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Monday, April 25, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In a stunning escape, nearly 500 Taliban fled an Afghanistan prison through an underground tunnel on Monday. Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai talk exclusively to two freed men about how they pulled it off, what their next move is—and why this is a big blow to the U.S. war effort. Mullah Asadullah Akhund had a hunch that something was going on—but he wasn’t sure what. He recalls that over the past few months there was a 'sort of smile in the eyes' of one of the top Taliban commanders who was incarcerated with him in the political wing of the Kandahar jail. Early Monday morning he learned the secret the commander had been hiding. At about 2 a.m., as he was sleeping on his cell’s hard cement floor, he was awakened by someone tugging on the big toe of his right foot, Akhund told The Daily Beast exclusively in a cell phone call. It was the senior commander, who told him in a whisper to quietly get up and go to another adjoining cell, where someone would show him the way to freedom. Hardly believing what he had heard, he quickly did as he was told and soon found himself in an underground tunnel with a line of other Taliban prisoners who were making their escape. As he began moving through the narrow passageway in a crouch, he says another Taliban commander holding a flash light ahead of him told him to be calm, and that more Taliban were waiting at the end of the tunnel to take care of them. 'It was the greatest escape of my life,' he says. 'It was like a dream.'" (TheDailyBeast)


"The site of many historic protests, New York's Union Square had never witnessed a candlelight vigil quite as surreal as the one that convened there last November. Aggrieved by the news that New York City had banned Four Loko, a few dozen enthusiasts of the drink had gathered to mourn its extinction. Chanting slogans like 'What do we want? Four Loko. When do we want it? Forever,' the young consumers registered their outrage—only partly tongue-in-cheek—at the recriminations that had rained down on this new symbol of bleary-eyed youth rebellion. Four Loko fans had even coined a pet name for the drink: liquid cocaine. Their elders were not amused. After a wave of alcohol poisonings tied to Four Loko consumption, the F.D.A. demanded the immediate withdrawal of all alcoholic energy drinks. Even President Obama's Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, blasted the beverages, slamming them as “designed, branded and promoted to encourage binge drinking." (TheFix)


"Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, whom most people know as the diminutive former child stars of Full House and an endless stream of straight-to-video tween movies, are inspecting a rolling rack of crisp white cotton shirts and another one lined with black stretch-leather leggings seemingly sized for miniature gazelles. The sisters and the clothes are crowded onto an exceedingly unglamorous factory floor in New York’s garment center. The L-shaped workspace, brightly lit with fluorescent lights, smells vaguely of steam irons and fried rice. This is the Olsens’ new reality, one that has replaced a childhood lived on Hollywood backlots and an adolescence spent in the glare of the paparazzi. They built a billion-dollar empire on the cult of celebrity, adoring kiddie fans, and a vast array of tchotchkes. Now they are creating something else entirely. Against significant odds, the Olsens have found grown-up respectability and social purpose in the unforgiving world of high-end fashion with the success of their womenswear brand, The Row. The collection—embraced by older women with little patience for celebrity frippery—has been worn by business executives and first lady Michelle Obama ... The Olsens, who will be 25 in June, did not go to fashion or art school. They have built a considerable reputation by obsessing over darts (they hate them), gamely absorbing the blows of skeptical retailers, and keeping their celebrity mostly under wraps. They also have become champions in a longstanding effort to save this country’s garment factories. In 1965, factories in America produced 95 percent of the clothes sold in this country, according to savethegarmentcenter.org. Today, only 5 percent of the clothes sold here are produced locally." (Robin Givans)


"(Howard Stern) said that Brad Grey and Cassandra got married ... Howard said he talked to Gavin Rossdale, Bob Saget, Jon Lovitz and others. He said he was trying to be social. Then Les Moonves came up to him. He thought about walking away but he was a nice guy about it. He said Les came up to him like he had never sued him. He said he asked if he was going to hand him another lawsuit. Howard said he thought that he was going to serve him the papers. Howard said his wife was there so he told her that he watches 'The Talk.' Howard said he was just being nice like you do in Hollywood. It's all just business. Howard said that Mel told him once that it was just business and everyone sues everyone else. Howard said those words rang in his head so he just said hi to him. He said it was fine ... Howard said he talked to Jon Lovitz and Lorne Michaels too. He said he went up to Lorne and told him he's a fucking genius. Howard said Lorne told him he's a genius too. He said that he told Lorne that he's kept Saturday Night Live going all these years and he's discovered so much talent. He said that he was in the middle of that and then Jon Lovitz comes over. He felt like he was in show business. Then a gay dude walks over to him and tells him to please follow him. He said that someone wanted to speak to him. Howard didn't know who this person was. Howard said he was busy talking to Jon Lovitz. He had no idea who Sue Mengers was. He asked who that was. Lovitz told him she's the biggest agent ever. Howard said that maybe she should have walked over to him. Howard said he thought he did the right thing staying in the conversation with Jon. Howard said they summoned him to go over to speak to the bride. Howard said he grabbed Beth and went over to talk to Cassandra. Howard said Jack Nicholson was there and he asked if he was too good to speak to Sue Mangers. Howard said they fooled him into coming in to see Sue. Howard said he saw Sue there in a wheelchair and he didn't know that's why she wanted him to come to her. Howard said she wanted to tell him how much she enjoyed his books. Howard said Jack spoke to him this time and didn't brush him off. Howard said that's how Hollywood works." (Marksfriggin)


"Veteran producer Christine Vachon gave her thoughts on the art and business of filmmaking over the weekend at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival. The talk, dubbed 'The State of Cinema Address,' covered a number of areas, including the creation, distribution and definition of independent film. With well over 60 titles to her credit, Vachon noted that both the business and creation of independent film have had several cycles during her two and a half decade career, though the industry continues to fear evolution. 'I’ve produced over 60 films which is unreal. The important part of that is that I’ve seen independent film die and be re-born at least three or four times. When it does, it reminds me how terrified we are of change - how terrified the film business is of change.' During her twenty minute speech, which was then followed up with an audience Q&A, Vachon said that she began her career by identifying under served audiences and making and marketing film directly to them. She also touched upon how the whole filmmaking process continues to change with evolving consumption habits and platforms." (IndieWIRE)


"South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said Monday she is not satisfied with the message that the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls has brought to her state.  Haley — a rising star in the party and governor of a key early primary state — said that potential presidential candidates should craft a more positive message rather than just laying out the case against President Obama or describing their path to victory. 'A lot of what bothers me with where the presidential politics right now is that I don't want to hear about how awful President Obama is right now,' she said ... 'I want to hear what they are going to do different.'" (TheHill)

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