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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Whenever frantic political instability erupts in a nation, members of the local ruling class stand to lose both money and influence. Right now, the international community is watching precisely this phenomenon play out in Egypt, where a democratic uprising is threatening to overturn nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule under President Hosni Mubarak. Those monitoring the conflict are anxious to see what effect the overwhelming protests will have on other similarly governed nations in the region. For the elite leadership of Egypt’s oil-rich neighbors, relinquishing political power would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And the possibility of such a gigantic transference of wealth from the current class of Arab autocrats to whomever might replace them is causing considerable global concern. Yesterday, I called an affluent Egyptian friend of mine, whom I’ll refer to only by his first name, Ahmed, to inquire about the present political turmoil. Ahmed left Egypt more than a decade ago, but his connection to the nation remains strong. He is a descendant of the former Egyptian royal family, and many of his relatives still reside in Cairo. Ahmed believes that a rebellion of this magnitude was unavoidable, owing to the extreme disparity between the richest and the poorest citizens. Private chauffeurs who make $600 a month, he said, are sent to the airport by their bosses to pick up fresh smoked salmon and other delicacies from Paris that cost tens of thousands. Meanwhile, poverty is rampant throughout the country, and access to decent middle-class jobs is grievously limited. In former decades, Ahmed added, underprivileged Egyptians, particularly in small towns, didn’t necessarily comprehend the true extent of their indigence. But the rise of the Internet, and the widespread adoption of Facebook, in particular, has enabled ordinary citizens to perceive the startling inequality." (Jamie Johnson/ Vanity Fair)


"Over the December holidays, my husband went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Not my idea of fun, but he came back rejuvenated and energetic. He said the experience was so transformational that he has committed to meditating for two hours daily, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, until the end of March. He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life. I’ll admit I’m a skeptic. But now, scientists say that meditators like my husband may be benefiting from changes in their brains. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes." (NYTimes)

"Which television diva who brags nonstop about her svelte body is secretly addicted to laxatives? . . . WHICH high-profile society beauty was set up with her new boyfriend by a 'fixer' paid by rich New York men to find them beautiful girlfriends? . . . WHICH A-list actress is trying to smear her ex by spreading rumors about him watching gay porn?" (PageSix)


"​In her charming act at Feinsteins at the Regency, Brooke Shields remembers being 'America's most celebrated virgin' but willing to risk that status with a really hot new boyfriend---George Michael! 'I didn't know!' Brooke told the crowd last night at her opening. 'He was hot, he was sexy, he was a singer. I didn't know! 'One night, he reserved the roof deck of a hotel so we'd be private. He looked amazing. He ordered the food, pulled out my chair, complimented me on my blouse. 'We talked about fashion--a lot. At the end of the evening, he brought me to my hotel room without even kissing me before you go-go! I thought he was the most respectful guy! 'After a few more dates that included shopping,]' said Brooke, the faux relationship wound down. 'One night, in a limo, he told the driver to keep driving around. I thought it was finally going to happen. He looked me deep in my eyes and carelessly whispered, 'We've got to take a break. I've got to concentrate on my career'. 'I cried all semester. I still didn't know!" (Musto)


"It is the end of January, and pilot offers to actors are going out fast and furious. Like every year, there are several actors that attract the lion's share of offers. In the leading man category, two 40-something actors, Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler and Brotherhood alum Jason Isaacs, are red-hot, fielding a half-dozen offers each. Among the ladies, Ugly Betty alumna Becki Newton is once again in demand despite the fact that her pilot gig would be in second position to her current series, NBC's midseason dramedy Love Bites whose prospects are dim with a cut-back order and no premiere date set. (Love Bites co-star Greg Grunberg already booked the lead in the A&E pilot Big Mike in second position). Casting directors on several projects are also sending out feelers to Christina Applegate, who just gave birth to her first child. Other TV actors lured to return to series TV are Debra Messing, Jason Bateman, James Spader, Daniel Sunjata, Ali Larter, Lizzy Caplan and Katee Sackhoff. As usual, pilot casting directors' wish lists include a lot of movie actors." (Deadline)


"Last Friday afternoon I went down to Carlisle to interview Susan Klope, who designs Carlisle’s Per Se line. Interviewing designers isn’t my thing. My interest in fashion is more curiosity and what it portends. I think of the way it’s applied as more a matter of personal taste, or lack thereof. I’d taken on this assignment for purely editorial reasons. It was meant for the Shopping Diary (and someone had to do it). Friday afternoons are also my idea of the beginning of my day off which in and of itself is like a trip to paradise, no matter how brief. Obligations can cause groan. Nevertheless, obligations beckon on their own time. I recount this because out of all that, I had a most interesting afternoon talking to this woman, whom I’d never met and knew very little about – personally or creatively. I came away with another example of why we are here. Here in New York." (NYSocialDiary)

"Money can't buy a ticket to Clive Davis' pre-Grammy gala Feb. 12 at the Beverly Hilton. Sources say the music industry icon's office has been 'receiving numerous inquiries from high-powered individuals asking to purchase tickets at almost any price,' but all have been turned down. Those invited include 'Glee' stars Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry, the Kings of Leon, Serena Williams, Sean Parker, Bill Maher, Jennifer Hudson, Gayle King, Jeffrey Katzenberg, L.A. Reid, John Mayer, Akon, Ne-Yo and George Lopez." (PageSix)


"The African-inspired, African-made swimwear label Bantu began like many startups: 'I was trying to figure out what I was going to do after graduation,' explains its founder, Yodit Eklund. 'I was looking at investment banking jobs and my brother was like, 'You know you don't really want to do that.' I wanted to do something in Africa.' The continent had been home to Eklund for most of her life prior to her undergraduate stint at Berkeley. The daughter of a refugee coordinator and a former Peace Corps worker, she grew up moving between Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Ethiopia, where she now spends half her time. And despite the crushing poverty and distress that she witnessed due in part to the nature of her father's career, she also saw the most beautiful parts of Africa, its unspoiled coastal beaches and surf scene. 'Whatever comes, whatever goes, Africa will always have beautiful beaches,' Eklund says. And so, despite her lack of fashion background, her surf-influenced swimwear line was born. Founded in 2008, Bantu's suits for men and women are wholly cut and sewn in Africa, drawing on traditional colors and textiles for their vibrant prints. Production is handled in Ethiopia, Cameroon and South Africa; artisans from Ivory Coast consult on the designs. The results have found fans worldwide. The line is currently stocked at Barneys New York and will soon be at Opening Ceremony." (papermag)

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