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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani group, established contact with Arab fighters very early in the anti-Soviet war. In 1981, American journalist Jere Van Dyk traveled with Haqqani in Afghanistan and was confronted by a fundamentalist Egyptian named Rashid Rochman. Although Rochman was generally disliked by Jalaluddin's men, who were turned off by his extremism, the mujahideen leader favored the man. Rochman gleefully questioned Van Dyk about the recent assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, an attack that landed future al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri in an Egyptian prison. It seems likely that Jalaluddin understood that relationships with Arabs such as Rochman could be a fundraising boon for his movement. Jalaluddin still maintains ties through marriage to the Persian Gulf, and much of the Haqqani Network's funding comes through such relationships. In addition, the movement maintains ties to al-Qaeda and the Uzbek Islamic Jihad Union, and has used its leverage with other militants to protect foreign fighters. Osama bin Laden built a relationship with the Haqqanis in the mid-1980s when he spent months along the front lines with Jalaluddin." (ForeignPolicy)



"A war crimes court has ruled that model Naomi Campbell can be called to testify in a case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Prosecutors for the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone say she was given a 'blood diamond' by Mr Taylor in 1997 at Nelson Mandela's house in South Africa. Mr Taylor is accused of using such diamonds to fuel an insurgency in Sierra Leone that cost many lives. Ms Campbell had previously refused to provide testimony to prosecutors." (BBC)



"In what would be his last interview, Dennis Hopper tells Vaniy Fair contributing editor Bob Colacello that his greatest career achievement was Easy Rider. 'Easy Rider and The Last Movie were the only films that I made totally on my own,' he says. When asked if he had to make Easy Rider again whether he would make it differently, Hopper replies, 'Would I make it now? It was about then. And I think a filmmaker’s responsibility is to show his time. Brueghel, I think, was the first artist to show his time.' Hopper says his greatest achievement as an actor was 'Blue Velvet, probably. But I’ve been in such incredible movies. I think at one point I’d been in the five most expensive movies ever made—not that I had large parts in them. Apocalypse Now was one.'" (VanityFair)



"Former president Bill Clinton stepped up the pace of his paid speaking engagements in 2009, bringing his total haul from these speeches to $65 million since leaving office in 2001. According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s annual financial disclosure report released Monday, the former president earned $7.5 million from 36 paid speeches last year, up from the $5.7 million he earned for 25 speeches in 2008. Almost half of his speech earnings last year, $3.2 million, came from 13 speeches delivered in nine other countries, ranging in distance from Canada and Mexico to Turkey, Slovenia, and the United Arab Emirates. The remainder was earned in 23 speeches delivered in seven states and the District of Columbia. Almost two-thirds of President Clinton’s earnings from 365 paid speaking engagements since leaving the White House have come from overseas." (RolandMartin)



"Playboy Enterprises said it is cutting staff in an effort to save more than $3 million annually as it transitions from a media company into one that primarily licenses the Playboy brand. The company declined to say on Tuesday how many employees are affected by the move. At the end of March, Playboy employed 573 people in its Los Angeles and Chicago offices, down from 651 a year ago. In December, Playboy was in talks to sell itself to the Iconix Brand Group, a company that licenses clothing brands such as Joe Boxer, but no deal was reached. Playboy Chief Executive Scott Flanders said in a statement the company is 'aggressively looking' for ways to streamline the organization." (Reuters)



"Elizabeth Vargas hosted a 'Good Morning America' discussion yesterday about Michael Douglas's battle with ex-wife Diandra over his 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps' cash -- but failed to mention she dated Douglas before his divorce with Diandra was finalized. Before interviewing two lawyers, a serious-faced Vargas said: 'A lot of people were surprised that 10 years after collecting in one of the most expensive divorces in history, taking $45 million home, that an ex-wife can come back and say: 'I get to have more.'' An ABC rep admitted last night, 'It was a mistake. It should have been disclosed [to viewers]. Elizabeth did tell her executive producer she had dated Michael, but he made the decision she should host the segment. George [Stephanopoulos] should have done it.' The rep added, 'But she did a fair and unbiased job.' A source close to Diandra said, 'Elizabeth was involved with Michael before the ink was dry in the divorce -- how can she not be biased?'" (PageSix)



"Finally the NBA and NHL playoffs are over, and we can get a sense of how the networks' real summer schedules are performing. The early verdict: Fox is doing just a bit better than everyone else. The network eased ahead of ABC and NBC for a victory in the first sports-free week of the summer, averaging a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating and 6 share, according to Nielsen, to ABC and NBC's 1.5/5 apiece. Perhaps Fox's biggest advantage is not the hot shows it has, 'Hell's Kitchen' or 'So You Think You Can Dance,' though both rank among the highest-rated original shows this season, but what it does not have. That's the seven additional hours on the schedule filled with reruns that are hobbling ABC, CBS and NBC and dragging down ratings." (Medialifemagazine)



"During his two seasons as a talk show host, Henry Rollins interviewed over 40 celebrities. But few left Rollins speechless like Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. 'I got a lot of letters about that one,' Rollins tells Spinner. '[They asked], 'Why didn't you give him s---?' During the interview, Simmons was characteristically arrogant, bragging about his wealth and sex life, saying things like, 'I'm delusionally in love with myself," 'I'm fascinating' and 'I get paid hideously well.' At one point, an exasperated Rollins could only respond with an awkward, 'Nice' ...'The high points were Gore Vidal and Larry Flynt and Werner Herzog,' Rollins says. 'Herzog was just a thrill to meet. Oliver Stone is always interesting -- he just thinks differently. Samuel L. Jackson was very interesting because we stayed off the topic of acting and got into topics around the civil rights movement, which he was involved in.' But Simmons made Rollins noticeably uncomfortable. Still, Rollins says he wasn't surprised by Simmons' demeanor. 'I've known Gene for a long time,' Rollins says. 'That's just Gene doing his thing. Gene has found the two things in life he loves -- money and Gene Simmons.'" (Spinner)



(Jackie Weld Drake with Paul and Daisy Soros via NYSD)

"Meanwhile, as the sun was setting, it turned into a beautiful summer night in New York. Over at Damrosch Park on West 62nd Street, next to the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, they were celebrating the opening night of 'Midsummer Night Swing' featuring the 'Battle of the Bands' – New York’s George Gee Swing Orchestra vs. Los Angeles’ Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra ...The MSNS is made possible in part by grants from Daisy and Paul Soros and the Charina Endowment Fund. The evening got underway about 6. There must have been more than a thousand congregating. The bands started playing at 7:30 and it was joyous pandemonium thereafter. At about 8 o’clock, Mr. and Mrs. Soros also had a 'picnic' buffet seated dinner in a nearby tent within view of the dance floor, for about a hundred of their nearest and dearest." (NYSocialDiary)



"With Jeffrey Deitch now the head of MOCA in Los Angeles, former Deitch Projects directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman have opened their own gallery. Appropriately named The Hole, this temporary space opened its doors for the first time last weekend with a show Not Quite Open for Business. The group exhibition included many former Deitch artists, as well as a selection of others reminiscent of Grayson’s recent New York Minute show at MACRO in Italy. In keeping with the theme of the exhibit, works, such as the Aurel Schmidt piece here, (including painting, drawings, poems) were 'unfinished” and displayed on the floor or leaning against walls." (Purple-Diary)



"After notifying the Pentagon this week that he will retire from the only profession he has ever known—that of a military man—Gen. Stanley McChrystal now faces the toughest question of a battlefield commander cut off in the prime of his career: What next? While blogs are prophesying everything from book tours to the cable-TV talk circuit to Senate runs for the fired Afghan commander, longtime friends and aides of McChrystal say they expect the gaunt four-star general to take the more MacArthurian route—and fade away. 'Honestly—the only thing I ever heard him say he wanted to do, after he completed his mission in Afghanistan… was eventually retire and open a bookstore,' wrote one officer, who is close to McChrystal, by email." (TheDailyBeast)



(Douglas Hannant and Frederick Anderson via NYSD)

"It is always somewhat of a debate as to when summer in the Hamptons officially begins. Memorial Day, the weather can be iffy, and the weekend always seems to arrive just as one is finally starting to enjoy spring; by July 4th, Route 27 is a virtual parking lot and the crowds can border on unbearable. The event schedule also inevitably plays a part. All you really need is that one fete that proves enough of a draw for the critical masses - the usual notables and tastemakers - and then, that's it, the Hamptons have begun. And who better to inaugurate the summer than Douglas Hannant and Frederick Anderson?" (HuffPo)

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