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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"I kinda like Caroline Kennedy. Not that she would care if I do or don’t. In any case, I haven’t seen her for a dozen years—and before that only fleetingly. We first met when she was an undergraduate at Harvard in the late ’70s. She was the belle (or maybe not …) of my brilliant student and future colleague Eric Breindel, whose accomplished life working as Senator Moynihan’s top intellectual aide and as chief New York Post editorialist was plagued by tempests and torments that ended tragically in 1998. (He’d had other belles before and after: Benazir 'Pinky' Bhutto, for one, and then a gifted writer wife and a devoted girlfriend, and finally his longtime love, Lally Weymouth.)
One fact I remember about Caroline is that, when shopping around for an area of academic concentration, she contemplated applying to the select program in social studies that I had run for years. Since she knew that Eric and I were close, however, she imagined that some favoritism might play into the process, and she went off to study in another field. She brought her mother around to my house at a graduation party. Jackie was not at all patronizing, even though by then she had been married to the most powerful man on earth and then to one of the wealthiest. Apparently, President Obama now intends to appoint Mrs. Kennedy Schlossberg as the American emissary to Japan. John F. Kerry, the recently confirmed and appropriately grave secretary of state, might have other thoughts on the matter. But I suspect his leeway is not great—after all, most of the important ambassadorial posts have been given or are in the process of going to (mostly) men from Barack and Michelle’s political life. The Russian Federation and Brazil are exceptions; they have been sent academic or diplomatic professionals. On the other hand, hacks have been dispatched to key countries, even to China and South Africa. The editor of Vogue will not be sent to London. But whoever will be needs to have deep pockets like the one who left last week. Five previous ambassadors to the U.K. were elected president of the United States. Paris still has its American plenipotentiary, whose credentials include being the son of a former ambassador and the CEO of the company that brought the Muppets to the world. I am sure they are all fine and estimable men. Why do many people object to Caroline’s ambitions to become our ambassador in Tokyo and take issue with Mr. Obama’s apparent determination to designate her for the posting? Well, one fact is clear: she is no Edwin O. Reischauer, who served as the U.S. emissary to Japan from 1961 to 1966. Mr. Reischauer was a great scholar of Japan and Japanese civilization, perhaps the greatest American in the field … ever. Oh, and he was appointed by Jack Kennedy, Caroline’s dad. But let’s face it. This administration is not comfortable in the realm of the cerebral, which includes sheer factual knowledge, lots of it, and also presumes deep thought. You will not get that from Valerie Jarrett or David Plouffe. Frankly, the present White House makes me nostalgic for Jimmy Carter’s executive mansion. You had two brainy people with antagonistic views, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cyrus Vance, arguing it all out before an intellectually picky president. The present president already knows everything he needs to know." (Marty Peretz)


"At noontime I went down to 8 ½, the restaurant in the subterranean level of 9 West 57th Street, to lunch with Allison Rockefeller and Missy Falchi. Rockefeller and Falchi are very involved with the Women in Conservation Program of the National Audubon Society. This year they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary Women in Conservation Luncheon and the 2013 Rachel Carson Awards which will be held on May 29th in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza. This year's honorees are Marian Heiskell, philanthropist and Conservationist and the late Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady and Environmentalist. Mrs. Heiskell will receive the inaugural Rachel Carson Lifetime Achievement Award. Lady Bird Johnson’s award will be accepted by her daughter Lynda Johnson Robb. So what was the conversation? Missy Falchi, who grew up in a little town in Texas told me how during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency, Lady Bird made it her project to clean up the roadways and highways across America. People made fun of it at the time but today the great success is evident everywhere. Missy recalled how when she was a very young girl, the highways in Texas were barren, unkempt and often littered with all kinds of detritus. Today they are cleaned, groomed, planted and landscaped with green Often true all over the nation, thanks to Mrs. Johnson. I was reminded of the irony that all of the beautification and partnership with nature was happening while the war was expanding and raging in Viet Nam ... this past Monday night and another organization of women. The International Women’s Health Coalition hosted its annual fundraising dinner at the Pierre and honoring Christiane Amanpour who was also the keynote speaker. Amanpour’s subject was women’s rights. She noted that there should be a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. She spoke about witnessing a female circumcision in Africa during the making of a documentary about it. She conveyed the horror of the young girl’s brutalization with great compassion and was very effecting in her delivery." (NySocialDiary)


"Chelsea Handler says that she’s very artistically inclined, painting and sculpting on a regular basis. 'All the time. Almost daily,' she told VF Daily at the New York Academy of Art’s Tribeca ball on Monday. And she claims she’s really talented, too. 'I think I’m amazing! I think I’m pretty good at it,' Handler said. 'I mean, not a lot of people respect my work, but I think I’m used to that,' she deadpanned. (Everybody respects her naked slapdown with Conan O’Brien, right?) Handler doesn’t know the evening’s honoree, writer and Vanity Fair contributor Bob Colacello, very well. 'My lover knows him,' she said, gesturing to Andre Balazs, who was at her side. 'He brings me to these kinds of things,' she added. 'We’ve been friends for a long time. Decades,' Balazs said. 'I got involved with the New York Academy of Art through Andy Warhol many years ago, about the time that I met Bob. So it’s spectacular that [he is] the honoree tonight. It kind of brings full circle how it started.'Colacello, Balazs says, is one of the smartest, most intellectual observers of the art scene in New York. N.Y.A.A. president David Kratz describes Colacello as probably one of the most popular people in New York. 'There’s been a waiting list for weeks just to get in,' Kratz said. 'Bob is one of the great gifts to allow popular culture and serious art to meet,' Michael Ovitz, another old friend, chimed in. And there it was; the guests Colacello greeted all evening represented a cross-section of society, from Joan Rivers to Cindy Sherman, to Matt Lauer, to Andres Serrano, to Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to Peter Marino, to Olivier Theyskens and Mary-Kate Olsen." (VanityFair)



"A well-known name is the latest to surface in the populated field of late night television hosts: Alec Baldwin. The Emmy-winning actor is in the mix for a spot in NBC’s late-night lineup, one executive involved in the network’s program planning said. The executive asked not to be identified because the talks were still in initial stages. The most likely landing place for a show hosted by Mr. Baldwin would be in the latest of NBC’s entries, the show now called “Last Call.” That half-hour interview program currently stars Carson Daly. Mr. Daly is also the host of NBC’s biggest show, “The Voice.”NBC is in the midst of what looks like a complete overhaul of its late-night lineup. Last week, the network confirmed that Jimmy Fallon, now host of NBC’s “Late Night,” would be taking over the “Tonight” from Jay Leno when he steps down next February. The show will move from Los Angeles to New York with Mr. Fallon as star. After that move was announced, speculation immediately began about who might succeed Mr. Fallon at the “Late Night’ show. Now the mutual interest between Mr. Baldwin and NBC about opening a late-night spot for the actor could result in three new late-night hosts for NBC. Mr. Baldwin ended his much-praised run as a star on this NBC comedy “30 Rock” this season. He twice won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Comedy for his work as Jack Donaghy. Mr. Baldwin has also been long regarded one of the best guests on late-night television shows. And he has won critical praise for a podcast series he created with WNYC radio in New York, called “Here’s The Thing.”' (Bill Carter)


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