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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Earlier this week, I was invited to a screening of Nuclear Tipping Point, which makes the case for eliminating nuclear weapons. As polemical documentaries go, it's an old-fashioned eye-glazer (unlike the far glitzier Countdown to Zero, which opens in theaters July 23). The film consists mostly of two old conservative Democrats -- former Sen. Sam Nunn and former Defense Secretary William Perry -- and two very old moderate Republicans -- former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, now as slow and grave as an ancient sea tortoise -- speaking against a black background while portentous kettledrums thump offstage. None of them cops to even the tiniest grain of guilt over the role he played in sustaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal prior to his conversion experience. But in a way, that's the point: These old Cold Warriors, founders of the Nuclear Security Project, haven't gone soft; they've realized that nuclear weapons are now more of a threat than a shield to America's national security. The essence of the movie's argument is that, in a world of rogue states and suicidal terrorists, the Cold War dynamic of matching nuclear arsenals into the dizzying thousands -- that is, deterrence -- must give way to a new nonproliferation model focused on gaining control over bombs and nuclear material and then eliminating them over time. The case for zero has gained almost consensual status among strategic thinkers: Two-thirds of living U.S. secretaries of state and defense and national security advisors have endorsed the Nuclear Security Project. This is no longer a left-right issue.." (ForeignPolicy)



"What an impressive start for the Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures mind-bending scifi thriller from 3,792 theaters, with Friday's $21 million including $3M midnight shows in 1,600 locations. Audiences rated it an overall 'B+' Cinemascore, with the under-25 crowd giving it an 'A'. Then again, this is Summer 2010's most anticipated film because of Chris Nolan's incredible track record for critically acclaimed big box office actioners (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) as well as smaller psychological dramas (Memento and Insomnia) films -- and Inception represents both genres. (By the way, have you seen Inception's comic book preview? This rather innovative marketing gimmick is here.) But I've rarely seen Hollywood all over the map when it came to a movie's expected 3-day weekend grosses like this time." (NikkiFinke)



"(Howard Stern) said he sounds like Mel Gibson at times. Howard said he's like Mel without the racism. That led to Fred playing some Mel clips. Howard said they have the guy from RadarOnline.com calling in today to talk about the Mel Gibson tapes. He heard they have boxes of tapes to put up on their site. Howard said they're going to keep putting them up until Mel settles with his girlfriend Oksana. Howard said that it's really smart and a great form of legal extortion. Howard said they keep releasing them in drips and drabs and he's going to break eventually. Howard said that if she had called him and threatened to release them then it would have been illegal. He said she just recorded them and now they're leaking out so it's not illegal." (Marksfriggin)



"Most entrepreneurs like to talk about the old days and how they got started. It is usually a safe, relaxing way to begin an interview. With (Oleg Deripaska), however, the origins of his business empire are the most sensitive topic of all. At the beginning of the 1990s, just as the Soviet Union was collapsing and the old state-run industrial behemoths were being sold off, he was a student. By the mid-1990s, aged 25, he had acquired a stake in a smelting factory. By the end of a turbulent and bloody decade in Russian business and politics, he had emerged as a tycoon controlling a huge swathe of the Russian aluminium industry. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed (Oleg Deripaska) as the ninth-richest man in the world, worth about $28bn. He was hit badly by the global financial crisis and by the collapse in the demand for commodities. But even now, after a near-bankruptcy and a restructuring of his debts, Forbes estimates his fortune at about $10bn. As we settle back in our chairs, I ask him what qualities he had needed to prevail in the industrial struggles of the 1990s? He points out that he was a star student at school in southern Russia – 'I was very good in maths and physics. In the Soviet time, we had a lot of Olympic-style competitions for different disciplines: I was always winning in my region.' Deripaska went on to study nuclear physics at Moscow State University. He says that in the height of the Soviet era, he would probably have ended up doing military research. But the old system was breaking down as he was graduating. Like a lot of his contemporaries, he went into business." (Lunch with the FT)



(Susan Stroman, George Farias, Beth DeWoody, and Craig Starr via NYSD)

"Meanwhile twenty-nine blocks to the north at 52nd Street (between Fifth and Sixth), George Farias was hosting a dinner for Beth, her friend gallerist Craig Starr, and Susan Stroman, the Broadway director, choreographer, film director and performer, and this reporter. '21' was packed; there wasn’t a spare table in the entire club room. Next to us was Broadway’s theatre owners/producers, pere et fils, Jimmy and Jim Nederlander with Linda Wachner. Also at tables nearby, Elaine Sargent, Vartan Gregorian, international literary agent Ed Victor and many many others too numerous to mention." (NYSocialDiary)



"ONE weekend afternoon in April, Dan Bleen, the manager of Le Petit Bistro, an upscale French restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y., a quaint Hudson Valley town, received a mysterious telephone call from the owner of Astor Courts, the centerpiece of a nearby 50-acre estate. The caller wanted to make a reservation, she told him, 'for some very special guests,' whose identities she would reveal moments before they arrived. The guests, it turned out, included Chelsea Clinton, the publicity-shy daughter of the former president and current secretary of state. Ms. Clinton and three girlfriends sat at a secluded table, chatting animatedly and sampling appetizers, salads, entrees and a dessert, accompanied by a nice Beaune Burgundy. It seemed unremarkable at the time. But now, the dinner has become yet another morsel of evidence in a New York-to-Washington web of intrigue over the social event of the season: the impending marriage of Ms. Clinton, 30, to Marc Mezvinsky, 32, an investment banker at 3G Capital Management and a son of two former Democratic members of Congress, one of whom served prison time for fraud." (NYTimes)



"Money certainly talks. Our sources estimate Us Weekly paid $100,000 to Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston for the story on their engagement. The cash not only bought an exclusive interview with the couple, but also screwed competitor People. The single mom gave interviews to both magazines, but didn't tell People about the engagement or that they'd hidden their reconciliation from Sarah Palin. Bristol lied to People: 'We're not totally back together, but I'm not ruling it out ... I don't want to get into what's in store for our future because, who knows?' But Us Weekly knew." (PageSix)

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