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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Before the recession, it was relatively easy to ignore this concentration of wealth among an elite few. The wondrous inventions of the modern economy—Google, Amazon, the iPhone—broadly improved the lives of middle-class consumers, even as they made a tiny subset of entrepreneurs hugely wealthy. And the less-wondrous inventions—particularly the explosion of subprime credit—helped mask the rise of income inequality for many of those whose earnings were stagnant. But the financial crisis and its long, dismal aftermath have changed all that. A multibillion-dollar bailout and Wall Street’s swift, subsequent reinstatement of gargantuan bonuses have inspired a narrative of parasitic bankers and other elites rigging the game for their own benefit. And this, in turn, has led to wider—and not unreasonable—fears that we are living in not merely a plutonomy, but a plutocracy, in which the rich display outsize political influence, narrowly self-interested motives, and a casual indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic bubble. Through my work as a business journalist, I’ve spent the better part of the past decade shadowing the new super-rich: attending the same exclusive conferences in Europe; conducting interviews over cappuccinos on Martha’s Vineyard or in Silicon Valley meeting rooms; observing high-powered dinner parties in Manhattan. Some of what I’ve learned is entirely predictable: the rich are, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously noted, different from you and me." (Chrystia Freeland)


"Regardless, today Warren (Beatty) is a neutered swan. His wife works and he smiles. He is a greatest hits tribute reel, a plaque — a semi-soft erection of a towering skyscraper. A marvel of how far talent and nepotism and, above all, charm, can and will take you, along with a guardian bromance halo around your efforts at all times. But more than anything else, I’ll remember his silly b-roll backstage with Madonna during Truth or Dare, and how the two were playing each other, and it all being so over for him and just peaking for her, and in a way, it was like he passed the torch in that black and white footage to his Pagan successor backstage (maybe it was before 'Hanky Panky,' maybe he waited until 'Express Yourself') — because he knew he had run, if not dry, at least sandy. Ishtar as a man. And soon after that, Annette Bening slunk, catlike, onto the set of Bugsy, and her job was easy then. Madonna had stretched him out, gotten him ready — the rest was in Annette’s capable hands. It was all over." (Julie Klausner / The Hairpin)


(image via intelfuturist)

"When ESPN announced a high-definition channel nine years ago, its executives barely knew about the Consumer Electronics Association. By the time it was ready to announce a three-dimensional channel last year, the network elected to break the news at the association’s Consumer Electronics Show, or C.E.S. This week at C.E.S., it is following up by announcing that ESPN 3-D will start broadcasting 24 hours a day, giving 3-D television buyers more to watch. ESPN’s embrace of C.E.S. attests to the importance of the show that begins this week for media and technology companies alike. Nowhere is there a better display of the symbiotic relationship between entertainment and electronics. 'You have to know what the screens are today, and what the screens are going to be in the future, and where you do that is C.E.S.,' said Bryan Burns, who is leading ESPN’s 3-D push. When the trade show officially starts on Thursday, media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Jeffrey Bewkes will be inspecting new tablets and Internet-connected television sets and meeting with allies and partners like Google and Verizon. They will be discussing new ways to distribute content — always with an eye toward maintaining control over it." (Brian Stelter)


"Newark police say images of a visibly disoriented (John P. Wheeler), a 66-year-old Beltway insider who had worked in four presidential administrations, were captured on surveillance videotape in downtown Wilmington as late as 8:30 p.m. on December 30, the night before his body was spotted at a local landfill. The night before that, Wheeler, a West Point, Yale, and Harvard grad who helped create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, wandered into a New Castle pharmacy at 6 p.m. and asked the startled pharmacist for a ride to the Wilmington train station, the Wilmington News Journal reported. Wheeler, who often commuted between Washington, New York, and Wilmington, owned a waterfront duplex that he inherited from his brother in the historic area known as Old New Castle, located about half a mile away. Forty minutes later, several employees of the New Castle County Courthouse parking garage noticed a disheveled Wheeler, without a coat and holding one shoe in his hand, searching for his car and a place to stay warm. After the former special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force’s body was discovered, his car was located in another Wilmington parking lot. Friends of Wheeler’s told The Daily Beast that they were unaware of any health problems that might be related to such uncharacteristic and bizarre behavior." (TheDailyBeast)


"The first Wednesday after the holidays in Michael’s was a little tamer than the usual Wednesday, although not what you’d call a slow day (and busier than last year), with plenty of the familiar faces and likely suspects. The Boys in the Front Room at table one: Dr. Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andrew Bergman, Michael Kramer. Across the way Tina Brown was lunching with a guest. Across the other way Deborah Roberts and Al Roker (husband and wife in real life) were lunching a deux. Nearby Sydney Shuman and Lorna Graev were seated at the table frequently used by Sydney’s husband Stan Shuman. Also Jared Kushner, Lisa Linden with Kevin Fullington; Leonard Lauder, John Sykes, Richard Bressler (Thomas Lee private equity head), Larry Bernstein of New York magazine; Judy Price just returned from the holidays in Paris; Randy Jones and former colleague David Kahn of the Wall Street Journal. Also nearby Candy Pratts Price, the fashion guru; Pat Mitchell, President of the Paley Center; Bob Sherman with Dieidre Imus, Michael Yuddin, Richard Gottleib." (NYSocialDiary)


"If you're a fan of Bill Murray, you're going to love this story. One of our users named Mike (pictured above) is a very lucky man. I was sent these photo after he and his friends went out to have a few drinks at their local Karaoke bar, Karaoke One 7 in NYC. Shortly after their arrival, Mike noticed that a couple women had just walked into the place with a man that looked a lot like… Bill Murray?! The crew went out to confirm that the man, was in fact, Bill Murray himself. Mike's friend even mustered the courage to invite Bill to chill in their room, but they just laughed it off. There's no way that was going to happen." (TheChive)


"And so it begins. House Republicans have vowed to cut $100 billion from the federal budget. Of course, they're making exceptions for Social Security, Medicare, defense, and homeland security. Which means that the tiny slice that remains has to be subject to a 20% cut or more. And then, when you start to look at the programs they plan to cut, all of them either have strong lobbies, strong policy rationales, or both. Here's George Will a couple days ago making the case that Republicans should not cut funding for scientific research. And there's a furious (and also persuasive) response against cutting transportation infrastructure.." (TNR)



"​I was at the forefront of trumpeting Lisa Edelstein back when she was a club regular calling herself Lisa E, in the Palladium days of creative partying and persuasive posing. And now, years later, cameras are following the woman in a bigger way; she's the costar of House and a familiar face in everyone's home. Above is an extremely vivid photo by Wolfgang Wesener of me, Lisa, and World of Wonder's Stephen Saban (her other early trumpeter) at a birthday party Lisa had over a year ago in the NYC pad she spends part of the year at." (Musto)


"Simon & Schuster is quietly publishing an anonymously authored novel called O: A Presidential Novel. It's rumored to be about what Obama would have to do to win re-election in 2012, and the Telegraph reports it was written by someone with 'vast personal knowledge.' It will be published January 25 and is 368 pages long, according to Amazon. There has been zero promotion from Simon & Schuster, and reps are keeping their lips sealed." (Observer)


"Few major businesses are led by 66-year-olds who won't even hint at who will succeed them or when they might step down. But that has been the approach at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and a passel of other Wall Street private-equity firms, where a generation of buyout billionaires still rules the roost—and has no plans of stepping down. The average chief executive officer of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 is 56 years old, says executive-placement firm Spencer Stuart. At KKR, Henry Kravis is 66, and partner George Roberts, 67. Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone Group LP is 63; his heir apparent, Tony James, will turn 60 next month. Leon Black of Apollo Global Management turns 60 in July. TPG co-founder David Bonderman is 68. Donald Gogel, chief executive of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, is 61; the firm's chairman, Joseph Rice, is 79. And the triumvirate running Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein, William Conway and Daniel D'Aniello, are 61, 61, and 64, respectively. The issue of succession is of growing importance to clients. Many of them laud the veteran investors for years of good returns, and hope the executives continue in their roles. At the same time, they fret about how the firms are planning for the future. Of concern: Whether the next generation of deal makers might bolt if they don't get the chance to grab the reins." (WSJ)

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