Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In Hollywood, they say, it can take a lifetime to become an overnight success. In Albany, it can take a lifetime to become an overnight failure. Governor David Paterson has spent a lifetime in Albany. Before his six-day-old campaign came to a halt last week—and long before he became Topic A for the New York media—Mr. Paterson’s career trajectory seemed to defy physics. Over 21 years as a state senator, he had the freedom, as a member of the powerless minority party, to build friendly relationships with colleagues and members of the media without facing much in the way of critical scrutiny. Who cared if a Democratic state senator flip-flopped on a bill, or showed up late to work, or had a bit of a thing for the ladies? 'As minority leader of the Senate, you’re not in position to take responsibility for the decisions you make,' one of Mr. Paterson’s former colleagues said. One reporter who covered Albany says he kept Mr. Paterson’s cell phone number nearby because you 'never knew' what he’d say. 'As the [minority] leader, he was always unusual, unpredictable,' said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf." (TheObserver)

"This season so far, Judge Judy and The Oprah Winfrey Show have been neck-and-neck, drawing around 6.6 million viewers apiece per episode, although Sheindlin has won 11 of the last 14 weeks. Certainly there are others in daytime with broader platforms, but none beats the Judge in straight ratings. Ellen DeGeneres, the newest judge on American Idol, may be the most powerful woman on television these days, but her show pulls in only half the viewers as Sheindlin's on a daily basis. Judge Judy has been the top-rated courtroom show for the last 700 consecutive weeks. Unlike Oprah, she's not going anywhere. The no-nonsense jurist, who made a reported $45 million last year, is committed to continuing her show at least through 2013." (TheDailyBeast)

"In one way, the latest controversy to hit 'The Hurt Locker' is similar to the one that launched open season on the Oscar front-runner just last week. Each was caused by someone with good reason to want Kathryn Bigelow’s movie to win. Why else would the lawyer for Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver -- the soldier who claims 'The Hurt Locker' is based on his life -- wait until 40 minutes after the Oscar polls closed to announce his lawsuit? (The theory being that an Oscar-winning 'Hurt Locker' is a more profitable legal target. Or maybe they just want to appear to take the high road.) The complaint capped a stormy run of bad news for the film that began when reports surfaced last week that one of the film’s producers, Nicolas Chartier, wrote emails soliciting a vote for 'The Hurt Locker' instead of the '$500M film' -- a clear reference to Best Picture rival 'Avatar.' The message ran afoul of an Academy rule prohibiting any derogatory or disparaging communications about another film, and resulted in the loss of Oscar tickets for Chartier, who will not be allowed to attend the ceremony." (TheWrap)

"Everyone seems to be pessimistic about America these days. In poll after poll, Americans worry about their future. Pundits, myself included, write despairingly about the monumental challenges we face. Academics plan seminars on America's decline. So, perhaps more to cheer myself up than anything else, I decided to ask what it would take to fix the U.S. There is one problem that overshadows all else. Washington is taking on debt burdens that are huge and, as the baby boomers retire, look truly frightening. The Peterson Institute estimates that the U.S. government's programs for Social Security and health care are al-ready $43 trillion in the hole. To cover this, the government would have to eliminate virtually all other spending and/or jack up tax rates into the 70 percent range. Foreigners would almost certainly demand higher interest rates if they lent money to the United States. And if we raised interest rates, the economy would stagnate—making the debt burden even more onerous. So, this problem looks unavoidable, but also insoluble. Remember, though, that America has a $14 trillion economy that was, until recently, growing quite fast. We can find ways to address even this challenge. Here are three simple proposals that would defuse the debt bomb, with money to spare: First, adopt a value-added tax." (Fareed Zakaria/Newsweek)

(image via JH/NYSD)

"... Having finished the fascinating story of the enormously interesting and very smart Dr. Burry, I put on the jacket and tie and went down to the Fifth Avenue townhouse of Allison and Leonard Stern who were hosting a 'welcome back party' for their friends Rikki and Bill Bratton who have returned to New York after several years in Los Angeles where Mr. Bratton was chief of the LAPD. I got there almost an hour into the party (6:30 to 8:30) so I know I missed a lot of people. New York cocktail parties at the end of the day usually start at this hour and those who haven’t gone home first go straight to the party first. However, it was crowded. The Sterns are very relaxed and welcoming hosts. They have a beautiful house built early in the last century and replete with polished wood paneling that makes it warm cozy yet expansive in proportion. There must have been fifty or sixty there when I arrived. The Brattons may not know it but they still retain some of that “California” brightness to their appearances. They both look fresh and relaxed compared to a lot of us New Yorkers who do not look especially luminescent at this greyest time of year." (NYSocialDiary)

"Considering the enormous power he is believed to wield, it’s remarkable how few people have heard of Larry Fink. In political and business circles—among the men who travel the now well-worn corridor between Washington and Wall Street—Fink, the chairman and C.E.O. of BlackRock, the giant asset-management firm, is described as possibly the most important man in finance today. But mention his name to most people and they draw a blank. Despite his considerable wealth, he is virtually unknown on the society circuit in Manhattan, where he has an apartment on the Upper East Side, or in Aspen, where he also has a home. In North Salem, the affluent enclave north of New York City where he and Lori, his wife of 35 years, have a 26-acre farm, he is perhaps slightly better known, if only because a number of Wall Street bankers have estates there. But still—just a few months ago—when one of his neighbors, a prominent New York agent, furious that a popular horse path through the Fink estate had been blocked off, was told who owned the property, her response was: 'Who is Larry Fink?'" (VanityFair)

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