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Friday, April 23, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Before he goes to sleep, between 11 and midnight, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, typically checks in by e-mail with the same reporter: Mike Allen of Politico, who is also the first reporter Pfeiffer corresponds with after he wakes up at 4:20. A hyperactive former Eagle Scout, Allen will have been up for hours, if he ever went to bed. Whether or not he did is one of the many little mysteries that surround him. The abiding certainty about Allen is that sometime between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m., seven days a week, he hits 'send' on a mass e-mail newsletter that some of America’s most influential people will read before they say a word to their spouses. Allen’s e-mail tipsheet, Playbook, has become the principal early-morning document for an elite set of political and news-media thrivers and strivers. Playbook is an insider’s hodgepodge of predawn news, talking-point previews, scooplets, birthday greetings to people you’ve never heard of, random sightings ('spotted') around town and inside jokes. It is, in essence, Allen’s morning distillation of the Nation’s Business in the form of a summer-camp newsletter." (NYTimesmagazine)



(image via listal)

"Donatella Versace is coming to Washington once again. For the second year in a row, the designer is going to the White House Correspondents Association dinner on May 1, this time as the guest of The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown. (Does this mean Brown will don a Versace gown?) Versace caused a stir last year when she joined Kate Betts and Time managing editor Richard Stengel at the event, where she met President Obama. Versace will be seated at The Daily Beast’s table next to Christopher Buckley, President Obama’s personal aide Reggie Love, Zoe Saldana of 'Avatar' and Ben Silverman." (WWD)



(Illustration by Francisco Caceres for TIME)

"The evening of Easter Sunday, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Baja California. At 8 p.m. E.T., CNN had live coverage. MSNBC was running a special, Why Planes Crash. Fox News had host, preacher and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee talking about God, Easter and the Sandra Bullock movie The Blind Side. Guess which of the three news channels is lowest rated in prime time. Hint: the one that was covering the news. In the first quarter of 2010, CNN lost nearly half its prime-time audience from a year ago. In February, CNN prime time even finished behind its little sibling, HLN. CNN, however, says that its profits continue to grow healthily and that it reaches more individual viewers per month than Fox or MSNBC. But every media maven and his sister have been offering 'What should CNN do?' advice: More hard news! More infotainment! Bring back Crossfire! Stay away from Crossfire! TIME is CNN's sister company in Time Warner — and as another big mainstream-media institution, we're implicated in the same kind of problems. As TIME's media critic, then, I offer my own "What should CNN do?" prescription, even if it hits close to home." (James Poniewozik/Time)



(Michaelangelo's Creation of Adam via case.edu)

"Four years at Yale College in the 1950s rendered the question moot. It wasn’t that I’d missed the explanation; there was no explanation to miss, at least not one accessible by means other than the proverbial leap of faith. Then as now, the college was heavily invested in the proceeds of the Protestant Reformation, the testimony of God’s will being done present in the stonework of Harkness Tower and the cautionary ringing of its bells, as well as in the readings from scripture in Battell Chapel and the petitionings of Providence prior to the Harvard game. The college had been established in 1701 to bring a great light unto the gentiles in the Connecticut wilderness, the mission still extant 250 years later in the assigned study of Jonathan Edwards’ sermons and John Donne’s verse. Nowhere in the texts did I see anything other than words on paper—very beautiful words but not the living presence to which they alluded in rhyme royal and iambic pentameter. I attributed the failure to the weakness of my imagination and my poor performance at both the pole vault and the long jump. I brought the same qualities into the apostate lecture halls where it was announced that God was dead. The time and cause of death were variously given in sophomore and senior surveys of western civilization—disemboweled by Machiavelli in sixteenth-century Florence, assassinated in eighteenth-century Paris by agents of the French Enlightenment, lost at sea in 1835 while on a voyage with Charles Darwin to the Galapagos Islands, garroted by Friedrich Nietzsche on a Swiss Alp in the autumn of 1882, disappeared into the nuclear cloud ascending from Hiroshima on August 6, 1945." (Lewis Lapham/LaphamsQuarterly)



(image via sanfranciscosentinel)

"More than 60 years after Israel's stunning victory in the 1948 war that birthed the Jewish state, an end to the world's most exasperating conflict seems more distant than ever. U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to drag both sides kicking and screaming to the negotiating table after nearly a decade of no progress. But is there still any reason for hope? We asked leading Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians who've tried and failed to make peace to answer three crucial questions: What have you learned, who's primarily to blame, and what's your out-of-the-box idea to solve the conflict?" (ForeignPolicy)



"Dozens of Securities and Exchange Commission staffers used government computers to access and download explicit images and many of the incidents have occurred since the global financial meltdown began, according to a new watchdog investigation. The SEC inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees, 31 of which occurred in the last two and a half years, according to a summary of the cases requested by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) that first surfaced Thursday evening. Several of employees held senior positions, earning between $99,300 and $222,418 per year, the summary said. Three of the incidents occurred this year, ten in 2009, 16 in 2008, two in 2007 and one each in 2006 and 2005." (WashPo)



(image via twitpic/aplusk)

"Is Ashton Kutcher the next new-media mogul? More than 400 people ponied up a staggering $350 each to hear the actor and Fast Company cover boy discuss business innovation at the Edison Ballroom the other day alongside top executives from DreamWorks, Nokia and Nike. Kutcher -- who beat CNN in a race to see who could gain 1 million followers on Twitter first -- is also an angel investor in social media company Foursquare. 'He's a better tech guru than actor,' joked one attendee." (NYPost)



(image via pagesixmag)

"Sarah Silverman stopped by (The Howard Stern show) to promote her new book, 'The Bedwetter,' ... Howard read a few excerpts from recent interview in which Sarah said the following: 'The guy I'm dating now, who's awesome, is not my typical fare. He's really skinny.' Sarah said the innocent quote was twisted to look like a swipe at her ex, ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel: 'So then they go, 'Oh, she's calling Jimmy fat'...everything nice I say, they turned it into me slamming Jimmy, which--why would I ever do that?' ... Howard tried to investigate the sex Sarah enjoyed with her new man, but Sarah only offered a glimpse: 'Everyone likes a little--a little smack on the tush' .. Howard noted that Sarah had sold her new book for $2.5 million, but Sarah claimed she still hadn't cashed in: 'I am the poorest--in the ratio of non-scandal celebrity, I have the least amount of money to the most amount of fame...I'm a quality of life person. I like to do the stuff I like to do. I'd rather make an Internet video on my couch for free than be Jennifer Lopez's friend in a movie.'" (HowardStern.com/rundown.hs)



"But why in the world would anybody want to see Avatar in only 2D? Or want to own the laserdisc of its tech generation? In a stripped-down, zero-extras version? Still, 20th Century Fox tells me that Avatar has 'blown away' the first day Blu-ray record held by Warner Bros' The Dark Knight which sold 600K units in North America and the UK. Whereas Fox sold 1.5 million units in the U.S. and Canada." (NikkiFinke)



(image via salon)

"It was a New York kind of night at the 2010 National Magazine Awards. New York magazine captured four Ellies -- the most it’s won since 2007, when it took five – including one for general excellence, and the New Yorker won three, part of Condé Nast’s impressive bounty. Condé Nast won eight awards in all, including Glamour’s upset of New York and the Atlantic for the first-ever Magazine of the Year award. Wired won two, including a design Ellie for the third year in a row and one for its J.J. Abrams-edited 'Mystery' issue. Vogue editor Anna Wintour was, surprisingly, emotional in accepting an induction into the Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. Wintour – whose brother introduced her via videotape from London before New Yorker editor David Remnick did live -- thanked Condé chief Si Newhouse. 'It would be impossible to imagine a more caring boss,' she said." (TheWrap)



(image via JH/NYSD)

"I went down to Swifty’s for lunch with two writers: Erica Jong and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast. Three writers sitting together at lunch can’t talk fast enough – there is so much to say – and it’s all fodder for someone’s memoir or so we are inclined to think. Then there’s the world to discuss, the world around us, then the gossip that rises out of it, and finally back to the writing, the work, the way." (NYSocialDiary)



(image via businessweek)

"The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil suit against Goldman Sachs will be vigorously contested by the defendant. It is interesting to speculate which side will win; but we will not know the result for months. Irrespective of the eventual outcome, however, the case has far-reaching implications for the financial reform legislation Congress is considering. Whether or not Goldman is guilty, the transaction in question clearly had no social benefit. It involved a complex synthetic security derived from existing mortgage-backed securities by cloning them into imaginary units that mimicked the originals. This synthetic collateralised debt obligation did not finance the ownership of any additional homes or allocate capital more efficiently; it merely swelled the volume of mortgage-backed securities that lost value when the housing bubble burst. The primary purpose of the transaction was to generate fees and commissions. This is a clear demonstration of how derivatives and synthetic securities have been used to create imaginary value out of thin air. More triple A CDOs were created than there were underlying triple A assets. This was done on a large scale in spite of the fact that all of the parties involved were sophisticated investors. The process went on for years and culminated in a crash that caused wealth destruction amounting to trillions of dollars. It cannot be allowed to continue." (George Soros/FT)



"Want to know the new resto that all the cool kids are flocking to for upscale dining in NYC? If you are one of them, then you already know that The Lion on West Ninth Street is the it spot for celebrities with a penchant for culinary treats. This is because the New York City restaurant comes courtesy of Chef John DeLucie—partner in Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn—and Mark Amadei, owner of Delicatessen ... The packed space was buzzing with celebs and socialites like ... John Leguizamo, Donna Karan, Joel Schumacher, Alan Cumming, and many others. Last night was the first night of tastings for the venue, which has yet to officially open its doors to the public. I was fortunate enough to be included on the invite list, and was thrilled to sample the savory treats along with A-list celebs like Ashton and Demi, Lucy Sykes, Devon Schuster & Philip Radziwill ... Derek Blasberg, author of Classy. Tonight, Diane von Furstenburg and Marjorie Gubelmann will be hitting up Lion." (HauteLiving)



"As some of you might already know, Mr. Mickey is stranded in Belgrade, Serbia thanks to that ashy volcano in Iceland. What was supposed to be a quickie weekend in the Serb capital has turned into a 10 day marathon because of all the cancelled Lufthansa flights. Well when life hands him lemons Mr. Mickey likes to make lemonade and so has taken this chance to get to know Belgrade a little better. MM will now share with you some of the things he has come to love in his Balkan home away from home. While sauntering around Kalemegdan, the Belgrade fortress overlooking the confluence of the Save and Danube Rivers, MM came across the Stone Steps (pictured) which are an exit to the park just across from the glamorous French Embassy. MM was thrilled to learn that the steps were designed by Serbia's first female architect Jelisaveta Nacic (1878-1955). The steps were built in the early 20th Century and are simple but chic ... Mr. Mickey is a hardcore feminist and loves to see the Serbian sisters were doing it for themselves back in the day!!!!" (Mr.Mickey/Papermag)



(image via style)

"'He is my male muse,' said Frida Giannini. 'From the moment I met him, he inspired me. He is a package of genius, looks, and creativity. I mean, just look at him.' The 'him' in question would be Mark Ronson, and in a cream suit, polka-dot waistcoat, coordinating polka-dot sneakers, and trademark pompadour, we understood what the Gucci creative director meant ... In the mix were Bryan Ferry, Johnny Borrell, Idris Elba, Pam Hogg, Nick Rhodes, Poppy Delevingne, and co-host Jefferson Hack. Simon LeBon performed with Ronson's band Chauffeur, which just so happens to be named after a relatively unknown early Duran Duran song ..LeBon's performance wasn't the evening's only surprise. A gaggle of girls having a quick cig in the loo meant alarm bells went off—literally. As the fireman rushed in, a startled Anouck Lepère asked, 'Is this for real or part of the party?' A drag queen who goes by the name Star answered: 'Who cares, honey, take it in and enjoy.'" (Style)

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