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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Europe continues to be engulfed by economic crisis. The global focus returns to Athens on June 28 as Greek parliamentarians debate austerity measures imposed on them by eurozone partners. If the Greeks vote down these measures, Athens will not receive its second bailout, which could create an even worse crisis in Europe and the world. It is important to understand that the crisis is not fundamentally about Greece or even about the indebtedness of the entire currency bloc. After all, Greece represents only 2.5 percent of the eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the bloc’s fiscal numbers are not that bad when looked at in the aggregate. Its overall deficit and debt figures are in a better shape than those of the United States — the U.S. budget deficit stood at 10.6 percent of GDP in 2010, compared to 6.4 percent for the European Union — yet the focus continues to be on Europe. That is because the real crisis is the more fundamental question of how the European continent is to be ruled in the 21st century. Europe has emerged from its subservience during the Cold War, when it was the geopolitical chessboard for the Soviet Union and the United States. It won its independence by default as the superpowers retreated: Russia withdrawing to its Soviet sphere of influence and the United States switching its focus to the Middle East after 9/11. Since the 1990s, Europe has dabbled with institutional reform but has left the fundamental question of political integration off the table, even as it integrated economically. This is ultimately the source of the current sovereign debt crisis, the lack of political oversight over economic integration gone wrong. The eurozone’s economic crisis brought this question of Europe’s political fate into focus, but it is a recurring issue. Roughly every 100 years, Europe confronts this dilemma." (STRATFOR)


"Having covered Hollywood from a New York base for over 20 years, I watched Gotham hold its own because of filmmakers that included Jonathan Demme, Alan Pakula, Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet. So let's see where that leaves us. Demme doesn't work often enough. Pakula, whose resume includes one of the greatest American movies ever in All the President's Men, died in a freak accident on the Long Island Expressway. Allen has been on an extended tour of Europe that I admit has completely reinvigorated him as a filmmaker but hasn't helped the production scene in Manhattan. Scorsese shoots all over the place, and Lee has had trouble getting his films funded even though he's a voice well worth hearing. Finally, Lumet, the guy who made seminal movies like Network, 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico, and continued directing films at such a fast pace that co-workers swore he shot while double-parked, passed away. Now, Lincoln Center has announced a summer series of films made by the great Lumet. It is worth checking out some of his great films. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for that electrifying new New York filmmaker who'll have the clout to force productions to be shot in his backyard despite the high union costs, and who makes Gotham relevant again on the feature scene." (Deadline)


"'Dr. Doom,' NYU professor Nouriel Roubini, took a break from his predictions of economic calamity to throw one of his famous parties at his sprawling East Village triplex penthouse Saturday. Roubini invited a crowd of models, lawyers and creative types to his pad, which is big enough to hold a world economic summit and boasts a new, giant Jacuzzi on the roof terrace. Guests greeted by an upbeat-looking Roubini at the 14-hour bash -- which started at noon with a dip in the model-packed Jacuzzi -- included Sean Stone, director son of Oliver Stone, prominent lawyers Richard Conn Jr. and David Hryck, former CNBC journalist and MDC Partners' Ash Bennington and Roubini's stunning girlfriend, Micca Wang. While only some got the memo that the dress code was 'Carmens & Matadors,' all were treated to a live performance of the opera orchestrated by Or Movement's Shai Baitel. Roubini told us, 'People know me as Dr. Doom, but as you can see, I really like to enjoy life.'" (PageSix)


"The disillusionment was irrevocable. One day while she was in college, Michele (Bachmann) took the train from Minneapolis to Winona. She'd brought along a copy of Burr, Gore Vidal's fictional portrayal of America's Founders, to pass the time. What she read horrified her. Told from the point of view of Aaron Burr, Vidal's novel makes endless fun of Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton. At one point the narrator says America's first president had a large rear end. 'It was so disgusting to me,' Michele said, 'talking about how he was waddling or something.' She put the book down and looked out the window at the passing landscape. He's mocking the Founders, she thought. That's not who these men were. Then she thought: I don't think I'm a Democrat. 'And at that moment, I became a Republican. I was done.'" (The Weekly Standard via NPR)


"I'm not the only one to notice (Niall) Ferguson's recent bloviations. Last month Michael Lind wrote a broadside against Ferguson in Salon. Lind paints Ferguson as someone who's always been a hack, which is unfair -- he produced some genuinely interesting economic history back in the day. Still, it's genuinely sad to witness the odd decline of Ferguson from premier economic historian to hack commentator. Financially, he's much richer from this move, but his writing has become so impoverished over the past decade that he's writing his way out of the foreign policy conversation. I've frequently bemoaned the ignorance of economic history and foreign economic policy in debates about international relations. Because of this, I must mourn the passing of Ferguson's ability to make informed contributions to important policy debates. The opportunity cost of reading his current hackwork, however, has become way too high." (Daniel Drezner)


"Last night over at Lincoln Center in Damrosch Park, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts presented the annual Midsummer Night Swing Opening Benefit honoring Daisy and Paul Soros for 18 years of generous support. This is the first year the Summer Swing has been a benefit – besides being a great public event. Before that, the Soroses who are and have been very active in New York both socially and philanthropically wrote the check. They particularly love what this does for New Yorkers on summer nights. There’s a live orchestra and everybody dances. Everybody. Even the people who don’t dance. It’s catching. Last night was a beautiful night at sundown. The temperature was right." (NYSocialDiary)


"Bobby Rivers has been seen on a TV near you for decades. Rivers, a genial host, spent time on air in New York at WPIX, WNBC, and WNYW. Rivers, who is gay, gained national fame as a VJ on VH1 early in his career. Later, he had a show on the Food Network. Friday night, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. For Rivers, though, it’s bittersweet. 'I wish my late partner had lived to see that historic day and I wish I [had been] in New York City that night,' Rivers admits to FishbowlNY. 'I’m so proud of the state I love.' Rivers watched his partner die from the ravages of AIDS in 1994. During that time, he was reporting for WNBC/Channel 4’s Weekend Today in New York." (FishbowlNY)


"In Robert Altman, The Oral Biography by Mitchell Zuckoff, the late, great director's longtime wife, Kathryn Reed Altman, remembers a time in 1972 when the phone rang and Altman picked up the other extension. 'I could tell something was up,' Kathryn relates. That night, she goes on, 'it all kind of broke that he was having this encounter with Faye Dunaway--and she was on the phone.'She was a real smart assed bitch and I really didn't like her.' Which might not exactly be a minority opinion. After a rocky period, Faye was warded off and the marriage somehow got patched back together like a brilliantly edited Altman film. But years later, Faye found herself at the same Oscar party as the Altmans. Relates the wife: 'Bob didn't acknowledge her. He was like it never happened, which is a good way of handling it. She came around to my side and kneeled down and went through this big apology to me. 'I said, 'You can't take full responsibility. It wasn't just you, Faye.' 'Bob was the one who should have been down on his knees.'" (Musto)

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