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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres




"Sumner Redstone celebrated his 90th birthday with a host of Hollywood and media moguls. The executive chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom threw a lavish, 1930s- themed party at his Beverly Hills mansion Monday. Guests included Tom Cruise, Sidney Poitier, Paramount chairman Brad Grey, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, CBS’s Les Moonves, Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer, Michael Milken, Al Gore, producer Robert Evans and Mark Wahlberg. A source tells us, 'There was a red carpet complete with photographers from the Hedy Lamarr era. Sumner was in great spirits and was shown a video with birthday wishes from those who couldn’t make it, like [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft.'" (PageSix)


"Anyone want to buy a digital-only weekly magazine? Looks like Newsweek is for sale…again. And just like the last time Newsweek was for sale, when Barry Diller bought the magazine for a song and merged it with The Daily Beast , it isn’t really about the (low) price, it’s about the assumption of liabilities. So it’ll cost ya in the long run. Although now that Newsweek is all digital, it does presumably cost less to produce. And it remains to be seen what the sale will mean for editor in chief Tina Brown ... The Times‘ Carolyn Ryan, who moved over from Metro to head the Politics section earlier this spring, thought about hiring The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball and Politico’s Maggie Haberman for the politics desk. Last week, the Times announced that Politico’s Jonathan Martin will cover politics for the paper of record. Apparently, looking at Politico reporters for political positions shows that Ms. Ryan is thinking outside of the box ... CBS This Morning‘s Norah O’Donnell is getting sick of taking a back seat to co-host/Oprah BFF Gayle King. But the drama hasn’t risen to Matt Lauer and Ann Curry level drama or anything." (Observer)


"Sunday night I watched the Liberace movie 'Behind the Candelabra' with Michael Douglas in the lead role and Matt Damon as Liberace’s boyfriend Scott Thorsen. Debbie Reynolds played Liberace’s mother. Liberace came onto the scene about the same time that Elvis did and they couldn’t have been farther apart in terms of audiences. Liberace’s was mainly older women – mothers, grandmothers – while Elvis of course profoundly amazed the teenagers. Liberace had a half hour weekly television show in which he played popular American tunes as well as classics. He was famous for gussying up the act with a candelabra on the piano and wearing formal clothes that were fancier than just a tuxedo. He was also famous for his effusive personality which had more than a hint of mint to it. Adults probably figured he was gay but gay wasn’t a word that was known in the American vernacular at the time. It was known that he lived with his widowed mother and that seemed to fit into his audience’s idea of a wholesome boy/man. Comedians made fun of him and minced about in imitation but his popularity only grew and grew, and he was greatly respected for it in the business where box office talks. I remembered him for his first house in Hollywood where the fan magazines showed a swimming pool was shaped like the top of a grand piano – very cool to a kid who played the piano and couldn’t imagine having a swimming pool in the backyard." (NYSocialDiary)

 

"Venerable Village Voice columnist Michael Musto — whose departure from the weekly this month caused outrage from devotees — tells us he’s starting a slew of new gigs. 'I’ll be doing a weekly interview feature for Gawker, covering all manner of celebs and viral sensations,' he said. 'I’m also doing a weekly column on Out.com called ‘Musto the Musical!’ It will span gossip, Broadway, movies, nightlife, everything. Also, I’ll do a column in Advocate magazine.' Nice. We hear the man who penned the Voice’s La Dolce Musto for nearly 30 years will also contribute to Scene and the New York Times. He also recently popped up on NBC’s 'Smash' and Andy Cohen’s 'Watch What Happens Live.'" (P6)


"It’s raining, the stars are hiding, the hacks and paparazzi are waterlogged and frustrated, and the shimmering images of the beautiful people walking up the red carpet are just that—images of glories long gone. The Cannes Film Festival used to be a glamorous affair when I was a young man. I remember the brouhaha when a French wannabe starlet ripped off her bra and showed her assets to Robert Mitchum, reputedly the most intelligent actor of his time by far. He raised his eyebrows and congratulated her. He was walking alone on the Croisette without heavies or PR pests clearing his way. No one bothered him. That was then, and this is now, and now stinks. It stinks almost as much as the Gatsby movie, although some think the latter is the worst thing to come out of Hollywood since Paris Hilton. She is also here, trading on her great talent for, I suppose, having such an ugly horse face. So why am I here? As I wrote last week, my film Seduced and Abandoned is being shown a day after I write this, which means a star may have been born by the time you read this. I can see the headline in Nice-Matin: 'Une Étoile est Née.' Not bad for a 76-year-old, plus I just finished a documentary for Graydon Carter along the lines of My Dinner With Andre, but in my case it’s called My Lunch With Reinaldo. And, eat your heart out fellow Pugs member Sir Christopher Lee—I am filming Sex School this summer, playing a janitor. Who knew that Taki would become a major star in his mid-seventies? But back to Seduced and Abandoned. It is a nonfiction film, a hybrid between an adventure narrative and a documentary. Alec Baldwin is the main star along with Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Marty Scorsese, Coppola, Polanski, and Bertolucci. I play myself, mostly on my boat, and I was described as having an exotic, mysterious eroticism that sizzles." (Taki Theodoracopulos)


"A surprise for a lot of NYSD readers was learning that the woman who played Liberace’s mother Frances in the HBO production of Stephen Soderbergh’s 'Behind the Candlelabra' was none other than Debbie Reynolds. It wasn’t that she wasn’t listed in the cast credits, because she was. Or that there hadn’t been previous publicity on it because there was. It was that the performance was so 'real' that it almost seemed as if it were indeed, Liberace’s real mother. The performance which was brilliant in even the classical sense, reminded me of Lillian Burns Sidney who was Debbie’s mentor and lifelong supporter of her talent. Lillian had been the head acting coach at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1938 through 1952 when Mr. Mayer himself occupied the mogul’s suite in the Thalberg Building, and was the veritable King of Hollywood.  Lillian was a tiny woman, no more than 4’11” and standing (always) erect. She bore a natural air of distinction in her presence. She was always smartly dressed, poised; a forthright, plain spoken, right-thinking woman who loved the 'picture business,' as it was called, and all kinds of the creative talent that went into it. Especially actors, writers and directors. In her position during her time at Metro – from 1938 until 1952 when Louis B. Mayer resigned – Lillian was the highest paid non-actress on the lot earning more than $100,000 a year (or several million in today’s dollars) in the industry in the 1940s." (NYSocialDiary)


"Last year, I'd spent three-and-a-half hours running around Cannes with Alec Baldwin and James Toback as they filmed their highly entertaining documentary, Seduced and Abandoned, which chronicles their failed attempts to drum up financing for a sexually brazen art house reinterpretation of Last Tango in Paris set during the Iraq War, to be directed by Toback and starring Baldwin and Neve Campbell. This year they brought the completed doc to the festival, and when we met up again I found myself recounting a harrowing experience I’d had coming home on the night of the Seduced and Abandoned premiere party two days prior, when I'd been mugged by two young women, but fought off my attackers. 'Let me shake your hand!' said Baldwin. 'God damn it, I'm proud of you. Go down swinging, I say. You're going to have to earn that purse.' There’s been a perceived uptick in crime at the festival this year, with prominent jewel thefts and hotel robberies; most people I've talked to theorize that it has something to do with current European economic conditions. But it’s hard to say, as crime is always a problem; this much money in a concentrated area is bound to attract lowlifes along with the cinephiles. Even if the Euro were thriving, last Tuesday night it was not smart of me to be walking back to my rented apartment alone through an underpass behind a train station at four in the morning after a night of reveling. That evening, as I approached the underpass entrance I noticed two girls in their twenties — one skinny, one large and robust — get up and walk quickly into the tunnel ahead of me. It seemed sketchy, but the driving urge to get to bed made me follow them down. But they stopped on the steps, and suddenly I found myself right next to them, one on either side. 'Hello,' said the big one, who greedily and determinedly grabbed my right hand and tried to wrestle away the phone I was clutching as her smaller friend pulled at the handbag on my left side. We tussled and I screamed, 'Fuck you!' in their faces and kicked them before managing to run away, phone and handbag still in possession. I was running in high-heeled boots down the street, at least five blocks from my apartment door, screaming as loudly as possible. Then I tripped and fell to my knees. As I turned to get up, the smaller one was on top of me, grabbing at my phone and bag, while I think the big one was keeping watch at the underpass exit. I'm extremely lucky that they didn't pull weapons and that they weren't men, because my instinct was to just scream in my assailant’s face and wrestle with her (difficult since one of my hands was still gripping my phone, the other my handbag). No one showed up, but my assailant did finally step off, leaving me lying on my back on the sidewalk. I heard them making fun of me in French and imitating my screaming as they trotted down the underpass steps back to the train station. Once safely inside my temporary apartment I collapsed, shaking, on my bed, looking at my painfully bloody knees, torn tights, ripped dress, strained leg muscles, and wounds along my knuckles. The next day I was jumpy getting through the unavoidable festival crowds; anyone who walked behind me, or accidentally brushed up next to me felt like a threat. I felt stupid for putting myself in such a vulnerable position; and embarrassed that I'd given off the air of being a pushover, a foreign rube. That is, until I talked to Alec Baldwin. After congratulating me for my refusal to hand over my phone and purse, he commiserated by sharing a tale of how he was mugged in 1983 in Venice, California." (Jade Yuan)


"The jail writing class is voluntary and no special dispensation is offered anyone beyond the gratification of a couple of distracting hours. Those who attend, about twenty, are made up of an evolving array of faces. Some are still there since before my first visit last summer, others pop in for a quick stint, never to be seen again. And then the third group, those who come and go and know the rules better than the guards, know the laws better than their court appointed lawyers. Yet, for myriad reasons, they return. At 7:30pm on Saturdays, Candace (my fearless leader and program creator of twenty years) and I hand in our IDs at the main check in area, and after a brisk frisk of our persons and possessions we make our way. Buzzed through thick doors, and along corridors painted the color of untanned Caucasian skin, deep into the interior of the structure, to the ladies wing. Here we enter a classroom and gradually the ladies roll in. Once everyone is settled, to warm things up we assign a five minute writing exercise. For example, one week we asked them to write their bio, for a book jacket. Or we’ll create a scenario, eg: you have just woken up, it is morning and you are in a desert, beside you is a cat and a red pillow. What happened? Last night we brought in fake mustaches for us all to wear during class, and then asked them to write about what it might be like to go on a date with a werewolf. We had some laughs! At the end of class we give assignments for them to write through the week, to read at the following week’s class. Candace and I then add their work to a website we’ve made. When we return with comments from the general public, the satisfaction they experience is palpable. Depending on their strengths we might assign custom themes. For example, one lady, a grandmother, is writing an expose of the jail system as seen and experienced through her eyes. She signs off as Anon, as she is already in enough trouble. Her writing ably covers needlessly brutal shake-downs and ritual bureaucratic messes." (Chjristina Oxenberg)


"Roughly three years into Comcast’s ownership of NBC Universal, and Chief Executive Steve Burke has dispatched with all but a tiny vestige of the old Peacock network regime. With the naming of ITV’s Deborah Turness as the new president of NBC News last week, Burke’s makeover of NBC Universal in his image is basically complete. Since taking control in 2011, Burke has brought in new executives or realigned the organizational chart at NBC’s broadcast, cable, sports, news, and advertising sales departments. Pretty much the only division he hasn’t touched is Universal Studios, which makes sense since movies are the one area inside NBC Universal in which Comcast is least familiar.  The result, based on interviews with more than a half dozen current and former NBC Universal executives, is an executive suite lower on drama and personality, but one that also leaves some still trying to figure out where they stand in the corporate structure and with Burke himself.
'All the heat and passion is gone,' said one executive who recently left the company. 'He’s all business all the time.'  For many, that’s a plus." (Peter Lauria)

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