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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"This time it's different. It's certainly true that America has been through cycles of declinism in the past. Campaigning for the presidency in 1960, John F. Kennedy complained, 'American strength relative to that of the Soviet Union has been slipping, and communism has been advancing steadily in every area of the world.' Ezra Vogel's Japan as Number One was published in 1979, heralding a decade of steadily rising paranoia about Japanese manufacturing techniques and trade policies. In the end, of course, the Soviet and Japanese threats to American supremacy proved chimerical. So Americans can be forgiven if they greet talk of a new challenge from China as just another case of the boy who cried wolf. But a frequently overlooked fact about that fable is that the boy was eventually proved right. The wolf did arrive -- and China is the wolf. The Chinese challenge to the United States is more serious for both economic and demographic reasons. The Soviet Union collapsed because its economic system was highly inefficient, a fatal flaw that was disguised for a long time because the USSR never attempted to compete on world markets. China, by contrast, has proved its economic prowess on the global stage. Its economy has been growing at 9 to 10 percent a year, on average, for roughly three decades. It is now the world's leading exporter and its biggest manufacturer, and it is sitting on more than $2.5 trillion of foreign reserves. Chinese goods compete all over the world. This is no Soviet-style economic basket case." (ForeignPolicy)



"'Little Fockers' may have attracted some stinking reviews -- but the comedy scored a huge payday for its cast, with about $70 million going for salaries. While the current US box office stands at about $105 million, the film will need to pack more theaters to cover A-list star salaries that sources say amounted to $20 million each for Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, $15 million for Owen Wilson and $7 million for Barbra Streisand. Even Dustin Hoffman, who plays Greg Focker's father, Bernie, managed to negotiate a $7.5 million deal after Universal reshoots were needed at the last minute and he was begged to join. And Jessica Alba is thought to have been paid about $3 million ... Another source told us, 'Universal decided on a reshoot at the last minute, and Hoffman's character was needed for some new scenes. They couldn't originally agree on terms with Hoffman, so for the reshoot he could basically name his price -- which was $7.5 million for five days' work." (PageSix)


"After the financial crisis, the G7 was replaced by the G20. This change brought no challenge to America's global military supremacy. But the rules of the economic road are a different story and the new geopolitical order is shaped not by a military balance but by an economic one. This new world order marks the end of a decades-long agreement on how the global economy should function. This is world-changing indeed, because the dominant economic trend of the last half century, globalization, now faces a direct challenge from geopolitics. The rise of this new order will have a profound impact on nearly all of the world's big-picture, long-term trends. A lack of coordinated governance on key economic issues will become entrenched and give rise to lasting international conflict. States and corporations will become more closely aligned in both developed and developing states. Most significantly, we'll see a shift in the highest levels of global conflict to the region where globalization and geopolitics collide with greatest force: for the past twenty years, the sharpest geopolitical tensions were to be found in the Middle East; we'll now see a decisive and long-term shift of those tensions to Asia. All the risks we're looking at in 2011—conflict from the North Korean succession process, the unwillingness of China to budge under international pressure, the lack of political and economic coordination in Europe, currency controls intensifying global economic misalignment, the geopolitics of cybersecurity—are intensified by this transition to a new world order." (EurasiaGroup)



"I went down to Michaels to lunch with Lydia Fenet who is Senior Vice President, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s ... Lydia’s been doing it for a few years now. I was impressed the night I saw her in action by her easy ability to relate, sometimes focusing on certain bidders with a humorous chiding or poking so that everyone enjoyed the process. The men in the audience are the most obvious targets for raising the bidding. Often the highest bidders are those who have no intention of buying anything but become engaged by the auctioneer’s focus. Spotting them is part of the auctioneer’s art. I saw this happen that night at Martha Stewart’s. It was not only amusing to watch but very effective: she raised tens of thousands with four items. She also told me that rarely do celeb auctioneers become salesroom auctioneers. That image is practically owned by men in their black tie or bespoke suits of charcoal grey or black, white shirts, blue ties. The atmosphere where the bidding for a picture or a piece of art or furniture can run into the tens of millions; is no laff-riot." (NYSocialDiary)

"'I didn't feel like I was being interviewed for a job,' said the AP's Ron Fournier, about the lunch that would lead to his becoming the next editor of National Journal. 'It was not a job interview,' said The New Republic's Michelle Cottle, about meeting Tina Brown for coffee before agreeing to go to work for her at Newsweek. 'It wasn't an afterthought, exactly, but ...' said GQ's Joel Lovell, about the job offer from Hugo Lindgren at The New York Times Magazine. The two friends had been talking about how to reinvent the title so much that when they made it official, the moment was a bit of an anticlimax. Three major media moves of 2010; three courtships best described as 'meh.' Can't a sought-after journalist at least eke out a fancy meal these days? 'The days of going to the Four Seasons and wooing someone are over,' Mr. Lovell said via cell phone from a coffee shop in Brooklyn, where he was nursing a nasty bout of pneumonia." (Observer)


"This controversial Real Housewives star is about to have some added drama in her life. The tabloids are working overtime to get a bunch of stories about our Housewife and her glory days as a hooker. Not anyone in New York or New Jersey." (CaDN)


"HBO has put in development Muscle, a single-camera comedy from Blue Valentine co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance about the subculture of contemporary professional bodybuilding. It is based on Sam Fussell's memoir Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder, which chronicles his four-year stint as a full-time bodybuilder after graduating from Oxford. Cianfrance and Fussell will co-write the script, with Cianfrance attached to direct. Both will also co-executive produce, while Blue Valentine producer Jamie Patricof is executive producing with John Lesher and Adam Kassan." (Deadline)


"There are a few specific fears that rich people in posh cities all over the world are experiencing right now. First and foremost, they’re fretting over the fact that they’ll never have as much money to spend as the mysterious Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Of course, no one knows exactly what kind of fortune Abramovich has managed to amass for himself (estimates range anywhere from $10 billion to more than $20 billion), but it’s clear he possesses the ability to establish ever higher standards for luxury, and other billionaires are beginning to get nervous that they can’t keep up. News of the Russian tycoon’s latest celebration at his $90 million home in St. Bart’s made headlines everywhere. The event was an impressive gathering of A-listers from around the globe, where even the hired help could boast of rubbing shoulders with special guests The Black Eyed Peas. And all of this talk of extravagance ignores Abramovich’s unparalleled fleet of yachts, some of which typically winter in the harbor not far from his oceanfront estate. The newest addition to the flotilla, reports say, is a 500-plus-foot behemoth that officially claims the title of Largest Private Yacht in the World." (VanityFair)

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