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Monday, April 19, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Everybody's talking about this New York Times story by David Sanger and Thom Shanker, which tells us that U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates sent a memo in January to 'top White House officials' warning them that the United States 'does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability.' Some are reading the story as a bombshell, but I think there's less here than meets the eye ... Gates fired back today with an unusual statement on a classified memo, saying the Times and its sources had 'mischaracterized' him. 'The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the President's national security team,' Gates said. 'Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process.'" (ForeignPolicy)



"It's a fight to the finish between NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker and Universal Studios President Ron Meyer as cable giant Comcast moves to buy NBC Universal from General Electric. An e-mail sent recently to several reporters said the two executives 'long ago came to the realization that they neither like nor respect each other.' The tipster continued, 'Zucker thinks Meyer is all fluff, no substance. Meyer thinks Zucker is a fool, too full of himself to realize what a disaster he's been at the helm of NBC.' 'These two alpha males are not chums,' entertainment blogger Anne Thompson wrote last week. 'It's likely that only one of them will survive the Comcast acquisition. Each one wants to win.' 'Absolutely true,' a network insider tells Page Six. 'Ron Meyer was the guy who basically solved the Conan O'Brien problem. He's a former agent. Conan was about to sue NBC, Meyer stepped in. The whole resolution was handled by Meyer. 'But at a meeting after [O'Brien's exit] was wrapped up, Zucker thanked a whole slew of people, but pointedly didn't mention Meyer. It did not go unnoticed.'" (PageSix)



"I was talking recently with a friend of mine who was seriously hurt financially by these past two years. He’s a guy who’s also been in the investment business (very successfully) for a long time. When things around him started to collapse, like Bear and then Lehman and then Merrill, and AIG, and WaMu, etc., even he was shocked by the information that was surfacing. Now two years later, still trying to piece it all together for himself, 'to make sense of it,' he told me he discovered a lot of the people in charge, running these big pools of money were 'actually stupid.' He was still dumfounded to have realized this. He repeated the words, as if let it sink in: 'actually stupid.' The situation is beginning to look more and more like we’re further and further from cleaning up after this credit conflagration which has gripped this country (and the world) for the past decade and a half. It’s beginning to look like The Unknown is upon us. The Icelandic volcano could almost be seen as God’s Metaphor. Someone told me over the weekend about a major Wall Street figure who had recently hired nine bodyguards to protect him and his family. From what, we are left to wonder. In the midst of this, the NYSD’s very own financial guru and blossoming novelist – also financially related, Alexandra Lebenthal, was inspired over the weekend to set her thoughts about it all down on paper in a short roman a clef about the psychology of the personality that has been driving the behemoth. It’s today’s Social History." (NYSocialDiary)



"Coachella 2010 - Day Two ... Flopping phalluses are in this year according to Major Lazer and Die Antwoord. Each presented the intersection of beats, party-hyping, gross humor, and dancing in your underwear. Day 2 of the Coachella Music & Arts Festival had an overall far-out theme. Some with sexually explicit lunacy, others with psychedelic music ... Before arriving at these culminating moments, the day progressed through a series of psychedelic and/or raunchy expressions. John Waters kicked things off with thoughts on crawling through pig poo, taking poppers, the pleasures of sploshing, and strange things he wants to do before he dies. Gossip's Beth Ditto hoped he was watching her blazing disco soul performance but was afraid to look backstage and see him smiling and waving at her. Gossip put on a set that inspired revelations on reality in the most self-empowering ways." (BrooklynVegan)



"As it begins its annual courtship ritual with the advertising community, VH1's deportment is decidedly more understated than it has been in years past. Gone are the tawdry trappings of 'Flavor of Love' and its innumerable libidinous offspring. Stalled out at a rest stop, the 'Rock of Love' bus may have taken its last venereal voyage. The 'Tool Academy' has lost its accreditation. While VH1 hasn't fallen out of love with irreverence, it's also no longer in the business of getting Bret Michaels laid. Instead, the Viacom net is prepping a slate of unscripted series designed to more faithfully reflect the concerns of its core demographic. 'As much as they've enjoyed the 'Love' franchise, our audience was getting a little fatigued by all those manufactured reality shows,' said Tom Calderone, president, VH1. 'They want more authenticity in their reality, which isn't to say that it can't be comedic and light.'" (TheHollywoodReporter)



"After giving rumored-girlfriend Kate Bosworth a ride on his shoulders, True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård had to be restrained by police at Coachella when a paparazzo angered him. Beyoncé, meanwhile, joined Jay-Z on stage to sing 'Forever Young' to a crowd including Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, and Rachel Bilson. After Saturday night's show, Josh Hartnett rode a mechanical bull and Kellan Lutz showed off his best dance-floor moves. Paris Hilton then hosted a 4 a.m. after-party. Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jason Bateman celebrated Jennifer Garner's 38th birthday at her and Ben Affleck's Pacific Palisades home. At the American Museum of Natural History's Spring Safari, Lorenzo Martone attended without Marc Jacobs, Gossip Girl's Matthew Settle went stag after his 'lady-friend' didn’t show, and the maybe recently split-from-Leighton-Meester Sebastian Stan took his mother as his date. J-Vanka, meanwhile, was out in full force. Aspiring socialite Devorah Rose dissed Tinsley Mortimer, commenting, 'It is Tinsley Mortimer's hyper-awareness of social status and neurotic desire to scurry up the social ranks and trumpet herself that makes her such a lowly, classless creature.'" (NYMag/Intel)



"Debkafile's military sources disclose that Syria has expanded the flow of smuggled Syrian and Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese border to Hizballah in line with a master-plan charted in Tehran and Damascus for transforming the 25,000-strong Hizballah terrorist militia into an organized, mobile army with a whole range of sophisticated missiles and other weapons. The new Hizballah is being trained to carry out such offensive operations as capturing parts of Israel's Galilee and equipped with the hardware for knocking out warplanes, warships and armored strength. One of their missions will be to defend the Syrian capital, Damascus. Tehran and Damascus calculate that the next time a war erupts on Israel's borders, its army will try and outflank Syrian forces on the Golan and drive past the units defending Damascus. That is where Hizballah is expected to come in." (DEBKAFile)



"Diane Von Furstenberg celebrated the opening of her first boutique in Sao Paulo last week with a party and a decades sweeping retrospective of DVF fashion and the designer's glamorous life called 'Journey of a Dress' at the Espaco Iguatemi, a huge space that sits atop the luxury shopping center Iguatemi and is also the site of Sao Paulo Fashion Week. The exhibit includes DVF dresses and paintings of the iconic designer by Andy Warhol and Francesco and photographs by Helmut Newton, Terry Richardson and Francesco Scavullo. The DVF boutique in Sao Paulo is her 33rd store and Brazil's chicoisie were all at the opening, including Carlos Jereissati (the CEO of Iguatemi), Carlos de Souza, Dudi Machado and Alexia Niedzielski, all guzzling champagne and gobbling chocolates in the shape of DVF's iconic lip prints. 'Brazil is like no other place in the world. The people are as beautiful as the landscape and it all screams joie de vivre,' Von Furstenberg exclaimed." (Papermag)



"The tea party is nothing new, it represents a relatively small minority of Americans on the right end of politics, and it will not determine the outcome of the 2010 elections. In fact, both parties stand to lose if they accept the laughable notion that this media-created protest movement is the voice of true populism. Democrats will spend their time chasing votes they will never win. Republicans will turn their party into an angry and narrow redoubt with no hope of building a durable majority. The news media's incessant focus on the tea party is creating a badly distorted picture of what most Americans think and warping our policy debates. The New York Times and CBS News thus performed a public service last week by conducting a careful study of just who is in the tea party movement. Their findings suggest that the tea party is essentially the reappearance of an old anti-government far right that has always been with us and accounts for about one-fifth of the country. The Times reported that tea party supporters 'tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.' This is the populism of the privileged. Tea party backers are far more likely than others to describe their views as 'very conservative,' and are decidedly more inclined than the rest of us to believe that too much is made of the problems facing black people. This last finding points to a disconcerting fact that white Americans are reluctant to discuss: Part of the anger at President Obama is driven by the color of his skin." (TNR)



"On Friday, Foursquare CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley hosted a party at Hotel on Rivington, with Cobra Starship, DJ Manero, and a hot tub. Last Friday was deemed 'Foursquare Day,' which was the first social media designated holiday ever. But oh, there's more to this… — to commemorate the ability of letting everyone in the world know where you are at any given time, this badge was created. (Get it? Four squared is sixteen, and Friday was April sixteenth? Are you following me? Awesome. Really solid work everyone) ... So in order to get this special badge, attendees had to 'check in' at the Hotel on Rivington, which they probably did. But after that, it looks like they all got into a hot tub and inspected each other in their skivvies." (Guestofaguest)



"True to the magazine for which (Vicky Ward) writes, there’s a gossipy buzz about her. Last week, in a New York Post story about her book launch in Manhattan – at the Four Seasons (natch), with a glitzy crowd that included Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Arianna Huffington and Ronald Perelman – news of her separation from her husband of 15 years, Matthew Doull (a step-nephew of Conrad Black), got equal attention. Mr. Doull, the principal of E5 Global Media, which recently acquired Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, reportedly updated his Facebook page with photos of himself with a pretty 5-foot-10-inch 22-year-old on holiday in Brazil. Ms. Ward, who has twin seven-year-old boys with Mr. Doull, was said to have been unaware of his new relationship until she saw the photographs, which he later took down. 'My book is about people, life, death – and then my own marriage ends,' she says, laughing lightly when asked about her personal life. 'I think it helped put it all in perspective.'" (GlobeandMail)



"After playing Charlotte York’s gay BFF/wedding planner for several years on the HBO series 'Sex and the City' as well as in its two films, it is no surprise that comedian Mario Cantone can’t stay away from well, sex. Pop Tarts has learned exclusively that Cantone has invited adult superstar Savanna Samson to be in a holiday review produced by his longtime partner, Jerry Dixon. 'The three got along like gangbusters and Dixon is now creating a burlesque act for Savanna,' said our source. Apparently both Dixon and Cantone will be supporting her at the premiere parties for her latest big movie for Vivid, 'The Devil in Miss Jones, The Resurrection' in which Ms. Samson stars as the devil. 'Savanna can be very funny and with her background in ballet and acting she can be legendary in the world of burlesque,' Cantone said." (FoxNews)



"I doubt if Rupert Murdoch watched the election debate last week. His focus is very firmly on the United States, especially his resurgent Wall Street Journal. But if he did, there would have been one man totally unknown to him. One man utterly beyond the tentacles of any of his family, his editors or his advisers. That man is Nick Clegg.Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics. In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite." (TheGuardian)

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