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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In this case, Mitt Romney pulls off a victory in Iowa that catapults him well ahead of the field. With New Hampshire acting as his 'firewall' in the competition for the GOP nomination, Romney should be able to grab a victory in the Jan. 10 primary. With two wins in the first two states, Romney would be well-positioned to utilize his financial and organizational advantages in much of the country -- not to mention help from the press in anointing him as an inevitable nominee -- to move inexorably toward the Republican crown, perhaps quickly, despite the elongated nomination calendar. The 2004 battle for the Democratic nomination provides precedent for such a plot line. At the beginning of January that year, John Kerry trailed Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt in Iowa polling. But by the time the caucuses took place on Jan. 19, Kerry had surged to a slight lead over John Edwards and Dean, and ended up capturing the caucuses with 38% of the vote. Kerry followed his victory in Iowa with a sizable triumph in New Hampshire. From there, Kerry ended up winning the primaries and caucuses in every state except for Oklahoma, North Carolina (Edwards' home state), South Carolina and Vermont (Dean's home state). Few observers believe that libertarian Ron Paul can actually win the GOP presidential nomination, but that doesn't mean he can't win Iowa. Given his narrow appeal, and despite their vastly different candidacies and ideologies, Paul's campaign in Iowa brings to mind the 1988 candidacy of the Rev. Pat Robertson, who garnered 25% of the caucus vote to finish second ahead of eventual GOP nominee George H.W. Bush. (Bob Dole placed first.) However, the evangelical leader's strong performance did not presage much as he only managed to win the caucuses in Alaska, Nevada and Washington state before dropping out of the race. Similarly, we can expect Paul to perform particularly well in caucus settings, where the enthusiasm of his supporters will bring them out in droves to back his candidacy, but to never seriously contend for the GOP's nod. One thing's clear: Given that Iowa has only picked the eventual Republican nominee in two of the last five contested nominating contests, Iowa's Republican establishment, from Gov. Terry Branstad on down the line, has to be dreading a Paul victory, because it would further tarnish Iowa's reputation." (SabatosCrystalBall)
"Since arriving in June as an anchor of that venerable morning news program, Ms. Curry has wooed viewers, and in particular her style-besotted fans, with an authoritative presence, a dusky voice and a look that is nervier — and arguably more youthful — than that of her peers.  In contrast to conventional anchors, Ms. Curry has turned her back on a mostly unspoken broadcasting dress code, trading in the darkly decorous suits she wore as a news reader, and the flak jackets she donned as a reporter in Iran, for brashly colorful shirts and girlish swing dresses. Hot colors have become her signature; she does not shy away from an eye-popping palette of flamingo pink, caution yellow and stoplight green." (NYTimes)

"T’is the season for the rich, the chic (sometimes/let’s not get carried away), and the shameless down there in St. Barth’s where every daddy and all his sugars are thinking about where they’re going to go on Saturday night, this coming. A little birdie (actually a big birdie) reminded us of this by sending this photograph of the 536 foot Eclipse, the world’s largest private yacht at anchor, owned by the Russian Roman Abramovich. As you probably know, this is not Mr. Abramovich’s only yacht. He has one or two others. I read somewhere that he lost one in a poker game. Not sure if that’s true or not, but as they say: easy come, easy go." (NYSocialDiary)


"Lou Reed wore black. He moved slowly and a bit stiffly through the darkness that had descended on the Great Hall, a sheaf of paper in his hand. For the last thirty years he has looked like an ageless lizard but now I felt concern for him at the sight of his stiff gait. He entered the circle of light and put on reading glasses, gold rimmed. Just a few minutes earlier the audience had been treated to several facts. One of them, shared by the Dean of Cooper Union, was that Abraham Lincoln had spoken in this very hall. I have been to a number of events at the Great Hall over the years and this fact has been reported on every occasion. The space—a scooped out amphitheater underground, slightly redolent of a bunker, with a domed ceiling and gothic arches—resonates with the evocation of Lincoln’s speech having been spoken into darkness over and over for decades, centuries. The other fact was that although the program listed him later in the evening, Lou Reed would now go first because of another commitment. Immediately I began to imagine what this commitment might be, if it was another public appearance, or a dinner with a friend, or some complicated mélange of professional and personal socializing, or if he was just tired and wanted to go home and watch TV. At any rate it was going to be an evening of circling around and engaging with the avant-garde, and Lou Reed was a fine ambassador for this world, whose literary iteration has always made me feel a bit uncomfortable, even reproached. I was one of the presenters that evening, so in this encounter I felt somewhat beyond reproach. I was eager to see how it would all look when freed from the defensive position." (TheAwl)
"This year family came to our house and showered the babies with every gift imaginable, but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t receive yet another amazing gift from my husband (Fred Mwangaguhunga). My gift this year – pink sapphire earrings previously owned by Elizabeth Taylor. The earrings were given to her as a gift from Donatella Versace. It wasn’t easy for my husband to get these earrings. After being outbid twice by the likes of Donald Trump and Kim Khardashian. He finally got me these earrings on day 3 of the recent Christie’s auction, which brought in a record $137 million." (TripletsinTribeca)

"As part of our 2012 New Regime, we spoke to Edith Zimmerman, a prolific writer and editor for the likes of New York, GQ, Esquire, and others. Her big project the for the past year has been (with Jane Marie) helming The Hairpin, a popular website for women that treats all the usual lady subjects with edgy wit and knowing grace. But like its sibling/parent site The Awl (officiated by legendary duo Choire Sicha and Alex Balk), The Hairpin defies easy genre pigeonholing." (BlackBookMag)


"Private-equity party boy Marc Leder is billing his stay on St. Barts this week as 'Event Week 2011/2012,' according to a rundown of Leder’s parties that’s floating around the island. The Sun Capital Partners honcho has hired party planner Amir Benesh to set up day-and-night bacchanals at his beachfront estate, including one tomorrow touted as the 'Famous BBQ Pool Party.' Benesh runs Models-Promo.com, which, its Web site says, offers models, cocktail waitresses, DJs and even fire dancers for shindigs. Rap mogul Russell Simmons attended Leder’s welcome bash Monday with his girlfriend, Australian actress Melissa George. And Simmons’ ex-wife, Kimora Lee, and her husband, Djimon Hounsou, also attended the party. But, spies say, the party was 'tame' for Leder, whose wild end-of-summer bash was the talk of the Hamptons this year. At the Bridgehampton home that Leder rented for a whopping $500,000 a month, guests cavorted nude in a pool and performed sex acts, while scantily clad Russian women danced on platforms. Dancers at the party also twirled flaming torches to booming beats. No wonder Leder’s 'Cocktail & Dinner Party With Live Show' last night on St. Barts inspired such high expectations. Sources say Leder, said to be worth $400 million, has been on a partying jag since his wife of 22 years, Lisa, cheated on him with a 23-year-old tennis instructor in 2009." (PageSix)

"What conflict situations are most at risk of deteriorating further in 2012? When Foreign Policy asked the International Crisis Group to evaluate which manmade disasters could explode in the coming year, we put our heads together and came up with 10 crisis areas that warrant particular concern. Admittedly, there is always a certain arbitrariness to lists. This one is no different. But, in part, that serves a purpose: It will, hopefully, get people talking. Why no room for Sudan -- surely a crisis of terrifying proportions? Or for Europe's forgotten conflicts -- in the North Caucasus, for example, or in Nagorno-Karabakh? You'll see also that we have not included some that are deeply troubling yet strangely under-reported, like Mexico or northern Nigeria. No room, too, for the hardy perennial standoff on the Korean Peninsula, despite the uncertainty surrounding the death of Kim Jong Il." (ForeignPolicy)


" Millions have been spent on luxury food and drink, rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers will entertain 300 guests and fireworks are expected to light up the Caribbean sky as midnight strikes. It can only be Roman Abramovich’s New Year’s Eve party, a glittering celebration on which the Russian billionaire is spending more than £5million with plans to eclipse even last year’s sparkling event. Mr Abramovich, 45, is back on the island of St Barts with his 30-year-old partner Dasha Zhukova for the annual bash which is one of the most sought-after party invitations on New Year’s Eve. Last year, Mr Abramovich’s £5million party included a performance by the Black Eyed Peas and was attended by celebrities such as Demi Moore, actress and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, model Stephanie Seymour, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Star Wars creator George Lucas ... The £300million nine-deck vessel boasts accommodation for 12 guests and five bodyguards, and features a cinema, library and restaurant. It is also reportedly installed with an anti-paparazzi shield, armed with infra-red lasers. Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith has been photographed on the island on Christmas day soaking up the good weather with his son Beckett. The 50-year-old wore a pair of red swimming shorts as he took a dip in the sea with his child, but there was no hint of the party on his Twitter page." (DailyMirror)
"Mary Surratt. The name probably sounds vaguely familiar to you. 'Isn't she a famous American painter?' you may be thinking. Uh, no. That's Mary Cassatt. 'Oh yeah, she's the lady that Robin Wright played in that Robert Redford movie this year.' Bingo. As we see commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and more films like Redford's The Conspirator and Steven Spielberg's forthcoming Lincoln fall out of Hollywood, Mary Surratt will likely rise from the margins of history and take her place center stage. After all, her story has it all: love, death, war, drama, conspiracy, and her biggest claim to fame is that she was the first woman executed by the United States government. Victim. Heroine. Patriot. Traitor. Historians are still trying to figure her out, but for us Washingtonians, a key to unraveling her mystique is just a stone's throw away from us. When a friend suggested a road trip to The Surratt House and Museum in Clinton, formerly Surrattsville, Maryland, I jumped at the chance to get a better understanding of this fascinating woman." (WashingtonSocialDiary)

"In a testy exchange with The King's Speech screenwriter David Seidler earlier this year on Slate, Christopher Hitchens wrote, "All other considerations to one side, would the true story not have been fractionally more interesting?" Hitchens was referring to the false impression given by the wildly popular, Oscar-winning film that Churchill's sympathies in the mid 1930s were more with King George than his führer-fancying brother, Edward VIII. When Seidler conceded that a more accurate Churchill scene had been written but that it "sagged," Hitchens's reply was unsympathetic: 'Why not craft a scene . . . that does not sag?' This was not the first time the prolific writer took on a film for its historical inaccuracies. When Hitchens died last week, he left behind not only a persona to dissect but also a massive and diverse body of work, including a substantial, if comparatively minor, volume of film writing. The master prose stylist frequently had occasion to apply his polymathic mind and inflexibly journalistic sensibility to the latest Hollywood sausages. Complementing his combative turnout on politics, religion, and literature, Hitchens consistently attacked critical and box-office winners for deviating from the historical record.This stance set him apart from the view long ago espoused by esteemed film critics such as Vincent Canby and Roger Ebert and today regarded as commonsense: that fiction features are not reliable vehicles for fact. It would be fair to call Hitchens the film-critic contrarian—hardly a surprising posture. For him, a film that failed to meet a punishing standard of accuracy was insulting its audience, even if it also entertained." (VillageVoice)


"The night was strange from the start. It was December 21st, yet it was so unseasonably warm outside, I left my coat at home. I was on my way to cover Hasidic dub reggae star Matisyahu's 6th annual Festival of Light Hanukkah Tour -- one of his three nights at Music Hall of Williamsburg (where he happens to hold the record for the most sold-out shows). When I arrived at the venue, there was a crowd of Hasidic men standing near the entrance. They weren't patrons of the show, but on mitzvah missions, looking in a likely place for people who would answer affirmatively to the question 'Are you Jewish?' My editor and I had pre-arranged a photo pass for the show through Matisyahu's publicists, and there was no mention of restrictions in terms of photography or flash. For the first half of the show, I shot from the floor, behind someone, near the side of the stage. I didn't use flash most of the time because there was bright enough lighting. About halfway through the set, Matisyahu went to the opposite end of the stage to light a huge menorah. I moved closer to get a shot of this key moment, and ended up toward the center, still behind a few people. After he was done with the Menorah, Matisyahu resumed performing in center stage. I took the opportunity of my proximity to take some flash photos, to get some detail shots. And this is when things got weird. After 12 flash shots over a few minute period (the camera gives me this data), Matisyahu stepped toward me, off the stage. The person in front of me moved and the next thing I knew Matisyahu's foot was on my face and I fell to the ground." (Rebecca Smeyne/Papermag)


"Hi! I’m Matthew Stone, a friend of Karley’s from London. We lived together in the ‘lift factory’ squat in Walworth that predates Squallyoaks (which I opened). I somehow managed to escape quite a lot of embarrassing outings of my life on early Slutever, but you can see me breaking my arm with Karley in this spoof Madonna video we made here. I’m an artist and about a month ago I went to Miami Art Basel to install a series of sculptures that were displayed at the Mondrian hotel. Karley came along for the ride. I use photography in the artworks I make, but I also shoot loads of more casual images that don’t really go anywhere. Karley has always said I should do something with them online, so I have started a Tumblr for them called infinitytimesinfinity (∞ x ∞) . This guest post is a sort of launch for it. The photos below are from more than one day in my life in Miami, but Karley said that was OK! I have also included some conversations I had with some of the people in the photographs." (Slutever)

"While most certainly not an indie, the Bieb's Paramount-released concert film 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' was indeed the year's top grossing documentary. Taking in $73 million, 'Never Say Never' is the third highest grossing doc of all-time, behind only 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and 'March of the Penguins.' 'Bieber' is followed by another studio-released doc, Disney's annual nature flick 'African Cats,' which lagged behind its predecessors 'Earth' and 'Oceans' with a $15.4 million gross ('Earth' grossed $32 million and 'Oceans' took in $19 million). Then comes the indies. Led by the extraordinary success of the Sundance Selects duo 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' and 'Buck' (more on them here), the independent film world had a few notable success stories this year. Many of them were via unique distribution strategies, like Producers Distribution Agency's 'Senna' (more on that here) Paladin's 'I Am' (more on that story here) and Zeitgeist's 'Bill Cunningham New York' (more here). But for every success story, there were multiple disappointments ('Project Nim' certainly stands out among them)." (IndieWIRE)




"The NBC Sports Group launches the NBC Sports Network at 4 PM ET on January 2nd to replace Versus, which had been Comcast’s bullriding and gunshooting and cycling channel pre-NBC Universal merger. The new strategy is to bring all four tiers of NBC Sports Group’s assets (broadcast network, two national cable networks, 11 regional sports networks and digital) into “a consistent framework of branding”. The better to compete with Disney’s ESPN and Fox Sports. The NBC Sports Network will serve as a 24/7 cable platform, according to Jon Miller, the president of programming for NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network: 'We have three tranches of programming that we’re looking to put on NBC Sports Network starting with live events, live games, and big-league relationships. The second tranche is original news, talk and conversation. The third tranche is the original programming we’ve developed with the NHL around shows like NHL 36, with the NFL like NFL Turning Point, and with the Bob Costas show that will be breaking this year, Costas Tonight, as well as the Costas Town Halls.'" (Deadline)

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