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Friday, June 24, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia—Where once there were gilded gates and sweeping views, now there are parking lots, hospital ceilings, and object lessons for the Arab Spring's new dictators-in-exile to contemplate. For the routed presidents of Tunisia and Yemen, the latest additions to Saudi Arabia's guest list of leaders no longer wanted by unappreciative homelands, exile after their people pulled the plugs on their presidencies-for-life is appearing gloomy and isolated. Their Saudi hosts are forbearing but not especially thrilled, either. From King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the modern Saudi state, on down, the ruling al-Sauds have followed Arab tradition by offering asylum even to some toppled leaders they haven't particularly liked, Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Kabeer, undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told me in Riyadh this week. In the case of Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the Saudis offered refuge to a leader who wasn't even an ally; who had failed, like Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh, to support the U.S.- and Saudi-backed Gulf War after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Prince Turki said. 'This man asked for our protection. This custom is part of our life,' Prince Turki, who is the Foreign Ministry's official in charge of multilateral relations, said. 'You can't refuse if someone comes and asks for your assistance and protection.' Commentators and news reports have painted the conservative monarchy as the leader of a 'counterrevolution' nearly as sweeping and intense as the winds of change blowing across the region." (ForeignPolicy)


"Lower East Side amblers strolling by the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Tuesday night caught a fortuitous glimpse of Hollywood bigwigs as the New York screening of The Ledge, hosted by The Cinema Society and Grey Goose, kicked off at the East Houston haunt. The provocative thriller by director Matthew Chapman stars Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, and Charlie Hunnam, whose next-door-neighbor characters find themselves in a complicated love triangle grappling with life’s fundamental questions. Off-screen, the crowd of party-hopping A-listers including David Schwimmer, Kellan Lutz, Rachel Hunter, Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez, Kate Lanphear, Olivia Palermo, and Debbie Bancroft, dished on their own neighborly experiences. 'David Lee Roth lived in my building when I was a teenager. One evening, I was so excited to pass him in the hallway and say hello because I love Van Halen,' said the starlet, in a Stella McCartney sheath. 'Twenty minutes later he was arrested for buying pot in Washington Square Park' ... Passing up on the tuna tartare because she was 'kosher but not really,' Ann Dexter-Jones tried to think of all the crazy neighbors she’d gone through, but could only muster up a scenario when the tables were turned. 'When I was living on the Upper West Side, I decided my children were too English and polite--their butt was going to get kicked in New York. I hired a great sumo champion to make Mark [Ronson] more of a New Yorker. The sumo was probably 300 pounds and my frail, downstairs neighbor and his nurse knocked on my door to complain that his chandeliers were shaking.'" (Fashionweekdaily)

"The last will and testament of Huguette Clark, the 104-year-old reclusive mining heiress who died last month, was filed yesterday by the law firm of Holland & Knight. Ms. Clark’s executors are her lawyer for the past 15 years, Wallace Bock and her accountant for the past 30 years, Irving Kamsler. The estate has an approximate value of about $400 million. The will calls for the establishment of a foundation named the Bellosguardo Foundation 'for the primary purpose of fostering and promoting the arts,' a very convenient catch-all term which will greatly benefit whomever is selected to run it.  Bellosguardo is the name of Clark’s 24-acre oceanside estate in Santa Barbara which was built in 1933 after a previous house owned by her father who died in 1925 was demolished. The house, which Ms. Clark remarkably had not visited since her mother died in 1963, will serve as a permanent museum to house her 'extensive collection of fine art, rare books, musical instruments and other exhibition quality objects.' The house is currently assigned an estimated value of $100 million. Also assigned to the foundation are the two apartments at 407 Fifth Avenue in New York acquired in the late 1920s after her father’s mansion at 962 Fifth Avenue was sold in 1927, two years after his death." (NYSocialDiary)


Maria Shriver's brother Mark has been taking his big sister's messy split from Arnold Schwarzenegger hard. Friends of Mark who have seen him at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., say the normally gregarious head of Save the Children has been keeping to himself recently, even brushing off concerned friends. 'His ego seems bruised by the whole thing,' a pal of his told us. 'Losing his parents [Eunice and Sargent Shriver] was hard enough. I think he saw Arnold as the new patriarch of the family." A rep for Mark didn't get back to us." (PageSix)


"The talk of London, or at least the talk of our bus-riding London friends, is the new ad campaign by the Tunisian Tourist Board (also noted by the L.A. Times’ middle east blog). As the old saying goes, revolution stops at the all-inclusive beach resort. Except in Cuba." (VanityFair)

"AOL’s hyperlocal news website – Patch – is going to take advantage of the 2012 presidential election. AOL plans to add 33 sites, including ones in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, states where voting starts earlier. It’s also expanding the Huffington Post’s Washington, D.C. site.
According to Bloomberg, Howard Fineman, Editorial Director for The Huffington Post, even added that the site might sponsor a presidential debate. 'We’re talking about it, and we’re talking to potential partners,' he said. There are currently over 800 Patch sites, and that’s without counting the 33 new ones. And all the sites have been losing tons of money." (FishbowlNY)


"Director Brett Ratner threw a party for cooking queen Katie Lee at his lavish Hollywood home, Hillhaven -- the former home of Ingrid Bergman and James Caan -- to celebrate the launch of her first novel, "Groundswell." The protagonist somewhat resembles Lee, ex-wife of Billy Joel, in a story about a famous marriage and rumored affair. The intimate party for 50 included Hollywood elite like James Toback, Toby Emmerich, Brian Grazer and Jonathan Glickman." (PageSix)



"Before Dinosaur Jr. took the stage, Henry Rollins (aka the second Black Flag frontman on stage that night) conducted a much-anticipated interview with the band. Henry was a great person to interview Dinosaur Jr. Not only is he arguably the best speaker in punk rock, but the admiration between Dinosaur Jr. and Henry Rollins for each other was so clear. Henry opened his interview by telling us he is a 'XXXL Dinosaur Jr. fan,' and during the interview, when asked which live shows were influential on them, Murph mentioned Black Flag. In the interview they discussed things like how Dino got their start, the independent music industry, Husker Du (whose frontman Bob Mould should have been at Terminal 5 instead of 92YTribeca), Lou's departure from the band, and other related topics." (BrooklynVegan)

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