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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"For years, the agonizing search for Osama bin Laden kept coming up empty. Then last July, Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar, Pakistan, and wrote down the car’s license plate. The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately, administration officials said, he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in a wealthy hamlet 35 miles from the Pakistani capital. On a moonless night eight months later, 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound, the officials said. Shots rang out. A helicopter stalled and would not take off. Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program." (NYTimes)


"In recent years, the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute Gala has embraced accessible themes that are easy to get pumped up about: superheroes, supermodels, American style. But this year, the fashion world's biggest party took a bittersweet, more deeply felt turn inward, organizing itself around the work and memory of the late Alexander McQueen. Last night's unveiling of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, an exhibition devoted to the British designer, set his often incendiary oeuvre against a lyrical, emotionally charged backdrop, including a replica of a 30-foot oak tree in the Great Hall, reminiscent of those on McQueen's property in Sussex, England; a time-lapse video of roses blossoming by his collaborator Nick Knight; and an after-dinner set by Florence + the Machine. Outside earlier, McQueen dresses added an extra-theatrical flourish to the star-packed red carpet. Daphne Guinness sported head-to-toe feathers with her trademark aplomb, and the spilling train of Gisele Bündchen's scarlet McQueen gown, alongside that of Fergie's Marchesa, combined to create a sort of no-go zone for anyone walking in. For those who'd known McQueen, memories poked their way through the evening's glamour. 'Certain pieces were almost torturous in a way. I saw so many girls almost faint backstage,' Natalia Vodianova recalled." (Style


"Osama Bin Laden is dead. You feel better? Is America any safer now that one of the billions of people on the planet is gone? You think any terrorists anywhere are hanging up their spikes and leaving the track with tears in their eyes? What, you think they’re all scared now? Is the mission accomplished? The death of Osama Bin Laden means very little. It will be something that right-wing news outlets will either downplay or credit to the last president. It could be a useful tool for the Obama 2012 campaign, especially if they don’t mention it. One thing I have been thinking about is how buoyant the president seemed at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. He must have known that American forces had O.B.L. in their sights. That may even explain the release of the president’s birth certificate a few days earlier—the warm-up before the pitch. If the death of Osama Bin Laden brings any peace to those who lost loved ones on that awful day in September 2001, that is a great thing. It is more likely, however, just a painful reminder of what was lost." (Henry Rollins)


"I left Sotheby’s about 7:30 and went over to the Fifth Avenue apartment of Tom and Diahn McGrath who were having a dinner for Richard Leakey, the African paleoanthropologist and conservationist. Mr. Leakey grew up in Kenya, as did his father and his father’s father. It was a rare kind of family life although not unusual for those Anglos who settled in Africa because they love the land and its peoples. Mr. Leakey’s parents were both archeologists and brought up their children sharing their professional interests. I first heard of him in the early 1970s when he had already gained renown for his discoveries, through excavation, of earlier hominid fossils. He was a guest on the Dick Cavett Show, a gem of a talk show that competed with Carson in the early 70s and inevitably lost the race in some programming executive’s office, to the great misfortune of its viewers. Cavett often had guests who were brilliant or charming or eccentric or all the above. The famous Katharine Hepburn remark about the secret of the success of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film team: 'she gave him sex and he gave her class' was first uttered by her on Cavett’s show." (NYSocialDiary)


"Howard (Stern) started the show talking about his morning and how great it's been so far. He was reading about the mission to get Osama bin Laden and it was very impressive. He said it could make the best movie of all time. Robin said it was about 12 guys that did it. Howard said it's a remarkable story. He said it's like something you'd see in 'The Bourne Identity' or something ... Howard said the team went in and one of the Navy SEALS put a bullet into his brain and then one into his chest. He said this was a kill mission. They're not even sure if Osama's gun ever even fired. None of his bullets ever hit an American. Howard said he's glad that they shot him with an American bullet. Howard said this can't bring back the people who died in 9/11 but at least there was some justice. Howard said the President handled this perfectly. Robin (Quivers) said people are now talking about how cool our president is. Robin said he knew all of this was going on while he was doing the correspondents dinner and stuff like that." (Marksfriggin)


"The 2011 Cannes Film Festival doesn't get underway until next week, but the market is already getting busy. Sierra/Affinity, which will be handling such titles as the Gavin Hood-directed adaptation of Ender's Game, has bolstered its sales force by hiring Jonathan Kier as exec veep of sales. Kier was senior veep of international sales and distribution for The Weinstein Company. Sierra/Affinity principals Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg will be handling product for Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, OddLot, Bold Films and Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Paul WS Anderson is re-teaming with his Three Musketeers collaborators Constantin and Summit on Pompeii, a period pic which builds drama around the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. That was a devastating explosion estimated to have been more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The subject matter, and its impact on Rome, is something James Cameron has long wanted to cover in grand detail, after his Lightstorm optioned the Charles Pellegrino book Ghosts of Vesuvius, with plans to do the same kind of thorough forensic recreation as he gave to Titanic. Anderson, who raced and beat a rival Musketeers movie, will certainly get underway first, as Summit will sell the movie in Cannes..." (Deadline)


"Gisele Bundchen let her hair down at Saturday night's Spring Fling party. The supermodel took to the floor and was 'dancing energetically, she was really going for it,' a source said. Another witness at the party hosted by Harry Josh and Nur Khan -- dubbed the 'unofficial pre-party' for last night's Costume Institute Gala -- told us, 'Fergie danced a few feet away from Gisele, and the two greeted each other before the real dancing started. Fergie was having a blast, surrounded by a group of guys who were Beyoncé 's dancers. The guys started having a dance-off, competing to impress Fergie. Her bodyguard pushed away a few overzealous dancers.'" (PageSix)


"To understand the impact of bin Laden’s death on the global jihadist movement, we must first remember that the phenomenon of jihadism is far wider than just the al Qaeda core leadership of bin Laden and his closest followers. Rather than a monolithic entity based on the al Qaeda group, jihadism has devolved into a far more diffuse network composed of many different parts. These parts include the core al Qaeda group formerly headed by bin Laden; a network of various regional franchise groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and last, a broad array of grassroots operatives who are adherents to the jihadist ideology but who are not formally affiliated with the al Qaeda core or one of the regional franchises. The al Qaeda core always has been a fairly small and elite vanguard. Since 9/11, intense pressure has been placed upon this core organization by the U.S. government and its allies. This pressure has resulted in the death or capture of many al Qaeda cadres and has served to keep the group small due to overriding operational security concerns. This insular group has laid low in Pakistan, and this isolation has significantly degraded its ability to conduct attacks. All of this has caused the al Qaeda core to become primarily an organization that produces propaganda and provides guidance and inspiration to the other jihadist elements rather than an organization focused on conducting operations. While bin Laden and the al Qaeda core have received a great deal of media attention, the core group comprises only a very small portion of the larger jihadist movement. As STRATFOR has analyzed the war between the jihadist movement and the rest of the world, we have come to view the battlefield as being divided into two distinct parts, the physical battlefield and the ideological battlefield." (STRATFOR)


"General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has done 'a very good job' as CEO of General Electric, says the former head of NBC Universal, Jeffrey Zucker. Mr. Zucker made his comment in response to a question I asked at the annual alumni luncheon of the Harvard Crimson, which was Saturday at the Harvard Faculty Club. Mr. Zucker had said that because of Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, NBC had a well-developed tradition of 'making fun of management.' Speaking of making fun of management, I asked, what about GE CEO Immelt? ... Asked by another questioner about his own failures and what he learned from them, Mr. Zucker said, 'I was not able to get NBC Entertainment, our prime-time schedule, turned around.' He said of the network prime-time shows, 'It was 5% of our bottom line, but it was 105% of our perception. I put two people into those jobs, and they both failed,' he said. 'I screwed that one up twice.'" (TheFutureofCapitalism)


"Which hot fashion designer -- perhaps upset that he didn't get the call to design that dress -- was spotted stumbling out of the Boom Boom Room, yelling, 'Kate Middleton is a vanilla whore!' on the eve of the royal wedding while his equally inebriated posse cackled? . . . WHICH supposedly straight star kept talking up 'hot women' at the Vanity Fair/Bloomberg party in DC Saturday night, while his rumored boyfriend remained close by his side? . . . WHICH high-ranking Republican was heard saying, 'Donald Trump is a jackass,' to his table at the White House Correspondents Dinner?" (PageSix)


"Sean Avery, the professional hockey player and former Vogue intern, is adding another job title to his resume: restaurateur. His new Tribeca restaurant Tiny’s had a grand opening this weekend when Avery organized a birthday party for our very own Derek Blasberg. (His other partners in the new eatery are fellow hockey players Hendrik Lundquist and Aaron Voros, and Matt Abramyck of deceased hotspot Beatrice Inn.) Riccardo Tisci, Alexander Wang, Dasha Zhukova, Vladimir and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Giovanna Battaglia, Hilary Rhoda and Catherine Keener were some of the revelers who came for dinner and then dancing in the second floor dining room. Just before midnight a mariachi band came in to serenade the birthday boy when he blew out his birthday candles, and when the party started wrapping up, new Nolita pizza restaurant Rubirosa delivered some much needed cheesy carbohydrates." (VMagazine)

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