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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In the past 24 hours, WikiLeaks has released three additional cables that the New York Times says 'offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called Qadhafi Incorporated.' The dictator's children were all the beneficiaries of income streams from the National Oil Company. What did they do with their wealth and power? Hire American pop stars like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and Usher to perform at New Year's parties in St. Barts, build their own militia, and cover up domestic abuse." (NYMag)


"A meeting between a dictator's son and a senior Cabinet minister at a classic English shooting party revealed how deeply the Gaddafi regime wormed its way into the British Establishment. The weekend took place in 2009 at Waddesdon Manor, the Buckinghamshire home owned by financier Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a guest of financier Nat Rothschild and Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary who was virtual deputy to Gordon Brown. The peer and Saif are said to have got on well and met again at the Rothschild holiday home in Corfu, where Lord Mandelson stayed for a week and discussed the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was freed days later. Saif is Muammar Gaddafi's third son and heir apparent. (London School of Economics) educated, he owns a home in Hampstead with eight bedrooms, indoor pool, sauna and cinema. Last year Saif claimed Tony Blair was a 'personal family friend' who had visited Libya many times, becoming an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi over the fund that manages Libya's £65 billion oil wealth." (ThisisLondon)


(image via NYSD)

"I went to lunch at Michael’s with Kitt Shapiro. We met through Susan Fales-Hill. She and Kitt are old close friends. They both went to Lycee Francais here in New York when they were kids. Kitt’s mother was Eartha Kitt, the legendary chanteuse who became very famous in the early 1950s with the song C’est Si Bon, which she introduced in Leonard Sillman’s New Faces of 1952 on Broadway. She was 25 then and already had almost a decade of show business in her CV." (NYSocialDiary)


"A certain amount of grumbling is par for the course in the media business these days—an ambient hum so pervasive you almost forget it's there. But that disconsolate keening seems to have reached a new pitch with AOL's staggering $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post, an aggregation-loving site that, in the words of one Web editor, makes fellow page-view-hoarders Tina Brown and Nick Denton 'look heroic.' The deal means hefty payouts not only for proprietress Arianna Huffington (rumored to have landed somewhere around $20 million) but also for some of her minions. Sources tell The Observer that a half-dozen or so original employees are expecting payouts of around $1 million each. 'Think about it,' groused a magazine veteran not connected with the deal. 'Anyone who's been at HuffPo that long probably has zero creative fire, talent or editorial ambition. Now these people are cashing seven-figure checks?' The big winners are 'the most boring, non-personality people,' according to a former Huffington Post employee who turned down a big job early on. 'There's always regret when you see money being handed out in giant chunks,' admitted Rachel Sklar, who worked at the Huffington Post from 2006 to 2008 but says she 'never inquired' about equity." (Observer)


" ... most of the crowd decamped to The Box, where Jefferson Hack, in a fedora and tux, celebrated Another Magazine's tenth anniversary at a ball hosted by Kate Moss and Tilda Swinton. Guests at the private dinner at Jay Jopling's house that preceded the ball buzzed that it was 'the party of the year,' and the eye candy at the after-bash was nothing to sniff at, either. In the crowd: Damien Hirst, Stella McCartney, Daphne Guinness, Kirsten Dunst, Lily Donaldson, Phoebe Philo, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh, La Roux's Elly Jackson, and Natalie Massenet (who surely had to have an early night, considering that Mr Porter was launching today). Even Wang popped by after his own party to see what all the fuss was about. And the fuss? New Yorkers need no introduction to The Box, but it's still relatively new in London. Set in an alley in Soho, it's a dark, seedy town house with a debauched bordello feel and gilded private rooms purpose-built for unmentionable things. Mark Ronson did a set, followed by the burlesque dancers that Prince Harry made famous last week when he hinted that he may borrow a few for his brother's stag night. And behind the hidden doors and cubbyholes? Let's just say, what happens at The Box, stays at The Box. Most didn't say their goodbyes until the birds were chirping outside, proof positive that the night was a crowd pleaser. 'I've been to a few parties in my life,' laughed Beth Ditto. 'But let's just say this ranks up there.'" (Style)


"The owner of the estate at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, which sits high above Malibu, California, calls himself a prince, and he certainly lives like one. A long, tree-lined driveway runs from the estate's main gate past a motor court with fountains and down to a 15,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms and an equal number of fireplaces. The grounds overlook the Pacific Ocean, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, and Kelsey Grammer for neighbors. With his short, stocky build, slicked-back hair, and Coke-bottle glasses, the prince hardly presents an image of royal elegance. But his wardrobe was picked from the racks of Versace, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, and he spared no expense on himself, from the $30 million in cash he paid for the estate to what Senate investigators later reported were vast sums for household furnishings: $59,850 for rugs, $58,000 for a home theater, even $1,734.17 for a pair of wine glasses. When he arrived back home -- usually in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or one of his other several dozen cars -- his employees were instructed to stand in a receiving line to greet the prince. And then they lined up to do the same when he left. The prince, though, was a phony, a descendant of rulers but not of royals. His full name is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue -- Teodorin to friends -- and he is the son of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, a country about the size of Maryland on the western coast of Africa." (ForeignPolicy)


"Campaigns can often be important guides to performance in office. Rahm’s was nearly flawless. 'He was the perfect candidate,' said Larry Grisolano, managing partner of AKPD Media, the firm headed by David Axelrod and David Plouffe that manages not just Emanuel but President Obama. 'The whole thing was done with a touch of finesse he’s not usually associated with.' It helped that he raised more than $10 million, half of it in increments of more than $50,000, obtained last fall just before a new Illinois law barred such large contributions. But because much of that money was from out-of-state, from people like Steven Spielberg and Roger Altman, Rahm will arrive in office without big debts to pay powerful local interests. Beyond being rude on occasion, Rahm’s biggest flaw is that he can be too reactive and tactical—governing on the basis of what fire in the news cycle needs to be put out. The disciplined, strategic and programmatic quality of his campaign offers Chicagoans some hope that he has changed enough to allow him to become a historic mayor." (Jonathan Alter)
"'I’m the most fashionable antifashion guy,' proclaimed Olivier Zahm, the publisher of niche magazine Purple Fashion. He’s weary after the social and professional grind of New York Fashion Week and lamenting the democratization of fashion on the Internet. 'This is why the industry is going in a vulgar, common, bad direction — because of the direct access that doesn’t come with an education, reflection, understanding,' Zahm said in his thick French accent, reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg. Wearing his signature retro look (tinted aviators, fitted jeans and a leather jacket) and famous for his rouĂ© Seventies lifestyle, he seems like a natural enemy of fast fashion and its weapons, blogging and tweeting. 'It is vulgar and common,' he repeated, before pausing to answer a call from Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati. Fashion for Zahm is deeply personal, as is Purple Fashion, the title founded in 2004, which has become as much a cult as he is. 'I don’t want to accept it [fashion] the way it is proposed, and I don’t want to just be an instrument of this industry,” he said. So how does he do that without becoming a tool? Purple Fashion just breaks even — before it pays its staff and such mundane matters as the lighting and heating bills. It’s no InStyle or Vogue in the money machine department, that’s for sure." (WWD)

"The Obama administration plans to nominate a top White House Middle East advisor to be the next U.S. envoy to Israel, POLITICO has learned. President Barack Obama intends to nominate one of his most trusted Middle East aides, the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Dan Shapiro, to be his ambassador to Israel, administration officials said. Shapiro has earned Obama's trust as a Middle East and Jewish outreach advisor going back to the campaign, and one who uniquely seems to get along well with everyone else. Shapiro has worked closely with all the key inter-agency players including National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, the NSC’s top Iran and regional strategist Dennis Ross, as well as Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, and has a good rapport with Congress, where he previously served as a staffer. Shapiro also has good ties with the Jewish community, having served as a key White House point of contact for the Jewish community, and helped head up Jewish outreach for the Obama campaign. Shapiro, who speaks fluent Hebrew, also has a good relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wide contacts in Israel and the region, and has accompanied Mitchell on countless shuttle diplomacy trips to the region." (Laura Rozen)

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