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Friday, April 30, 2010

Michael Bloomberg and the Mayors



("He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper," via ytimg)

Its like Michael Bloomberg has this weird Elder Brother relationship with his fellow Mayors (and Arnold). It's positively creepy, as if he has some disgusting voodoo power over the heads of all the urban municipalities in the country. All these chieftains with their necks bared in suppliance appear eager to learn How-Does-One-Mayor? at the foot of The Oldest.

The latest news that our mogul-Mayor has hired former Republican Indianapolis Mayor Goldsmith to become his Deputy is ... interesting. It is, of course, a net plus to the people of New York City. We get, essentially, two Mayors for the price of one (notwithstanding what Bloomie pays in city salary and post-political perks out of his personal fortune; Bloomie takes care of his allies). But how odd -- and there is no other way to describe it -- is it that an urban star the calibre of Stephen Goldsmith, whom Politico's Ben Smith describes -- correctly -- as having been "a Republican star in the late 1990s, a pillar of George W. Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' approach in the form of a Republican who really cared about the details of urban policy," would relent to being, well, #2?

Up-and-coming urban powerhouses Adrian Fenty of DC and Cory Booker of Newark also sing Bloomies praises with almost religious undertones. Part of this is, I believe, because of Bloomberg's billions (he's the 23rd richest man in the world). It allows him to not worry about the political realities of raising cash (banal) and pandering too much to constituencies. Being independently wealthy has allowed Bloomberg to make New York into something of a social laboratory, allowing him to work his political alchemy in, for example, education policy.

This is the ideal of every young Mayor. Before they sour, confronting the political realities of urban politics -- think: The Wire's Mayor Carcetti -- every young Mayor wants to be able to operate as freely as Bloomberg does. A weak City Council; the ability to pick his lietenants from urban arenas sround the country; a free hand; untold billions at ones disposal. This creates, curiously, a sort of Elder Brother-Younger Apprentice relationship between Bloomberg and his colleagues (and, of course, Arnold)

It is a relationship that this blogger finds endlessly fascinating, particularly because the Mayoralty of New York is the most glamorous dead-end job in America. So -- where does it go from here? And: has a New york City Mayor ever gone on to do anything other than remenisce about having once been a New York city Mayor?
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"NBC's Jay Leno will spend less than 24 hours in Washington D.C. for his gig as the entertainment selection for the White House Correspondents' Dinner. After Leno tapes his 'The Tonight Show' Friday night, he'll hop on a red eye to Washington. After the performance Saturday night, he'll get on another plane and quickly return to Los Angeles." (FishbowlDC)



"TBS's Conan O'Brien tells '60 Minutes'' Steve Kroft he would have left NBC rather than do what Jay Leno did to him. 'He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know -- I know me, I wouldn't have done that,' O'Brien says. 'If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well -- and then...six months later. But that's me. Everyone's got their own, you know, way of doing things,' he tells Kroft." (TVNewser)



"The annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, the ostensible main event for Oscar Night on the Potomac, has created more demand than ever before. But it’s really the parties surrounding the dinner for 2,700 that have people — lots of whom aren’t even invited to it — trying to score invitations. The party buzz has, if possible, grown even louder this year: There are at least three important new events — one of which is hosted by POLITICO Publisher Robert Allbritton and his wife, Elena — plus two dramatically rejiggered soirees. But it’s getting harder to get invited because many hosts are trying to control their creeping guest lists. For Washington’s social set, the weekend has become a hallmark of the year. 'The dinner now rivals, if not beats, the Kennedy Center Honors in terms of wattage,' floral designer Allan Woods said." (Politico)



"On the night of Monday, May 3, a red carpet will cover the stairs leading up to the Metropolitan Museum, serving as the entryway for guests of what is considered the city's most fashionable event of the year: Vogue's annual Costume Institute Gala, also known as the Oscars of the East Coast. Behind the planning this year for the first time is 28-year-old Sylvana Soto-Ward, who was promoted from accessories editor at Vogue to special-events planner in July. She has a model's height and figure, and smooth, highlighted brown hair parted down the middle. Teetering in her four-inch gray suede Miu Miu heels just six days before the event at a run-through in the museum, she shows no signs of freaking out. She's only been working on this event for ten months. 'I'm shocked the planning started so early, but it does. It takes almost a year. You get two months off and then right back at it,' she said. Each year a fashion label sponsors the ball. Last year it was Marc Jacobs, and the year before Giorgio Armani. But this year it's the Gap. 'I think the Gap is perfect for the theme,' Soto-Ward says, referring to Costume Institute's new exhibit (what the Gala is meant to inaugurate) devoted to the fashion of American women from 1890 to 1940. 'Yes, it's been sort of these high-fashion companies, but particularly in this economy and in this world right now where it's not all about high fashion but it's about the mix and about high-low, you know? It's certainly something we're trying to portray in the magazine and everything else we do,' she says." (NYMag)



(Mrs. DeNiro via style)

"'This is the glamorous part of the gig,' said Selma Blair, a Tribeca Film Festival juror, at Chanel's annual Odeon dinner party last night ... Elsewhere, Terry Richardson and Olivier Zahm occupied themselves by snapping the ladies' footwear, and Julian Schnabel, with son Vito in tow, signed copies of his book, one of the art tomes given away as gifts to every guest. In the middle of it all, at a table with Angela Lindvall and a top-hatted Yoko Ono, was festival co-founder Robert De Niro. Deflecting compliments as usual, he said, 'I really should be thanking Chanel tonight. My wife looks beautiful.'" (Style)



(image via takistopdrawr)

"Last week, after a late night, I went to a Broadway matinee on my own. It was Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a hit show with tunes that slam one with waves of nostalgia and longing. One particular song almost knocked me out, 'My Eyes Adored You.' Perhaps it was the hangover, but most likely it was Pam Wallin, a beautiful Palm Beach girl that once walked barefoot onto the plane when I was leaving the beach for (NYC), just to say goodbye. Those were innocent days and a pretty girl could walk on and off a plane undisturbed. She had a boy’s haircut and the best legs in Florida. An older boy at Lawrenceville, my first prep school, was her beau, but he was at Lehman Brothers while I was in Palm Beach. He hated me in school and his hatred grew after graduation. 'My Eyes Adored You' was our song, Pam’s and mine, and last week I listened to it and almost cried. Cried because I haven’t seen her in 55 years and she is now in her seventies. I have no idea what happened to him, and frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn. Music can do things to romantics. It’s a collaborative adventure. The romantic brings emotion and feelings to the table, lust or sorrow, the music does the rest." (Taki Theodoracopulos)



(image via NYSD)

"Yesterday in New York was one of those blazingly beautiful (and WINDY) days with one of the bluest of blue skies and Sun shimmering against the glass and the brick of the city’s canyons, kissing the creamy white tulips along Park Avenue. With just enough of a subtle nip in the air to remind us that it’s Springtime, when gardens are planted. I went down to Michael’s for lunch with my new old friend Joan Kingsley, who lives mainly in London with her husband Philip, the world’s premier trichologist. Michael’s was buzzing with a diverse group: Charlie Rose with Nazee Moinian, the rising authority on Iranian/American relations; Leslie Stahl with Steve Rattner; Fredi Friedman with Linda Stasi of the NY Post where she used to write one of the best commentaries about New York. Meanwhile, in the garden room, there was a party for Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd, who have collaborated on 'True Prep; It’s A Whole New Old World.' Lisa, as you may know, was the creator/author of the 'Official Preppy Handbook' that became an atavistic force of influence on the eternal 30-somethings among us, noting what’s good for a laugh and a ballast against the winds of change." (NYSocialDiary)



"Here is Ben Silverman’s recent keynote speech at the MIPTV market in Cannes. I’ve watched this video 3 times now and still have no idea what he’s talking about: 'Hyper-globalisation is a comment on every moment but clearly adapted in localisation'? 'Full circle is where culture really can manifest'? 'How do you scale bespoke'?" (Deadline)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Posts Today

Taking a me-day to enjoy the weather. Will be back tomorrow,

R

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"On April 1, Gawker chief Nick Denton passed on some surprising news via Twitter. 'Damn!' Mr. Denton wrote. 'Gawker’s awesome John Cook is about to disappear into the maw of Yahoo. Someone else—WSJ?—should save him. We tried.' Shortly thereafter, he assured his followers this was no April Fool’s joke. Mr. Cook, the site’s investigations editor, was leaving to write for a publicly traded corporation based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The whole thing was vaguely mystifying. For years, Yahoo had been a distant archipelago, far removed from the life of New York media sharks. And yet, suddenly, in the past few months, strong Yahoo trade winds had begun sweeping through Manhattan. People we knew were suddenly landing jobs there. But who was the shadowy blog overlord gobbling up bodies? As it turns out, his name is Jamie Mottram. He’s a sunny, 32-year-old sports blogger–turned–media executive who works out of his house by the beach in Wilmington, N.C.—a town of 75,000 residents with a river walk and lots of deciduous trees, located roughly 593 miles southwest of Balthazar.On a recent Monday afternoon, The Observer met Mr. Mottram for lunch at Novita, an Italian restaurant near Gramercy Park. He was in town for 24 hours. That evening he would be meeting with some of his recently hired bloggers at a bar in Brooklyn." (Observer)



"Nothing announces the arrival of spring quite like selling a bunch of old crap on your lawn, and no one does it better than Mark the Cobrasnake Hunter. His yard sales are notoriously epic feasts of decadence, good music and genuinely fantastic thrift store pieces. Neighborhood cool kids and familiar faces such as Johnny Makeup, Steve Aoki, Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor and Paper's own Beautiful Person AJ English all showed up at Hunter's sale this weekend to indulge in boatloads of free Tiger beer, popsicles, sunshine, and piles of internationally scrounged vintage pieces. Yard sales 4ever!" (Papermag)



"U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has changed dramatically since 2001. The war began in the early morning hours — Pakistan time — after the Sept. 11 attacks. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called up then-Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to inform him that he would be assisting the United States against al Qaeda, and if necessary, the Taliban. The key word there is 'inform.' The White House had already spoken with — and obtained buy-in from — the leaders of Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel and, most notably, India. Musharraf was not given a choice in the matter. It was made clear that if he refused assistance, the Americans would consider Pakistan part of the problem rather than part of the solution — all with the blessings of the international community. Islamabad was terrified — and with good reason; comply or refuse, the demise of Pakistan was an all-too-real potential outcome. The geography of Pakistan is extremely hostile. It is a desert country. What rain the country benefits from falls in the northern Indo-Pakistani border region, where the Himalayas wring moisture out of the monsoons. Those rains form the five rivers of the Greater Indus Valley, and irrigation works from those rivers turn dry areas green. Accordingly, Pakistan is geographically and geopolitically doomed to perpetual struggle with poverty, instability and authoritarianism." (Stratfor)



(image via nytimes)

"Bright sunny day, yesterday in New York and quite cold thanks to the chilly breezes although the weatherman is predicting Very Warm weather is on the way. Very Warm For May. The Michael’s lunch was crowded and included Candy Spelling lunching with Marilyn Sokol and friends, Zena Wiener and neighbor from Washington, Connecticut; Joan Kingsley from London with friend from New York, Linda Fairstein hosting a table; Barry Diller with Malcolm Gladwell; Roger Friedman; Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Lynn Nesbit." (NYSocialDiary)



"'[DNC] Chairman Tim Kaine is expected to lay out in a speech Wednesday the party's latest plan to energize its base and appeal to such distinct groups as African-Americans, Latinos and younger voters … Democratic Party officials say they are not leaving white voters behind … But to stave off anticipated losses in the midterm elections … they have to bring out a large percentage of Americans who voted for the first time in 2008, half of whom were black, Latino or young voters. Mr. Kaine, in the prepared text of his speech, calls this ‘our first priority’ and says it could bring a gain of 2% to 4% of votes cast in key races, ‘which is a significant margin.’” (WSJ via Playbook)



"DESPITE Madonna's return for Dolce & Gabbana, it seems models are winning over celebrities in the coming season's campaigns - with almost all major luxury brands casting seasoned fashion faces. 'Actresses are fantastic, but they're not models and it's not easy,' YSL's Stefano Pilati - who selected Vogue cover girl Daria Werbowy for this season's images - explained. 'What I need to focus on is an attitude, and this comes from a great, experienced model. Actresses have an attitude, but will never be the fashion attitude. To me, fashion photography is with a model; otherwise, it's a portrait.' 'I think it's a very contemporary approach,' Gucci creative director Frida Giannini - who chose Raquel Zimmermann again for the label's winter campaign - told WWD. 'The other issue with celebrities is that they are characters who are often associated with a certain film. I prefer a strong, generic face that's not related to any world — whether that be music or Hollywood.'" (Vogue)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ukranian Parliament Fight Club



The first rule of Ukranian Parliament Fight Club is, you do not talk about Ukranian Parliament Fight Club. #2 - The second rule of Ukranian Parliament Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Ukranian Parliament Fight Club .. ANY QUESTIONS?


[HuffPo, BBC, images via AP via Gawker]
A Little Of The Old In And Out



In: Paul Kagame. Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal has something of a political man-crush. President Paul Kagame has engineered an astonishing turnaround of Rwanda's economy. He is not, we cannot fail to note, a "small d" democrat. A rival for the Presidency was arrested under dubious -- and eerie -- circumstances. Still, Kagame is something of a Rwandan patriot -- a rarity -- caring more, generally, for the well-being of his people than accruing endless power and turning the countries coffers into his own personal personal pocketbook. That is a phenomenon not only new to Rwanda, but new to the entire region.

And he is everywhere. This weekend he was a featured in -- of all places -- the Wall Street Journal as a "supply sider." Naive, they; Africa's new patriot leaders are nimble, veering, however slightly, so that their backs are facing the direction of the political winds in Washington and nowadays in increasingly influential Beijing. Today Kagame is a supply sider, tomorrow, perhaps he may swing Keynsian. Ultimately, President Kagame will always work in the national interests of Rwanda (and not his bank account), and that, in turn, is a good thing for regional stability, which is in the interests of these United States of America. From The AP:

The tall thin man strode to the stage at the Tribeca Film Festival and fielded a few questions about one of the main subjects of the documentary just screened - himself: Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The president's star turn Monday night before a chic crowd in lower Manhattan was less surprising considering it was the world premiere of a documentary that portrays Kagame, who is up for re-election in August, in a heroic light. After the 88-minute film, 'Earth Made of Glass,' ended, filmgoers welcomed him with a standing ovation.

'When you want reconciliation and justice at the same time, they tend to conflict,' he replied to one question. 'That's what happens every day in our country.'

Kagame also pledged to continue cooperating with his nation's former sworn enemy, Congo. The two nations teamed up for a joint operation last year against the extremist Rwandan Hutu rebels who fled to eastern Congo, after Kagame's rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.


Again, Kagame is by no means a democrat. There are questions as to when he will actually give up power (as in the case with neighboring Ugandan President Museveni, there are no successors being groomed). He is a patriot, however, who has turned around his country's fragile economic base in an astonishingly short time. It is not inconceivable that a country that has gone through the trauma of a genocide and is ethnically factitious has more of a need of a benevolent authoritarian -- at leats for now -- than a constitutional democracy. The streets are clean; there is freedom of the press; the economy is becoming an African success story.

For that -- however imperfect political reality -- Kagame deserves some credit.



Out: Variety. What were they thinking? I love Variety and I love Peter Bart but -- god bless him -- the man has been late to blogging and late to the new digital realities of media. From our old media haunt, FishbowlNY:

Hollywood trade magazine Variety has seen Web traffic slump by more than 40% since enacting a paywall at the end of 2009, according to Nielsen data published by MediaPost.

The site garnered 3.2 million page views in December, the month it enacted the paywall. Since then, traffic has dropped to 1.9 million page views in March. Unique visitors fell from 745,000 to 609,000 in the same period. Variety charges $250 a year for a print subscription with online access, and the same rate for online access without the paper version.


Even former Fairchild Fashion Group CEO Richard Beckman, now at e5 Global Media runs the Hollywood Reporter, took a swipe, telling theFix: "There has been all these years. But if I’m setting the bar at where Variety is—and this is going to sound really caustic—I’m setting the bar too low." Ouch. Or, as Cinematical's Erik Davis tweeted, "wow, Variety's numbers are pretty low. Who's NOT beating them in page views is a better question ..."



In: Fox. "As usual," begins TVBytheNumbers, "Fox crushed the broadcast primetime competition last week in the adults 18-49 ratings by a wide margin." Fox News Channel is doing just as well in the evenings in all key demos.

And, in closing, the channel's philosophy notwithstanding, FX's "Justified" is one of the coolest new shows ever.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image via NYSD)

"Were the New York Times to have a pillow fight with the Wall Street Journal, it would have contend with blows from black satin cushions emblazoned with the Wall Street Journal's nameplate. The cushions were christened at last night's launch party for the Journal's new Greater New York section, which debuted yesterday morning. But it was clear from the talk at the party, held last night at Gotham Hall, that the newspaper war waging between the two broadsheets is a fight not of pillows, but of words and mettle. Mayor Bloomberg, whose trips to Bermuda got big play in the New York Times yesterday, called the Journal's New York effort 'groundbreaking' but noted that 'It took the paper 120 years to realize the city had a street other than Wall Street.' Of course, the mayor had to acknowledge that the company he founded is among the competition. 'I love the Journal. It's my second favorite source for business news,' he said ... The Journal's owner, Rupert Murdoch, spoke plainly. 'I want to give New York a fresh robust paper on their city, the country, and the world,' Mr. Murdoch said. 'New York is the capital of ambition, and it's my firm belief that New York section of the Journal will be a formidable competitor' ... Barry Diller's take on competition: 'I don't really like it myself, but I like to see others compete.'" (NYSocialDiary)



(image via paperheritage)

"The English geographer Sir Halford Mackinder ended his famous 1904 article, The Geographical Pivot of History, with a disturbing reference to China. After explaining why Eurasia was the geostrategic fulcrum of world power, he posited that the Chinese, should they expand their power well beyond their borders, 'might constitute the yellow peril to the world's freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent, an advantage as yet denied to the Russian tenant of the pivot region.' Leaving aside the sentiment's racism, which was common for the era, as well as the hysterics sparked by the rise of a non-Western power at any time, Mackinder had a point: whereas Russia, that other Eurasian giant, basically was, and is still, a land power with an oceanic front blocked by ice, China, owing to a 9,000-mile temperate coastline with many good natural harbors, is both a land power and a sea power. (Mackinder actually feared that China might one day conquer Russia.) China's virtual reach extends from Central Asia, with all its mineral and hydrocarbon wealth, to the main shipping lanes of the Pacific Ocean. Later, in Democratic Ideals and Reality, Mackinder predicted that along with the United States and the United Kingdom, China would eventually guide the world by 'building for a quarter of humanity a new civilization, neither quite Eastern nor quite Western.' China's blessed geography is so obvious a point that it tends to get overlooked in discussions of the country's economic dynamism and national assertiveness. Yet it is essential: it means that China will stand at the hub of geopolitics even if the country's path toward global power is not necessarily linear." (Robert Kaplan/ForeignAffarirs)



(image via scrapetv)

"Howard (Stern) said Courtney (Love) has a new album coming out called 'Nobody's Daughter.' He asked her what happened to her. She said she was depressed about something. He told her that she should have come in right away then. She said she was on the phone taking care of some business. Howard told Courtney she looks good ... Courtney said she didn't have sex for 5 years while she was working on this new album. She said she didn't even masturbate. Howard said there's no way she didn't fuck a guy for 5 years. Courtney said she really didn't. She said she had to avoid it to make this record ... Howard said he bets that she's good in bed. Courtney said that she has had guy say that she is great in bed. The guy from Blur said she was the best in bed and so did Kurt. Courtney said that she'll also party with girls. She said she's just 'gay enough' to do that. Howard asked Courtney if she will do chicks. She said she will do it but only if there's a guy there. Courtney said she only likes kissing and rubbing the titties. She said she will go further but she didn't want to talk about that ... Courtney said she did have a one on one this one time. Courtney told Howard about how she had this chick chasing her around the room and she figured that was the best person to do it with. Howard asked if it was Janice Dickinson. Courtney said it wasn't, but it was a super model. She said Janice had her day for like a month but that was about it. Courtney did an impression of the model and Robin guessed it was Kate Moss. Courtney said it wasn't her but she was denying it in an odd way like maybe it was true. Howard figured it really was Kate Moss." (Marksfriggin)



"This weekend, Columbia University held its annual spring concert for Bacchanal, the 'get out of the library and meet some people,' weekend-long festival. Students, alumni, neighboring families (with kids?!) and other people who happened to catch wind of the line-up -- which is kept under wraps until a few days beforehand -- came out to see Wiz Khalifa, Ghostface Killah, and Of Montreal perform. (Watching Columbia students twist their fingers into W's during Ghostface's medley of Wu-Tang songs, including 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya' and 'C.R.E.A.M,' was almost as entertaining as his set). Headliners Of Montreal hit the stage after nightfall and lit things up, as usual, with some colorful stage antics. (Someone dressed in a Chewbacca suit filmed the crowd as the footage played on a screen behind the band). Somehow, however, this was not the strangest part of the evening. Later, three Columbia students came onstage in diapers and bras to writhe around, while Chewbacca bought some sort of pig person on stage right before the encore, 'The Past is a Grotesque Animal.'" (Papermag)



"Israel’s alarm at the deterioration in its relations with the US is palpable. In Jerusalem recently, even a liberal commentator told me: 'Barack Obama is a disaster for Israel. I don’t think the general public realise just how much of a disaster he is.' Government officials are more careful – but only a bit. Danny Ayalon, the deputy Israeli foreign minister, says that it would be a 'grave mistake' for America to present its own Middle East peace plan, an idea that the US president’s people are known to be considering. Listening to all this, I could not help thinking back to the early stages of the Northern Irish peace negotiations. In part, this is because some of the same cast of characters have moved from Belfast to Jerusalem. George Mitchell, Mr Obama’s envoy to the Middle East, played a crucial role as a go-between in Ulster. Tony Blair Is also on the scene, this time installed in the American Colony hotel rather than Stormont castle. But there is more to the parallel than familiar faces. The Israelis’ furious reaction to the pressure they are under from the Obama administration is reminiscent of the British rage early in the Northern Irish peace process, when it became clear that our American allies were intent on 'talking to the terrorists' of the Irish Republican Army. But, as it turned out, the Americans were right to insist that there was a peace deal to be made with the IRA. They are right again on the Middle East peace process. There is still a deal to be had – and if Israel does not take it soon, the long-term survival of the Jewish state will be imperilled." (FT)



(Photograph: PR/Yadid Levy/Alamy via TheGuardian)

"Noma’s victory at the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants last night is a triumph both for the Copenhagen eatery and for the awards, which were stuck in a rut, handing out first place each year to El Bulli. Danish chef Rene Redzepi was there to collect the crown that had gone for the past four years to Ferran Adria for his establishment north of Barcelona. El Bulli has been in the top three every year since the awards were founded in 2002. Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck has been the other big winner, coming first in 2005 and always making the top three since 2004. The U.K. restaurant came third last night, behind El Bulli. The only other winner has been the French Laundry, in 2003 and 2004. Noma, which seats 42 diners, was founded in November 2003. The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants were named at a reception in London’s Guildhall attended by chefs and restaurateurs including Daniel Boulud, whose New York flagship surged 33 places to No. 8. The awards started as a magazine feature and have grown to international prominence. Noma -- which stands for Nordisk Mad, or Nordic Food -- is housed in a converted warehouse by the waterside in the Danish capital’s Christianshavn district. Redzepi, 32, travels the region in search of ingredients and culinary inspiration for his seasonal menu. Noma entered the table at 33 in 2006 and had risen to third by last year." (Bloomberg)



"There are a bunch of interesting exhibitions going on at the moment. Just the other day we showed you the David Choe opening at Lazarides. Here is now a look at the Phil Frost exhibition, that is currently on at Known Gallery." (HighSnobiety)



(image via bliptv)

"I was headed in yesterday morning to (The Howard Stern show to)talk about Lotus Notes vs. Google with Howard’s tech guru, IBM’s Jeff Schick, and get a tour of the studio and its operation. Then Howard invited us in, on the air. We talked geek stuff for a few minutes (more on that later) when Howard asked what I was up to next. I came prepared. I said I was working on a possible book about publicness (new idea) and wanted to talk to him about it. Ask what you have to ask on the air, Howard said. So I asked him whether he had regrets about his public life and about his view that people are better off public. He said he thought his listeners were better off because he was willing to talk about anything, even masturbation and lesbians. I told Howard that he had cleared the way for me to — even inspired me to — talk about my prostate cancer in public. Howard, of course, cut to the blunt question: 'Are you getting it up now?' Answer: no. We talked about the gory, intimate details of prostate cancer: the strange, 'internal' orgasms; the harpoons up the ass for biopsies; the garden hose out of the dick after surgery. The cast groaned at each of these. 'You fucking shut me up,' Howard said. I fear I was discouraging men from getting tested when I meant to do the opposite. And Howard acknowledged, as hard as it was, that he, too, would have opted to get the cancer out. Hell, he can’t stand sniffing brass polish on his condo door without thinking he’s getting cancer. I wish I were funnier and more fun. Over the years, I’ve called into the show about the First Amendment and the FCC, about gadgets and geek stuff, and now about cancer." (Jeff Jarvis/BuzzMachine)



"It’s two a.m., and we’re barreling down a deeply pocked dirt road in Southern Sudan. In the cool of night, the temperature is nearly 100 degrees. Sam Childers, 46, is behind the wheel of a chrome-tinted Mitsubishi truck. Christian rock blares on the speakers. He has a Bible on the dash and a shotgun that he calls his 'widow-maker' leaning against his left knee. His top sergeant, Santino Deng, 34, a Dinka tribesman with an anthracite complexion and radiant black eyes, sits in the passenger seat, an AK-47 across his lap. I sit in the back. Since leaving the town of Mundri, headed toward the Congolese border, we’ve been driving for two bone-jarring days on roads littered with the charred wrecks of armored vehicles and fuel tankers, remnants of battles past. A truck follows close behind, carrying 15 men from the small militia group under Childers’s personal command. The convoy is on its way to a Sudanese town called Maridi. In the area we’re passing through, just hours ago soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.) hacked 15 villagers to death with machetes, then disappeared into the bush. Intelligence sources from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army—the ragtag military wing of the breakaway government of Southern Sudan—have indicated that elements of the L.R.A. are now headed to Maridi. Childers wants to intercept them, and kill their leader." (VanityFair)



"Every couple of years, Rupert Murdoch remembers what he really wants from life. He sets aside whatever international conquest currently sits on his to-do list, and he reinflicts himself upon New York City by purchasing, repurchasing, or reinvesting in a New York media property. All Murdoch wants is for the people of Manhattan to pay homage to him, and for the last 35 years they've basically refused his every advance." (Slate)



"President Obama will be stopping in his adopted home state of Illinois on Wednesday, as part of a whistle-stop 'White House to Main Street Tour' that will swing through the Midwest. He has invited all of Illinois's statewide elected officials to join him in the Mississippi River city of Quincy, including embattled Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. 'I actually think we are going to be there,' Giannoulias said, according to the Associated Press. Giannoulias was invited in his official capacity as state treasurer, not as a Senate candidate. But some are wondering just how strongly the President will be supporting his party's top-of-the-ticket candidates in the state. Last Friday, the Giannoulias family bank was closed by federal regulators after suffering huge losses during the housing market collapse. Mark Kirk, Giannoulias' Republican opponent, has made the failure of Broadway Bank -- and the 'shady' people to whom it loaned money -- a central theme of his campaign." (HuffPo)



(image via nytimes)

"For years, the name Louis Auchincloss was no more than that to me, and in fact I think it may have been tangled or conflated in my mind with that of another literary lawyer, Louis Begley—a preposterous mix-up if so, given that the one survived the Holocaust while the other sailed through Groton and Yale. Then one day I stumbled across a used copy of The Rector of Justin (a fictionalized portrait of a Groton headmaster) and bought it on a whim. Deeply impressed by the novel, I wolfed down four or five more, all out of print. How could it be, I began to ask myself, that such a skillful and addictive novelist had such a low profile? And who was he? Although not generally all that curious to encounter writers in the flesh, I make an exception for those of advanced age, particularly when they’ve closely studied or been engaged with their time; to meet such people is to touch history, to feel the full scope and rollercoaster course of the twentieth century. Auchincloss was almost ninety—who knew how much longer he’d be around. And so I mustered up my temerity and wrote him a fan letter that concluded by asking whether I might stop by to pay my respects. To my surprise, he called two days later to invite me over." (NewCriterion)



"Even now, ten years after the release of Christopher Nolan’s indie hit Memento, people are still trying to figure out what the movie is actually about. On Saturday afternoon, NPR’s Robert Krulwich, the host of a Tribeca Talks panel celebrating the film’s tenth anniversary, opened his discussion with questions not for Guy Pearce or Joe Pantoliano but for the audience: 'How many people think that Leonard was the murderer?' Krulwich asked in reference to Pearce’s character, garnering a few halfhearted hand-raises. 'Does anybody know who Leonard was talking to on the telephone?' (Neither of these is a spoiler, we promise.) Admittedly, the film—which tells the story, backwards, of an anterograde amnesia patient attempting to remember enough from moment to moment to avenge his wife’s murder—is complicated. But we were surprised to learn that even those who made the film can’t be quite sure what happens in it." (Observer)



"It's neither easy nor organic to fill a room with David Salle, Oksana Baiul, Prabal Gurung, Rachel Feinstein, and John Currin—unless you're Richard Phillips, Olga Rei, and The Daily's own Valentine Uhovski, who invited a few friends to dine at The Lion last night. The occasion? The launch of ArtRuby.com, Rei's art news site, and the upcoming Phillips exhibition at the Swiss Institute, which opens May 5.'I've been doing twenty-hour work days in my studio for the last few weeks,' said Phillips, who was squired by Josephine Meckseper. 'This meal was the most pleasant reason ever to leave my canvases for four hours.' Guests like Tom Sachs, Lisa Yuskavage and Matvey Levinstein marvelled at the space, which won't officially open for another few weeks. 'It was a gay cabaret bar,' said Waris Ahluwalia matter-of-factly. 'Streisand used to perform here!' After a few glasses of Moet rosé champagne, the crew headed downstairs to the soaring dining room, which features the best skylight in the Village. (Sorry, August.) 'We're never going to be able to get a table here again, so we might as well enjoy it!' said Carlos Miele, digging into a first course of lobster bisque with bacon." (DailyFrontRow)



"Specialty filmgoers certainly had a varied selection of options hitting arthouses this weekend. On the one end, there was Nicole Holofcener’s 'Please Give,' a light-hearted morality tale about a bunch of inter-connected New Yorkers negotiating the guilt in their lives. And the other, well, there was 'The Human Centipede' - Tom Six’s much-buzzed about horror film about crazy man named Heiter who’s not up for negotiating - and certainly feels no guilt - as he attempts to literally connect three very unlucky people via their gastric system. In the end - according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon - it seems Holofcener’s slice of humanity trumped the human centipede when it came to the box office. On just five screens, Sony Pictures Classics-released 'Please Give' grossed a potent $128,696. That allowed for it to find one of 2010’s best per-theater-averages at $25,739, and suggested a nice road ahead as the film expands across the country. Starring Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall, 'Please Give' also managed to give Holofcener her best per-theater-average ever, topping 2006’s 'Friends With Money,' which would go on to gross an impressive $13,368,437. That said, 'Money' (which averaged $21,047), opened on a significantly wider 28 screens, which is arguably a more impressive feat. But 'Money' also benefited from the star power of Jennifer Aniston, while 'Please Give' likely achieved its success largely due to strong reviews and Holofcener’s growing fan base." (IndieWIRE)

Monday, April 26, 2010

M.I.A.'s "Born Free" Video

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.



This is pretty damned violent for M.I.A, if you ask me. But good stuff.
President Obama's 2010 Strategy: Young People, African-American And Women



All 435 house seats and a third of the 100 Senate seats -- some in critical swing states -- are up for grabs this year. It will be a long hot summer, with financial regulation and a Supreme Court nomination fight adding to the usual election year pandemonium and panderings. The release on YouTube of "President Obama Announces Vote 2010” to 13 million grassroots supporters via email today is a major event, the start of the midterms. It was sent by Organizing for America, the Democratic National Committee’s political operation, built by then-Senator Obama.

From WashPo:

President Barack Obama on Monday launched an effort to get voters who propelled him to victory in 2008 to rally behind Democrats and help turn back Republican challengers in November congressional elections.

Obama, in a video message distributed to his supporters, formally leaped into the election campaigns for November in which Democrats are trying to protect their strong majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Democratic fortunes have sagged in recent months and most political analysts believe Republicans are poised to make major gains in November.

Obama rode to victory in 2008 with the benefit of millions of first-time voters who had not been involved in politics. He is seeking to recapture that grass-roots appeal for his party this year, specifically reaching out to young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women.

Energizing voters is a potentially difficult step because Obama's name is not on the ballot in November and voter turnout in non-presidential election years is typically much lower than in years when a presidential election is held.


President Obama's message of change has resonated strongly with people of color and women and the young, groups that historically have not had as much access to power as white males. Obama's secret weapon will be --as he imself says -- "the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women." Of course, there will also be progressive and independent whites in that coalition, many of whom helped the President win Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina in 2008. In yesterday's memorial honoring the 29 miners who died in the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia, the President said of the fallen white workingmen in a state that he lost to both Hillary Clinton in the primaries and McCain in the general election:

“How can we fail them? How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them? How can we let anyone in this country put their lives at risk by simply showing up to work, by simply pursuing the American dream? We cannot bring back the twenty-nine men we lost. They are with the Lord now. Our task, here on earth, is to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy.”


Still, the unusually frank political argument may draw undue attention to the President's white vote deficit in 2008. Demagogues on the right will probably use this as an opportunity to paint the President's appeal in garish brown hues (small closing cough of feigned detachment). Also -- To what degree will National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones's inappropriate joke against Jewish people -- and the President's weakening approval rating among American Jews -- hurt him in 2010 and beyond.

Immigration reform, which arose abruptly last week, might be a polarizing event, recapturing some of the 2008 magic, particularly for young people and people of color disaffected by the growing centrist drift of the administration. The virulently anti-immigrant sentiments of certain fringe groups on the right might just turn off suburban moms and white independents who don't go in for that sort of poisonoius rhetoric.

Electoral momentum, however, has been of late on the side of the opposition. A rising tea party movement coincides with three major electoral losses for the democrats -- in Virginia, in New Jersey and in Kennedy's Massachusetts (all previously true-blue states). It should be interesting.
Resolved: Michael Bloomberg Missed His Shot At The Presidency



(image via observer)

For quite a few years this blog has speculated, gamely, that NYC's mercurial media mogul Mayor Michael Bloomberg might just run for President in 2012 as he hinted he might do in 2008. That time now seems irrevocably to have passed. Two unforeseeable events last week have conspired to all but trap him in cite (and possibly state) politics. One, the "Bloomberg's Offshore Millions" story broke on the Observer. Second, Bloomberg -- being a good steward of NYC tax revenues -- defended Wall Street against President Obama, a hugely unpopular political position. In cushioning Wall Street (which provides a significant amount of the city's tax coffers) from the prevailing populist winds, Mayor Bloomberg probably knocked himself out of contention for the prize. According to the WashPo, "About two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business."

Putting the final nail into the coffin of the idea of any Bloomberg presidential candidacy there is that whole Bermuda-loving billionaire thing (Averted Gaze). It would not augur well for a Presidential candidate in 2012, in the thick of The Great Recession, to be seen as Bermuda estate loving. Could Bloomberg self-finance a 2012 campaign with some heavyweight thinkers on board? Sure.

Mike Bloomberg is unpredictable enough political player to make such a quixotic run. It would be useless, however, serving only as an economic stimulus for media markets in swing states across the country. But he cannot win, not with the cards he is holding. His time was probably in 2008 as a third party candidate. The Corsair asked The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder during Question Time what he thought of a Bloomberg '12 candidacy on Friday. His response? "Not very high, unless he wants to run as the champion of Wall Street, which is, uh, not very likely."

And there you have it.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"From the time of her infamous wardrobe selection, money had been an issue in Palin’s politics. Her relationship with the McCain campaign had been plagued by financial misunderstanding. In her book Going Rogue, she claimed that the McCain campaign had left her on the hook for her Troopergate bills. Palin was furious. 'Deep down, she wanted to make money,' a McCain adviser says. 'There was always financial stress. They’re not wealthy people.' Palin knew there were ways to solve her money problems, and then some. Planning quickly got under way for a book. And just weeks after the campaign ended, reality-show producer Mark Burnett called Palin personally and pitched her on starring in her own show. Then, in May 2009, she signed a $7 million book deal with HarperCollins. Two former Palin-campaign aides—Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin—were hired to plan a book tour with all the trappings of a national political campaign. But there was a hitch: With Alaska’s strict ethics rules, Palin worried that her day job would get in the way. In March, she petitioned the Alaska attorney general’s office, which responded with a lengthy list of conditions. “There was no way she could go on a book tour while being governor” is how one member of her Alaska staff put it. On Friday morning, July 3, Palin called her cameraman to her house in Wasilla and asked him to be on hand to record a prepared speech. Around noon, in front of a throng of national reporters, she announced that she was stepping down as governor. To many, it seemed a mysterious move, defying the logic of a potential presidential candidate, and possibly reflecting some hidden scandal—but in fact the choice may have been as easy as balancing a checkbook. Less than a year later, Sarah Palin is a singular national industry ..." (Gabriel Sherman/NYMag)



(image via usmagazine)

"The Back-Up Plan, Jennifer Lopez's latest romantic comedy, opened this past weekend and grossed a lousy $12.3 million—and ably described what Lopez desperately needs right now, career-wise. This latest bomb cements a professional plummet that threatens to make one of the biggest stars of movies and music over the past decade little more than Mrs. Marc Anthony. At the height of her career, between 1997 and 2002, when she rolled with Puffy or Ben Affleck and a posse a dozen deep, Lopez made up to $12 million per movie. During this period, she made nine films, which grossed between $24 million and $94 million domestically. Since then, The Back-Up Plan has been more typical, in the mold of Gigli and An Unfinished Life, which collected an unrespectable $6 million and $8 million, respectively. Lopez's music sales mimic that trajectory. Lopez stormed on to the Billboard charts over that same period, releasing four albums that sold a combined 10.7 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and providing her a $5 million per album deal at Sony, says a source close to that deal. Her three subsequent releases barely cracked 1 million copies in total—a stunning collapse that can't all be attributed to an overall decline in CD sales—and her latest single, 'Louboutins,' an ode to shoes that cost more than most people's rent, flopped at radio. 'If your pitch has been 'Jenny from the block,' says one person whose music-related company has done business with J. Lo, 'you don't do a song about $700 shoes. Know your demographic.'" (Peter Lauria/TheDailyBeast)



"Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided to prioritize immigration for at least two reasons, one of them naked political self-interest: his standing with Latinos in his own state is not where it needs to be for him to be re-elected, and he promised them, quite recently, that he would move aggressively on immigration. According to Democratic strategists, Latinos need to make up at least 15 percent of the electorate in Nevada for Reid to have a chance at winning. They're now saying they'll turn out at about a rate of 10 percent. The White House, knowing full well that Reid's leadership on health care may have permanently damaged his re-election chances, is not going to stand in Reid's way. Reid's second rationale is also political: he reasons that the toughest vote House Democrats took in 2009 was on the Waxman-Markey Climate Change legislation. He doesn't want to subject his vulnerable Senate colleagues to the same pressures, and he doesn't want to bring up a bill that would hurt the Democratic Party's chances of keeping the House of Representatives. Add to this the sudden nationalization of the immigration issue by the passage of Arizona's draconian new law allowing police to demand the papers of suspected illegal immigrants on sight. The Democrats reason that the politics of immigration being what they are, getting an actual bill through Congress by November is not likely. (Senator Lindsay Graham understands this, too.) What is likely is a bill that will allow Democrats who need to oppose immigration reform in theory because of its alleged "amnesty" provisions to do so -- while allowing the party, behind the scenes, to whip up the Hispanic vote and communicate to Latinos that the promise of pushing reform is being fulfilled." (Mark Ambinder/TheAtlantic)



(image via gossipcop)

"Hollywood's power elite came out to show their love for Conan O'Brien Saturday, with a slew of bold-faced names attending the Legally Prohibited from Being on Funny Television tour's stop at the Gibson Ampitheater. As O'Brien noted, the venue was 'literally just 400 yards away' from the NBC Universal west coast HQ. 'If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of bad ideas being greenlit,' Coco quipped. But plenty of showbiz A-listers though hangin' with Conan was a good idea. Particularly since O'Brien's reps at William Morris Endeavor were nice enough to throw a backstage bash before the show for a variety of celebs, producers and, of course, agents. Among those cuckoo for Coco backstage: Russell Brand and g.f. Katy Perry, Jim Carrey, Craig Robinson, 'Parks and Recreation' stars Aziz Ansari and Nick Offerman, and Jonah Hill. Behind-the-scenes types were also out in force, led by Comcast Entertainment Networks chief Ted Harbert, Katherine Pope (the ex-NBC exec who now runs Peter Chernin's TV company), 'The Office' producer Greg Daniels, his wife (and former Lifetime entertainment boss) Susanne Daniels and 'Cleveland Show' exec producer Rich Appel. Meanwhile, how's this for classy: NBC late-night chief Rick Ludwin showed up, too. Ludwin was the man who ensured Conan survived his early days at NBC, when some forces inside the network were determined to dump him." (TheWrap)



(image via Jonathan Becker/Vogue)

"Ash clouds may have stopped Bebel Gilberto, scion of the famous bossa nova family, from singing at the New Museum's Spring Gala last night, but the mood was like the dress code: anything but black. Honoring a Brazilian theme, bright tropical colors were in bloom on dresses across a palm tree-bedecked floor. Perhaps most notable among the crowd was former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, in a buoyant yellow dress designed by Francisco Costa (of Calvin Klein) that seemed to reach for summer. Rogers has been in New York this week for meetings and seemed relaxed. She was at the gala with native-born Brazilian Costa. Of her replacement as social secretary she had only kind things to say: 'I love Julianna Smoot. I think she's doing a great job.' Michelle Obama's post-Rogers outfits have been likewise 'great.' If there were any lingering hard feelings from the White House party crashers imbroglio Rogers wasn't letting on. But she will be back in Washington, DC next week, packing." (Matt Sledge/HuffPo)



(image via swiftysny)

"A beautiful, sunny Saturday with hints of rain late in the day, and spritzing after midnight into Sunday with more until mid-evening when the rains came. I went to Swifty’s to dinner, guest of Shirley Lord Rosenthal. The conversation got around to the Medical Marijuana issue in California and drug abuse and who and what. One of the guests, Dr. Mitch Rosenthal is a founder of Phoenix House. There were two other doctors at the table as well as the asst. DA, and a variety of opinions. Ironically the sentencing of the son of Michael Douglas did not come up. There are a variety of opinions about that out there also. Somehow the whole matter seems futile; a man has a very self-destructive habit, and for that he’s incarcerated. It’s a little like the olden days when if you had debt you couldn’t pay, you had to go to prison. Debt nowadays of course is quite another matter and if you can’t pay, maybe you’ll be Too Big To Fail and so Uncle Sam will keep you in marbles." (NYSocialDiary)



"David Hockney was in the Boy Scouts (motto: 'Be Prepared'), so he points out that in tailoring terms he was ready for the advent of the iPad. One of the tricky aspects of this new Apple Inc. device -- intermediate between a cell phone and a laptop in size -- is the difficulty of carrying it about. Hockney, though, has always had his suits made with a large internal jacket pocket for carrying sketch books. He demonstrates by opening the natty, paint-stained charcoal-striped number he’s wearing. Within there’s a pouch of the kind in which poachers used to hide game. This is where he tucks his iPad. In fact, he’s using this portable hi-tech gizmo in much the way he used to employ a pad of paper. It’s his latest drawing medium. A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from him reading: 'I have got an iPad, what a joy! Van Gogh would have loved it, and he could have written his letters on it as well. I do love it, I must admit,' Hockney, 72, confirms. 'I thought the iPhone was great when I bought one the year before last, but this takes it to a new level. It’s a new medium, eight times the size of the iPhone.'" (Bloomberg)



"When Thomas McMahon and his Indian backers were deciding where to locate an Asian commodities exchange, they turned initially to Hong Kong – attracted by its proximity to China and the mainland’s booming, commodity-hungry economy. Three years later, the exchange, a subsidiary of India’s Financial Technologies group, is about to open – not in Hong Kong but nearly four hours’ flying time to the south in Singapore. 'We looked at Hong Kong with a view to being able to serve the China market, but we decided that we couldn’t run a viable independent commodities exchange from there – the business environment just wasn’t right,' says Mr McMahon, a former director of Nymex Asia. 'Inversely, Singapore was very welcoming. The authorities were completely happy with the concept of an independent foreign-owned exchange competing with the existing exchange and the view seemed to be there should be a totally competitive environment, which is just what we wanted.' The city-state’s enthusiasm for what will be called the Singapore Mercantile Exchange, and its willingness to countenance potential collateral damage to the locally listed incumbent, the Singapore Exchange, neatly illustrates the business-friendly approach that is helping the island to emerge as a strong competitor to Hong Kong in the battle to be Asia’s 21st-century international business capital. Others put it more graphically. 'You walk into Changi airport and they practically give you a hedge fund start-up kit,' James de Castro, one of the founders of Hong Kong-based Asia Alternative Asset Management, told a recent conference on the island’s financial centre. The prize is huge." (FT)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Weinsteins Versus Merchant And Ivory



(image via NYTimes)

Indie film war! Who in the film industry hasn't, at some point, gone up against Harvey? The Merchant and Ivory Production of Mr and Mrs Bridge is generally regarded, among indie connoisseurs with Masterpiece Theater fetishes, as something of an artistic triumph. The film won scads of awards and award nominations for the Newman-Woodward team as well as the screenwriter, and the director. The final product might have been more "focus-tested" and less indie had Harvey Weinstein got his wretched mitts on the final script.

Harvey, we cannot fail to note, is no stranger to the rough-and-tumble. Epic were his battles with Martin Scorsese over the length and style of "Gangs of New York." Big Harv, an auteur du cinema manque (Weinstein's parents loved artists), seems to relish in fighting with real artists. What would Freud make of that, or, for that matter, the fact that he and his brother named their first pseudo-indie studio after their parents ("Miriam" + "Max," Get it?). From TheWrap:

TheWrap: Miramax and the Weinstein brothers are the big news right now. You made a film, 'Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,' with them. There were rumors of a big fight.
I’ll tell you exactly what happened. It was very tricky. They never bothered us while we were making the film -- the problems began later.

director James Ivory: When we first screened the film for them, both Bob and Harvey got up during the screening and left, and missed the last third entirely. Later on, they told us they’d had a family emergency, and then they told us the film wasn’t quite what they’d expected and that the ending was a letdown. So they were unhappy.

The Wrap: Were they right?

director James Ivory: We also felt that the ending wasn’t quite right, and ultimately we reordered the final scenes and it worked much better. But they wanted a focus group, and some of the questions on the cards were extraordinarily stupid, and then they wanted a big meeting with us to discuss the results.

So Ismail and I went to their Tribeca office, which had this huge glass wall, and they immediately started in about the cards and how this was a highly educated, Upper East Side crowd, and that we should respect their opinions as they were our audience. But I’d studied the cards very carefully beforehand, and I said, 'Their penmanship doesn’t look like that of educated people,' and Harvey went ballistic! He jumped up and began screaming, 'Penmanship? Godammit, I’ll give you f---ing penmanship!' Then Ismail jumped up and said, 'We’re taking the film back! We don’t want you to distribute it!'

The Wrap: Did they actually fight?

James Ivory: They were going to, and Ismail picked up his briefcase and slammed it against the glass wall, which shattered. Then they went down to the street, and I stayed back. But the fight actually never happened, but it was all very dramatic.


Indeed. Eventually, however, Paul Newman -- one of the stars -- backed Merchant & Ivory (according to Ivory), and Big Harv relented. The result? "We didn’t speak for years," said Ivory, "but then we patched things up over 'The Golden Bowl.'" A Hollywood ending.

Much more on director James Ivory and the state of indie film on TheWrap.

Also: New news regarding the Weinstein-Miramax talks, extended through the weekend.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image via newsweek)

"It was almost like one of those moments in a buddy-cop movie when the two partners who dislike each other at the beginning finally bond while taking on the bad guys. In mid-December Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were in Copenhagen, where the leaders of more than 100 countries had gathered to negotiate a new agreement to combat global warming, and the summit was on the verge of collapse. Clinton later described it as the most disorganized meeting she'd seen since her eighth-grade student council. It 'was just disintegrating right before everybody's eyes,' she recalled to NEWSWEEK in an interview last week. Clinton and her former political rival, now the president, found themselves up against most of the rest of the world. At the last minute Obama sought a one-on-one meeting with the Chinese leader to rescue some kind of agreement, only to be told that Premier Wen Jiabao and his team still weren't ready to meet (after two years of prior procrastination). 'No, we're going in now,' Obama declared, looking at Clinton. 'Absolutely,' she said. 'Let's go.' The former political rivals suddenly morphed into a diplomatic version of Starsky and Hutch. 'I felt a particular responsibility since I had urged the president to come,' Clinton said. 'Because I knew nothing was going to happen unless we gave it our all.' Striding down the hallway, with the Chinese protocol officer sputtering protests behind them, America's two best-known politicians barged into the meeting room. There they found Wen conferring secretly with the leaders of Brazil, India, and South Africa; behind the scenes, Beijing had been trying to block all efforts to impose standards for measuring, reporting, and verifying progress on carbon reduction. Smiling and shaking hands, Obama and Clinton worked the room together, as they had each done so many times before as contending politicians. Then the president sat down and started negotiating, with Clinton sliding position papers to him as needed. When the Chinese finally caved, both Obama and Clinton knew that it wasn't just because they had crashed the meeting." (Newsweek)



(image via blogetty)

"Simon Cowell's wealth is dwarfed by that of Lord Lloyd-Webber whose (USD $1.74 billion)fortune makes him Britain's third richest music millionaire. Both are outpaced by Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman, whose USD $2.5 billion) bank balance makes him Britain's richest music man. Cowell's £165m fortune makes him Britain's 11th richest music millionaire – although he is certainly one of the most recognisable in The Sunday Times Rich List 2010. He increased his personal fortune by (USD $69 million) in the past year, and earned more than half of his fortune from television work alone over the past two years. The X Factor judge signed a new deal with Sony in January that will earn him millions over six years, and his TV shows in the States and the UK fund his transatlantic life and lavish property portfolio. Less well known is the man at the top of the charts, Edgar Bronfman, 54, chairman and chief executive of Warner Music Group. A former songwriter who has written for Celine Dion and Dionne Warwick, Mr Bronfman now prefers to stay behind the scenes in the music industry – as does Zomba founder Clive Calder, the UK's second richest music millionaire, with a fortune of (USD $1.995 billion). The rest of the top ten in The Sunday Times Rich List 2010, however, are far more recognisable music icons." (SundayTimes)



(image via WSJ)

"'We believe in private enterprise, free market, and competition. . . . So we have to make sure there is a conducive environment for people to be creative and innovative,' (President Paul Kagame) told me last month in a suite in the West End's plush Langham Hotel. Our interview followed his debut appearance at the annual meeting of the Commonwealth, which Rwanda joined last year. Bespectacled and as twiggy as when he led the RPF, Mr. Kagame looks like an unlikely warlord. And yet this is the man—not the U.N. and not the U.S.—who led forces outnumbered two to one to defeat the genocidal government and their machete-wielding militia. Gangly in a dark gray suit, Mr. Kagame meets me precisely on time for our interview. He speaks in paragraphs, eyes wide, and without a trace of the cynicism that it seems should be his right. The overall effect is more impassioned academic than storied warrior. Don't be fooled. Asked how much of Kagame-the-general remains in Kagame-the-statesman, he replies '100%.' I laugh, but he's serious. 'My respect and enthusiasm for softness and diplomacy and negotiations—really reaching out to people—has only been growing. But it has not diminished my ability and desire and conviction to give a good fight when a fight is called for,' he says. These days, the battle he is fighting is for national prosperity." (WSJ)



(Daphne Guinness via style)

"There were green initiatives all over New York last night; Christie's got in on the action with an evening of eco-fundraising, moderated by Chevy Chase and attended by the likes of Salma Hayek, Ted Danson, Miranda Kerr, and John McEnroe. The Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth raised $1,387,000 for four environmental organizations: Conservation International, Oceana, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Central Park Conservancy ... After Chase's introduction—probably the first time in the auction house's 244-year history that opening remarks included the word 'ass'—the bidding took off. A day of golf with President Bill Clinton went for $80,000, a Damien Hirst work jumped from $14,000 to $92,000 in about 15 seconds, and Daphne Guinness got in a bidding war for David LaChapelle's The Rape of Africa. Don't worry, she took it home for a cool $45,000." (Style)



(image via mindef.gov.sg)

"As Singapore's equivalent of the U.S. director of national intelligence, who coordinates all intelligence and counterintelligence for one of the world's most important trade hubs, Peter Ho became the champion of 'mainstreaming counterterrorism.' ... Mr. Ho is a persuasive and influential force of nature in Singapore - and beyond. In addition to his national security and intelligence-coordination responsibilities, he also is head of the civil service, permanent secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and permanent secretary (special duties) in the Prime Minister's Office. What Singapore has achieved and what is tested and retested day and night is light-years beyond what is possible in the U.S without incurring the wrath of civil libertarians. But Singaporeans, almost 5 million, are remarkably self-disciplined in a seamless cultural, ethnic and religious amalgam of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences. Singapore's famed orchids are exported to Europe daily. Its high-tech exports are universally known. More than 10 million tourists a year descend on the world's most important city-state, which also is the world's top container port. With two new major resort areas, 30 million visitors are expected by 2015. Singapore Airways was the first to buy the 550-passenger Airbus 380. The city's huge hub airport puts every major U.S. airport to shame. Several American billionaires have moved out of dollars and euros and into a basket of Asian currencies based in Singapore. A weapon-of-mass-destruction act of terrorism in Singapore could disrupt world trade and trigger an economic and financial tsunami. Physical protection closely follows the Israeli model. Oil reserves and military supplies are stored underground. Man-made Jurong Island is a petrochemical hub and the world's third-largest refinery with $35 billion invested and protected like Fort Knox. Ministers' salaries top $1 million a year, a powerful disincentive to corruption." (ArnauddeBorchgrave)



"When U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison met with Lebanese officials on Wednesday, she had a mission: She was there to urge Lebanon to help avoid a new outbreak of violence between Israel and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Sison, an affable and well-liked career Foreign Service officer, was given the difficult task of both urging the Lebanese to do what they can to avoid an eruption of war and convincing them that U.S. and Israeli concerns about alleged Syrian arms transfers over the Lebanese border should be taken seriously. Arab press reports cited anonymous sources as saying Sison showed Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri photos of truck convoys, evidence of increasing and escalation weapons shipments to Hezbollah. More shockingly, the reports said that she told Lebanese officials the United States had stopped Israel from launching an imminent strike against the convoys. Neither of those details is true, according to multiple administration sources. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told The Cable that the idea American waived Israel off of a strike on Syrian weapons transfers is 'totally false,' but declined to describe the specifics of the meeting. Another U.S. official described the Arab press reports as 'bullshit.'" (TheCable/ForeignPolicy)



"The past few nights of television have brought us, among other things, Neko Case playing with Bob Dylan's son, and then Broken Social Scene on Letterman, and the Gorillaz on the Colbert Report, but most importantly, from George Lopez (who will soon be on after Conan O'Brien on TBS): Lin Yu Chun singing Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' with the one and only William Shatner. Video (if you haven't already seen it)"



"In small but significant numbers, filmmakers and casting executives are beginning to re-examine Hollywood’s attitude toward breast implants, Botox, collagen-injected lips and all manner of plastic surgery. Television executives at Fox Broadcasting, for example, say they have begun recruiting more natural looking actors from Australia and Britain because the amply endowed, freakishly young-looking crowd that shows up for auditions in Los Angeles suffers from too much sameness. 'I think everyone either looks like a drag queen or a stripper,' said Marcia Shulman, who oversees casting for Fox’s scripted shows. Independent casting directors like Mindy Marin, who worked on the Jason Reitman film 'Up in the Air,' are urging talent agents to discourage clients from having surgery, particularly older celebrities who, she contends, are losing jobs because their skin is either too taut or swollen with filler. Said Ms. Marin: 'What I want to see is real.'" (NYTimes)



"Many is the time I would review a write-up of a new deal and scribble in the margins, 'Get to the bleeping point!' Unless you can articulate, up front, exactly what assets we would be lending against, and what circumstances would cause us to lose money (i.e. a quick-and-dirty breakeven analysis), you don't really know what you're talking about. And if you don't have a good grasp of that issue, everything else you have to say is superfluous, a waste of time. This lack of common sense is pervasive, extending far beyond the financial services industry. (When, over the last seven years, have you ever heard a journalist ask, 'How many troops do we have to replace those currently deployed in Iraq?') In certain markets, most notably, CDOs, this lack of common sense was institutionalized. It's evident in the deal book for Abacus 2007 AC-1, at the center of the S.E.C.'s case against Goldman. What risks are investors assuming? The presentation doesn't say. There's a reference portfolio of 90 subprime mortgage bonds, on pages 55 and 56, which ostensibly would be insured via credit default swaps for the benefit of Goldman. But, as the small print says, 'Goldman Sachs neither represents nor provides any assurances that the actual Reference Portfolio on the Closing Date or any future date will have the same characteristics as represented above.' According to my bias, everything else in the 66-page presentation is superfluous." (Zerohedge)



"'Chances that lawmakers will reach a bipartisan compromise on financial-overhaul legislation are ‘north of 80 percent,’ Senator Mark Warner said as the measure faces a test vote in the U.S. Senate next week. Republican and Democratic negotiators will produce a deal that will ultimately get the support of ‘a number’ of Republicans, Warner, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ‘Political Capital with Al Hunt.’” (Playbook)



('ENTRANCE -- NO ENTRANCE' via artnet)

"A painting by the Russian artist Erik Bulatov last night was the top lot in a 4.1 million-pound ($6.3 million) auction of art from some of the world’s fastest- growing economies. The Non-Conformist artist’s Cyrillic word painting 'ENTRANCE -- NO ENTRANCE' fetched (USD $1.094 million) at the first sale of contemporary works from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Phillips de Pury & Co.’s 32-lot evening session of its inaugural 'BRIC’ event, held at London’s Saatchi Gallery, made a total with fees exactly in line with the presale upper estimate, based on hammer prices. Seventy-two percent of the material found buyers, with all the successful lots falling to telephone bids. The sale comes after auction prices for works by some contemporary Chinese, Indian and Russian artists had declined as much as 50 percent from the peak of the market in early 2008, with dealers now looking for signs of recovery. 'Russia and China were strong,’ Roger Tatley, senior director at the London-based Alison Jacques Gallery, said in an interview. 'The Saatchi venue was very elegant. I’m sure it was a great benefit to have the auction hung like a museum show, though it was unusual to have everything bought on the telephone. That might have had something to do with the volcanic ash grounding planes.' Bulatov’s 1994 to 1995 work, a second version of a 1970s painting now in the Pompidou Center in Paris, was one of just half a dozen lots that attracted bidding from the 100-strong audience in the room. A woman wearing grey five-inch heels speaking Russian into a cellphone was the underbidder at a price that was more than double the (USD $537,000) low estimate." (Bloomberg)



(Jennifer Rubell via style)

"The art world's eyes were as big as its stomach last night, with a pair of major museums throwing over-the-top spring fundraisers that put the food front and center. In lieu of traditional cocktails and canapés, the Brooklyn Museum had spigots protruding from blank canvases and a heap of potato chips that guests were free to drizzle with vegetable paste. Wildest of all, suspended heads made of Fontina cheese melted slowly (and pungently) onto a mound of crackers. Everyone from Diane von Furstenberg to Zac Posen stopped and gawked at that one, although to Chloë Sevigny, it was more art than appetizer: 'I don't know if I want to eat that!' she said. Dinner, inspired by the minimalism of Donald Judd, consisted of meats and vegetables piled high on plywood boxes. The feast's curator, Jennifer Rubell, left it up to guests to divvy up the 150 rabbits, 30 turkeys, and two whole pigs she'd provided, giving artist John Currin a chance to show off his carving skills. Mario Batali circulated in his signature orange Crocs, picking at snap peas and encouraging anyone who was hacking away at a carcass: 'Bravo!' Opening Ceremony hosted the carnival-themed after-party in the lobby, and dessert in the form of Hostess pastries spilled out of a 20-foot-tall piñata of Andy Warhol's head." (Style)



(AP photo composite by POLITICO)

"The White House is engaged in an aggressive effort to reassure Jewish leaders that the tense relationship between the Obama administration and the Israeli government that has played out in public in the past few months does not signify any fundamental change in U.S. policy. Concern within the administration over the domestic repercussions of the recent clashes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government reached a critical point about 10 days ago, as Israel was about to mark its 62nd year of independence. Since then, administration officials have mounted what amounts to a public relations blitz trying to rectify what they have come to believe is largely a perception problem that Obama is being unreasonably tough or even hostile to Israel — not a substantive disagreement over its Middle East policies. There is some evidence the reassurances are working: AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, issued a statement Friday saying that the president and 'top members of his administration and senior military leaders have highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and reaffirmed that a strong and secure Israel advances U.S. national security interests.' But the dimensions of Obama’s public relations problems were made plain Thursday by the criticism New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the administration’s closest allies, leveled at the president." (Politico)



"Is it possible to taste minerals in fermented grape juice? Can the roots of the grape vine somehow transmit characteristics of soil and bedrock to the grape itself? Is it a gross abuse of poetic license to detect marine elements in a wine grown on a former Jurassic seabed? You may never have asked these questions, but they go to the heart of the French notion of terroir—the idea that wine is a function of its place of origin. Nowhere do these questions seem more relevant than in Chablis ...Chablis is a great food wine, although some true believers seem to hate to mix it up with solids. Beastie Boy Mike Diamond, a serious fan of Chablis, says, 'It pairs so well with so many foods, yet it's almost an injustice to share a really good Dauvissat or Raveneau with food; I kind of prefer to hog it all to myself, savoring every sip.'" (JAY MCINERNEY/WSJ)



(image via g-8.de)

"The Kyrgyzstan events were handled as smoothly as we have seen an uprising managed in quite a while. The Russians are not hiding their satisfaction, nor are they privately denying their role in it. Therefore the most important question is, what is next? We hear from the region that there is a great deal of nervousness. The assumption is that this is part of a string of actions and not a one-off event. Uzbekistan is one country mentioned. Georgia is another. It is important for the Russians not to fumble, or the sense of inevitability that they are depending on will evaporate. We have to look for the vulnerable countries, not necessarily the most desirable, such as the Baltics ... The Polish president has been buried, and the plane crash’s geopolitical significance will fade. Poland can’t change its grand strategy based on Russian sympathy and it won’t. We are back to watching the U.S. relationship with Poland and the German relationship to Russia. That’s where the next moves will happen, particularly on the latter." (Stratfor)



(image via artexpertswebsite)

"Suddenly Rothko is everywhere, and it’s safe to say he would have liked that. In New York, everyone wants to see Red, John Logan’s play about the artist. In London, the play and Alfred Molina’s confrontational performance for the Donmar Warehouse predictably triggered an outbreak of eye-rolling among the Art Classes. The prospect of yet another melodrama featuring a heroically tormented painter trowelling on the angst in heavy pigment, and monologues about nailing the Tragic to the canvas, brought on an attack of sneering at romantic platitudes; much muttering about Sturm und Drang for the middlebrow. But on the other side of the Atlantic, Rothko’s own side, the play has been received as deep, dark and moving, much like the artist’s late works. As it happens, that’s the right response. Whether the myths make the man or vice-versa, there are some artists who actually do live with the old burden of the melancholy temperament, richly chronicled in Rudolf and Margot Wittkower’s wonderful 1963 anthology of artistic gloom, Born Under Saturn. Rothko’s humour had more than its fair share of black bile, and wherever his painterly impulse took him, it was, by his own account, always engaged in the struggle to register the sacrificial and destructive habits ingrained in the human condition. The pleasure principle he despised." (Simon Schama/FT)



(image via theeconomist)

"Analysts wondering where Turkey is coming from and in which direction it is headed might like to consider the art scene. It says a great deal, untrammeled by political discourse. Turks are now scrutinizing their past as never before and, ironically enough, auction house experts are the only ones who truly respond to this phenomenon. For the first time in market history, three out of the four auction catalogs that dealt last week with the so-called 'Islamic world' ran a Turkish work of art on the cover. At Christie’s, which opened the round of auctions on its King Street premises, this was a faience tile that once formed part of a wall revetment in a late-16th-century structure that specialists are unable to identify. The monument, or at least part of it, has probably vanished. The tile doubled the highest expectations as the price reached £23,750, or about $36,400, despite some damage candidly acknowledged in the catalog. The day after, Sotheby’s also played the Ottoman card." (IHT)