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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The man who once labeled Wall Street honchos 'at cats'deserving of scorn for their role in the 2008 financial crisis will be back in town tomorrow, pressing the fat-cat flesh at the swanky Upper East Side restaurant Daniel for a $35,800-a-head fund-raiser. A number of top Wall Street executives will show -- but some faces will be missing. I'm told JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon won't be there -- nor former Obama supporters like Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs, Brian Moynihan of BofA and John Mack of Morgan Stanley, nor even Larry Fink of the money-management firm Blackrock ... Many (me included) thought Wall Street was merely hedging its bets, hoping divided government would prove most profitable for its future. After all, the banks made a ton of money underwriting all the debt Obama has run up in massively expanding government. But those early cracks have widened in recent weeks ...Still, for all their grousing, big banks like Morgan and Goldman have done pretty well by Obamanomics -- earning huge fees for underwriting his massive expansion of government through the sale of government bonds, and making easy money thanks to the Fed's zero interest rates." (Charles Gasparino)



"Pundits in Washington have characterized President Obama’s decision to participate in a bipartisan 'olf Summit,'a friendly round of 18 holes that included Vice President Biden and Republicans John Boehner and John Kasich, as a conciliatory effort to reach across the aisle and embrace congressional opponents. But what if the president had an even more strategic political goal in mind? It’s possible that the carefully staged outing was designed not only to present him as a fair-minded, bipartisan leader but to remind rich campaign contributors that he’s a fan of upper-class pursuits, too. ecent news stories have indicated that Obama’s reelection team is implementing plans to win back powerful donors who abandoned the president after he took a hard line against Wall Street in the wake of the financial collapse. Last week’s high-profile golf match, which was shrewdly timed to coincide with coverage of the U.S. Open tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, might have been part of the president’s new initiative to recapture affluent benefactors. But I’m not sure palling around with Republicans over a gentlemanly game on the links is enough to satisfy scorned members of Obama’s elite fund-raising coterie. To retrieve their affection, the president may have to demonstrate even greater sympathy for the concerns of prominent financiers. What worries many vastly rich people about Obama is that despite his elegance and Ivy League manner, he can’t be counted on to defend the values of the upper crust." (Jamie Johnson)



"Last night I went down to Calvin Klein on 60th and Madison where the Young New Yorkers for the Philharmonic were holding their Summer Benefit cocktail party before dinner ... High end stores often host high end cocktail parties in New York these days. It’s usually wine and sparkling water and champagne. With waiters passing hors d’oeuvres. It’s also an ideal way to get people into the store. I talked to the three women from Calvin Klein who were overseeing the evening. One of the women told me she had already made a sale ... The crowd was generally 20- and 30-something. Women were in cocktail dresses and the men in suit and tie. It occurred to me that they were dressed just as their parents (and maybe even their grandparents) dressed at that age for such an occasion. What we used to call the look 'conservative' back when it signified modest, cautious, circumspect, prudent. Very early 1960s, before the liberation revoluntions. Before the Beatles came to America with the long hair ... These are great parties for young New Yorkers to meet other young New Yorkers, many of whom are ambitious to become a part of the community, to have a voice and an influence ...Two centuries ago in New York, these young people were attending dinners and concerts – often at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street. Their institutions dominated the culture; there was no competition. Lovers of music and the performing arts built what we have today in New York. Last night was one of the planting fields." (NYSocialDiary)



"How is this for intriguing mix of creative auspices -- filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and Entourage creator Doug Ellin have come together to produce a drama series project for HBO, written by John Ridley and to be directed by Lee. The project, titled Da Brick, is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Is its set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed 'brick city.' While the project is still in development, HBO has hired a casting director to explore casting choices for the lead, looking for young black actors who are also credible in the boxing ring. Tyson appeared in a 2010 episode of Ellin's HBO comedy series Entourage, playing himself. The original germ of an idea for Da Brick came out of a meeting the two had on the set of the veteran comedy, which was inspired by Mark Wahlberg's early years in Hollywood. 'That's when Mike asked me, why don't do with my life what we did with Mark's life,' Ellin said." (Deadline)



"(Jon) Huntsman spoke for a mere six minutes, without a microphone, before answering a smattering of questions with practiced, diplomatic vagueness. He introduced his wife, Mary Kaye, and two of his seven children: Liddy, who had just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania; and Gracie Mei, his adopted daughter from China who was celebrating her 12th birthday. The wait staff rolled out a chocolate-mousse cake with 12 candles. Earlier, Huntsman trapped a ladybug in his hands and presented it to her as a gift. 'We are the quintessential margin-of-error potential candidate,' he told the crowd. 'We’re in the early stages of due diligence, where you get around and have conversations with good people, where you share a little bit in the way of ideas, you reflect upon where your country happens to be. And that takes you into the future, where ultimately you make a decision we never thought we would be making.' 'Louder!' a woman in the back of the room called out at one point. 'Sorry, I’ve lost my voice,' Huntsman replied, although this was his first event on a five-day tour and, really, his normally soft voice sounded just fine. It was more that he seemed tentative and a little disoriented, the claustrophobic room swallowing his words. Back in the car, on his way to a sit-down with George Stephanopoulos, Huntsman turned to his strategist, John Weaver, and asked, 'Is it always like this?'" (Matt Bai)       


"Patricia Kluge, the saucy winemaker and one-time pin-up girl who became known as 'the wealthiest divorcee in history,' filed for personal bankruptcy protection this week. Kluge came into a reported $1 billion after splitting from media mogul John Kluge in 1990. The one-time star of UK adult film 'The Nine Ages of Nakedness' also got her hands on Albemarle House, a 45-room mansion on 3,000 acres in Virginia. But after living high-on-the-hog as a socialite hosting extravagant events for royalty, moguls and celebrities -- followed by a failed attempt to remake herself as a Virginia vintner -- Kluge, 62, crashed financially. She and husband William Moses have about $46 million in liabilities, according to their lawyer, Kermit Rosenberg. Earlier this year, Kluge moved to auction off her home and its contents. Donald Trump snapped up her Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard in April after it defaulted on millions in loans. Kluge's remaining assets are now under control of a trustee who will dole out payments to creditors beginning July 15." (PageSix)



"Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire is among more than a dozen high-profile Hollywood people being sued in connection with a mega-millions illegal gambling ring that ran high-stakes underground poker games, Star magazine is reporting exclusively. Maguire, 35, won more than $300,000 from a Beverly Hills hedge fund manager who embezzled investor funds and orchestrated a Ponzi scheme in a desperate bid to pay off his monster debt to the star and others, it's alleged. An FBI investigation into Brad Ruderman, the CEO of Ruderman Capital Partners, uncovered how he lost $25 million of investor money in clandestine poker games held on a twice weekly basis in suites at the luxury Beverly Hills hotel, Four Seasons, and the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard. Tinsel town A-listers Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon also played in the no-limit Texas Hold 'em games which had a buy-in of $100,000, multiple members of the ring told Star." (RadarOnline)



"The taxi driver to the Beirut airport tells me that yom al-qiyama (the day of judgment) is approaching. There will be a big explosion soon -- a very big explosion. The revolutions sweeping the Arab world are not good. Islamic parties will come to power everywhere. There will be no more Christians left in the Middle East. Believe me, believe me, he insists. In anticipation, he will make the hajj to Mecca this year, inshallah. I tell him that I am traveling to Iraq as a tourist. The look he gives me in the rearview mirror says it all: He thinks I am crazy. I am heading back to Iraq nine months after I left my job as political advisor to the commanding general of U.S. Forces-Iraq. Earlier this year, a sheikh emailed me from his iPad, 'Miss Emma we miss you. You must come visit us as a guest. You will stay with me. And you will have no power!' I am excited and nervous. The plane is about a third full. I am the only foreigner. I look around at my fellow passengers. I wonder who they are and whether they bear a grudge for something we might have done. The flight is one and a half hours long. I read and doze. As we approach Iraq, I look out the window. The sky is full of sand, and visibility is poor. But I can make out the Euphrates below." (ForeignPolicy)

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