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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The crisis at the News of the World broke in July 2011. It had been gathering for five years, since the first public intimations surfaced in 2006 of a culture of using private investigators to hack into the mobile phones of those the newspaper wished to investigate. Two ‘rotten apples’ were thrown out by News International, the parent company: these were Glen Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by a number of papers to find out secrets of the objects of their investigations; and Clive Goodman, the News of the World (NotW ) reporter who covered the royal family and whose stories had used material gleaned by Mulcaire from interceptions of the royal princes’ phones. The rest of the barrel, the paper and the company said, was unblemished: as evidence of purity of soul, the then editor, Andy Coulson, resigned, disavowing all knowledge of the hacking but shouldering responsibility as the one on whose watch this had happened. A few months later, he was employed as director of communications by David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party and of the opposition; when Cameron moved, in May 2010, into Number 10 as prime minister, Coulson retained his post and moved with him. It was reported that several of those who met Cameron at this time warned him against employing Coulson. The latter’s claim, that he had not asked a senior reporter about the source of stories which would be among the most important published in any given week, astonished those who had any acquaintance with journalism." (Reuters)


"Obama’s campaign was about more than particular policies. He ran on a platform that famously promised change and hope. His tremendous political achievement was in framing those concepts in such a way that they were interpreted by voters to mean precisely what they wanted them to mean without committing Obama to specific policies. To the anti-war faction it meant that the wars would end. To those concerned about unilateralism it meant that unilateralism would be replaced by multilateralism. To those worried about growing inequality it meant that he would end inequality. To those concerned about industrial jobs going overseas it meant that those jobs would stay in the United States. To those who hated Guantanamo it meant that Guantanamo would be closed. Obama created a coalition whose expectations of what Obama would do were shaped by them and projected on Obama. In fact, Obama never quite said what his supporters thought he said. His supporters thought they heard that he was anti-war. He never said that. He simply said that he opposed Iraq and thought Afghanistan should be waged. His strategy was to allow his followers to believe what they wanted so long as they voted for him, and they obliged. Now, this is not unique to Obama. It is how presidents get elected. What was unique was how well he did it and the problems it caused once he became president." (STRATFOR)



"Charlie Sheen has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past week or so, just as his new series, Anger Management, is getting ready to hit the marketplace, probably later this week, with cable and even some broadcast networks potentially getting pitched. Gone is the disheveled look, the chain-smoking, the crazy talk of tiger blood and warlocks and the insults thrown at his former Two and a Half Men employers. They have been replaced by a clean-shaven, charming and remorseful Sheen who seems completely normal again. That is exactly what buyers would want to see as committing to doing a show with a star who has had drug problems is never a 100% safe bet. Over the past 2 months, since Lionsgate TV announced in July that it plans to produce a sitcom starring Sheen based on the movie Anger Management, Sheen has undergone a process of image rehabilitation that included some time away from the limelight followed by his reintroduction as a reformed man this past week. And it seems Lionsgate TV and its subsidiary Debmar-Mercury, which will handle the selling of Anger Management, have timed the shopping of the show perfectly." (Deadline)



"It is the beginning of 'UN Week.' You’ve heard me complain about this before. Basically the center of the city slows to a crawl for hours in the middle of every business day, delaying millions of people in their workday, all for the 'protection' of a few thousand who gather here at the UN. Two of the four lanes running down the middle of 57th Street from Second Avenue west are blocked off for diplomatic traffic, which seems to travel in caravans of black tinted windowed vans and police cars. And at night: A friend of mine dining at a Mexican restaurant on East 86th Street last night told me about four Malaysians from the UN dining nearby. They had 25 in security and several cars with the whirly lights. At that same time (mid-evening) Park Avenue was closed from 79th Street to traffic to the 40s. Probably the President. I don’t know why they don’t just evacuate the city so that these UN people can visit in comfort, worry-free from the presence of us, the great unwashed. That way they could return to their countries, with all the world’s problems solved, leaving us all to live in the peace which they so brilliantly forged for us while they were staying in our 'fair' city." (NYSocialDiary)




"Rock royalty turned out to view art by Bob Dylan over the weekend. Mick Jagger perused Dylan’s paintings at Gagosian Gallery surrounded by a cadre of muscle-bound bodyguards during a private viewing ahead of the show’s opening today on Madison Avenue. Also at the preview, though less well-protected, were Michael Stipe, Patti Smith, Owen Wilson and collector Peter Brant. The exhibition, called 'Bob Dylan: The Asia Series,' runs through Oct. 22." (PageSix)



"Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker speaks to B&C editor in chief Ben Grossman in a wide-ranging interview (subscription required). The big topic is obviously former NBC and CBS anchor Katie Couric‘s upcoming ABC talk show (which Zucker serves as EP on), but Zucker also talks about leaving NBCU, and his own future. With regards to Couric, Zucker says that the show will not be a news show, but that it would still remain topical. He also said that he expects Couric to return to what made her so successful when she was at NBC’s 'Today'" (TVNewser)


"'I’m living the American dream,' socialite Justin Ross Lee tells us after the New York Post ran a story about his bankruptcy filing yesterday. 'You can’t be anyone in America until you’ve filed for bankruptcy. Trump, Lorenzo Lamas, Baldwin..they’ve all filed.' The Post had claimed that Mr. Lee — who was recently the subject of a Guest of a Guest contest where the winning 'shiksa' would accompany him to the Emmys — was $160,000 in debt and only had $100 in his bank account, despite posing as one of New York’s social elites. But Mr. Lee says the story about his bankruptcy has only helped his fledgling business, PretensiousPocket.com. 'I’ve had more order today han any other day. I never made any claims about how much money I make…but I live a comped lifestyle. A fly first-class for free around the world.' 'I’m happy the Post ran the story,' said Mr. Lee, who claims he will be staying in his $$2,700-a-month Murray Hill apartment despite the paper claiming he only had $100 in his bank account and was currently being sued by Citibank for $80,000. 'Oh, and that $100…it’s gone.'" (Observer)



"Vladimir Nabokov once dismissed as 'preposterous' the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet’s assertions that his novels eliminated psychology: 'The shifts of levels, the interpenetration of successive impressions and so forth belong of course to psychology,' Nabokov said, '—psychology at its best.' Later asked, 'Are you a psychological novelist?' Nabokov replied: 'All novelists of any worth are psychological novelists.' Psychology fills vastly wider channels now than when Nabokov, in the mid-20th century, refused to sail the narrow course between the Scylla of behaviorism and the Charybdis of Freud. It deals with what matters to writers, readers, and others: with memory and imagination, emotion and thought, art and our attunement to one another, and it does so in wider time frames and with tighter spatial focus than even Nabokov could imagine. It therefore seems high time to revise or refresh our sense of Nabokov by considering him as a serious (and of course a playful) psychologist, and to see what literature and psychology can now offer each other.We could move in many directions, which is itself a tribute to Nabokov’s range and strengths as a psychologist: the writer as reader of others and himself, as observer and introspector; as interpreter of the psychology he knew from fiction (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce), nonfiction, and professional psychology (William James, Freud, Havelock Ellis); as psychological theorist; and as psychological 'experimenter,' running thought experiments on the characters he creates and on the effects he produces in readers." (TheAmericanScholar via APieceofMonologue)



"Launching her career in journalism at a Los Angeles television station, (Eleanor Mondale) gained the reputation of a club-hopping Paris Hilton type and femme fatale by dating a series of extremely high-profile men: Arnold Schwarzenegger, rock star Warren Zevon, James Belushi, entrepreneur Ron Perlman—and by marrying and rapidly divorcing football player Keith Van Horne and then Greg Malban, a DJ known as Greg Thunder. And though she paid her dues working for various stations in Chicago, the Today show in New York, and finally for WCCO in Minneapolis, the media considered her a party girl and dubbed her 'Wild Child'' It stuck. The ultimate headline-grabbing episode was a meeting with Bill Clinton in the White House on Dec. 6, 1997. According to the Starr Report, Eleanor and Clinton met for 40 minutes while Monica Lewinsky, who was having an affair with the president, was told to wait in an outer room. Apparently a Secret Service agent told Lewinsky about the tête-à-tête and she was so outraged that she stormed out, went to a payphone and yelled at Betty Currie, the president’s private secretary. Currie was so upset, according to the report, that she told the agents that Clinton was 'irate' over their insensitive disclosure and warned a supervisor that 'someone could be fired.' Rumors of a romance between Mondale and Clinton had been circulating and denied for years. 'What’s funny is every time I’ve seen the president, there have been at least five other people in the room,' she told the Chicago Sun-Times. 'I don’t think we would have carried on this so-called affair right in front of Barbra Streisand and people like that!' No matter what the circumstances, Eleanor’s straitlaced parents never blinked. 'I think they were probably perplexed by her life, they were very proper Minnesotans,' says journalist Elizabeth Drew, a close friend. 'But they were very supportive and if they disapproved they never let on.'" (TheDailyBeast)

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