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Friday, May 28, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"U.N. peacekeepers in Chad will begin packing their gear this week, the first step in the U.N.'s phased withdrawal from a politically fragile African country that has grown weary of hosting more than 4,000 foreign peacekeepers on its territory. But the move has alarmed human rights officials and some U.N. officials, who fear that the U.N. drawdown will leave hundreds of thousands of Darfuri refugees exposed to violent attacks from a host of predators, including elements of the very Chadian security forces that are supposed to protect them." (ForeignPolicy)



"Who is Ken Starr? Until Thursday, when the New York money manager grabbed headlines as the alleged center of a $30 million Ponzi scheme, Starr operated in the shadows, despite an A-list client list that included Martin Scorsese, Uma Thurman and Ron Howard. If anything, the flashiest thing about the 66-year-old Starr was his wife, the ex-stripper Dawn Passage. Well, Passage ... and the $7.5 million Manhattan condominium with a 32-foot lap pool that Starr purportedly used his clients' money to buy. Following a long-running investigation by the Internal Revenue Services' criminal investigation division, Starr was arrested at his Upper East Side apartment while hiding in a closet. He is currently charged on three counts -- wire fraud, fraud by an investment advisor and money laundering -- and is being held without bail. In 2008, Starr did turn up on a prospecting trip at the Sun Valley Media Conference -- where mega-moguls like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Eisner mingled with the likes of Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper, Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page and then-William Morris Agency chief Jim Wiatt, reportedly one of the unnamed clients referenced in the criminal case." (TheWrap)



"(Ken) Starr’s current position—in a Manhattan jail cell—is worlds away from the phenomenal success he enjoyed at the beginning of his career. Starr basically built his business on the back of Listerine heiress Bunny Mellon (at 99 years of age, Mellon is having a very bad year: She indirectly helped fund John Edwards’ dalliance and coverup with Rielle Hunter, and is also believed to be one of the clients Starr allegedly bilked). No less an authority than Pete Peterson, the legendary investment banker, co-founder of The Blackstone Group and one of America’s richest men, used to swear by him, according to a source. Much of Starr’s credibility came from Peterson’s endorsement—he would frequently tell prospective clients to 'check me out with Peterson' to put them at ease and get them to open their wallets, this source says. Peterson did not return a call for comment. Starr has also been a regular attendee at Allen & Co.’s annual mogulfest in Sun Valley, though no one is quite sure how. Each year an elite group of around 250 moguls from the worlds of entertainment, technology, and finance—a list that typically includes such notables as Edgar Bronfman Jr., Michael Eisner, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to name a few—descend on the sleepy Idaho town for a week of schmoozing and dealmaking. Starr has made the cut more than five years in a row, but sources who attend the conference say they aren’t aware of precisely who at Allen & Co. invites him. 'I’m not sure why he’s there,' says one Sun Valley regular who requested anonymity for fear of being banned from the ultra-secretive conference."(Peter Lauria/TheDailyBeast)



"For Jessica Coen, executive editor of Jezebel, the Gawker Media title for women concerning 'celebrity, sex and fashion,' the writing life doesn't preclude living conditions that are comfortable or even chic. For the past year, the 30-year-old Ms. Coen has lived in a rental on the top floor of a tenement-style building near Tompkins Square Park that's neat, color-spangled and, dare we say, attractive. One a recent Friday, we huffed our way up the four flights to see the place for ourselves." (Observer)



(image via Hamish Robertson/VF)

"For a first date, things were going fairly well. We were at Megu, a pricey Japanese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, eating perfectly cooked Kobe beef. My companion, a wealthy finance type, was telling me all about himself and posing questions that suggested he was interested in me. Then, matter-of-factly, he said, 'Whether I met you on the site or at the Standard, you’d cost me at least 10 grand a month.' The site he was referring to was Seeking Arrangement, an online network that pairs people possessing resources ('sugar daddies' and 'sugar mommies') with those, usually much younger, seeking them ('sugar babies'). I had become a member a few weeks earlier, partly as a social experiment and partly out of genuine desperation. I was frustrated with my job, which offered little upward mobility, and was thinking about quitting it to pursue my goal of becoming a full-time freelance writer. Holding me back were my lack of savings and my fear of sacrificing a regular paycheck. If I had a hefty allowance from a generous benefactor, though, I figured that I could take the leap comfortably. The idea of wealthy older people supporting struggling younger ones is nothing revolutionary, after all—look what Peggy Guggenheim did for Jackson Pollock or the Tuohys did for N.F.L. star Michael Oher. So what if I had to tap into my inner geisha to secure a patron?" (VanityFair)



(image via NYSD)

"Last night at Cipriani 42nd Street Latin Society dazzled New York with the El Museo 2010 Gala in which Oscar de la Renta presented a special Lifetime Achievement Award to Placido Domingo. A special Leadership Award also went to Tony Bechara who has been the museum’s long-serving board chairman, shepherding the organization from almost obscurity in the community, to the prominence it has today. The evening was El Museo’s biggest gala, raising more than $1 million for the museum and attended by more than 600 from all over the world. Barbara Walters was supposed to be mistress of ceremonies but had withdrawn for medical reasons (well publicized by now, as it is). Mr. de la Renta who stepped in for her, read a very touching message that she had written, beginning with: 'Dear Placido, Only an injured heart would keep me from being with you tonight ...'" (NYSocialDiary)



"If running a record label were so damn good, would Jimmy Iovine be selling Beats headphones and trying to save sound with HP? Are these celebs truly that out of touch? America’s not that unsophisticated. Hell, just look at the sales chart. Stone Temple Pilots are predicted to move 60,000 copies of their new album next week, if they’re lucky, they may hit 70,000! Isn’t that like raving you’re the king of the minor leagues? That you’re the best BMX rider in a world focused on the NFL and Major League Baseball? You just can’t make it as a label anymore. And maybe if you’ve got a ton of money, you can shove your protege in front of the cameras. But who’s going to buy? Sure, there’s a pinnacle, a GaGaville where people click through for digital singles. But beneath that, it’s a vast wasteland. And GaGa is driving at 110 miles an hour constantly, how long can it last, what’s she gonna do next?" (Lefsetz Letter)



"Mark Leibovich signs a deal with Simon & Schuster for a book about how modern Washington has perfected the culture of self-love and celebrity at a time when the rest of the country is feeling increasingly alienated from the place. Editor is Priscilla Painton, the TIME alumnus who edited Karl Rove’s memoir. No title yet. Out sometime in 2012." (Politico)

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