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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Maybe because stories about dwarf-tossing at his desert encampments became public, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the 58-year-old Saudi Arabian financial, media, and real-estate mogul, no longer invites journalists to visit his $130 million, 460,000-square-foot Riyadh complex with 371 rooms, an 80-foot-high entrance hall, 500 televisions, and a staff of 100. The prince has traditionally been proud to show off his immense wealth, but he has also worked hard to become the Western face of Saudi finance, and slinging dwarves around like so much hash would not go down too well with a First World audience. One of the largest shareholders in Citigroup, the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation after the Murdoch family, and with major stakes in dozens of other Western companies, he travels the globe often wearing bespoke suits instead of the traditional Saudi thawb. Based in a country where women can’t drive or vote, he champions women’s rights and discourages his female employees, who make up 65 percent of his workforce, from wearing the veil in his offices.
So it didn’t quite fit the image he was trying to convey when Business Insider broke the dwarf-throwing story in January 2012. The source was a former American employee of Alwaleed’s (who was also a friend of Alwaleed’s 35-year-old son, Khaled). The prince’s defenders hastened to put it all into context: dwarves are outcasts in Saudi Arabia; when they come begging, Alwaleed, in his great beneficence, hires them to be a roving band of court jesters, thus instilling in them 'a work ethic, and you really can’t fault that.' In Saudi Arabia the wealthy think it is lucky to have dwarves around, and the dwarves enjoy it, 'kind of like a circus situation.' When they are pressed into service as human projectiles, there are pillows to catch them." (VanityFair)


"Given that at least a third of Americans identify strongly with neither major party, it seems anomalous that the two major parties boast all but two of the 535 members of Congress, 49 of 50 state governors, 99% of the nearly 7,400 state legislators nationwide and every American president for more than a century-and-a-half. Many third-party supporters are convinced that Democrats and Republicans at the state and national level collude to restrict third-party ballot access and make fundraising more difficult for third parties and their candidates. Regardless of other ways the major parties reinforce their electoral duopoly, their real baked-in advantage is purely structural; namely, the near-universal use on the national level and widespread use on the state level of single-member districts with plurality rule. With the exception of Georgia and Louisiana, which use run-off elections for U.S. House and Senate seats, and Maine and Nebraska, which use the congressional district rule for allocation of all but two of their presidential electors, general elections for Congress and the presidency are winner-take-all, plurality-rule contests. As Maurice Duverger predicted long ago, systems dominated by single-member districts, plurality-rule elections should naturally gravitate into two-party systems. Is it time to scale back the use of single-member districts for the U.S. House and state legislatures?" (CenterforPolitics)


"It was supposed to be an intimate dinner party: Paul D. Miller, known to most as DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid (hereafter, Spooky), and a few close friends. Votive candles flickered on a table set for 12. Jazz burbled, guests sipped at sparkling wine. But people kept arriving. In teetered a pair of comely identical twins in vertiginous black stiletto boots; over to the piano strode three lanky guys wearing face paint, one of them hauling a tuba. By 9 p.m., the place was packed and very New York-downtown-creative-class-eclectic—curators, concert violinists, children’s book illustrators, fashion designers, academics, entrepreneurs. No one seemed particularly interested in the baby beets and arctic char. In time, the tuba was unsheathed, and octogenarian Melvin Van Peebles practically vaulted over a sofa to the dance floor. He shot the crowd a look that said 'what’s wrong with you people?' and soon everyone was swirling and stomping around the loft. 'I know we were going to do a smaller thing,” Spooky said later, assessing the scene. 'But when I do something, more and more people keep popping up.' He worked the room like a fly fisherman, reeling friends into conversations. Whipping around in his buttoned-up denim shirt and chinos, he doled out copies of his magazine and made introductions, pausing to check on Mr. Van Peebles, who’d been demonstrably enjoying himself ('This is the most fun I’ve had with clothes on in years!'), offering to find him a cab. When Spooky wasn’t speaking, people spoke about Spooky. A woman from a film distribution company said she is securing the rights to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari so that Spooky can 'remix' the original 1920 score. Grethe Holby, the producer who’d lent her Soho studio for the party, described Spooky’s musical arrangements for one of her upcoming operas. They will simulate the sonic climate of Mars. But no one talks about Spooky like Spooky. 'I’m representing the Maldives in the Venice Biennale,' he announced to his guests. 'Which is a really big deal for the art world.' 'Paul is DJ Spooky all the time,' said music engineer Dan Yashiv, who collaborated with Spooky on his 2010 mixer app, which has racked up over 15 million downloads. Well, maybe not all the time. He ran into Mr. Miller in Rio a few years ago, and the two spent a day knocking back caipirinhas on the beach." (Observer)


"THEN Howard Stern left terrestrial too early, he became societally marginalized. NOW Howard is king of his niche and reaches a larger audience than any of the late night talk shows. Reminds me of Bryan Adams recording '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.' AOR considered him a sell-out. Soon AOR was toast and Adams had a career as a crooner. THEN If you were all over the press, everybody had heard your music. NOW Almost no one has heard Amanda Palmer’s music. THEN If you had a tiny core audience, you were financially challenged. NOW If you have a tiny core audience, you can raise enough money to make your album on Kickstarter, and own the copyright to boot. Just don’t think since you raised all that cash anybody other than the core is going to be interested in what you produce." (LefsetzLetter)


"Amid all the buzz over her impending departure from 'The View,' Elisabeth Hasselbeck is already being courted by other networks. We hear CNN honcho Jeff Zucker is interested in seeing her join his cable channel. A source told us, 'They’re definitely interested.' Although 'The View' creator Barbara Walters denied on-air that Hasselback was on her way out, after news reports were leaked saying she’s being axed, Page Six revealed she’s being pushed out of the ABC daytime talk show as ratings sag and research shows her conservative views don’t sit well with some regular viewers. Hasselbeck’s agent didn’t get back to us, CNN had no comment." (PageSix)


"The Randall's Island Park Alliance hosted its Fielding Dreams NYC Gala on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the American Museum of Natural History to honor two influential community leaders and celebrate the continued success of Randall's Island Park, a world‐class destination for sports, recreation and environmental exploration dedicated to championing healthy lifestyles for New York City Children. The event raised a record‐breaking $1 million for RIPA. This year, the Alliance honored Stacy Bash‐Polley, Partner at Goldman Sachs, and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz for their commitment to Randall's Island Park and bettering children's lives in New York City. Notable attendees included: Elaina Watley, Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch, Eric Rudin, Fiona Rudin, Richard and Chris Mack, Phyllis Mack, Justin and Jenny Green, Brad and Kate Peck, Dean Landis, Stephanie Wolkoff, Jill Yablon and more." (NYSocialDiary)



"Maria Shriver’s surprise appearance on “Today” was such a big hit that NBC heads are reportedly hoping for a more permanent deal. But the question is whether she’s interested.  Shriver covered the new pope’s first few days at the Vatican on NBC and MSNBC last week. According to TMZ, Shriver has refused overtures from NBC and has even turned down talk show offers from other networks in the past. It’s said she’s uninterested in the grind of daily TV and, additionally, she does not need the money. She has a reported net worth of at least $100 million and that already sky-high sum could increase by as much as $200 million when her divorce with Arnold Schwarzengger is finalized.
Sources tell the gossip site that the former first lady of California is deeply invested in her charity work and raising her four kids.  Her status is characterized as 'a friend of the ‘Today’ show helping NBC cover the pope,' a spokesman told The Post. " (P6)

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