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Friday, July 23, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"In May 2006, Ban Ki-moon made his public debut as a candidate for U.N. secretary-general at a Q-and-A session at the Council on Foreign Relations. About 20 minutes into the event, Ban's toneless and awkward English and studiously vacuous answers had put me sound asleep. I should have realized then that he was the perfect candidate for the job. Today, two-thirds of the way into his first term, Ban has worsted even the low expectations that attended his candidacy. States that care about the United Nations -- and above all, the United States -- should prevent him from doing further harm to the institution by ensuring that he does not serve a second term. Ban's mediocrity is no accident. Secretaries-general, after all, are hired for negative rather than positive attributes. The second person ever appointed to the post, a previously obscure Swedish bureaucrat named Dag Hammarskjold, infused the job with his own deep sense of moral calling, fearlessly offending the world's most powerful states before being killed in a plane crash in 1961. Since then, however, the permanent members of the Security Council, which largely control the selection process, have conscientiously vetted for dynamism. Ronald Reagan's administration was quite prepared to award a third term to Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi who proved to be the most anodyne figure ever to hold the top U.N. job. But he had competition: It was said of his successor, Javier Pérez de Cuellar, that he couldn't make a splash if he fell out of a boat." (James Traub/ForeignPolicy)



"Customers at the Four Seasons restaurant yesterday were treated to a bosomy bonus with their Dover sole. To help powerbroker Vernon Jordan celebrate his 75th birthday with Blackstone Group co-founder Pete Peterson, a buxom blonde came to their table and sang 'Happy Birthday' a la Marilyn Monroe. Then, she flashed him. 'She was wearing a bustier. She pulled it down and just stood there for 30 seconds topless in the middle of the Grill Room. People were just startled,' said a witness. The woman got a standing ovation from the likes of Donald Marron, Steve Forbes and Felix Rohatyn." (PageSix)



"Howard (Stern) came back and had Sandra Bernhard come in. Howard said Sandra was all dolled up this morning. Sandra said she has to get all dolled up. Howard said she doesn't do any plastic surgery. Howard asked how she resisted the temptation. She used to be called 'ni**er lips' when she was growing up. Sandra said she took that as a compliment. She said they weren't saying it in the most positive manner so of course it hurt. Howard asked Sandra about how brutal it was for her growing up. She said she likes being the odd person out and it's been good for her. Howard said that's a maturity that most people don't have. Sandra said that her mom was an artist and she never supported anything like plastic surgery. She was never into the superficial. Sandra said she wasn't obsessive about her looks. Howard said when he sees Sandra he sees beauty ... Sandra said that people exploit there kids in the business and she hates that. Howard asked if she was talking about Will Smith and his wife pushing their kid into the business. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are doing the same thing. Sandra said there are some celebrities who have kids and you never see them. Howard said that Will Smith doesn't need his kid in a movie. Sandra said the kid seems very precocious and he's almost like Gary Coleman. She said it's so wrong. It's like the ultimate in abuse of the child ... Howard said that Sandra's girlfriend is so sexy. He said he gets the feeling that things aren't perfect all the time. Sandra said they're never perfect for anyone. She said that they have two different personalities and they bump up against each other. She said they're not legally married. Howard said that she could come after her for money if they split though. Sandra said that she doesn't think she would. Howard chuckled at that. He said that he has a pre-nup himself. Sandra said that Howard has an incredible amount of money though. He said it's not so incredible now. He asked if she's seen the market lately. He said he wanted to quit this job but now he's not sure." (Marksfriggin)



"I hear the Boardwalk Empire duo of director Martin Scorsese and writer Terence Winter is re-teaming with HBO for another sweeping period drama series project, and this time, they have rock legend Mick Jagger as a partner. The project, referred to as History of Music, is a rock ‘n’ roll epic, which follows two friends through 40 years in the music business, from the early days of R&B to contemporary hip-hop. It originated as a feature based on Jagger’s idea, first at Disney and most recently at Paramount where it was set up three years ago with Scorsese attached to direct, The Departed scribe William Monahan to write and Jagger, his Jagged Films partner Victoria Pearman and Scorsese producing. I hear HBO is now making a deal with Paramount to develop a pilot based on the idea .." (Deadline)



"I seriously doubt the management team of Live Nation is capable of running the company. Concert promotion is about shows, not Wall Street presentations (which the company also does poorly.) You've got to read the comments about Tom Petty's show at the Gorge. There's no excuse for an experience like this. Before Live Nation acquired the venue there were no complaints. What went wrong? Was there too little staff? Were people improperly trained? Have budgets been cut so slim that the job can no longer be done? All concert promotion is local. Sure, you can roll up radio stations and broadcast the same pap amongst twenty plus minutes of commercials, but even that ain't working so hot, especially now that people have alternatives. And believe me, people have alternatives to overpaying to see acts that are on the road playing their old hits again and again, year after year. Trying to make the economics work, trying to keep its stock inflated, Live Nation has taken its eye off the ball. Who can make this company run properly? Probably no one. But certainly not the team involved." (LefsetzLetter)



"'MAD MEN' is back. Don Draper is still a mystery. And, while waiting to learn if Peggy Olson has reserved a weekend cabana at The Towers or The Colony, here is a hasty flashback to the Palm Beach when barefoot islanders twisted the night away, ga-ga over quiche, tail fins and turbans. And, what better social pillar expresses the Mad Men era’s leitmotif more than the enigmatic Estee Lauder, whose Tell-a-Woman and Gift-with-Purchase campaigns gave Madison Avenue a master class on the martial art of makeup marketing. Having made a name for themselves, Josephine Esther (or was it Estelle) "Esty later Estee" Mentzer Lauder (1908-2004) and Joseph Lauder, once Lauter but originally Lauder, (1902-1983) engraved Palm Beach on their accomplished letterhead. Legends of their own making, the Lauders found themselves in a place where most had their places already made for them. Back then, Palm Beach, afloat between Camelot and Capri, was chaperoned by the likes of Mary, Betty, Brownie, Marjorie, Mary Lou, and Lilly." (NYSocialDiary)



"The question about former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey taking the former Jack Valenti role at the MPAA as Hollywood's chief lobbyist is not if but when. Two months after he was offered the job, and a week after confirming on a radio show that he was in final negotiations, THR has learned that the deal is all but done. His compensation of about $1.2 million a year and job description appear set. The unanswered question is when he will come on board as the movie and TV industry's global face and spokesman. 'I do think it's a done deal,' a Washington insider with strong ties to Hollywood said Thursday. "It's just a question of picking a starting date.' That might be why the often impatient major studio chiefs on the search committee -- a group that includes Warner Bros.' Barry Meyer, Sony's Michael Lynton, Fox's Jim Gianopulos and Disney's Bob Iger -- have shown such unusual patience. There even is a sentiment that Kerrey's insistence that he stay on as president of New York's the New School until other leadership is in place shows he is a person of character." (TheHollywoodReporter)



"Has anyone ever handled instant, unwanted celebrity more gracefully than Shirley Sherrod, the former Department of Agriculture official whose week began with an unceremonious dismissal from her job and ended with extraordinary public apologies from Bill O’Reilly, Tom Vilsack, and the president himself? Five days ago, Sherrod was a virtual unknown on the national scene. Four days ago, she was a breakout villain, forced to resign from a job most Americans didn’t even know existed, for comments she made that seemed to suggest she supported racial discrimination. Three days ago, the full version of her speech revealed she was making the exact opposite point. Two days ago, she was offered a new job. And yesterday, after a few rounds of phone tag, she spent seven minutes on the line with a contrite President Obama." (TheDailyBeast)



"ONE of the most successful post-earthquake initiatives in Haiti is the expansion of Lèt Agogo (Lots of Milk, in Creole), a dairy co-operative, into a project encouraging mothers to take their children to school in exchange for free meals. It is based on Bolsa Família, a Brazilian welfare scheme, and financed with Brazilian government money. In Mali cotton yields are soaring at an experimental farm run by Embrapa, a Brazilian research outfit. Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm, is building much of Angola’s water supply and is one of the biggest contractors in Africa. Without attracting much attention, Brazil is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest providers of help to poor countries. Official figures do not reflect this." (TheEconomist)



"'What are you talkin about? You just trying to make copy?' Charles Rangel shot back at Luke Russert after he asked if Mr. Rangel was woried about losing his job. 'Well you're young,' Mr. Rangel continued. 'I guess you need to make a name for yourself' — that part is already taken care of— 'but basically you know it's a dumb question, and I'm not going to answer it.' 'It doesn't really sound like NBC asking these dumb questions,' the congressman continued. 'It shows what has really happened to a channel that did have some respect.'" (Observer)



"The anti-Democratic mood of the electorate may finally be catching up to Sen. Russ Feingold, the three-term Wisconsin Democrat who’s made a career of positioning himself as something of a political outsider. He was, for instance, the lone Democrat in the Senate to vote against the new financial regulation legislation. A string of summer polls have charted a trend in which Feingold has been unable to break free of the margin of error, keeping him tied or slightly trailing Oshkosh plastics executive Ron Johnson, the favored Republican. As a result, CQ Politics is moving the rating of this race from Likely Democratic to the more competitive Leans Democratic category. Earlier this year, Feingold was thought to be in safe territory when former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) decided against a run. In a state where President Barack Obama trounced Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008, the landscape seemed to favor Feingold and indeed he remains a formidable incumbent. But Johnson has surged since joining the race in May, in large measure on his effort to connect with the Tea Party movement that has propelled Republican candidates around the country. Following the national Republican attack lines, Johnson has been critical of Feingold for his vote in favor of last year’s stimulus bill that he says was expensive and ineffective, and this year’s health care overhaul legislation that he favors repealing." (CQPolitics)



"Vampire-loving barmaid Sookie Stackhouse has wiped out crime boss Tony Soprano. Love it or loathe it, True Blood, the hit HBO show featuring Stackhouse has already sold more DVDs of season one than mega-hit The Sopranos did during its freshman year, according to new statistics from HBO. First-season DVD sales of True Blood, from creator Alan Ball stand at 1.3 million, HBO said -- about 37 percent more than the 943,000 DVDs of The Sopranos first season. It is about three times the number of disks for another HBO hit, Sex And The City, which sold 426,000 season one DVDs. The offbeat show, which touches on topics such as evangelism and romance, alongside gratuitous violence, is currently midway through season three and already it's close to beating the final season of The Sopranos in gross audience, with an average 13.2 million compared with 14.2 million for 'Sopranos.'" (NYPost)

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