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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"According to an October 2008 cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow, reported this week by the Moscow Times, Russia's Foreign Ministry 'remains a bastion of Slavic males who went to Moscow's top schools.' The ministry's director of personnel, Vladimir Morozov, is quoting as saying that diplomacy is traditionally the 'domain of the stronger sex' and argues that 'men were better equipped to handle long-term absences from home, harsh climates, and the 'complex political and military situations' in which Russian diplomats often found themselves.' According to the cable, while the number of women in the institution is increased, they are traditionally limited to public affairs, or secretarial work rather than diplomatic assignments. Overall, the author reports that the culture of sexism, micromanagement, limited technology and rigid top-down management style, limited use of modern communications technology, 'a Soviet-like effort to maintain control of information' all contribute to a "challenging environment' for conducting diplomacy. Another gripe at the ministry is the low pay. Sources within the Foreign Ministry told the cable's author that diplomats' wives who work in the private sector frequently earn more than their husbands do. Seems there are a lot of good reasons smart women would rather work elsewhere." (ForeignPolicy)

"'Kill the body, and the head will die.' -- Joe Frazier ... President Obama is preparing to fight a political war this fall on two fronts -- the first against Republicans who want his job and the second against Republicans who want to make his job more difficult. Obama is taking dead-aim at the latter group, targeting Congress in a fall offensive that the president’s reelection campaign hopes will bruise the overall GOP image beyond repair. Right now, few people in Washington are as expert on damaged images as Obama. Obama has seen his overall approval ratings along with his numbers with constituencies key to his reelection hit new lows this August. He needs a villain and fast. Enter Congress, the villain set to return to work next week. It clocks in with a 13 percent approval rating, having suffered more from the July brawl over the debt ceiling than even Obama. When GOP lawmakers return, the president and his team are ready to deliver a flurry of attacks, castigating Congress for inaction on jobs, being on the wrong side of taxes and eager to destroy social safety net programs. If Obama and his team have their way, Americans will come to see every Republican as a Tea Party extremist. The president previewed this effort when he started throwing jabs while on the road in August." (TheHill)


"'The myth is that the price war put so much pressure on our profits that I was forced to steal money to maintain my opulent lifestyle,' Conrad Black tells Vanity Fair’s Bryan Burrough. 'It’s part of the whole News Corp. mythmaking apparatus,' he explains. 'It was Rupert, you know. He originated that one. He certainly parroted it. Rupert always says reasonably nice things about me, but then he throws in something like that for effect. I don’t really blame Rupert. He’s not a non-friend. Rupert is just Darwinian.' Black opens up to Burrough about every aspect of his experience in jail at Coleman Federal Correction Complex where he served for over two years and where he is likely to return this fall. 'I’m not embarrassed in the least bit I was in prison—not the slightest,' he says. 'There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You can’t talk to Martha Stewart about it, or Alfred Taubman. They didn’t see it as I did, as a nightmarish change in careers. I see it as a temporary vocation. I quickly developed alliances with the Mafia people,' Black says, 'then the Cubans. I was friendly with the ‘good ol’ boys’ and the African-Americans. They all understood I had fought the system, and I do believe I earned their respect for that. Everyone got along,' he says, 'except with the child-molesters. There was the occasional scuffle there, I heard.' He recalls the welcome he received from a senior member of the Genovese crime family: 'No one will bother you here. If you catch a cold, we will find out who you got it from. You know, we have much in common .… We are industrialists. The myth, in all the Canadian papers, was that I would not hold up in prison, that I would be physically and sexually abused …. I realized, well, it would be a little tedious, but it wouldn’t be difficult to endure.' He recalls the indignities of anal inspections, telling Burrough: '[I] was slightly mystified at the extent of official curiosity about that generally unremitting aperture.'" (Vanityfair)


"It looks like Da Brick is a go at HBO. I hear the pay cable network has handed out a pilot order to the drama project about a young boxer from Entourage creator Doug Ellin, filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and writer John Ridley. Ridley wrote the script for the pilot, which will be directed by Lee. Set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed 'brick city,' 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. Search is under way for an young black actor to play the lead. Da Brick stems from Tyson’s 2010 guest appearance on Ellin’s HBO comedy Entourage, a series inspired by executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early years in Hollywood. “That’s when Mike asked me, why don’t we do with my life what we did with Mark’s life,' Ellin told me back in June when Da Brick was still in development. “The initial idea was ‘Entourage meets The Wire,‘ an edgy story about an up-and-coming boxer and his crew that is much more dramatic than Entourage.'" (Deadline)


"I'd like to tell you that he travels with an entourage, that he's unapproachable, that you play by his rules. But I've never met a celebrity so honest, so unguarded, so willing to go on the record as Mark Cuban. He's got no agenda, he's just being him. Maybe you know him as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA champs. Maybe you saw him on 'Dancing With The Stars'. But to those paying attention, it was his huge financial victory selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo that put him on our radar...how did this happen? I hate to tell you, but rich guys are smart. The self-made ones. Those who inherit tend to piss it away, they just don't know about hard work. And that's what it takes to make it and keep it. So Mark graduates from college and moves to Indiana where he's living in a veritable frat house, six guys, working as a bartender. So what does he do? He buys a Texas Instruments computer and learns how to program. Now let me be clear, he's got no degree in computer science. He's not being paid to learn. But he can see the future, and he wants to participate. Can you see where we're going as opposed to where we've been? Are you willing to put in the hard work to get there? Hell, I'll be honest, I was stunned Mark Cuban knew who I was, never mind wanted a meeting with me. To shoot the shit no less, with no agenda, because he thought it would be fun... I'm just a guy sitting in front of a computer screen in my underwear, how did this happen? Hard work and a paradigm shift. When I was printing my newsletter and sending it via snail mail, my audience was limited. But the Internet opened the world to me, and if I can just write something special enough, it's astounding who I can reach." (LefsetzLetter)


"Meanwhile, back to our Saturday late morning real life, JH and I drove down to Santa Monica to get some breakfast and visit the Promenade on Third Street where they have the Farmer’s Market set up every weekend until 2 in the afternoon. The Promenade is closed off to cars and under the bright blue sky and the warm sun, Los Angelenos fill the streets, shopping, walking, looking, exhibiting themselves (often like characters out of Nathaniel West) and having a good time. Afterwards we took a long and leisurely stroll on the pathway in Palisades Park when runs on the western side of Ocean Avenue, on the cliff overlooking the Pacific. It was this part of Santa Monica – the beach – where the early moguls of the film industry built their houses. It was known as the Golden Mile and all the big names were there – the Mayers, the Zukors, the Laskys, the Zanucks, the Thalbergs, the Talmadges and most of all William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies who occupied a 114-room beach house right on the sand where they entertained the famous and the infamous (although W.R. didn’t have much truck for infamous other than in his papers’ headlines) and even Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw." (NYSocialDiary)

"Irene cleared the air for Mitt Romney to dominate the Hamptons scene this weekend and exclusively rub shoulders with Wall Street elite as he raises money for his presidential campaign. Romney and rival candidate, distant cousin Gov. Jon Huntsman, both planned to attend East End fund-raisers over the weekend but canceled because of the storm. Huntsman’s camp said the event hosted by real estate developer William Mack will be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the fund-raiser for Romney at former US Assistant Treasury Secretary Emil Henry Jr.’s East Hampton home has been rescheduled for Saturday. Moore Capital Management hedge fund king Louis Bacon, Jets owner Woody Johnson and New York Republican State Committee Chairman Ed Cox are to attend the bash, at $2,500 per person. Sunday, Romney will attend a fund-raiser at billionaire John Paulson’s Southampton estate. Romney has raised four times more cash than any other Republican candidate, raking in $18 million." (PageSix)


"This week when it was announced that Paris Hilton’s latest reality-TV show venture, The World According to Paris was being canceled after barely scraping together 400,000 eyeballs for the premiere, it seemed like the end of an era. After all, it’s been 10 years since the celebutante, now 30, first graced us with her sometimes infuriating, often shocking, but always entertaining presence. In a way, Hilton ushered in the modern era of gossip rags and—along with Britney and Lindsay and Jessica—fueled a multimillion dollar dirt-digging industry. Without Paris, we wouldn’t have Perez Hilton. 'That’s hot' would never have entered the national lexicon. And night-vision photography would never have been deemed sexy. We take a look back at the modern 'It' girl, the woman who made being “famous for being famous” an art form, and her greatest hits and misses. In another era, a sex tape would have been ruinous to any aspiring starlet. But this was 2003, the beginning of Generation Me, and just a year before Facebook launched. Instead, the leaked sex tape with her ex-beau Rick Salomon—shot in sickly green night vision—had the opposite effect: it made Paris an instantaneous infamous, international celebrity, breaking her permanently out of the New York tabloids and into feature articles in major magazines like Rolling Stone and Maxim. The week after the tape leaked, Paris’s first reality show, The Simple Life, launched. The tape ushered in the trend of reality-TV star as porn star, paving the way for Kim Kardashian. Um, thanks?" (TheDailyBeast)

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