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Monday, March 11, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Al Jazeera has taken a look at the former New York Times building as part of its hunt for a New York headquarters for the U.S. cable channel it plans to launch in July, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The Doha-based broadcaster, which is backed by the royal family of Qatar, has tapped real-estate services firm CBRE Group CBG +1.18%to assist its search, according to people briefed on the matter. The iconic building at 229 W. 43rd St. is one of several spaces that it has considered since announcing its plans for the new channel in January, the people said.
Al Jazeera was drawn to the space because the building was capable of being wired for digital media distribution, according to a person familiar with the matter. But another person familiar with the search said the company was concerned that there were 'too many columns' for the construction of the kind of studio space that Al Jazeera America will need. The company hasn't made any decisions about where it will end up, the people said, and the search appears to be in the early stages. The broadcaster has rented some temporary studio space in two buildings—at the Manhattan Center at 311 W. 34th St., and at another building nearby—for a crew of about 150 people, as it ramps up its broadcast capabilities for the launch, according to people familiar with the matter. The New York Times sold its building on West 43rd Street in 2004 as part of its move to a new headquarters on Eighth Avenue. The office space on the top 11 floors of the old New York Times building, which is where Al Jazeera looked, currently is owned by the Blackstone Group BX +1.30%. Founded in 1996 as an Arabic-language satellite channel, Al Jazeera has become the most-watched news channel in the Arab world." (WSJ)


"A fierce legal battle over the rights to the historic Borghese family name between the cosmetics company run by GOP bundler Georgette Mosbacher and Prince Lorenzo Borghese is getting closer to heading to trial. Borghese Inc., which boasts the flame-haired Mosbacher as its CEO, filed a lawsuit in 2010 to block members of the Borghese family and other companies from using its name and history to market products, including Prince Lorenzo’s Royal Treatment Pet line. Borghese cosmetics was founded by Lorenzo’s grandmother Princess Marcella in 1956 through a partnership with Revlon founder Charles Revson. Revlon later bought out the Borghese brand name, and in 2000 sold it to its current owner, a Saudi royal family member who then hired Mosbacher as CEO of Borghese cosmetics. Meanwhile, Lorenzo — best known as a former 'Bachelor' star on ABC — and his family have sold products on HSN and various Web sites using references to their family’s history in their marketing. Lorenzo launched his own brand of pet products on HSN in 2002, and in 2008, Lorenzo and his family applied for a trademark for a new line, called Prince Lorenzo Borghese’s La Dolce Vita, which is still pending. As a result, the Borghese company in 2010 filed a complaint against Lorenzo, several members of his family and HSN, claiming the 'defendant’s unauthorized use of the Borghese brand . . . is likely to cause confusion or mistake.' Members of the Borghese family filed counterclaims against Borghese Inc., but in January, a judge dismissed them. The case has an April 15 deadline for pretrial filings, after which a trial date is expected to be determined. Prince Lorenzo told us in a statement, 'I have never sold my family history and I never will. It’s not for sale. I will continue to fight for my rights until the day I die.'" (PageSix)


"Thursday night’s fete: John Demsey, Alina Cho and Marilyn Gauthier celebrated their 4th annual Pisces Birthday Party at Mr. Demsey’s Upper East Side townhouse with a cast of thousands. John Demsey, who is Group President of the Estee Lauder Companies, is also a consummate host at home. He is a low-key kind of guy whose parties, always given in honor of a friend or friends, are welcoming, and packed with people from the social, entertainment and media worlds. He is also, like his pals CNN anchor Alina Cho and Marilyn Gauthier, the modeling agent, born under the astrological sign of Pisces. And what better reason to give a party for all your friends? New York doesn’t have a lot of parties anymore that aren’t promoting something or someone. Even John Demsey has a few of those. But Thursday night it was all just for the fun of it – an opportunity for people to mingle with old friends and new people in a comfortable and cozy atmosphere. So in that way it was a dazzler, abuzz with howjado’s and have-ya-heard’s, and of course the social photographers to catch all those smiling faces. On that score it was a tidal wave of fashion designers and style gurus -- Bobbi Brown, Rachel Roy, Fern Mallis, Dennis Basso and James Kaliardos. Kelly Rutherford chatted with Julie Macklowe, Matthew Settle andVanity Fair’s photographer of the rich, the chic and the shameless, Jonathan Becker who has a new book out 'Jonathan Becker 30 Years At Vanity Fair' a must-have for your collection of fashion and celebrity of these times." (NYSocialDiary)


"Wherever you go at SXSW, there you are standing in line. Or watching other people stand in line. Or, if you have a little bit of Internet clout, sweeping right by people who are standing in line to then have the right to stand in line for a free beer. Such is the case day and night at the well-known interactive festival, where legions of techies, trendies, hipsters and just garden variety weird people descend on the Texas’ capital of Austin for a few days of networking, partying, learning and a whole lot of staring at their smartphones. That’s the one thing that does strike you more than anything else here: while it is a fully analog event, everyone spends a lot of time staring down at their devices, oblivious to what’s going on around them and engrossed in whatever is playing on that tiny screen.
Typically, it’s been the latest and hottest app, but that’s in short supply with nothing popping out or trending at SXSW this year as opposed to past years. There’s not even a battery-sucking app to grouse about, as happened in 2012 with the Highlight location app. Nonetheless, wherever you are, whether it is the swanky lobby of the Four Seasons or the noisy corner of Guadalupe and 5th or the rap-tastic Fast Company Grill, instead of gawking at each other, everyone is riveted by their Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxys. Arguably, the relationship between a mobile device and its owner is among the most intimate in most peoples’ lives these days and that is never more clear than here.
There also, as is usually the case at SXSW, has not been a really good oblivious-geek-meets-real-world controversy in 2013. Not like last year when homeless people were turned into human Wi-Fi hotspots, so the digerati could spend even more time with their beloved smartphones or tablets.
That was an appalling marketing idea—even if meant to be charitable—which earned the well-deserved ire of many. Wired.com said it was “like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.'" (Kara Swisher)



"(Matt) Lauer was feeling down. Week after week, he was getting pummeled by the press for the sinking fortunes of the Today show. The veteran host was being blamed for the messy departure of Ann Curry and the downward ratings spiral of what had been the iconic program in morning television. 'If you think the show’s better off without me, let me know, and I’ll get out of the way,' Burke recalls Lauer saying. Burke wouldn’t hear of it. 'You’re the best person who’s ever done this,' he said. 'We’ll get through this.' The conversation reflected the depth of the damage sustained by one of television’s most lucrative franchises, which is still struggling to recover as Lauer tries to recast it as warmer, more positive, and less sensational. 'It was a hard time for everybody,' Lauer tells me over a sandwich at his desk, breaking a self-imposed silence about the show’s implosion. 'We were getting kicked around a lot. Some of it was self-inflicted and perhaps deserved.' Self-inflicted? Lauer invokes the way that Curry was abruptly booted from the program last June and replaced by Savannah Guthrie. 'I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that,' says Lauer. 'It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well.' That is an understatement. Sources familiar with the process say that Lauer repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to slow things down and give Curry more time before she was pushed into a reduced role. 'When Matt was informed that we had made this decision, his good counsel was to go slow, to take care of Ann, and to do the right things,' says Steve Capus, who stepped down last month as NBC News president. 'He was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann’s throughout the entire process. It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with.' At the outset, though, Lauer would have preferred to anchor with someone else." (TheDailyBeast)


"At The Mysterious Bookshop in Tribeca last week, Nancy Bilyeau, a former editor at Entertainment Weekly, stood before a roomful of people to read from her new novel, The Chalice, a 16th-century historical thriller set in Tudor England and a follow-up to her first book. Everyone had gathered to fete Ms. Bilyeau, now executive editor of DuJour magazine, and possibly welcome her to the crowded pantheon of EW alumni who have gone on to publish acclaimed books. And there are lots of them. Gillian Flynn (the author of Gone Girl), A.J. Jacobs, Ty Burr, David Browne and David Hajdu all worked at EW during the magazine’s halcyon days in the ’90s and early oughts. 'You wouldn’t think that a bunch of magazine people would move into books,' Ms. Bilyeau told the Transom, adding that she suspected there was a truth to be found in the mainstream, in the meeting place between high and lowbrow. Was there something about working at a pop culture-obsessed magazine that makes its writers and editors uniquely capable of writing popular books, we wondered?'I think there is something to that,' she said. 'It makes you aware of a mass readership’s interests in a clever way. There was a mainstream element to it, but done cleverly.' Ms. Bilyeau also attributed the success of EW‘s writers to Jim Seymore, the former managing editor who came in after Jeff Jarvis, the founding editor. Mr. Seymore was a big influence on many EW writers, Ms. Bilyeau said. 'He trusted his staff to do their own things and develop their own voices,' Bruce Fretts, articles editor of TV Guide Magazine and an EW alum, said at the event. 'People were encouraged to develop their own styles.'" (Observer)


"Writers, actors and regulars of legendary restaurant Elaine’s gathered Thursday to remember owner Elaine Kaufman and give grants in her honor to a crop of young talented writers. 'Welcome to Elaine’s, you five. There’s now a little bit of Elaine’s in all [your] lives,' said Gay Talese at the first annual Table 4 Writers Foundation gala, referring to the fact none of the night’s winning scribes had ever set foot in the restaurant — which closed in 2011 after Kaufman’s death — but that they’d carry on the joint’s tradition of nurturing writers. Comic Robert Klein used his time onstage to turn the New York Athletic Club into a Borscht Belt comedy club, with jokes about kosher food, Catskills resorts, colonoscopies and Cialis. He also admitted he was not an Elaine’s devotee. 'I spent more time at Shun Lee, where the Chinese writers hung out,' he cracked. Also at the gala were emcee Jim Kerr, Chris Noth, Tony Danza and Dominic Chianese. Quipped a guest: 'Elaine would have loved to have been here . . . she would’ve charged for twice as many people.'" (P6)


"Picture the tragic scenes in Crouch End, north London, early this year. The patrons of Harris + Hoole, a local coffee shop, had just learned to their horror that the supermarket chain Tesco owns a 49 per cent stake in the company. Shaken caffeine-guzzlers told the Guardian that they felt “duped” and “upset” because they’d thought it was an 'independent' coffee shop. A rival coffee hawker sneered that Tesco was 'trying to make money' out of 'artisan values' – although, presumably, so was he. Most charmingly, the manager of the cafĂ© confided that head office had instructed her to make the store feel as independent as possible. 'We try to be independent,' she said. 'We want to be independent. We want to have that feel.'She is right: we all want to have that feel. But the appropriation by Tesco and Harris + Hoole of the consumer allure of 'independence' and 'artisan values' is a symptom of our present predicament: there is no way out of simulation. What we get in an 'authentic' cultural product is still a simulacrum, but one that insists even more loudly that its laminated, wood-effect veneer is the real thing. Authenticity is now yet another brand value to be baked into the commodity, and customers are happy to take this spectral performance of a presumed virtue as the truth. But what was so authentic about the authenticity being simulated? Today’s heroically “independent” baristas are profiting from a market that, in the UK, wouldn’t exist without the trail blazed in the 1990s by the now-despised big chains, such as Starbucks. Thanks to them, you can now open an independent coffee shop and charge considerably more than a chain while decrying the rapacity of the giants that prepared the ground for you." (NewStatesman)

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