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Friday, December 18, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Madonna told Jimmy Choo that 'buying a pair of [his] shoes is more satisfying than having sex with a man. At least you know they are going to last forever!' Somewhere, Jesus Luz is cringing." (NYMag)



"I am as worldly as the next dreamer, but the scales fell from my eyes, the same ones that keep finding their way back to my eyes, when I opened The New Yorker a few weeks ago and found, in a portfolio of 'portraits of power,' Mussolini’s full-page face piggishly staring at me in chicly lurid detail, the very emblem of brutality made aesthetically acceptable. And when I turned the page there was Franco, in full generalissimo kit gazing coldly forward, every hair on his heartless mustache uncannily vivid in a miracle of photographic verisimilitude. Is nobody any longer beyond the pale? Is moral judgment now bad form? Is repugnance a thing of the past? I’m lying, of course. Neither Mussolini nor Franco appeared in The New Yorker’s exciting feature. But Ahmadinejad, Mugabe, Ch├ívez, and Qaddafi did. They were shot--sorry, I’m dreaming again--they were photographed by Platon at the United Nations in September, where, according to an unsigned editor’s note, he set up a little studio not far from the General Assembly." (TNR)



"Anne Phillips Ogilby, a bond attorney at one of Boston’s oldest law firms, on Oct. 31 last year relayed an urgent message from Harvard University, her client and alma mater, to the head of a Massachusetts state agency that sells bonds. The oldest and richest academic institution in America needed help getting a loan right away. As vanishing credit spurred the government-led rescue of dozens of financial institutions, Harvard was so strapped for cash that it asked Massachusetts for fast-track approval to borrow $2.5 billion. Almost $500 million was used within days to exit agreements known as interest-rate swaps that Harvard had entered to finance expansion in Allston, across the Charles River from its main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts." (Bloomberg)



"Few people were photographed more in the aughts than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, which means we’ve enjoyed a front-row seat as they’ve morphed from a pair of matchy-matchy multi-millionaire tweens to two of the decade’s most influential trendsetters. Most famously, the sisters signaled an end to the opulence and head-to-toe designer looks of the early ’00s with their trademark dumpster chic. But anyone can have a 'moment'; more remarkable was the fact that their impact on fashion was just beginning." (Style)



"Cast around for the figures who shaped the geopolitics of the opening decade of the 21st century and Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush spring to mind. Al Qaeda’s terrorist spectacular on September 11 2001 seemed to describe a new epochal challenge to a west grown complacent after the defeat of communism. The US president’s response defined first the reach, and then the limits, of American power. Some might add Vladimir Putin to such a list. I am not so sure. Mr Putin has salved Russia’s wounded pride. He now plans to win back the presidency. Yet neither high oil prices nor bare-chested machismo have reversed the underlying trajectory of Russian decline. Eight years after the destruction of New York’s twin towers, Afghanistan and Pakistan are still the cockpit of a conflict rooted in fractured states, violent extremism and a wider struggle against modernity. Mr Bin Laden has evaded capture; Barack Obama, Mr Bush’s successor, confronts in the war against the Taliban the most dangerous enemy of his presidency. The risk of unconventional weapons falling into the hands of jihadists – think about Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile – amplifies western anxieties. For all that, there have been bigger, more enduring, changes in the global landscape. Seen through the long lens of history, Mr Bin Laden and Mr Bush may turn out to be relatively minor players in an era of tumultuous upheaval. The big clashes of coming decades are more likely to be between states as ideologies. The prevailing tensions will be between co-operation and competition, rules and anarchy, order and disorder." (FT)



"Being a Brit transplanted to Los Angeles who never owned a TV, I had never even heard of Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has made a career for himself as a television therapist, specializing particularly in addiction. I had never listened to his show Loveline; I had heard of, but never seen, Celebrity Rehab and its other spinoff, Sober House. After a few minutes with the producers, I decided that a public rehabilitation was not for me. They persuaded me to meet Dr. John Sealy, one of the most important sex therapists in California who was affiliated with the show and would also be occasionally treating the cast members and act as the show consultant. I liked and trusted him, but again I said no to the producers. Interestingly, during that meeting Sealy confided in me that the producers of Sex Rehab had very different intentions from his. He genuinely wanted to shine a light into the shaming world of sex addiction, while Irwin Entertainment seemed hellbent on drama and titillation. (As it turned out, Sealy’s involvement on the show was minimal because he was awkward in front of the cameras, and not nearly as televisual as reality TV demands.) As is the way of Hollywood, once I said no, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. After a protracted financial negotiation and contract re-jig, I signed. I was very eager to protect myself from opportunists who may have crawled out of the woodwork to make a quick buck. I insisted that in case of any spurious claims against me, Irwin Entertainment would seek to protect me. I was going to enter a facility committing to the process of sex rehabilitation—and I was going to submit to the vagaries of reality television at the same time." (Duncan Roy/TheDailyBeast)



"In my style bible, the freakier the better. In the next decade, the freaks shall inherit the earth. Presenting my top five fashion freakazoids of 2009 ...Daphne Guinness: No one teeters in Alexander McQueen lobster claw shoes or pulls off alien-like couture at 10 a.m. the way Daphne does. At least now we can smell like the brewskie heiress and Steven Klein muse -- Comme des Garcons has a scent called Daphne, created by the fashion icon herself. Freaky never smelled so sweet ..Shauna Sand: The Playboy playmate and Lorenzo Lamas' ex wife is a model/mom who wears platform Lucite stripper shoes while driving a Segway. 'Nuff said." (papermag)



"In the great health care debate of 2009, President Obama has cast himself as a cold-eyed pragmatist, willing to compromise in exchange for votes. Now ideology — an uprising on the Democratic left — is smacking the pragmatic president in the face. Stung by the intense White House effort to court the votes of moderate holdouts like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, liberals are signaling that they have compromised enough. Grass-roots groups are balking, liberal commentators are becoming more critical of the president, some unions are threatening to withhold support and Howard Dean, the former Democratic Party chief, is urging the Senate to kill its health bill. The White House scrambled Thursday to tamp down the revolt, which has been simmering for weeks but boiled over when the Senate Democratic leadership, bowing to Mr. Lieberman, scrapped language allowing people as young as 55 to buy into Medicare. David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, began the day by calling in to MSNBC to urge the party to hold together, warning of a “tragic outcome” if Democrats failed to pass a bill that the White House says would expand health coverage while reining in costs." (NYTimes)



"I got off to a late start early in the evening, missing a couple of holiday cocktail parties including one hosted by Jill Spalding which I later heard was packed and full of interesting people which is Jill’s forte. I went up to the Carlton Hobbs mansion on East 93rd Street where they were hosting a book launch for Alexandra Kotur and Hamish Bowles – The World in Vogue; People Parties Places. This is a book with a sensational cover that promises a glamour trip and it delivers just that for almost 400 pages. Just a beautiful, fascinating, intriguing massive volume of people, parties and places. A vacation, a break from the agony and gloom abounding." (NYSocialDiary)



"As he does every Thursday, Howard got Mike Walker from The National Enquirer on the line to play 'The Gossip Game,' in which Mike reads four gossip items – three (allegedly) true, one false – and the crew has to pick the fake. This week's stories: 1. Paris Hilton interrupted 'Twilight' producers mid-meal to ask for an audition to appear in the sequel. 2. Miley Cyrus is trying to talk Taylor Swift into getting matching guitar tattoos. 3. 'Twilight' star Taylor Lautner fell down while trying to carry his bike up a flight of stairs. 4. Howie Mandel gave an aggressive hobo $42 but refused to shake his hand – offering a fist-bump instead. Everyone singled out the last item, as they couldn't believe the hyper-germaphobe like Howie would willingly consent to a fist bump from a homeless guy, although Fred went with the Miley Cyrus story to be different. Mike then reported that everyone was wrong – he'd double-checked the Howie item – the Taylor Lautner story was bogus." (HowardStern)



"So just how big will 'Avatar' be? 'We’re in uncharted territory -- this is a very difficult one to handicap,' said Fox executive VP of distribution, about the domestic box-office opening for James Cameron’s first film in 12 years. mArriving amid great expectations midnight Friday in 3,453 locations, the majority of which are digital 3D (2,038), 'Avatar' -- for a number of reasons -- is not the easiest film to track. For one, with James Cameron preferring that his film play mostly on 3D screens, and only secondarily in 2D, its initial theater count and screen allotment aren't that huge compared to recent mega-openers like 'The Dark Knight' (4,366 locations) and 'Twilight Saga: New Moon' (4,024). 'The number pales in comparison to a typical blockbuster release, which has like 8,000-9,000 screens,' says one rival-studio distribution president. On the other hand, 'Avatar’s' going to be pricy. In fact, its preponderance of premium 3D ticket prices are vexing computer tracking programs designed for standard admission fees -- especially with 179 IMAX locations charging up to $20 a head." (TheWrap)

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