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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

 
 
"The debate was only a few minutes old, and Barack Obama was already tanking. His opponent on this warm autumn night, a Massachusetts patrician with an impressive résumé, a chiseled jaw, and a staunch helmet of burnished hair, was an inferior political specimen by any conceivable measure. But with surprising fluency, verve, and even humor, Obama’s rival was putting points on the board. The president was not. Passive and passionless, he seemed barely present. It was Sunday, October 14, 2012, and Obama was bunkered two levels below the lobby of the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. In a blue blazer, khaki pants, and an open-necked shirt, he was squaring off in a mock debate against Massachusetts senator John Kerry, who was standing in for the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. The two men were in Williamsburg, along with the president’s team, to prepare Obama for his second televised confrontation with Romney, 48 hours away, at Hofstra University in New York. It was an event to which few had given much thought. Until the debacle in Denver, that is.The debate in the Mile High City eleven days earlier had jolted a race that for many months had been hard fought but remarkably stable. From the moment in May that Romney emerged victorious from the most volatile and unpredictable Republican-nomination contest in many moons, Obama had held a narrow yet consistent lead. But after Romney mauled the president in Denver, the wind and weather of the campaign shifted in something like a heartbeat. The challenger was surging. The polls were tightening. Republicans were pulsating with renewed hope. Democrats were rending their garments and collapsing on their fainting couches.Obama was nowhere in the vicinity of panic. 'You ever known me to lose two in a row?' he said to friends to calm their nerves." (NYMag)
 
 
"London is now essentially a tax haven, and New York is where the smart money is invested into high-end real estate that benefits from tax breaks for the very, very rich. The whole southern end of Central Park will soon be blocked off by giant glass towers of empty, super-luxurious apartments bought by small men from the East with very large bank accounts. Some of them can even be described as honest, although I wouldn’t go as far as that. On Park Avenue and 56th Street, a man by the name of Harry Macklowe is putting up one of the tallest buildings in the city, as outrageous an act as sticking a McDonald’s next to St. Paul’s Cathedral. He got permission to do it from the Bloomberg administration, which is a bit like asking Ali Baba’s forty thieves permission to steal a camel. More than fifty years ago Macklowe used to get on my nerves because he was big but would not go out for sports when we were in boarding school. In fact he was a wiseguy—smart in class, quick with his mouth, but cowardly on the field. He has gone broke a few times—which does not mean he ever lost money—and is now doing to Park Avenue what that other horror, Charles Clore, did to it a long time ago when he put up the colossus that was then called the Pan Am Building over Grand Central and closed the beautiful vista one had all the way down to the Statue of Liberty from uptown. Well, ugly people build ugly things, and there are some very ugly buildings going up as I write." (Taki)
 

"Meanwhile, yesterday was Wednesday, and Wednesday was Michael’s. Traffic was practically at a standstill in midtown. Inside Michael’s it was a rolling roar (on the rivah…) of verbose excitement -- whatever they were were talking about. It was a real media day, pockets of public relations honchos, editors, publishers, producers, talking heads, non-stop. Around the room: Greg Buttle of ESPN Radio’s 'Buttlenews;' Sanford Stein, Diane Clehane, Michael’s very ownBrenda Starr with producer Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman.Diane interviews, takes it all down and they talk. And those two have had the experience in media to talk about it non-stop. I don’t know what they were talking about yesterday but I do know with those two – Zimm and Gelman (along with Diane), they were covered a lot of territory and had a few laughs amidst theSturm und Drang that’s about. At Table One, Bonnie Fuller ofHollywoodLife.com was in full swing with Gerry Byrne (Penske Media) and Dylan Lauren andAnn Dexter JonesVH1’s Keshia Williams, Liza Persky of the the Wendy Williams ShowLeslie Kaufman of the New York Times,Carla Rube of PIX11Julianne Wurm, Kathryn Fernandez, Marcia Parris and Kimberly Yarnell. That’s a business lunch and they were all cookin’." (NYSocialDiary)


"Once again, in October, Dan Loeb was lobbing grenades. This time his target was Sotheby’s, the international auction house, founded in 1744, that, along with chief rival Christie’s, owns the high-end business of reselling the art, real estate, jewelry, furniture, and other knickknacks of the wealthy. Loeb, the 51-year-old founder and principal owner of the hedge fund Third Point L.L.C., is famous, or rather infamous, for such bomb throwing. Packaging them in the form of letters to corporate C.E.O.’s (and sometimes to his hedge-fund colleagues), Loeb excoriates his targets publicly, not only for their professional performance but also often for their personal behavior. The idea is to humiliate the C.E.O.’s, causing them to quit or to get fired, so Loeb can unleash his strategies for 'unlocking shareholder value,' as they say in the hedge-fund world. Other hedge-funders send such letters, but most agree that Loeb’s are the nastiest and most florid. After Third Point had become the company’s largest shareholder, Loeb sent his Sotheby’s letter on October 2 to William F. Ruprecht, the widely respected chairman and chief executive officer, who has been at the auction house for 33 years. Arguing that Sotheby’s suffered from 'a lack of leadership and strategic vision at its highest levels,' Loeb then blasted Ruprecht for his 2012 compensation of $6.3 million, as well as any number of perks—memberships in 'elite country clubs,' car allowances, and tax-preparation services—that invoked 'the long-gone era of imperial CEOs.' He also relayed the 'story' of an 'extravagant lunch and dinner' at Blue Hill restaurant, in Manhattan, where, he said, Sotheby’s management 'feasted on organic delicacies and imbibed vintage wines at a cost to shareholders of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.' Loeb demanded Ruprecht’s resignation and wrote that he would like to join the board “immediately' to begin a search for a new C.E.O. Incredibly, he wrote that he had already identified two internal candidates who could succeed Ruprecht and had begun 'informal discussions' with outside candidates as well." (VanityFair)

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