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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Italy is falling apart, both politically and economically. Faced with a massive debt crisis and defections from his coalition in Parliament, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- the most dominant political figure in Rome since Benito Mussolini -- tendered his resignation last week. Yet Italy's problems go deeper than Berlusconi's poor political performance and his notorious peccadilloes: Their roots lie in the country's fragile sense of a national identity in whose founding myths few Italians now believe.Italy's hasty and heavy-handed 19th-century unification, followed in the 20th century by fascism and defeat in World War II, left the country bereft of a sense of nationhood. This might not have mattered if the post-fascist state had been more successful, not just as the overseer of the economy but as an entity with which its citizens could identify and rely on. Yet for the last 60 years, the Italian Republic has failed to provide functioning government, tackle corruption, safeguard the environment, or even protect its citizens from the oppression and violence of the Mafia, the Camorra, and the other criminal gangs. Now, despite the country's intrinsic strengths, the Republic has shown itself incapable of running the economy. It took four centuries for the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England to finally become one in the 10th, yet nearly all the territories of the seven states that made up 19th-century Italy were molded together in less than two years, between the summer of 1859 and the spring of 1861. The pope was stripped of most of his dominions, the Bourbon dynasty was exiled from Naples, the dukes of central Italy lost their thrones, and the kings of Piedmont became monarchs of Italy. At the time, the speed of Italian unification was regarded as a kind of miracle, a magnificent example of a patriotic people uniting and rising up to eject foreign oppressors and home-bred tyrants." (ForeignPolicy)


"The Mayor shut down the Occupy Wall Street congregation in Zuccotti Park in the very early hours of yesterday morning. Despite the official objections to the movement, a lot of New Yorkers have been indifferent to the protest and the protesters. The 'neighbors' in that area have been very unhappy with the noise(s). Others didn't understand it while others felt it was politically reprehensible. The words "socialist" and "liberal" get thrown in to serve in the mainstream media screeds about it. But it was none of those things. I know people, 30-somethings, 40-somethings who went to visit the scene the way you visit a street fair. Or a museum exhibit. Out of curiosity. They came away with 'judgments' about how the people looked/clean/dirty/etc., about how they existed down there, and what they were talking about. No one said anything about 'why' they were there, or what, if any, effect they were having. Missing from their reports was any sense of urgency outside the presence of the protesters. The internet journalists have presented a much more substantive report on 'why' this is all happening. It has everything to do with the financial situation that many people are in. Nevertheless that issue varies from person to person and those of us who are solvent (or rich) tend to feel much less threatened by any financial misfortunes than those of us carrying a wall of debt and joblessness." (NYSocialDiary)


"YouTube’s new premium content push featuring the likes of Madonna and Ashton Kutcher spurred speculation that the Google-owned site is issuing a direct challenge to the television industry. That suspicion was given further credence by reports that Google is considering offering paid cable-TV services to consumers. For Michael Hirschorn, chief creative officer of the recently launched IconicTV and one of the nearly 100 content providers participating in the initiative, there's something much bigger taking shape. The programming veteran believes that YouTube's initiative shows that walls between traditional television and digital video are collapsing.   As evidence that the barriers are weakening, he cites the explosive growth of connected televisions and tablets. 'The new terrain lives in between TV and the Internet,' said Hirschorn. 'It requires a nimbleness and where appropriate, a humility, to be open to all the change that is approaching.' Iconic is a joint venture between Hirschorn  and Larry Aidem. Aidem, the former chief executive officer of the Sundance Channel, and Hirschorn, a former Vh1 executive and the author of a controversial Atlantic piece on the demise of the New York Times, will oversee three programs for YouTube. Iconic’s initial offerings are 'Life and Times,' which will focus on Jay-Z’s cultural and artistic interests, 'Uno Dos Tres,' a bi-lingual channel featuring music, dance and telenovelas; and 'Myish,' a platform for emerging indie singers.
Each channel will be responsible for 50 hours of programming a year, and in return, YouTube will advance the content creators a nine figure sum against ad revenues." (TheWrap)


"Super-cougar Ellen Barkin seems to have won over the parents of her 26-year-old boyfriend, Sam Levinson. Sources say filmmaker Barry Levinson and his wife, Diana Rhodes, were 'initially wary' of the actress, 57, who made her debut in Barry’s 1982 movie 'Diner.' Sam celebrated his latest, 'Another Happy Day,' a film that Barkin produced and stars in about a dysfunctional family that feuds on a wedding day, with her and his own family at the Boom Boom Room on Monday. Barkin plays the matriarch “Lynn,” a character inspired by Sam’s mother, Rhodes. 'Barry and Diana totally accept and embrace their son’s relationship with Ellen because she has done so much for him and his career,' a source said. Barkin’s best friend Julianne Moore hosted the party that was also attended by Andre Balazs, L’Wren Scott, Patty Clarkson, Parker Posey, Ingrid Sischy and Sandy Brant. Zoe Kravitz’s pals Theophilus London and Jordan Watson took over the DJ booth, where they mixed hip-hop beats from their iPod. Balazs tried to prevent the DJs from changing the club’s mellow tunes but he relented after Olivia Wilde, Alexander Wang and Kravitz tore up the dance floor." (PageSix)


"If you’re obsessed with Mad Men, then this news is going to perplex you or please you. Creator Matthew Weiner is starting to discuss how he expects the show to end. 'It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn’t mean Don’s gonna die. What I’m looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like … It’s 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it’s related to you. It’s a very tall order, but I always talk about Abbey Road. What’s the song at the end of Abbey Road? It’s called ‘The End.’ There is a culmination of an experience of people working at their highest level. And all I want to do is not wear out the welcome. I was 35 when I wrote the Mad Men pilot, 42 when I got to make it, and I’ll be 50 when it goes off the air. So that’s what you’re gonna get. Do I know everything that’s gonna happen? No, I don’t. But I just want it to be entertaining, and I want people to remember it fondly and not think it ended in a fart.'" (Deadline)


"Before his brash comments made Brett Ratner persona non grata at the Oscars, he was just a simple Everyman director hoping his anti-capitalist-greed movie Tower Heist would bring some solace to the Occupy Wall Streeters then still living in Zuccotti Park, protesting a financial system that took advantage of the general public. In early November, while appearing on G4's Attack of the Show, he professed that he was 'sorry about the people down on Wall Street having to suffer through this' and revealed that he had 'offered to have a big screening for them down on Wall Street, but they weren't having it.' As it turns out, Ratner has experienced market malfeasance up close: Securities regulatory filings obtained by Vulture show that in 1989, just prior to making his first short film, the director-to-be worked as a broker at one of Wall Street’s most notorious boiler rooms, South Richmond Securities. It was a brokerage so corrupt that it would eventually be fined over a million and a half dollars and put out of business by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) for defrauding clients by manipulating stock prices and overcharging on commissions, both during and after Ratner's tenure." (NYMag)

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