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Monday, December 07, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The engine of the black Corvette revved to a gasket-popping roar. Its driver leant out of his window. He was dressed in traditional Arab robes but wore a rubber wizard’s mask. He held an aerosol aloft and directed a jet of party foam into the air. Four-wheel drives plastered in pictures of Dubai’s Royal Family roared their engines back in approval. The cacophony was deafening. On the opposite carriageway smoke billowed from the spinning back wheels of a new Land Cruiser as the driver pressed the brakes and floored the accelerator. This was the favourite way for many of the fervently patriotic and car crazy Emiratis to mark National Day in Dubai this week, the 38th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates, and one of the biggest celebrations of the year. A mile away at the new Marina Yacht Club, Western expats were also working their way into a party mood. Deferential Filipino staff served a foamy lobster broth as an amuse bouche between courses. Beer and cocktails loosened tongues and a knot of dancers formed in front of the band. Tens of millions of pounds worth of powerboats bobbed at their moorings beneath the revelry on the terrace. Behind the boats a dozen skyscrapers framed the view, a few of the lights in their thousands of flats were on. 'It’s so beautiful here,' said a pretty young Anglo-Indian woman clutching a large glass of chilled white wine and taking in the scene. Welcome to the modern equivalent of the last days of Rome. The failure of Dubai World, one of the Emirate’s flagship companies, to honour a debt due last month has rocked this city state to its foundations. By any conventional logic Dubai is now a busted flush." (TimesofLondon)



"The MoMA was swimming with well-pressed suits Sunday evening, making it instantly clear that Tom Ford was behind the production. Andrew Saffir and his team at the Cinema Society pulled off an affair of colossal proportions in celebration of A Single Man, Ford's directorial debut. Already having garnered a tremendous amount of acclaim, it wasn't a jaw-dropping shocker to see supportive chicsters pour into the museum by the dozens. Friends including Rita Wilson, Dustin Lance Black, Ellen Barkin, Kevin Bacon and Padma Lakshmi showed up on a frigid Sunday to honor the designer's cinematic success ... Masked in sunglasses, Madonna (one of the first arrivals), was quickly ushered to a back booth, where she cozied up to Ford and spent much of the evening tethered to an elated Andy Cohen. Anna Wintour and Bee Shaffer dashed in and out for a quick congrats, while others lingered over rounds of Grey Goose cocktails. Courtney Love made a prompt appearance after the film, where she quickly found Michael Stipe, and the two chatted intently over platters of mini burgers." (Fashionweekdaily)



"Washington, as we know, had quite a week, and by the weekend was still reeling from its central role in the kind of tabloid madness that usually attaches to the late Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson, or Brangelina. The preferred joke was one variation or another on how Michaele and Tareq Salahi would find a way to crash last night’s Kennedy Center Honors. But the annual salute to talent had enough security to thwart even the world’s most famous gatecrashers. The week was a series of tips and rumors about the couple. A few came like missives from Deep Throat, with requests to meet, where to meet, to turn off the cell phone and to make certain I wasn’t followed to the rendezvous. This did make me laugh. My favorite rumor was that they weren’t the only crashers at the White House State Dinner. A more plausible rumor was that Bravo, who cast Michaele in 'The Real Housewives of Washington DC,' always planned for the State Dinner episode to be the show’s season finale ... Not surprisingly, some of their cast mates are questioning whether they did the right thing, getting involved in the show." (NYSocialDiary)



"Tehran’s profound dislike of the Jewish state notwithstanding, it is unlikely to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon because Israel’s atomic arsenal is orders of magnitude larger than whatever infant capability Iran could muster in the foreseeable future. Moreover, Israel is believed to possess a secure submarine-based second-strike capability that could devastate Iran .. Although many analysts question the rationality of the Iranian regime, it is in fact fairly conservative in its foreign policy. Iran has two long-range goals, achieving regional hegemony and spreading fundamentalist Islam, neither of which will be achieved if Iran initiates a nuclear exchange with Israel. Tehran’s expanding influence in Iraq and the fear that it inspires in the Persian Gulf states are already advancing the first goal. Iran needs only to possess nuclear weapons, not to use them, in order to further enhance its international prestige and force adversaries to take it seriously. Likewise, the deterrent power of an unused nuclear capability would allow the regime to spread its ideology without the constant worry of regime change imposed from abroad. Since it is doubtful that Iran will use nuclear weapons against Israel or surrender control of the ultimate weapon to Hezbollah -- a point made recently by retired General Shlomo Gazit in Ma’arachot, the quarterly journal published by the Israeli military -- one can safely assume that the root of Israel’s Iranian obsession lies elsewhere. Israel fears that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could undermine its qualitative superiority of arms and its consistent ability to inflict disproportionate casualties on adversaries -- the cornerstones of Israel’s defense strategy." (ForeignAffairs)



"Three affairs were packed onto the hotel's ground floor, all taking off at the same time: Aby Rosen, Alberto Mugrabi, and Peter Brant's super-casual outdoor buffet; Cartier's rather more formal sit-down at Mr. Chow; and a rowdy dance party at the Wall, hosted by Stavros Niarchos, Alex Dellal, and Vito Schnabel. 'I think everyone I know in Miami is here tonight,' Brant smiled as he greeted the likes of Naomi Campbell, Calvin Klein, and Stephen Dorff. 'Which isn't to say that I know everyone here. But as long as everyone is having fun, I'm happy.' Over in the mirrored and disco-lighted Wall nightclub, the young hosts were feigning a bit of party anxiety. Schnabel teased Niarchos about following up on his RSVPs, and Dellal offered to drag in some people off the street. Not that they had anything to worry about: The place was soon packed with good-time girls like Nicky Hilton, China Chow, and Lauren Santo Domingo." (Style)



"Paramount Pictures spared no expense when it threw a lavish party earlier this month that took over the famed Griffith Observatory. An enormous projection of the Starship Enterprise glided across the front of the building. Special 'Star Trek'-themed drinks were served by staffers clad in Starfleet uniforms, and actors from both from the original TV series and from director J.J. Abrams’ celebrated franchise reboot cruised the room. When told of the lavish bash, an Oscar campaigner for a rival studio had two responses: The first: 'I think it’s completely off the deep end.'" (TheWrap)



"... (O)ne woman who doesn't claim to have slept with the golf pro is call girl Ashley Dupré, who made headlines last year as the prostitute New York Governor Eliot Spitzer had been with as 'Client #9.' And yet she has some very compelling things to say about those who have. In Friday's New York Post, Ashley made clear that she's appalled at the way Woods' publicity-hungry concubines are selling their secrets to the tabloids. She lashed out at them for 'taking money and gifts while seeing a high-powered celeb,' then 'blabbing all about it in exchange for money.' If you expect a married man's mistress to have better manners or ethics than a prostitute, simply because her heart or libido are involved, think again. Those very elements—love and lust—do not always lead to classy, mature behavior. Having a businesslike agenda from the start seems cold, but it results in a warmer ending.' (Tracy Quan/TheDailyBeast)



"Art Basel was fun again this year. After a recession-stained climate last year led to toned down partying, collectors and dealers (and everyone else) was back in style this time around. According to the Wall Street Journal, it seemed like everyone was throwing a party this year, with the likes of Larry Gagosian and Lance Armstrong getting in on the action. And, the parties didn't suck. Hosts went all out -- with live music and other attractions -- to separate themselves from the competition. Some even tried something new, with the words 'Everybody has a Damien Hirst' uttered. Of course, there were enough celebrities in supply to ensure that every host had one to boast about. Scott Stapp, lead singer of Creed, and Russell Simmons, for example, were present at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel. Simmons is a committed collector of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Barbara Krueger and was in town to raise money for his charity, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. An after-party hosted by Julian Schnabel's art dealer son, Vito, attracted some big names, as well. Peter Brant, an art collector who recently tried to move 'Brother Sausage' by Basquiat at auction, was there, along with Abby Rosen." (Luxist)



"The Texas Republican gubernatorial primary is thus shaping up to be a public airing of that national party’s internal discontents. The issues and cultural references in the race are unmistakably Texan. But the contest’s central question — whether a highly popular general-election Republican (Hutchison) can defeat a less-popular Republican (Perry) who nonetheless knows how to excite conservative primary voters — goes to the heart of the party’s overall vitality. In an effort to reclaim Reagan’s scepter, both campaigns are aggressively ignoring the Gipper’s 11th Commandment to not speak ill of fellow Republicans. The mounting ugliness between 'Slick Rick' and 'Kay Bailout' seems destined to turn off independent voters because, as the veteran political handicapper Charlie Cook observes: 'in a primary, shrillness matters. It’s a race to the fringe.'" (NYTimes Magazine)



"Jason Reitman’s 'Up In The Air' found stunning numbers in its first weekend of limited release, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon. The Paramount release - which led the National Board of Review winners last week - grossed $1,100,000 from only 15 screens. That amounted to a scorching $73,333 average - among the 25 highest of all time and the year’s best specialty debut behind only 'Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.' On the exact same weekend two years ago, Reitman’s Juno opened on 7 theaters and actually found a smaller per-theater-average. Juno - which went on to gross $143,495,265 in North America alone - grossed $413,869 in its opening frame, averaging $59,124 ... The second best per-theater-average this weekend came care of the third weekend of Pedro Almodovar’s 'Broken Embraces,' which has has now grossed a stunning $454,596 without screening in more than two theaters .. Other notable holdovers included Richard Linklater’s 'Me and Orson Welles' - the DIY release of which was profiled in indieWIRE earlier this week. On 5 screens (up one from last weekend), the film held on decently after its promising debut, grossing $40,745 and averaging $8,149. That gave the Zac Efron-Claire Danes period film a $150,198 total after ten days." (IndieWIRE)



"November 9 is one of those strange dates haunted by history. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, signaling the collapse of the Soviet empire. The Nazis organized Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, beginning their all-out campaign against Jews. On November 9, 1923, Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch was crushed in Munich, and on November 9, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and Germany was declared a republic. The date especially hovers over the history of Germany, but it marks great events in other countries as well: the Meiji Restoration in Japan, November 9, 1867; Bonaparte's coup effectively ending the French Revolution, November 9, 1799; and the first sighting of land by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, November 9, 1620. On November 9, 2009, in the district court for the Southern District of New York, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers were scheduled to file a settlement to resolve their suit against Google for alleged breach of copyright in its program to digitize millions of books from research libraries and to make them available, for a fee, online. Not comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall, you might say. True, but for several months, all eyes in the world of books—authors, publishers, librarians, and a great many readers—were trained on the court and its judge, Denny Chin, because this seemingly small-scale squabble over copyright looked likely to determine the digital future for all of us." (NYRB)



"These days, there are three John McCains. One is the pride-driven defeated presidential candidate who hopes Americans will compare him to President Obama and realize the error of their ways. Another is a true-believer neoconservative, dedicated to using his Senate perch to push for aggressive military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. And then there’s the third, an unexpectedly vulnerable incumbent senator who could face a career-threatening Republican primary challenge next year. All three McCains were on display during his appearance on Sunday’s 'Meet the Press.' Ostensibly, McCain was invited to be on an edition of the show focused exclusively on the Afghanistan game-plan Obama unveiled this week. But host David Gregory’s questions weren’t limited to foreign policy – and McCain’s answers reflected his need to juggle multiple political imperatives." (Observer)



"With his novels People Like Us and A Season in Purgatory, the late Dominick Dunne brought an imaginative touch to the world he covered for V.F., illuminating the lives of the powerful and privileged in a way very few others could. In an excerpt from his final novel, Too Much Money, published this month, the funeral of a legendary New York philanthropist (Brooke Astor, anyone?) is the occasion for some ruthless social maneuvering, not to mention ideal fodder for Dunne’s alter ego, Gus Bailey." (Vanity Fair)

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