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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"U.S. President Barack Obama, who isn’t scheduled to attend (The Davos World Economic Forum), has denounced 'fat-cat bankers' and called for limitations on the size and trading activities of financial institutions. The U.K. government, which is supporting four of the country’s lenders, has imposed a 50 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses for 2009 as a way of recovering some of its costs. 'There will be a lot of bowing and scraping before the central bankers, treasury secretaries and regulators,' said Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who will be participating in three sessions at the conference, including a debate on 'rebuilding economics.' 'They kept the show on the road, and we have to acknowledge the state matters much more these days.' White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be among the political elite at the Swiss ski resort this year. Adair Turner, the chairman of the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, and Barney Frank, chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, are participating in public panel discussions." (Bloomberg)



"'Jail fucking bait!' exclaims record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) upon learning his new find, blonde bad girl Cherrie Currie (Dakota Fanning), is only 15. 'Jack fucking pot!' This line got a huge laugh at last night's Sundance premiere of rock biopic Runaways. It sums up a certain kind of Hollywood thinking, and is simultaneously a fine example of why this crowd-pleaser would never be produced by a major studio (it will be released by Apparition, Bob Berney's newish indie distributor). Underage girls are big business -- this is why Fanning and Stewart, both involved with the Twilight franchise, are considered bankable names -- but at the same time, media made for the teen girl market almost never acknowledges the uglier truth of their budding desires. The first image in Runaways is of a splatter of red menstrual blood on pavement, and from there on out, writer/director Floria Sigismondi concentrates on the power, beauty and tragedy of the teen girl libido unleashed." (Karina Longworth/VillageVoice)



"'I can't remember why we're having this,' Patti Smith said as she began her reading and concert at Robert Miller Gallery Friday night, 'so I decided to dedicate this evening to Robert Mapplethorpe. We'll make it a gathering for him.' Between a handful of songs including 'My Blakean Year,' and 'Beneath the Southern Cross,' Smith, who was surrounded by pieces from her current photography exhibit at the gallery with Steven Sebring, read several stories from her new memoir Just Kids about her relationship with the late photographer. Smith's stories trace a friendship with Mapplethorpe that began when both were 20 in 1967, she was freshly transplanted from New Jersey, he was a student at Pratt, and lasted through his death in 1989. In one story, Smith recounted a trip she and Mapplethorpe took to the newly opened Whitney Museum of American Art. They were so broke they could only afford one ticket. Smith went in, and when she reported back to Mapplethorpe who was waiting for her outside, he told her 'One day we'll go in together, and the work will be ours.' Smith told the audience, who included Sebring, Edward Mapplethorpe, Vince Aletti, Michael Alago and Jane Dickson, that she was less interested in fame than Mapplethorpe was, and though she hoped merely to have her name listed someday in the Encyclopedia Britannica, it was he who dreamed she would have a top 40 hit." (Papermag)



"The 9.2 earthquake that triggered the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami claimed some 230,000 lives in 13 countries. But the Port-au-Prince 7.0 quake may exceed that toll in one small country. Haiti's capital will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, like German and Japanese cities after World War II. For a city of 3 million that was designed to handle a mere 50,000, there was little modern infrastructure to begin with. But it will still cost billions. Fighting two trillion-dollar wars abroad while millions are jobless at home doesn't make much sense to well over half the American people. How many favor something closer to home has not been polled. There is a growing chorus of geopolitical deep thinkers and intellectuals who favor a strategic retreat from the imperial posture of the Cold War, where we are now fighting terrorist cells on a planetary scale, and reassess priorities. One of the Democratic Party's champion fundraisers, speaking privately, said, "At times I feel that we're exhausted, sitting on the sidewalk, applauding the inevitable as Team China marches by.'" (Arnaud de Borchgrave)



"At the screening of 'Blue Valentine' on Sunday night in Park City, it went like this: a mad rush for tickets as journalists and distributors tried to get in to the still-unseen title starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Then, after the screening: a meander out to the lobby and unenthusiastic huddling by executives from Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus Features and others. It’s been this way at Sundance, which once upon a time could guarantee at least one brass knuckles bidding war per festival (usually involving Harvey Weinstein). Now the trend is to bid late and bid low – a buyer’s market where the buyers, few as they are, seem unenthused. 'I’m not seeing any films that are commercial,' said Rob Friedman, the CEO of Summit, grabbing a slice of pizza between screenings. He’s looking, he said, for 'another ‘Hurt Locker,’ the film that is winning the indie studio critical acclaim this season. All the buyers want something with a hook – humor, preferably, or horror or a pedigree – that has a marketing notion on which to hang a release. A 'Thank You for Smoking,' or a 'Napoleon Dynamite,' or a 'Brokeback Mountain.'" (Sharon Waxman/TheWrap)



"Naomi Campbell's spokeswoman today denied claims the supermodel is set to marry her Russian billionaire boyfriend. The fiery Londoner is reported to be setting up home with property tycoon Vladimir Doronin at his apartment in Moscow. Rumours were abound that the pair were also planning to tie the knot. Naomi and Vlad, 47, met at the Cannes Film Festival 18 months ago and have been enjoying a whirlwind romance. The pair were spotted looking very loved-up on a romantic trip to Thailand over New Year, where they met up with Naomi's modelling pal Kate Moss and her fiancé Jamie Hince. Now it seems things are getting even more serious between the two with Naomi reportedly learning Russian to ease the move." (DailyMail)



"This week might well mark a new pessimistic high among U.S. military and Pentagon leaders about the war in Afghanistan, as well as an attendant new willingness to deal with some of the Taliban. It sure looks like the military brass most deeply and directly involved in the war are sending signals to the White House. Most certainly, it isn’t that they’re just thinking out loud. The question, as always, is whether the Obama team is listening—and what it is hearing. '[T]here’s been enough fighting,' said General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, in a stunning interview in The Financial Times. 'What I think we do is try to shape conditions which allow people to come to a truly equitable solution to how the Afghan people are governed.' Asked about Taliban leaders participating in a future government, he responded: 'I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past.' The general’s openness to dealing with the Taliban sits well with the international conference on Afghanistan set for Thursday in London, where America’s allies and others like the idea of trying to settle with the Taliban." (Les Gelb/TheDailyBeast)



"A Russian official told Turtle Bay today that his government will not remove Taliban militants from a U.N. list of individuals once suspected of engaging in terrorist activities, thwarting U.S. and U.N. aims to entice so-called moderate Taliban to make peace or switch sides in the Afghan war and support the Western-backed government of Hamid Karzai. 'Our position hasn't changed and we can say we are against the delisting of the Taliban,' Ruslan Bakhtin, a spokesman for the Russian mission to the United Nations, said in a interview. 'It continues to be a terrorist organization and it continues to carry out terrorist activities on Afghan soil.' Afghanistan and the United Nations have been appealing to the U.N. Security Council in recent weeks to lift sanctions on a handful of Taliban officials who are committed to renouncing violence. The move, which is backed by the United States, is viewed by Kai Eide, the U.N.'s top envoy in Afghanistan, as a critical first step toward opening the door to political talks with the Taliban." (ForeignPolicy)





"Bill Gates has got moooves you've never seen! The Microsoft founder sponsored an after-hours party at Sundance for Bing.com, and started grooving to the music ... Gates was in Sundance to attend the documentary 'Waiting For Superman', meet with Robert Redford, and throw his own after-hours party at The House of Hype, where Gates got down, in his own, unique Bill Gates-y way." (Guestofagust)



(image via JH/NYSD)

"Last Tuesday I got a 'last minute' invitation to a 'hush-hush' supper for Placido Domingo (who turned 69 this past Thursday at Doubles after his performance at the Met in Verdi’s 'Simon Boccanegra.') The party would commence after his performance – which ended at 11:30. They were celebrating the maestro’s 50th Anniversary on the musical stage and his birthday (which was the day before). Jacqueline Mars (think Mars Bar) was hostess and the guest list of fifty was made up of Washington National opera supporters. Maestro Domingo would be arriving about 12:15. A.M. Would I like to attend? ...When I arrived at Doubles, only Prince Dimitri and his friend (and distant cousin) Madeleine Frowein, had arrived. A little after midnight everyone started streaming in, including the maestro’ wife and son (who is a ringer for the younger Placido); as well as Jacqueline Mars; the Russian Ambassador, Caroline Kennedy, Kenneth Feinberg (Obama’s pay czar), Brenda Johnson, the Ambassador to Jamaica (a Bush appointee)." (NYSocialDiary)

"I continue to hear people saying that Martha Coakley’s defeat in Massachusetts had nothing or very little to do with the approval of the Obama administration in that state. For those who continue to adhere to this opinion, let’s look at some other states where the decline in a candidate’s polls can’t be explained away by the Democratic candidate’s ineptitude. What you find in those states is that in polling for the 2010 senate and gubernatorial elections, the Democrat was initially ahead but began to fall behind at roughly the same time as Obama’s approval ratings also began to fall." (John B. Judis/TNR)



(Paz de la Huerta via models)

"Bill Gates appears to be giving Paris Hilton a run for her money on the party scene at the Sundance Film Festival. The Microsoft billionaire was seen dancing, Paris style, on a banquette during a performance by John Legend and the Roots at an after-hours party for Microsoft search engine Bing at the Film Lounge the other night. A spy said, 'He gyrated in a VIP booth until 2 a.m. Everybody was snapping photos of him until his security rushed him out the back door after he tipped a waitress $500.' Gates also confessed to our spy that he was spending Sundance on the hunt for 'that chick from 'Twilight' -- Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Joan Jett biopic 'The Runaways' -- saying, 'I want to see her movie while I'm out here. I heard it was good' ... And Gates wasn't the only over-50 banquette dancer. Bill Murray, who stars in 'Get Low,' danced at GoldBar at the Sky Lounge Sunday night with a bevy of beauties, including actress Paz de la Huerta. Murray hobbled in on crutches but had no problem gyrating to hip-hop and reggae and kissing and grinding with de la Huerta. Our witness said, 'The kiss was a three-second, full lip lock. Murray looked like he was having a great time.'" (PageSix)

"Paris Hilton must have the skin of a rhinoceros. Not two days after Robert Redford says, 'Suddenly, you end up with parties and celebrities and Paris Hilton … and that’s not us. Sundance has nothing to do with any of that. Now with the economy, these people can’t come back or I hope they don’t come.' And then the girl shows up. She’s like an international cockroach: all you need is booze, boys and barstools and like magic, she appears. I kind of admire her tenacity. You can almost hear her brain screaming, 'No one keeps mama away from a good time and the party pages of Us Weekly!'" (Paula Froelich/ Sundance Channel)

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