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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"LAST week the Latin pop star Ricky Martin — to the surprise of perhaps almost no one — came out of the closet. Did he give the exclusive to People? Nope. Whisper it to Page Six? Nuh-uh. Submit to a tearful interview with Barbara Walters? Not a chance. Instead Mr. Martin posted a statement on his fan Web site, rickymartinmusic.com. 'I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man,' he wrote. It was a departure from the typical celebrity coming-out, which goes something like this: find a sympathetic publication, say, The Advocate (Sean Hayes), Time (Ellen DeGeneres) or People (Lance Bass, Clay Aiken and Neil Patrick Harris); give a soul-baring interview; and watch the story land at the same time you are promoting a new show, album or book. Mr. Martin is one of a growing number of celebrities who, fed up with being hounded by tabloids and Internet gossip, want to control their public personas by addressing personal issues directly with their fans." (Style/NYTimes)



"It is 1975, and you are a 26-year-old high-school art teacher, the divorced mother of a 3-year-old boy, living in Russellville, Ark. You hear that a world-famous novelist is in town for one night, so you wangle an invitation to the party in his honor, hoping he’ll autograph your book. You find yourself smitten with this 52-year-old man — as he is with you — and at the end of the evening you go home together. After he leaves, you pour out your heart in a love poem and mail it to him. He mails it back — copy-edited, in red pencil. Do you: a) Hop a plane to New York and strangle him with your bare hands? b) Quit your job, move to New York with your son and become the guy’s sixth wife? Reader, she married him. Not only that, she became stepmother to the seven children he fathered with his five other wives and had another son with him. Still with me? That makes nine children and Norman Mailer for a husband. As she has said herself: 'Well, I bought a ticket to the circus. I don’t know why I was surprised to see elephants.'" (NYTimesMagazine)



"The mash-up of big-budget 3D movies continued to grab all the attention at the domestic box office Friday, with Warner's epic remake 'The Clash of the Titans' grossing $26.3 million, according to studio estimates, putting it on pace for a $60 million three-day haul, the low side of its pre-release projections. Back in the earthly realm of 2D, however, 'Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too' from Lionsgate quietly put together the most surprising opening of the weekend, grossing $12.3 million. The film, shot at a budget just above $20 million, is on pace to enjoy one of Perry's best openings, with a $30 million-plus haul expected over the three-day weekend." (TheWrap)



"A pristine edition of ZZ Top's King Biscuit Flower Hour performance from June 16, 1980, from before I was a fan. They were an American act on London Records. Explain that to me. And a million people went to see them, and they toured with livestock, but I wasn't in to base boogie. Sure, I liked to look for tush but I saw the band as a slightly improved Black Oak Arkansas, a red dirt version of Grand Funk. I couldn't have been more wrong. What changed me was 'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide.' With its stuttering intro and humorous lyrics... 'Well I was rollin' down the road in some cold blue steel/ I had a blues man in the back, and a beautician at the wheel/ We going downtown in the middle of the night/ We laughing and I'm jokin' and we feelin' alright/ Oh I'm bad, I'm nationwide/ Yes I'm bad, I'm nationwide' This wasn't macho swagger, this was intelligent musicians having a LAUGH! That's what players used to be, cool. And I'm not talking about charismatic, not that that's mutually exclusive, no, I'm talking about cool cats. Removed from the mainstream, functioning in their own universe, laughing at the rest of the world." (LefsetzLetter)



"The scandal over the Catholic Church's handling of child sex abuse charges against priests has been building for years, but in recent weeks the controversy has focused closely on Pope Benedict XVI. A New York Times article about the Vatican's handling of the case of a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting hundreds of deaf boys and new revelations about abuse cases in the German church during Benedict's tenure as archbishop of Munich have raised questions about the pope's leadership. Both his adversaries and defenders have been amping up the rhetoric. On one side are those who see Benedict as central to the church's institutional corruption. They argue that he has done little to punish abusive priests, pointing out that he reportedly ordered that trials be dealt with in secret and covered up known cases of abuse. One the other side are those who see Benedict as the victim of an ideologically motivated media storm. These defenders have counterattacked the media for blowing up baseless accusations and underestimating how much the pontiff has actually done to address the abuse problem. The following are excerpts from some key voices on both sides of the good pope-bad pope debate -- a fight that has, at this point, knocked down more than a few metaphorical pews." (ForeignPolicy)



"Matthew Mellon II and Nicole Hanley announced via Facebook that they are getting married this weekend in a tiny ceremony in Harbour Island. 'Getting Married, Harbour Island' Mellon's Status Update simply read. Banking/oil heir Mellon was married to Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo, then engaged to Noelle Reno before breaking that engagement and proposing to Hanley, an old-guard East Coast social figure, on a boat off of Fisher's Island in August 2008. 'I've never had any illusions as to what my wedding would be,' Hanley told me shortly after becoming engaged. The couple have their own clothing label Hanley-Mellon and surely will be creating heirs and heiresses of their own soon." (Peter Davis/Papermag)



"For years, Bill Clinton tried to negotiate an arms control treaty for the post-cold-war era. He and Boris Yeltsin even agreed on a framework for a new Start treaty in Helsinki. But it never came to be. So when President Obama flies to Prague this week to sign a New Start treaty with Russia, it will culminate Mr. Clinton’s unfulfilled aspiration. Nine years after Mr. Clinton left office, Mr. Obama has in some ways picked up his Democratic predecessor’s mantle. While they are very different presidents and not personally close, at least some of the unfinished agenda items left from the Clinton administration have found their way to the top of the Obama priority list. And the 44th president is arguably profiting from the work, and the setbacks, of the 42nd president. The treaty to be signed this week and the health care overhaul signed into law last month represent the most obvious examples." (NYTimes)



"There is still some life left in the urban art category, judging by the solid results made in Paris last week at Artcurial, France’s third-biggest auction house. Its 'graffiti and street art' sale raised ($582,000) for 80 lots sold, with the top price going to a work by Speedy Graphito, 'Mandala' (2009), which sold for ($52,000) (est $30,000-$38,000). The artist had consigned the work himself, as well as a two-metre-tall sculpture, 'King Size' (2009), the cover lot, which sold for an over-estimate ($32,876). 'Generally we don’t sell works directly from the artists, but there are exceptions in the urban art category,' says sale specialist Arnaud Oliveux. The house also scored with older works, setting a new price high for US graffiti artist Futura 2000, whose 1984 'Baby Formula' made ($51,700). These levels are a far cry from those made by Banksy, the best-known street artist. In 2008 his defaced Hirst spot painting, 'Keep it Spotless' (2007), showing a maid sweeping up in front of a spot painting, made more than $1.8m at the charity Red sale in New York. But, says Oliveux, 'Banksy is a one-off phenomenon, and his prices don’t reflect others in this field.' But recent Banksy prices have tumbled: a version of his stencil-on-canvas 'Lenin on Rollerskates'(2003) sold for ($25,500) at Bonhams in London last month, while comparable pieces made almost ($76,000) in 2007 and ($54,000) in 2008. 'The recession has hit this category really hard,' says Bonhams’ specialist Pedro Lopez Pelegrin; the firm has ended its dedicated urban art sales and now rolls such works into its Vision 21 sales." (FT)



"Stormy Daniels may soon find out if sex and politics mix. The deadline day for filing federal tax returns also will be the day Baton-Rouge-born porn star announces whether she will run for the Senate seat held by David Vitter, a Republican. Brian Welsh, her political spokesman, said in an e-mail Tuesday that Daniels will make her announcement April 15. Welsh says Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes the timing will highlight the need for tax reform. While Daniels continues to promote her adult entertainment ventures and personal appearances online, she has said nothing publicly about the race since summer. She formed a committee to explore a possible Senate race in May 2009 after a series of public appearances. The porn star hasn't declared a party affiliation. John Sutherlin, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana, told CBS Radio News that he thinks Daniels will run as an independent though he said in her case party affiliation doesn't really matter. 'Stormy Daniels' candidacy remains sort of a trick or a ploy anyway,' Sutherlin told CBS Radio News. The campaign began as a grassroots movement on the Internet after Vitter's phone number was found in the black book of the so-called 'D.C. Madam.'" (CBSNews)

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