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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Watching Angelina Jolie stride through a restaurant is to be given a lesson in how to avoid attracting attention in public. She looks ahead impassively, her back is straight and she walks at speed so that she will have moved on before any diners, who think they might just have spotted the world’s biggest female movie star, have time to do a double take. Unlike the other diners in The Grill on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood, I know she is coming, so although I am seated at the back of the restaurant I notice her as soon as she enters. She is dressed entirely in black – black shirt, black trousers, black shoes – her long brown hair falling over her shoulders, a Louis Vuitton bag clutched at her side. Suddenly she is standing next to me and I am scrambling awkwardly out of my seat to introduce myself. 'Hi,' she says, putting out her hand for me to shake, her face lighting up into a broad smile that almost knocks me off my feet. 'I’m Angie' ... She doesn’t have a publicist so our meeting was arranged after several weeks of e-mail and telephone correspondence with a mysterious Frenchman called David." (FT)
"According to Universal's North American box office stats, Cowboys & Aliens opened #1 Friday with $12.994M, beating the $13.291M earned by Sony Pictures' The Smurfs. But even Universal is now agreeing with Sony that the Western/scifi mashup should come in only #2 for the weekend at $36.7888M, behind the little blue guys toon's $13.291M. But Smurfs is really overperforming while Cowboys & Aliens is way behind expectations to the point of tanking ..." (Nikki Finke)

"Last night, William Powhida looked set to be the most annoying artist on the scene right now. At the opening of his show at the posh Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea, he arrived in a vintage Mercedes convertible, which he drove straight into the exhibition space. The show is modestly titled 'POWHIDA,' and as the artist explained, its splashy opening was supposed to count as the work on display, with his guests as the studio supplies. 'Everyone’s invited into the gallery, and they’re all part of the art,' Powhida said, as cameras clicked around him. 'We are all creating art right now. Look at all the cameras—this is important.' ... An artist doesn’t get more annoying than that. Or wouldn’t, if in fact the man who said those things had been an artist at all. Although only some people knew it at the time—few enough that the New York Observer got it wrong in their blog post—the man at Marlborough was in fact a Hollywood actor, hired by the real William Powhida to play him as a bore and a creep.  'All of Bushwick' knows that the real Powhida is a 34-year-old who teaches high-school art in Brooklyn, according to an insider who let me in on the secret. As the opening took place, Powhida, the artist, was actually off on a residency in Wisconsin, and had been blogging from there about a serious 'social drawing project.' The subterfuge was well done. The fake Powhida was a portrait in clich├ęs—tall and handsome but also a touch seedy, wearing the sleek suit and shoes of a social climber on Wall Street. As all us dupes stood around gawking, he stepped into a VIP-zone, cordoned off just for him and a few leggy blondes, and proceeded to get drunk from a private fridge at his elbow. (That last bit may not have been acting.)" (TheDailyBeast)

"In 1985, Ron Shore began selling metal detectors from his Chicago basement. The shop limped along for two decades, and five years ago, with the price of an ounce of gold at about $650, he nearly closed it. This year, gold has soared to more than $1,600 an ounce, and Mr. Shore, 66, is on track to rake in $1.2 million in sales. 'It's been gangbusters," he said, noting that his retail business—which sells detectors priced from $150 to $25,000—has doubled every year for three years running. In December, he quit his day job with a graphic-arts firm. 'I couldn't keep up with it anymore,' he said. With the price of precious metals on the rise and the economy stuck in a weak recovery, the metal-detector business is booming. 'It's the get-rich-quick mentality, or find some extra change to put in the gas tank,' said Mike Scott, sales director for First Texas Products of El Paso, which last year sold $15 million worth of its gold-prospecting metal detectors, marking the third consecutive year that sales of the product have tripled. The top U.S. retailer, Kellyco Metal Detectors in Winter Springs, Fla., saw annual sales climb 63% from 2005 to 2010, to $24.8 million. The store projects sales of $26 million this year. The phenomenon isn't limited to the United States. Minelab, an Australian company that sells high-end metal detectors for as much as $5,600, sold $118 million worth last year, more than double its sales of $46 million in 2009. Minelab partly attributes the jump in sales of the premium detectors to a gold rush in Sudan, where droves of modern-day prospectors with gold fever have traveled in search of fortune. The company projects continued growth this year." (WSJ)

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