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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"There are few second acts in political lives. This is a truth Tony Blair appears to be discovering the hard way. The former British prime minister, now most famous for being the most eloquent salesman for the American-led war against Saddam Hussein, has kept a low profile since he left Downing Street five years ago. Even his work as the Quartet’s representative to the Middle East has attracted little attention. Now, however, the word on the London Street is that Blair wants to 're-engage' with British politics. This week, he testified before the Leveson Inquiry investigating the links -- complicated and often humiliating -- between the British media and political elites, a many-tentacled monster spawned by the News of the World scandal. It was a classic Blair performance: plausible and impressive, yet shameless too. No, he insisted, despite being godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch's children, Blair was never that close to the English-speaking world's most powerful media mogul. They only developed a more than "working" relationship after Blair left office. Believe that if you will. And if you do, perhaps you still believe that Iraq had mobile chemical weapons labs? Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Blair has been meeting with the new Labour leader Ed Miliband and hosting small gatherings of freshmen Labour MPs at which he offers tactical and strategic advice on how best the party can take advantage of David Cameron's weaknesses. Despite his years away from the fray, few doubt Blair’s instinctive ability to understand Middle England, but even so his return prompts an awkward question: What is Tony Blair for? " (ForeignPolicy)


"Democrats are grappling with how to approach another standoff with Republicans over raising the debt limit after abandoning demands for a “clean” increase last time around. In talks last year, Democrats campaigned vigorously for a debt-ceiling increase that was not paired with spending cuts or deficit reduction, only to drop the demand when the deadline for default approached in early August. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who spearheaded the push for a clean increase, acknowledged the 2011 agreement has forced Democrats into a corner. “We made a grave mistake,” said Welch, who voted against the debt-ceiling deal. “You pass that Rubicon, and you are essentially allowing one side to hold hostage America’s reputation for paying its bills.” Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), have laid out clear conditions for the next debt-limit vote: Any increase needs to be paired with a greater amount of spending cuts or reforms. Boehner’s unequivocal demand has created a dilemma for Democrats, who must decide whether to renew their call for a clean boost, or instead demand that the debt increase be paired with a “balanced” deficit-reduction deal that combines spending cuts and higher revenues. In the meantime, they are blasting Republicans for tying the debt limit to fiscal reforms, noting that the last debt fight rattled markets and contributed to the first-ever credit downgrade of the United States." (TheHill)


"Nicolas Sarkozy’s brother Olivier Sarkozy has moved on from Stella Schnabel and is now dating Mary-Kate Olsen. Sources say the former French president’s 42-year-old younger half-brother, who’s managing director of the Carlyle Group, has been seeing 25-year-old Olsen for about a month, and they’re 'head over heels' for one another. The couple was spotted in the Hamptons over Memorial Day weekend. Olsen dated artist Nate Lowman for two years until splitting in 2010. Divorced Olivier dated Schnabel for more than a year before they parted in March. Neither Sarkozy nor a rep for Olsen responded to us." (PageSix)


"As the (Cannes) film festival closes, we look back on one of our favorite moments: Alec Baldwin’s pre-elopement declaration to fiancĂ© Hilaria Thomas, whom he plans to whisk away once he’s finished screaming at Harvey Weinstein. The anger-management sessions seem to be working, though: it only took one day for the notoriously hot-headed actor and the even more bearish producer to kiss and make up via handwritten letters of apology. Unfortunately, British Airways forgot to leave a note for Kim Kardashian when they rifled through her bags during a trip to the French coast the reality star was taking with boyfriend Kanye West. According to Ms. Kardashian, items of 'sentimental value' were stolen from her suitcase. We can’t even imagine what the purloined pieces might be, but we’re guessing that at least one of them might be a plaster of paris replica of Ray J—or certain parts of him, anyway. The man who put Ms. Kardashian on the map with a dirty video that went viral only recently recovered, after a perilous hospital stay, from an almost-fatal blood clot. But if we wanted to talk about Sex Lies and Videotape, we would have gone to see Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ controversial Post Tenebras Lux, which was greeted by boos from an outraged audience. Apparently no one wants to watch a movie involving animal torture, orgies and demon genitalia these days." (Observer)



"Mickey Boardman does have quite the fan base, for this sparkly Citta fund raiser there was in attendence an English Dandy (dressed down a bit), a very very influential N.Y. Times Editor, A Superstar, A Wildfire NY Reality Housewife (you know the pretty one), and quite possibly one of the wealthiest DJ’S Well, Just Ever. Above: Mickey Boardman, Sally Singer, Jennifer Sample. " (NYClubbing)


"A Hamptons weekend party for Jason Binn, James Cohen and Gilt Groupe’s soon-to-launch Du Jour magazine nearly went up in smoke. Binn and Cohen entertained A-listers at the Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club and were giving guests — including Bobby Flay, Beth Stern, Nigel Barker and Dan Abrams — sneak peeks at galleys of the magazine. But a few of the pages got loose in a breeze and headed straight into a beachside bonfire. Luckily, Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan saved the day by jumping into action, snatching the pages from the pyre. (A spy said that nearby Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert seemed less concerned about the potential loss when he learned that none of the pages were from the magazine’s culinary section.) Also at the beach bash were Mickey Drexler, Rosanna Scotto, James Lipton, Charlie Walk and Dr. Howard Sobel. The new luxury magazine’s scheduled to launch in September." (PageSix)


"Last night the Frick Collection hosted a preview reception for an exhibition which opens today and runs through August 19th: Gold, Jasper, and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court. The Frick, one of the most precious jewels of the city, is lavishly glorious in its understatement of its treasures. As museums go in this faster-and-faster culture of ours, the Frick confidently retains its steady and substantial place as a Collection, rather than a museum per se – although it is every bit that too. This new exhibition of the works of Johann Christian Neuber, includes some extraordinary porcelain from Meissen, and is a perfect example of the Collection’s charter which began with the Founder/Creator and his daughter Helen Clay Frick ... The center of this intriguing exhibition is the Breteuil Table. This is the artist’s masterpiece. It is regarded as one of the most extraordinary pieces of 18th century ormolu furniture ever made – distinguished not only by the materials used and the remarkable skill of its creator, but also for its prestigious history. It was created especially from the Baron de Breteuil in 1781, presented as a gift by Friedrich Augustus III as recognition for the role the baron played in the negotiating the end of a war (of Bavarian Succession) fought between the Hapsburg monarchy (Austria) and the Saxon-Prussia alliance. All of which means nothing to us today, but back then it was about Austria grabbing Prussia (now part of Germany) for itself. The baron’s name is familiar to Francophiles and historians as he was Prime Minister to Louis XVI on July 14, 1789 and the fall of the Bastille." (NYSocialDiary)

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