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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress struggled until the 11th hour to agree on budget cuts that would avert a government shutdown. The United States' budget deficit is a serious problem, and there have been serious proposals to deal with it, such as those by the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Commission. But last week's efforts were not a serious solution. They were focused solely on the 12 percent of the budget that is non-military discretionary expenditure, rather than the big-ticket items of entitlements, military expenditure, and tax changes that increase revenue. Yet while last week's cuts failed to do much about the deficit, they could do serious damage to U.S. foreign policy. On Tuesday, the axe fell: The State Department and foreign operations budget was slashed by $8.5 billion -- a pittance when compared to military spending, but one that could put a serious dent in the United States' ability to positively influence events abroad. The sad irony is that the Obama administration had been moving things in the right direction. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, she spoke of the importance of a 'smart power' strategy, combining the United States' hard and soft-power resources. Her Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and her efforts (along with USAID chief Rajiv Shah) to revamp the United States' aid bureaucracy and budget were important steps in that direction. Now, in the name of an illusory contribution to deficit reduction (when you're talking about deficits in the trillions, $38 billion in savings is a drop in the bucket), those efforts have been set back. Polls consistently show a popular misconception that aid is a significant part of the U.S. federal budget, when in fact it amounts to less than 1 percent. Thus, congressional cuts to aid in the name of deficit reduction are an easy vote, but a cheap shot." (Joseph Nye)



"'Oprah' is reportedly charging $1 million for a 30-second spot in the show's series finale next month, putting her among the most expensive finale asking prices in the past 20 years, and certainly the most expensive in daytime history. The highest cost ever for a 30-second finale was NBC's 'Friends,' according to a report yesterday from Horizon Media, which notes that show received $2 million per ad. Fifty-two million people watched the 2004 finale. Actually, that turned out to be a rather reasonable CPM of just over $62. A number of high-profile shows that attracted a lot fewer viewers had much higher CPMs, most notably two shows that went off the air last year. Fox's '24' commanded a CPM of $177, with a 30-second spot going for $650,000. Just 7 million viewers watched the finale. ABC's 'Lost' had a similarly steep CPM of $117, charging $900,000 for a 30-second spot and drawing 13.6 million total viewers. Only two other shows besides 'Friends' commanded a rate of more than $1 million for their finales. NBC's 'Seinfeld,' which drew 76.3 million viewers in 1998, charged $1.42 million, and CBS's 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' which drew 32.9 million viewers in 2005, charged $1.22 million." (Medialifemagazine)



"A couple of weeks ago, the Italian socialite Roberto Parli managed to bolster his playboy credentials: he crashed the front wheels off a roughly $400,000 sports car and stumbled from the scene of the accident yelling, 'I’m a millionaire. I’ll pay for everything, I don’t care,' reports say. This reckless stunt—like many other high-profile accidents—follows a storied tradition of rich men destroying fine automobiles simply because it’s fun. Parli’s behavior is a modern example of an old-fashioned notion: any ordinary man can buy a fancy car, but only a true playboy can demolish one with dignity. Naturally, a responsible person might find this cavalier approach to celebrating affluence offensive. The all-too-obvious consequence of risking the lives of innocent motorists, for instance, is probably a point that would turn off more sensible individuals. But practicality isn’t a trait wayward playboys are known for. And in each new generation of self-satisfied upper-class men, there are a select few destined to find themselves standing over a ruined sports car, relishing their own destructive power, and the car’s demise. Parli’s alleged outburst after the accident illustrates his desperate need to demonstrate the authority of his wealth." (Jamie Johnson/Vanity Fair)



"The day began at noon over at the American Museum of Natural History where they were holding the 21st annual Spring Environmental Lecture and Luncheon. The subject this year was food, 'A New Food culture for a Sustainable Future,' focusing on environmentally sound choices and practices for a healthier nutrition. This is an excellent event, and a fundraiser for the museum. It is one of those events that reminds me of what an incredible place New York is ... We were told that the world actually has enough food to feed all 6.5 billion of us except: at least a third of the water, grains and fertilizer is used to grow the food to feed the livestock that we like to eat ... We were told that 20% of the food eaten in America is eaten in cars. On the run. Somehow we tend to think this is efficient – if inconvenient – but in fact it’s loaded with viral implications, beginning in the home and bringing up a family of healthy sane children. We were told that in New York City schools, 860,000 meals were served three times a day in New York City schools rivaling only the U.S. Military in numbers; that 1.8 mllion people in New York City use food stamps; that 43% of New York City kids are overweight. There are a lot of people who don’t want to hear these things, preferring to disbelieve (what they don’t know) or think that to avoid the issue is to think positively. The panel is moderated by Lynn Sherr who is greatly responsible for why this program always delivers and stimulates the audience (which not so incidentally is growing every year)." (NYSocialDiary)


"Later this summer, once the deal is closed and Elle is fully absorbed into the Hearst family, editor in chief Robbie Myers will join Harper's Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey and Marie Claire's Joanna Coles under the same roof, creating a fashion magazine troika. The opportunities are many: selling across brands, teaming up on the Web and creating a petri dish of reality TV ideas. But the balance in the Hearst fashion magazine ecosystem will most definitely be upset. Marie Claire was originally brought into Hearst to compete with Elle, but has never quite done the job: Myers joins the company with the widest circulation and most ad pages of the three. Her magazine has the big brand name and the earliest reality TV presence, and her staff has the wacky, well-known personalities (Anne Slowey! Joe Zee!). But that doesn't automatically make her the standout in what will no doubt be a busy season of jockeying for Queen Bee status. And the new kid on the block is already playing nice. 'I'm excited to be joining two editors I respect and admire,' Myers wrote in an e-mail from Los Angeles. 'Some of my oldest friends and favorite editors are at Hearst -- we're all looking forward to going there.' At Hearst rival Conde Nast, it's easier to figure out who's on top: Anna Wintour. She has the chairman's ear, she magically ginned up something called Fashion's Night Out to resuscitate the industry and she participated in a major-release documentary made about her closing the biggest issue of Vogue ever. She has all the juice. The field is wide open at Hearst, so how will the three coexist?" (WWD)



"The Lindsay Lohan post-rehab goodwill tour made an impromptu stop at Don Hill's last week at the after-party for the premiere of Ceremony. Henry Winkler was on hand to support his son Max, the film's director, but LiLo managed to upstage even the Fonz. Indeed, she seemed to be running the show.'Get them out of here!' a svelte—but healthy-looking!—Ms. Lohan bellowed to a PR flack, referring to the reporters who'd infiltrated the back room. 'This is for family only,' a guy next to us explained. To make up for the outburst, Ms. Lohan agreed to answer one question from the Transom and one from another weekly publication. A reporter from a fashion Web site was out of luck. As it was clear that Lindz was itching to get back to preening for the paparazzi, we made our inquiry with haste. Now that you're back, we asked, what's your greatest career ambition? 'To work with Oliver Stone,' she said, with gusto. 'And I'm gonna do whatever I have to do to get it. I'm committed.'" (Observer)

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