Knows I’m Good'. The exhibition is comprised of 53 works all following the themes of love, sex and lust. Those in attendance included gallery co-owner David Maupin, restaurateur Michael Chow and wife Eva Chow, Tony Shafrazi, Linda Yablonsk, and Vincent Fremont. The works, including a large-scale film projection, never-before-seen neons and sculptures, and a collection of embroideries and monoprints; will be featured in the Chrystie street gallery until mid December." (Guestofaguest)



"I was invited by Nazee Moinian to a book party at the Plaza ..The Moinians are New Yorkers, Americans, but naturally self-identified as Persian Jews, many of whom emigrated to America in the 1970s after the fall of the Shah and during the Iranian Revolution. They all became American citizens. Many families moved to Los Angeles and soon created a 'presence' in L.A. culture and business. However, for a long time, generally, they were an isolated community socially, which is common in the American process of assimilation. The second generation, now Americans, however, are changing all that. The Moinians are prominent here in New York. Joe Moinian is in the real estate business and his wife, mother of five, is deeply interested in international relations and the political process. She is now pursuing her doctorate at Columbia and has been actively involved with the Council on Foreign Relations ... The party was for Angella Nazarian and her memoir 'Life As A Visitor.' Angella came to the United States (and Beverly Hills) when she was eleven. Shortly thereafter her parents were smuggled out of Iran and months later arrived on American soil. Those who come to this country as exiles escaping political regimes are more appreciative of the American ideal of freedom than a lot of Americans by birth. There were a lot of familiar faces as well as many new faces to this writer. The guest of honor (besides the author of course) was the Shabanou of Iran, Farah Pahlavi, the widow of the Shah." (NYSocialDiary)



"Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia increased over the weekend as President Hugo Chavez urged his country to prepare for war. Chavez ordered 15,000 troops to the border last Thursday. 'Let's not waste a day on our main aim: to prepare for war and to help the people prepare for war, because it is everyone's responsibility,' Chavez said on his weekly TV show. Such preparation is the 'best way to avoid war,' he said. Chavez objects to a leasing agreement giving the U.S. military greater access to Colombian military, saying it could set the stage for a U.S. invasion of Venezuela. 'Don't make a mistake, Mr. Obama, by ordering an attack against Venezuela by way of Colombia,' Chavez said. A series of shooting along the border has also increased tensions in recent weeks. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is appealing to the United Nations and Organization of American States after Chavez's 'threats of war.'" (ForeignPolicy)



"Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch told his staff this afternoon that he will be stepping down in April after five years on the job. Mr. Gourevitch, who is also a New Yorker staff writer, said in an interview that his decision to resign was motivated by a desire to focus his energies on his writing, and that his current book project, which is about Rwanda, is proving too time-consuming to allow for a successful balancing act. 'I want to give that everything,' he said. 'You can't take time off when you're in charge.' Mr. Gourevitch's decision to step down in order to write a book distinguishes himself from a number of other prominent New York magazine editors-- hello Jon Meacham, Rick Stengel, and David Remnick!-- who have elected to pull double duty." (Observer)

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