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Friday, May 18, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Friday's G-8 summit at Camp David may seem something of an oddity -- an archaic reminder of a time before the rise of the BRICs and the supposed decline of the Western powers. But the West is still very much alive and kicking -- and, driven by its most dynamic members, has a chance of remaining on the top of the heap for the foreseeable future. The West is not in decline, at least not in its entirety. Rather, the financial crisis has created a two-speed West. Four large countries -- Germany, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States -- are actually increasing their international influence, while the others are stuck in a rut. Ironically, America's obituary as a great power has repeatedly been written over the past three years even as it has grown stronger on multiple fronts. U.S. influence in Asia has risen at a rapid clip since 2008, driven largely by regional anxiety about Chinese assertiveness. The United States deepened its traditional alliances with Australia, Japan, and South Korea. It developed strategic partnerships, including with the Philippines, Vietnam, and others in ways that were previously unthinkable. Paradoxically, Chinese economic growth has weakened its own geopolitical position and benefited the United States. Such are the ways of world politics. The United States is rising in other areas too. On national security, the U.S. position is also stronger than it has been in many years. The U.S. military and intelligence services have shown impressive dynamism in bringing al Qaeda to the brink of total defeat, something many analysts believed unlikely only a few years ago. The Pentagon has been at the forefront of the drone and robotics revolution, which may give it an edge in 21st-century conflicts. Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats have developed innovative new means of international cooperation, notably with the Nuclear Security Summit and the Open Government Partnership. America's greatest vulnerability remains its weak economy. Significant challenges lie ahead, but it is worth noting that the United States has significantly outperformed the eurozone and has better prospects for growth than most other Western states." (ForeignPolicy)


"Mitt Romney’s campaign has begun vetting running mates, a process that will narrow his list of possible veep picks. The team for Beth Myers, the Romney adviser leading the search for the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, has already contacted potential running mates, according to a source close to the Romney campaign. By beginning the process early, the Romney camp hopes to avoid the mistake of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, when that campaign found itself unprepared for the onslaught of public attention that greeted Sarah Palin. But, when asked directly by The Hill, three of the top candidates on the shortlist — Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — declined to comment on the process. 'I’m not going to talk about the process,' said Rubio. 'When they make a choice, I’m sure it’s going to be a great choice.'Portman said, 'I respect him and his process and I’m not going to talk about it.'  Ryan said, 'I’m not getting into it.' And one thought to be on the list said he hasn’t been contacted at all. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who early in the cycle was considered a presidential possibility, said he had not been contacted by anyone on Romney’s vetting team. To make it through the process, say past contenders, politicians hoping for a place on Romney’s ticket will face the most intensive scrutiny of their lives.Nothing is off limits: not old college papers, voting records, tax returns, children, spouses or former spouses." (TheHill)


"Down at Michael’s Polly Bergen was lunching with Marc Cherry, the creator of  'Desperate Housewives.' Coincidentally Polly and I were guests of Joanie Schnitzer and Irwin Levy at dinner the night before at Cipriani. The Schnitzer-Levys are in town for a few days from their Dallas-Houston dual digs. Polly recently shot a small role playing grandmother to Chris Colfer (from 'Glee') in a film he wrote, directed and is starring in. She was persuaded to do it when Colfer, she said, told her he had seen her in a show on television in 1999 when he was eight years old (!) where she played someone’s mother. He was so taken by her that he decided then and there, that someday he was going to have Polly Bergen play his mother in a film. Well, that someday came along, and so it was ... Last night in New York. About six-thirty, I went down to the Colony Club where Gigi and Harry Benson were hosting a cocktail reception to celebrate the engagement of their daughter Tessa to Tucker Tooley of Los Angeles ... Another great surprise was the appearance of the Lady in Red (and White), and the dark glasses. This is Heather Cohane pictured here with her son Alexander Cohane, the British antiquaire. Heather, who arrived on Wednesday, now lives in Monte Carlo. She is in town for a visit for the first time in more than a year. Heather, if I haven’t told you already, is one of my main connections with many people, even you dear reader. The back story is too long and labored to go into here but …." (NYSocialDiary)

"Last year’s Cannes Film Festival was a bizarre anomaly by any measure. The art-house powerhouse debuted Oscar’s best picture (The Artist); Woody Allen’s highest-grossing film ever (Midnight in Paris); Terrence Malick’s mystical, masturbatory tone poem (The Tree of Life); and Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic melodrama (Melancholia), which prompted the Danish provocateur to announce himself a Nazi, get officially labeled 'persona non grata,' and be told he physically can’t come within 100 yards of the festivities. That’s a hard act to follow, even for the French. This edition, Cannes’ 65th, still has the phalanxes of gendarmerie, the crushing tuxedoed crowds, the Harvey Weinstein street sightings (two in one day!) and the obligatory media stunt appearances (Sacha Baron Cohen promoted The Dictator yesterday by literally dressing as a camel jockey and riding his dromedary in front of the Carlton Hotel). But Wednesday’s kickoff still felt a bit underwhelming. Maybe it was Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, an opening night film stuffed with big stars in small roles (including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, and Frances McDormand), which chronicles first love between two alienated kids on a New England island in 1965. More a taxidermist’s study of WASP ennui than a full-blooded cri-de-coeur of youthful longing, Moonrise Kingdom has been polarizing the critics here: those on Team Wes see it as a consolidation and refinement of the director’s singular talents, while the haters (including myself) have been bristling at the hermetic fetishist’s prioritizing of sartorial splendor and fastidious set design over anything resembling actual human insight. Personalized stationery for all! Everyone in meticulously tailored uniforms! Visual symmetry in each frame! The cast members routinely assemble in moribund tableaux vivants and deliver stilted dialogue in deadpan barks. It’s charming until it’s stifling." (Observer)

"The Whitney American Art Award gala attracted collectors, artists, and admirers alike to a lofty far west Chelsea venue last night. "I'm not artistic. Well, you could say my art is on the tennis court," John McEnroe told Style.com. The tennis ace chatted with Peter M. Brant, who was one of the honorees of the evening, before he did a quick browse of the work up for sale. One memorable digital print of a dollhouse landscape by James Casebere was tagged at $25,000. 'I do love and collect art,' McEnroe said more seriously. 'There's this one guy that I think is pretty good. You might have heard of him: Vincent van Gogh?' The casual atmosphere carried through dinner and a performance by McEnroe's wife, Patty Smyth. The strong turnout, which included Diane von Furstenberg, Julian Schnabel, and Anh Duong, brought in more than $1.5 million. With teenage sons in tow, Stephanie Seymour Brant discussed modern art—one of her favorite periods. 'That's such a tough question," she said when asked about her favorite artists. Although when pushed, she conceded, 'I do love Urs Fischer's work.' The artist was seated just nearby. Brant, her husband, was perhaps more decisive." (Style)

"Marco and Jeanette Rubio, sitting side by side on their brown sofa in their sunny house, could be any young couple musing about life: juggling four kids, a job that separates them, aging parents, their faith and whether or not to move. Only they’re not just any couple. At 40, he is the most prominent Latino in national politics today, and a widely touted prospect to be Mitt Romney’s running mate. She is a shy, behind-the-scenes booster married to her high school sweetheart who has never given a speech and bristles when the media reduces her life to a brief stint as a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. Whether Marco Rubio is on the 2012 ticket this year or not, he and his wife are moving into rarefied air in American politics; he’ll be at the top of the 2016 list of GOP contenders if Romney loses. In an exclusive 90-minute interview with POLITICO — Jeanette’s first-ever extended interview — the couple seems to believe they are ready for the invasive tsunami of press coverage and vetting that could sweep over them at any minute while at the same time realizing they can never truly be braced." (Politico)
"Around 8 p.m. last night, Cipriani 42nd Street was flooded with a sea of ladies in red dresses who had turned out for El Museo del Barrio's annual spring gala. "It's a Latin event; everybody wears red," explained one partygoer as he watched the likes of Carolina Herrera and Yaz Hernández parade through the entryway. Hernández was wearing a custom Carolina gown—in scarlet, naturally—and before dinner, Herrera presented her with the evening's trustee leadership award. She wasn't the only honoree at the fête; Julianna Margulies had already taken the stage to introduce Narciso Rodriguez. 'He is the only designer I have ever known who knows how to cut for a woman's body,' she told the crowd. 'He really loves women.' Over on the west side, the look was L.E.D., not red, at the Museum of Arts and Design's annual gala." (Style)


"The annual El Museo del Barrio gala in Manhattan on Thursday night marked what some guests referred to as “the end of gala season,” and seemed to have been organized with that particular fatigue in mind. Everything important was at the beginning. The three awards — for the arts, trustee leadership and corporate excellence — were given within 40-odd minutes before the dinner was served. Guests had gravitated toward vibrantly colored ensembles for the party and gingerly avoided stepping on one another’s trains while navigating Cipriani 42nd Street. Alexandra Lebenthal had tweeted a picture of her gown to its designer, Zac Posen, before she left. 'I hope he approves,' she laughed. 'I haven’t heard anything back yet.'  Cindy Sherman, Bibhu Mohapatra and Carlos Mota were on hand  .." (WWD)

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