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Monday, April 08, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Margaret Thatcher was not Ronald Reagan in drag. In the aftermath of Thatcher’s death on Monday at the age of 87, there was an immediate tendency among many in the United States to group the former British Prime Minister with Reagan as well as with Pope John Paul II in a holy trinity of 1980s political figures who singlehandedly won the Cold War and made the world safe for capitalism and democracy. However, this is a blinkered view of Thatcher’s career, not shared in Great Britain.In Britain, Thatcher has left a far more mixed and divided legacy. As Paul Routledge provocatively stated in the Daily Mirror 'Margaret Thatcher’s death is mourned by half the nation, and celebrated by the other half. Never can there have been such a divisive figure in British public life.' While on the right, she is a hero figure who took dramatic steps to break the power of organized labor and fracture the Butskellite consensus that had dominated post-war politics, she was despised on the left. To many, Thatcher was associated with the collapse of Great Britain’s industrial economy, mass unemployment and a deeply regressive economic policy. Pop singers wrote songs where they gleefully hoped she would die and she was eventually turned out by her own party in a political coup.These facts are all cleaned up or pushed down in American obituaries." (DailyDownload)


"After the failed week long experiment of (Get To) The Point and the unsteady The Lead With Jake Tapper, Jeff Zucker is looking for a blast from the past to revive CNN. The ratings-struggling cable new network is bringing back Crossfire in June, network insiders tell me. No hosts have been chosen yet, the sources say. Nor is it clear if the show will definitely remain a half hour, as the original Crossfire was, or go longer. Right now it seems that Crossfire 2.0 is slated to have a variety of CNN personalities and contributors taking up the 'left' and 'right' roles on the new version of the political debate show. A CNN standard almost from the begining, Crossfire ran on the network in both daytime and primetime from 1982 until it was cancelled in 2005. Crossfire isn’t the first piece of CNN history Zucker has brought back since taking over in January. The former Today show producer reinstalled James Earl Jones’ traditional 'This is CNN' promo voiceover in his first week in his new gig." (Deadline)


"Vice, the young-man-focused skateboard, sex, travel, music and international derring-do multi-media empire based in Brooklyn, was the subject of a favorable story in last week's New Yorker magazine. Alone among media companies, Vice appears to have figured out a new and profitable relationship with advertisers. Or rather, it has convinced advertisers, that its view of the world is unique enough, cool enough and splashy enough that advertisers should just shut up and support it.The New Yorker story was both an official nod that Vice is a hot media company, and a kind of risible acknowledgment that nobody in mainstream media saw Vice coming or knows quite what to make of it — or how to imitate it. Almost immediately, the rumors began in earnest about which established company might buy Vice, with valuations beginning in mid-stratosphere — Google among them. Google is, of course, a possible buyer of everything, but there is always particular interest about its intentions when it comes to media. Many believe that, even though Google regularly says it is not a content company, content will prove both irresistible to it for reasons of prestige and influence (it is often mentioned as a possible buyer of The New York Times), and necessary. It makes its money selling advertising adjacent to content." (Michael Wolff)


"Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the website BuzzFeed—though this is increasingly unlikely, as it’s currently enjoying a viral moment. The site is a hyper­active amalgam: simultaneously a journalism website, a purveyor of funny lists, and a perpetual pop-culture plebiscite where you can vote on articles with bright-yellow buttons reading lol, wtf, and omg. You can find news there, really serious news by first-rate journalists, about subjects like lobbying scandals and killer drones. You can also find an enormous amount of stuff like 'The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs of All Time.' If you’re into that, in fact, there’s an entire section devoted to animals. But you’ll probably never visit that section, because, like odd-couple roommates, BuzzFeed’s articles only nominally live on the website, spending most of their time out of the house as links on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If this sounds like an awkward living situation, it is; Gawker Media’s Nick Denton, a cantankerous competitor, has predicted that BuzzFeed will 'collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.' But venture capitalists have put $46 million into it, and it’s not because they adore kittens. Perhaps the best way to understand BuzzFeed, though, is as the culmination of a wager its puckish founder, Jonah Peretti, made twelve years ago as a graduate student at MIT. Like a lot of tales of discovery on the Internet, this one begins in a moment of procrastination. In 2001, Peretti, then 27, was supposed to be writing his master’s thesis but instead diverted himself by goofing off online. Nike was promoting a new customizable sneaker; Peretti ordered a pair imprinted with the word sweatshop, prompting an amusing exchange of e-mails with a customer-­service representative. Peretti forwarded the chain to ten friends. It went forth and multiplied, taking on irresistible momentum as it was forwarded from in-box to in-box. Six weeks later, Peretti found himself on the Today show, debating a Nike spokesman about its labor practices." (NYMag)


"Lilly Pulitzer died yesterday (Sunday 4/7/13) in Palm Beach. She was 81. I met her a few times but only to say hello. However, we had mutual friends who often spoke of her, and so I had a strong impression of her. The first time I went to Palm Beach was in the winter of ’67/’68. We (my then wife and I) went to stay with a friend who also knew Lilly and who sometimes worked for her in Palm Beach and summers in Newport.Palm Beach in those days was a sleeply little place compared to today. There were still quite a few empty plots of land here and there, and many of the big houses built in the 1920s were being razed, victims of the cost of upkeep. Many of the Old Guard family members – the group you can see in our Ellen Ordway’s photo archives of early and mid-20th century Palm Beach – were still in residence. Jack Kennedy gave the town a bit of an international publicity lift when he used his father’s house on North Ocean Boulevard for the Winter White House. The Grande Dame of them all, Marjorie Merriweather Post was still in residence at Mar-a-Lago with an army of servants and a raft of houseguests, and hosting her famous square dance dinner parties. There were newcomers and up-and-comers, and especially a lot of the succeeding generations of the old fortunes that made Palm Beach like Dukes and Biddles, Vanderbilts and Phippses, DuPonts and Dodges. Lillian Lee McKim Pulitzer Rousseau (her entire legal name at the end of her life) was one of those people. Back then, when she was in her heyday and famous in the fashion business for her 'Lilly' dress, she was still just known as Lilly to her many friends and acquaintances.  She didn’t start her dress business by accident – she had a purpose." (NYSocialDiary)



"'I agreed to the roast because Jerry Lewis told me personally that it would be the highlight of my career,' Jack Black said backstage at the New York Hilton on Friday, before his Friars Club Roast. 'And I, like a shithead sucker, just bought it hook, line, and sinker. Now I’m here, and I realize it was a huge mistake. They are going to rip me a new one. I’m going to have, like, five assholes at the end of this.' And Black was ready for his punishment: once the cameras were rolling, he dropped his pants on the red carpet. ('I forgot to pack a belt,' he told VF Daily later.) Those skewering Black included Bob Saget, Oliver Platt, Jeff Ross, Sarah Silverman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and, via video, Shirley MacLaine, Will Ferrell, and Matthew McConaughey. Also attending—and taking their share of ribbing—were Padma Lakshmi, Al Roker, Debbie Harry, Joan Osborne, Adam Shankman, Gene Simmons, and the Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. Black, who actually seemed nervous pre-show, said he prepared for the roast after meeting his tormentors for dinner the previous evening. 'I wrote down some things that I thought, uh, might hurt their feelings, too,' he said. 'Yeah, it goes both ways. I get my chance at the end.' Some of the highlights from the (three hour!) luncheon ...(Bob saget) 'Jack Black. It’s a great name. That’s what Kim Kardashian does every night.'" (VanityFair)

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