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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan is in Washington, D.C. for meetings with American officials and a number of public and private appearances along the DC circuit. Unfortunately I'm too snowed under with work to actually go to any of them -- but I wish I could, because there's probably no more interesting figure in Middle East diplomacy these days. Erdogan has been charting a new course for Turkish foreign policy which has sparked noisy popular acclaim with Arab publics, wary observation from Arab leaders, and jittery anxiety among many Israelis. Turkey's shifting Middle Eastern role is one of those factors which really could shake up long-standing patterns in a number of ways. Erdogan, of course, heads the government of the mildly Islamist AKP. The electoral success and governing style of the AKP has proven absolutely fascinating to many in the Arab world. I've had many conversations with, and read hundreds of papers and op-eds by, Muslim Brotherhood members keen to figure out the lessons of the AKP's success. As a model of workable political Islam, the AKP offers an important model -- if a dual-edged one. Many Turkish secularists continue to sound the alarm bells of creeping Islamism, complaining that even if the AKP is committed to democracy it is using its governing power to radically reshape Turkish political culture and governing principles. These strike me as healthy debates and normal politics, though, not the stuff of political apocalypse. Erdogan burst into a new level of Arab popularity with his much publicized outburst at Davos, when he stormed off a panel with Shimon Peres in protest over Gaza as Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa sat by bemusedly. This demonstration captivated Arab audiences and become the talk of Arab politics for weeks. Turkish diplomacy has built effectively on Erdogan's sudden personal popularity by seeking a more active and independent diplomatic role." (ForeignPolicy)



"Kerry Washington’s biggest film roles are pretty much what you’d expect from a rising star — rom-coms like I Think I Love My Wife, thrillers like Lakeview Terrace, Oscar bait like Ray and The Last King of Scotland. Bronx-born, Spence-educated, and a little bit granola, Washington naturally dreamed of Broadway, but her theater experience to date has been almost exclusively political: Eve Ensler’s V-Day shows, readings for Howard Zinn, high-school-appropriate skits on teen sex. Her starring role in David Mamet’s implicitly provocative new play, Race (opening Sunday), may be the least political act she’s ever performed onstage — and by far the most surprising. Back when Washington wrote a college paper on Mamet’s plays, 'I didn’t really see how it would be possible' to be in one. 'I guess a very non-traditionally cast Glengarry, you know? I mean he didn’t write this with me in mind, but I feel really excited to be alive at this point.' In Race, Washington plays a young black legal assistant, the third wheel in a power struggle between two superiors — David Alan Grier and James Spader — over whether to represent a white man accused of assaulting a black woman." (NYMag)



"Reformed Hollywood hell-raiser Mickey Rourke is making plans to wed Russian beauty Elena Kuletskaya in Russia this spring, sources tell Page Six. Rourke, 57, has been dating stunning blond model Kuletskaya, 24, for several months and popped the question to her over dinner last week. The star has told friends he's planning a Moscow wedding in April. 'They haven't booked a venue or made any solid plans. He just knows he wants to do it in April, and he's been asking what is involved in a traditional Russian wedding ceremony,' a friend of Rourke said." (PageSix)



"From the Four Seasons it was an eleven block walk up Park Avenue. At seven last night there were a lot of people still leaving their offices although foot traffic lessens noticeably past 60th Street and the office buildings. I stopped to take a picture of The Chinese Porcelain Company’s tree. Very festive and very chic as you would expect from the Chinese Porcelain. I was going up to Annabelle and Afred Mariaca’s holiday cocktail party at 63rd and Park. The Mariacas’ party is now a tradition. The couple are very active in New York social life and I often see them at the various Lincoln Center galas so they have a intense interest in the arts. They are also South American and so they are part of that segment of the New York social world that reflect the Hispanic and Latin American cultures. This is not written about frequently, but the Latin presence and influence in New York is very important, and very much integrated; now more than ever. In the members like the Mariacas, they are often more sophisticated because there’s the international influence. These cocktail parties seem to move in waves." (NYSocialDiary)



"Last Friday I donned head-to-toe Michael Bastian black tie (my stylist/date was MB's stunning PR power-chic Eugenia Gonzalez Ruiz-Olloqui) and trucked to the Bronx in Martin Dawson's rented white super-stretch limo with an interior like a 1985 euro-disco (think loud tunes, pulsating rainbow lights, long leather seats) for the annual Winter Wonderland Ball at the New York Botanical Gardens. Anyone who wasn't at Art Basel in Miami was there. I hung with Vogue's Serena Nikkhah, Annie Churchill, Lydia Fenet, Christian Leone, Alex Kramer ... designer Yigal Azrouel ... My fave moment was witnessing writer/filmmaker Jack Bryan spin and flip Lauren Remington Platt in the air on the dance floor. Attention all reality TV producers: you have your first contestant couple for Dancing with the Socialites. 'It's in my blood,' Bryan explained. Post-Botanical, Eugenia and I hit the hot-spot formerly called The Boom Boom Room where Josh Hartnett chain-puffed cigarettes on the outside porch with two buddies. 'He sucks the air out of every room he's in,' whined a straight pal of mine about Hot-nett, who had the girls (and the gays) elbowing to be near the movie star. Put out the ciggie Josh, you're already on fire." (Papermag)



"Porn star Janine Lindemulder, who has been fighting a custody battle with her ex-husband, reality television star Jesse James, and his current wife, Sandra Bullock, lost another round Monday when a California court denied her request for 'expanded visitation rights,' according to the Los Angeles Times. James has had sole guardianship of the 5-year-old girl since the adult actress and director was jailed for tax evasion. Federal prosecutors on August 22, 2008 said Lindemulder, 39, of Huntington Beach, Calif., failed to pay more than $200,000 in taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service ...Lindemulder started her film career in B movies and appeared in a soft porn film, "Caged Fury," alongside non-porn actor Erik Estrada, according to IMDB.com. She has posed for Playboy and Penthouse. Since 2000, she has shifted from adult performing to directing and producing erotic films, according to IMDB.com. Bullock, who has no biological children, recently admitted she relishes her role as stepmom to James' three kids. According to CBS affiliate KOIN-TV, She explained, 'I may never hear that word 'mom.' But being a parent is not about breeding. It's about caring.'" (CBSNews)



"Turkey's new multi-dimensional foreign policy has injected much needed vitality and creativity into Ankara's approach to its immediate neighborhood. In seven years, Turkey has gone from being a relatively passive observer of events on its borders to a dynamic player with the kind of influence to help shape the politics of the Middle East, Caucasus, and Central Asia. For example, Turkey's recent agreement to normalize relations with Armenia is a revolutionary development in Turkish foreign policy (though details of the agreement remain unfinished). All at once, the policy adds much needed stability to the southern Caucasus and reduces the likelihood that Congress will pass a non-binding resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide if it is reintroduced in April--a step that would only serve to delay Turkey's own recognition of one of the twentieth century's darkest moments. There are, of course, remaining obstacles to the normalization of ties between Ankara and Yerevan, including Turkey's insistence that Armenia take significant steps toward resolving its dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and strong nationalist sentiment in both Turkey and Armenia. Still, Turkey's proactive approach to Armenia should be encouraged." (CFR)

"Financial News has been canvassing the financial-services industry to find the Rising Stars – our picks of the top 100 executives under the age of 40 who have the potential to make it to the pinnacle of their professions. Over the past three months, Financial News drew up a long list of more than 300 potential rising stars. All nominees had to be under 40, based in Europe, the Middle East or Africa and working in investment banking, asset management, hedge funds, private equity, wealth management, exchanges, trading or support services to these sectors." (FinancialNews100)



"When we got the idea to do Our 10 Best Beers, little did we realize what a shark tank we were jumping into. While wine drinkers, cocktail swillers, and those that drink their spirits neat are a very vocal and cantankerous bunch, the vast majority of beer fanciers just sit back, foamy quaff in hand, and watch the rest of the drinkers duke it out. But if provoked, there's no one more opinionated than a beer drinker--whether she fancies pilsner, lager, bitter, stout, porter, lambic, saison, or even barley wine. So contentious were the lists we received, we decided that they couldn't all be accommodated within a single list: Putting PBR on the same roster with peach lambic, say, didn't make any sense. So we've broken everything down into several lists, beginning with "Plebeian," which should satisfy the majority of normal beer drinkers, who hope for nothing more than a cold, foamy slap in the face at the end of the day. After that, we've cast a more-specialized list, ending with some top fives from our resident beer geeks." (VillageVoice)



"In his legendary 19th century strategic treatise vom Kriege (On War), Carl von Clausewitz articulates several key principles of successful military strategy. President Obama, in his recent decision regarding our Afghanistan strategy, appears to have neglected many of these critical components. 'Fog of war' is Clausewitz’s way of describing the opaqueness and resultant uncertainty inherent in any military campaign. Military planners must take into consideration that conditions on the ground will vary from war to war--and even from battle to battle--and thus not assume that strategies that work in one situation will necessarily translate to another. For instance, to assume that a strategy that has worked in Iraq (the surge) will certainly work in Afghanistan--with its much different terrain, familiarity with central government, history with occupations, educational levels, and culture--would be viewed by Clausewitz as na├»ve at best and foolish at worst. Clausewitz also emphasizes the importance of unity among a country’s government, military, and people--forming, in his view, a pseudo-Biblical trinity. In other words, these three elements of any society must believe in the worthiness of any military mission for it to have a reasonable chance at success. President Bush’s major fault in his military strategy was nearly total disregard for the need for harmony in the American trinity. He asked for no shared sacrifices and put the entire burden for the wars on the less than one percent of the population that serves in the military. Congressman David Obey’s idea of a war surtax would be a step toward curing that failing. Though a tax may be economically and politically unwise at this time, encouraging voluntary efforts by civilians (war bonds are examples from World Wars I and II) would be important symbolic steps toward sharing the sacrifice and moving closer to harmony in the trinity." (TNR)



"Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson dropped by and talked about landing his SNL gig. It wasn’t easy. Kenan said most of the people auditioning were standup comics, and he isn’t one. Kenan is more of a comic actor than a comedian. So when he performed for the SNL suits, in front of a live audience at a comedy club, he could only do voices, like Al Sharpton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 'All my impressions are just shitty takes on people,' Kenan admitted. But it most have worked, because he’s been on the show for seven years. Or they just needed a new black dude “It was time for black guy replacement time,” Kenan joked. But the black guy has to work his ass off too. Kenan is constantly pounding out sketches. He insisted, 'As soon as you don’t write for yourself, that’ll be the week you’re not doing anything.' Kenan talked about Bill Cosby a little too. He worked with Bill on Fat Albert, Kenan played Fat Albert, and Kenan claims Bill is a pervert. One day when they were rewriting a scene, Bill said, 'So how are you enjoying show business? Because when this movie comes out, you’re going to have to get 2 dicks, the women will be all over you.'" (SternShowBlog)

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