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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"For more than six decades, Republican presidential aspirants have had a very simple but consistent message for explaining how they differ from Democrats on U.S. foreign policy: We're tough; they're not. Friday, Oct. 7's major foreign-policy speech by GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney follows this rather familiar path. According to Romney's speech, he will adopt a very 'different' approach to foreign policy than that of the current occupant of the White House: 'I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president. You have that president today.' How does Romney define American power? He may speak of values and economic strength, but like so many of his predecessors, it's the military. As part of his plan for lifting America from the depths of its current 'weakness,' Romney has pledged to increase the size of the Navy, enhance U.S. efforts to militarily deter Iran, recommit to a more robust missile defense, defend the United States against cyberthreats, review the current plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, and reverse the Obama administration's 'massive defense cuts.' If there's any doubt about what's forefront in Romney's mind when it comes to how to build the American Century, just look at the choice of venue: His most significant foreign-policy speech to date was given at the Citadel military school in South Carolina -- another reminder that the GOP stands with the symbolic elements of American strength. If Romney believes that the soft power of American diplomacy and statecraft have been shortchanged or de-emphasized over the past 10 years, he certainly wasn't making a point of it. On the surface, this muscular foreign policy -- and its attendant costs -- might seem surprising in the context of a growing national debt and a new age of austerity in Washington. Where, after all, is Romney going to find the money for such an expansion of U.S. military power?" (ForeignPolicy)



"It is a tale of wealth and alleged betrayal, of protection money and political intrigues, of attempted assassinations and Chechen gangsters. It features fabulously rich oligarchs, former Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, and members of their innermost courts. The action shifts from Caribbean cruises to Siberian oilfields, from the Kremlin to London hotel suites to Côte d’Azur mansions. This is the $6.5bn case of Boris Abramovich Berezovsky v Roman Arkadievich Abramovich, which began this week – and London’s High Court has seen nothing quite like it. As Dame Elizabeth Gloster, the judge, surveyed the crush of big-name barristers, bodyguards in boxy suits and earpieces, and reporters standing three rows deep, she declared there was 'not a courtroom in the land that could accommodate you all'. Mr Berezovsky is a one-time kingpin of the oligarchs, the entrepreneurs who amassed wealth and political dominance in 1990s Russia. In 1996, he boasted to the Financial Times that he and six other businessmen controlled half his country’s economy. Today he lives in political exile in the UK, an avowed enemy of the Kremlin. Mr Abramovich also spends time in London, as owner of Chelsea Football Club, but is still one of Russia’s richest men, valued by Forbes at $13.4bn. The former business partners are both said to have been instrumental in helping Mr Putin become president in 2000. One refused to submit to Mr Putin’s subsequent edict that the Kremlin, not the oligarchs, would now rule the roost; the other complied." (FT)
image via Life via NYSocialDiary

"'Queen of The Metropolitan Opera' Mercedes Bass and billionaire Sid Bass are divorcing after 23 years, with sources telling us, 'This is the biggest high-society divorce -- since their last divorces.'
The Bass romance blossomed when Mercedes was married to Ambassador Francis Kellogg and Sid to Anne Bass. Mercedes famously got Sid’s attention by throwing a bread roll at him at a 1986 lunch in East Hampton. Creating a huge scandal, Sid, the scion of a Texas oil family, divorced Anne with a settlement said to be between $200 million and $500 million. Mercedes and Sid married in 1988 at The Plaza, becoming the toast of New York society and big patrons of the Met Opera, to which she personally donated $25 million. But on Thursday, they released a joint statement that they 'mutually agreed to end their marriage' and they 'continue to love each other and remain good friends.' One source told us Sid, 69, is tired of attending black-tie events and has taken up painting, while Mercedes, 67, continues in society life. The source explained, 'They are leading separate lives. He’s had it with the black-tie and the opera, and wants to retreat and work on his art. She has informed the Met board of her divorce, and insists she will stay active.' Sources say the split wasn’t totally unexpected. The New York Social Diary last year reported the couple would not spend Christmas 2010 together. Mercedes appeared last week at the season opening of 'Anna Bolena' at the Met without Sid but accompanied by Nancy Kissinger. Sid Bass, worth an estimated $2.1 billion, is a son of Perry Richardson Bass, who built an oil fortune with his brother Sid Richardson." (PageSix)


"These are very early estimates. But DreamWorks/Disney’s Real Steel is dominating the North American box office today and looking at a mid-$20sM weekend if not higher. Hollywood will only be impressed if the result is mid-$30sM because this action pic has a family overlay and its budget was $110+M. By contrast, director and star George Clooney’s newcomer The Ides Of March from his Smokehouse Pictures and Sony had only a $12.5M production budget after rebates. But this hard-to-sell R-rated adult political thriller co-starring Ryan Gosling is #2 today. It should be in low double digits for the weekend which is the modest showing that Hollywood expected." (Deadline)


"On a rainy September morning I met Mr.(Richard)  Gere at the Bedford Post, the inn he and his wife, Carey Lowell, opened near their home in Bedford Hills, N.Y., tastefully restoring an 18th-century eyesore and adding a casual restaurant and a yoga studio ... We got to talking about 'Arbitrage,' a movie he made with the director Nicholas Jarecki that will be released next year and includes an unexpected appearance by Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair.  Mr. Gere didn’t want me to reveal Mr. Carter’s role in the film — about a Wall Streeter who crosses the line — but it seemed an inspired bit of casting. 'He’s terrific in it,' Mr. Gere said. 'Well, he’s very real. Movie acting is primarily listening. If you’re really engaged, that’s all a movie audience wants to see is you processing what’s happening in your world. And he was great.'  Although risk-taking and deception serve as a backdrop for 'Arbitrage,' Mr. Gere’s character is not a Madoff type. 'I don’t find him that interesting because he was psychotic,' he said. 'I find it more interesting the people around him who were sucked in.' He added that the story will resonate with the lies people tell themselves, if they could see their behavior on a replayed tape." (NYTimes)


"Planet 24 made (Baron Alli of Norbury) first fortune; along the way he has worked with David Cameron, during the prime minister’s days as PR man for Carlton Communications; invested with Elisabeth Murdoch in Shine, the production company that the News Corp heiress sold to her father’s media empire this year; and, as chairman of the entertainment rights company Chorion since 2003, put characters from Mr Funny to Miss Marple on screens and bookshelves from Stockholm to Sydney. TV also turned someone who started life an outsider into the consummate insider. Born in an unfashionable part of south London to a father from Guyana and a mother from Trinidad, Alli is one of the few gay Muslims in British public life. When his father moved out of the family home, he left school at 16 to support his mother and two brothers. Yet at 33, he was in the House of Lords as its youngest member and the first openly gay peer.Now 46, he is sitting in a booth in the furthest corner of the crowded restaurant, his back to the room. His tie is impeccably knotted, silver cufflinks shine in a crisp white shirt and another glint comes from the diamond stud in one earlobe. The menu advertises buffalo mozzarella, 'softball size', and Alli orders his with aubergine caponata. He toys with the spaghetti carbonara but opts for the 'signature thin crust pizza' with pepperoni, asking for the rocket to be left off." (Lunch with the FT)


"The Whitney is starting to do things on a whole new scale. With a building upgrade (courtesy of Renzo Piano) in the works downtown, the powerhouse museum threw its fall gala off-site for the first time in 20 years, at cavernous Pier 57, and the venue change literally paid off: 600 guests came to the annual fundraising dinner and the total haul, $3.2 million, amounted to the biggest ever. When even Julian Schnabel (who rarely takes off his pj's at home or out of it) dons a tux, you know there's a new game afoot. 'It's Lanvin—I've had it forever,' Schnabel told Style.com. 'I usually have pajamas on underneath.' Not tonight ... The evening's honoree was the prolific art writer Calvin Tomkins, who, in his acceptance speech, candidly explained his calling: 'Artists, really, are more interesting than other people.' As dessert was served and pop-soul act Fitz and the Tantrums performed, the after-party started on the other end of the pier, where mirrors dangled from Japanese and scarlet maples and the likes of Refaeli and Michelle Monaghan danced under three enormous disco balls. 'I have not seen three all together like that,' noted Desirée Rogers, detecting a trend. 'Maybe the new direction is three disco balls, not one.'" (Style)



"Paul Krugman weighed in, twice; MTV picked up the story after rapper Talib Kweli showed up. And now we have Nate Silver with a chart to explain it all. 'In the early days of the protests, which began on Sept. 17, coverage was all but nonexistent in the mainstream news media,' writes Mr. Silver. 'It has increased significantly in recent days, however, and is now beginning to rival that given to Tea Party protests in April and May 2009.' Even The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart picked up on our 'from blackout to circus' meme." (Observer)

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