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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In a plot twist worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy, with intrigue supplied by Machiavelli, Roger Ailes’ days at News Corporation may be numbered. That, at least, is the conspiratorial view of several highly placed News Corp. veterans who believe Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch isn’t likely to be happy with Sunday’s celebratory front-page New York Times profile of the Fox News chief. Ailes didn’t return my phone call, and a Fox News insider scoffed that this interpretation of events is foolish. 'It’s just not true,' this insider said, noting that Ailes and Murdoch 'have a great relationship' and that Murdoch’s corporate spokesman quickly issued a statement of support Saturday after the Times story was posted online with an eye-popping condemnation of Ailes from Murdoch son-in-law Matthew Freud ... Yet the elder Murdoch, my sources tell me, can’t have been pleased with the Times story’s implication that Ailes is single-handedly saving the struggling empire, whose earnings have been suffering in recent months because of substantial holdings in the financially besieged newspaper and broadcast television businesses. 'Rupert picked up his Times at the breakfast table, saw the story above the fold with the big photo of Roger, and probably choked on his coffee,' one insider told me today, noting that the 78-year-old media mogul reflexively bridles when the hired help outshines him. In (literally) the money shot, the Times reported that Fox News earns $700 million in annual profit, the brightest star in the News Corp. firmament, and that Ailes is paid even more than the boss." (TheDailyBeast)



"William Shatner stopped by to promote his 'Raw Nerve' interview show on Biography – and Howard immediately pressured him to reconcile with George Takei on-air. Bill didn't think the show was the right venue: 'We don't wanna do that here...we have to make an occasion of it!' Howard wondered what came between them, so Bill explained that there wasn't much of an issue outside of the media's interest: 'Here's the problem...it's very popular fodder.' Howard then got George Takei on the line, who gave his own take on the rift: 'Bill, we invited you to our wedding and then you went on YouTube ranting and raving that you hadn't got an invitation...you're a wonderful actor, but I can't understand why you go off on these wild tangents' ... Bill eventually consented to sit down for a Howard-mediated conversation – as long as it was made into an episode of his 'Raw Nerve' TV show. Howard agreed so long as he was never the subject – just the rift between Bill and George." (HowardStern)



"WHILE nothing was ever set in stone to begin with (read about it here), it looks like Naomi Campbell's X-Factor-style judging career has stopped before it's started. The supermodel has apparently pulled out of hosting a new series of Britain's Next Top Model. A 'source' told The Mail On Sunday: 'The producers felt the last series wasn't taken as seriously as the American version because presenter Lisa Snowdon just couldn't carry it off on her own. What was missing was a real diva supermodel, a British equivalent to US host Tyra Banks.' They continued: 'Naomi was really excited, but pulled out because she couldn't reach an agreement over logistics or the amount of time she would have to commit.'" (VogueUK)



"In recent weeks, following the shocks of the Christmas Day bomber and the Dec. 30 attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan, observers have tried to understand why U.S. intelligence failed so badly. President Barack Obama argued that the intelligence-gatherers have been doing a bang-up job, while the analysts back at home have not. The Christmas attack, he said, was "a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had." Then a New York Times article asserted that the problem is really communication between different sectors. Finally, the senior U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, blasted intelligence-gathering in Afghanistan, calling data 'only marginally relevant' because it was disconnected from local politics and conditions on the ground. But any evaluation that merely blames the analysts, the intelligence-gatherers, or even both of their abilities to communicate misses the point: Major parts of the system itself are broken, and no surface-level changes will fix that. The trouble starts with bias. I spent a few years working in the field as an intelligence collector, a few more directing operations, and a few back in Washington as an analyst and manager. Like everyone else in the business, I have preferences for certain ways of collecting information. But part of the reason that U.S. intelligence has so much difficulty catching terrorists and quashing insurgencies is that these biases aren't just individual -- they are corporate." (ForeignPolicy)



"Ashley Dupre stopped by to promote her advice column in the NY Post and discuss some of the ins and outs of her career as a high-price escort ... Ashley refused to talk about her prostitution career with specific figures so Howard tried a different tack, asking about the rumor that NY Governor Eliot Spitzer would like to wear socks while banging her. Ashley said she couldn't figure out where the rumor came from, as she's never told anyone about it: 'Where did this whole socks saga come from?' Howard continued to press her, but she refused to confirm it: 'I don't know if it's true or not true' ...Ashley told the crew she'd had a hard time with her family since the scandal broke, particularly her stepfather: 'He's starting to [come around] now, but it's a strange relationship that we have.' Howard speculated that a lot of guys might try to bang her now just so they could say they'd banged 'Spitzer's Whore' and Ashley nodded: 'Absolutely. I have to be so careful...I need to rebrand myself and let people see who I am rather than what they think I am.'" (HowardStern)



"In 2004 I was dispatched to Rome to write a magazine story about the greatest of the Italian artist-designers. I have to admit that the piece was not one I was particularly excited about: All of the press I had read about Valentino pointed to a routine assignment about a very talented and successful gentleman, but not much new appeared to be on the radar. When I got to Italy, my opinion changed very quickly. My first day of reporting, I met not only Valentino, but also Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s partner of 50 years, and the man who has long labored in the shadows of the man the Italians call maestro. Giammetti, it became clear, was the endlessly devoted master planner behind Valentino’s storied career. He is not only the accomplished businessman, but the fierce protector of his lifelong partner’s talent. My first day observing the action at the Valentino headquarters, a Renaissance palazzo near Rome's Spanish Steps, I knew that I had found a great untold story." (Matt Tyrnauer/TheWrap)



"State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he hadn’t read the book and declined to comment, and a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton also declined to comment on the book. No other defenders volunteered themselves, and e-mails to many of the senior aides referred to in the book drew no contradictions. 'Haven't read the book,' wrote Howard Wolfson, once Clinton’s communications director and fiercest defender — with a specialty in killing unflattering books at birth — in an e-mail. 'Working for Secretary Clinton was a privilege that I will always be grateful for.' One who did rise to the Clintons’ defense was pollster Mark Penn, subject of some of the tome’s most caustic comments, and one of the few former insiders who remains close to the Clintons. 'There was often an underlying lack of respect for the Clintons inside the campaign during the effort and now after it that often amazed me,' he wrote in an e-mail. “I have the highest respect for both of the Clintons and what they have accomplished through adversity, and I hope that is clear.' If everyone talked, it was one aide in particular whose firing breached the Clinton’s innermost circle: Patti Solis Doyle, a former East Wing scheduler who was fired as Clinton’s campaign manager early in 2008. Clinton’s circle blames Doyle for many of the book’s most embarrassing revelations. 'She’s a likely suspect' for '80 percent' of the book’s content, said the consultant James Carville. (Solis Doyle responded to the charge in an e-mail that she hadn’t read the book and was in the midst of a family matter.) The staffers and politicians who served as the anonymous sources for 'Game Change' reveal a deeply unflattering image through the eyes of the people who should admire Hillary Clinton most." (Politico)



"Jeffrey Deitch won’t officially assume his new job as director of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art until June 1, but between now and then, he has his work cut out for him on two coasts as he winds down his past life as a New York City art dealer while beginning to try to rake in donations for the museum he’ll lead. MOCA announced earlier today that Deitch, 57, will be its new director. The appointment of an art dealer is seen as an unorthodox move for the museum. Interviewed Monday afternoon in the library of MOCA’s executive offices, Deitch said one of the best cards he holds is his long-standing relationships with art collectors around the world. Having sold them art, he’ll try to sell them on giving large sums of money to MOCA, in hopes of delivering the museum from what he describes as an 'austerity budget' that can’t support a program of exhibitions commensurate with its reputation as perhaps the world’s best museum for post-World War II art. Deitch says that as he exits his New York City gallery, Deitch Projects, possibly by transferring parts of the business to some of his current employees, he expects to take a large financial hit, both in the earnings he’ll forgo after having established himself as one of the top dealers in contemporary art, and in leases he may have to eat on the largest of his three gallery buildings and on other sites that he rents for art storage and to provide studios for artists he promotes." (LATimes)



(image via JH/NYSD)

"Priscilla Rattazzi, Eleanora Kennedy, Kayce Freed Jennings and Jennifer Isham hosted a book party for their friend Charles (or Charlie to his friends) at the Upper East Side townhouse Rattazzi shares with her husband Chris Whittle and their family. The Whittle/Rattazzi domicile is not small but it felt like it last night, packed to the rafters as it was. They were selling books and the author was busy signing....Debbie Bancroft introduced me to Goldie Hawn who has created her own foundation (The Hawn Foundation) which is creating and funding development of teaching methods to help younger children become aware of their brain and the power of consciousness of such." (NYSocialDiary)

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