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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Google’s projects have hardly been secret, since most of them involve collaboration with major newspapers, magazines, and broadcast-news organizations. This April, the company’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, delivered a keynote address to the major news editors’ convention, telling them 'we’re all in this together' and that he was 'convinced that the survival of high-quality journalism' was 'essential to the functioning of modern democracy.' Last December, he wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal announcing that Google would be going out of its way to devise systems that would direct more money toward struggling news organizations—rather than, as many in the news industry assumed, simply directing more of everyone else’s money toward itself. Publishing this in The Journal was a piquant touch, since the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, has frequently denounced Google’s effect on the news industry. Still, compared with what it could have been saying about its strategy toward news companies, Google has undersold its efforts and rarely talked about them as an overall program with a central guiding idea. Partly this is because of the highly decentralized nature of most innovative effort at Google, which often takes place in '20 percent time'—a workday per week when developers can concentrate on projects they choose themselves. Partly it is because of the 'permanent beta' culture at Google, in which projects are viewed as tentative and experimental long after they have reached what others would consider a mature stage. (The company’s wildly popular e-mail system, Gmail, officially graduated from beta-test status only last summer, after five years of operation by tens of millions of users worldwide.) And the news organizations that are trying out experimental approaches at Google’s suggestion and with its support have themselves chosen to be quiet." (TheAtlantic)



(image via NYSD)

"Last night at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center Literacy Partners held its 26th annual Gala Evening of Readings. This is a black tie affair and longtime NYSD readers know that we cover this every year. and the program is set but the changes within it are always a wonderful surprise. It begins with a cocktail reception – a short one; half hour – in the theater lobby, and then everyone goes into the auditorium for the readings. Liz Smith, who co-founded Literacy about twenty-seven years ago with Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd, opened the evening ...Onstage with Liz were Bob Hardwick on the Steinway grand (to play a musical introduction here and there), plus the evening’s readers, who this year were Sara Gruen, David Finkel, Mary Karr and Norris Church Mailer. They opened with Sara Gruen, author of the award-winning best-seller Water For Elephants .. She was followed by Mary Karr who wrote a best-selling memoir, The Liars’ Club, which brought her fame and fortune fifteen years ago. This was her second time reading for Literacy Partners; she is one of the few who’s been invited back. This time she read from Lit: A Memoir, which was published last November -- a selection about her wedding day to a rich WASPy New Englander. I was laughing so hard that Lesley Stahl who was sitting in front of me turned around to see who the nutcase was with the uncontrollable laughter." (NYSocialDiary)



(image via ew)

"Howard (Stern) said he won't end up doing anything like Iron Man parts. He doesn't even want to do anything like American Idol. Howard said he was just playing along with the articles that were being written about him possibly taking over for Simon. Howard said that series is so broken that he wouldn't want it. He doesn't want Simon Cowell's sloppy seconds. Robin said he would be saving the show. Howard said there is no saving it. Howard said Simon is starting his own show and it's going to end up beating Idol. He said that Dancing with the Stars has started beating Idol in the ratings. He said that they're noticing the erosion and there's some kind of survey going on at the Idol web site and they're asking who they should get rid of. He said something is wrong and Ellen is one of the things they're asking about. Howard said they have four judges and it's just too much. Howard said he has no desire to go on that show and do a Simon Cowell thing. He doesn't need to be Simon. Simon is kind of a one note kind of guy. He's not sure he could do anything other than that show. He's going to do another show similar to it now. He said all he can do is judge people. Howard said he would do it if they were going to pay him 50 million to do it. He said it's an amazing amount of money. Howard said he's a man of integrity ..." (Marksfriggin)



"Last Wednesday, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln took to the Senate floor and delivered about as fiery a speech as you’ll hear in the chamber, at least on the subject of financial reform. 'Currently, five of the largest commercial banks account for ninety-seven percent of the [derivatives market],' she said. 'That is a huge concentration of economic power, which is why I am in no way surprised that several individuals are seeking to remove it from the bill.' The 'it' these unnamed individuals were bent on removing is a provision Lincoln wrote that would force banks to spin off their derivatives business if they want access to federal deposit insurance and other safeguards. Lincoln stunned the financial world when she unveiled the hawkish proposal last month and promptly pushed it through the Senate Agriculture Committee, which she chairs. (Derivatives are essentially a bet on the direction of financial data, like bond prices and interest rates.) Despite the industry’s furious efforts and the private reservations of many Democrats, the provision had survived repeated attempts on its life, and Lincoln was determined to preserve it. 'She upped the ante,' one industry lobbyist told me shortly after Lincoln’s floor speech. 'It’ll be hard for her to walk back from this.' As of late last week, there was a very real chance she’d get her way. One derivatives industry lawyer I spoke with told me Democrats were so concerned about appearing to oppose the measure that it would become law unless the leadership stripped it out 'behind closed doors.' But then something unforeseen happened: Legendary Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, a hero to Wall Street reformers and scourge of megabanks, penned a letter to Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd proclaiming that the Lincoln approach overreached. Volcker was quite possibly the only person in America with the credibility to stop the Lincoln provision—similar pleas from the administration, the Fed, and the FDIC all seemed to fizzle in recent weeks—and it looks like his intervention is having the desired effect." (TNR)



"WHAT: A VIP cocktail preview for New York City Opera's Divas Shop the Opera with a private view of sketches by designers inspired by opera characters including Aida by Zandra Rhodes and Salome by threeASfour. WHEN: Monday, May 10, 2010. WHERE: The W New York Union Square/ WHO: Hamish Bowles, Lorry Newhouse, threeASfour, Stephen Burrows, Austin Scarlet and Victoria Bartlett .." (more pics by CAROLINE TOREM CRAIG/ Papermag)



"Black Eyed Peas frontman and up and coming philanthropist, Will.i.am, offered a helping hand to families in need Monday, paying off their mortgages so that their homes would not go into foreclosure. Will.i.am was a guest on the Oprah Show and was there to offer advice to two families facing foreclosure, the Eller family and the Allgood family. Things took a sudden change however when the rapper/singer became so touched by the families' stories that he had a change of heart and offered to pay off their debt, giving them more than $350,000 to pay their mortgages. Speaking on his huge donation, he says that this act of generosity is just a part of something he loves to do; make music and help people." (HipHopWired)



"In Stanford University’s MBA class of 2001, Jyotiraditya Scindia joined almost every business group he could. The Maharaja of Gwalior, central India, lent his name to the venture capital club, high technology club, private equity club and the entrepreneur club. Today, as minister of state for commerce and industry, the same youthful enthusiasm for business combined with experience as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley has matured into something strikingly purposeful. His spreadsheets and daily updated 'to do' lists are a refreshing break from a more familiar image of slow-moving files and socialist policies in the world’s largest democracy. Yet his business-like approach, and that of some of his young peers, is appropriate for a fast-growing large economy outstripped only by China. One way of reaching double-digit economic growth is, he says, to improve the country’s governance and delivery. 'No form stays on my desk for more than 10 minutes,' he says, BlackBerry in hand and with an eye on rolling news on a nearby plasma screen. 'There is a quick turnover.'" (FT)



(Sandra Brant, Calvin Klein, Stefano Tonchi, Ingrid Sischy, Mark Seliger via DailyFrontRow)

"Pier Sixty erupted into flashes of light last night, as a sea of photographers found themselves on the other side of the lens during the 26th annual International Center of Photography Infinity Awards. Up-and-coming shutterbugs and veterans alike congregated for an evening of celebrating the art form. Distinguished guests including Stefano Tonchi, Glenda Bailey, Cathie Black, Calvin Klein and Ingrid Sischy sipped white wine and perused the photographs on display, but this was far from a stuffy evening. Friends laughed and indulged in mini paper cones teeming with friend calamari ... The fashion editorial world came out in droves to support the cause, and Tonchi and Lynn Hirschberg sidled up to one another, and then quickly found their seat in the dining room. Guests applauded the honorees over a Mario Batali-created meal of sweet pea flan and braised beef shortrib. Moby explained that he felt very in his element. 'Strangely enough, I have more friends in New York who are photographers than musicians. My uncle was a staff photographer for the New York Times for a really long time, and when I was younger he would give me his hand-me-down equipment, and so I’ve actually been doing photography for as long as I’ve been doing music.'" (Fashionweekdaily)



"Russell Brand is one lucky man! His fiancée, Katy Perry, got named numero uno on Maxim mag's annual Hot 100 list. Bonus, he won't have to worry about other guys oggling his woman. Selita Ebanks is actually on the cover of the June issue. The Victoria's Secret model is at No. 14 on the list of lovely ladies, and graces the cover in some sexy lingerie." (E!Online)



(image via patrickmcmullen via nymag)

"After just three months of serving as the managing editor of Observer Digital, hunky former men.style.com editor Tyler Thoreson was let go at the end of last week. In what one Observer source described as a "culture clash," the tough-talking Thoreson never really quite fit in at the idiosyncratic salmon weekly — though he did manage to streamline their media and politics coverage into easier-to-digest verticals." (NYMag)



(image via multichannel)

"Bridget Baker's corner office at NBC Universal in Burbank is adorned with photos of her hobnobbing with kings. In one, a young Baker stands alongside a silver-haired Johnny Carson, in another she is mugging with denim-clad Jay Leno, and in a third, she's rubbing shoulders with bow-tied and bushy-eyebrowed Ralph J. Roberts. Roberts, the 90-year-old co-founder of Comcast Corp., might not be a household name, but he and his son, Brian, the company's chief executive, are poised to exert more sway on the future of NBC than the network's royal comedians. In the five months since Comcast announced that it was buying control of NBC Universal in a $30-billion deal, Baker has found herself suddenly at the forefront. She is the NBC Universal executive who knows the proposed new owners best. For the last 21 years, she has been negotiating with distributors such as Comcast to secure distribution for NBC's networks, including not only NBC but also CNBC, MSNBC, USA and Bravo." (LATimes)

"THE NEXT BENNETT? Incumbents who could lose nomination challenges, per POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) … Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) … Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) … Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) … Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) … Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) … Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) … Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) … Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) … Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) … Nearly a half-dozen New York House Democrats face looming primary challenges of varying degrees in September." (Politico)



"All of this research, taken together, supports a general picture of baby morality. It’s even possible, as a thought experiment, to ask what it would be like to see the world in the moral terms that a baby does. Babies probably have no conscious access to moral notions, no idea why certain acts are good or bad. They respond on a gut level. Indeed, if you watch the older babies during the experiments, they don’t act like impassive judges — they tend to smile and clap during good events and frown, shake their heads and look sad during the naughty events (remember the toddler who smacked the bad puppet). The babies’ experiences might be cognitively empty but emotionally intense, replete with strong feelings and strong desires." (NYTimesmagazine)



(image via guardian)

"The European Union was designed to create a European identity while retaining the nation-state. The problem was not in the principle, as it is possible for people to have multiple identities. For example, there is no tension between being an Iowan and an American. But there is a problem with the issue of shared fate. Iowans and Texans share a bond that transcends their respective local identities. Their national identity as Americans means that they share not only transcendent values but also fates. A crisis in Iowa is a crisis in the United States, and not one in a foreign country as far as Texans are concerned. The Europeans tried to finesse this problem. There was to be a European identity, yet national identities would remain intact. They wrote a nearly 400-page-long constitution, an extraordinary length. But it was not really a constitution. Rather, it was a treaty that sought to reconcile the concept of Europe as a single entity while retaining the principle of national sovereignty that Europe had struggled with for centuries. At root, Europe’s dilemma was no different from the American dilemma — only the Americans ultimately decided, in the Civil War, that being an American transcended being a Virginian. One could be a Virginian, but Virginia shared the fate of New York, and did so irrevocably. The Europeans could not state this unequivocally as they either did not believe it or lacked the ability to militarily impress the belief upon the rest of Europe. So they tried to finesse it in long, complex and ultimately opaque systems of governance that ultimately left the nations of Europe with their sovereignty intact." (Stratfor)



"Just days after massive waves from the Mediterranean crashed along the Croisette damaging beachside restaurants a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland moved southward over France, hampering travel and delaying folks en route to Cannes. This year, natural disasters on top of a dramatic European economic crisis have challenged the expectations for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, the most important film event of the year. The festival opens tomorrow here in the South of France with the poorly reviewed 'Robin Hood' debuting just days before it opens back in The States, and it will already be in French cinemas when it screens tomorrow night. Sidelined with an injury, director Ridley Scott will have to catch coverage of his premiere on TV, marking a rare year in which the director of the opening night." (IndieWIRE)



(image via mediabistro)

"Within the next hour, Jeff Zucker will be sitting down with Los Angeles-based showbiz journalists for one of his annual off-the-record sessions. But the NBCU chief plans on demonstrating he's a new and supposedly improved Zucker. A nicer Zucker. And not the thin-skinned humorless bully of a boss which the journalism and showbiz communities have come to know and dislike and ridicule. Indeed, Jeff has been making a point of showing off his new persona to Hollywood within the past month. 'He's being so nice to everyone, so friendly, a more lovable guy' one top TV agent describing Zucker at Ron Meyer's Easter party tells me. "'t's because he knows he's out.' Yes, that's the concensus -- people think Zucker's charm offensive is really a defensive maneuver. Privately, Zucker insists that he'll hang onto his job after Comcast takes over NBCU." (NikkiFinke)

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