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Monday, August 30, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The summer movie season saw its first - and last - horror title to debut at number one with the devilish thriller The Last Exorcism which edged out an equally impressive debut by the heist thriller Takers which enjoyed a solid bow of its own in second place while playing in fewer theaters. With a razor-thin $300,000 margin between the two, rankings could change on Monday when final grosses are counted. Characteristic of the final weekend of August, box office sales slumped to their worst level of the entire summer with the top ten failing to break the $100M mark - and even the $90M mark - for the first time all season. The mock documentary The Last Exorcism scared up big numbers at number one grossing an estimated $21.3M from 2,874 theaters for a sturdy $7,411 average per location. Rated PG-13, the Lionsgate release downplayed the doc format in its marketing and used Hostel director Eli Roth's name in the ads as the presenter to help pull in fans of hardcore horror. Opening night audiences were turned off by what they got - probably differing greatly from what they expected - as sales fell sharply on Saturday by a troubling 24%. Reviews were particularly good for a film of this genre, however. The urban action thriller Takers also enjoyed a surprisingly potent debut grossing an estimated $21M this weekend from a not-so-extravagantly-wide 2,206 playdates for a sizzling $9,519 average leading all films in wide release. The PG-13 film about a cop investigating a criminal enterprise stars Matt Dillon who got top billing, but was mostly absent from the marketing materials like trailers and posters." (BoxOfficeGuru)



(image via NYSD)

"Many of (Truman Capote's Answered Prayers) stories were actually long and oft-passed around between them for years preceding. Others were embellished or entirely dreamed up. But the result in print was a bunch of very chic looking, very wealthy, often spoiled and pampered, often disappointed and dejected characters, who more or less owned the town as it existed back then. The crème de la crème. Before the souring. That society began to fade at about the time of Capote’s death in 1984. The 1980s and the age of Reagan ushered in a new crew, later known, thanks to John Fairchild, the fashion media’s Pepys, as the 'Nouvelle Society.' By the mid-90s, the nucleus of the new had split in several directions, dispelled by divorce, death and in some cases, terminal ennui. After that came Paris Hilton and after that came Tinsley Mortimer, and after that came Reality TV and desperate housewives." (NYSocialDiary)



"The prospect of next week's direct talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offers no obvious grounds for enthusiasm, or even hope. Abbas has agreed to the talks with a reluctance that seems to border on dread, while Netanyahu, his public firmly behind him, feels little pressure to make real concessions. Middle East experts have set expectations at subbasement levels. But George Mitchell, U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, believes he knows something the handicappers don't: With enough patience and persistence, you can bring the most bitter enemies to see their common interest. That was the lesson he learned from his role in the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s. 'We had about 700 days of failure and one day of success,' as he put it recently. As then, so now: 'Past efforts at peace that did not succeed cannot deter us from trying again.' Having conducted successful negotiations under very trying conditions not only in Northern Ireland but between baseball's owners and players, Mitchell has earned a right to his quiet and undemonstrative optimism. Hopefulness is itself an important ingredient for negotiations: You often have to believe in the possibility of a successful outcome more than the adversaries do just to get them talking to one another." (ForeignPolicy)



"Is it possible Democrats had a harder time with Ken Mehlman’s big gay announcement than Republicans did? Conservative outlets like Fox News barely mentioned it. Colleagues from the Bush administration seemed merely to offer words of support. Meanwhile, gay activists on the left pounced. Why should the former Republican National Committee chairman be welcomed in Chelsea, New York (where he’s now living), when six years ago, he was traveling around America with George W. Bush and Karl Rove, rallying anti-gay evangelicals (and the like) to the polls? Was it really enough to say that he was now going to be an advocate for gay rights within the GOP and that he had offered a helping hand to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, an organization that’s been fighting tirelessly to repeal Proposition 8?" (TheDailyBeast)



"Last week we brought you the 100 Most Powerful Black Women on Twitter. Using the same measures (Klout and Twittergrader) we used for that list, we searched the Twitterverse for the male version. These men have the ability to drive massive traffic with a single tweet of a link, are constantly retweeted by their loyal followers, and exist on thousands of lists created by their fans. These are the 100 most powerful black men on Twitter." (BlackWeb20)



"About 30 years ago, Representative Charles B. Rangel invited a 19-year-old summer intern named Adam Clayton Powell IV into his office at the United States Capitol for an emotional conversation: He had run a bruising primary campaign in 1970 to unseat Mr. Powell’s father, he acknowledged, ending the career of a celebrated Harlem politician. But that bitter past, he said, did not have to poison their relationship. Mr. Rangel pledged to take Mr. Powell under his wing, and to introduce him to the titans of the House, like Dan Rostenkowski and Harold E. Ford Sr. 'He was trying to excuse, or apologize — that is the better word — to apologize for taking my dad out,' Mr. Powell recalled. These days, it is the younger Adam Clayton Powell who is trying to take Mr. Rangel out. And he is making no apologies." (NYTimes)



"Of course, what has allowed (Glenn) Beck to occupy center stage is the failure of rational political figures to articulate the terms of the convulsion that American society faces, brought about not by communists and other John Bircher hobgoblins but by the forces of history. The failure at the political center is a conscious one of nerve and will, of elected officials in both major parties playing desperately for advantage in defiance of the truth -- this truth being that the USA went broke trying to swindle itself into prosperity. Add to this the failure of the law to go after the swindlers, which has undermined the fundamental belief in the rule of law that enabled this society to function as well as it did previously. Barack Obama personifies this failure these days, a politician proclaiming 'change' who not only managed to change nothing, but promoted a continuation of the national self-swindling with legislation so dazzlingly prolix and complicated that no one can claim to have read either the Health Care Reform Act or the Financial Regulation bill, the two hallmarks of his tenure so far, neither of which will change anything about how we do these things. Why Mr. Obama has turned out to be such a weenie remains a mystery." (ClusterfuckNation)



"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) on Sunday again declined to reveal which political party he would caucus with if he wins the state’s three-way Senate race this November, while also clarifying his position on the new health care overhaul and his opposition to same-sex marriage. A Republican until just a few months ago, Crist continued to insist that he would 'caucus with the people of Florida' during an interview Sunday on CNN’s 'State of the Union.' But the governor’s shifts on key policies since leaving the GOP could indicate an intention to pursue Florida’s Democratic vote and to join forces with the Democrats should he defeat former Florida Speaker Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Kendrick B. Meek (D) this fall." (CQPolitics)



"Say what you will about NBC and the year they've had, but surely they deserve some credit tonight for bringing off what might have been the least excruciating televised awards show since the 2009 Oscars. From the delightful Glee-powered opening number, to Jimmy Fallon's musical goodbyes to 24 and Lost, to Bucky Gunts's triumphant victory for outstanding variety-show directing, tonight's Emmy Awards were an entertaining, (mostly) fast-moving ceremony that lagged only, predictably, during the boring miniseries awards and Jewel's cancer song." (NYMag)



"Once upon a time, watching the Oscars was a ritual, as they say in the 'Style' section of the 'New York Times', the Women's Super Bowl. Watching Al Pacino win an Emmy, I thought of his role in the 'Godfather' trilogy, of all those years parked in front of the television watching the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards. I thought about watching them this coming year. Then I asked myself, why? I hadn't seen any of the movies. I no longer go to the movies. There's nothing there for me. Oh, there are indie flicks. But they go straight to video almost instantly, and they barely play on the big screen anyway. And the production values are good enough on the real big screen, inside the home. But the big Hollywood movies, which dominate mainstream media discourse, which are marketed to high heaven, they're giant pinball games, made to play throughout the world, and, as a result, they've become to a great degree meaningless in the U.S. Just like the music business. Wherein major labels hype bland, manufactured product in print and on radio and TV and expect that we should care. We don't. Oh, some people still go to the movies. And some still buy the Top Forty wonders. But neither drive the culture. The true fans have gone elsewhere. In other words, in pursuit of all the money, the movie and music industries are left with less money. Yes, both are struggling. Music blames file-trading. But how to explain the drop in DVD sales? I could trot out a few explanations, but moviegoing, the supposed American religion, is in decline." (LefsetzLetter)

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