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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Two years ago this month, the Bancroft family, majority owners of the Wall Street Journal since 1902 and proud guardians of its independence, sold their newspaper to Australian vulgarian Rupert Murdoch. It was a stunning turn of events whose significance is still coming into focus. At the time, of course, pundits from the far left to the far right decried the sale. Murdoch would Fox-ificate the Journal, they said. He would castrate its muckraking, Pulitzer-winning tradition of investigative reporting. He would undermine the intellectual credibility of its editorial page, its stature as the nation’s leading purveyor of conservative ideas. He would use the paper’s reputation to burnish his own legacy. To protect and promote his own octopus-like global business interests. To destroy the New York Times." (GQ)



"During the frantic final two days of negotiations at Copenhagen over the weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set a clever trap for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Having just announced that the United States would establish and contribute to a $100 billion international fund by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the challenge of climate change, Clinton added a nonnegotiable proviso: All other major nations would first be required to commit their emissions reduction to a binding agreement and submit these reductions to "transparent verification." This condition was publicly reaffirmed by Obama, who argued that any agreement without verification would be 'empty words on a page.' Everyone in the room knew that "all other major nations' primarily meant China. From the beginning, China has steadfastly refused to place its commitments within a binding framework or accept outside monitoring and verification of its progress toward any promised targets. But the eleventh-hour U.S. proposal immediately isolated China. The onus was now on Beijing to agree to standards of "transparent verification." If it did not, poorer countries standing to benefit from the fund would blame China for breaking the deal. Clinton's proposal had cunningly undermined Beijing's leadership over the developing bloc of countries." (ForeignPolicy)



"... But I’m digressing (no kidding). My point in telling this story is to get to this picture which I took of two of the guests as we were getting our coats off the rack out of the Meigher’s Albert Hadley decorated bedroom (I shudda taken a picture of the bedroom, right?). Taki Theodoracopulos and Chuck Pfeiffer. You may know the former as simply Taki, the international columnist of the rich, the chic, and the gadfly. Chuck on the other hand you may know because you’ve seen in him any number of films, sometimes playing himself and if you’re old enough you remember his image when he was the image of a famous cigarette ad. Or even younger when he played football for West Point. Or after his stint in Viet Nam. Taki is very outgoing while Chuck, who is just as personable, tends to be somewhat reserved, comparatively. They’ve been pals for a long time, sharing many mutual interests in and out of the high life. You can see it in this picture. Chuck is all American and Taki is what he likes to refer to as the Poor Little Greek Boy (he’s rich, having inherited from his rich father)." (NYSocialDiary)



"Zoe Saldana, Hollywood's new queen of science fiction, didn't need much of an introduction to the world of geekdom. Her nerdiness comes naturally. The actress – who plays Neytiri in James Cameron's 3-D blockbuster Avatar, and was Uhura in J.J. Abrams's Star Trek – says she's always been drawn to material with nerd appeal. 'For me, it's been like preaching to my choir, because I was considered what you would think of as a geek,' Saldana, 31, told PEOPLE at the Avatar premiere in Los Angeles last week. 'I loved stories that helped me escape, and those happened to be the stories that fall into the category of geekiness. So, therefore, I am a proud geek!'" (People)



"'I come from a very la-ti-da East Coast intellectual family—or so they think,' says Alexandra Wentworth, pouring a bit of cream into her Earl Grey tea. 'And there I was in L.A., measuring my self-worth by whether I could book a job on Beverly Hills 90210.' Ancient history. It’s been a big year for both Wentworth and her husband, George Stephanopoulos, who recently left ABC’s premiere Sunday-morning political show, This Week, to take over for Diane Sawyer on the network’s morning program. 'GMA is a completely different animal than This Week,' she says. 'And George does have that side. He’s incredibly warm and funny and engaging, but he just has never had to use that muscle in his job before ... I wasn’t aware of how A-list (my family was). Just like Tori Spelling didn’t know she was on Farrah Fawcett’s lap growing up. No, I take that back, she probably did. Yeah, I grew up in that world of power and politics in Washington, but when you grow up around it, you are completely unfazed by it. Still am. George and I had our first real dinner party during the Obama inauguration because during the Bush years no one went out after eight.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"Even as moguls shut down their Christmas lights in Bel-Air to head out to the yacht in St. Bart’s, a fever known as 3D is gripping Hollywood. The nationwide thumbs-up over 'Avatar' -- which just two weeks ago had the town on edge -- is now creating thumb-whiplash from insiders hitting the Blackberry with newfound 3D zeal. Director Ridley Scott is breathing down the neck of executives at Universal to get them to approve making a 3D version of his new $200 million epic, 'Robin Hood,' according to one person close to the project. A deal is in the works with Studio Canal, which owns the rights to 'Terminator 2,' to fast-track making the 3D version. Naturally, George Lucas is exploring a 3D version of 'Star Wars.'" (TheWrap)



"Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city. That morning, while eating a meal of meat and olives, he gave an interview to Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist who was writing his biography. He defended the attacks on New York and Washington, saying, 'America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal.' Six months later, when I met Mir in Pakistan, he told me that the Al Qaeda leader had, on that day, appeared to be in remarkably good spirits. Kabul fell on November 12, and bin Laden, along with other Al Qaeda leaders, fled to Jalalabad, a compact city in eastern Afghanistan surrounded by lush fruit groves. (He was quite familiar with the area, having maintained a compound in a Jalalabad suburb in the 1990s.)" (TNR)

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