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Friday, November 19, 2010

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"Yesterday, two unrelated stories showed yet again that in Washington, the best way to shout is to whisper. As revealed in today's Huffington Post ... George Soros spoke behind closed doors yesterday to the Democracy Alliance, a group of progressive donors, and apparently had a public fit of buyer's remorse over the important role he played helping to bankroll the candidacy of Barack Obama. 'We have just lost this election, we need to draw a line,' The HuffPost story quoted Soros, citing folks in attendance. 'And if this president can't do what we need, it is time to start looking somewhere else.'  While a Soros spokesperson contacted for the story said the financier was not in fact suggesting a primary challenge to Obama, that was probably little consolation to the White House. Because in the White House they know that Soros has been going around Washington recently and expressing his disappointment in Obama in his typical sharp and unvarnished style. He has even gone so far as to say to folks something to the effect of: 'If I had wanted to elect a traditional, mainstream Democrat, I could easily have supported Hillary Clinton,' and then going on to add that he actually had great admiration for the work that Clinton was doing in the State Department. In other words, the man who helped galvanize the fund-raising opposition to her was having doubts. The Democracy Alliance meeting was off the record. Conducting an off the record meeting is one of the surest ways of making sure that what is said is immediately leaked to the press and spread through the grapevine that supplies sustenance to all forms of Washington flora and fauna." (David Rothkopf)


"Those who recall my blind item in yesterday’s Diary about a 'May December' marriage that had just occurred and left the talkers talking bigtime: it was confirmed yesterday in Page Six. I did not reveal the names of the newlyweds because I hadn’t been able to confirm the 'rumor' that was passed to me, but Page Six did. They are: Prominent private residential real broker Lawrence (Larry to his friends) Kaiser IV, and Kipton Cronkite, whose name has always reminded me of the Superman comics. Others are reminded of Walter Cronkite to whom the groom is not related and never was. Page Six said the younger groom was 39 and the elder 69. Although I think the younger might be even younger, I believe it is the first marriage for both. In real life Kipton, who hails from out Oklahoma way but has been a Gothamite for at least a decade, looks like he could have been a perfect Jimmy Olson. Larry Kaiser notwithstanding. However, all-talk aside, Congratulations are in order." (NYSocialDiary)


"It’s a fact of American life that practically the entire nation is devoted to professional football. Each Sunday during the fall and winter months, millions of people from all across the country plant themselves in front of the television or travel in droves to local arenas to watch the latest NFL matchups. Many fans practice a devotion that is positively religious in its intensity. But the national mania for football seems not to spread among the ranks of the upper class. Rich people, for the most part, don’t follow every sweaty detail of the game with unwavering zeal. Unlike their fellow Americans, the white-shoe crowd isn’t tuning in on Sundays, listening to pregame commentaries, and wondering which of their favorite teams will rule the day. To be sure, there are among the rich a number of notable individuals who are exceptions to the rule. They are the wealthy entrepreneurs who love football enough to demonstrate their commitment to the sport by purchasing franchises and showering them with resources. (Case in point: my cousin Woody Johnson, who owns the New York Jets.) But these celebrated owners are the distinct minority—a very small fraction of the upper crust. The significant majority of affluent people follow only those professional sports they themselves can successfully play. Tennis is the most compelling example." (JamieJohnson)



"Rachel Uchitel lost out on a meeting with Simon Schuster after she gave an interview to the UK's Daily Mail for a story published Saturday. Uchitel moaned that the headline saying she 'breaks her silence on her affair with Tiger Woods' was misleading since she doesn't talk directly about Woods. But sources said Schuster dropped the meeting, set for after Thanksgiving, because she talked too much about her 9/11 conversation with fiancé Andrew O'Grady, who died at the World Trade Center -- which was the peg for her proposal. 'I'm disappointed. However, I believe in the book, and I will shop it to other publishers,' Uchitel told us. Our source calls her proposal 'suprisingly good.'" (PageSix)


"Jon Kyl has spoken. The Senate minority whip, emboldened by his party's midterm election gains, said Tuesday that the Senate shouldn't vote on the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty this year, likely sealing the fate of what would have been the signature foreign-policy accomplishment of U.S. President Barack Obama's first two years in the White House. If the Senate doesn't attempt a vote before the end of the year, the treaty's odds of passing will be even longer come January, with a thinner Democratic majority and a Republican minority that mostly agrees with Kyl; the prospect is now very real that New START will be consigned to the diplomatic scrap heap. If this looks bad from Washington, it looks worse from Moscow. Kyl isn't just imperiling Obama's arms-reduction ambitions -- he's also diminishing the American president's credibility abroad. And in the eyes of Russia's leaders, he's casting into doubt the United States' commitment to fixing its relationship with Russia. To the Kremlin, New START's apparent demise may well mean the end of an arms-control agenda that seemed on the verge of resuscitation by Obama after suffering clinical death at the hands of George W. Bush. Arms-control agreements gave Russia a sense of security in the post-Cold War era, when the former superpower was struggling to define itself in the shadow of a militarily superior United States. The agreements allowed Russian leaders to claim strategic equality with the United States, holding on to a small measure of great-power status. That came to an end in 2002, when Bush pulled out of the 30-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. That the Bush-era policy of zero arms control is suddenly poised to make a comeback is definitely bad news -- not just for arms control, but for the entire U.S.-Russia relationship." (ForeignPolicy)


"Some of us count sheep, but Rupert Murdoch spends his sleepless nights dreaming up media properties. It was late May, around 2 a.m., and Murdoch was in his New York penthouse on Fifth Avenue having a tough time falling asleep when a vision came to him: publishing a daily news report that would be exclusively made for the iPad and other tablet devices. There would be no print product. Murdoch had done his homework, so he already knew that readers spend more time fully immersed with the iPad than they do with the Web. He believes that within a few years, tablet devices will be like cell phones or laptops — consumers will go into Wal-Mart and buy the things at reasonably cheap prices (far more diminished than the $499 for an iPad now). In his mind, in the not-too-distant future, every member of the family will have one. The morning after his brainstorm, Murdoch dialed one of his chief lieutenants — Jesse Angelo, the managing editor of The New York Post. Come summer, Angelo left the Post and began working full-time for the budding outfit, which is named The Daily. (The folks at DC Comics weren’t very interested in handing over The Daily Planet, the first idea.) News Corp. has spent the last three months assembling a newsroom that will soon be about 100 staffers strong. The Daily will launch in beta mode sometime around Christmas, and will be introduced to the public on the iPad and other tablet devices in early 2011. It is expected to cost 99 cents a week, or about $4.25 a month. It will come out — as the name suggests — seven days a week. The operation is currently working out of the 26th floor of the News Corp. Building on Sixth Avenue in a space that looks like a veritable construction zone. The staff’s permanent home will be on the ninth floor, and they’ll move down once it’s ready." (WWD)


"For years, Steven Spielberg has been trying to mount a biopic of Abraham Lincoln, but with intended star Liam Neeson aging out of the role, many assumed that the project would never get off the ground. Today, though, Spielberg announced that he will begin shooting Lincoln (based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin book Team of Rivals) in the fall of next year, and what's more, he's landed Daniel Day-Lewis to play the sixteenth U.S. president. 'Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema's distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln,' said Spielberg." (Vulture)



"It was a funny crowd at last night's American Museum of Natural History gala. That was because board member Lorne Michaels had wrangled a bunch of his current and former Saturday Night Live cast members, including Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon, to add a little comic pizzazz to the evening—although with Sir Elton John performing and some unconventional lots (including a private stay with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and dinner and stargazing with a world-renowned astrophysicist) on the auction block, the official program had more than a few points of interest." (Style)


"Ted Turner is a powerful man. It is not advisable for anyone to enter into a party parley with the media mogul. Deutsche Bank's Christopher Burnham defied that admonishment last night. The mustachioed Turner was at The Waldorf Astoria for the Annual Global Leadership Dinner celebrating the alliance of the United Nations Foundation and the U.N. Association of the U.S.A. He wore a flag-spangled tie. Turner was in high spirits and spent much of the cocktail portion of the evening with lady friend Catherine Crier on his arm as he posed for photos with dignitaries and philanthropists ... Turner, America's largest private landowner, has about two million acres of land--more than the combined land areas of Delaware and Rhode Island. Burnham took issue with Turner's reintroduction of wolves on his properties. I stood behind Turner and listened to the squabble. 'I'll call it worth it,' Turner said mid-conversation. 'How can you have an...I've got habitats without any wolves. Listen, but I don't want you to be really upset about...' 'Well, I'm not upset about...' Burnham started. 'The wolf?' Turned asked. 'Yes,' Burnham said. 'I'm upset that you're doing something that's affecting the ecosystems as we know it.' Turner did not back down from his belief that an absence of wolves would be detrimental to the environment; he sees the predation as essential to keeping animal populations in check. 'We took it out,' Turner said of the wolf. 'That's where we made the mistake. We took it out of the system, that's...that was a major mistake.' 'How many wolves were on your property...' Burnham began. 'Twenty,' Turner barked. '100, no 200 years ago?' Burnham said. 'I wasn't there,' Turner said. 'Neither was anybody else.'" (Guestofaguest)


"Howard (Stern) asked Billy (Joel) if he's close to other rock and roll guys. Billy said they're friends but they don't sit down and talk about music in a deep way. Howard asked Billy if he has ever gotten together with other guys and jammed with them. Billy said that he got together with Paul McCartney once and they were both dabbling in classical music. He said Paul was going to come over to his house and he kind of knew him from seeing him over the years. He said Paul is the reason he got into music. Billy said that Paul was going to come over and he was excited about that. He said he wondered if he'd want something cold to drink. He had some cold cuts in the fridge and Paul doesn't eat meat. He said he had turkey breast and things like that in there. He said it was like Jeffrey Dahmer's fridge. Billy said he was going to hide the meat somewhere so he was hiding it in drawers in the house. He said he had to put it somewhere so he just threw it all over the place. Billy said they had a nice day talking about music and things like that. Billy said that they didn't really have any awkward silences or anything. Howard asked if they talked about girls they banged and stuff. He said they didn't do that. He said Paul is a good family man and just a nice guy. Howard said he thinks that he had a great relationship with Linda. Billy said he really is a great guy and a good dad. Howard asked if he whipped out the instruments. Billy said that Paul played some tapes and he played some for him. He said they'd talk about how to change things. He said Paul left a few hours later and he never did ask for a drink or go into the fridge. Billy said they got closer from that.  Billy said that he called people to tell them what happened. Then he was walking around his house wondering what the smell was. He said he had the meats in the drawers and pantry so he had to go on a meat hunt to find it all." (Marksfriggin)

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