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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The Axis of Evil may never be the same. A changing of the guard is looming for the James Bond villains of the world, and the bedtime stories with which we scare our children are going to have to go searching for new bogeymen. 2011 is proving to be a bad year for bad men. First, Osama was gunned down in his night clothes while padding around his suburban Pakistani split-level. Now, this week, we have news that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be on his last legs politically, caught up in political intrigue that has brought down his powerful chief of staff and has papers like Britain's Independent speculating that the little Holocaust denier in the homely beige windbreaker has only weeks remaining in his tenure. Maybe less. At the same time, we have the Chavista version of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? starring Mahmoud's hug-buddy and Venezuela's favorite talk-show host, 56-year-old Hugo Chávez. Chávez went missing a few weeks ago to seek medical treatment in Cuba for what was described as a "pelvic abscess" and since then has been surprisingly silent for a guy who is known to talk for hours on his radio show Aló Presidente about nothing at all ...  Rumors in Venezuela abound. There is speculation Chávez is in critical condition, that he has prostate cancer, that he has had liposuction that has gone terribly wrong. In a country without a clear succession plan, his big brother Adán has already made statements that socialists should not use the military to remain in power ... Elsewhere, D-list bad guy Ratko Mladic got arrested, Kim Jong Il continues to be subject to speculation about his deteriorating health (not to mention his ability to control the weather with his thoughts), Bashar al-Assad is under siege, Robert Mugabe is 87, and both Muammar al-Qaddafi and Omar Hassan al-Bashir have ICC arrest warrants out for them." (David Rothkopf)

"'I remember when (Prince) Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein first became friends,' someone who knows both men well tells Vanity Fair writer Ed Klein. 'Jeffrey had Andrew put on a pair of sweatpants for the first time in his life. He had him wear blue jeans for the first time. It was Jeffrey who taught Andrew how to relax.' But the source goes on to explain that 'after Jeffrey was convicted, I phoned Andrew and told him, ‘You cannot have a relationship with Jeffrey. You can’t do these things.’ And he said, ‘Stop giving me a hard time. You’re such a puritan.’ From there, our conversation descended into a screaming match, and finally Andrew said, ‘Leave me alone. Jeffrey’s my friend. Being loyal to your friends is a virtue. And I’m going to be loyal to him.’' The prince’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein has inflicted the greatest damage on his reputation. According to a sworn deposition by Juan Alessi, a former employee at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, Andrew attended naked pool parties and was treated to massages by a harem of adolescent girls. At least three of the girls were questioned under oath about whether Andrew had had sexual contact with any of the masseuses. One of them, Sarah Kellen, refused to answer, citing her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Another, Adriana Ross, was asked, 'Has Prince Andrew ever been involved with underage minor females to your knowledge?' She reportedly replied, 'I refuse to answer.'" (VanityFair)


"Thus on that bright and windy morning last week the crowds gathered to watch the annual Pug’s Club regatta, with enough moolah in that bay to pay off the Greek national debt. The big favorite and defending champion was billionaire Bob Miller in his trans-Atlantic record-setting Mari-Cha III. The evening before the race we met onboard the magnificent 260-foot Talitha, owned by Mark Getty and acting as the committee boat, where Mark laid down the rules, the course, and the handicaps. Just as well everyone was drunk, because the long-shot underdog Tim Hoare threatened to boycott the race after balking at the defending champion’s generous handicap. That is when the president of Pug’s, Nick Scott, deftly changed the subject and brought up club business. The business was easy to deal with but extremely unpleasant. It was about a man’s appalling behavior toward HRH Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, wife of a Pug member, at Arki Busson’s charity party the week before. Someone who shall remain nameless had the gall to put the man, art dealer Larry Gagosian, up for membership. All 17 of us blackballed him at once, which tied the record for blackballs held by Jeffrey Epstein, child molester and friend of Prince Andrew. What egregious act had Gagosian committed? While looking for his seat he had pushed the Greek princess aside and had failed to excuse himself. Princess Pavlos may look fragile, but she knows how to defend her territory. She called him a nouveaux vulgarian who should learn manners to go along with his billions. Gagosian didn’t know what hit him." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)



"Fire ripped through Larry Gagosian's Hamptons mansion Tuesday night, threatening countless priceless artworks. Firefighters said Gagosian's caretaker rescued two of his most valuable pieces by running out with them after the blaze started around 9 p.m. Amagansett Fire Chief Mark Burnett said works from the dealer's legendary collection suffered no fire or water damage, but there was, 'a lot of smoke damage on the walls,' The Post's Selim Algar reports. The trouble started when a worker was soldering in Gagosian's kitchen. About 50 firefighters quelled the blaze in less than 30 minutes, limiting damage to three rooms. Gagosian was in Europe at the time. 'We saved a flat-screen television,' Burnett said. 'It was the biggest one I've ever seen.'" (PageSix)



"Today was the Wednesday/Michael’s bit. I was surprised to see the place packed, since the long holiday weekend is only hours away for some of us. In the Garden Room there was a special lunch hosted by the cast of Damages, the Glenn Close legal show. Also present were John Goodman, Rose Byrne and Dylan Baker ... I was lunching with an old friend, Peter Gina (Gin-ay) whom I have known since the early '60s in New York. Peter lives out in Aspen (in Basalt actually). He is a New York boy, growing up on East 90th and Madison in a 14 room co-op which his mother and father bought in 1949 for $5300. Peter’s mother died two years ago, and he and his sister sold the apartment at a considerably higher price. Peter went to Collegiate, then Dartmouth, then the Marines, then to work in the family business (Sardi’s restaurant – his maternal grandfather and uncle were Vincent Sardi, Sr. and Jr.), then to Columbia Business, then to Wall Street. By that time the '60s were over, The War In Viet Nam was finally drawing to its ending, and our generation was busy Finding Themselves, with changing lifestyles and directions left and right. I was one of them although I went farther west.   In the early 1970s, Peter decided to leave the canyons of Wall Street. With a Volkswagen bus holding his belongings, a couple of cats, and a girlfriend at the time, he set out for Aspen, Colorado. Aspen was then a popular ski-community but far smaller, more rustic, and simpler than it is today. It was popular with wealthy Texans and the younger social set of New York who had the time and money to spend a few weeks of winter there on the slopes and kicking back. It was just beginning to become a destination for Arab sheiks, Hollywood cowboys and jet-setting snow bunnies with their takeover-artist tycoon husbands. Mainly it was a healthy population of women and men, like Peter Gina, who had opted out of city life." (NYSocialDiary)



"Before dashing off to their summer cottages in the Hamptons for the long holiday weekend, the media mavens and moguls were at their regular perches at Michael’s today for a bit of last minute networking. It was SRO at the bar and the dining room was jam packed, because the Garden Room was reserved for a party hosted by the cast of Damages, the water cooler legal drama starring Glenn Close as a ruthless Manhattan attorney. Last year, FX cancelled the show after three seasons, but it got a stay of execution from Direct TV which will air the season four premiere on July 13. I caught up with the series’ co-creator and show runner Daniel Zelman (who happens to be Debra Messing‘s husband, in case you didn’t know) before the party to find out what he thought of the move. 'FX was wonderful and terrifically supportive, and Direct TV has been great. We’re thrilled about their commitment to the show,' he told me, adding that Damages will be the first stateside television series to air exclusively on the company’s new Audience Network. (They also aired the beloved but viewer deprived Friday Night Lights, which they shared with NBC.) I asked Daniel what ripped-from-the-headlines news story would serve as the inspiration for the upcoming season. 'The privatization of war industry,' he told me, saying that the new scripts are 'loosely based' on those stories about for-hire firms like Blackwater who are paid to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. 'The stories behind the for-profit companies involved in the war effort are very interesting. There is a lot to explore,' he said." (FishbowlNY)


"Advocates of reducing the power of money in politics thought they had found a champion in the unlikely person of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, whose ongoing shtick about forming a political action committee brought more attention to their cause than all their press releases, testimony and legal briefs combined. As part of his effort to highlight — and parody — the impact of a 2010 Supreme Court decision opening new avenues for corporate money in elections, the satirist plans to testify Thursday in front of the Federal Election Commission about a very real legal request he filed that would allow his planned Colbert Super PAC to push the envelope on corporate political spending. But the joke seems to be backfiring. Not only is the PAC joke causing headaches for those whose cause it seemed designed to help — and providing fodder for their opponents — it’s exposing Colbert to rigorous questioning from FEC lawyers and raising ethics questions for his lawyer. 'I think Colbert is trying to dramatize problems in the campaign finance world in the way that he dramatizes other things,' said longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate for stricter campaign finance rules who is president of Democracy 21. 'But nevertheless, the proposals here would potentially open gaping disclosure loopholes in the campaign finance laws.' Wertheimer is so concerned about what Colbert is doing, in fact, that Democracy 21 has joined with the Campaign Legal Center, another advocacy group, to petition the FEC to reject his request because it could result in the 'radical evisceration' of campaign finance rules." (Politico)


"With a giant exclusive said to be going to Vogue magazine, details about the Kate Moss-Jamie Hince wedding this weekend are being as closely guarded as a top-secret mission to take out a terrorist. Nevertheless, here’s some of what’s spilling into view. According to a prominent fashion industry insider who knows Moss well, the bride—who’s always had a refreshing indifference to what’s expected of a celebrity—will indeed be wearing a dress by her friend John Galliano, who’s on trial in France for allegedly anti-Semitic remarks he made in a restaurant this year. The wedding actually will be fairly small, at least by supermodel standards, with somewhere in the ballpark of 150 guests in attendance, and all of them close friends of the bride and groom. Tom Ford? Not going, we’re told. Ditto Karl Lagerfeld and Madonna. But do expect Stella McCartney, Daphne Guinness, Amanda Harlech, and Naomi Campbell. Same for Galliano, in what would be his first major appearance at a fashion event since his arrest. And as has been widely reported, there’s going to be a huge amount of live music, with rumored performances by The Rolling Stones, Shirley Bassey, The Gossip, and Bryan Ferry." (TheDailyBeast)

"Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, (columnist Dan) Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.  Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy." (NYTimesmagazine)

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