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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Supposedly tomorrow is the day when all the personnel changes at the top of the national security establishment will be rolled out. To me, the question is: What does President Obama think he is gaining from these moves? Defense Secretary Panetta: Yes, another alumnus of Congress. Ugh. But Panetta has a reputation of handling the CIA well, and that is not an easy job, as the place has the nasty rep of either undermining or capturing its outsider chiefs. I think this move signals that Obama plans to take the defense budget way down, and that Panetta's expected job will be to hold the place together and sell the spending cuts to the few remaining hawks in Congress. CIA Director Petraeus: Honestly, I am a bit puzzled by this. Smart, hard-working, etc. But why this man for this job at this time, especially at a time when there is already reason to worry about the militarization of our foreign policy and diplomacy? Well, it gets him out of Afghanistan. Cynics think it also keeps him from being critical during next year's presidential campaign, but I actually don't think Petraeus has political ambitions, or even much of a desire to participate in electoral politics." (Thomas Ricks)


"In its annual rite of spring, Time magazine tried to round up the world's top 100 most influential people at its black-tie gala last night in Manhattan. With competition from the royal wedding drawing some media stars elsewhere, this year's Time 100 gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center seemed to have a heavier literary bent than usual ... The most literary table of the night was Table 1, where MSNBC anchor and sometime writer Chris Matthews talked up a storm with 'Freedom' author Jonathan Franzen and singer Patti Smith, whose memoir was a best-seller. Insiders, however, know it is usually Tables 6 through 11 that are the white-hot center of the action. The always buzz-worthy Table 6 included 'The Fighter' star and director and Time 100 honoree Mark Wahlberg, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Time Editor-in-Chief John Huey, now part of the governing troika of Time Inc., along with his boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. Republican Congresswoman and Tea Party leader Michele Bachmann was breaking bread with the always witty Brian Williams, anchor of the 'NBC Nightly News,' with Time International Editor Michael Elliott looking on at Table 8." (KeithKelly)


"Royal wedding anchors including ABC's Chris Cuomo, Piers Morgan, CNN's Kiran Chetry and ABC News President Ben Sherwood, threw back quite a few drinks last night at Morgan's London pub, Hansom Cab. Others at the 'networkpalooza' included Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jane Seymour, 'Britain's Got Talent' judge Amanda Holden and Morgan's executive producer Jonathan Wald. After a jolly time that ended near 11 p.m., 'American Morning' anchor Chetry was the last anchor standing, a witness reports." (PageSix)


"Last night I was a guest of Toni Goodale at the annual PEN Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History. This is a favorite annual event of mine, as I’ve written here before. Mainly for sentimental reasons: it’s about writers and the business of being a writer in the community. There is something oddly heady being in a social environment dominated by the presence of writers. You could call it sentimental. There are always a lot of writers at this dinner, and at least one or two at each table – although this year the two at my (Toni Goodale’s) table were no-shows. This is a dinner evening of speakers. The difference is the speakers are often distinguished by the achievements as writers. This year’s welcoming remarks were made by Anthony Appiah, the President of PEN ... This year’s recipient (of the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award) was Nasrin Soutoudeh of Iran, a writer, a human rights lawyer and activist. Her award was accepted by Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ibadi. Nasrin has been sentenced to 11 years for 'propaganda against the state and conspiracy to disturb order.' You know when a government gets to that level of prosecution of its citizens, they’re desperate. Jailing Nasrin Souteoudeh for what she reports and says highlights the politicians' weakness. Too bad for Iran and its people. It was a big crowd of several hundred last night. I sat between the two Honorary Chairs, Annette Tapert and Toni Goodale. Tina Brown was the other." (NYSocialDiary)


"In a southern Indiana banquet room last week, Republicans dined on pork chops, listened to local politicians, then cast an informal vote in a race on all their minds: next year’s re-election bid by six-term Senator Richard Lugar, one of their party’s senior members of Congress. Lugar lost the Pike County Republican straw poll, with 11 votes to 42 for primary challenger Richard Mourdock, the state treasurer. Mourdock, who is courting support from Tea Party activists, was the keynote speaker at the April 21 dinner. Lugar was on a family vacation on Sanibel Island, Florida. At this point, Lugar 'has to be regarded as the underdog,' and his decision to take time off during Congress’s April recess is surprising, said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. 'It seems to reflect what I see as a failure to understand the environment out there, and possibly his unwillingness to see the difficult political shape that he’s in.' The Pike County results provide a glimpse of the challenge that Lugar, 79, faces from the influence of anti-government, anti-tax Tea Party supporters." (Bloomberg)


"'I don't have anything to say!' Jay McInerney giggled. The Bright Lights, Big City author and Gossip Girl actor hosted revelers at his Greenwich Village penthouse apartment Monday evening to celebrate the release of Candace 'evilminkster' Bushnell's latest book, Summer in the City, which details the formative years of Carrie Bradshaw in Manhattan. Mr. McInerney recalled early memories of Ms. Bushnell, back before her Observer column made her rich and famous: 'She was always the funniest person in the room! I couldn't predict for sure that was going to lead to international fame. I used to take her home at 3 a.m. and carry her up the stairs to her walk-up apartment!' ... Asked how his life at The Wall Street Journal as a wine columnist is working out, Mr. McInerney laughed: 'Beats having a real job!'" (Observer)


"Howard (Stern) asked Kim (Cattrall) if she was ever approached to do the casting couch type of thing. Kim said she had that. She told Howard about how this guy Sam Spiegel, who was very gross, had auditioned her. Kim said that he told her to come over to his desk and put his hands behind her and tried to put his tongue in her mouth. She said she ran out of the room and got into her car. She said her agent was driving and asked her what she did. She said she didn't play into it. Kim said she got an invitation to go to San Francisco with him even after that. Howard asked how she goes on after that. She said she knows that it exists so she just deals with it ... Robin (Quivers) asked what happened to the agent who asked what she did with that Sam guy. She said she got rid of her eventually. Kim said that the agents work for you and not the other way around. Howard got a picture of Sam Spiegel and said he was gross looking." (Marksfriggin)


"Early morning, Brooklyn. I arrived into New York late last night from Paris and my body clock doesn’t know what time it is yet. Breakfast with my friend Jonas at his studio, a large print from his 1972 footage of Elvis at Madison Square Gardens, hangs in the window by my desk. It’s a good image to start your day with. It’s the first day of the Tribeca Film Festival. Tomorrow night we premiere the new feature film Lotus Eaters, a crazy ride through the minds and lives of a group of London friends, with all the highs and lows, parties and paybacks of their existence. I’ve been coming to New York since 1998. It’s the city of my heart. It’s given me so much over the years in inspiration, opportunities, friends and adventures. I’ve studied here, worked here, escaped to here and longed for here ... First appointment of the Lotus Eaters press schedule is a Magazine shoot and interview over on West 20th Street and a much needed strong cup of coffee! Everyone’s there, cast and director, excited and buzzing. Adrenalin and coffee. I got a good luck postcard from my friend Lhaki in Paris this morning, with my favorite Prévert poem written on the front, he knew how to say it!!!" (film director Ben Northover)

"As the U.S. and China prepare to meet on Wednesday and Thursday for their annual Dialogue on Human Rights, Beijing and Washington have begun sniping at each other mercilessly. Beijing has blasted America's wars in Afghanistan and other countries as human-rights abuses and warned the White House not to 'position itself as a preacher of human rights.' The Obama administration, meanwhile, has emphasized the growing crackdown on rights activists across the People's Republic, publicly chastising Beijing even before the dialogue begins. Far from being a cause for concern, the sniping is a positive sign that the Obama administration has learned that its toothless approach to China over the past two years has failed. Its also an indication that the president has come to understand something that previous administrations knew very well—namely, that Washington can criticize the pragmatic Beijing regime on human rights while continuing to work with it on other important global issues." (TheDailyBeast)

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