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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Perhaps I am guilty of piling on, but I think there is one more important thing to add to Will Inboden's timely observations. Obama's unfortunate, if understandable, decision does provide the administration with an opportunity to do something that the 2008 campaign promised but the administration has yet to deliver: A change in tone. President Obama could give brief, rueful remarks apologizing that he and his spokespeople made political hay criticizing President Bush for 'ignoring Asia' and boasting that 'America is back' and now they are even more guilty on this very score than Bush ever was. This critique was always nonsense because the Bush administration pursued a nuanced regional strategy that showed exceptional results with a record of good relations simultaneously with Japan, India, and China that no other administration matched. (To be fair, the record was far more mixed with respect to North Korea, but no worse than Obama's thus far.)" (ForeignPolicy)



"Giambattista Tiepolo was not the last of the old masters—that dubious distinction is usually conferred on Goya—but it is surely safe to say that he was the last great painter of the Italian Renaissance. In Roberto Calasso’s elegant formulation, Tiepolo was 'the right person to impersonate painting’s epilogue, just as in a theater performance there is an actor whose function is solely to appear at the end and make an imperfectible bow to the audience.' Although Tiepolo was born on the cusp of the seventeenth century, his work strongly echoes that of earlier painters, especially Veronese, who died more than a century before Tiepolo’s birth but whose themes, subjects, and even turns of style Tiepolo freely borrowed from. Calasso quotes a contemporary’s estimation of Tiepolo as 'a happy painter by nature,' and Calasso himself goes so far as to describe him as 'the last breath of happiness in Europe.' It is all more complicated than that, of course; and it is the complexities here, as so often elsewhere, that Calasso finds most stimulating. Very little is known of Tiepolo the man. His family bore an anciently aristocratic name, but this was either a happy coincidence or a deliberate borrowing." (TNR)



"NYTimes magazine: Why did you choose to write a memoir? Christopher Hitchens: I suppose the effect of becoming 60 on me was stronger than I thought it was going to be. I took it quite heavily and began to review my life a lot more than I had before." (NYTimesmagazine)



"Bestselling author Henning Mankell, who sailed on the ships trying to break Israel’s Gaza blockade, shares his diary of the journey with The Daily Beast: being attacked by Israeli commandos, robbed of his possessions, and finally deported back to Sweden." (TheDailybeast)



"THE supermodel Iman hasn’t walked a runway in 21 years. Yet at almost 55 years old, with that famous Modigliani profile and copper-toned skin, she’s as gorgeous as ever. At a recent lunch at Barneys New York given in her honor by the store’s creative director, Simon Doonan, Iman glided among friends that included her contemporaries Stephen Burrows, the designer, and Pat Cleveland, the spirited model of the 1970s and ’80s. As guests like the designer Rachel Roy and the television anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour sipped Dom PĂ©rignon, Iman strode in on the arm of David Bowie, her husband of 18 years. She wore a black sheath and black pumps and clutched the black alligator Kelly bag Mr. Bowie gave her years ago." (NYTimes)



"Oh the bromance! Jason Bateman and his sugar-daddy Dustin Hoffman take their passion for the NBA Playoff's a little bit too far! At last night's LA Lakers v Boston Celtics Game 1 at Staples Centre, when the Kiss Cam turned to Hoffman, instead of turning to his wife, the 72-year old turned to hunky neighbor Jason Baseman. Who knows, if the Lakers end up winning, can we see a JumboTron proposal in the works? Bateman and Hoffman weren't the only two celebrities taking in Game 1 last night. Being held at celebrity magnet Staples Centre, it was inevitable that celebs were drawn to a Lakers Play-Off game like moth's to the proverbial flame. Steven Spielberg, Will Ferrell, Sly Stallone, David Duchovny, Ice Cube, Charlize Theron, and Joe Jonas were among those who attended." (Guestofaguest)



"The Walt Disney Company has entered into exclusive negotiations with David Bergstein and his financial partners to sell their arthouse division Miramax, TheWrap has learned. Disney’s negotiations with the Weinstein Company and Ron Burkle broke down over a week ago. Since then, Disney has been negotiating actively with billionaire brothers Alec and Tom Gores and with Bergstein, who is backed by L.A. construction billionaire Ron Tutor and two other unnamed individuals. Bergstein had previously raised his bid from $650 million for the studio. In an interview with TheWrap in mid-April, the day that Disney went into exclusive talks with Weinstein, Bergstein said: 'Our bid was in fact $650 million, all cash. We said we would increase our price, slightly at the terms. I told them I might be able to. I didn’t say absolutely. But for me, and for the group, it’s not an emotional decision. I won’t die if we don’t get the asset.' But Bergstein is an extremely controversial figure.The producer and financier faces litigation from more than a dozen creditors in the United States. He has been declared bankrupt in England, and currently a court-appointed trustee is going through the assets of some of his companies to determine what can be paid his creditors, which include most of the major Hollywood guilds. He is widely disliked, and distrusted, within the industry." (Sharon Waxman/TheWrap)



"Fame is mindbending. As Chris Blackwell puts it, 'you go from a bum to a hero in a second, and you've got to be savvy enough to guide yourself through the maze.' Beware of having your prayers answered. Yesterday nobody knew you, today people you don't know are writing terrible things about you all over the Net. It takes time to adjust to fame. Which is why it's best if it comes slowly. So you can learn the ropes and cope." (LefsetzLetter)



"This week marked the deadline for non-binding bids for Newsweek, the challenged publication The Washington Post Co. put on the block on May 5. So far at least four parties have come forward and expressed interest. These are troubled times for weekly news magazines. On one hand, they must try to keep pace with a ruthless news cycle that shows no sign of slowing. On the other, the best way to do so would be to become more digital and abandon their print editions — but those are what bring in the most revenue. It’s not just Newsweek. The parent company of Newsweek’s main competitor, Time magazine, has been fielding questions from investors and analysts about the likelihood of a possible sale — not just of Time but the whole Time Inc. unit. During Time Warner’s investor conference in New York last week, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes put to rest — for now at least — a sale by telling the audience Time Inc. publications have an 'attractive lead position in the market.' Maybe so. Or maybe it’s just really hard to unload magazines at the moment." (Reuters)



"I told a veteran foreign correspondent, who spent decades reporting wars, that I was meeting Andy McNab. He said, 'Last year I was listening to this play on Radio 4 in the car, about soldiers in Afghanistan. I thought, ‘This is pretty good.’ At the end I waited to see which hotshot playwright had written it and blow me, it was McNab. He really knows about soldiers.' Well, he would, wouldn’t he? McNab spent 17 years in the army, several of them trying to kill people. We meet at the Ivy Club in London; the Ivy, the restaurant next door, is where the arts and media world goes to be seen, and to enjoy the noise. The club is where you go to eat comfortably and quietly among people satisfied that they do not need to be seen, and so seems a natural choice for McNab, one of the most successful authors in Britain. Each of his three memoirs and 12 thrillers has notched up huge worldwide sales: 10m in Britain alone, 40 per cent through supermarkets. People who read McNabs would not think of reading much else. He has brilliantly exploited the SAS brand in the mass market, earning some jealousy from his old mates and a substantial fortune. He is a cheerful, chunky, 51-year-old, with the fluency of south London where he grew up. This mingles with a cockiness many SAS veterans display, rooted in their conviction – on the whole justified by performance – that they are the best." (FT)



"Everyone’s waiting on Prince William. Rumors are swirling that this was the last week the royal spent as a single man. William has been dating Kate 'Wait-y Katie' Middleton since 2003 and previously said he was waiting until he was 28 or 30 to get married. A previous report said the royal family blacked out dates in the first week of June for the big announcement—which would be Britain’s biggest engagement-related news since Prince Charles and Diana. For all those who can’t wait, a British supermarket chain is already selling commemorative mugs hailing the engagement. Hold off on buying one for poor Kate should the engagement come later than expected. While his brother steals the romantic spotlight, Prince Harry just wants to stay low-key and hang out with the ponies. For the second consecutive year, Harry will come to New York for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic later this month." (Maria Caracciola)



"Some five years ago, at a conference of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, I lamented that 'the growing imbalances, disequilibria, risks' were giving rise to 'circumstances as dangerous and intractable' as any I could recall—intractable not just because of the combination of complicated issues, but because there seemed to be 'so little willingness or capacity to do much about it.' Part of the story is familiar. In the United States, savings practically disappeared as consumption rose far above past relationships to national production. That consumption was satisfied by rapidly growing imports from China and elsewhere in Asia at remarkably cheap prices, helping to keep inflation well subdued. The resulting seemingly inexorable increase in our current account deficit was easily financed by an equally large flow of short-term funds from abroad at exceptionally low interest rates. In fact, money was so easily available that it supported what became a bubble in housing, with rising home prices reinforcing a sense of prosperity and high consumption. It was not so much that the imbalances were hidden or unknown. In particular, the Chinese surpluses and American deficits were widely thought to be unsustainable. But for the time being, the world economy was growing strongly. China in particular was mainly interested in developing its industry by encouraging exports, and the United States was not prepared to balance its national budget or to restrain the consumption and housing boom. At the time, I suggested that the most likely result would not be well- thought-out and complementary policy actions. Rather, sooner or later, the necessary changes would be forced by a financial crisis." (Paul Volker)

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