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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"As workers washed the blood and rubble from the streets and families mourned the nearly 70 people killed in the violent revolution that swept Kyrgyzstan, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put in a caring phone call on Thursday, April 8, to Roza Otunbayeva, the opposition leader now in command of the impoverished Central Asian state. He promised her financial aid, legitimacy and a 'special relationship' with the Kremlin, and she gladly accepted. The move was significant: it seems clear now that Kyrgyzstan will quickly return to Moscow's sphere of influence after months of strained relations with Russia, making the U.S. military presence in the country all the more precarious. Russia appears to be happy with the outcome of Wednesday's uprising, which caused President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee to the south of the country — though he has yet to give up power. But what remains somewhat unclear is whether Russia was directly involved in the protests that prompted his ousting. On Friday, April 9, Omurbek Tekebayev, another leader of the revolutionary government, claimed that it was. In an interview with Reuters, Tekebayev said Russia had 'played a role,' adding, "You've seen the level of Russia's joy when they saw Bakiyev was gone. So now there is a high probability that the duration of the U.S. air base's presence in Kyrgyzstan will be shortened.'" (Simon Shuster /Time)



"In promoting this book, we have already been told by Barbara Walters’s producer, No, you cannot be on 'The View,' I cannot disrupt my relationship with Oprah. Joy Behar, the same thing. Charlie Rose; Larry King said, I will not do it, it might upset Oprah. Even David Letterman." (Kitty kelly/NYTimes)



"Congratulations are in order for Georgina Chapman and Harvey Weinstein. The happy couple are expecting a child this summer. 'We're so excited!' Chapman told friends at last night's New Yorkers for Children gala. 'I'm five months along, but this dress hides it pretty well!' She wore an accordian-pleat white swing frock from Marchesa's Spring 2010 collection. Weinstein and Chapman were married on December 15, 2007 at the couple's home in Westport, Connectecut. This will be the first child for Chapman, 33, and the fourth for Weinstein, 58." (TheFix via Gawker)



"Kent Sepkowitz has written an interesting piece for Slate on the current state of affairs regarding whether or not condom usage should be mandatory in the adult movie industry. But what over-educated liberals (including myself) think on the matter isn’t really the problem. The issue is what will happen in reality. The subject has come to the fore because California state regulators are debating whether or not to require condom usage in the San Fernando Valley’s adult movie industry. At a hearing last month, folks on both sides spoke for and against the proposition. Among them was Darren James, an African-American male performer who contracted HIV in 2004, leading to an outbreak in the industry. Meanwhile, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is encouraging regulators to better police unsafe sex practices in the porn industry as a matter of occupational safety. For the most part, members of the adult business are against the idea." (Susannah Breslin/TrueSlant)



"On the tarmac of Osvaldo Vieira, the international airport of the West African coastal country of Guinea-Bissau, sits a once-elegant Gulfstream jet, which in the normal course of events would have no reason to land in a country with no business opportunities and virtually no economy. In recent years, however, Guinea-Bissau has emerged as a nodal point in three-way cocaine-trafficking operations linking producers in South America with users in Europe; the value of the cocaine that transits this small and heartbreakingly impoverished country dwarfs its gross national product. The Gulfstream arrived unexpectedly from Venezuela on July 12, 2008, and taxied to a hangar at the adjacent military airbase — where soldiers formed a line and unloaded its contents. The contents, reportedly more than a half-ton of cocaine, vanished. The crew was arrested and released. The army permitted the government to impound the plane only after several days. Since then, the plane has sat in the harsh sun, a reminder of Guinea-Bissau’s helplessness before forces far more powerful than itself. The most evident of those forces are South American crime syndicates with billions of dollars at their disposal and new markets to explore. But the dynamic before which Guinea-Bissau and its neighbors along the West African coast are truly helpless is globalization, which ensures that producers will find a way to deliver all things insatiably desired, whether good or bad. West Africa, which neither produces nor consumes significant quantities of cocaine, is a victim of changes in global supply and demand." (James Traub/NYTMag)



"Her dream came true—and turned into a nightmare. Jamie and Frank McCourt are locked in the World Series of divorce cases. Among the big-ticket bones of contention is ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. There are smaller issues, too. After a bruising battle, Frank only just got to retrieve clothes and photos from one of the couple’s homes, in Holmby Hills near the Playboy Mansion, as attorneys for both sides looked on. Meanwhile, last month, TMZ captured Jamie, who was chief executive of the Dodgers organization until Frank fired her, attempting to enter Dodger Stadium to fetch her belongings. Flanked by videographers and a couple of her lawyers, including super-litigator David Boies, Jamie planned to tape her sprawling, glass-walled office overlooking the third-base line before packing up the contents, including a collection of baseball caps signed by baseball legends Sandy Koufax and Brooks Robinson, among many other Major League stars. She was denied entry; Frank had her things delivered to her lawyer’s office. After 30 years of marriage, it is an understatement to say things have gotten ugly between Frank and Jamie. She has asked for temporary spousal support of nearly $1 million—a month, that is. Michael Kump, one of her attorneys, says more than half of that sum is needed to cover fixed payments on various McCourt residences. She wants an additional $9 million to help pay her lawyers. By the time it’s done, the Los Angeles Times reports, the divorce case will qualify as one of the costliest in state history." (Kim Masters/TheDailyBeast)



"It is quite a performance. Indeed, preparations for this evening's dinner at a seaside grill restaurant have started five hours early, with a coded phone call from the diva to her contingent of minders. She has decreed that this evening she will go out 'bedecked.' That means extra bodyguards must be deployed because (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) is planning to wear, among other priceless sparklers, a gargantuan 33-carat Krupp diamond bought as a Valentine gift many years ago by Richard Burton. Not that she is ever one to go out incognito, of course (tonight she is wearing floor-length satin gown and white mink stole, despite the searing tropical heat), particularly when she has something to show off. Or, to be more precise, someone. For her companion this evening is a handsome and smart-suited black man who the 75-year-old screen legend has let it be known is about to become her ninth bridegroom (she married Burton twice). Aware that all eyes are on them, the actress spends the evening gently caressing the face of millionaire businessman Jason Winters, who - at 47 - is 28 years her junior, and studiously ignoring the Polynesian fire-eaters he has hired to entertain them while they dine on caviar and local fish. And if this very public display of amore is not enough, the two-times Oscar-winner has even felt moved to contact Liz Smith, New York's most celebrated gossip columnist, this month to gush with schoolgirl excitement about her intended. 'Jason Winters is one of the most wonderful men I've ever known and that's why I love him,' she trilled. 'He bought us a beautiful house in Hawaii and we visit it as often as possible.'" (EveningStandard)



"Bids have already begun to fly for a chance to intern with the magazine world's most vaunted figure, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. The week-long internship is being auctioned off to benefit the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. As of Friday 10 a.m., the highest bid was $1,850. Wintour values her 'internship package' at $10,000. The prizes include a week-long stint at Vogue offices, tickets to a fashion show at New York Fashion Week, a copy of The September Issue, and In Vogue; Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People; The World in Vogue: People, Parties, Places and The Teen Vogue Handbook, not to metion the chance to meet the legend herself. Five bids have currently been placed, and those interested have until April 29 to place a bid." (DNAInfo)



"As I step into Elena’s L’Etoile in Charlotte Street, I am greeted with warmth and a smile by a little old lady who happens to be just about the most famous maître d’ in the country. Elena Salvoni turns 90 this month but there is not a trace of weariness as she nimbly shows me to my table. She visibly brightens when I tell her that my guest for lunch is Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Spookily, there is a picture of him, receiving an award, overlooking the table. It is inscribed: 'To Elena: This award is for you, from everyone who loves you.' The picture is not, of course, from everyone but from one of the most successful theatre producers of all time. When Mackintosh arrives, they embrace fondly and briefly catch up on their latest news. I think I overhear that Mackintosh’s 93-year-old mother has just been to Florida to watch a cousin go to the moon, but I may be making that up: there is a busy din, and there is no clamour quite like the maiden lunchtime airings of theatrical gossip. Mackintosh, aged 63, is dressed casually, wearing an open-necked striped shirt, and seems fit, relaxed and expansive. I take that to mean that he thinks he has another – yet another – hit on his hands. For this Wednesday sees the opening of Hair, the infamous 1960s hippy musical, co-produced by Mackintosh and freshly imported with an American cast after an acclaimed Broadway run ... 'Of course the original was performed through a haze of drugs – everyone was out of their minds in 1968. But this time it didn’t reek of all that at all. It has become much more about love, and freedom, and young people wanting to do things together, and not wanting to be told how to do it.' There is an added twist in Mackintosh’s involvement: in 1968 he was a 21-year-old production runner for the original London staging of the show. When I ask for his memories, he says he just remembers 'having a wild time.'" (FT)



"Kim Gordon's current exhibit 'The Noise Paintings' at Upper East Side rare bookstore/gallery John McWhinnie at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, features a series of small white canvases with the names of no-wave, grunge and noise bands written across them in running paint. Gordon told us the paintings, which went on display yesterday and are featured in Gordon's new art book, Performing/Guzzling, were made with 'acrylic paint, used to interfere. They're very performative.' These works, which trumpet band names like 'Talk Normal,' 'Slow Listener,' and, a crowd favorite, 'Afternoon Penis,' hung in the store's small upstairs gallery surrounding attendees that included Gordon's husband Thurston Moore, Chloe Sevigny, Gang Gang Dance's Lizzi Bougatsos, Terry Richardson, Olivier Zahm, James Frey, Bill Powers, Andy Spade ..." (Papermag)



"US President Barack Obama returned to the Czech Republic this week, one year after his first European foray. Though there were echoes of last year’s visit, it was a different Obama who landed in Prague. Now, after a year in office, some of the luster has come off a president who once basked in international regard. The Czechs, for one, were distressed when he scrapped the missile defense system the Bush administration had labored to install, particularly local leaders who risked political capital on the basis of American appeals over the importance of the program. And less-than-stellar poll numbers have made it clear that his star power has diminished closer to home. But the leader of the free world returned with something more important, perhaps, than his celebrity aura. This time he came with important agenda victories to boost him after suffering from a perception that he couldn’t get things done. Unlike his empty-handed visits where he was told no by everyone from Europeans who didn’t like his economic program to the International Olympic Committee officials who chose Rio de Janeiro over Chicago – as well as one visit where he did get something, a Nobel Prize, of which even the recipient wondered whether it was deserved – he came this time with important achievements under his belt. He has passed a health care overhaul that has bedeviled presidents for a generation and emerged as a man who can steer his party to success. He has stabilized the American economy if not resurrected it, restoring some of the confidence that assures America’s place in the world marketplace." (JerusalemPost)



"It was a three-part fête for Minnie Mortimer last night, who celebrated her newest collection with a cocktail at Scoop, a dinner at The Standard Grill, and—of course—an unofficial afterparty (more on this later). While plenty of champagne went around, the social-turned designer showed off her wares, hung up around the Meatpacking District boutique, although the best argument for her sweet tee and shirtdresses happened to be co-hosting the event with Mortimer: Miranda Kerr ... the evening, which hosted guests like Brian Atwood, Nina Garcia, and family members Peter Davis and Topper Mortimer, was a bit of a love-fest—no less because the two women of the evening brought along their respective significant others, Oscar-winning writer and director Stephen Gaghan (of Traffic and Syriana, among others) and Orlando Bloom. As guests later dug into plates of salmon and roast chicken, talk inevitably turned to the unseasonably warm temps. 'I just got in last night from Los Angeles, and it’s gorgeous there, too,' said Mortimer. 'I’ve been surfing a lot ..'" (TheDailyFrontRow)



"The public opinion trial of Michael Steele will hold a vital public hearing Saturday, when the embattled Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman takes to the stage in front of an antsy party faithful. Steele will begin the process of rebuilding his name when he speaks to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in the afternoon. And he has plenty to prove. Two RNC members have now come out asking for Steele to resign, and other key figures are expressing hesitation. A letter supporting Steele was signed by 31 state GOP chairmen Friday, but that leaves another 20 who aren’t on board yet. (The totals include the District of Columbia party chairman.) Republicans say Steele needs to get back to basics and reassure supporters about his stewardship. Mostly, though, they say the distractions need to stop." (TheHill)



"Slide over, Jack Welch. Take a seat, Rupert Murdoch. We may have a new world-record holder for history's most expensive -- and perhaps most civil -- divorce. Casino maestro Steve Wynn and his now-ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, officially ended their marriage late last year with a settlement that has been sealed at her request. Yet the question has been raised in the nation's gossip columns and in the parlors around Vegas: Was this split the costliest on record? 'I would say so,' Wynn, 68, told AOL News in an interview last week. 'I think it might be.' One reason may be because Wynn and his former spouse evenly split their 38 percent stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd. He is the chairman and she remains a director of the company and someone he has long credited with aspects of its success. Elaine Wynn received her 11,076,709 shares of stock in January, when it was worth $741 million. A recent stock run-up now puts the value of that stake at $955 million." (AOLNews)

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