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Friday, April 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Before Donald Trump's visit to Boca Raton last weekend stoked the enthusiasm of his Tea Party fans, the Sunshine State was already a power center in the Trump universe. Florida's home to Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, Trump Grande, and Trump Hollywood, so it’s not surprising that it figures into Trump's pre-campaign campaigning. Indeed, his political fortunes may come down to a 12-block section of downtown Tampa. That’s where a convention center, a federal courthouse and an abandoned lot all sit, within easy walking distance from each other. The empty lot was to be home to Trump Tower Tampa, a 52-story luxury apartment project that went bust. A trial is scheduled in December at the federal courthouse, in a lawsuit that Tower investors have brought against Trump to recoup some of the money they lost in the failed project. And a few blocks away is the St. Pete Times Forum, where the eventual Republican victor (whoever that may be) will claim the nomination in August 2012. As Donald J. Trump fuels speculation that he wants to be the one making that nomination speech, it’s worth a look at the business record he’s made a central part of his pitch. He has been wildly successful and made lots of money on his own projects. Other money has been made on 'Trump' projects where he did nothing but sell the rights to his name. He’s also had spectacular failures, leading to bankruptcy court and investor lawsuits, and when that happens, the blame flies. Throughout, Trump has treated his name as his most valuable asset. It’s a brand that sells — in real estate, in casinos, in reality television, golf courses — even in an Amway-like marketing business. It means success. And it’s rich. Shiny, polished and conspicuously rich." (WNYC)


"In an interview with PopEater, Paltrow addressed just why she believes she has so many critics by saying: 'I think my work ethic is the reason why I'm successful. I think that a lot of people don't want to put in effort and it's easier to not change, not do something good for you…[They're just] pissed off at someone else doing that. Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it' ... Let me start by saying that I happen to be someone who does not hate Gwyneth Paltrow or GOOP' (whatever that is.) I think she’s pretty and talented, and on a side note her Oscar gown this year happened to be one of my favorites, but this interview finally made me understand why she engenders such enmity among so many. It’s not because she’s pretty and talented (okay, that may be part of it). It’s because like a lot of privileged people she’s under the delusion that she earned everything that she has, and then has the audacity to gloat about it. In an age in which America’s class-divide is greater than it’s ever been, our patience has simply waned for the George W. Bush’s, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s of the world—people who were born on third base and act like they hit a triple. America was founded on the idea that everyone has equal opportunity to carve out their piece of the American Dream, but increasingly that’s becoming less and less of a reality. And there’s something infuriating about listening to people born into the Dream—silver rattle in one hand, silver spoon in the other--lecture the rest of us on how easy it is to obtain—if we’re just willing to 'work our asses off' like they do. Gwyneth, for instance, was born to Hollywood royalty. Her father Bruce was one of television’s most legendary directors of shows like St. Elsewhere and her mother is the acclaimed actress Blythe Danner. I’ve heard nothing but great things about her family—a rarity in Hollywood—and I think it’s wonderful that she was so fortunate to have that. But when you credit landing one of your first film roles to 'your Uncle Steven,' as in Steven Spielberg, who directed a young Gwyneth in Hook, you have officially relinquished the right to say that 'Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it.'" (TheLoop21)


"Raise your hands, boys and girls, if you ever took drugs and went to NYC's notorious nightclub the Limelight. The de-consecrated church on West 20th Street -- which was finally shut-down by the powers-that-were in 2001 after a drug bust and allegations of tax evasion against owner Peter Gatien -- is the subject of a new documentary debuting this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. If you were a regular -- or a 'Club Kid' -- you might spot yourself in some of the barrage of footage of ecstatic dancers, and you'll also get a historical perspective on some of those drug-fueled nights we've all forgotten. Directed by Billy Corben and produced by Jen Gatien, Peter's Daughter, the film is a little one-sided: Peter Gatien does admit to doing drugs, but never ever ever inside one of his many clubs. It's also crammed with one too many talking-head interviews including Gatien's private investigators and attorneys and nobody from the prosecution, who all declined to be interviewed. On the other hand, we did sort of feel sorry for poor Mr. Gatien by the end of the film's almost two hours of mind-numbing historical and legal narrative and several of the interviewees are hilarious. Author and former Village Voice nightlife writer Frank Owen should consider a second career as a stand-up comedian and Steve 'Good Night Mr.' Lewis does not mince words: 'If I had a button to push that would eliminate (Gatien's wife) Alesandra, I'd push it.'" (Papermag)




"A diaphanous glitter has descended upon Tribeca in the form of beautiful people, fabulous parties, and youth—and it’s hard not to wax poetic about such a seemingly perfect cocktail. However, first-time director Alexandra McGuinness has cast anything but a sparing eye on the neophyte jet set in her La Dolce Vita–esque black-and-white film, Lotus Eaters. The film follows Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a young model-turning-actress, and her friend Felix as they stumble through a youthful haze of cigarettes, vodka baths, and late-night revelry to the point where the fabulous really starts to wear you down. It takes its title from a stop on Odysseus’s journey, where a tribe of narcotic-noshing natives seem to do nothing but laze about all day, coaxing Odysseus’s men to do the same. Under McGuinness’s deft direction, the film casts a gently critical eye on young Londoners similarly lost and without purpose. Sitting across from Little Gold Men at the Mondrian Soho, McGuinness presents her film to us as more than just an excuse to look good in monochrome: ' I’d always wanted to make a movie about London—about that period young people have in their 20s where they get waylaid.' She smiles as she recounts the vignettes of her own journey as a young Irish girl—and the daughter of U2 manager Paul McGuinness—who came to London to act, and the overall meandering she beheld. Looking at her, you can’t help notice a sort of strength reminiscent of Sofia Coppola, whom McGuinness, not surprisingly, admires: 'I saw Sofia Coppola on the street yesterday, that was cool,' she says." (VanityFair)


"I went down to Michael’s again yesterday to keep a lunch date with Leslie Stevens, the public relations executive who with James LaForce, founded the very successful LaForce and Stevens agency. Leslie and I share birthdays one day apart (I’m 26 July ---- and a lot older – and she’s 27). We joke that that’s our bond (Leos) but actually we’ve been friends from the first because we like to talk about our lives frankly with each other. Seated next door to us was Joan Rivers and Amy Rosenbloom, the television producer. Afterwards we got Steve Millington to take a picture. After lunch I decided to walk up Fifth Avenue for a few blocks in the Sun. The sidewalks were mobbed. I don’t mean crowded, which Fifth Avenue sidewalks inevitably are. I mean mobbed. There was mob scene outside the Abercrombie & Fitch store whose patrons are generally in the 13 to 20 age range, no matter how old they look. In the entry-way is a large black and white photo of a well-formed, almost naked, very young man. The crowd waiting to get in (both boys and girls) are busy ogling the boys who are the doormen. No room for pedestrians, and no one knows how to make way. It’s not intentional; they haven’t got a clue. That’s today’s 'no-etiquette'/no courtesy and it runs clear across the boards socially." (NYSocialDiary)


"The Bang Bang Club, a drama about war photographers in apartheid-era South Africa, resonated with the premiere crowd in a different—and grimly contemporary—way, given the recent deaths in Libya of photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. 'Movies like this show us problems that I think people forget about when they live in New York and have a fast life,' offered Doutzen Kroes. On his way in, paparazzi target Ryan Phillippe explained how he'd initially struggled to embrace the role. 'I did have reservations about playing a photographer, quite honestly,' he admitted. 'The last decade or so of my life I've been pursued and hounded and invaded by them.' As he made his way down the red carpet, the cameras clicked. Maggie Betts' lyrical and intimate tale of Africa, The Carrier, focuses on an AIDS-ravaged family in Zambia. 'The landscape and the heart of the people lent itself to this kind of tragic beauty,' Betts said at the after-party at Kenmare." (Style)


"Fashion titans Valentino and Karl Lagerfeld had a grand, presidential-style meeting on the tarmac at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey when their private jets both landed from Europe within minutes of each other at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday. A spy told us, 'It was a coincidence, but a funny one. They are old friends and walked down the steps of their respective planes and greeted each other warmly. Then an amazing array of luxury suitcases were unloaded, along with each designer's beautiful entourage and quite a few dogs.' The icons then set off for Manhattan in their respective motorcades." (PageSix)


"Just this past Wednesday, radio shows, entertainment blogs, and countless websites were all abuzz with Tyler Perry’s chastising words for fellow African-American director Spike Lee. The Hollywood powerhouse (and Oprah’s BFF besides Gayle), whose new film Madea’s Big Happy Family opens today, let loose some apparently long-held anger by declaring: 'I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell.' It seems a while back, Lee took offense with Perry’s writing and choice of material for his weekly television shows and in his films featuring the ever-present Madea. Perry’s outraged response to Lee via his website and press conference turned out to be captivating news to many, but truly perplexing to even more. Not only did Lee’s comments referencing Perry’s characters and plot lines as buffoonish 'coonery' date back to 2009, the feeling that Perry’s movies often do more harm than good to the image of African Americans and even less for black actors creatively has long been Black Hollywood’s dirty, not-so-secret little secret. Certainly no one is more aware of this fact than Perry himself." (TheDailyBeast)


"The political kickoff of an election year in Virginia is the annual Shad Planking, an event filled with beer guzzling, glad-handing and bipartisan politicking. It’s the kind of event where Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Bobby Scott might be spotted smiling and chatting with former Senator and current Republican Senate candidate George Allen in the woods outside a rural town southeast of Richmond — which actually happened Wednesday. This year’s event had the feeling of an election year, even though the Senate primaries are more than twelve months away. 'I look at this as the kickoff for the general election, so to speak,' Allen told reporters. 'This is ... the best bipartisan political event in Virginia. Folks have a good time, talking to one another, having their various viewpoints and so forth. And it’s fun. It’s the way politics ought to be.' Allen was in his element as he shook countless hands and chatted with attendees who knew him way back when. He has attended at least the past three years, using each one as another stepping stone in his quest for his old job. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s joke-filled speech epitomized the bipartisan nature of the event, even if most of this year’s attendees were Republicans. He described Allen, who was looking ahead to a run for president when he lost re-election in 2006, and Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine, who is only running because Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is retiring, as 'two men running for a job neither of them wants.'" (RollCall)


"President Barack Obama drew A-list movie stars and studio execs. He spoke from the sound stage that produced some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters of the last decade. He even professed his love of Spider-Man. It wasn’t just any given Thursday for the president, who turned on the charm and pocketed big bucks from his loyal Hollywood base, a group that included Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Berry Gordy and Sony honcho Amy Pascal. Some of this city’s biggest names turned out for three fundraisers at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City and Tavern restaurant in Brentwood — outings that cost attendees as much as $35,800 a head, helping to push Obama’s two-day West Coast fundraising haul into the millions. The president, who fashions himself as a no-frills, no-drama guy, appeared most starstruck not at the sight of Steven Spielberg or George Clooney, but by the fact that he spoke on the Sony stage most recently used to film Spider-Man 4. 'I’m all psyched up about that,' Obama said of the movie sequel, due out next year. 'Will you play a part?' an audience member shouted. 'Seriously, I’m very big on Spider-Man,' Obama said." (Politico)


"The Tribeca 25: Part 2. In our second installment, L.A. Collins gives five recommendations of twenty-five total for the Tribeca Film Festival. For the first installment, click here." (VMagazine)

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