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Monday, June 28, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"With General Stanley McChrystal removed from command in Afghanistan and General David Petraeus named to succeed him, the stunning story is disappearing from front pages—even as its most telling implications begin to seep through the cracks. I speak here of the winners and losers, and what their fate will mean for America’s fate in Afghanistan ... Neither Winners Nor Losers Yet: Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and Ambassador in Kabul Karl Eikenberry. Holbrooke likely will be fine. He has a good relationship with Petraeus, which will be key. But just as important, he’ll be needed when and if the White House decides to explore serious negotiations with the Taliban. Eikenberry, on the other hand, could be in trouble. He committed the ultimate sin in personal relations: He sent his analysis and recommendations about the war (which happened to be extremely negative and contrary to McChrystal’s) to Washington without even telling his old friend McChrystal that he had done so. That experience is certain to be in Petraeus’ mind. And by the way, General James Jones, the National Security Adviser, didn’t emerge from the story well, either. McChrystal’s guys called him 'a clown.' He’s not, but his comrades in the administration don’t give him high marks either. Biggest Winner: General David Petraeus. His already cosmic reputation soars. Whatever future he desires will be enhanced—so long as he doesn’t fail in Afghanistan." (Les Gelb/TheDailyBeast)



"A combined US audience of 19.4 million average viewers for the USA-Ghana World Cup match on Saturday make it the largest US audience for a soccer match in history, topping the 1994 World Cup final match between Brazil and Italy." (TVBytheNumbers)



"No luxury Caribbean vacation will keep Stephanie Seymour from mandatory drug tests, a judge in her messy divorce from Peter Brant has ruled. Seymour was recently hauled into a Connecticut courtroom after she missed court-ordered testing while vacationing in St. Barts with two of her kids in March, according to divorce records. The former Victoria's Secret model's drinking and drug use have become a critical point of contention in her split from polo-playing Brant. Both had previously been ordered to submit to the tests as part of their split. The couple is due back in court in Stamford, Conn., today." (PageSix)



"CNN has decided on their 8pmET program – bringing in Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker – but since the show doesn’t debut until the fall, there’s a lot of time to talk about what the show means. Howard Kurtz talked to CNN President Jon Klein about the decision on his own network during Reliable Sources yesterday. In an interesting set-up, Kurtz played clips of CNN’s reporting on Spitzer’s prostitution scandal and subsequent resignation, giving viewers a chance to see Spitzer’s soon-to-be colleagues Wolf Blitzer and John King show very clearly what’s leading to some of the criticism. Kurtz’ first question hit right to the point. “Why did you want a man who proved unfit to serve as governor of New York, who resigned in disgrace, as part of this network?” he asked. 'Eliot Spitzer still has a lot of ideas to contribute, a lot of things to say, and I think our viewers are going to find him a very interesting person to tune into every night,' said Klein." (Steve Krakaur/Mediaite)



"Barack Obama’s demand, in his June 15 speech, that the former British Petroleum Company create an escrow account, to guarantee the funds that will be needed to deal with the consequences of the continuing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, should have been made weeks ago, and should surely have been framed more strongly than it was. The President, in this matter, continues to demonstrate the quality, laudable in itself, but in politics extraordinarily dangerous, of assuming that those he is dealing with are as reasonable and well-intentioned as he is himself. In fact they are often driven by ruthlessly self-interested motives that leave him in a position of seeming weakness and unwillingness to defend not only national but his own political interests. At the end of May one saw the President on international television walking on a Louisiana beach, accompanied—off-scene—by hundreds if not thousands of newsmen, broadcasters, and cameramen. He seemed abject. He bent over and picked up a handful of sand and let it run through his fingers. He shook his head in concern. A cutaway showed his speeches earlier in this affair declaring that his administration is in charge of the great effort to save America’s coast and waters from the terrible pollution that is spreading as a result of a volcano of oil erupting from the sea’s floor and meeting the sickly-colored, toxic chemicals being mixed into the water that are meant to disperse it ... Allow me, in the style of the metropolitan columnists who influence Washington, to draft what the President might have said in his June 15 speech .." (William Pfaff/NYRB)



"He sculpts and designs. He makes furniture, sculpts things related to houses. Traditional male ... I keep telling Brad (Pitt) he owes me. He’s had a few months off in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (Venice) with the children. And he’s such an artist and goes to the stone yards and the art exhibits, and loves being in such a cultural place.” (Angelina Jolie/Vanity Fair)



"...(I)t is important to note that many publishers continue to gain traffic the old-fashioned way --with compelling content and smart distribution. Our poster child for growth in April is allure.com.(+206.37% page views, +232.14% unique visitors versus March 2010), which has been in expansion mode all year with its many eyeball-catching celebrity photo-shoots. In April, however, distribution efforts with major portals Yahoo! and MSN seemed to turn on the firehose. Over at sister Condé Nast site golfdigest.com (+76.69% PVs, +134.00% UVs) the re-emergence of Tiger Woods at the April Masters tournament no doubt helped the site score big. At Mansueto Publishing’s inc.com (+28.14% PVs, +218.90% UVs), the audience expansion came mainly from a hit story that went viral. A tale of a single mother getting fired from her nonprofit company job after being caught sex blogging caught everyone’s attention. A pick-up on April 28 by Yahoo! more than doubled inc.com’s traffic for the month. Although the spike will pull back with the May numbers, the site seems to have retains at least some of those portal-driven users." (Minonline)



"It looks like America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan is still the leading contender to take over for Larry King this fall, but the Post reports that's only because CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric had said no to the job. The former Today host is a key element to an ongoing negotiation between CNN and CBS over a potential content-sharing deal, in which CNN might pick up some of the cost of her exorbitant $15-million-a-year salary. It had been rumored that she might take over King's desk as part of the talent merger, but Couric didn't want to be put in a position where she was burdened with the pressure of saving a slumping franchise (as she was when she first transitioned to CBS). Still, according to the Post, she may be given her own production company to create specials for CNN, thereby relieving CBS of some of the financial burden of keeping her onboard. Though the possibility of taking her off of the 6:30 news broadcast was discussed, that option seems off the table for now — largely because, according to a source, CBS has 'no plan B.'" (NYMag)



(image via NYSD)

"The most interesting news over the weekend (at least the news that wouldn’t make you want to kill yourself) was about Liliane Bettencourt, the 87 (or 88) year old L’Oreal heiress who has been having an intense friendship/relationship with a much younger man – by twenty-five years (he’s 63 this year) – the artist/playwright/photographer/international social gadfly and world class charmer Francois-Marie Banier. Are they sleeping together, you ask? Is that something we really need to know? Or even want to know? Chances are they’re not. But that’s only my definition of 'chances.' However, whatever they are doing together (and this is the 'intense' part to a lot of spectators), the heiress personally owns 31% of L’Oreal’s stock (her father, a chemist, started the company almost a century ago). She has given M. Banier a variety of gifts and promises of gifts (including art, insurance policies and a private island in the Seychelles) that tally up to more than $1.3 billion ... To the outside world, it may look like M. Banier is the classic example of 'just a gigolo' ('everywhere I go; people know the part I’m playing'). That would be a mistake. The multi-tasking/artist/playwright/best buddy/connoisseur is quite famous in his world – the international world of the rich, the chic and the shameless." (NYSocialDiary)



"Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise hit the multiplexes with their newest summer offerings, but neither was able to topple the 3D animated smash Toy Story 3 which topped the North American box office for a second frame in a row. Sandler won the runner-up spot with a strong debut for his latest comedy Grown Ups while Cruise struggled with his action-comedy Knight and Day which posted only moderate results in third place. Disney and Pixar easily held onto the box office crown for a second straight weekend as Toy Story 3 captured an estimated $59M in ticket sales in its sophomore frame, according to estimates. The 3D toon's drop of 47% was large, but was still the lowest of any film in the top ten. The cume to date rose to a stellar $226.6M after just ten days, the best start ever for any Pixar film. With kids out of school for summer vacation and the busy Fourth of July holiday coming up, Toy Story 3 may just surge to the $400M mark making it the one to beat this year for all other blockbusters ... Adam Sandler returned to his safe zone and landed the fourth best opening of his career with the broad comedy Grown Ups which bowed to an estimated $41M. Sony released the PG-13 pic in 3,534 locations and averaged a strong $11,602 per site. The reunion laugher co-starring Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Salma Hayek opened almost exactly like some previous Sandler films that featured little to no extra starpower." (BoxOfficeGuru)



"With a population of just 5 million people, Eritrea has clashed with all four of its closest neighbors in the 17 years since it broke off from Ethiopia. Eritrea still keeps as many as 100,000 soldiers stationed along that frontier, just in case. Before that conflict, it fought Yemen over a chain of islands that lay between them. And just two years ago, Eritrea launched a brief, surreal attack on its tiny neighbor, Djibouti, in which some 35 soldiers from both sides died. Many of the deaths occurred when Djiboutian troops refused to hand over Eritrean soldiers who had defected -- whether in hopes of escaping hardship at home, finding better training abroad, or even just getting a few sips of clean water. Eritrea has also periodically sponsored rebels in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia, occasionally and unapologetically giving refuge to their leaders in Asmara. It has been believably accused of supporting rebels in Djibouti, too. Its involvement in Somalia has been particularly egregious. In December, the U.N. Security Council announced sanctions to punish Eritrea for its support of the Islamist militant group al-Shabab and similar organizations. It was the first time the African Union had ever supported sanctions against one of its own members. But though Eritrea has been amassing an unrivaled track record of international provocation, the regime's real masterpiece of destruction has been at home, where the former Italian colony has taken on the aura of the Soviet Union's final days." (ForeignPolicy)



(D.J. Harley Viera-Newton via PatrickMcMullen via VF)

"Tinsley Mortimer played host to society designer darling Roberta Freymann’s second East Hampton boutique on Saturday while downtown D.J. Harley Viera-Newton manned the decks. Freymann, known for her quintessential uptown frocks and bold accessories, recently collaborated with reality star and Mortimer rival Olivia Palermo on a line of bib necklaces. Not surprisingly, Palermo was absent at the Main Street bash ... The Phoenix House celebrated its annual summer gala in Southampton Saturday night with an influx of Hollywood types, including Brett Ratner, Nick Cannon, and Randy Jackson, honoring MTV’s President of Programming Tony DiSanto and CWE Media founder Charlie Walk. Also on the scene was fashion media-ite Kelly Cutrone who got down to DJ Cassidy’s Michael Jackson set before heading to Georgica restaurant to continue the party." (VanityFair)



"They thought it was about Elvis. That’s what a focus group of a dozen African-American women concluded about the musical 'Memphis' last summer when they were asked to assess the show’s tagline, 'The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll.' But after seeing artwork featuring Felicia, the black R&B singer in the show, and after hearing about the turbulent romance between the character and a white D.J., the women in the focus group said the show was much more up their alley. With that in mind, the producers changed the 'Memphis' tagline before opening on Broadway to: 'His Vision, Her Voice. The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll.' The use of focus groups is one of several diversity strategies, aggressive by theater standards, used not only by 'Memphis' but also by another new Broadway musical, 'Fela!'; the new play 'Race'; and the revival of 'Fences' — all shows centered on black characters, who are rarely in the forefront of major plays and musicals. While the 'Memphis' producers estimate that 25 to 30 percent of their audience is black, the producers of 'Fela!' and 'Race' say that their outreach has resulted in black theatergoers’ making up 40 percent of attendees." (NYTimes)

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