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Monday, February 14, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The most important question about Obama's budget, then, is how well it positions him and his allies in the coming debate over these sorts of priorities. You could make a case that, by embracing the Republican narrative on the size of government and calling for a five-year budget freeze at present levels, Obama has effectively bid too low in the negotiation over federal spending--that he's committed himself, and the country, to less government than it needs. (It's happened before!) Or you could make the case that, by making 'tough' proposals to cut programs he supports, he's establishing the credibility with voters that he needs in order to marginalize the Republicans and to preserve more spending than might otherwise be possible. (It's happened before!) I really don't know which argument is right. I'm not a political strategist and, besides, not even the political strategists can be sure about this sort of thing. But I know I'll be hoping that Obama prevails in the coming standoff with House Republicans, even though a victory would still leave the government perilously underfunded." (TNR)


"Long on tough choices, short on final answers, President Barack Obama‘s new 2012 budget goes to Congress on Monday in what many hope is only an opening bid before he and Republicans come to the table on a bipartisan deficit reduction plan. For the current year, the White House projects a better-than-$1.6 trillion deficit — even higher than the Congressional Budget Office. But outlays would actually drop in 2012 and stabilize in the $3.7 trillion range as deficits fall to $1.1 trillion in 2012 and then $768 billion in 2013. After November’s election results, no one assumes this is sufficient, but more than any of Obama’s prior efforts, this budget makes choices that help define the man himself. He bets big on education spending — an 11 percent increase next year — while altering the Pell Grant program to try to save the aid levels now allowed for college students from the poorest families. The National Institutes of Health would grow by about $1 billion, even as old anti-poverty programs and heating assistance would be cut. And $62 billion in Medicare savings would be plowed back into paying physicians who care for the elderly. Foreign wars, particularly the one in Afghanistan, would drain Obama of $118 billion, but for the first time in many years, total expenditures for the Pentagon and military would begin to fall. And while Republicans ridicule his five-year cap on domestic spending, it has bred new restraint in him." (Politico)



"Pay attention to the man behind the curtain—even if he doesn’t want you to. Branding and media-relations wizard Kenneth Lerer barely has a public profile. This is by design: He likes to operate under the radar. His rather boring Wikipedia entry is only 237 words long. That’s an astounding achievement given that he has spent more than three decades at the white-hot center of corporate wheeling and dealing, playing pivotal roles, and making fortunes several times over, in the crisis PR business, the ultimately disastrous AOL-Time Warner merger—and now his latest coup, the jaw-dropping $315 million sale of The Huffington Post to AOL. For the past six years Lerer, 58, has quietly nurtured HuffPo—along with his celebrity partner, Arianna Huffington—from a tiny collection of liberal blogs and news aggregation pages (an initially muted answer to the right-leaning Drudge Report [www.drudgereport.com]) into an Internet powerhouse of such reach and influence that AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong sees HuffPo as the last best hope of his long-struggling company ... As HuffPo blossomed as a traffic magnet and brand name, the irrepressible Huffington, 60, provided creative energy, star power and virtuosic networking, initially wrangling such high-profile pals as Larry David, Nora Ephron, and Ari Emanuel to blog for free, and later expanding the website’s commitment to original journalism." (TheDailyBeast)


(image via NYSD)

"The new issue of Vanity Fair about Hollywood has an article by Matt Tyrnauer on Janet de Cordova who died two years ago this September. Janet’s husband Freddie de Cordova, who for years had been Johnny Carson’s executive producer, died in 2001 at 90. I knew Janet and Freddie casually when I lived out there. They were, like me, frequent dinner guests of Edith Mayer (Edie) Goetz, the eldest daughter of Louis B. Mayer , who had become the closest thing that Hollywood had to a dowager queen. At that time there was still a social set in the film colony that resembled a model based on the society that once existed in New York. Although they rarely, if ever, socialized with other wealthy groups in Los Angeles, Hollywood had a social hierarchy not unlike New York’s. There were different tiers – but all related to the film and television business. Janet and Freddie in the early 1980s were charter members of the then aging A-List – meaning those directors, producers and stars remaining from the 'Golden Age' – from the 30s through the early 60s. They were also, because of Freddie’s connection to Johnny Carson, invited by a lot of the younger hostesses. Both groups were equally impressed with the de Cordovas' wide array of friends. Although they were being “replaced” as new generations always succeed, the 'aging' group still reflected the style of earlier times when the Studios reigned and controlled the community." (NYSocialDiary)


"When Topher Grace walked into Mr. Chow last night with a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, he wasn't quite prepared for the scene he found. 'I didn't know this was a dinner,' he said, sidling up next to Olivia Munn, who'd invited him. Indeed it was, hosted by Purple and Z Spoke by Zac Posen, with the magazine's Olivier Zahm going around greeting some of his many favorite females (Eniko Mihalik, Josephine de la Baume) and the designer more or less holding court in the corner in a dapper suit. Near at hand were Geordon Nicol and Leigh Lezark, who are viewing Posen's collection this weekend in order to put together the music for his Paris show. The last time either of them had been to the storied midtown restaurant? Lezark thought for a second: 'After the Met ball, maybe two years ago? This is a better crowd'—a compliment to, among others, Irina Lazareanu, who had slipped into a Posen sheath after walking in Charlotte Ronson's show at the tents. 'It takes me about three seconds to get into any Zac Posen dress—very easy to get into, very hard to get off,' the model said." (Style)


"Rival Haiti relief workers Sean Penn and Wyclef Jean were involved in a tense confrontation at a top New York music venue after trading a series of bitter public insults. Penn and Wyclef have been at each other's throats after Penn criticized Wyclef's ill-fated bid to become president of Haiti, blasted him as a 'personality that threatens to create a new swell of social unrest in a plagued country' and accused him of deserting the country when it most needed help. The former Fugee then lashed back by saying: 'I got a message for Sean Penn: Maybe he ain't see me in Haiti because he was too busy sniffing cocaine.' Penn's rep shot back at Jean's comments as 'highly irresponsible and false.' But Penn and Wyclef bumped into each other at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square early Saturday morning after they arrived separately to see Haitian band T-Vice, and locked themselves in a backstage dressing room for a 30-minute argument before emerging, having made peace." (PageSix)


"Prabal Gurung presented his highly anticipated glam-punk fairytale of a collection yesterday afternoon at Lincoln Center with front-rowers like Anna Wintour and a slew of all-mighty fashion editors crazily jotting down notes while tapping their stilettos to a soundtrack of Florence & the Machine and Kate Bush. And by the looks of today's onslaught of glowing reviews, Gurung has a lot to celebrate. That is, if he's not party-pooped from the insanity that was his after-party, which turned into a bonafide dance-a-thon last night at Mr H., the small basement bar of the not-yet-opened Mondrian Hotel. An eclectic mix of downtown fashion cuties and leggy models, industry types and fun famous folks like Barbara Bush, Brad Goreski and Cobrastarship's Gabe Saporta joined in on the dance-floor fun. Gurung and his main buddies, whom he refers to as his 'sistas' -- GQ's Damien Nunes, Docker's Shaun Lee Lewis, The Aisle's David Yassky, stylist Sam Spector and stylist Yuki James -- were pretty much apoplectic when DJ Mia Moretti blasted Britney Spears' 'Hold it Against Me,' Gurung's favorite tune of the evening." (Paper)


"In the midst of NYFW, designer Rachel Roy, model/actress Maggie Rizer and creative director of the Chantecaille beauty brand, Olivia Chantecaille, found time for the screening of 'Cedar Rapids', hosted by The Cinema Society & Altoids. Guests then hit up the after party at Millesime at the Carlton Hotel, where they sipped on Grey Goose cocktails. Also in attendance: Ed Helms, Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Alia Shawkat, director Miguel Arteta, Jon Hamm, Josh Lucas, Jill Hennessy, Spike Jonze ..." (AVENUEInsider)

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