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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The morning after an unusually interesting and closely watched set of off-year elections, the air is filled with the sounds of Republicans gloating, Democrats fretting, and the White House saying, in effect, 'Move along, everyone, move along, there’s nothing to see here.' None of these reactions are surprising in the least, for even with New York’s 23rd congressional district having delivered Barack Obama and his party a nice consolation prize, the GOP victories in Virginia and New Jersey — and, more important, what voters in those states told exit pollsters about their attitudes — made it a very good night for the out party, and that laid bare a number of realities that are troubling indeed for Democrats. The most obvious of those are three: First, the degree of anxiety about the economy remains sky-high in every segment of the electorate. Second, independent voters swung dramatically away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans. And third, the Obama base (especially the young voters) stayed home in droves." (NYMag)



"The rich, as Fitzgerald once said, are not like you and me. Billionaires are perhaps even less so. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's receipt from Nello's in New York City is making the rounds. It is a significant cultural artifact worth deconstructing. We learn, for example, that Roman spent more on a meal--$52,000 for a party of six --than median household income in the United States. The most expensive items on the receipt were wine and truffles." (Ron Mwangaguhunga/AirAmerica)



(image via nytimes)

"Monday I had lunch at Michael’s as the guest of Luziah Ismail-Hennessy, who is the Chairman of the Auction Committee. Also joining us were Count Carl-Eduard von Bismarck, Xavier Guerrand-Hermes and Jean-Christophe Laizeau. Mr. Laizeau is the International Communication Director for Ruinart Champagne. Ruinart is part of the LVMH conglomerate. Mrs. Hennessy is married to Mr. Hennessy (or Monsieur Hennessy) of Moet-Hennessy. You still with me? Mme. Hennessy is a very attractive Asian woman whose English is international in inflection. She has a very charming manner, like silk rippling in the breeze. She is also smart and gracious and very European in her delivery. And all the while business-like. I was totally charmed. Mr. Guerrand Hermes is a member of that family. Did you know that Hermes only has one brief sale a year and then what’s left is offered to their employees at another sale price, and then what’s left of that is burned ... Count von Bismarck is the grandson of the Iron Chancellor after whom the famous battleship was named." (NYSocialDiary)



"If we are to understand where we are, we must understand where we have been. This is particularly true if we are to escape from the huge fiscal deficits being run by many governments. These deficits are not the result of government stupidity; they are mainly a consequence of – and response to – private behaviour. We must not ignore this connection. The difference between domestic savings and investment equals the current account of the balance of payments (itself the inverse of the capital account). Domestic savings and investment can be divided, in turn, between private sector and government. Private, government and foreign balances must sum to zero. But it is still possible to ask how they do so and, in particular, what behaviour drives the specific patterns and levels of activity we see. In the present crisis, asking that question is particularly revealing." (FT)



"Larry Summers is not an easy man to catch off guard. Behind his rumpled, jowly, professorial façade hides the world’s shiniest gold-plated résumé and one of its fiercest intellects. No less an authority on presidential power than Henry Kissinger once told Tim Geithner, now the Treasury secretary, that Summers should have a permanent job at the White House, solely to sort out for the president—any president—the good ideas on economic policy from the dumb ones. When Barack Obama was elected, many thought that Summers, who headed Treasury during the final 18 months of the Clinton administration, would find his way back to that post. But inside the Beltway, Summers’s connections to New York hedge funds and his rocky tenure as the president of Harvard University, from 2001 to 2006, were of concern, and it was decided that Geithner, Summers’s former colleague at Treasury and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (a job he got in 2003 with Summers’s help), would be more easily confirmed by the Senate. But since Geithner goes back some 10 years or more with Summers and seems to think five minutes with Summers is worth an hour of most other people’s time, there is little evidence that Summers lacks for influence in his current post as director of the White House’s National Economic Council." (VF)



"'I can never refuse a party with my closest friends,' said Valentino last night at the space formerly known as the Boom Boom Room. (Will someone rename this joint already?) 'So when you're on top of New York in a gorgeous space with beautiful people, it just makes me smile. And I love smiling!' He wasn't the only one. The Standard Hotel was overrun with A-listers last night as Val, Giancarlo Giammetti and Carlos Souza threw an impromptu little bash with, oh, Madonna and other assorted intimates. Aspiring spin doctor Jesus Luz was hard at work turntabling. 'I've become used to this whole DJ thing,' he confessed as Marjorie Gubelmann angled in for a beatific photo op--one of many. 'I just did a tour in Brazil, so you can say I warmed up for this well.'" (Fashionweekdaily)



"Jon Bon Jovi kissed Ann Curry on the cheek. It was a chilly morning in mid-October outside the Today studios at Rockefeller Plaza. Ms. Curry was wearing a peacoat and dark stockings. Mr. Bon Jovi had on jeans and aviator sunglasses. Matt Lauer stood between them. They had news! Mr. Lauer explained to the guests on the plaza and the viewers at home that, henceforth, Mr. Bon Jovi would be serving as the first artist in NBC’s brand new 'artist in residence' program. 'What does that exactly mean?' asked Mr. Lauer. The rock star smiled. 'A corner office next to you,' he replied. Mr. Bon Jovi went on to explain that his eponymous band had a new album to sell and that for the next two months he would be appearing (exclusively!) on a wide range of NBC broadcast and cable channels to promote it. Along the way, he would be hosting Saturday Night Live, doing sports, doing news, basking in James Lipton’s marveling gaze on Inside the Actors Studio and playing a concert for Today at Rockefeller Plaza. Not to mention, performing at various birthday parties for the children of NBC staffers, joked Mr. Lauer." (Observer)



"Though Katalyst Media -- the three-pronged film, television, and digital media production company Ashton Kutcher spearheads with partner Jason Goldberg -- might still be finding its footing in some ventures (The Katalyst-produced CW series The Beautiful Life was canceled in September after just two episodes), its digital media department has found huge success as the first producers to make serialized, branded content exclusively for Facebook. Katalyst HQ, the company's original video series broadcast on the social media site, consists of three-minute clips that follow Office-esque faux documentary plots starring Katalyst Media employees, with branding for companies like Hot Pockets and Cheetos integrated through out. All of the episodes incorporate familiar workplace themes with a humorous slant -- one features a Katalyst worker who falls in love with an associate's 'phone voice,' another shows employees pitching bizarre plot ideas for a new Kutcher film to a frustrated Goldberg. Now in its second season, the series has been viewed by over nine million Facebook users who have shared the content over 62 times each. In other words, it's popular." (Papermag)

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