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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Operation Desert Schmooze, President Barack Obama’s two-day charm offensive in Jerusalem, achieved its central goal of convincing Israelis that the U.S. president, to invert an ancient stereotype, doesn’t have horns. Obama’s achievements were partly symbolic. Merely by smiling and saying comforting words about Israel’s inherent legitimacy, he went a long way toward neutralizing a Republican propaganda campaign that was meant to convince Israelis (and American Jews) that he was the bastard offspring of Jimmy Carterand Haman. Jonathan Tobin, formerly an acidic critic of Obama’s approach to Israel, wrote on Commentary magazine’s website that many of the president’s 'Jewish and Democratic defenders have been to some extent vindicated and his critics chastened, if not silenced.' The achievements were also substantive. Obama somehow convinced the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who does not spend his days looking for people to apologize to, that he should call the obstreperous Turkish prime minister,Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to say how sorry he was for the loss of Turkish lives during the notorious flotilla conflict off the Mediterranean coast in 2010. The apology is helping clear a path for cooperation between the two countries on other matters, including the fallout from the coming disintegration of Syria." (Jeffrey Goldberg)



"It's no secret that E.L. James's Fifty Shades trilogy is the kind of monster publishing success that comes along only once or twice a decade. Last year, Barnes & Noble attributed its stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings to the series' megasuccess. And around the holidays, Random House — which had the good fortune of publishing the books — gave its employees $5,000 bonuses in celebration of how well Fifty Shades has done. But we didn't know the full extent of the Fifty Shades financial bonanza until yesterday, when Random House's parent company —the giant German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG — released its preliminary annual report. What the report revealed is that Fifty Shades's success has propped up not just Random House, but the entire corporate structure above it. The first thing you learn in Bertelsmann's annual report (PDF) is that it is very, very excited about the sales of the Fifty Shades books, which topped 70 million copies in 2012. The series is mentioned fifteen times in the report, including in the 'Highlights section' —where it gets its own mini-chapter called 'Book Publishing Passion to the Power of 70 Million' — and the 'Overall Economic Developments' section, where it's called a 'record-breaking success.' That success was visible on Bertelsmann's balance sheet. Look at this chart, which shows that Random House revenues made up 13.4 percent of the conglomerate's entire haul in 2012, making it bigger than its Be Printers division, and nearly as big as Gruner + Jahr, its European printing arm." (NYMag)


"The New York Post reported yesterday that Anthony Marshall, the son and only child of the late Brooke Astor, has lost his appeal on his 2009 conviction for 'trying to steal $60 million from his mother.' Evidently Mr. Marshall who appeared in court in a wheelchair last December 'begged the court to spare him jail time given his age, health, military service, public service and lack of prior criminal history.' Justice Darcel Clark of the New York Appellate Court responded that 'we are not convinced that as an aged felon Marshall should be categorically immune from incarceration.' Mr. Marshall will be 89 at the end of May. 'The lack of a criminal history is an ordinary circumstance that does not vitiate a prison term for obtaining millions of dollars through financial abuse of an elderly victim,' the judge declared and the Post reported. And so ends The Final Act of The Tale of Roberta Brooke Russell Kuser Marshall Astor, daughter of a Marine Commandant (on duty) born in Portsmith, New Hampshire one hundred and eleven years ago, and died six years ago this August in her mansion at Briarcliff Manor, New York, a wisp of her former self at 105, and woebegotten. It is a saga, and the final chapters have yet to be told. I did not buy the story the way it was presented in the media. The public relations strategy beginning with the innuendo accusing the son of elder abuse was entirely untrue and an outright smear. As much as its proponents reveled in it, they besmirched the memory of the mother with it. There were several forces operating and all, obviously, in their own interest, the son and his wife notwithstanding. It may be that Mr. Marshall fiddled with the facts of his mother’s will. This is not an unusual circumstance, and yes it is illegal. Wills are Wars and often fought to the death beyond the death. Furthermore, the mother had made more than 30 different wills in her life and each of them saw substantial changes in terms of bequests and the bequeathed. So it remained a power tool for the lady as well it should." (NYSocialDiary)


"Earlier this month an NBC executive contacted Anderson Cooper with a question that would flatter and intrigue just about anyone. Would Mr. Cooper, the biggest star of CNN, consider replacing Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show in the months to come? Mr. Cooper may have told NBC he was not interested. Nonetheless, the entreaty indicates that NBC executives are actively talking about a succession plan for Mr. Lauer, whose future on 'Today' has been the source of widespread speculation in recent months. Mr. Lauer, a star of the 'Today' show for the better part of two decades, signed a contract last year — believed to pay him $25 million a year — that keeps him at the network at least through the end of 2014. But the recent outreach to Mr. Cooper, described by people on condition of anonymity, suggests that NBC might remove Mr. Lauer from his co-host chair before then, or that Mr. Lauer might ask to be replaced. The call from NBC was first reported Tuesday night by Deadline.com. It was so surprising that some television industry executives thought the story was untrue, chalking it up to troublemaking by agents or rival networks. But three people with knowledge of the call confirmed that it happened, and said they too were taken aback by it. The people insisted on anonymity because the call was considered confidential. It is unclear who at NBC made the call to Mr. Cooper. The news division does not currently have a president. Patricia Fili-Krushel, the chairwoman of the NBCUniversal News Group, who oversees the news division, previously worked at Time Warner, the parent of CNN, for nearly a decade. An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment about the circumstances of the call or about Deadline.com’s report that Mr. Lauer later called Mr. Cooper to 'express his disapproval.'" (NYTimes)


"(Lisa Robinson) Do you still love doing the Fallon show or do you feel trapped in this day job?
(Questlove).: I definitely thrive on it. After being the hip-hop, touring version of the Grateful Dead or Phish for 17 years, the Roots wanted to retire off the road. Also, most of the band are domesticated with wives and kids. And this show had the power to make the Roots do something we’d never done—rehearse. For the first two years here, we did three to five hours every day—we needed a database because they were constantly coming to us saying, we need a Motown reference, we need a Doors reference. L.R.: Are you settled down with anyone? Q.: I cannot keep a girlfriend longer than seven months. I have 12 jobs. I don’t have time for my personal life. I’m fully aware that this is the sacrifice. I hate holidays because it’s the quietest; it’s the most deafening sound in my apartment. L.R.: You’ve said that your parents were very strict, you couldn’t curse, and you had to hide your Prince albums? Q.: I had to come home at exactly four P.M. If Oprah comes on [the TV] and you’re not in the house, you’re grounded for the next two weeks. I’m sure part of my dad’s plan was to keep me home, drumming in the basement and away from the streets. But also to cement my future." (Vanityfair)



"Don’t count out Jeffrey Deitch just yet. It looked like the former New York art dealer’s days as the director of the cash-poor Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles might be numbered when the rival Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) recently proposed a merger. But two of Deitch’s biggest supporters stepped forward yesterday with $40 million. Jeffrey Soros, a nephew of hedge- fund billionaire George Soros, and Eugenio Lopez, the heir to Mexico’s Jumex fruit-juice giant, pledged to triple MOCA’s endowment to $60 million. Asked if the move was basically telling LACMA to take their merger offer and shove it, Deitch told The Post’s Los Angeles correspondent Richard Johnson: 'The option is still open, but the MOCA trustees are committed to trying to stay independent.'" (PageSix)

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