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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The first time I met Ali Abdullah Saleh, I had recently emerged from the ocean. I was unkempt, hair damp and tangled, legs unshaven. It was last December, and Yemen's president was visiting the island of Socotra, off Yemen's southern coast. The president invited the handful of tourists on the beach to sit with him in a three-walled hut overlooking the sea. We exchanged a few banal phrases, mostly about how lovely the island was, and later ate young goat and rice with Saleh and his entourage ... My experience with Saleh would have ended after our first meeting on the beach had I not also met Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, the ex-prime minister and head of the Shura Council, a legislative body whose members are appointed by the president. Ghani had gone to Colorado College, where my mother worked for 36 years. We had a friendly and benign chat about Colorado Springs -- he knew the street I had grown up on. He struck me as a soft-spoken, fatherly type. A month later, back on the Yemeni mainland, I dug up Ghani's contact information. It was Jan. 26 and, only the day before, the people of Egypt had taken to the streets en masse in a fast-moving revolution that would soon topple President Hosni Mubarak. The next day, thousands of young men and a few women would take to the streets of Sanaa in Yemen's first major opposition protest. I sent Ghani a quick email saying hello and thanking him for his crew's hospitality in Socotra. In Yemen, personal connections are everything, and I thought a high-level contact might come in handy in the future. I might even get a free lunch out of it. A few hours after sending the email, Ghani called. We exchanged pleasantries, and then he got down to business. 'Can you come to the palace?' he said. 'To the club? Can you be ready in half an hour? We'll send a car.' It was all very sudden." (ForeignPolicy)


"Here’s the scoop on poor old Hellas, that sad little EU country given a temporary reprieve from being hauled to the municipal dump: Greece will default sometime in 2012. If there are any doubters around, this prediction comes from the great oracle of economics Taki, the very same Taki who smelled a rat even before the Greek government was caught red-handed cooking the books under the advice of the poisonous giant squid, Goldman Sachs. The latter took its giant fee and went back home in order to continue screwing the innocent. The Greeks stayed on the beach and are now paying for past follies. The trouble is that no one responsible for the disaster has been punished. An ex-minister of defense under the socialist government of ten years ago, one Akis Tsohatsopoulos, was said to have 180 million Euros in his private bank account. The bum had no family money except his ministerial salary. The newspapers screamed bloody murder to no avail. He threatened to reveal the truth about defense-contract kickbacks, so the 'conservatives' clammed up. The result was a typical Hellenic fiasco. He kept the money and everyone went to the beach. 'The only Greeks whose hands are clean are that tiny minority who keep government away from their businesses.' How can anyone take these Greek politicians seriously?" (Taki Theodoracopoulos)

"If Rep. Anthony Weiner is hoping a get sympathetic hearing from his peers by 'welcoming' a House Ethics Committee investigation into his bizarre email escapades with women, he will probably be sorely disappointed with the results—if he hangs on that long. The panel that would investigate Weiner’s sexually charged online relationships is stacked with Southern, swift-justice Christian conservatives unlikely to relate to a sexting, swearing New Yorker, and liberal Democrats who have dedicated their careers to protecting the rights of women, both in the workplace and online. If Weiner wants to save his hide, he might have more luck in front of an old-fashioned firing squad. The chairman of the House Ethics Committee this year is Rep. Josiah 'Jo' Bonner, an Alabama Republican described by aides who have worked with him in the past as a family man and 'Boy Scout.' Driven by a fundamental sense of right and wrong, the former Capitol Hill staffer made headlines during the ethics probe of Rep. Charlie Rangel by saying the New York Democrat Rangel had neither honor nor integrity, and adding, 'Mr. Rangel should only look in the mirror if he wants to know who to blame.' Although Bonner won’t comment on the specifics of the Weiner scandal, he gave an insight Tuesday into what would he will be thinking if an investigation does go forward. 'The American people have a very low view of politicians,' Bonner said when asked about Weiner in Spanish Fort, Alabama. 'My personal goal is to try to do anything we can and everything we can to assure the American people that this is not the majority of the people that serve in Congress.'” (TheDailyBeast)


"Have you noticed the spate of male sex stories? Arnold. Then the head of the IMF. Then Edwards Redux. Now a Congressman. I know, the charges all differ but it’s all the same: boys being boys. Bad boys too at times. Very bad boys. And worse, bad guys. I’m not talking about grownup men because that’s a biological state. I’m not excusing in any way the behavior of any of these doofuses but looking instead to put it in its proper place in the scheme of things for us. What I find interesting about these cases (you can hardly call anything a scandal any more) is their frequency in the media. This stuff has been going on forever. But privately. And now with the internet, forever is going on forever. With no privacy. The photos that hundreds of thousands of people put of themselves for anyone and everyone to see are the kind of photos you wouldn’t ordinarily want to see of a stranger. And doing what, some guy amusing himself with himself in the bathroom. His Charles Atlas moment? ... Meanwhile down at Michael’s his name is currently mud." (NYSocialDiary)



"It was SRO at Michael’s today with movers and shakers jammed into every corner. I was so glad I got there early and was able to chat with Rick Fox and his girlfriend Eliza Dushku (who we loved on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) when they arrived at the stroke of noon. Having watched the former LA Laker morph into a serious ballroom dancer during his stint on Dancing With the Stars, I just had to ask him if he’d kept up with his smooth moves. 'No I haven’t,' he told me with a laugh. “I guess I need to call [professional partner Cheryl Burke] if I ever need to do that again.' Rick said he was in town for Internet Week to promote Off Season, a podcast production he is working on with Michael Eisner as producer. “It’s great and that’s where the future seems to be. I’m having a lot of fun with it.' As for Eliza, who is truly stunning in person, she’s in town to film an episode of White Collar. When asked if she is playing a good girl or femme fatale on the USA Network series, she demurred. 'A little of both, I think.' With that, the dazzling couple sailed off to take their place at their table in the center of the room." (FishbowlNY)


"So the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the New York Observer, Gawker, Newsweek/Daily Beast, and Facebook all walk onto a stage. For New York City media, that’s a dream setup—pick your punch line. Especially when the topic of their conversation is 'The Future of Media' and you’ve got salty Timesman David Carr (star of the forthcoming Page One documentary) sitting alongside staunch HuffPo defender and editor Saul Hansell and Gawker editor Remy Stern. But I Want Media founder Patrick Phillips, who moderated Wednesday’s panel discussion at New York University’s Journalism Institute, mostly missed the opportunity before him. Maybe that’s because the obvious question—What is the future of media?—was never asked. Still, Philips’ pointed questions did yield some pull quotes. In chronological order: Carr said the New York Times would 'absolutely not' go out of business, and defended the Times pay wall. 'We’re trying to squeeze money out of everybody we encounter,' he said. 'But I would say our future is solid.' Stern and Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers said they would not institute pay walls. Newsweek/Daily Beast executive editor Edward Felsenthal said Newsweek and the Daily Beast would not become one brand. He also said that the Daily Beast had become a 'must read' for a lot of people, which went unquestioned. Hansell defended the Huffington Post’s repackaging of Times content, then suggested that news organizations should serve their audiences, 'not some J-school professor’s abstractions' (oh snap!). He also compared Patch, AOL’s hyper-local news service, to 'building a railroad 150 years ago.' Stern said Facebook is often Gawker’s strongest circulation tool." (AdWeek)


"Ann Curry was genetically designed to wait. During the U.S. occupation of Japan following World War II, her father, a young American sailor, fell in love with a native. They wanted to marry, but the Navy, convinced he was making a terrible mistake, said no. It took two full years before Bob Curry was able to return to Japan and claim his bride, Hiroe Nagase. Moral of the story: Good things come to those who wait. For Curry, the payoff begins today, when she takes over as Matt Lauer’s new co-anchor on ‘Today.’ Five years ago, she was passed over in favor of Meredith Vieira to succeed Katie Couric. 'There was a moment when I wished they would have asked me,' says Curry, 54, who joined ‘Today’ as news anchor in 1997. 'I had a period of sadness. Then you go, Wait a minute, I have a great job. How can I be so ungrateful to not be present with that?’" (TVNewser)



"Bill Clinton is still finding a way to hold summit meetings these days -- only now, his talks are with the king of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. The former president and Rolling Stone Keith Richards painted the town black Tuesday night at posh Craft restaurant near Gramercy Park, where they sat down with more than a dozen diners for a charity dinner. Clinton had auctioned off the dinner during his birthday party last year to millionaire real-estate mogul Steve Bing, according to a spokesman for the ex-prez. The proceeds went to Clinton's foundation. Clinton, Bing and the other guests -- including Chelsea Clinton and her hubby, Marc Mezvinsky -- began the meal at about 7:30 p.m. Richards, who is a pal of both Clinton and Bing, showed up about 45 minutes later. 'They were all sitting around a long table at the back of the room,' said an onlooker. 'Mr. Clinton was sitting opposite Mr. Richards, and they seemed to be getting along really well.'" (NYPost)


"In the second high-profile drama off-network sale this year following TNT's recent acquisition of Hawaii Five-0, TNT has picked up the rights to ABC's crime dramedy Castle, which is heading into its fourth season in the fall. The first 2 seasons of series starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic will begin airing on TNT in the summer 2012 and will also be available online through TV Everywhere. The license fee for Castle, sold by Disney-ABC Domestic TV, is said to be in the $1.5 million per episode range, less than what TNT recently agreed to pay for CBS' freshman Hawaii Five-0, just north of $2 million. (Ironically, Castle started beating Hawaii in the ratings towards the end of the season as the two shows faced off in the Monday 10 PM slot.)." (Deadline)

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