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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Twenty months of economic and political turmoil have American voters ready to reject Washington and anyone connected with it. And we have company: British voters couldn't wait to sweep Gordon Brown from 10 Downing Street. A recent poll in Le Parisien found that nearly 60% of respondents expressed 'no confidence' in French President Nikolas Sarkozy. A poll in the magazine Stern gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel 32% support, and just 17% said the government could solve Germany's problems. Watch news reports from Greece, and you won't need the volume on to know what citizens think of their leaders. Nor is this simply a 'Western' trend. Thousands of protesters in Thailand occupied entire neighborhoods of Bangkok for weeks to demand early elections. Crowds dispersed only after conflicts with soldiers killed more than 40 people. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's poll numbers make Gordon Brown look like Nelson Mandela. And then there's China. What do all these countries have in common? They're free-market democracies in various stages of economic trouble." (USAToday)



"I’ve been analyzing television programming for more than 20 years, and have seen many excellent pilots become weak series, and a few lackluster pilots become hits. We need to keep in mind that a pilot is a sales device to market the show to the networks and advertisers. They throw in everything but the kitchen sink (and sometimes that too). There’s an old joke in the television industry about the Devil trying to persuade someone to go to Hell. He shows him a video that makes it look like heaven – beaches, beautiful women, perfect weather, golf courses everywhere, wonderful gourmet restaurants.... It looks so good, the guy jumps at the chance to go there. But once there, it’s HELL - worse than in his worst nightmares. When he asks the Devil what happened to all the great stuff from the video, he’s told, 'that was the pilot, this is the series.'" (BaselineIntelligence)



"When I first read the news about the nuclear deal that Brazil and Turkey reached last week with Iran, I flinched. My reflex reaction was: Third-World troublemakers rally to the side of evil-doer in the face of Western pressure. That was, of course, the wrong reflex. This was not China giving succor to Zimbabwe, or Venezuela recognizing Abkhazia. Brazil and Turkey are among the most solidly founded democracies and market economies in the developing world. Both are important U.S. allies, and mature actors in international fora. Their joint bid to break the impasse on Iran represents something more encouraging, more worrisome, and much more significant than any of Hugo Chávez's antics. The Obama administration appears to have had the same reaction I did: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly called her Turkish counterpart to warn him off the effort, and publicly predicted it would fail. The implicit message sounded like: Don't mess in our sandbox." (ForeignPolicy)



"The collapse of the Miramax sale at Disney has become the supine elephant in the middle of Hollywood’s living room: The companies up on the bloc are not selling. Before falling apart finally this week, the bidding over Miramax inched up over a few weeks this spring. But the same cannot be said for MGM or Overture, two other movie companies that have been available for sale for months, with no discernible movement. 'A whole bunch of these deals are floating around, and they’re not being done,' said Harold Vogel, a veteran entertainment industry analyst. 'There is a sense of frustration.' MGM has now been in a state of suspended animation for months. Debt holders have voted continual extensions on loan repayments as they find themselves unable to bring themselves to sell the house where James Bond lives to Time-Warner for a mere $1.5 billion." (TheWrap)



"There were all kinds of things going on last night, that beautiful night. At La Grenouille in the private dining room upstairs, Francie Whittenberg gave a 'belated' birthday dinner for her pal Amy Fine Collins, topped off with an elegant turn of Cole Rumbough singing Cole Porter with Peter Duchin on the piano. You can almost hear the rattle of the taxis and the rumble of the subway trains, just thinking about take-me-back, and Cole Porter singing 'I Happen To Like New York ...' Mika Brzezinski, if you didn’t know – and even I the non-tv watcher knows – is a cohost on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. I’m still sleeping at that hour so I asked her what they talked about. Politics, the economy, etc. With Joe Scarborough. He was maybe going to show (never saw him). I told her, when I asked, that I never watched TV, that I’d got out of the habit for so long (because of work) that I never turn it on. She said she didn’t either. She just never turns her TV on. Probably because she’s either not home or reading or sleeping and looking after her family, and there’s no time left. Her book, All Things At Once, is about herself, a memoir in progress. I could tell from our brief meeting that she is very honest and forthright but right thinking too. I could tell she’s a sensible mother. She’s very easy to talk to and to like." (NYSocialDiary)



"The Duchess of Debt is not having a good week. Rupert Murdoch's U.K. gossip rag News of the World secretly taped Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, making some shady deals. In the tape, a reporter posing as a wealthy businessman appears to hand the Duchess $40,000 as a down payment on the more than $700,000 the Duchess charged for access to her former husband, Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Presumably, having the Duke's ear would be advantageous, since Prince Andrew is the U.K.'s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, meaning he has the dual role of encouraging foreign investment in Britain and helping British business flourish oversees. The News is quick to point out that Sarah Ferguson is 'falsely' claiming she can provide access to Prince Andrew. The tabloid tends to aggressively go after the royal family. Last year the paper caught Kate Middleton's uncle on camera providing an undercover reporter with drugs. In 2005 a reporter posed as a sheikh, tricking Princess Michael of Kent into making some less than flattering remarks about her family. (Sound like unethical journalism? Media writer Howard Kurtz thinks so, too.) The paper's techniques are not only criticized but also occasionally prosecuted. Last year the paper shelled out more than $1.5 million in out-of-court settlements to victims of phone hacking by private investigators apparently hired by Murdoch journalists." (VanityFair)



"In a few weeks, the cable networks will start rolling out their new summer scripted series, which will dominate the ratings charts. But until then the late spring belongs to sports. Sporting events took up two thirds of the top 15 spots among adults 18-49 on cable last week, the week ended May 23, according to Nielsen. That included five NBA playoff games on TNT and ESPN, which took up all top five spots, and two 'Inside the NBA Playoffs' postgame shows on TNT. But basketball isn't the only top sport right now. As always, wrestling on USA is a top-10 fixture, and among total viewers, Speed's NASCAR Sprint Cup race finished No. 11 for the week. Yet sports' cable domination is about to come to a close." (Medialifemagazine)



"Courtney Love was the queen of all stage mothers when daughter Frances Bean attended Stagedoor Manor theater camp in 2006. Mickey Rapkin's book 'Theater Geek' (due June 1 from Free Press) tracks three teen thespians during a summer at the Catskills camp. Love complained about Bean's role in the musical, 'Leader of the Pack.' 'She was in like, some tertiary chorus line. It really p - - - ed me off,' Love told Rapkin. Bean was also teased so much that Love had Drew Barrymore, Bean's godmother, call her at camp. 'I asked her to have them say over the PA system, Francis, you have a phone call from Drew Barrymore, so the kids would stop making fun of her,' Love related. She also once picked a fight with a hot dog vendor who refused to change a $100 bill. Rapkin reports Love threw her hands up in frustration and declared, 'Who do I gotta [bleep] around here to get a hot dog?'" (PageSix)



"All eyes are on Hong Kong this week as Bonhams and Christie’s offer some £140 million of Chinese art and antiques, supplemented with expensive jewels, watches and wine, in a four-day jamboree that starts on Friday. Adding spice to the melting pot is ArtHK, a contemporary art fair that has attracted leading dealers from east and west, which takes place at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, under the same roof as Christie’s. For the auctions, the prognosis is sound. Hong Kong is the third-largest auction centre for Sotheby’s and Christie’s after London and New York. In April, Sotheby’s held its most successful sales ever in Hong Kong, which raised HK$2 billion (£178 million). Christie’s holds the record HK$2.4 billion set in May 2008, and is hoping for a recovery after last year’s slump to HK$1.1 billion. With its central geographical location, easy trading conditions and lack of import taxes and VAT, Hong Kong is a natural hub for the whole Asian market, and is viewed as a gateway to China. Since China entered the World Trade Organisation in 2000, its art market has grown at a staggering rate. Between 2004 and 2009, it rose by 200 per cent to some £2.1 billion per annum, overtaking even France." (Telegraph)

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