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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Not many people survive the kind of beating Oleg Kashin got a year ago. Around midnight, on Nov. 6, 2010, two men holding a bouquet of flowers met him outside his home in the center of Moscow. Fifty-six whacks with a crowbar savaged his left hand, broke his leg, cracked his skull at the temple, and shattered both his upper and lower jaw bones. Almost exactly three years earlier, Yuri Chervochkin, an activist in the radical National Bolshevik Party, had been attacked in a small town not far from Moscow. His assailants got him with a baseball bat, and their first blow was enough: He choked on his own vomit and slipped into a coma. His mother spent the critical days after his beating trying to enlist reluctant doctors to help her son. They wouldn't, and he died three weeks later, just shy of his 23rd birthday.  Kashin, who wrote about Chervochkin's death at the time, was luckier. 'I understand that the fact that I didn't die is all luck and good genes, because I had about a dozen chances to die,' he told me, sitting in a cafe a few blocks from the courtyard where he nearly lost his life a year ago. 'I could have easily lost consciousness and laid there for an hour, and that would've been it. Or if I got to the hospital just a little bit later.' But it wasn't just timing that saved him or even the extraordinary fact that Kashin stayed conscious long enough to call the janitor of his building, who sat Kashin on some plywood, shielded him from the rain with a tarp, and kept him awake until the ambulance arrived. It was also the fact that Kashin was not a marginal or radical figure. He was already a famous blogger and a well-known reporter for Russia's biggest daily, Kommersant, which is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a metals magnate with close ties to President Dmitry Medvedev. Usmanov flew a Russian neurosurgeon back from vacation to operate on Kashin. When Kashin was stabilized and in a medically induced coma, he was operated on by four big-name surgeons, simultaneously and for free. Kashin's vast social network -- he was always the most gregarious of the Moscow journalists -- also worked in his favor. Within an hour of the beating, a friend living near Kashin blogged about what happened." (ForeignPolicy)



"Swing voters asserted their independence again on Election Day 2011, repudiating Republican ideological overreach in key votes but denying Democrats clear-cut victories heading into 2012, as the cycle of over-reach and backlash continues. In Mississippi, the anti-abortion 'personhood' amendment to the state constitution was decisively defeated 58 percent to 42 percent, while at the same time Republican gubernatorial nominee Phil Bryant won 59 percent of the vote over Democrat Johnnie Dupree. The two votes are evidence of significant ticket-splitting, even in this bastion of the Bible belt—a recognition that some measures are simply too extreme, and Republicans do not automatically vote in lockstep with the religious right ... For those keeping score at home, the personhood amendment has now been rejected in three consecutive elections—Colorado in 2008 and 2010, and Mississippi in 2011. If it could not succeed in a low-turnout, off-cycle election in one of the most conservative states in the nation, this particular attempt to do an end run around Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose seems to have come to an end, though supporters will no doubt keep trying in other states. In Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich’s collective bargaining reform was decisively defeated by a margin of 63 percent to 36 percent, marking a major victory for union forces in a test of their ability to get out the vote in advance of 2012. The Buckeye State’s public-sector collective-bargaining reform followed the same lines as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial measures. Advocates said they were necessary to rein in long-term costs, while opponents called them ideologically driven union-busting legislation. In the end, there seemed to be broad recognition that the Republicans had overreached with the scope of this legislation, even as specific portions of the bill ..." (John Avalon)

"Beginning with the (Tuesday) lunch at Michael’s madhouse du jour. Jampacked with conversation, (surely not without controversy here and there). At Table One in the bay (I got this from a little birdie Tweet-Tweet): Bonnie Fuller, Gerry Byrne, Nicole Miller, Aly Racer, Ashleigh Banfield, Noreen Dodge, Dari Marder, Evernolia Gillespie, Maryse Thomas, Diane Clehane, and Heather Thomson (the Yummie Tummie designer of the three panel tanktop -- but you knew that, right?). Here’s a picture of the crew, with Mr. Byrne the first and last man standing. Some people think DPC goes to Michael’s more than any other individual. T’aint so: you’re looking at the champion, Mr. Byrne. And what’s in all those glasses besides the obvious water? Iced tea, except for that single imbiber of the Rose (probably Domaine Ott). " (NYSocialDiary)

"(Brett Ratner) told a magazine interviewer his tale about receiving his first fellatio at age 13 from someone he thought was a woman but turned out to be a transvestite. He turned the hilarious incident into a scene in Rush Hour 3 ... According to the New York Post, he once assigned an assistant to gather the phone numbers of every female extra on his set (a charge he denies). Despite this background, the Academy was dumbfounded Monday when Ratner, at a public Q&A session following a Sunday screening of Tower Heist, responded to a question about rehearsal time on his films with the bon mot 'Rehearsal is for fags' ... As the day drew on, Ratner dug even deeper, appearing on Howard Stern's show to deny he was the pseudonymous, poorly endowed, public-exposé-prone lover described by comedienne Olivia Munn in her memoir, and to make clear that he had sent then-girlfriend Lindsay Lohan to the doctor to take an STD test before he slept with her at a time when the actress 'was really young.' Nonetheless, at the end of the day, the Academy gave Ratner his mulligan after all. Academy president Tom Sherak gave an interview to Deadline announcing that Ratner had been very definitely warned that 'this won't and can't happen again,' while reminding readers that the director 'has many friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community.' The rehearsal comment illuminates two things that the august Academy should, under normal circumstances, be ashamed to associate itself with: (1) that Ratner is a vulgarian frat boy with no respect for the feelings of others, and (2) that he's a lazy filmmaker who has shown himself time and again to be indifferent to many of the basic tasks of storytelling, even as he is manically obsessive about the glitz and volume of his films. The two facts are not necessarily unrelated." (TheDailyBeast)
"On Tuesday, Brett Ratner, the designated co-producer of this year’s Oscars, resigned after he used a gay slur during a Q. & A. session about 'Tower Heist,' his latest blockbuster. One of the stars of that film, Eddie Murphy, is still scheduled to host the event. Perhaps the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences thinks it has inoculated itself against exposure to homophobia, but we’d ask, have they forgotten 'Delirious,' Mr. Murphy’s famously scabrous rant against all things gay? And no, we aren’t posting a clip, thank you. Mr. Ratner, whose coarseness is legendary, seems positively refined by contrast." (David Carr)
"After Brett Ratner’s spectacular self-inflicted demise as Oscarcast producer, the Academy gets down to business finding a replacement to join Don Mischer in picking up the pieces. I’ve heard speculation ranging from Scott Sanders (who was eyed before Ratner got the nod) to previous Oscar producers Joe Roth, Adam Shankman and Laurence Mark. Harvey Weinstein offered an out of the box suggestion last night. Weinstein, who has sat through plenty of Oscarcasts, suggested drafting Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, and getting Tina Fey involved in the writing. The idea is they would make Eddie Murphy comfortable and give the broadcast a strong comic focus." (Nikki Finke)

 
"This past summer, we ran a piece on the greatest writers’ rooms ever, taking a look at some of the most influential groups of comedy writers in TV history. The staffs of classics like Your Show of Shows, Mary Tyler Moore, and SCTV, as well as the writers responsible for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live’s golden eras, made our original list. In putting the piece together, though, we were reminded of the sheer number of amazing TV comedies that have made it to air since the medium’s inception, each one boasting its own eclectic roster of comedic geniuses. TV history is littered with enough murderers’ rows of comedy writers to fill 10 lists, so why not make just one more? Take the original writing staff behind Late Night with David Letterman, for example." (Splitsider)

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