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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"A friendly wager -- the Kremlin Contest: Among friends, I'm regarded as a bit of an outsider for my call on next year's Russian presidential elections -- a forecast hereand elaboration herethat strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will opt not to return to the slot he held for eight years, and instead will select his friend, President Dmitry Medvedev, to run again next March. Over at the Washington Post, my former colleague Fred Hiatt is upset with the Kremlin's approach to electoral politics, but that's beside the point. The prevailing opinion is that Putin will return to the Kremlin, but I bet a glass of Rioja on Medvedev with the husband of a senior FP editor who sides with the conventional wisdom (she herself declined to reply to the challenge). None of this sways my colleagues. The other day, one fellow in the office called my prediction 'implausible.' So I am throwing out a public wager -- an election pool of a sort. Here are the rules: The winner must correctly name who is Russia's next president and prime minister, plus the date when Putin makes the announcement." (ForeignPolicy)


"'I hate litigation,' Sumner Redstone once told a gathering of his fellow moguls. 'I’m a lover, not a fighter.'  Had Redstone, Viacom founder and Harvard-trained lawyer, uttered that under oath, he’d have risked a perjury charge. Just four months earlier, Viacom had sued Google for $1 billion. The search giant's YouTube portal was allegedly trafficking in stolen, popular content from the media giant's cable channels, including Comedy Central and MTV. And with fresh lawsuits this year against Time Warner Cable and Cablevision over streaming rights on iPad -- plus the four-year-old Google case -- Viacom is showcasing its flair for the art of legal pugilism. These days, CEO Phillippe Dauman, who began his climb at Viacom as Redstone's young outside corporate attorney, is directing the legal fire. But Viacom's litigious nature traces straight to Redstone, its 88-year-old executive chairman and founder, who once worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. He hasn't spared his family either. For decades, as chronicled here, Redstone has hung soiled family laundry in lawsuits. Now corporate lawsuits are filling a lull in the family warfare." (TheWrap)


"This past weekend I finished David McCullough’s 'A Greater Journey' about the first American 'tourists' who went to Paris in the 1820s and thereafter throughout that century.  Mr. McCullough takes us on this voyage but also reminds us of who we were and where we came from. It’s entirely enthralling. I am not one who has always had a romantic notion of Paris as a place, a city, a cultural phenomenon. I see now that it’s only because I never had the notion, that it was a road not taken for me. I got it, however, while reading this book. By the end of the book, as we approach the 20th century and America has developed into this gigantic marvel of innovation and invention and creative energy, Paris remains the majestic conning tower for some of our greatest writers, thinkers and artists." (NYSocialDiary)


"The face of the woman likely to become Thailand's first female prime minister has been staring out for weeks from thousands of political campaign posters here in the country's capital. On one poster, the 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra is dressed in a sober black and white suit, dark locks cascading over her shoulders; in another, she greets a sea of supporters, hands pressed together in the traditional Thai gesture of greeting. The front-runner in Sunday, July 3's national elections, Yingluck has campaigned masterfully. Since being appointed candidate of the opposition Pheu Thai party in May, she has traveled across the country, donning a hijab in the Muslim south and electrifying audiences in the rural northeast. And she has also amply leveraged her family pedigree to vault herself from relative obscurity to ubiquitous fame. But if her last name helps her to win the vote, she's likely to discover it will also deepen the tensions of her increasingly divided country. Indeed, while Yingluck is a political newcomer, her family surely isn't. She has not attempted to hide the fact that she has succeeded in large part because of her older brother, the fugitive billionaire and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who described her, from his exile in Dubai, as his 'clone.' Thaksin was overthrown in a military coup in 2006 -- allegedly for abusing his office and insulting Thailand's revered king -- but remains overwhelmingly popular in the rural hinterlands, where he is seen as a champion of the poor. Although he faces a two-year jail term for abuse of power, he and his supporters say the charge was politically motivated. 'If you love my brother,' Yingluck has asked her supporters in countless campaign stump speeches, 'will you give his youngest sister a chance?'" (ForeignPolicy)


"She has made a career of modelling show-stopping outfits as a world famous catwalk super star. But you would have thought Naomi Campbell would have toned down her wardrobe for just one day and allowed the bride to take centre stage. After dazzling everyone in a Girogio Armani gown, Charlene, 33, changed into an Armani prive cocktail dress for the official reception and ball. But it seems she was upstaged by Campbell whose white floor-length gown turned heads and put Princess Charlene's slimline evening dress to shame." (DailyMail)


"Which young Hollywood actress has been hooking up with a fellow hot actor? Leaving his apartment one morning, she was horrified to cross paths with another young woman going into his place for a good time. Next! . . . WHICH starlet's team insists that size-6 tags be cut out of her dresses by designers and a size-2 tag sewn in its place to preserve her vanity and prevent a body image-inspired meltdown? . . . WHICH heir to a luxury fashion house has been rounding up a bevy of models to fly to St. Tropez aboard his private jet?" (PageSix)



"It’s an old adage of addiction that you have to hit bottom before you can start to recover. But who knew the same principle applied to people with a fashion problem? Well, it seems Princess Beatrice does now. The redheaded granddaughter of the queen (mom is Sarah Ferguson, pop is Prince Andrew) was widely ridiculed for wearing a Philip Treacy fascinator that resembled an overly complex pretzel to the royal wedding, but it seems the incident has sharpened her fashion sense and led her to hire one of the U.K.’s top stylists. The 'hat thing,' as Beatrice apparently now refers to the incident among friends, wasn’t totally her fault. Treacy must bear some of the blame for creating the item that was placed upon the minor royal’s head in the first place, for the truth is, that hat wouldn’t have looked good on anyone. (For evidence, click here.) But such was Beatrice’s mortification at the global headline lashing she received as a result of her ill-advised foray into excessively dramatic millinery that she has now hired a stylist—the £1,500-a-day former fashion editor of British society glossy Tatler, Charlie Anderson—to help her improve her dress sense. Recovery, of course, is generally considered impossible without a little humility, and it seems Beatrice’s wedding-day disaster was the trigger that finally forced her to ask for help. But the day of reckoning has been a long time coming." (Tom Sykes)

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