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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"What will be the image that frames the news reporting of June 29's White House meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? Surely not another bow toward the desert monarch, as caught on video at the London G-20 meeting in April 2009. Or what hypercritics saw as a further deferential bob in Riyadh last June, when the president leaned forward so the shorter king could confer on him the King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit, a chunky necklace that Obama took off within seconds ... Obama and Abdullah already has met just two days before at the G-20 summit in Canada, but Abdullah is coming to Washington to talk one-on-one about Palestine and Iran. On the former issue, Abdullah thinks that Obama 'gets it,' as he has been tougher on the Israelis than Bush or Bill Clinton. On Iran, however, the Saudi king fears that his country's historically closest ally is naive, and dangerously so, for putting so much faith in diplomacy. The same emotional approach that causes Abdullah to anguish about the Palestinians also explains his distrust and antipathy toward the Iranians, whom he sees as typically untrustworthy Shiite challengers to Sunni, and therefore Saudi, custodianship of the holy places of Islam." (ForeignPolicy)



"BILL Clinton hosted CBS' Katie Couric and CNN's Wolf Blitzer at his table at Nobu at the One & Only Cape Town Hotel Sunday night, when he wasn't table-hopping to greet former Irish prime minister Mary Robinson and Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel." (PageSix)



"The Afghan War is the longest war in U.S. history. It began in 1980 and continues to rage. It began under Democrats but has been fought under both Republican and Democratic administrations, making it truly a bipartisan war. The conflict is an odd obsession of U.S. foreign policy, one that never goes away and never seems to end. As the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal reminds us, the Afghan War is now in its fourth phase. The first phase of the Afghan War began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979, when the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, organized and sustained Afghan resistance to the Soviets. This resistance was built around mujahideen, fighters motivated by Islam. Washington’s purpose had little to do with Afghanistan and everything to do with U.S.-Soviet competition. The United States wanted to block the Soviets from using Afghanistan as a base for further expansion and wanted to bog the Soviets down in a debilitating guerrilla war. The United States did not so much fight the war as facilitate it. The strategy worked. The Soviets were blocked and bogged down. This phase lasted until 1989, when Soviet troops were withdrawn. The second phase lasted from 1989 until 2001." (STRATFOR)



"It was impossible to absorb everything happening at the Creators Project—a joint Vice magazine and Intel all-day-and-into-the-night party on Saturday, at Milk Studios, in New York City. Despite the many hours we spent running around the venue, we barely had time to take it all in. Somewhere between seeing Mark Ronson create a pop song (where we're told we just missed Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark in the crowd), having a personal hologram created in the Digital Flesh installation, catching Interpol perform at the loading dock, and spying Alexander Wang interacting with MOS architects interactive glittering cube sculpture, we realized this was more than just another open bar. We were meeting all of Vice's cool friends, who all have cool, tech-y projects, and we didn't even have to go through the hassle of attending Wesleyan. In one room was a screening Spike Jonze's latest short film, I'm Here, which featured music by his friends in the charming ambient outfit ASKA. The film ended with a sad question mark, which curved into a heart as the movie screen lifted to reveal ASKA, in the flesh, playing their haunting soundtrack." (VanityFair)



"It’s not unusual for Hollywood’s Republicans to hide in the closet as campaigns gear up, but this election year they’ve locked the door behind them. With Democratic donors going all out to support their top-of-the-ticket candidates in the November elections, Sen. Barbara Boxer and would-be Gov. Jerry Brown, Republicans have been far less helpful to their opponents, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, according to the most recent contribution records. Indeed, the disparity between Boxer and Fiorina is especially striking, given the anti-incumbent mood sweeping the country this year and the expectation for big Republican gains in the mid-term elections. Boxer, who is seeking a fourth six-year term following 10 years in the House, has more than 40 Hollywood donors for every one of Fiorina’s. Among Boxer’s supporters are dozens of well-known industry figures, including Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Barbra Streisand, Robin Williams, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Kline, Sally Field, Christopher Guest, Don Henley, Bob Iger, Ron Meyer, Peter Chernin and J.J. Abrams." (TheWrap)



"Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is due to attend the annual Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, giving him a chance to court executives he needs to add content to his company’s products. Jobs is returning to the public eye after disclosing a hormone imbalance last year, taking a 5 1/2-month leave of absence and receiving a liver transplant. In the five years since Jobs was last known to attend the conference, Apple has introduced products including the iPhone, iPad tablet and Apple TV that give media companies new ways to sell and distribute songs, books, video and other content. Executives of media and technology companies often use the conference, closed to the press in recent years, to network and discuss deals. Walt Disney Co. used it to hatch its $19.5 billion acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC Inc. Yahoo! Inc. co- founder Jerry Yang met former Warner Bros. executive Terry Semel at an Allen & Co. conference before tapping him as CEO in 2001." (BloombergBusinessWeek)



"If spit, flung along with a good dose of Champagne by Prince Harry of Windsor into the face of his opponent Nacho Figueras, defined last year's Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island, Sunday afternoon's event will be remembered for another bodily fluid. 'I'm sweating like a hog like everyone else here,' said Gayle King, editor at large of O, the Oprah magazine, as droplets of perspiration accumulated under her eyes. 'But the beauty is we're all in the same boat so you can't look at someone and go, 'God, what a mess!' Because everybody looks that way.' Prince Harry's team, the Black Rock, was facing off against Mr. Figueras' Black Watch. The charity match benefited Prince Harry's organization Sentebale, which supports children in Lesotho. Last year Black Rock prevailed; this year Black Watch won in overtime, and Prince Harry fell off his horse." (Observer)



(Robert Greenblatt via LATimes)

"Now comes the hard part. After seven years of transforming itself into a showcase of original dramas about subversive characters, Showtime is poised for another makeover. The premium channel confirmed that its programming chief, Robert Greenblatt — who nudged into the television zeitgeist distinctive shows about a police blood splatter expert/serial killer; a Southern California widow turned pot dealer; lusty and beautiful young royals of the Tudor era; and a burned-out, pill-popping nurse — is leaving the network next month when his contract expires. Showtime on Monday named David Nevins — a veteran producer who has developed more heartwarming fare, such as NBC's 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Parenthood' — to succeed Greenblatt. Nevins will be tasked with stocking Showtime's pipeline with shows worthy enough to keep subscribers paying as much as $12 a month for the channel owned by CBS Corp." (LATimes)



"The TV syndication market is red-hot and here's more evidence: the 2 most talked-about new series of this TV season, Fox’s Glee and ABC’s Modern Family, are headed to big off-network syndication deals. We've learned that Twentieth Television is finalizing separate deals for the cable rights to both hit shows made by 20th Century Fox TV with NBC Universal’s Oxygen and USA Network. Glee will be heading to Oxygen, which we hear is paying mid-six figures per episode, plus airing a 2011 reality show to find the next Glee star. While Modern Family will land at USA Network which until now has been focused on hour long procedurals. We hear the deals were negotiated directly with the cable networks, both of whom are NBCU-owned and soon to be Comcast-owned." (Deadline)



"Everywhere I went in L.A. people spoke of The Kardashians like royalty. Kim Kardashian alone has given 'ass' (mentally and physically) a new meaning. Dr. Drew Pinsky of 'Celebrity Rehab' is now more popular than Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz. (At this point he could book any pro football player up on current rape charges and cure them all of being sex addicts ... and oh the ratings!!!). What does it say about our culture that we feel such a need to expose our most tawdry of underbellies and all on HD? Is this 'sharing' on steroids? Aren't we past Oprah? Even Oprah is past Oprah. (And by the way I kept hearing in L.A. that tons of network producers are running over to Oprah's cable venture looking for any jobs they can find) .. Every visit to L.A. I make it a point to end up at Guiseppe Franco's – one of the many popular Beverly Hills hair salons. (Remember this is a city with five hair salons in a two block radius ... talk about narcissism). Jeffrey Serra is the salon manager and one of the most talented hair colorists in the city. A visit to the salon is always 'dinner and a show' and an earful. You can end up seeing the strangest collection of notoriety ... like Mickey Rourke and Michael Pollard ... and most importantly 'the Govenator Ahnold' himself getting his roots 'caramelized.' In fact 'Ahnold' is practically there weekly." (NYSocialDiary)



"In an old photo in her native Saransk, an industrial town in Ukraine, Oksana Grigorieva covers her eyes and smiles as she teeters awkwardly in a Bettie Page-style bikini and heels. But shying away from the spotlight is hardly how friends, acquaintances, and ex-boyfriends have described the 40-year-old pop star with the cascading hair, Angelina Jolie lips, and a hammer-and-sickle ankle tattoo, who is currently in an ugly blow-up with Mel Gibson—the father of her 8-month-old daughter, Lucia, and, until last month, her romantic partner of three years. Rather, they describe her as a resolutely self-determined woman who willed herself from rags to riches, along the way progressing through a number of male suitors in order to get where she wanted to be. Until now, little has been known about Grigorieva, who first surfaced in connection with the 54-year-old Gibson photos were published last year, showing them embracing on a beach in Costa Rica. A month later, after it was revealed that Grigorieva was pregnant, Gibson's wife of 28 years, Robyn, filed for divorce. (The couple had been separated since 2006.) But if there were any bliss between the leggy brunette and the Braveheart star, it was short-lived." (TheDailyBeast)



"Naomi Campbell donned a fur vest on a 90-degree afternoon yesterday to model for Dennis Basso's fall/winter 2010 campaign." (NYPost)



"In the middle of February, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg gave some free advice to his party’s Congressional leaders via the New Republic, urging them to take a series of steps to minimize Democratic vulnerabilities (and losses) in the fall elections. It has been four months since Greenberg’s article, 'Disaster Relief: How to Avoid a Repeat of 1994,' appeared, but there is no sign of a Democratic turnaround on the horizon — only more depressing news and pessimistic public opinion data for Democrats. The news on joblessness and the U.S. economy, combined with growing concerns over the federal deficit, Europe’s financial health (particularly growing debt), the lack of progress of the war in Afghanistan and the damage resulting from the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, are burying the president and his party in an avalanche of public dissatisfaction. As former President George W. Bush found out only a few years ago, a never-ending supply of bad news saps a presidency, and a political party, of its strength." (Stuart Rothenberg/ CQ)



"A well-heeled crowd gathered at the Chateau de Versailles Friday night to toast Franco-American friendship at the Bal des Topiaires benefit organized by the American Friends of Versailles. U.S. ambassador to France Charles Rivkin and French presidential adviser Jean-David Levitte headed the diplomatic contingent, while French aristocrats and American heirs — including Ondine de Rothschild, Ariane Dandois, Louise and Charles Marsh, Steven Rockefeller 3rd and Collin Eckles — ramped up the glamour quota." (WWD)

"This is the media word we now live in: The former playground bullies of the blog world have gone national, even global, and Establishment media players and marketers have no choice but to reckon with them, given that they're flush with cash and attract massive audiences. As always, it is more than a bit scary to watch playground bullies grow up and really start to throw their weight around. Sometimes they wage interesting battles (honestly, the Gawker vs. American Apparel war has been great fun for us readers) and sometimes they just want to defile and degrade for kicks (arguably Perez Hilton's core brand proposition)." (Simon Dumenco/ AdAge)

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