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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the unenviable task this week of calling her counterparts in world capitals to tell them the bad news: Thousands of secret cables documenting their private views, as well as the uncomfortably candid assessments of U.S. diplomats, were about to be dumped into the public arena thanks to WikiLeaks, the self-styled global whistle-blower website. With revelations ranging from Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's penchant for Ukrainian nurses to Saudi King Abdullah's exhortation to 'Cut the head off the snake' in Iran, the documents make for far more titillating reading than WikiLeaks' previous efforts, which consisted mainly of hard-to-parse raw reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. This time, U.S. officials were sharing their unvarnished views of American allies and adversaries alike, often in colorful, gripping prose. " (ForeignPolicy)


"Like The Wrestler, Black Swan is an acting vehicle—it exists to document a highly physical, totally immersive performance. Rather than fueling a geezerly comeback, however, the movie is propelled by Natalie Portman’s game determination and near-excruciating anxiety as Nina, a dogged, delusional, mildly masochistic, possibly virginal, and severely repressed little ballerina plucked from the ensemble to dance the Swan Queen and, as is customary, her evil twin in a new vision of Swan Lake concocted by the sleaziest ballet master to ever slime Lincoln Center (Vincent Cassel). Frequently heard to whimper that she just wants to be 'perfect,' Nina is one tense chick." (VV)



"THE OLD GUYS with money are hiring the young people with talent, which is tough on the young people with talent because they can't simply say that the old guys with money are all morons who don't understand anything,' Paul Ford, formerly the Web editor of Harper's and more recently an iPad consultant to Condé Nast, told The Observer in an email. 'I think the era of people who 'get it' and 'don't get it' is over. Now that platforms like the iPad are here to stay, with all the requisite app stores, 'getting it' is less important than 'getting paid.' Daily staffers are getting paid, well. The staff is still under construction. Thirty or so hires are publicly known, out of an expected total of 100, with more names trickling out all the time. (Add Aussie Shannon O'Meara and Justin Rocket Silverman to the list.) Offering $75,000 for some starting writers, at a time when the hiring pool is deeply stocked, the Daily has had no trouble attracting young talent. Older ones, too: Sasha Frere-Jones, the culture editor, adds New Yorker cred; Steve Alperin, the managing editor for video, is a tough-as-nails newsman from ABC; Richard Johnson is overseeing gossip, a lion not yet in winter. Freelancers will fill out the ranks, lured in with magazine-caliber rates." (Observer)



(Steven Antin, Christina Aguilera and Cher)

"The intense Hollywood couple who were the creative force behind 'Burlesque' have gone their separate ways following a series of explosive fights on the set of the Cher and Christina Aguilera movie. Pictures Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper, 54, and Steven Antin, 52, his boyfriend of 20 years who got his first directing gig on the movie, reportedly had such nasty arguments that Aguilera tearfully complained to her manager, Irving Azoff. A friend told us, 'Steven moved out of their Hollywood mansion and has been living at the Sunset Tower Hotel since the end of October. He has been telling people it is over with Clint. They've broken up before and always got back together. Some friends expect them to reconcile, but this time Steven is saying things are different. Working together was intense' ... According to The Hollywood Reporter, Culpepper poured ice tea over Antin's head during one fight. It reported that Aguilera tearfully turned to Azoff, who told Culpepper, 'Dude, she came from an abused childhood . . . You can't yell like this.'" (PageSix)


"Last night at Cipriani 42nd Street, they held the 7th annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball celebrating the annual lighting of the UNICEF Snowflake that hangs above the junction of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, intended to serve as a beacon of hope, peace and compassion to the vulnerable children around the world ... Auctions are one way to pull some extra cash out of the gala-goers’ pockets but their success is like the weather – always changing for day to day. Claudia Lebenthal came up with a brilliant alternative for those of us who aren’t well-padded enough to go the hundred grand for a weekend at Sunny Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace (as David Koch did at the AMNH gala a couple of weeks ago) but would like to do something more and something tactile. At each place setting was a deck of cards called 'Get Inspired.' This allowed everybody to participate and make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters in need. The cards are the donor’s options. You buy what you can afford – from $31.25 for a soccer ball for the kids, or $86.25 or $119.15 for a First Aid Kit -- to $363.60 for Malaria Bed Nets or $558.04 for Basic Family Water Kit or even $2697.31 for a Motorcycle. You also get to see what specific difference you can make in the life of another not so fortunate." (NYSocialDiary)


"One night my young son came home and announced he had just seen Bad Lieutenant, where Harvey (Keitel) plays a drug-sodden cop who screws everything in sight while shooting up heroin and chasing bad guys. J. T. went on and on about the film, so I told him to come to dinner next evening at the Monkey Bar. I had Keitel and his wife Daphna for dinner, and when my boy saw Harvey, his eyes nearly popped out. Bad Lieutenant was a very powerful film, as were Mean Streets, Reservoir Dogs, and Taxi Driver–where Harvey played Jody Foster’s pimp—but my favorite is The Duellists, Joseph Conrad’s Napoleonic saga of an obsessed French officer who keeps challenging a brother officer to a duel throughout their careers for no apparent reason. The atmosphere alone is worth the admission price." (Takimag)


"White House officials do not expect liberal commentators who view President Obama as the compromiser-in-chief to lessen their criticism of the administration in the coming two years. In fact, they expect it to get worse. That’s because Obama has shown every indication that he is reading from former President Clinton’s playbook and moving toward the right in the name of bipartisan compromise. And nobody at the White House is pushing back on that description. In the days following the Democrats’ November shellacking, Obama has given every indication that he is serious about joining Republicans in their at-least-rhetorical push to cut spending. That continued Tuesday as Obama, after meeting with Democratic and GOP leaders at the White House, said that he is looking for 'common ground' with Republicans. Obama made it clear: He favors results to ideological purity, and he expects the same from Republicans." (TheHill)

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