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Friday, June 25, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The dismissal of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal will almost certainly embolden the Pakistanis in their plan as they detect increasing American uncertainty, Pakistani officials said. The Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, preferred General McChrystal to his successor, Gen. David H. Petraeus, whom he considers more of a politician than a military strategist, said people who had spoken recently with General Kayani. Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, who has soured on the Americans. Pakistani officials say they can deliver the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an ally of Al Qaeda who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan, into a power-sharing arrangement. In addition, Afghan officials say, the Pakistanis are pushing various other proxies, with General Kayani personally offering to broker a deal with the Taliban leadership. Washington has watched with some nervousness as General Kayani and Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, shuttle between Islamabad and Kabul, telling Mr. Karzai that they agree with his assessment that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan, and that a postwar Afghanistan should incorporate the Haqqani network, a longtime Pakistani asset ... Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said on a visit to Islamabad last weekend that it was 'hard to imagine' the Haqqani network in an Afghan arrangement, but added, 'Who knows?'" (NYTimes)



"Like Tea Party candidate touting smaller government and looser gun regulations in Alaska, it’s unwise to bet against Adam Sandler when he plays to his base. And once again, playing true to a summertime formula that tends to yield subpar reviews, but domestic ticket sales in the $100 million range, Sony is set to release the latest Sandler comedy, 'Grown Ups,' into 3,534 theaters Friday. Reviews are, well, terrible, with Rotten Tomatoes scoring the film in the 13 percent fresh region. But the tracking suggest the PG-13-rated ensemble comedy will do what Sandler films tend always do when the comic keeps the tone light-hearted – open to over $30 million. With the weekend’s only wide-opener starting out Wednesday – Fox’s Tom Cruise action-comedy 'Kight and Day' opened to a soft $3.8 million – Sony officials believe 'Grown Ups' will perform similarly to Universal’s 2007 comedy 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,' which also teamed Sandler with Kevin James. 'Chuck and Larry' debuted to $34.2 million on the way to a $186.1 million worldwide gross." (TheWrap)



"... Instead, I headed down to Devon, where the Hanburys had their annual cricket party and weekend. One of the Hanbury girls is married to David RockSavage, Marquis of Chomondelay, pronounced Chumly for you not in the know, the other, Marina, is engaged to be married to Ned Lambton, Earl of Lambton, so you get the picture. People like Tom Parker Bowles, Ben Eliot, son and nephew of Camila, the Marquis of Worcester, Bunter to us insiders, and the spiritual head of Takimag, Taki himself, were some of the 80 odd weekend guests. A word of caution. I like and admire Taki a lot, but he’s much too old to be playing cricket with 25-year-olds, and, worse, far too old to be chasing 20 year old girls around the grand house all evening – as he was seen to do." ("Bunky Mortimer")



"Al Gore, the world's pre-eminent environmentalist, has embarked on his toughest recycling challenge: his own cable channel. For much of the past year, Current TV has been quietly undergoing an overhaul that will change just about everything but the struggling channel's name. Current declined comment for this story. It's a revitalization project Gore & Co. embarked on after exhausting a more lucrative possibility: selling the channel. Current's founding partner, Joel Hyatt, spent much of 2009 shopping the network with a price tag that wildly overestimated the company's worth, confirmed sources at several conglomerates. Current even had extensive sale talks as far back as 2007 with Google, where Gore serves as a senior advisor. Now the focus has shifted to fixing Current, perhaps with an eye toward a sale down the road. Last July, Hyatt was replaced as CEO by Mark Rosenthal, the former MTV Networks COO who is rebuilding the channel in the traditional mold Gore avowed to avoid, only to suffer the consequences. Rosenthal has brought in a crew of colleagues from his MTVN days including an unlikely ringer: Brian Graden, the programming genius who masterminded hit series from 'South Park' to 'The Osbournes,' before leaving last year." (HollywoodReporter)



(image via NYSD)

"Last week, the Financial Times hosted its 6th annual 'Business of Luxury Summit' in Beverly Hills, gathering industry leaders in media, entertainment, luxury and fashion ... That first FT party had an eclectic list, heavy on the writers and journalist leanings, and very welcoming group of hosts. Rarely do you ever go to a cocktail party and enjoy not only the camaraderie of acquaintances but also find yourself in conversations that are enlightening or even provocative. And all under the auspices of the 'getting-to-know' the FT ... So when I learned about their Los Angeles, I was curious to see who they’d 'gathered.' Speakers and delegates included Robert Iger (President & CEO, The Walt Disney Company), Leonard Lauder (Chairman Emeritus, Estée Lauder Companies Inc.), Bryan Lourd (Managing Partner, Creative Artists Agency), Tom Murry (President & CEO, Calvin Klein Inc.), Diane von Furstenberg (CEO & Founder, DVF Studio and President, CFDA), Jonathan Newhouse (Chairman, Condé Nast International), André Leon Talley (Contributing Editor, Vogue), Tamara Mellon (Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Jimmy Choo), Dov Charney (Founder & Chief Executive Officer, American Apparel), Sebastian Suhl (COO, Prada Group), Marissa Mayer (Vice President, Search Products & User Experience, Google Inc.) and Tim Murphy (Chief Product Officer, MasterCard Worldwide)." (NYSocialDiary)



"Alexandra Richards, model daughter of Rolling Stone Keith and '70s supermodel Patti Hansen, has stripped it off for French Playboy. The blond Wilhelmina model and deejay appears naked in a series of pictures shot by Tony Kelly for the new issue of the magazine. Richards, who dated fellow Stones offspring James Jagger when she was a teen, is currently dating Paul Longo." (PageSix)



"National Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson organized a conference call last week to promote Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate bid, providing further evidence of the governor's effort to court support in Democratic circles for his Independent campaign. The invitation to the Friday morning call was distributed in Democratic lobbying and donor circles. Crist faces the challenge of amassing the funds necessary to compete in the November election, despite having no personal fortune to draw from and no formal party structure backing his campaign. After bolting the Republican Party earlier this year, Crist is hoping he can now raise big dollars from Democratic donors who may not be totally enthused by their party's top candidates: Rep. Kendrick Meek and wealthy businessman Jeff Greene. Florida papers reported Thursday that a recent Crist fundraiser in Tallahassee was hosted by former Democratic state House Speaker T.K. Wetherell and other prominent state Democrats." (CQPolitics)



"The Economist has claimed success with a new mobile-phone-based magazine sales ploy this week, as it reported its overall operating profit had climbed three per cent to (US $86,141 million) for the 12 months to April. In the annual report of parent company Economist Group, its UK managing director Nigel Ludlow outlined how interest in the new sales system had grown since it was launched. He said: 'We started an innovative way for readers in the UK to buy their copy of The Economist. Readers can elect to receive a text message on their mobile telephone summarising the main stories from the issue about to go to press .. The annual report also revealed that while print sales of the magazine increased in the UK by 1.2 per cent year on year to 189,201 in the second half of 2009, print advertising was down 16 per cent over the same period. However, Ludlow said he was optimistic about the prospects of growing the magazine’s UK sale saying: 'In the past, we have viewed the UK market as relatively mature for The Economist. 'Our recent analysis, however, suggests that the audience of intellectually curious people is larger than we thought and capable of supporting further growth in circulation. We have already started to invest in activity to tap that potential, and this will continue in the coming year.'" (PressGazette)



"Carlos Miele is sitting pretty in New York, and last night he invited a crowd to come up and share the view. From the rooftop of his Chelsea penthouse, it's not a bad one. Miele has just designed a pair of chiffon scarves to benefit Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, which was the official reason for teaming up with Vogue and the CFDA for a party. It was also the jet-setting Brazilian designer's last night in town for a while, and he'd put more effort than usual into rolling out his Resort collection this year—'always a good excuse,' Miele admitted, to uncork some Champagne. Or, in this case, rum and pineapple juice. With Harley Viera-Newton (who's half-Brazilian herself) serving up tracks by Tom Jobim and Gilberto Gil and a capoeira class serendipitously taking place in the street below, there was enough Ipanema flavor for 'the Brazilian mafia' (in the words of Lorenzo Martone, who swung by with Alessandra Ambrosio, Irina Shayk, and Jessica White) to feel quite at home." (Style)



"Not long before Hafez el-Assad died in 2000, Ahmed Hariri predicted what would happen when the official news announced the death of the president. Hariri, an old friend of mine in the Syrian ministry of information, came from the city of Tadmor, east of Damascus. The city, known as Palmyra to Romans and tourists alike, was home to one of the regime's fearsome jails, which stood behind trees not far from the desert road to Baghdad. This was the site of a massacre of Islamist prisoners – perhaps a thousand in all – by Assad's brother Rifaat after an assassination attempt on Hafez. The corpses were rumoured to have been tossed by night into a secret mass grave near a local hill, and have lain unmarked ever since. Hariri – he died some years ago, which is why I can name him – drew heavily on a cigarette in the back of my car as we sped towards Tadmor. 'When our beloved president dies,' he said, 'all the people of Tadmor will go to the hill. They know where the dead are – more than just those killed by Rifaat. And when they are sure that the president has gone, they will all throw roses on the gravesite in memory of those who lie beneath.'" (TheIndependent)



"'Your voice is purple,' says Dev, perched on his blood red, velvet armchair. 'Whoa… really, really pretty.' 'What?' 'Your voice—it’s purple,' he repeats, pointing eagerly toward a cloud of nothing floating directly in front of my lips. 'Well, not purple purple. More a dark auburn, like, a couple shades darker than your hair.' 'Are you for real?' I ask. Dev has talked to me briefly in the past about his ability to see sounds, but I always just thought he was bullshitting or trying to be poetic. Today, however, his expression seems sincere enough so I opt not to be skeptical and say, 'How is that even possible?' I met Dev in London back in 2005. He’s British but moved to NYC three years ago, claiming he needed to 'escape the evil,' whatever that means." (Slutever)



"The best-kept secret about Africa in the last decade is the continent's rapid and creative adoption of modern technology. African countries have for the most part leapfrogged the technologies of the late 20th century to adopt those of the early 21st en masse. There are now 10 times as many cell phones as land lines in sub-Saharan Africa, and since 2004, the region's year-over-year growth has been the highest in the world. When Nokia's billionth handset was sold in 2000, it was in Nigeria. Africa is a multimillion-dollar mobile market, and plenty of the major technology companies, Western and otherwise, are there already. Multinational telecoms like MTN, Safaricom, and Zain are competing to cover a continent of 500 million mobile consumers, improving connectivity and dropping prices. Low-tech Chinese imports and no-contract, prepaid plans have made the technology easily accessible; Belle-Vista alone sells 500 phones a month. Nokia, which established its first African research center in Nairobi in 2008, has just unveiled a telephone that will allow consumers used to toggling between two or three devices to use multiple SIM cards in the same phone. BlackBerry has likewise responded to explosive demand by opening an office in Nigeria this year. Google, whose Android operating system is the strongest competitor to the iPhone, has had a presence on the continent since 2007 and now operates in 45 African countries, hiring and training African developers to convert its well-known suite of Web applications for local use -- often over mobile devices." (ForeignPolicy)

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