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Saturday, February 02, 2013

"The pesky rumor that Mayor Bloomberg wants to buy the New York Times just won’t go away. The multibillionaire isn’t ready to disappear after three terms as New York’s mayor, reports The Post’s Richard Johnson. 'He’s going to need something grandiose that puts him on the national stage,” said a source, “and philanthropy won’t cut it.' Bloomberg — like fellow billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — is committed to giving away the bulk of his $25 billion fortune. He has also been aggressively growing his media company with acquisitions. 'Bloomberg would consider the Times the ‘jewel in his crown’ after he relinquishes the mayoralty,' said our source. A Times spokeswoman told us: 'The New York Times is not for sale.' But a veteran media watcher said, “That rumor has come around a few times. One of these days, it will be right.'" (PageSix)

"There is darkness aplenty in his latest work, a 13-episode adaptation for Netflix, a subscription video service, of the 1990 hit BBC series House of Cards. Fincher’s version stars Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian politician in a role first made famous by the late Ian Richardson. The action has been transposed from London to Washington, names have been changed – Spacey is Francis Underwood, rather than Urquhart – and the politics are American, not English. But the central theme of House of Cards is the same: spurned by his leader after being promised a more senior role, Underwood embarks on a relentless and ruthless quest for revenge. With this in mind, we are eating in a fitting venue: short of dining in the West Wing staff canteen, it would be difficult to be any closer to the White House. Built in 1927, the Hay-Adams is a stone’s throw from the seat of political power and its basement bar is a favoured hang-out of journalists, lobbyists and members of Congress. Its walls are hung with framed caricatures of leading political figures: one has a studious Barack Obama mimicking Rodin’s 'The Thinker'; in another a perfectly coiffed Mitt Romney looks admiringly in a hand-mirror only to see Paul Ryan staring back at him. Fincher, wearing jeans, a grey cardigan and dark open-necked shirt, has arrived before me and is nursing a ginger ale. He has flown in from California for the glitzy Washington launch of the series in a few hours, when various political bigwigs will see the first two episodes of the show. He stifles a yawn. 'I only had two hours’ sleep last night,' he says, explaining that he was up late working on a video. 'So there’s a chance I might be interesting.' A waiter in a waistcoat appears at our table and we study the menu. Fincher demurs when I ask if he will have a glass of wine, saying he has a headache. I happen to have some paracetamol with me and offer him one, which he accepts. He orders a Cobb salad 'but without the blue cheese'; I choose steak salad and mineral water, and the waiter glides away." (FT)

"Now, however, (Biz) Stone’s circumstances are somewhat different. Twitter is valued at more than $9bn, after a fund managed by BlackRock in late January offered to buy stock from early employees. That rapid value-creation has allowed Stone, Williams and others to not only buy bigger houses, but also put more money into 'pro-social' goals. After parting ways with Twitter, in mid-2011 they rebooted Obvious Corp as an investor and incubator in downtown San Francisco. Stone also took on a start-up closer to home. His first child, Jake, is now just over a year old. 'Balancing family and work is a top priority for me and I treat it as such,' he says. 'Meaning, I actually put specific family time and events in my calendar, so that precious time is dedicated and properly blocked off from any work that may try to sneak its way into my schedule. Nevertheless, I also think it’s important that my son grows up knowing that dad works hard.'  That work-life balance has not slowed Obvious’s pace of investments. It has backed several companies, including Neighborland, a website that encourages local civic participation; Lift, an app that helps people to set and achieve personal goals; and Beyond Meat, a plant-protein substitute for chicken that actually tastes like chicken. Stone, a vegan, hopes that Beyond Meat can become 'a market leader in the protein industry itself'. 'Beyond Meat will not be the only investment Obvious makes outside the digital space,' says Stone. 'We are not making many investments, but those that we do are based on philosophically aligned ambition, not necessarily on products or services traditionally in our comfort zone.'" (FT)

"For someone who has said that 'Star Wars' was 'the first movie that blew my mind,' you'd think that the chance to direct 'Episode VII' would have been a no-brainer. But J.J. Abrams wasn't so easy to convince. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 'Lost' creator and 'Star Trek' director needed some cajoling, and in the end, it was left to new Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy -- the woman handpicked by George Lucas to run his beloved empire -- to seal the deal. Late last week, word began to leak out of Hollywood that Abrams was in discussions to take the helm of 'Star Wars Episode VII,' which is currently slated for a 2015 release, and which would be just the first in a new trilogy of films meant to be sequels to the original 1977 to 1983 trilogy. Yet despite Abrams' known affinity for 'Star Wars,' many noted the potential oddity of having someone so closely tied to the 'Star Trek' universe taking over the reins of 'Star Wars.' Nevertheless, late Friday evening, Disney -- which bought Lucasfilm in October for $4.05 billion -- announced that, indeed, Abrams will direct 'Episode VII.' The 59-year-old Kennedy is no stranger to big-time Hollywood wheeling and dealing. She's earned seven Oscar nominations producing and working on films for the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and others. And she'd even known Abrams since he was 14, according to the THR article, when Spielberg read about his victory in a Super 8 filmmaking competition and hired Abrams to come and restore his family's Super 8 collection. In its in-depth interview with Kennedy -- the first she's given since assuming the Lucasfilm gig -- The Hollywood Reporter noted that Abrams had been asked last November if he was interested in directing the next 'Star Wars' movie. He 'quickly shot the idea down,' THR reported. Kennedy, however, 'was not so easily deterred.'" (THR)

"In late 2010, Jesse Pearson was putting the finishing touches on his final issue as editor in chief of Vice magazine. The cover featured a photo of a car crash; the back page an image of James Joyce’s death mask hovering above the author’s supposed last words: 'Does nobody understand?' That issue, along with 94 others Mr. Pearson oversaw during his eight years at the top of Vice’s masthead, is now sitting in a closet in the Lower Manhattan one-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife, the artist Tara Sinn, and their two cats, Pickles and Schwepps. 'I haven’t looked at it since I left,' Mr. Pearson said of the magazine during an interview recently in his home office, a cozy nook between the living room and kitchen that is partitioned by two large Ikea bookcases. 'The best way to break up with somebody you’re in a relationship with is to break clean,” he said of his departure from Vice. 'And that’s what I did.'  Mr. Pearson left Vice just as the Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based publication’s parent company, Vice Media, was transforming from an irreverent brand for twentysomethings with trust funds and trucker hats into a sprawling content empire and surprising bedfellow for media titans like CNN, MTV and HBO. His new venture is decidedly less corporate: A quarterly literary magazine called Apology that became available by mail order this month and is beginning to arrive at some independent bookstores, boutiques, museums and hotels. The name is partly 'a reference to the classical idea of apologetics,' Mr. Pearson explains in his editor’s notes. 'It’s my apologia against what I see as the problematic state of magazines today, both big and small,' he writes. 'Am I being coy by not naming names? Yes. And I apologize for that.'  But it is also a tongue-in-cheek mea culpa for what Mr. Pearson sees as his role in having popularized a certain type of ironic and insouciant aesthetic.'It’s me apologizing for having been a part of this culture that rose up around Williamsburg in the early 2000s,' said Mr. Pearson, who is 37 and bearded, with scattered tattoos accentuating his low-key ensemble of khakis and a light blue oxford-cloth shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He sucked down the last drag of a Parliament Light before crushing it out in a ceramic ashtray. 'It’s me wanting to move away from that,' he said. 'To kind of make amends for what it was all about.'" (NYTimes)

"The Parkinson's Disease Foundation held its annual CARNAVAL at Slate (54 West 21st Stret) this past Wednesday evening. There was live entertainment by DJ Brenda Black, as well as Samba dancing and a silent and live auction and buffet dinner. They honored Peter Dorn, a longtime member of PDF's board and a creator of CARNAVAL. Co-chairs were Stephanie Goldman-Pittel, Sharon Klein, Amy Sole, Doug Stern and Jeffrey Zygler. The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) is the first national not-for-profit organization to focus on Parkinson's Disease. It was founded by William Black, founder of Chock Full O'Nuts." (NySocialDiary)

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