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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Amid the new drama that unfolds every day in Egypt and Tunisia, these swipes at the regime's tormentors stand out as an early test of how truly committed reformists are to their own calls for democracy and human rights. Vigilante justice is one thing. Transitional justice is another: Not only a break with the past, but the creation of a new political culture based on civic freedoms and rule of law. To see this kind of transition firsthand, North Africans need only peer across the Mediterranean and study what post-authoritarian Eastern Europe has undergone during the past two decades. Nudged forward by a desire to join the European Union, new elites tackled the question of what to do with the key perpetrators of the ancien régime -- plus all the loyal foot soldiers who propped it up. The key question: Beyond the secret police, how deeply to cut into the old elites, public administration, bureaucracy, courts, economy, army and regular police, even in the media and universities?"(ForeignPolicy)


"Lately, it’s been easy to criticize billionaires. Ever since the financial crisis hit, they’ve become targets for anyone wishing to blow off steam about inequality in America, and what some believe are harmful concentrations of power and wealth. But at least two exceptional billionaires shouldn’t be put in the crosshairs: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, leaders of a new philanthropic initiative called the Giving Pledge, are demonstrating their magnanimity by donating a majority of their own fortunes to charity, and encouraging others in their income bracket to follow suit. Officially making 'the pledge' requires billionaires to donate a bulk of their assets to charitable organizations, then to announce their commitments in open letters published at givingpledge.org. It’s an impressive feat to get the wealthy to part with money—especially some of the notoriously acquisitive billionaires named on the Giving Pledge’s list. But by leveraging their combined social influence, Buffett and Gates seem to have successfully raised the bar for what counts as high-level charitable giving. Their achievement recalls the important contributions made by other vastly rich men in previous generations—like Andrew Carnegie, whose famous 'Gospel of Wealth' philosophy helped to inspire a tradition of social responsibility among the American upper class."(Janie Johnson)




"In December 2003, Beth Ostrosky wanted to bring radio shock jock Howard Stern to his knees, so she whipped out the big guns — and took out the gizzards. She cooked her then-boyfriend of a few years a chicken dish from a recipe in Glamour magazine, and sat Stern down for a candlelit dinner. 'I swear to you, he had never been love-ier or more romantic. He was saying the sweetest things to me. And in the back of my mind, I was chuckling, 'Wow, that magazine knows what it’s doing,' says the 38-year-old with a laugh. The next morning Stern raved about the meal on his radio show. When Beth Ostrosky was looking to heat things up with Howard Stern, she turned to poultry. Yes, Mrs. Stern says her chicken dish 'definitely struck something' with her then-beau. 'He started talking about the lemons up the chicken’s butt when a woman called in and said: Howard, you just described Engagement Chicken. Beth wants you to marry her ...' So why does the humble chicken dish possess so much romantic power? 'Remember the old Pillsbury slogan that Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven? asks Leive. 'It sounds so horribly retro, but it’s true. Roast chicken is one of those dishes that says, ‘I took some time. I made something that says I’m taking care of you.’ It’s delicious, but also comfortable.' Seconding that view is Karl Myers, 39, who was putty in his now-wife Doris’ hands after she roasted the chicken for him in April 2007. Myers was hypnotized by the 'very juicy' and 'very moist' poultry. 'Soon after eating the chicken, it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I just found myself getting an engagement ring made,' admits Myers, who lives in The Bronx and owns Main Drag Music in Williamsburg. 'I was like, ‘Wow, how did I get here?" (NYPost)


"Last night in New York down at Christie’s, they held the 2nd annual Bid to Save the Earth, which benefits four separate environmental non-profit organizations. This was the go-to Party of the Night in New York. There must have been a thousand guests filling many of the galleries of the great auction house. The invitation read: 'Christie’s, Runway to Green, & Vogue; Anna and Graydon Carter, Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault, and Susan and David Rockefeller' as hosts. It was such a large party that there was more than one planner. Vogue and Anna Wintour, for example, were the force behind the runway show and everything around it .. This was one of the best 'large' parties I’ve been to in a long time. Not to be confused with a dinner, etc., this was cocktails and champagne, hors d’oeuvres frequently passed, space to stand and walk around in, and literally hundreds of guests milling, mingling ... I left before it was over (missing the runway) show, for a dinner with a friend at The Lion on West 9th Street. Nine o’clock table. Very busy night at The Lion. Back uptown, after the Runway Show at Christie’s, there was an after-party over at Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar."(NYSocialDiary)


"Elizabeth Taylor married eight times to a total of seven people, but some were more memorable than others. Here are my rankings of the men she said 'I do' to, in ascending order of merit. (7) Larry Fortensky (1991-1996). A lowly construction worker! So out of her league! He must have thought, 'I can't believe I'm drilling Liz Taylor!' (6) John Warner (1976-1982). A Republican! That's almost as low as a construction worker! What was she thinking? (5) Conrad Hilton, Jr. (1950-1951). Nine unhappy months. Hilton relationships never last. Look at Paris ..." (Musto)



"Mike Huckabee, whose nonstop book-flacking is keeping him on the political radar, was doing a routine radio interview when the talk briefly turned to Natalie Portman. Seattle host Michael Medved questioned how the 29-year-old actress could tout her pregnancy at the Oscars when she had not yet married her fiancé. The once-and-maybe-future presidential candidate replied that it was 'troubling' to see 'a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts' of having a child out of wedlock, because 'there aren't really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie.' And then—nothing happened. But three days later, in a glass-sheathed building atop Washington's Buddha Bar, Eric Hananoki, a 27-year-old with a growth of stubble, discovered the audio on his computer. At 5:41 p.m., he posted a blog item for the liberal advocacy group Media Matters, declaring that Huckabee had 'attacked actress Natalie Portman for having a child 'out of wedlock.'' Five hours later, MSNBC's Ed Schultz was skewering Huckabee, and the story quickly ricocheted from TMZ to Politico to Stephen Colbert. We have entered the era of sound-bite warfare on steroids." (Howie Kurtz)


"When people talk about how good television has gotten recently, they usually start with Mad Men. The series, which premiered in 2007, has won 13 Emmys and four Golden Globes. It was key to establishing AMC’s reputation as a network for quality shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. But Mad Men has never gotten great ratings. The finale of the most recent season drew 2.44 million viewers. That’s fewer people than watched a recent rerun of the struggling network show Brothers & Sisters. So it’s not a big surprise that there’s now a battle going on over money. The show was supposed to be in production for its fifth season right now. But at this point, it looks new episodes won’t air until 2012. The show airs on AMC but is produced by Lionsgate. According to Deadline Hollywood, a big sticking point in negotiations is creator Matthew Weiner’s salary. Deadline says Weiner is poised to earn $30 million over two years. That would make him the highest paid show runner in basic cable." (Forbes)

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