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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Not since the heady summits of the Cold War has an international conclave better reflected an American president's governing style than this week's nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C. It's too early to assess the concrete deliverables -- "deliverables" being the usual measures of success. Whether you support or oppose the president's policy, the NSS distilled Obama's brand of diplomacy to its essence. There are several principles, listed below, that President Obama and his team believe are foundational. I'm not assessing whether they'll work. The Middle East peace process will get better, or it won't; Iran will get the bomb, or it won't. We'll know soon enough whether Obama's principles can effectively support his short- and long-term national security goals." (TheAtlantic)



"'I don’t, you know, usually give interviews. So if you decide to write anything, I’d rather it wasn’t about me.' With this unpromising plea for discretion, my host Jacob Rothschild offers a glass of Ch√Ęteau Duhart-Milon 2000, a Rothschild wine – his cellars contain 15,000 bottles, going back to 1870 – and insists that what is interesting is not himself but 'what we’re doing at Waddesdon,' the National Trust property that houses the Rothschild collection. Lord Rothschild, 73, is known for tremendous dynamism while staying resolutely behind the scenes. If the tall, thin man standing before me in tweed jacket, grey turtle-neck jumper and black trousers looks familiar, it is not because he has cultivated a public persona; it is because the long oval face, high forehead and arched, hawk-like eyes, as well as the intellectually engaged expression, resemble exactly his 1989 portrait by Lucian Freud. I comment on this likeness. 'When he paints us we think we look awful and horribly old, then 20 years later we’re pleased,' he says drily." (FT)



"Having already seen Kim Kardashian nude AND touched in the 'leaked' tape with Ray J some years back, the mere fact that we have Queen Kardash naked is not that exciting. Far more interesting is that these nude Harper’s shots of Kardashian, Parenthood’s Joy Bryant, and British actress-photographer Amanda de Cadenet are being touted as 'unretouched.' If you remember, Jessica Simpson did a makeup- and retouch-free Marie Claire spread, which hit the Internet last week. So do we have a retouch-free trend on our hands? (Or, following Kara’s nude shoot earlier this week, perhaps a nude-celebrities-in-magazines trend? Let’s hope….)" (EW)



This week the White House released the Obama and Biden tax returns, revealing that our current president earned more last year—$5.6 million—than any sitting president in history. In addition to spreading the totality of his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize winnings around to 10 different charities, the Obamas donated nearly 6 percent of their income, or $329,100, to worthy causes—equal approximately to the amount the Bidens earned last year. But the veep—long known as one of the less-wealthy members of the Washington political class—surrendered less than 2 percent of his income to charity, less than the typical American household donates annually ... Long before he had to reinvent his image to bounce back from a prostitution scandal, Eliot Spitzer was more than fulfilling his charitable obligations. In 2006, when he and his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, earned $1.97 million—including Spitzer’s state salary of $145,916—they gave $141,634 to charity, a whopping 7 percent of their income ...When Dick Cheney was still a vice-presidential candidate in 2000, the charitable donations column in his tax return caught the eyes of the media. During the 1990s, Cheney earned $20,677,742 and donated $209,832, or just over 1 percent of his income, putting him well below the American average. Yet, he argued defiantly that his contributions were 'appropriate.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"The dead star's ex-wives and lovers are to be called to testify to confirm the latest astonishing fact about his private life. Their evidence will be used by defence lawyers representing Dr Conrad Murray as he fights a homicide charge. Murray aims to prove how difficult it was to tell whether dopey Jacko was asleep or awake. Debbie Rowe, mother of Jacko's eldest kids Prince and Paris, Lisa-Marie Presley and nanny Grace Rwaramba, who he called his 'wife,' will be quizzed at Murray's trial this year. Jacko, 50, died from 'acute Propofol intoxication' on June 25 last year. Murray, 56, is charged with manslaughter over claims he injected the singer with a fatal dose of the anaesthetic. The cardiologist's defence team have evidence the seasoned drug user often appeared awake when asleep. They say he would have his eyes open and his pupils would be dilated when he was on Propofol." (Newsoftheworld)



"This fine Spring weekend opened with high pre-release expectations, and ultimately post-release disappointment judging from Friday's box office plus estimated weekend totals. "So far, not what anybody hoped," one studio exec tells me. Here's the Top 10): 1. Kick-Ass (Lionsgate) NEW [3,065 Theaters] Friday $7.5M, Estimated Weekend $19M. So far, this potty-mouthed stupor-hero comedy may not even break $20M by Sunday's end. Whereas Hollywood had been expecting $30+M. Ouch! ... 2. Death At A Funeral (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,459 Theaters] Friday $5.6M, Estimated Weekend $17.5. Another underperformer after a soft Friday. Screen Gems/Sony had hoped for $20M, about what it claimed the pic's budget was with Neil LaBute at the helm. (One rival studio says the negative cost was $36M.) To say that the strength of Death At A Funeral lies in the African-American community is somewhat of an understatement. But the big question was crossover, even with that strong comedy cast. (Sure, Tracy Morgan is hot, but Chris Rock is not.) As usual, Sony's strong marketing went on overdrive and promoted the pic beyond the boring talk show circuit. The studio held a nationwide stand up contest in 15 markets, and some winners will open for Tracy's comedy tour." (NikkiFinke)



"Mika Brzezinski was this close to the parents of Paris Hilton last night -- the same Paris Hilton who was in the news so often three years ago that Brzezinski took a stand and ripped the script, literally, refusing to read another story about the overexposed star. Well, last night Brzezinski, along with Rick and Kathy Hilton, were among the honored guests as politics met Hollywood for an event honoring the prime minister of Malaysia Dato Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor who was presented the International Peace and Harmony award for her humanitarian work. (By the way, Mika nailed the names of both the prime minster and his wife). The event at the St. Regis hotel in Manhattan was hosted by Jamie Foxx with special guests ranging from actors Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron and Emmy Rossum to former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, former FBI director Louis Freeh and former DHS official, now CNN analyst Fran Townsend." (TVNewser)



"Some Democrats would like to see President Obama nominate a sharp-penned progressive to take over the Stevens soapbox. Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice, for example, speaks of Stevens' 'strong voice' and urges Obama to choose "a worthy successor." Without Stevens, there will be no one in the court's liberal wing to balance the rhetorical firepower of conservative Antonin Scalia, who will take over the role of senior associate Justice. Given the fever pitch of Washington politics in an election year, though, Obama might wish to avoid a polarizing confirmation battle. Instead, he'll seek a candidate with a soothing demeanor and a paper trail as bland as Milk of Magnesia. Tender on the outside, steely on the inside — a Democratic version of Chief Justice John Roberts." (Time)



"Next weekend is the endless (and for ESPN lucrative) NFL Draft. In that spirit. imagine that you’re the head of any (or all) US broadcast network(s), and there was a free agent primetime scripted show draft allowing you to choose a single scripted show from the current line ups of any other broadcast network. But to make things more interesting, also imagine that the top adults 18-49 rated scripted show from each network is protected and cannot be drafted, so these shows are off limits: House (Fox), Office (NBC), Big Bang Theory(CBS), Lost (ABC), Vampire Diaries (CW). Would you pick a show to fill a line up gap? Would you fill a show that fit the demographics of your audience? Would you pick a show to hurt one of your competitors? If I’m running ABC, I might want to find something to follow my DWTS results show on Tuesday and stick it to Fox at the same time, and pick the very women friendly Glee. If I’m running CBS and haven’t been able to make my Wednesday comedy 'block' work despite years of trying, I think I take Modern Family and strengthen my Wednesday and weaken ABC’s at the same time. If I’m running the CW, I think I would (perhaps boringly for my purposes here), pick Glee as well. It’s got the best ratings of any scripted show for women 18-34, including all my existing ones." (TVByTheNumbers)



"The first half of Exit Through the Gift Shop had so effectively built up the mystique of Banksy—the cunning Bristol-born street artist who has gone on to inherit Andy Warhol’s pop-art mantle while jealously guarding his anonymity—that I began to smell a rat. (The rodent is, after all, Banksy’s trademark, both a symbol of urban proliferation and an anagram of 'art.') I was certain the documentary, in theaters this week, was Banksy’s latest prank. Here’s the story we’re told: Too sly to participate in a traditional, aggrandizing documentary about himself, Banksy instead turns the camera on his would-be chronicler, a ridiculous, possibly insane Frenchman named Thierry Guetta, who for years was tethered to a camcorder, filming nearly every waking moment. Through his cousin, a street artist responsible for the proliferation of Space-Invader mosaics across Paris and other cities, Guetta is introduced to the secret world of guerilla artists. Over several years, Guetta amasses thousands of hours of footage of illicit nighttime stenciling, spray painting, and postering by the field’s luminaries. Among his subjects is Shepard Fairey, who achieved notoriety with his ubiquitous Orwellian posters of Andre the Giant, featuring the nonspecific command to 'Obey,' and, more recently, the iconic tricolor portrait of Barack Obama. Thanks to Fairey, Guetta eventually gains access to street art’s most elusive genius, Banksy, who agrees to have Guetta tag along on some of his operations, such as the kidnapping and brutal murder of a London phone booth, as long as we never see Banksy’s face." (VanityFair)

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