Monday, July 26, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"If it takes 90,000 documents to tell you that the war in Afghanistan is not going well, that the Pakistani government is not a reliable ally or that many American troops are frustrated with the situation on the ground, then you haven't been paying attention. If the release of the Wikileaks archive had come during the Bush administration, Barack Obama would have been the first person out there hailing Wikileaks for their contribution to America's national security...instead of condemning the organization as the White House did over the weekend. That said, while there was little that was revelatory in the Wikileaks archive, the appearance of the archive marks what may someday be seen as an important watershed. When President Obama took office, Afghanistan was Bush's war. When President Obama released his new strategy and redoubled our troop presence there, it became his war...but it was still argued that he was cleaning up Bush's mess. Now, after almost half a term in office, not only is this Obama's war...but it is increasingly hard to see it as anything but an ugly, deepening mistake." (ForeignPolicy)

"Shifting into a higher campaign gear, President Obama is embarking on a spate of fundraising and donor-stroking in D.C., NYC, Chicago and Texas. At 7 tonight, he’ll attend a 'DNC Fundraising Dinner' at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The meeting will include top activists, supporters and fundraisers. Coming attractions, according to local Democrats: In New York tomorrow, in addition to his date with 'The View,' the president will do a pair of events where admission costs $30,400, the most you can give a party per cycle. One is at the home of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and the other is at the Four Seasons. On Aug. 5, the day after his 49th birthday, Obama is doing two 'birthday party' events back home in Chicago -- a Four Seasons reception where the tickets go down to a 'low-dollar' $250, and an event at a real-estate billionaire’s home, where the tickets are $30,400." (Politico)

"The founding editor-in-chief of Vogue Russia, Aliona Doletskaya, resigned earlier today, shocking staffers and the fashion world at large. 'Aliona’s role in shaping the magazine is so unique that in a certain sense she is irreplaceable,' the president of Cond√© Nast International, Jonathan Newhouse, said in a memo to staffers obtained by The Daily. 'Some time ago, Aliona Doletskaya told me that she would like to leave the Vogue Russia editor-in-chief’s post, which she has occupied for almost 13 years, and start a new life, probably to write a book or try her hand in a new field,' said Newhouse. 'As Russia—as well as the rest of the world—was still going through economically hard times, I asked Aliona to wait for a better time to do this. Now, it’s obvious that we are coming out of the crisis, thus I don’t want to interfere with Aliona’s plans anymore. I accept her decision to leave the magazine with great sorrow… In the near future we will announce the name of the next editor-in-chief of Vogue Russia.'" (DailyFrontRow)

"Word's now gotten out that New Yorker editor David Remnick has assigned a profile of (full disclosure: my former boss) Gawker Media owner Nick Denton to staff writer Ben McGrath, whose byline was published under a pretty entertaining, wonderful profile of Mayor Michael Bloomberg around the same time last year. Hysterically, this comes on the heels of Denton progeny Henry Blodget (of The Business Insider) getting profiled in Bloomberg BusinessWeek a few issues ago (a solid piece writer Andrew Goldman deserved high marks, for). Denton knows this is happening, and from what we hear, is cooperating. Given the year Gawker Media's had -- the iPhone/Gizmodo story making national news, leadership changes at Jezebel (a site which has now been bizarrely rediscovered by the New York Times and as of this weekend, The Guardian), leadership changes at Gawker, and constant reminders that they're now being read by something like the entire human and moose population of Canada -- why not?" (VillageVoice)

"Rapper-turned-actor Common is set for his first regular TV gig, landing a lead role in the AMC period drama pilot Hell on Wheels. Common has become the first actor cast in the Western, which centers on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. He will play Elam, a freed slave who comes west seeking work on the railroad and his place in the world. As a half black, half white man he does not completely belong to either world." (Deadline)

"The Anti-Defamation League on Monday slammed filmmaker Oliver Stone for comments he made to the Sunday Times in the U.K., calling them anti-Semitic. Abraham Foxman, ADL national director, said: 'Oliver Stone has once again shown his conspiratorial colors with his comments about "Jewish domination of the media' and control over U.S. foreign policy. His words conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence.' Stone issued an apology Monday afternoon. 'In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret,' Stone said in a statement. When asked in an interview with the Sunday Times of London why there was 'such a focus on the Holocaust,' Stone replied: 'The Jewish domination of the media.' He added: 'They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***** up United States foreign policy for years.'" (TheHollywoodReporter)

"There are still some who relish the prospect of Catherine (as she has requested friends now call her) becoming a member of the Firm—but as time passes, the less goodwill she seems to enjoy and the more ambivalent the general public becomes. Hardly an ideal position for a future Queen. You’d be forgiven for mistakenly considering the job of HRH to be the best in the world, but let’s be clear: it is a job. Those in Prince William’s circle know this. His mother Princess Diana didn’t. (Glamorous? That’s what Lady Di thought in 1981, too, after only a handful of dates with Prince Charles followed by a whirlwind engagement.) Diana Spencer wasn’t the first woman Prince Charles proposed marriage, to, however. According to Tina Brown’s unputdownable The Diana Chronicles, that dubious first honor went to second cousin Amanda Knatchbull. She turned him down. A precedent had already been set by previous girlfriend Lady Jane Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington’s daughter, who quipped to reporters while dating Charles, 'I don’t want another title—I’ve already got one.' Jane and Amanda understood what Diana didn’t. To be a senior royal is not a VIP pass to an endless succession of glittering parties (although there are, of course, glittering parties aplenty). To the contrary: it means daily duty, a regimented schedule, no room for spontaneity, hundreds of charity appearances a year, mind-numbing small talk, a perma-paste smile, crushing responsibilities, 24/7 surveillance, zero privacy—and dwindling respect and appreciation from a public who doesn’t understand your immense contributions and increasingly views you as a tax burden." (Nadine Jolie)

"President Barack Obama may be taking a hit for his handling of the BP oil spill, but the disaster has been a political boon for those closer to the action. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose rise in the GOP faltered after a lackluster response to Obama’s 2009 State of the Union speech, has seen his approval ratings jump nearly 13 percentage points to 74 percent. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate who was reelected in 2007 with 60 percent of the vote, now has a job approval rating of 70 percent. And Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whose independent bid for the U.S. Senate was sputtering before the spill, has seized on the crisis to remake his image and reset the race. While they’re not exactly celebrating their political fortunes in the face of the unfolding tragedy, it’s hard to miss what it’s done to advance their careers." (Politico)

(Pat Schoenfeld, birthday boy DPC and Ambassador Brenda Johnson via JH/NYSD)

"... After Via Quadranno, time to get home we headed up to 79th Street where we could both catch a cab to head home (he, west; I, east). A couple blocks up we ran into Brenda Johnson, our former Ambassador to Jamaica under President George W. Bush. She had just come from an interesting lunch with a prominent Washingtonian. And she happened to be wearing a gold and diamond pin that caught my eye. JH took a close up of it. It is a pin that is designed especially for Ambassadors. Anne Hand designed it. It’s not a government gift, Ambassador Johnson explained; she had to buy it. As we were talking, along came Pat Schoenfeld. We introduced her to Ambassador Johnson and soon was the conversation was off in several directions. We decided to keep moving. In New York you can find yourself in an intense conversation on the street." (NYSocialDiary)

"'Before anything had aired and I just heard it was a show about guidos, I said No way,’ says Sal Bonaventura, one half of Central Entertainment Group, the personal-appearance booking agency that now reps all the men of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Bonaventura—who is bedecked with tattoos and hails from Staten Island (with the accent to prove it)—revised his opinion once he met DJ Pauly D and 'realized what a good kid he was.' Bonaventura’s partner Michael Schweiger—a soft-spoken, balding, goateed Australian who went to acting school with Judi Dench and Mel Gibson—may joke that Bonaventura is probably a relative of Pauly’s since 'all guidos are related,' but he’s clearly grateful that his partner is now so deeply entrenched in the Jersey Shore world that he’s actually earned the nickname of 'Papa Guido' from TMZ. The two are hardly new to the business, having booked nightclub appearances for nearly three decades. But whereas their work used to revolve around dance-music artists, the focus switched when club mentalities changed and reality-TV stars sprang up. 'Our clients used to be 90 percent music people but now it’s 70 percent reality stars,' says Bonaventura, who joined forces with Schweiger in 2005 (they’d been 'very cordial competitors' for years) ... Take away the Jersey Shore kids, in fact, and you could say that CEG’s business model is centered on lots and lots of lady skin. 'That’s the mentality of the buyer,' Schweiger says during an interview in CEG’s Manhattan office, not sounding remotely defensive, before uttering a sentence that’s both a sure sign of our upcoming cultural apocalypse and all too true. 'We’re in the American pop-culture business so it’s tits and ass that sells.'" (TheDailyBeast)

"'NBC Nightly News' was still the most-watched newscast last week, but the total viewer gap with 'ABC World News' was the smallest of the season. While NBC was down in total viewers, ABC grew its audience week-to-week with Diane Sawyer conducting two high-profile interviews with David Cameron and Mark Zuckerberg. (Sawyer was out Thursday and Friday.) 'CBS Evening News' saw a small week-to-week decrease in both total viewers and the demo. Compared to the same week last year, NBC and CBS were down in both categories while ABC was up in total viewers and flat in the demo." (TVNewser)

"Broadway's pint-sized superstar and frequent Glee guest-spotter Kristin Chenoweth had her birthday party Sunday night at Carnival in Union Square. She looked like a Broadway Barbie dressed in a pink skirt and black sparkly over-the-knee Manolo Blahnik boots. Among the carnival games and women on stilts there were Broadway actors galore, including her Promises, Promises castmates Tony Goldwyn, Brooks Ashmanskas, Keith Kuhl and Katie Finneran. Guests sipped on drinks made especially for Chenoweth from Devotion Vodka -- we preferred 'The Kristini,' an especially fruity and yummy pink-hued cocktail -- and posed for pictures that were printed out on-site at the Kodak Picture Kiosk. And of course no Broadway birthday would be complete without a performance. When Chenwoeth's cake was brought out, some of the girls from Promises, Promises serenaded her with a funny song they wrote for the occasion." (Whitney Spaner/Papermag)

"In its second week, newcomer Rizzoli & Isles on TNT not only topped its lead-in, The Closer, with 7.27 million viewers it topped everything else on cable, too. USA’s top show Burn Notice was #3 in an episode that featured a Burt Reynolds as a guest star. (please note: the numbers for Rizzoli & Isles and The Closer and any Monday show referenced here are for Monday July 19, not last night. We should see those numbers in a few hours though and post them later. USA’s Covert Affairs was #8 in its second week (though it was #6 in household rating) and HBO’s True Blood edged into the top ten at #10. TNT’s Leverage was up the previous week and stayed up on Sunday night pulling in 3.9 million viewers to rank 16th. Royal Pains and White Collar? They’re in the list below, too. A good week for USA & TNT." (TVBytheNumbers)

"The tiki torches were lit, the Champagne was flowing, and the cocktail-hour entertainment was covered in head-to-toe paint. For its 17th annual summer benefit, the Watermill Center threw an alfresco party with an Italian title, Paradiso, and a Fellini-esque mood. It started with a transporting climb up saw grass-lined steps, past costumed 'snow monkeys' handing out samples of a scent that perfumer Loc Dong had created for the occasion. Beyond the wide courtyard, guests including Calvin Klein, Marisa Berenson, and Amanda Hearst toured installations of silver-painted performers and a violinist perched up in a tree ... In line with that Paradiso theme, more than a few guests wore angel's wings. But apparently, nature didn't get the memo—it was hot as you-know-what. 'We started to get bitten by mosquitoes, so it was a quick walk through the woods,' Klein reported. Later, Sharon Stone interrupted her hosting duties during dinner to announce that a bug had flown up her dress. 'What an awkward moment—for the bug,' she quipped. Stone auctioned off works by Marina Abramovic and Donald Judd and got Alec Baldwin to shell out $50,000 for a private performance by Rufus Wainwright, who had belted out an a cappella version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' to get the bidding going." (Style)

"We here at have a penchant for embracing the unusual, whether it’s taxidermy mice √† la Charlie Le Mindu or urinals courtesy of Lady Gaga. This week, we are inviting controversial vomiting artist Millie Brown to our LiveStudio - this Friday 30 July, Millie, the puking performance artist who shared the screen in the Puke On Gaga film (in case you're in any doubt, it does exactly what it says on the tin) is returning to our Bruton Place studio for a one-off performance. Accompanied by the operatic musings of singers Patricia Hammond and Zita Syme, Millie will explore the relationship between music and performance art via self-induced vomiting. We are broadcasting her performance live via our LiveStudio starting at 11:30 BST Friday morning. Join us as Millie paints a spectrum of rainbow vomit on canvas." (SHOWstudio)

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