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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"With the campaign season under way, President Obama has begun the battle of raising the millions he needs to be re-elected. For those with deep pockets whose hearts bleed blue, it is fund-raiser time.  Time to strap on the Christian Louboutins and stand for hours in Secret Service security sweeps. Time to listen as vaguely familiar-looking White House officials expound about how the president has this election in the bag. If, that is, donors would please just open up their checkbooks.  But donors, beware. There are the $35,800-a-ticket fund-raisers, and then there are the $35,800-a-ticket fund-raisers. The distance between a Presidio Heights villa overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset and a packed hall at a Masonic Temple with bad air-conditioning is a long one.  Consider the dinner party for the president given by Harvey Weinstein, the film producer, at his Greenwich Village town house in August. It was a fine summer evening, if you did not count the police marksmen on the rooftops and the cordoned-off streets nearby.  A manageable 50 guests were assembled inside. Gwyneth Paltrow and her Coldplay husband, Chris Martin, sat at the same table as the UBS executive Aryeh Bourkoff. Jimmy Fallon and the real-estate tycoon Aby Rosen were there. Vera Wang sat next to Anna Wintour, who sat next to Alicia Keys." (NYTimes)


"Can Charlie Rose save CBS’s 'The Early Show?' The veteran newsman and PBS talk- show host’s name has been added to the short list of newscasters being considered to relaunch the poorly rated morning program. 'They want the show to be politically oriented as they head into the 2012 election cycle,' a source said. 'It will be a similar format to MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’'  TV insiders have been buzzing about an impending 'Early Show' shake-up since CBS hired 'Morning Joe' creator and executive producer Chris Licht from MSNBC to be vice president for programming. Many speculated after his departure in May that he would attempt to bring 'Joe' hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with him to CBS, to relaunch 'Early Show' with a hard-news format and fewer lifestyle and cooking segments. But both Scarborough and Brzezinski are committed to their MSNBC contracts. Sources say Licht has tapped his vast Rolodex to court a number of TV personalities, including CNN’s Erin Burnett and Ali Velshi. 'They are casting their net wide,' an insider told us. Burnett declined an offer to host 'Early Show' to join CNN, where she’s launching a 7 p.m. show on Monday. Rose, 69, is the newest name to be brought into the debate." (PageSix)


"BUT I DON’T HAVE A SUIT: Per Access Hollywood, 'When staying at George Clooney’s Italian villa you might end up in the lake – without your clothes on! Access Hollywood caught up with the actor at the premiere of this latest movie, 'The Ides of March,' where he told us that his Lake Como palazzo has a long history of inspiring distinguished newscasters to take a dip in the pristine waters.'I got Charlie Rose to jump in the water too,' George told Access on Tuesday night. 'Once, I got Walter Cronkite jump in the lake a long time ago, so now once you get Walter Cronkite, you get all these classy journalists to jump in the lake now.' Earlier on Tuesday during an appearance on 'Conan,' George’s co-star, Marisa Tomei, revealed that Charlie wasn’t the only 'Ides' star jumping in the lake.
'Charlie Rose can be hot. We had some hijinks over there in Como. He’s a sport,' Marisa said of the PBS newsman, explaining that she, Evan Rachel Wood and Charlie (who also stars in 'Ides') recently stayed at Clooney’s home."  (WJLA)


 
"The Democratic primary in Massachusetts is still almost a year away, but the expected race between the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Republican Sen. Scott Brown is already a hot topic in the financial services universe. 'The potential Brown-Warren matchup is on everyone’s radar,' said Scott Talbot, chief lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable. On the Washington cocktail circuit, banking lobbyists are chattering about how to take Warren on. They fear that a massive, public money assault might be more of a gift than a challenge for the Harvard Law School professor who built her reputation taking on big banks. The powerful lobby is in wait-and-see mode, weighing its options as it plots a strategy designed to hit hard, but smart. 'You don’t want to make her sympathetic by landing on her with both feet,' said a financial services industry insider and former GOP Senate aide. All of this could be welcome news for Brown. Even though he’s the fourth-largest recipient of banking, insurance and real estate industry donations in Congress, not everyone in the banking world is enamored with him, since he cast votes to reduce debit card swipe fees and approve financial reforms. 'Better a friend with whom you sometimes disagree but can always talk to, than an antagonist who is always coming at you, guns blazing,' said the former Hill aide. And the industry seems willing to forgive Brown." (Politico)


"First, let me knock down this untrue rumor: I know for certain there is no IMG World board meeting on a conference call or otherwise today to discuss ousting board member Michael Ovitz in response to allegations he’s maneuvering inside the board and with Forstmann, Little & Co investors to run and/or own the global management and production giant. Also, let me say definitively that Mike Dolan is and will remain for some time IMG’s President/COO because he was handpicked by chairman/owner Teddy Forstmann to run the company. The 71-year-old Forstmann is battling brain cancer in a very public and courageous struggle. Forstmann specifically told his board members that, no matter what happened to him, Dolan was to be given a minimum of 2 to 3 years to continue running IMG’s global sports, fashion, entertainment, and media business if not longer. IMG’s board is purely an advisory board since this is a private company (and not like a board of directors of a public corporation) and therefore does not have the power to remove any board member much less Ovitz. What the real story is, according to my months of reporting, is that IMG management has lawyers working on how to remove Ovitz from the board and prevent him from interfering with Dolan’s running of the company or with Forstmann, Little & Co investors. 'This prick was fucking around with management. Is he being put in his place? Yes,' an insider tells me. The allegations against Ovitz include that he is 'harassing' management by demanding IMG financial records; pressuring Dolan and senior IMG executives to report to him by trying to set up a so-called executive committee within the board to oversee IMG activities because of Forstmann’s illness and treatment; and approaching Forstmann, Little &Co partners and investors telling them he was interested in buying IMG with the backing of Greg O’Hara, the managing director of One Equity Partners LLC." (Nikki Finke)



"It is one of those days in New York. Even for a city used to heatwaves, today’s temperature is considered noteworthy. On TV, the weather reporters are cracking jokes. Never mind frying an egg on top of a car bonnet, says one, you can cook a whole breakfast on it. What promised to be a pleasant stroll in the Upper East Side sunshine turns into an endurance test. When I finally reach the elegant neoclassical facade of the Acquavella art gallery, I dive in, hungry for nothing but its air conditioning.William Acquavella is one of the world’s most successful and influential art dealers and his office upstairs, crammed with books and posters, is a welcome and civilising refuge. He gives me a short tour of the gallery. Inside one room are a sprinkling of Kandinskys on the floor, and two throne-like armchairs facing them. 'We call it the high-pressure suite,' says Acquavella. I don’t think he is joking. This is where the sales of some of the most valuable artworks ever created are clinched. Where high culture is introduced to the cheque-book. We step outside the gallery, into the furnace." (LunchwiththeFT)


"Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has dethroned Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as the richest member of Congress, according to The Hill’s annual list of the 50 wealthiest lawmakers. McCaul reported a net worth of at least $287 million, by far the most of any lawmaker. Analysis for The Hill’s Wealthiest shows that 2010 was a banner year for many well-heeled members of Congress. Lawmakers including Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) saw gains of millions of dollars in their fortunes. Together, the 50 wealthiest lawmakers reported a minimum net worth of $1.6 billion, about $200 million more than the lawmakers who appeared on 2010’s list. Last year’s wave election brought big changes to The Hill’s rankings. More than a dozen lawmakers appear on the list for the first time, including 10 Tea Party-backed GOP freshmen with backgrounds in business, medicine and auto sales, among other professions. The richest GOP freshman is Rep. Jim Renacci (Ohio), who reported a minimum net worth of $35.9 million, ranking him 11th on The Hill’s list." (TheHill)


"Only three years after 2008 ravaged many a media property, New York’s editorial operations haven’t just thawed, but many are now on a hiring hot streak. Media companies poaching from one another is—for better or worse—a longstanding tradition. Sometimes it’s routine—we’ll admit, the Observer has always been a farm team for larger publications to draft from—and other times it’s an aggressive, surprising move that can turn acquaintances into rivals, and frost over once warm friendships. These moves could be a routine change-up, or a bust; other times, they can turn the fortunes of downward-trending editorial operations around on their own. But since that thaw started, and media hiring returned—even as many publications continue to work in diminished ranks, and maybe because that’s the case—the field has been especially aggressive. Hugo Lindgren’s New York Times Magazine all but staged a raid on his former co-workers at New York after he was taken from the hands of Bloomberg Businessweek. The Atlantic lost Andrew Sullivan to The Daily Beast; same with the Washington Post and Howard Kurtz. Reuters took aim at half of the media world, landing (among others) Bethany McLean, Alix Freedman, Geraldine Fabrikant, and then nabbed Jack Shafer when he was barely fresh out of Slate." (Observer)


"Most Champagne is consumed soon after its release; until fairly recently, the belief that Champagne could improve and develop with age was a heresy restricted to the English upper classes and the denizens of Champagne. But in fact, the high acidity of Champagne acts as a natural preservative, and certain years are particularly conducive to making long-lived bubblies. Like the great reds of Bordeaux and Burgundy, Champagne can develop tremendous complexity as it ages. The rise of vintage Champagne as a collectible category is a recent phenomenon, and it really gained momentum with the 1996 vintage. The vintage was being hailed, even as the grapes were being picked, as one of the greatest ever, and its reputation has only grown in recent years. What was remarkable was that the almost unprecedented level of ripeness was accompanied by very high acidity. Ripeness without acidity is a recipe for flabby, short-lived Champagne; the 1996s, on the other hand, seemed destined for a long, happy life, although the high acidity meant that they would take a long time to really integrate and show their charms. I decided to revisit these Champagnes on the occasion of their 15th birthday to see how they were coming along ..." (Jay McInerney/WSJ)


"For Silda Wall Spitzer, who grew up in Concord, North Carolina, community service is the family way. Her grandparents baked and delivered wedding cakes to the less fortunate; her mother led 'Safety Town' to teach children street smarts and the safest way to cross them; her father ran the local United Way campaign. As a child, Ms. Wall Spitzer, a Girl Scout and church member, visited senior citizens in their homes and made gifts for people for the holidays ... What began as a kitchen-table conversation among friends turned into 'Children for Children,' a not-for-profit dedicated to getting youngsters involved in community service through volunteer work. It grew to have a presence in 23 states ... At the Tenth Annual Art of Giving Benefit last May, civic and social leaders lent their support in full force. generationOn honored four adults for their leadership and commitment to service: Brian Goldner, president and CEO of Hasbro, Inc; writer and producer Tonya Lewis Lee and her husband, filmmaker Spike Lee; and philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch, president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Also spotted at the event were Lauren Bush, John Hays, James Hoge, Kathy Lacey and benefit co-chairs, Kevin Arquit and Jet Blue’s Dave Barger. Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute and daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, Democrat of Georgia; Newark Mayor Cory Booker; and actress Sigourney Weaver presented the awards." (NYSocialDiary)



"It was, by all accounts, a terrible plan. A channel devoted exclusively to showing a type of short film that hardly yet existed? A channel whose attraction to advertisers was limited by the youth of its audience and their associated lack of spending power? A channel whose programming would be cadged and cajoled from multinational corporations - for free? 'MTV,' an early ad read. 'It sounds like an asinine idea.' It was. It also revolutionised television, the music industry, and youth culture around the world, made a fleet of new stars, broke another fleet of old ones, and changed everything in its wake, from Hollywood filmmaking to presidential campaigns. MTV officially closed the door on music videos in the US last year, preferring the reality and lifestyle programming to which they have devoted themselves (hello, Jersey Shore!), but the channel's growth into the most imitated and beloved television channel of its time came on the back of its devotion to music videos. MTV was not just selling videos, though; it was also selling itself. MTV defined youth culture for approximately a decade and a half, its dazzling style, snarky attitude, and liberal social outlook indelibly stamping American culture of the era. Now, in the year of its 30th anniversary, veteran music journalists Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum have assembled a wonderfully entertaining and enlightening history of the channel's first decade, and the stars it made. I Want My MTV is explicitly modelled on pop-culture oral histories such as Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller's Live from New York and Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me, and hot on the heels of Shales and Miller's book on ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun." (TheNational)

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