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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Richard C. Holbrooke, the White House's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, will travel to New York on Tuesday to help Afghanistan negotiate the removal of select Taliban members from a U.N. anti-terror blacklist, according to senior U.N.-based officials. Holbrooke's decision to visit New York comes weeks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed to the U.N. Security Council to drop Taliban from a list of individuals targeted with travel and financial sanctions, a first step in an effort to convince Taliban militants to end their insurgency and strike a peace deal with the government. The Afghan government's June 6 'peace jirga' on June 6 called for taking steps towards reconciliation with the Taliban, including the removal of former Taliban officials from the U.N. blacklist. The Security Council is now reviewing the status of 15 former Taliban members on the watch list, including a former Taliban education minister, Mullah Arsala Rahmani, who is currently serving in the Afghan senate." (ForeignPolicy)



"Over the years we have become accustomed to seeing Naomi Campbell in court. In 2000 she pleaded guilty to attacking her assistant with a telephone in a hotel room. Six years later she admitted hitting her housekeeper with a jewel-encrusted mobile phone, causing an injury to the head that required several stitches. In 2008 she was arrested at London's Heathrow airport on suspicion of assaulting a police officer after one of her bags was lost. Then, earlier this year, a limousine driver filed a report with the New York City Police Department claiming that Campbell had slapped and punched him. Campbell's court appearances, like the blooming of the cherry blossom or the migration of swallows, seem to have become a regular occurrence in the calendar. But not even the most seasoned Campbell watcher could have predicted that she would one day be pursued by the courts in The Hague." (TheGuardian)



"Richard Johnson cannot be bought! Well, he wants to be bought but he's not allowed. Gawker reported on Friday evening that Richard Beckman, who recently picked up Janice Min for The Hollywood Reporter, tried to snag Mr. Johnson from Page Six by doubling his salary and offering him a signing bonus. All of this was fine with Mr. Johnson! Post editor Col Allan prevented the deal from going through by holding him to his contract, which will keep him around for another few years. Retention is an issue at the Post right now. Investigative reporter Murray Weiss was the latest in a series of departures from the paper in recent months, and now would be a good time for Mr. Johnson to leave Page Six. His most experienced reporter, Neel Shah, just abandoned him last month after Corynne Steindler and Paula Froehlich took off last year." (Observer)



"Howard Stern's contract with Sirius XM Radio expires on December 31, 2010, and after that Stern is a free agent. Stern has yet to announce his post-Sirius plans, or if he plans to stay with the radio channel under a new contract. Since he's probably not replacing Simon Cowell on American Idol, Stern might even retire! 'Howard has said that if he were to stay [with Sirius], he wants to negotiate a later start time for the show,' Pop Eater reports. 'But Sirius execs aren't too pleased about that idea.' Since Stern has already had an incredibly long and successful run, raking in another $70 million last year, some are wondering if his time is up, or if he's just keeping his future plans under wraps." (NYMag)



"NBC PR is working overtime this holiday weekend, and it paid off! They successfully convinced Variety that 'winning' matters. Variety covers a lot of ground in trying to point out that Jay Leno’s Tonight Show 'winning' (beating Letterman’s Late Show) is relevant, but in television, 'winning' matters only for PR bragging rights, and of course to the egos of the players involved, which Variety did point out. (In baseball winning is what matters, in television it’s how many runs you score, i.e. your ratings). I’ll be the first to admit that we play up the horserace that is TV ratings more than just about any site out there, but I remind people that it’s all for fun and reader motivation (which helps our business), and doesn’t really matter to the television business. The absolute ratings, and their ups and downs, matter." (TVBytheNumbers)



(image via NYSD)

"The city became very quiet by noontime Friday. On Friday night I went to dinner with friends at Le Cirque. I had the Trout dish preceded by the Le Cirque salad – one of my favorites. Excellent dining in the tall, elegant Adam Tihany designed room; it was a quintessential New York evening. The dining room is run by Mario for whom the customer is always right, and to whom he (as well as the entire Maccioni dynasty) is always welcoming. Conversation that night was world financials, impending wars, and gossip was about the personal extravagance of local hedge fund richies. This was followed by the most stupendous desserts that shut everybody up and focusing." (NYSocialDiary)



"Ever wonder why premium movie channels (your HBOs and the like) get top-shelf Hollywood movies not long after their DVD release but yet you're still stuck streaming Mystery Science Theater 3000's greatest hits on Netflix? That situation could be changing thanks to a deal with Relativity Media, who you may not have heard of before but has had a hand in the production and distribution of big Hollywood flicks like 300 and A Serious Man. The deal with Netflix will bring some of the company's movies to Watch Instantly within months of their DVD release, avoiding the usual multi-year exclusivity window that pay networks usually require. Right now this deal only covers 14 movies over the next year (of which only The Fighter, Skyline, Movie 43, and Season of the Witch are mentioned), but it establishes Netflix as a player in this market, pitting itself against HBO and Showtime for first distribution of premium content to the small (but ever growing) screen." (Endgadget)



"The PG-13 Eclipse flexed major muscles with a stellar $68.5M on Wednesday becoming the second largest opening day in box office history trailing just the $72.7M Friday of The Twilight Saga: New Moon from last November. Eclipse set a new benchmark as the widest release ever playing in 4,468 locations. The four-day weekend average hit $18,465. Exit polls showed a broadening of the audience with the new pic's crowd being 65% female compared to 80% for New Moon. Eclipse was also the first in the series to play on IMAX screens which helped out the grosses too. That format has pulled in a remarkable $9M to date from 193 playdates ... Bumped down to number three over the holiday weekend was Toy Story 3 which pulled in an estimated $42.2M in its third frame. The Disney/Pixar sensation watched its cume soar to an amazing $301.1M putting it at number 35 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind the $302M of 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Toy Story 3 may still reach the $400M barrier." (BoxOfficeGuru)



"Welcome to the era of the algorithm as editor. For as long as hot lead has been used to make metal type, the model for generating news has been top-down: editors determined what information was important and then shared it with the masses. But with the advent of technology that allows media companies to identify what kind of content readers want, that model is becoming inverted. The latest and perhaps broadest effort yet in democratizing the news is under way at Yahoo, which on Tuesday will introduce a news blog that will rely on search queries to help guide its reporting and writing on national affairs, politics and the media." (NYTimes)



"Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Obama sat down together at the White House Tuesday for a visit that held considerable symbolic importance. One of the main goals for the two heads of state? A joint photo -- the first since a tense meeting two months ago during which the men never appeared before news cameras. The public show of unity matters for the delicate Middle East peace process and for domestic political consumption on both sides. Of immediate concern to the Democratic Party is the effect a perceived rift could have on the midterm elections, as Republicans angle to use any perceived rupture with Netanyahu to argue that Obama is insufficiently committed to Israel. Netanyahu arrived at the White House a few minutes before 11 a.m., having been driven the short distance from Blair House in a two-car motorcade. He entered the main West Wing entrance, followed shortly after by his entourage of aides." (Ann Korbluth/WashPo)



"On paper, Sotheby’s and Christie’s end-of-season evening contemporary sales (28 and 30 June) look broadly similar. Both sales’ totals came in at a similar level and at the low end of expectations— ($62,238,590 USD) at Sotheby’s against an estimate of £38.3m-£52.8m; £45.6m at Christie’s against an estimate of ($60,421,405 USD)-($85,710,564 USD)—and with 83% and 84% of works sold respectively. But perhaps the most telling statistic is that while Sotheby’s sale showed a healthy 60% improvement on the previous year’s equivalent sale, Christie’s managed to beat the nervous 2009 market by a whopping 139%. While the bidding levels couldn’t match the excitement of New York’s contemporary sales in May and are still nowhere near the contemporary market’s boom days, there was a buzz in Christie’s saleroom that had failed to materialise at Sotheby’s earlier in the week. 'They had a more curated, cohesive and stronger sale which was reflected in the bidding,' said New York art adviser Kim Heirston straight after the Christie’s auction." (TheArtNewspaper)



"Industry power players are getting ready for the annual post-July 4 tradition known as summer camp for moguls. Several hundred media and tech execs, financial types, agents, lawyers and assorted sports, entertainment and political stars are trekking to a relatively out-of-the-way retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, to talk shop and enjoy outdoor and social activities at an annual gathering organized by investment bank Allen & Co. Private jets will line up in this mountain resort as a substantial number of the media mighty, in many cases with family in tow, are expected to attend the 28th edition of the event. One habitue who is not expected to attend is Viacom and CBS chairman Sumner Redstone, though the men who run the businesses day-to-day, CBS president-CEO Leslie Moonves and Viacom president-CEO Philippe Dauman, are planning to be among the returning bigwigs. So is former MTV and Viacom head Tom Freston, who will fly in from Africa .. Among other topics expected to come up: the mergers and acquisitions landscape, especially the looming Comcast-NBC Universal deal; the future of 3D film and other content; retransmission and TV network carriage-fee disputes; and digital media strategies and business models." (THR)

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