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Friday, July 09, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"If our terrorist enemies have been successful at cultivating a false notion of expertise, they’ve done an equally convincing job of casting themselves as pious warriors of God. The Taliban and al-Qaeda rely on sympathizers who consider them devoted Muslims fighting immoral Western occupiers. But intelligence picked up by Predator drones and other battlefield cameras challenges that idea—sometimes rather graphically. One video, captured recently by the thermal-imagery technology housed in a sniper rifle, shows two Talibs in southern Afghanistan engaged in intimate relations with a donkey. Similar videos abound, including ground-surveillance footage that records a Talib fighter gratifying himself with a cow. Pentagon officials and intelligence analysts concede privately that our foes also have a voracious appetite for pornography—hardly shocking behavior for young men, but hard to square with an image of piety. Many laptops seized from the Taliban and al-Qaeda are loaded with smut. U.S. intelligence analysts have devoted considerable time to poring over the terrorists’ favored Web sites, searching for hidden militant messages. 'We have terabytes of this stuff,' said one Department of Defense al-Qaeda analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It isn’t possible that they are encrypting messages in all of this stuff. Some of these guys are just perverts.'" (TheAtlantic)



"Prince will release his new album via a U.K. newspaper insert Saturday, having declared the Web 'over.' Sour grapes have led the once-visionary musician to become embittered. When vanguardism fails, become a traditionalist. If that isn’t Prince’s motto, it could be—and that’s been true for some time now, in more ways than one. Take the legendary pop star’s distribution scheme for his newest album, 20Ten. On Saturday, he’ll releases it not through record stores or iTunes or even on a CD for purchase on a website, but by giving it away for free with the day’s copies of The Daily Mirror in England and The Daily Record in Scotland. This is hardly a new strategy for Prince: The July 15, 2007, edition of the London-based conservative tabloid The Mail on Sunday included free copies of his album Planet Earth. What is new is Prince’s dismissive attitude toward the Web—especially given how hard he’s championed it over the years. His career over the past couple of decades has been an odd mixture of prescience and wrong-footedness when it comes to the online world." (TheDailyBeast)



"Just as deadline was passing for my story in this week's paper about the semi secret that nothing has changed on Wall Street since the peak of the financial crisis, I had a conversation with an executive at a major U.S. bank about the story. I asked him about how seriously Wall Street takes the upcoming financial regulation. 'It’s taken seriously only how it could impact profits, not taken seriously in how they could solve problems,' he said, meaning that it may make life on Wall Street slightly harder, but it doesn't solve too-big-to-fail. 'It's truly stupid. The banks did okay and dodged this whole thing. But having said that, it’s not only incompetent proposals, it’s actually a negative because it’s making people think problems are fixed.' What's one way Wall Street has changed? 'Much more concerned about public image,' he said .." (Observer)



"Watching the images of Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week, a diplomat friend observed that angry stalemate had given way to, well, cordial stalemate. Perhaps this was a touch cynical, but then the Middle East makes cynics of most of us. In any event, the underlying judgment was probably right. Mr Netanyahu got the warm reception that Israeli prime ministers have come to expect from US presidents. The last time he had been in Washington, Mr Obama had denied him even a cursory photo-call. This time the US president laid on the honoured guest treatment, walking Mr Netanyahu to his car in the full glare of the camera lights. To the extent that for domestic reasons both leaders wanted to show that they could get on, the encounter was successful. Mr Netanyahu arrived promising to ease the blockade of Gaza; Mr Obama offered reassurances about the US stance on Israel’s nuclear weapons. In broad terms, they agreed on the need for an early start to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It would be more than a stretch, however, to imagine that the choreographed harmony mirrored a private meeting of minds. After banging his head against the Middle East wall for the past 18 months, Mr Obama has little to show for it but political bruises – many inflicted by Mr Netanyahu." (FT)



"Think back to 1973. The great rock revolution of the ‘60s was over. Music had become what it is now: a business. A depressing time for me --- I kept looking for flowers sprouting through the concrete and, month after month, came up with only weeds for my troubles. And then, at Max’s Kansas City, I found what I had been seeking. Some friends of friends were playing; an unknown group called The Wailers was on the bill ... One night, in a Philadelphia club, I had dinner with The Wailers in their dressing room and watched them smoke so much ganja they should have passed out. Instead, they went on stage and — like angels, or aliens, or just humans blessed with telepathy — played a note-perfect set that converted everyone in the room to blithering fandom ...One afternoon, I went down to the Chelsea Hotel to suggest a movie to (Bob) Marley. Before I could tell him my ideas, he put his spliff down long enough to draw a square on a piece of paper. 'This one is us,' he said. He drew another square. 'This one is the bank.' He drew a connecting line, looked up at me and grinned — and our movie died right there." (Jesse Kornbluth/NYSocialDiary)



"I'm told this will be the biggest financial haul ever for a movie director from a single pic because James Cameron had a significant gross percentage of the Twentieth Century Fox megahit as helmer, writer, and producer. Though Hollywood pay experts tell me that the $350M all-in figure is largely attributable to his directing deal structured as 'first dollar' gross or more likely 'at cash break' gross. It's certainly bigger than either he or the studio -- or anyone -- thought he'd make from Avatar which, after its December 2009 release date, has grossed a best-ever $2.7 billion worldwide at the box office. 'But Cameron is making $350 million because the DVD did beyond expectation,' an insider tells me." (Deadline)



"Fashion or football? At Calvin Klein's massive fête in Berlin last night, the American company's biggest-ever event in Europe, guests enjoyed both ... Taking in the scene were Calvin-philes like Kellan Lutz, Lara Stone, Diane Kruger, and Na'vi princess and new face of the brand's underwear campaign Zoe Saldana. The Avatar actress told us she was looking forward to a stint in Paris later this summer, where she'll be filming the Luc Besson-scripted Colombiana—a Colombian La Femme Nikita, she called it. As for the best part of her new modeling gig? 'Lots of free lingerie! Which I'm wearing right now, of course,' she said. We took her word for it. Kruger, for her part, slipped a Germany jersey over her Collection minidress once she was finished with the red carpet. But back to underwear: One guest observed, 'This is the first time I've seen two naked male models lounging around, and no one can take their eyes off the football match.'" (Style)



"ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today strongly defended a controversial memo he issued last week clamping down on how officials in the military and its civilian leadership interact with the media. Reporters have since complained that the memo, in the works before the recent Rolling Stone article that torpedoed General Stanley McChrystal’s career, could cause a chilling effect in relations with the press. 'I spent my first few months on the job telling military audiences that the press was not the enemy and that to treat it as such was counterproductive and self-defeating,' Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. 'None of that has changed.' Gates said he had received complaints from both President Bush and President Obama about 'senior Defense officials, both civilian and military, speaking out inappropriately on foreign-policy issues.'" (ABCNews)



"It was stiflingly hot at Gaultier’s HQ on rue Saint-Martin, and the temperatures climbed even higher when Dita von Teese stripped down from a beautiful black column gown into a miniscule noir corset midway through the show. And that’s where being front row paid off for guests like Catherine Deneuve, Mario Testino, and Paz Vega .. Deneuve also appreciated the show and Gaultier’s overall effort. 'I would probably do this, too, if I had a body like hers,' she smiled. 'But I always come here, and it’s just all about this gorgeous, 1940s Hollywood paradise, all in Jean Paul’s wonderful mind.' Louis Marie de Castelbajac (Teese’s longtime boyfriend) attended the show with his father, Jean-Charles, and claimed he wasn't jealous to share Dita with the fashion world. 'It’s her art form and she really brings out an archeology of beauty,' he explained post-tease." (FashionweekDaily)



"The big buzz over the Emmy nominations, one day later, was not the success of new shows like 'Glee' and 'Modern Family' or the surprise nominations for stars of 'Friday Night Lights' or even the snubbing of longtime Emmy darlings 'Grey's Anatomy,' '24' and Charlie Sheen. Instead, it was NBC versus Conan O'Brien, Part 137. This round, it seems, went to O'Brien. In coming up with its nominees, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences considered two versions of NBC's 'The Tonight Show,' one with O'Brien and one with his predecessor/successor Jay Leno, but only one, Conan's show, received a nod in the best comedy/variety category, as well as three lesser categories. Upping the drama quotient further, when the ceremony airs on Aug. 29, O'Brien will presumably be in attendance and may even win an award … on an Emmy ceremony being carried by NBC." (Medialifemagazine)



"TV Land’s now renewed Hot in Cleveland continues to drift down, to 2.935 million viewers from 3.07 million last week, and a 0.8 adults 18-49 rating vs. 0.9 last week. Still, Betty can rest easy, the next best show on TV Land last week was an Everybody Love Raymond repeat that drew 1.136 million viewers. Tosh.0 jumped vs. last week to 2.4 million viewers and a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating. Top Chef was also improved vs. last week." (TVBytheNumbers)



"Teen Vogue's web site has published a story on its web site declaring that the gay best friend is the summer accessory of 2010! ... Why, thank you! Ms. (Amy) Astley reminds her readers in an editor's note that the girls should fight for their gay friends' rights, but if her note is an attempt to dump some cold water on an otherwise fairly offensive post, her effort is really half-hearted." (Observer)



"Los Angeles billionaire Ronald Tutor and his partners Morgan Creek, Colony Capital and David Bergstein have reached agreement to buy Miramax from The Walt Disney Company, Waxword has learned. The sale price is believed to be $675 million. 'The deal is not done, but it's going to get done,' a person with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap. 'We've agreed in principle.' The agreement was struck on Thursday afternoon in negotiations led by Tutor, who will take the lead management position in the arthouse studio with a 700-film library, according to a second knowledgeable individual. The sale price includes $250 million in accounts receivable and $50 million in current cash holdings. So the price would immediately net out at closer to $625 million." (TheWrap)



"A couple weeks ago I received an email from my friend Huw in London, telling me about a new technique he’s been using in his quest for eternal love. It’s called Listing. He said that physically writing out a list of the qualities you want and don’t want in a partner helps to focus your mind, thus allowing you to hone in on your 'target market.' He said that in life we have to dream big, but we also have to be realistic. I said that sounds like the sort of insane, desperate fat girl bullshit one reads in the pages of Cosmopolitan, and where do I sign up? The thing is, I love lists. They’re pretty much my favorite. I make a To-Do list every morning when I wake up. Admittedly, sometimes it’s not much longer than To Do: Nothing, but still, I get an extreme amount of pleasure in crossing it off. In light of this I asked Huw to send me an example of the list he made, to give me a clear picture of the task at hand (and possibly to steal some of his ideas). His list, however, was total shit. For one the ‘desirable’ column was almost identical to the ‘undesirable’ column, both of which included ‘lesbians’ and ‘pretend lesbians.’ Also number one in the desirable column was ‘easy girls,’ which was an immediate red flag. Despite his incompetence, I went ahead and made a list of my own. I believe it to be quite good. See below: Desirable: 1. Boys who look like girls / girls who look like boys. 2. Anyone possessing a general air of sickliness / malnourishment / weakness" (Karly)

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