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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"This winter, the kitchens of the Middle East took to the streets. In Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, men demonstrated wearing frying-pan basinets. Tin-pot cervellieres. Water-bucket shakos. The green, plastic chain mail of a wastebasket. A young man trussed a rumpled trio of empty water bottles to his head with a swatch of torn bed linen. A protester in Sanaa taped two baguettes and an unleavened pancake of chapati to his skull. None of these impromptu helmets would have stopped a bullet. Few would have softened the vicious blow of a rock hurled in anger. They were not so much body armor as expressions of grassroots desperation. Yet there was nothing laughable about men who had dressed for combat in their sculleries and, taking a page from a Palestinian cookbook, dabbed their keffiyehs in table vinegar and sniffed onions to counter tear gas. Their ad-lib battle-rattle bespoke a kind of sincerity, an innocence of purpose. And it was apropos: The high cost of food was one reason people protested in the Middle East and Maghreb." (ForeignPolicy)


"Speaking of gentlemen, Sir Tom Stoppard dropped in for a visit in New York a couple of years ago. He’s erudite, friendly to all and sundry, and never shows off his vast knowledge outside his plays. His son Ed Stoppard plays a lead part in yet another British triumph which recently arrived in these shores, the new version of Upstairs Downstairs. Fans of the British aristocracy will like this one as much as the 70s oldie which ran for years in Blighty. I remember it well. All England would stay home to watch the weekly dish, and the characters became part of the language—so much so, that someone took the actor who played Lord Bellamy to White’s Club, introduced him at the bar as Bellamy, and for a while got away with it. The story was told to me by the actor’s son, Andy Langton, who eventually became a member of White’s. Upstairs Downstairs appears on Sundays on PBS. The other British gem is Downton Abbey, whose creator has just been knighted by the Queen for making the aristocracy look so good for a change." (Taki)


"A film’s success rises or falls on the smallest of details. And so it was that the director of this month’s medieval stoner comedy Your Highness found himself in a boardroom with the suits at Universal Studios, discussing every last facet of his minotaur’s manhood. How to light the half-man/half-bull’s prosthetic appendage? How large should the dimensions be? And what would the anatomy suggest about the beast’s religious leanings? 'We took the leap, culturally, and we circumcised him,' the director, David Gordon Green, explains. Yes, much has changed in Hollywood since Clark Gable pushed the boundaries of taste by appearing without an undershirt in 1934’s It Happened One Night. For decades the dividing line between an R and an X rating was decidedly phallic-shaped. Not anymore. Male genitalia are getting unprecedented screen time at the multiplex and all over premium cable. 'Male nudity has a humorous value because it’s taboo,' says Green, whose film garnered an R. 'There’s a gracefulness to the female form that’s subject to this Last Tango in Paris, Jayne Mansfield–type of adoration. Where guys just don’t get the same shot. So that, for me, is where it’s ripe to come in and pull the pants down.' Full-frontal dude-ity isn’t limited to visual punchlines in comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and this summer’s The Hangover Part II. Male genitals (or, to use the now popular Hollywood vernacular, 'peens') are cropping up across the cultural grid, on cable shows like Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand and HBO’s Game of Thrones, and in blue-chip Broadway fare like Equus, where Daniel Radcliffe showed he’s more than just Harry Potter. Over the years, A-list actors like Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, and Ewan McGregor have also played the full-monty card to establish their dramatic bona fides, but the full-frontal shots were fleeting. Now nude guys get much more hang time." (TheDailyBeast)

"Last night I went over to Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Amsterdam and 66th behind Lincoln Center. I’d never stood in that specific spot with that particular vista to the east and the back of Lincoln Center. It’s a very new area, new in my lifetime. Sleek and substantial. I’d never been in the high school building before. It’s a beautiful building. I was going to the Stir, Splatter and Roll 11, the annual spring benefit for Publicolor, the organization that teaches leadership to young people, especially young people who are underprivileged or disenfranchised or experiencing the deprivations of poverty. These are poisonous times for young girls and boys in city who are under the duress of those situations. Ruth Shuman came up with this idea – years ago now – employing something which seems simple, and even manageable ... Their specific objective in painting is to paint the interiors of these schools with colors chosen by the kids who attend school there. This is the first step of Ruth Shuman’s brilliant contract with the kids ... Last night they were honoring the Estee Lauder Companies’ volunteers ('for their steadfast support of Publicolor students'), and Soledad O’Brien for her work in reporting on unreported communities in America. In forming this organization Ruth Shuman brought together a broadly diverse group of New Yorkers including many people in the arts as well as business. Last night’s roster including 'honorary team leaders' and 'team leaders': Christo, Mark di Suvero, Philip Glass, Harold Koda, Meredith Monk ..." (NYSocialDiary)
 
"My previous post showed that a lot of media company bigwigs have pay that's out of whack with the other 4 top executives whom the SEC requires these corps to list. Now I want to show the flip side -- CEOs that don't set off alarm bells with corporate governance experts. Top dogs like News Corp's Chase Carey, Comcast/NBCUniversal's Steve Burke, Cinemark's Alan Stock, World Wrestling Entertainment's Kevin Dunn, Dreamworks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dish Network's Charlie Ergen, Netflix' Reed Hastings, AMC Entertainment's Gerardo Lopez, Regal Entertainment Group's, and National Cinemedia's Kurt Hall make no more than 3 times as much as the average for the 4 other top executives whose compensation is listed in the annual proxy statement to shareholders.  Let's be clear: We aren't saying that the executives below are fairly or unfairly paid. But they work at companies where the boards of directors at least seem to recognize that multiple people deserve the credit for the company's performance .." (Deadline)
 
 
"Howard (Stern) asked if (Gilbert Gottfried) was trying to hold on to that Aflac gig. Gilbert said he was in a daze and he's not sure what he was doing. He said he was shocked that of all the things he's said in his career that it was this thing that got him in trouble. He said none of them had apparently heard of Howard's show.  Howard said it wouldn't have been anything if 75 percent of Aflac's business wasn't in Japan ... Howard asked how he got fired. Gilbert said he found out through his agent. Howard asked if the agent told him to do damage control. Gilbert said he did. He said the media was reporting that it was comments and remarks that he made and not 'jokes.' He said if they had said 'jokes' then it wouldn't have been a big deal. Gilbert said the two first days on Twitter were like psycho emails saying that they were going to kill him and his family. He said after that it was an overflowing of fans saying that he was just joking and that's what he does. Howard asked if he composed the apology himself. Gilbert said that came out of a machine like 'Apology 176, okay, lets use that.' Howard said that Gilbert is all about himself and he's not thinking about other people. The apology was obviously not written by him. Howard said Gilbert has been Tweeting other jokes about the Tsunami since then. Howard said his income must have been cut down by a lot. Gilbert said of course it was. Howard asked if he'll be able to get more commercial work now. Gilbert said it's a funny thing. He said he realized that the tsunami was on the news every minute but then one day he woke up and Chris Brown throwing a chair had taken over." (Marksfriggin)

"While the chattering class wonders if there’s an upper limit to Facebook’s valuation (and throws around that 'bubble' word again) our LAUNCH analysis suggests the company is holding back on the throttle. We believe they may actually be under-monetizing by a factor of three or more.If so Facebook’s true 2011 revenue could potentially blow away the ~$4B figure that’s been widely leaked by as much as 3x -- for a truly staggering $12B. Carrying forward to 2012, $6B in revenue could actually be closer to $18B. That would put the then 8-year-old company at nearly half of Google's 2012 projected $40B. Assuming a 35% margin, this would imply net earnings of $4.5B in 2011 and $6 billion plus in 2012. Combine that with a 20x forward-looking EBIDTA multiple, as appropriate for such a fast-growing company -- and Facebook cruises neatly to a $120B valuation. And that’s just next year, 2012. Suddenly the question of why Goldman’s a buyer despite the $50B valuation (not to mention rich civilians paying even more on the secondary market) may make a little more sense. Remember guys, this is Goldman we’re talking about. They never spend more on an acquisition then they have to of course (cf. rules #001-003)." (Launch)


"Haley Barbour had his presidential announcement plan lined up: A May 2 launch, followed by a fly-around to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, before winding up in in Jackson on Saturday the 7th for a big home-state fundraising bash ... For weeks, the insider betting had been that he was a lock to get in the race. One of his closest advisers said that after talking to the governor following his trips earlier this month to South Carolina and New Hampshire, it seemed clear that a declaration was only a matter of when. With next week’s announcement tour in the works and the New Hampshire leg of the trip already disclosed, his presidential campaign seemed a go. But even as he was taking all the usual steps – calling donors, visiting early states, hiring operatives – there were signs that the Mississippian wasn’t all in. As he traveled the country testing the waters over the last few months he had begun privately using the same phrase to describe his intense exploratory schedule: he called it his 'death march,' a Republican who heard Barbour use the term recalled." (Politico)

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