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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Since taking the reins of the world's premier consultative group (G-20), (Nicholas) Sarkozy and his advisers have outlined an array of problems they'd like to tackle, including restructuring the international monetary system to decrease reliance on the dollar as a reserve currency, coordinating development strategies, controlling skyrocketing food prices, and perhaps even reforming the U.N. Security Council. Shortly before Sarkozy's arrival in Washington, Brazil's finance minister again warned about what he described as currency manipulation and insisted that the G-20 refocus on that problem. Even as Sarkozy bends Obama's ear about agenda items and crafts his strategy, there's a growing feeling that the G-20's finest days may be behind it. Sarkozy has strong domestic political incentives for making his turn at the head of the G-20 (and the G-8, which France is concurrently chairing) as dramatic and consequential as possible. He's facing what looks to be a tough reelection battle, and a star turn on the international stage could help boost sagging poll numbers (and strengthen him against a potential challenge from current International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn). That political dynamic, and Sarkozy's own somewhat manic personality, mean that France's time at the head of the G-20 is likely to be frenetic, or at least appear so. The French president may have to fight to keep the G-20 in the spotlight. Some of the most ambitious but less plausible agenda items, notably Security Council reform, have already fallen by the wayside." (ForeignPolicy)


"Last Friday’s Diary about the girl panhandling on Fifth Avenue (1.7.11) drew the greatest number of responses we’ve ever had in our ten years on the NYSD. We’re going to run a few of them here because of the variety of the responses, all of which are thought provoking. Panhandling is nothing new in New York. When I first came here out of college in the 1960s, they were almost always alcoholic men in worn, wrinkled, dirt-stained clothing, scruffy, down and out. There was one man who often passed through my neighborhood (the East 80s) who despite his disheveled appearance, had a stentorian manner in his request for 'two bits' (a quarter), positively elegant in expressing his thanks for a buck. This wit served him, as he was amusing. It was generally assumed that most working the streets and avenues lived in the flophouses on the Bowery – which was, in those days, the bottom of the barrel, residence-wise. Only 'bums' (which is what they were called) lived in (or on) the Bowery. In the late 1970s when New York was suffering from a great financial crisis, there were times when the streets of the city were full of homeless people desperate just for a place to sit or lie down – which often meant the middle of the sidewalk -- so that you’d often have to walk around or step over them." (NYSocialDiary)


"HBO’s pol-chat salon, Real Time With Bill Maher, is a successor of sorts to Maher’s late-night ABC roundtable, Politically Incorrect, which ended its eight-year run in 2002, pursuant to, as Maher calls them, 'the tragic events of 9/17.' (The night Maher agreed with a conservative pundit that the September 11 hijackers had not been cowardly, which caused advertisers to desert the show.) As it turns out, the move to HBO was all silver lining, no clouds. Premium cable ended up freeing Maher and his weekly guests (a motley assemblage of outspoken celebrities, politicos, and intellectuals—pointedly both liberal and conservative) to be even more politically incorrect. On the most recent season, which ended November 12, Maher arguably hit his cantankerous apex as he skewered President Obama’s neo-Camelot, to say nothing of Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell (who first proclaimed her witchcraft dabbling on Politically Incorrect), and the tea-baggers—gifts that will keep on giving during his new season, beginning January 14." (NYMag)


"President Obama was due to host a lavish dinner for Saudi Arabia's recuperating King Abdullah in New York today -- but postponed their meeting following the Arizona tragedy. Obama was to dine with the king, who's recovering from back surgery, and 20 others at The Plaza hotel's Oak Room early this evening. Sources tell us the Plaza was due to be locked down for five hours for Obama's dinner with Abdullah, whose entourage has taken over the hotel's fourth-floor suites .... The king, 86, underwent surgery at New York Presbyterian in November for a herniated disc complicated by a blood clot on his spine. He left the hospital in December and moved to the Waldorf-Astoria to recover. But sources said he's since taken up the Plaza's entire fourth floor for his entourage, including his personal chef." (PageSix)


"Following yesterday's meteoric 240 percent rise on the back of a Twitter endorsement from rapper 50 Cent, shares of penny-ante marketing company H & H Imports opened substantially lower this morning and were lately down 18 percent at 32 cents. Looks like some investors decided it was time to take some profits after that huge ramp-up; it's what a responsible investor would do. By the New York Post's reckoning, yesterday's trading netted the entertainment mogul somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.7 million. Meanwhile, 50 Cent remains on Twitter, encouraging his millions of followers to continue the conversation he's started. 'I only want entrepreneurs on my time line. We gonna talk money trade ideas and make it big,' he tweets. Looks like he's taking a page out of the Stockpickr or StockTwits playbook. He's also getting a little more defiant, retweeting one fan's comment: "those who dont take your ventures serious are silly haters & must be poor business people." This is a departure from last night's broadcast, during which he urged investor caution." (Observer)

"Steven Soderbergh has confirmed on a podcast with NFL Network's Rich Eisen that he will indeed retire. That will happen, he said, after he directs Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in Liberace, and possibly makes his swan song The Man From Uncle with George Clooney (he hopes). He'll soon open the action espionage film Haywire with mixed martial arts star Gina Carano and wrapped Contagion with Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law. As a fan of Soderbergh's work, from sex, lies and videotape to Out of Sight and others, my first reaction is that while there may be directors out there who might consider retirement, Soderbergh isn't among them. My theory: he chose to lay out his plans to a sportscaster because he's following the Brett Favre playbook. That starts with a tearful retirement announcement, and an eventual return whenever a good offer or boredom sets in. Since Soderbergh doesn't have to worry about being face-planted into the turf by 300-pound defensive linemen, he can retire and un-retire into his 70s." (Deadline)

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