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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"Even in the 1990s, the line between fame and obscurity was easy to find – this was before the advent of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, when you were generally famous for being an actor or a sports star, a politician or a pundit. There were many paths to renown, but they all involved networking, going through agents, and 'getting a big break.' You got your break, you became a public figure, then you gained fame. But the rules have been changing, and social media and the rise of smartphone culture have substantially altered how celebrities are treated and how people gain the vast platform of fame. The old rules don’t work. Starlets’ breakdowns aren’t concealed by publicists; they’re obsessively documented by gawkers and the stars themselves on the Internet. In the 90s, President Clinton got caught in a sex scandal due to audiotapes and DNA evidence. In 2011, Congressman Anthony Weiner’s ignominious 'Weinergate' embarrassment unfolded on Twitter.
But the lives of celebrities don’t just fall apart on the Internet – sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can also catapult people to levels of fame they’d otherwise never reach. For instance, Justin Bieber is often called the first YouTube superstar, and accurately so: The teen dream got his start by posting videos, not by going through the teen idol machine (although he did that later, with Usher’s help). And Bieber’s devoted Beliebers are all the more ardent about their coiffed, swagged out pint-size R&B star because he’s such an active Twitter user. They have a direct entrance to his attention, even if he likely misses the vast majority of the tweets he receives just due to the sheer volume. Bieber jumped to the highest level of fame imaginable, and he’s not alone. Plenty of people have used social media to carve out niches for themselves just on the strength of their tweets or photos; for instance, Megan Amram is now a well-known television writer for Parks and Recreation, but she broke into screenwriting by way of Twitter. After graduating from Harvard in 2010, she started a Twitter account that was funny enough to get over 90,000 followers, which led to paid writing jobs. She now has almost 350,000 followers. Amram isn’t the only person to launch themselves into the entertainment industry through Twitter. Kelly Oxford was a housewife in Calgary, Alberta, who started a Twitter account in 2009. Her pithy account gained attention from people like Roger Ebert and Jimmy Fallon, and now she’s sold several pilots and recently authored a book (and made the move to L.A.). Without the Internet – and specifically, Twitter – she’d probably still be in Canada." (Digitaltrends)


"China appears to be growing frustrated with North Korea's behavior, perhaps to the point of changing its long-standing support for Pyongyang. As North Korea's largest economic sponsor, Beijing has provided the North Korean regime with crucial aid for years and offered it diplomatic protection against the United States and other powers. To outsiders, China's alliance with North Korea seems like a Cold War relic with little reason for persisting into the 21st century. However, Beijing's continued support for Pyongyang is not rooted in shared ideology or past cooperation nearly as much as in China's own security calculations. Perhaps nothing sums up the modern relationship more effectively than the oft repeated comment that the two countries are 'as close as lips and teeth.' Far from a statement of intense friendship, the completion of that Chinese aphorism -- "When the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold" -- highlights China's interest in propping up the North Korean regime. North Korea serves as a buffer state for China's northeast, and though Pyongyang can exploit that need, the North Korean leadership harbors no illusion that China is truly interested in the survival of any particular North Korean regime so long as Beijing can keep its buffer. Whether China is seriously considering a change in relations with North Korea, ties between the two countries are shaped as much by geography and history as they are by choice. The Korean Peninsula abuts China's northeast, along Manchuria. The Yalu River separates North Korea from China, and the area on the western edge of the border functions as a gateway between the two countries along an otherwise largely mountainous border. The geography of the Korean Peninsula, as seen several times in the past, offers little resistance to rapid military maneuvers from north to south or vice versa. At times, this border area was a troublesome spot for Chinese empires, which had to contend with various invaders and growing Korean military strength. At other times, the peninsula served as a conduit for Chinese culture to Japan -- and intermittently as the main highway for military confrontation between China and Japan. During the 19th century and the expansion of European and American activity in Asia, if foreign countries had dominated Korea, it would have further undermined China's already faltering national security. And during the Cold War, North Korea provided a strategic buffer against U.S. forces in Japan and South Korea, a role it still plays today." (STRATFOR)


"The humiliations don’t stop for Merv Adelson, whose Lorimar was a top TV production company with 'Dallas.' Adelson, 83, shuffled into LA court yesterday in sneakers and khakis to battle ex-wife Thea, 50, a lawyer and mother of their two daughters who’s owed nearly $1 million in child support, reports The Post’s Richard Johnson. Adelson, who was also once married to Barbara Walters, went bankrupt in 2003, the year Thea filed for divorce. She got the house in Malibu while he lives in a Santa Monica studio. Adelson told Vanity Fair the one thing he misses is his jet. He unwisely let four years go by before asking the court to reduce his monthly child support payments from $20,000 to $2,137. 'Thea’s asking for bigger payments on arrears,' Adelson’s lawyer Robert L. Schibel said. 'She’s asking for 100 percent of what he has coming in.' Adelson has a small income from courtside Lakers tickets and a consulting gig with Time Warner, which bought Lorimar. The next court date is May 16." (PageSix)


"This being the season, last night’s social calendar was in full throttle. The National Dance Institute held a Gala at the Best Buy Theatre where they honored Mandy Patinkin and Robert D. Krinsky. Honorary chairs for the evening were: Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, George Soros. The theme was Celebrating The Big EasyDown at Capitale, Symphony Space held its Spring Swing & Access to the Arts Awards. Co-chairs for the evening were Amy Wilson and David Falnnery and BD Wong. They honored Steven M. Alden, Louise Hirschfeld and Lewis B. Cullman, Isaiah Sheffer and Luis Ubinas. The Spring Swing was hosted by Tamara Tunie and Gregory Generet, and featured performances by Eisa Davis, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Kate Levin, Sonia Manzano, S. Epatha Merkerson, James Naughton, Leonard Nimoy, Arturo O’Farrill, D.A. Pennebaker, Kt Sullivan, Dan Zanes, as well as Ms. Wilson and Mr. Wong. I went over to the Mandarin Oriental where the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) was hosting its annual benefit Dinner where they honored William Clay Ford Jr., Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, and Ford Motor Company with the Distinguished Leadership Award, and Quinn Bradlee, Founder and CEO of www.friendsofquinn.com." (NYSocialDiary)



"Even in the annals of over-the-top celebrity weddings, Sean Parker's planned nuptials may take the cake. The Facebook Inc. billionaire who also co-founded Napster is dropping nearly $10 million on a fairy-tale wedding in Big Sur that includes a whimsical fantasy world featuring faux ruins, waterfalls, bridges and a gated cottage, a person familiar with the plans said. Just the stone dance floor in the woods surrounding the Ventana Inn & Spa will set the 34-year-old back $350,000, according to the website TMZ. The plants and flowers will cost $1 million. After a two-year engagement, Parker is marrying Alexandra Lenas, a singer and songwriter with whom he has a 2-month-old daughter, Winter Victoria. Parker's June wedding will be in stark contrast to that of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who married longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan in a simple ceremony in their Palo Alto backyard in May 2012 in front of 100 guests who dined on food catered by the couple's favorite local restaurants. Parker's guests will stay at the Ventana Inn and will dress in custom outfits designed by Ngila Dickson, the Academy Award-winning costume designer from 'The Lord of the Rings.'" (LATimes)



"I always thought it was somewhat bizarre that John Paulson, the hedge-fund billionaire and imaginary IM pal of Jessica Pressler, was heavily invested in gold. Gold, unlike the credit default swaps on mortgage-backed securities that made Paulson his billions, isn't a thinking man's investment. Betting on gold requires no counterintuitive analysis, no Paolo Pellegrini whispering insights in your ear. It's a fairly obvious reactionary play for doomsday preppers and Fed-haters, and has been since Paulson began piling into it in 2009. What's weirder is that Paulson, who is temperate (if conservative) in his personal politics, isn't simply betting on gold as a speculator. That, at least, would be an understandable move. (Rough investment thesis: There are a lot of gold bugs in the world, and the Fed's quantitative easing efforts will likely create more, driving up the price of gold and making me rich[er].) No, Paulson seems to be a true believer, who really does think that the Fed's expansionary monetary policy will create massive inflation and debase the dollar. 'What's the only asset that will hold value? It's got to be gold,' Paulson said back in 2009, as reported in Greg Zuckerman's book The Greatest Trade Ever. Either way, dude is taking it on the chin. Bloomberg reports that Paulson has lost $1.5 billion — that's billion, with a B — since the start of the year by betting on gold, including a $1 billion loss in the last week alone, as gold prices have suffered their biggest crash in 30 years." (NYMag)

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