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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"North Korea's official story is that Kim Jong Il came into the world on a mythic mountaintop under a double rainbow. Party poopers say he was born in Siberia in a guerrilla camp that his father, Kim Il Sung, the founder of communist North Korea, had founded. And no one is quite sure how old the North Korean dictator actually is now. (Current estimates say that he is either 69 or 70 years old.) But either way, the Dear Leader's birthday has been among his impoverished country's most important holidays since 1983 -- the occasion for weeks of preparation and at least one day of mandatory celebration. Here are some of the highlights from this year's extended bash." (ForeignPolicy)


"Hollywood is currently buzzing about Winona Ryder's small role in the Oscar-nominated 'Black Swan.' But remember when the actress represented an entire generation? By the time she appeared in the 1994 flick 'Reality Bites' (spouting lines such as 'I'm not going to work at the Gap, for Chrissake!'), the then-23-year-old had already established herself as an angsty-cool actress, smirking through cult classics such as 'Heathers,' 'Beetlejuice' and 'Edward Scissorhands.' Then, when the Generation X zeitgeist died down, so did demand for Ryder's acting. Her 2001 bust for shoplifting $5,500 worth of designer clothes didn’t help: At 30, she seemed like a has-been. Now a decade on, 'I’m at that age I've been warned my whole life about,' 39-year-old Ryder told GQ magazine recently. But in Ryder's case, having a few more wrinkles might actually work in her favor. Hollywood's It girl in her teens and 20s, Winona Ryder is enjoying a comeback just months before her 40th birthday. 'She's finally old enough to play the parts she's always wanted to play,' says 'Reality Bites' writer Helen Childress. Childress recalls Ryder repeatedly forcing her to watch John Cassavetes' 1974 film “A Woman Under the Influence,' about a wife and mother who goes insane. 'That was emblematic of the work she aspired to do herself. She's still beautiful and enormously gifted, but now that she's been dragged through the muck, that shiny elfin cheek has given way to a more interesting brokenness, like fine cracks on the glaze of old china.' (NYPost)


"Wednesday, Michael's lunch. Someone asked me what was so special about Wednesday lunch at Michael's. I'm not sure except years ago I started giving it a shout out and then mediabistro.com came along and started doing it every Wednesday. Now, whether it's the reason or not, it's jammed every Wednesday. In the room: Desiree Gruber with Debra Messing and Molly Madden; Rosana Scotto and Penny Crone and Lynne White; Steve Mosko with Tom Bernard and Michael Barker; Cindi Berger with Maurie Perl and Ellen Levine; Jaqui Safra and friends; Gerry Imber et al, including Greenfield, Della Femina and Bergman; Debra Shriver; Harold Ford with David Gregory of Meet the Press. Gregory's a long tall drink of water; did you know that?" (NYSocialDiary)


"For the second time in two weeks violence has broken out in a restive Arab ally of the United States, confronting the Obama administration with the question of how harshly to condemn a friendly leader who is resisting street protests against his government. This time it is Bahrain, a postage-stamp monarchy in the Persian Gulf, where the United States Navy bases its Fifth Fleet. At least five people were killed early Thursday when heavily armed riot police officers fired shotguns and concussion grenades into a crowd occupying a traffic circle in the capital, Manama. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, on Thursday to 'express deep concern about recent events,' a State Department official said. Mrs. Clinton urged 'restraint moving forward' and pushed Sheik Khalid, a member of the royal family that rules Bahrain, to speed up a program of political and economic reforms. But President Obama has yet to issue the blunt public criticism of Bahrain's rulers that he eventually leveled against President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt — or that he has repeatedly aimed at Iran's leaders. Such criticism would be an even sharper break for the United States than it was in the case of Egypt, since just two months ago Washington was holding up Bahrain as a model of reform for the region. What the administration does with Bahrain is likely to be a telling indicator of how it will deal with the balance between protecting its strategic interests, and promoting democracy — a balance some critics said it never properly struck in its sometimes awkward response to the Egyptian turmoil." (NYTimes)

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