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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"As the headline in Thursday’s Politico boldly touted ('Ohio back on Obama’s dance card'), the Obama campaign is suddenly refocusing on the Buckeye state. There’s a positive reason for this reported shift in the Obama campaign’s thinking: Coupled with the rebuke Ohio swing voters administered on Tuesday to an overreaching Republican governor, Mitt Romney’s lack of populist appeal makes Ohio a more tempting target than it appeared just a few months ago. But there’s a negative reason as well: 'Virginia and North Carolina, key to Obama’s victories in 2008,” the article continues, “are becoming more and more uncertain.' Indeed, if Obama hopes to win reelection, he needs to double down on Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the rest of the heartland—and acknowledge that his 'new majority' coalition—upscale professionals, single women, young adults, and minorities—won’t be enough to get the job done." (TNR)



"Of all the noise of this week's state election results, what mattered most for Election 2012 came out of Virginia. It was the sound of the air leaking out of the Plouffe plan. That would be David Plouffe, President Obama's former campaign manager and current senior strategist, who is focused today on how to cobble together 270 electoral votes for re-election. That's proving tough, what with the economy hurting Mr. Obama in states like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania that he won in 2008. The White House's response has been to pin its hopes on a more roundabout path to electoral victory, one based on the Southern and Western states Mr. Obama also claimed in 2008 ... Virginia Republicans added seven new seats to their majority in the House of Delegates, giving them two-thirds of that chamber's votes—the party's largest margin in history. The GOP also took over the Virginia Senate in results that were especially notable, given that Virginia Democrats this spring crafted an aggressive redistricting plan that had only one aim: providing a firewall against a Republican takeover of that chamber. Even that extreme gerrymander didn't work. Every Republican incumbent—52 in the House, 15 in the Senate—won. The state GOP is looking at unified control over government for only the second time since the Civil War. This is after winning all three top statewide offices—including the election of Gov. Bob McDonnell—in 2009, and picking off three U.S. House Democrats in last year's midterms. Topline figures aside, what ought to really concern the White House was the nature of the campaign, and the breakout of Tuesday's election data. Mr. Obama may have big plans for Virginia, but the question is increasingly: him and what army? " (WSJ)

"But it’s very unusual for anyone as old as Rose to be starting a new anchor job, much less one on a new, or at least entirely revamped, show. Rose is already older than ABC’s Charles Gibson and Peter Jennings were when they retired (both were 66) and older than Tom Brokaw was when he stepped down from 'NBC Nightly News' (64). He’s six years older than Diane Sawyer was when she left 'Good Morning America' for 'World News Tonight.' He’s 16 years older than 'Today’s' Matt Lauer. I asked Andrew Tyndall, an analyst who closely tracks network news, if he could think of another instance where someone Rose’s age moved into a new anchor job. He could not. 'It is especially astonishing that Rose is being used in the physically arduous morning timeslot with his history of heart disease,' he says. (Rose had open heart surgery in 2006.) Tyndall notes that Bob Schieffer was 68 when he was brought in to serve as interim anchor of CBS Evening News during the interregnum between Dan Rather and Katie Couric and performed well. 'Still, morning is physically tougher than evening,' he adds." (Jeff Bercovicci)


"'It’s gonna be Romney, and the party is miserable,' observed a Republican agent just back from the presidential contest in Iowa. 'One day Bachmann, the next day Perry, then another day Cain, now Newt. The flavor of the day will pass. Why do many Fox contributors become candidates? It gets you in the debates and polls. But it doesn’t stick. Iowa is about paying an organization to show up. They are used to it. It’s an entitlement to Iowa. First in the nation means mercenaries, buying up the talent, then bringing the people you paid for to the caucus.' With about seven weeks to go to the January 3 caucus in Iowa, I enjoyed my conversation with a shrewdly cynical professional who can explain what’s the matter with the Iowa primary, why we see such helter-skelter in the polling that swings from challenger to challenger while the Old Reliable Romney never goes down or up, just hangs onto his unshakeable twenty-something plateau.'You gotta have money to get the people out,' continued my informant." (John Batchelor)



"MOST Americans have not heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade area of countries dotted around the Pacific Ocean. They will soon. This weekend it has suddenly emerged as the most promising trade liberalisation initiative since the Doha round of world-trade talks stalled in 2008. On November 11th, Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, announced its intention to join America and eight other countries in negotiating what its advocates hope will emerge as the new gold standard for free trade in the world’s most dynamic economic zone. Reuters reports that if the ten-country deal is concluded, it will cover a market 40% bigger than the European Union. The news has electrified the summit of Asia-Pacific Exporting Countries (APEC) convening in Honolulu this weekend. President Barack Obama, who acts as the meeting’s host, hopes the TPP will be the cornerstone of an APEC-wide free-trade area. With the euro zone in shambles, that would further shift the world’s centre of economic gravity from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. There are plenty of reasons for the mood of celebration. After less than three months in office, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s prime minister, has made one of his country’s boldest policy decisions in years, which could unleash a chain reaction of reforms in the moribund national economy. His decision may spur other big economies, such as Canada, to make renewed efforts to join the negotiations, which currently include America, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. If America and Japan can pull off such a deal, the TPP could challenge China’s own free-trade push in the region, which revolves around the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Korea and Japan, rather than the Pacific Rim. By joining with America, Japan also hopes to influence global technological standards in industries like electric cars and clean energy, rather than having those heavily swayed by China." (TheEconomist)

"THE artist Cindy Sherman stood underneath 'Bangkok II,' a new large-scale photograph by Andreas Gursky that was being unveiled Nov. 4 at the fortress-like Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. Ms. Sherman stared in amusement as Mr. Gursky and Klaus Biesenbach, the MoMA P.S. 1 director, fawned over her sequined Marni handbag. 'Oooh, nice,' cooed Larry Gagosian, the super gallerist. 'Are you coming by later?'   Mr. Gagosian was circling shark-like amid the well-coiffed art patrons, recruiting for a private dinner he was holding later at his Upper East Side house. 'Make sure they know how to get there,' he yelled across the room to a blond woman in black. Meanwhile, a group had gathered under one of Mr. Gursky’s 'Ocean' photographs. 'I already saw these in Los Angeles,' said a woman in shiny equestrian-style boots, referring to a Gagosian show there last March, before she moved to the next room. If the mood seemed tense, it was understandable. The contemporary-art auctions were about to start, amid signs of a troubled economy. 'I don’t want to talk about it,' Mr. Gursky said of the auctions. His photo, 'Rhein 2,' was up for sale at Christie’s. Cecelia Dean, a founder of Visionaire, was on her way out. 'I’m not going to the auctions,' she said. 'I’m not part of the 1 percent.'"   (NYTimes)



"Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, the fashionable daughter of former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, is about three months pregnant with her first child. Julia announced the news on Facebook to her friends yesterday, calling herself a 'future mommy' and posting photos of herself and her boyfriend and baby daddy, model Robert Konjic. Julia walked down the pink carpet at the Victoria’s Secret show Wednesday night in a black hip-hugging dress that showed only a hint of a baby bump. 'They are a happy couple -- so in love,' said a friend. Thursday night, Julia joined Carine for a showing of the short documentary 'The Client,' starring Carine herself, at an event with W magazine. W editor in chief Stefano Tonchi asked Carine about becoming a grandmother, and she gamefully responded, 'I will be called ‘Madame.’" (PageSix)


"Thirty-five years later, many who took part in Operation Entebbe at the highest levels were also involved in the negotiations to bring home Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was abducted by Palestinian commandos on June 25, 2006, and whose capture has consumed Israeli society for the last five years. Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defense minister and now its president, signed the pardons for the Palestinian prisoners who were released in exchange for Shalit. Ehud Barak, a planner of the Entebbe raid, is today Israel’s defense minister. Tamir Pardo, who is currently the chief of Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad — and whose support helped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu push the Shalit deal past skeptics in his administration — was the communications officer for the commander who led the raid in Entebbe. That commander, Yonatan Netanyahu, was the only Israeli military casualty of the operation, struck by a bullet while advancing with his men toward the terminal where the hostages were held. In the command bunker in Tel Aviv, when Peres learned that Yonatan Netanyahu had been killed, he told those present that Israel had lost 'one of most wonderful people there has ever been in this country.'” (NYTimes)



"This weekend is starting to firm up. Latest Top 10 grosses show better North American box office than previously thought thanks to the Veterans Day holiday weekend when school is out in 60% of the country. The good news is break from slumping attendance with a $130+M total moviegoing weekend, up +15% from last year. Relativity’s Immortals is the #1 movie. It did $1.4M in midnight gross from approximately 900 locations then expanded locations and grosses during the day and evening. These days, a $35M weekend bow is something special. But not when you realize that Immortals is a 300-clone but won’t make 50% of the $70.8M opening amount that the original 2D movie did even with the higher 3D ticket prices. '300 was absolutely a big success, but we are in a different economy, marketplace, and time of year,' a Relativity exec tells me tonight. 'Young males have been hard to get over the past year. It’s a significant accomplishment that we got them. We are well positioned to be the 3rd highest R-rated film this year and the highest R-rated action film this year. This is a win for us.' Relativity also claims reduced risk from foreign pre-sales on the $75M-budgeted film.' Audiences gave Immortals a ‘B’ CinemaScore. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures’ Jack And Jill starring Adam Sandler looks hard-pressed to equal his usual $30+M opening comedies. (Maybe moviegoers aren’t as moronic as Hollywood thinks they are.) Jack and Jill received a ‘B’ ... On the other hand, Warner Bros is looking at a strong per screen average for Clint Eastwood’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-buzzed biopic. As for holdover Tower Heist from Universal, Brett Ratner’s lousy week just keeps getting lousier." (Deadline)


"The Nahmad art dealing family are known for three things: their wealth, estimated by Forbes at $3bn ('They have sold more works of art than anybody alive,' according to Christie’s New York chairman Christopher Burge); their world-class Picasso collection; and their secrecy. This last, it turns out, extends not only to their blue-chip art – guarded in a (tax-free) warehouse at Geneva airport – but even to the venue where I am to meet 35-year-old Helly Nahmad. He runs the clan’s London gallery; a cousin, also called Helly – both are named for their grandfather Hillel – is at the helm of the other Nahmad Gallery, in New York. The London Helly has agreed to talk because he has just launched the first ever public showing of the family collection, at Zurich’s Kunsthaus museum. He has chosen Paris for lunch, and his driver awaits me at the Gare du Nord. It’s not until we are halfway across the city that the restaurant is revealed: Brasserie Lipp, where the belle époque decor of wrought-iron chandeliers and ceramic mosaics is unchanged since Proust ordered Alsatian beer and Hemingway wrote his novels there ... He asks what I will drink. Whatever you do, I say. 'But you might not like that!' he exclaims, requesting vodka and orange juice. I order a coupe de champagne, to celebrate his exhibition – an extraordinary, in-depth array of a hundred or so little-shown paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Léger, Juan Gris, which the Nahmads have kept back from gallery stock as 'last chance opportunities' – works so rare and exceptional that, once sold, they will not reappear on the market. 'The overriding message of great artists is that they appreciate the hidden – that is, what’s real,' Nahmad opens. 'They counter material reality ...'" (LunchwiththeFT)

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