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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Naming is as old as countries. Historically most countries have ‘accidentally’ obtained their name from the peoples or tribes living on them, from empires and kings ruling over them, from physical and geographical features found on them, or from a specific word in the indigenous language of the country’s natives. However, it hasn’t been rare either to name countries with a specific and deliberate intention to convey a particular identity, an idea of them. Examples abound – just think about Costa Rica, Liberia, Greenland or the United Kingdom. They all are names chosen to project an idea just like in a corporation. They were named just like you would name companies and brands such as Lexus, Liberty Mutual, Natura or United Airlines. Just like corporations, some countries have considered changing the names of their countries, like Lithuania and Slovenia. A country now facing the issue of country naming is Southern Sudan, which is a projected country that could make its appearance in early 2011. Next month, a referendum on independence will be celebrated and in case the secessionist option wins on the plebiscite, this region is expected to upgrade to statehood. But it has yet to find a name for the country. Southern Sudan is mostly populated by Catholics of black African race who are ethnically similar to other populations in former Eastern African colonies such as Kenya or Uganda, while Northern Sudan has been penetrated and dominated by Muslims of Arab ethnic stock. The current government in the region, called the Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, has already set up most of the institutions needed for sovereignity, but it still does not know how the new state will be called." (Nation Branding)


"SOME people say hello when they run into a friend at a restaurant. For Andy Cohen, a Bravo executive and talk show host, hello would be boring. It would be flat. It would not reflect his oversize pleasure in the smallest of surprises, the magnitude of the serendipity, as he sees it. 'No. Way,' Mr. Cohen said to Prabal Gurung, standing up to greet the fashion designer, when he realized they were seated at nearby tables at a West Village restaurant on a Thursday night in December. 'I can’t believe this.' That two successful creative types would show up on the same night at Morandi, the newest of Keith McNally’s celebrity-magnet restaurants, hardly strains credulity. To the contrary, it is difficult to imagine the Thursday night when Mr. Cohen, who has been working, dating (men) and socializing with what he calls 'show folk' for two straight decades, would not run into someone high profile who considered him a friend at any of the West Village restaurants or bars he frequents. An insider among insiders with a relentless nightlife pace, Mr. Cohen nonetheless transmits a never-ending display of amazed delight, a wide-eyed enthusiasm that suggests New York holds as much glamour for him now as it did when he first arrived from St. Louis in his early 20s." (NYTimes)



"Who isn't obsessed with celebrity? My Rupert Murdoch may be your Angelina Jolie may be her Sarah Jessica Parker, but in all cases our appetites can never be satiated. Tell me more, more and more! Even Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, an assistant professor at USC's School of Policy, Planning and Development, is obsessed; so much so that she has written Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity, a data-driven excursion into the image-drenched world of the media, paparazzi, publicists and the flesh and blood they feed on. Never before has so much statistical analysis been brought to bear on the likes of Britney Spears, Clint Eastwood and Lara Flynn Boyle and the subtle but meaningful differences between A-, B- and C-list celebrities. In her first book, The Warhol Economy, Currid-Halkett explored how New York's economy was shaped by celebrity culture. 'I discovered that where they partied and went to dinner really, really mattered to their careers,' she says. For Starstruck, she wanted a more systematic way of analyzing the celebrity milieu. Using the vast archive of Getty Images' event photos, she was able to track the social behavior of the stars through their parties. 'Getty is so good at documenting who's in the photographs, when the photo was taken, what event and so forth that the caption info was all I needed,' she says." (Papermag)



"Iranians, it was once said, are afflicted by a unique strain of melancholy: Those who live in Iran dream of leaving, while those who were exiled dream of going back. When 44-year-old Alireza Pahlavi, the youngest son of the late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, took his life on Tuesday, it was undeniably attributable in part to a demoralizing malady, chronic depression, which he may have inherited from his father. But it was also an undeniable aftershock of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, whose reverberations are still being felt today. A country like Iran that has repeatedly been subjected to public heartbreak over the last few decades -- most notably the loss of over 200,000 native sons in the ruinous eight-year war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- naturally confronts the self-inflicted death of a child of privilege with mixed feelings. As is often the case, however, Alireza Pahlavi's great privileges were coupled with equally profound misfortune. Until he was 12, he had experienced a fairy-tale childhood as a scion of one of the world's richest and most powerful monarchs." (ForeignPolicy)

"Born in Westport, Conn., (Jeff) Northrop, 25, was raised on the water. His father was a fly-fishing guide who also sold watercraft. Instead of aspiring to work in the family business, Northrop armed himself with an economics degree from Columbia University, and in 2009 took a job as an analyst at Exis. He quickly became disillusioned monitoring the portfolio manager's list of stocks and futures. And then there was the work environment. 'The office had like 15 different climate zones,' remembers Northrop. 'Depending on [his boss's] stress level, he would want it warmer or colder.' He left within six months. Around this time, Northrop's father discovered his family owned a sizable acreage of oyster beds near their Westport property. His father had been selling mollusks to local restaurants, but Northrop suggested expanding the business by offering oysters to posh Manhattan restaurants. With $100,000 of his and his father's savings—plus $35,000 from a former Exis colleague—Northrop incorporated Westport Aquaculture (now called New York Oyster Co.) in July 2010. An early break came when a friend introduced him to the owner of Lavo, a recently opened Midtown playpen for aspiring jet-setters. Northrop soon began approaching other potential customers cold. Barry Frish, sous-chef at Tribeca's Marc Forgione, remembers Northrop's boldness. 'Walking through the door with a box of oysters on ice was definitely a selling point,' he says. Now the company supplies 35 restaurants, including Manhattan stalwarts such as Daniel and Balthazar. While Northrop says his company will sell $450,000 worth of oysters this year, he's not satisfied. His longer-term objective—a marriage of his past and present careers—is to raise money to invest in sustainable fish farms. 'My end goal,' he says, 'is to create the world's first aquaculture hedge fund.'" (Businessweek)


"The TV reboot of Wonder Woman is being postponed. David E. Kelley's high-profile take on the female superhero has been shelved after not landing a deal at a broadcast network because of what sources called unfortunate timing. The project hails from DC sibling Warner Bros. TV where Kelley is based with an overall deal. The Practice creator Kelley had been looking to do a contemporary take on the World War II-era Amazon, and at the end of September, he met with the DC team, who also had been looking for ways to launch a new Wonder Woman TV franchise. Soon after the meeting, Kelley started working on a pilot script, which, like his other recent projects, was written on spec. The script was reportedly taken out to the broadcast networks on Wednesday night. Fox and ABC passed, while WBTV's sister network the CW could not afford it. While the project was never considered a fit for Fox and was taken to the network mostly out of courtesy, the ABC pass was more politically motivated. With its empowered female lead, Wonder Woman seems well suited for for the network, but word is a potential DC-Marvel clash got in the way. ABC parent Disney acquired Marvel last year for $4 billion, and ABC and Marvel have been busy developing Marvel properties, including a Hulk series with Guillermo del Toro and David Eick and an adaptation of a Marvel female superhero, Jessica Jones, with Twilight writer Melissa Rosenberg. This left CBS and NBC in play." (Deadline)


"Of all the places I might have expected to have lunch with architect Rem Koolhaas, Venice ranks low on the list. I could have imagined London, where he used to live and study; perhaps Rotterdam, where he now lives and works; maybe Hong Kong, where he spends a week a month, or Moscow, where he has helped establish a new architecture school. Almost any metropolis, in fact, that struggles with the problems and contradictions of modernity, of the endless, formless space of contemporary consumption, the themes that Koolhaas incessantly explores in his architecture. But not picturesque, decaying Venice. And definitely not outside a tiny trattoria on the Via Garibaldi, the city’s last remaining artery reserved for locals. We didn’t book (his assistant gets an earful for this), so we try to find an available table. As we sit down, Koolhaas removes his watch and puts it on the table, which makes me a little nervous. To compound my unease, my recorder is giving up. As I fiddle with it two people stop to greet him. He suggests we sit the other way round, so his back rather than mine is to the street. It works. I can’t help remembering a famous story – possibly apocryphal but probably not – that Koolhaas used to ask waiters for the ugliest thing on the menu. But on this occasion he simply asks for a pizza marinara with anchovies, no cheese." (FT)


"Israel’s departing intelligence chief said he believes Iran will not be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015 at the earliest, Israeli news media reported Friday, in a revised and surprisingly upbeat assessment of Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. The new assessment could reduce international fears of a confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program, at least temporarily. Israel has warned that it might launch airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites, and many fear that Tehran’s retaliation could set off a regional war. The assessment, which pushed back other Israeli estimates by a year or more, was based on the obstacles Iran has faced, including technical difficulties and covert action against its nuclear program by intelligence agencies, the Israeli news reports said. Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israeli, American and European officials believe it is intended to produce nuclear weapons. Last year, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union approved a tough new round of economic sanctions on Iran after diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program failed. Two of Israel’s major newspapers, Yediot Aharonot and Maariv, gave prominent coverage to the retirement of the intelligence chief, Meir Dagan, in their Friday editions, highlighting his achievements on the Iranian front after eight years as director of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service." (NYTimes)


"​I won't even put his name because there'll probably be another one in a few months. But what do you think of this chronic 'cougar' situation for the superstar singer/director? Before you start throwing proverbial rocks of outrage, let me say I think it's absolutely fine, actually. Madonna is completely entitled to enjoy herself with some unretouched flesh. The only tragedy comes if you start thinking you're 24, or thinking this is some kind of balanced true love for the ages." (Musto)


"Restaurant legend Elaine Kaufman directed in her will that her ashes be scattered on Second Avenue, the location of her famous uptown eatery.  Kaufman, who died Dec. 3 at 81, wrote in her last will and testament: 'It is my desire that, upon my death, my body be cremated . . . I direct that my ashes be spread over Second Avenue of New York City.' The only problem is that it's illegal to spread ashes in a public place -- and it might not be an appetizing option for the clientele of her literary landmark cafe. Herbert Nass, a probate attorney and author of 'Wills of the Rich and Famous,' told us, 'It is illegal under health-code law. You can't just take someone's ashes and spread them willy-nilly. Ashes need to be buried or kept in an urn, and not spread publicly ... He added that no decision had been made about Elaine's art collection, which is said to be extremely valuable and includes works by her famous friends and clientele." (PageSix)


"Media and technology companies cozied up to each other at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, touting their collaborations on stage and flaunting their friendships at private parties all along the Las Vegas Strip. Talks progressed on a number of potential deals. News Corp 's 20th Century Fox continued talks with hardware makers, including Samsung Electronics Co., to license a slate of Fox TV shows to tablet computers and the application stores on Internet-connected TVs, said people familiar with the situation. The deals would allow consumers to either download or stream some Fox shows, which include the 'Family Guy' and 'The Cleveland Show.' Samsung declined to comment. But media and technology executives who met behind closed doors this week encountered a range of issues that are still keeping both camps apart. They suggest that even as media companies experiment with more distribution models, they are going to continue to be cautious about striking deals with technology companies as they sort out the impact of rapid technology changes on their businesses." (WSJ)

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