Friday, February 10, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Washington Postcolumnist David Ignatius created a tempest last week when he reported U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's prediction that Israel will attack Iran and its nuclear complex 'n April, May or June.'Ignatius's column was as startling as it was exasperating. When the sitting U.S. defense secretary -- presumably privy to facts not generally available to the public -- makes such a prediction, observers have good reasons to pay attention. On the other hand, the international community has been openly dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue for nearly a decade, with similar crescendos of anticipation having occurred before, all to no effect. Why would this time be different?
Further, an Israeli air campaign against Iran would seem like an amazingly reckless act. And an unnecessary one, too, since international sanctions against Iran's banks and oil market are just now tightening dramatically.Yet from Israel's point of view, time really has run out. The sanctions have come too late. And when Israeli policymakers consider their advantages and all of the alternatives available, an air campaign, while both regrettable and risky, is not reckless." (ForeignPolicy)

"For some, Libya is a shining example of U.S. intervention, but still does not support the argument for the same kind of operation in Syria. Americans helped save the citizens of Benghazi last year, and since then 'we’ve moved from a despotic regime in Libya to a much more open society,' says Michael H. Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, in a recent interview. But almost no one in Washington, aside from The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier, supports a military intervention in Syria on the scale of the Libya operation.  In Syria, American officials agree, the cost is too high—militarily, politically, and economically—for the U.S. to make such an investment. Yet, as Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at University of Oklahoma, points out, the officials who claim that the U.S. is not involved sound disingenuous. The United States has imposed economic sanctions. 'Sanctions are a form of warfare,' he adds. 'Syrians will begin to starve soon.' Still, Landis, as well as U.S. military officials, believes that a U.S.-backed military operation is highly unlikely. 'Syrian forces go in with their ground forces and cordon off neighborhoods and arrest people and shoot them,' says an official who recently returned from Damascus but was not authorized to speak with a journalist. 'You can’t defeat an arrest campaign with F-16’s. You’d have to go in on the ground. Do we have the funding-slash-political will to do this?'" (TheDailyBeast)

"I am reminded of this scene while waiting for my own lunchtime meeting with (Dustin) Hoffman. The restaurant he has chosen is Culina at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, so, taking care not to prang the Bentley belonging to Hustler founder Larry Flynt, which is parked in front of the hotel in its usual spot, I leave my car with the parking attendant and head inside. At the age of 74, the two-time Oscar-winning movie legend is starring in Luck, his first television drama. Produced by director Michael Mann, it is set in the horseracing world and is the latest small-screen epic from HBO. I arrive a few minutes early and wait in a suite reserved by HBO, where Mann and David Milch, the writer of Luck and of the acclaimed western series Deadwood, are also doing interviews today. When Hoffman arrives, compact, tanned and smart in a dark suit and light blue shirt, silvery hair spiky and swept up, we head straight to the restaurant, past a vast and colourful floral display in the lobby. He moves slowly and deftly, charmingly fending off a fan keen to tell him about the time she saw him playing tennis ... 'I was in the golden age of Hollywood but we didn’t know it was golden then,” he says. “The big studios were making films that are only being done outside the studio system today. It used to be you would never do TV.' That stigma has gone, he says; these days the only creative risks being taken are in low-budget independent films and on well-financed pay TV networks such as HBO. 'They have money, so you’re not rushed to shoot 20 pages [of script] in a day, like you are with normal TV. HBO leave you alone and there’s no censorship. You do the work you want to do.'The waitress has returned with our drinks and several crudo plates. 'I expected a difference between TV and film,' Hoffman continues, after sipping his Bloody Mary. 'But there wasn’t one, because we were working with film directors and we were only shooting three or four pages of the script a day.'" (FT)

"For decades, the much-anticipated Viennese Opera Ball charity gala has delivered glamour, elegance, and tradition along with a carriage-load of fun! This year, the 57th Consecutive annual Ball doubled the pleasure: not one horse-drawn carriage but TWO drove into the Waldorf’s Grand Ballroom. Also: not one fabulous soprano but two -- Dueling Divas -- competing to star in Mozart's opera, 'The Impresario.' The February 3rd white-tie gala at the Waldorf=Astoria was also awash with Diplomats, Dignitaries and 20 Snow-White-gowned debutantes. The co-hosts for the evening included the red-hot dance czars from ABC-TV's hit show 'Dancing With The Stars': brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy and their co-star from the dance show phenomenon, Tony Dovolani. For a great party you start with the basics: Peter Duchin and his Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera Artists like Cyndia Sieden and Amy Shoremount-Obra; a Color Guard from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; a touch of the titles in the persons of Baroness Gabriela von Langendorff and Sheik Abdul Rahman Thuraya; the wines from the Royal Esterházy Estate Winery; and a great charity – for the 2nd year in a row -- Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED Foundation, which is committed to helping ensure that people everywhere do not go hungry and have access to healthy nutritious food by working and supporting NGO partners around the world and in America. Waltzing next to Lauren Bush Lauren and her husband David Lauren were her Mother, Sharon Bush with Dr. Jeffrey Moses, who took several turns on the floor -- as did Ambassador Carl Spielvogel with wife and force-of-nature, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel." (NYSocialDiary)

"Although Lebanon is widely considered to be one of the more sexually permissive countries in the Middle East, large portions of the country remain culturally conservative. According to Jad, most of his customers are wealthy, middle-aged Lebanese men, usually Muslim, who are looking to bypass the restrictions of Lebanese society.'Lebanese girls don't like to go out and have fun because they're afraid people will say they're whores," he says. 'Lebanese men like Russian girls because they like to have fun. If a guy wants to kiss a Lebanese girl, she'll probably start talking marriage and then he'll have to deal with her family.' When I ask whether it would be possible to speak with one of the women, Jad is initially reluctant, but he seems to relax as the interview continues. At one point, he is interrupted by his cell phone and, after a brief conversation in Russian, indicates that one of the women will be coming downstairs to answer a few questions, though he insists on being present. Shortly after, a tall woman with white-blond hair enters the lobby dressed in pajamas. She rubs her eyes sleepily and sits down next to him. Her name is Lina, and she's from Ukraine. Although she seems wary at first, it's soon clear that she has quite a different perspective on the industry. Surprisingly, Jad lets her talk. 'Coming here was the biggest mistake of my life,' she says immediately. 'In my country, I have my home, my family. But it's hard to make money. I worked with my brother in his business, but because of the economy, the business failed.' Lina lights a cigarette and sighs. 'I've worked many jobs in my life, but I hate the system in Lebanon,' she says. 'I thought I was coming here to work in a disco, but when I came here and found out everything, I was shocked. Girls had told me what it would be like, but they only told me half the truth. I imagined that I would only have to go with people I liked.… I'm just waiting for my contract to finish so I can go home.'  Her eyes fill with tears and she looks away. 'I hate when someone chooses me,' she says quietly. 'I feel like I'm a product in a market and anyone can just point at me and say, I want that.'
Jad interrupts her. 'You're not happy you came to Lebanon?'  She looks him in the eye and smiles sadly." (ForeignPolicy)

"Her energy level is through the roof and her style rivals that of many tight-lipped editors: We’re talking about Brisbane/Sydney native, Angela Gilltrap. Having worked as an actor, author and editor, this Aussie beauty has now eased into the role of Omni Media Director for and Daily Front Row (glossy media staples during fashion week). She not only tweets like a fiend, but is one of the faces behind the publications’ surreptitious editorial escapes: the not-quite-a-gifting-suite Style Sessions. We cornered her for further explanation:
What do you do for the Daily Front Row? How does fashion week affect your job? I am the Digital Strategist at The Daily Front Row. I’m here to support the edit staff so that all of our DFR fans get the most up-to-date insider information from inside the tents and beyond.For most fashion folks, this eight-day week is a mammoth undertaking requiring super hero-like strength, endurance and patience. Not to mention oodles of lip gloss and a handbag full of Cynthia Rowley band-aids. What’s all this commotion I hear about some clandestine luxury suite for celebs and editors? Are there other such spaces around town? VIP suites are the new black. Editors everywhere are scheduling these mini-breaks into their packed calendar and for good reason! The fashion world works hard and deserves to play hard." (Observer)

"Last night, New York's downtown scene was divided by two musical performances: the Wu-Tang Clan, at the Made Fashion Week and Lexus launch party at Milk Studios, and the Kills, who also began playing at midnight a few blocks away at a party held by DeLeón Tequila at the Standard's Boom Boom Room. By 10:30 p.m., there was already a line around the block for Made's Valentine's-themed party, which boasted a Vegas-style wedding chapel where guests could take pictures with an Elvis impersonator before making their vows on the dance floor. Over at the Standard, loud cheers came from the likes of Erin Wasson and Alexander Skarsgard when Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince stepped onto the stage." (Style)

"Last night, a few of Richard Chai's friends and family gathered to celebrate his Love collection (which was shown earlier yesterday) at the intimate Red Egg bar in Chinatown. Make-up artist Pat McGrath popped in for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it hello (if anybody's got a busy schedule this week, it's that lady), while Sky Ferreira spent a chunk of the evening slumped away in the corner with a really cute boy -- go Sky! ... As we said goodbye to Mr. Chai (who just recently inked a deal as creative director of Filson, which he told us he's very excited about), we were stoked to see the space's door open to the eccentric mega-blogger Bryanboy, who tweeted earlier in the evening that he was on a search for the secret to soft hands and feet in the midst of shitty weather--we suggested lotion. 'If I put lotion on, everything gets greasy, and that just turns my phone into something else! It's disgusting,' Bryan lamented." (Papermag)

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