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Monday, April 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The leaders of the G-20 countries have played a crucial role in rescuing the world from the brink of economic and financial disaster. They agreed to an impressive agenda in Washington in November 2008, and at their April 2009 London summit committed themselves to an integrated strategy to rescue the world economy from the brink of depression, to reform international financial regulation, and to transform the governance of the world's most important global financial institutions. But now the G-20's accomplishments are in danger of unraveling, because these countries have failed to implement their agreements on reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These reforms would enhance the role of the emerging market and developing countries, and help to cement the commitment of those countries to the global system. A failure now would produce multiple black eyes for the G-20 and represent a setback for the still-precarious world economy. The challenge for the G-20 is to live up to its subsequent pledge in Seoul in November 2010 to implement a two-step reform of the IMF's governance. The first step would double IMF quota subscriptions, which are the core financial resources the IMF uses to lend to other members. Although this step would not significantly increase the overall financial resources of the IMF due to offsetting reductions elsewhere, it would modestly redistribute voting power away from the advanced countries and toward fast-growing emerging market and developing countries. In addition, the Seoul agreement included the adoption of an amendment to the IMF charter that would redistribute seats on the IMF's executive board away from Europe. The G-20 leaders promised that this combined first step would be implemented by mid-October of this year, when the IMF's annual meeting will be held in Tokyo. The second step agreed to in Seoul called for a revision of the formula used to adjust IMF quota shares by January 2013. This revision would be followed by a substantial increase in IMF quota subscriptions and overall financial resources by January 2014. This also promises to further increase the IMF voting power of emerging and developing countries, which was a key to winning their agreement to the overall reform package." (ForeignPolicy)


"Vanity Fair held a spirited memorial service for Christopher Hitchens on Friday afternoon, in the Great Hall of Cooper Union. Graydon Carter welcomed attendees — who included colleagues Anna Wintour and David Remnick, as well as Tina Brown, Stephen Fry, Steve Kroft of '60 Minutes' and Jason Sudeikis — with a description of Hitchens as a wit, a charmer and a bit of a scalawag. 'He was the beau ideal of the public intellectual,' Carter said. 'He was an editor’s dream, and he was a reader’s dream.' Those who participated in the program — including Tom Stoppard, Christopher Buckley, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Sean Penn and Olivia Wilde — chose to largely rely upon Hitchens’ words instead of their own, reading from the late journalist’s books and articles published over four decades. Penn read from a Vanity Fair piece published in 2006 on the poisonous aftermath of Agent Orange on civilians in Vietnam. Buckley chose the memoir 'Hitch-22,' while Stoppard drew laughter while reading Hitchens’ description of a Prague policeman as a man 'with eyes so close together he could comfortably get by with a monocle.' Fry said, 'One of the great pleasures of knowing Christopher was having him disagree with you.' He shared Hitchens’ opinion that 'the four most overrated things in life are Champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics,” to which Fry, who is gay, responded, 'Three out of four isn’t bad.' During his eulogy, Martin Amis explained how their shared idea of happiness involved taking a bottle of whiskey into a film like 'Dirty Beast.'" (WWD)

"Mitt Romney faces a huge likability gap against President Obama — and that means he must turn the presidential election into a contest of policies, not personality. Polls show Obama beating Romney by a 3-1 margin when voters are asked who is more likable, a devastating disadvantage given that U.S. presidential elections have often become personality contests. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both parlayed affability and other appealing personal qualities into political success, while George W. Bush’s capacity to exude a 'regular guy' charm helped him win narrow victories against Al Gore and John Kerry, both of whom were viewed by some as stiff and patrician. Those precedents give some Republicans pause for thought when it comes to Romney’s prospects. But they argue that if Romney can ensure the 2012 race comes down to a decision about picking the most competent leader for a country facing tough economic times, he can still prevail. Romney 'may never be able to close that gap [on likability],' according to GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. 'But if you asked me whether I would rather be trailing on the economy or trailing on likability — well, it’s not even a close choice,' he said. 'And that’s where Romney is right now.' 'Let’s face it, the question is not Mitt versus Barack,' said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who predicted voters would throw Obama out of office because of his policies.He defended Romney as 'pleasant and bright' but also suggested that likability would be far from the be-all and end-all. 'The question is: Do you want four more years of Barack Obama’s policies and philosophies?' he said." (TheHill)


"The Spicy Love Doctor was running late. A well-heeled crowd one recent Sunday afternoon had packed into the second-floor lounge of Beijing's Trends Building -- home to the publishing offices of several glossy magazines, including the Chinese editions of Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper's Bazaar -- to hear Wu Di, a contributor to China's Cosmopolitan and author of an alluring new book, I Know Why You're Left. The poised, professional crowd, outfitted in black blazers, leather boots, and trendy thick-framed glasses, was composed mostly of women in their mid-20s to mid-30s -- prime Cosmo readers and all there waiting patiently to hear Wu, who typically charges $160 an hour for "private romance counseling,' explain their surprising plight: being single women in a country with a startling excess of men. When at last she sauntered to the front of the room, microphone in hand, Wu, a pert, married 43-year-old who resembles a brunette Suze Orman (and whose chief advertised credential, it turns out, is an MBA from the University of Houston), surveyed her audience. Then she broke out into a practiced grin and, in the relentlessly chipper staccato common to Chinese public speakers, launched into her talk: a mix of sisterly homily, lovemaking tips, and economics lecture. It's unrealistic to expect that you will be madly in love with one person forever, she warned, or even that passion can be the right guide to marriage. Her authority? No less than the wandering eye of Bill Clinton, which, she told her solemnly attentive audience, "proves that there is no method to sustain feverish lust between long-married couples.; The majority of her talk was devoted not to such timeless aphorisms, but to describing a new conundrum in China: the plight of its sheng nu, or 'leftover ladies.' In popular parlance, sheng nu refers to women above a certain age -- some say 27, others 30 -- who are unmarried and presumably 'left over,' too old to be desirable. Increasingly, sheng nu are a topic of alternating humor and alarm for Chinese newspaper columnists, TV sitcoms, reality dating shows, and studies by government bodies like the All-China Women's Federation; according to its 2010 survey, more than 90 percent of male respondents agreed that women should marry before age 27 or risk being forever undesired." (ForeignPolicy)


"Yesterday’s New York Times carried an article about a man, a social gadfly named Alan Feuer. The article was written by a man of the same name who is a reporter for the Times. Mr. Feuer (pronounced Foy-er), the reporter asked me if I regarded Mr. Feuer (social gent) a member of “Society” in New York. That is a Frequently Asked Question at this desk and not always comfortable to answer because times have changed, of course; and what was Society in New York a century ago or two centuries ago, differs almost beyond recognition from today’s social groups which often differ greatly from each other as well, despite all having a certain prominence among its members. It was probably the Liberation Movements of the 1960s that completed the transition of the 'old' society to the 'new.' That also included the Presidency of John F. Kennedy as well as the enormous influence of his wife Jacqueline on the public consciousness of power and social prominence.  I told Mr. Feuer of the Times that Mr. Feuer, the social, whom I was not aware of, was an habituĂ© of social events that were very social but not exactly Society today. It’s hairsplitting but it retains focus on the 'center' of what could still be called 'Society' – far different from the world of the Astors and the Vanderbilts and the Gilded Age, as well as the WASPdom of the Boston-Philadelphia social axis of that age, not to mention the earlier Knickerbockers who regarded themselves as Way Above the hoi-polloi and the 'arrivistes' of the Gilded Age." (NYSocialDiary)


"SOME months after Jeremy Bernard became the first man and openly gay person to be the White House social secretary, he visited an assisted living center in suburban Maryland. There, he and Letitia Baldrige, the 86-year-old legendary social secretary of the Kennedy administration, spent what Mrs. Baldrige fondly remembers as a convivial hour and a half over a French white wine chatting about guest lists and other secrets of the job.  Mrs. Baldrige said she also offered Mr. Bernard an important piece of advice: 'Keep your mouth shut.' And so he has. Now more than a year into what has become a massive event-planning job for the most famous couple in the world, Mr. Bernard, 50, has played a crucial but largely silent role managing some of the biggest, showiest parties in the history of the White House." (NYTimes)


"Walt Disney Studios film chief Rich Ross' abrupt departure Friday comes at a difficult time for one of the largest, oldest and most successful of Hollywood's historic entertainment companies.
It has also called into question Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert A. Iger's ambitious attempt to modernize the 89-year-old studio by placing a TV executive in charge of his film division and accelerates uncertainty at a time when all entertainment companies are struggling to come to terms with a dying DVD business and long-term declines in movie ticket sales. Dismissed after less than three years in the top movie job, Ross leaves a legacy of costly box-office flops, including last year's 'Mars Needs Moms' and the recent Martian adventure film 'John Carter,' for which Disney plans to take a $200-million write-down — one of the largest losses in movie history. Iger's loss of confidence in his handpicked film chairman suggests that he may have overreached in his attempt to set a new course for Disney's movie division and miscalculated Ross' ability to make the transition from television to film. Industry observers said that Ross, a former Disney Channel executive, never effectively adapted to the world of film. He all but conceded as much in his resignation email to staff Friday, acknowledging that the chairman's job was not 'the right professional fit.'" (LATimes)


"'I thought Jeff was going to limit us in terms of the designs we got to work with, but he said, 'My world is yours,' Lisa Perry reported at her Upper East Side boutique last night. 'I mean, wow.' The Jeff in question is Jeff Koons, the latest artist to lend his work to Perry's designs, following Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. And unlike the late Pop artists, Koons was able to come appreciate the results. "This cocktail dress with the whipped cream and a cherry on it,' he said of one frock that replicated one of his whipped cream paintings, "the bottom looks like it could be coconut.' After cocktails, the group decamped to Perry's art-filled Sutton Place penthouse (the former home of C.Z. Guest) for a dinner with Tory Burch, Yvonne Force Villareal, and David Maupin. 'I would like to propose a toast to Jeff,' Perry said before the appetizers were served, "whose heart is as big as the diamond on the terrace.' That would be the five-foot-tall Koons Diamond sculpture just outside." (Style)


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