Saturday, June 29, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"One of the most difficult features of the new news environment is that everybody gets to see the utter mess of the early hours of a breaking news story — the chaos, the bad information off the scanner, the misidentifications. Those are things that used to take place inside the newsroom or, at worst, be swept away on the unrecorded broadcast airwaves. There is now a heated debate over the moral status of Edward Snowden — who fled Hong Kong for Moscow en route, reportedly, to Ecuador Sunday — and over whether his decision to flee almost certain conviction and imprisonment in the United States means that his actions can’t be considered 'civil disobedience.' These seem like good questions for a philosophy class. They are terrible, boring, ones for reporters, and have more to do with the confusing new news environment than with the actual news. Snowden is what used to be known as a source. And reporters don’t, and shouldn’t, spend too much time thinking about the moral status of their sources. Sources sometimes act from the best of motives — a belief that readers should know something is amiss, or a simple desire to see a good story told. They also often act from motives far more straightforwardly venal than anything than has been suggested of Snowden: They want to screw someone who is in their way professionally; they want to score an ideological point by revealing a personal misdeed; they are acting on an old grudge, and serving revenge cold; they are collecting chits with the press to be cashed in later. When these sources are anonymous or — in the case of earlier NSA sources — gray men whose stories haven’t captured the public imagination, nobody much cares. The Nixon Administration’s campaign to smear reporters’ Vietnam source, Daniel Ellsberg, is remembered only for having happened. When you learn decades later that the most famous anonymous source in American history — Deep Throat — was an unappealing figure fighting a bureaucratic civil war, that’s a mildly interesting footnote. The criminality he unearthed was interesting; Mark Felt wasn’t really. Who cares? Christians talk of hating the sin and loving the sinner; reporters occasionally operate in exactly the opposite way: They hate, or at least, dislike the source, and love the story." (BuzzFeed)

"Showing off honey-blond waves and facial skin that looks like it’s treated with human stem cell lotion every morning, none other than Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Instagrammed a pic of herself, hands on hips, looking sassy. It wasn’t just any Instagram, though, as this one bore a message: 'On my way to VICE to strategize for launch of #secretproject! The Revolution is coming soon!' What on earth could this mean? Well, Ms. Ciccone has been rapping about a 'revolution' and 'compassion' and 'love' and other Chicken Soup words on her Insta for some time now. If VICE is getting involved, maybe this means Madge will be donning a bustier and driving around in a sketchy van, snarking on people’s outfits? That would be great. But knowing VICE’s new direction, and hers too, it’s probably got more to do with a documentary to expose human rights violations in third-world countries. Which is acceptable, too." (BetaBeat)

"Lunch with Prabowo Subianto, the former special forces commander who is running to be president of Indonesia, was never destined to be straightforward. An encounter earlier this year at his heavily guarded mountaintop ranch outside Jakarta ended in frustration: the general, regularly described as a 'military strongman', was too anxious to engage in an on-the-record interview with the FT. Now on our second meeting, in Jakarta on the neutral territory of the Four Seasons Hotel, he still looks fidgety, despite being accompanied by his billionaire brother Hashim, an American investor friend and a small battalion of aides. Reflecting his putative transformation from soldier to statesman, Prabowo takes his wardrobe seriously. A trim-looking 61-year-old with a mop of improbably black hair, he has discarded the trademark dictator-chic safari suit he wears on the rural campaign trail in favour of a double-breasted blue blazer, white monogrammed shirt and ruby red tie. After exchanging pleasantries, we walk up the marble stairs to a private room at the Lai Ching, a Chinese restaurant that, it turns out, is a regular haunt of his. Taped birdsong plays, rather too loudly, in the background." (FT)

"One of the things (Woody) Allen is shrewdest about is money. His films typically cost about $18 million to make, which is next to nothing these days. Most of them go on to make a modest profit—if not in the United States, then when they're shown worldwide—and once in a while he has a hit on the order of Midnight in Paris. It's a fairly foolproof formula, even if it seems to have little appeal to the studios now, who would rather make bigger bets in hopes of bigger payouts. Allen's modest budgets enable him to retain total control of his films, something that's seldom granted to directors anymore, and to be flexible when it comes to probably his greatest strength as a director: casting memorable actors in memorable parts. 'I'm not in the hit-flop business,' he explained. 'I make a film and if it's a big hit it's not going to do anything special for me. If it's a disaster it won't ruin anything, because I'll already be working on the next. The people who play the hit-flop game suffer a lot when they have the flops. I don't, but then I don't get the highs either.'" (WSJ)

"'Star Wars' creator George Lucas and his new wife, Mellody Hobson, are having a second wedding celebration today in her hometown of Chicago — and word is that superstar Prince will perform. The couple, who married last weekend in California, are throwing an extravagant party on the lakefront at Promontory Point, which will be closed off for the private, tented event. Hobson is president of Ariel Investments, which is headquartered in her native Windy City." (PageSix)

"Eighteen months before I was born, my mother was in Auschwitz. She weighed 49 pounds. She always told me that God saved her so she could give me life. I was born out of nothing. My mother was nothing; she was ashes practically. That is much more of an influence on me than what my parents had. Then I married a prince. So big deal, I married a prince!" (Diane von Furstenberg)

"(Top Ten Badly behaving Royals 1) Prince Albert II of Monaco Well, he got married. So that's something. And he's stayed married. Well done him. But there have been several touch-and-go moments in the past. As the principality's premier singleton, the son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier used to step out with the likes of Brooke Shields and Claudia Schiffer. And Albert, 55, only acknowledged his two illegitimate children (Jazmin and Alexandre) from two different women after they both had DNA tests. Still, as long as the head of the House of Grimaldi gets down to the business of producing an heir with Charlene, it's all hunky dory. And no DNA test required. 2) Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand  The Thai Crown Prince, 60, became a figure of some derision in 2009 after a video appeared on the internet of an extravagant birthday party he threw - for his dog. The miniature poodle, called Foo Foo, was served birthday cake by the prince's wife, Princess Consort Srirasmi, who was wearing only a G-string. Sometimes flunkeys have to refer to the dog as Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo, a military rank the prince bestowed upon his loyal pooch. Foo Foo has been known to appear at official parties dressed in a uniform decorated with paw prints." (Tatler)

"Why is it that summers used to last so much longer back then? School would be out in early June and by the time the horrid month of September rolled around, it seemed as if three years had passed.
What fun it was to be young during summer. No homework, no need to stay in shape, no starving oneself to make weight for wrestling, girls galore at the country club and on the beach, softball on the public lawns of Greenwich, CT, and soccer on the lawns of Vouliagmeni, east of Athens, where Greek ship owners parked their yachts—sailing boats, that is. The first man to own a gin palace was Aristotle Onassis, who had a Canadian frigate converted, and it all went downhill from there. Youth never worries and takes its fun whenever and wherever it can get it; hence one didn’t worry about being locked up in boarding school until it actually happened. (Now, in old age, I worry about something unpleasant months before I have to go through with it.) How quickly and easily one fell in love during those long summer days and nights, and—thank God—how even more rapidly one fell out of love when something more exotic came along. I’d say on average there were three to four major romances during those unending summers—with each one starting “for life and forever after” until the inevitable happened. Time seemed to go so slowly that I am now embarrassed at how little a bite at cherry I had with all that time my hands. The first time I ever kissed a girl was during a hot summer evening. Her name was Marina. She was eleven and I was twelve. Then came Margo, Isla, and Mary. (Then came September and the kissing had to stop.) Amazing how 64 years later I don’t only remember their names but exactly what they looked like. I’m sure that they wouldn’t recognize me now, and vice-versa." (Taki)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres

"Earlier this week, Bloomberg’s Sarah Shannon reported from London that the famous Harrods department store is seeing what store executives call record sales — courtesy largely of wealthy Chinese nationals. As Shannon writes, Americans are no longer in the top 10 of Harrods’ foreign customers, while buyers from China are 'by far No. 1.' On some level, the most surprising part here is Harrods’ refreshing willingness to give this kind of detail, even though that buyers from China are a huge contributor to the British luxury bottom line is no surprise. The image of the brand-hungry Chinese tourist is a current cliche, much as the bejewelled Russian was a few years ago. Obviously, the growing wealth of China and Russia is a big factor here. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that China now has more millionaires than any countries but the U.S. and Japan — and will surpass Japan this year (you can see a partial chart below or register to see BCG’s full report here). This is an unprecedented expansion of wealth in countries where the newly reach are justifiably anxious about the stability of local markets and the future attitudes of their governments." (Bloomberg)

"The debate over domestic surveillance is not a debate about what we think about Glenn Greenwald. But Greenwald is a fascinating character. His resemblance to Ralph Nader is not one that, so far as I can tell, anybody has thought to make. But the resemblance is striking. It’s not a resemblance of historical place — Greenwald is neither going to lead a new regulatory wave nor get a Republican elected president. The resemblance is characterological and ideological. For Greenwald, like Nader, the lawyer is the key protagonist in his political drama. Political victory is a series of successful lawsuits. He is wildly litigious ... Greenwald, like Nader, marries an indefatigable mastery of detail with fierce moralism. Every issue he examines has a good side and an evil side." (NYMag)

"James Gandolfini's funeral was held this morning at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York. Among the mourners were his 'Sopranos' castmates as well as the show's creator, David Chase, who offered a eulogy for his friend and colleague. Alan Sepinwall, who for 14 years served as the television columnist at The Star-Ledger, Tony Soprano's newspaper of choice, posted a transcript of what he said at HitFix. 'I tried to write a traditional eulogy, but it came out like bad TV,' Chase confessed, and what he wrote instead is sad and lovely, and proposes one last scene for the character Gandolfini played so well." (Indiewire)

"Dyslexia afflicts a quarter of humanity. I am a member of that quarter and I am at the mercy of the misfiring synapses. Spelling, therefore, is a nightmare for me. School was pockmarked with fraught experiences with exasperated teachers. I was frequently written off as a moron (that, of course, is another story). Unhelpfully, my first couple of decades on earth I was ferried to and from the USA and the UK. And so began a lifelong tango twixt the myriad distinctions of American English and English English, where sometimes words are spelled the same but pronounced differently and vice versa. I was deeply confused. I muddled on and learned a few rules but otherwise I have relied heavily on the gamut from moldy old dictionaries to the current luxury of electronic spell check.
When in school, all fourteen of them, some in America and some in England, I felt like saying, look grownups, I’ll learn your crazy system if you can just simplify things. Instead it was the opposite, with opposing sides of the Atlantic clamoring theirs is the true spelling or pronunciation. Since school and the need for ‘perfection’ I have found dyslexia to be a boon. The swarm of possibilities in my mind’s eye throws up a plethora of options. For my style of writing this is useful. As to the spelling, well I rely very heavily on spell check. Though not entirely. Sometimes it says, ‘No Guesses’. I find this a bit rude. At any rate, at that point I resort to the mighty net where I will certainly find my word. In some instances, however, I don’t know that I am wrong. For example, ‘peek’ and ‘peak’. Turns out I’ve been using the wrong one for years- and I only just sorted this out.
I do apologize to those of you who not only know how to spell but are offended by my mistakes, like my friend George who pounces avidly on every error. Please forgive me. It is not done to annoy.
Recently I have toyed with learning Serbian." (Christina Oxenberg)

"This summer New York is chock-a-block with significant exhibitions of major contemporary artists who are either from, or associated with, Los Angeles. 'Light and Space' artist James Turrell, (born in Pasadena in 1943) is having his first New York museum show since 1980 at the Guggenheim. Turrell has created an extraordinary transformation of the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s rotunda entitled Aten Reign (2013). A survey of other works throughout Turrell’s long career are featured in the various galleries that extend from Wright’s iconic central space.  The Guggenheim has always been a difficult space for exhibitions — Wright himself believed that art should be brought out for viewing and then removed back into storage — he didn’t really care for anything taking away from the viewer’s experience of his architectural genius. But over the years, artists such as Jenny Holzer, Mario Merz, and Matthew Barney (to name a few) have successfully created memorable installations by simply confronting Wright’s soaring space head on." (NYSocialDiary)

"What was that quote about London and being tired of life? Or that flickering ecstasy of a long-ago memory of being drunk at dawn and watching people going to work? Surely not at my age and in the year 2013, but there you have it. You can go home again; Thomas Wolfe had it all wrong. I felt at home all last week, both at Loulou’s at 5 Hertford Street and on Gerald Road in deep Oxfordshire.
Let’s start with Gerald Road, where the Bismarcks gave a Pugs dinner to celebrate Bob Miller’s 80th birthday. Bob is the duty-free billionaire who—surprise, surprise—is as nice, down-to-earth, and sporty a man as he is rich. We took the annual picture: The three oldies (Bob, George Livanos, and myself) were seated up front, while youngsters such as Edward Hutley, Leopold Bismarck, Princes Pavlos and Nikolaos of Greece, Roger Taylor, Arki Busson, Tim Hoare, Nick Scott, and Roger Taylor were standing above us. There was a boat-shaped cake, as Bob is a very good and record-holding yachtsman, lots of exotic drinks, and then the gray dawn was upon us. (I did see the sun, but it was in Switzerland before coming over here.) Later on in the day, having chosen to flame out rather than rust out, I managed to stagger to our annual lunch, a stone’s throw from Elizabeth Street where our oldest member, Sir Christopher Lee, was holding court. He is now 91, has been in more than 200 films, and is far more lucid than I could ever be. After I had a very liquid lunch and made some not-so-articulate efforts at speechmaking, Sir Lee got up and was applauded by strangers." (tAKI)

"In the early '70s, Tom Bianchi stepped off the ferry from Long Island into the Pines -- Fire Island's legendary haven for New York's gay community -- armed with an SX-70 Polaroid camera. For nearly a decade the lawyer-turned-photographer captured the hedonistic parties, sun-kissed, chiseled bodies and sexually-charged experimentation of the storied weekend getaway. This summer, a collection of Bianchi's pictures celebrating the euphoric, anything-goes years preceding the AIDS epidemic has been published for the first time in the coffee table tome Tom Bianchi: Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975-1983. Here, we talk with Bianchi about the new book and life on Fire Island." (Papermag)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alec Baldwin interviews David Simon

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"China's strategic focus on space is less about national pride than about the importance of space for both the military and economic progress of the country. The Chinese space program has developed rapidly over the past decade, illustrating the importance of the program to Beijing. Shenzhou 10, a 15-day mission that began June 11 and returned to Earth the morning of June 26 marked China's fifth manned mission to space. An increasing, ongoing presence in space is essential for civilian and military communications. Satellites' functions include navigation systems such as GPS, weather data and communications relays. But the significance of space goes beyond satellites. Technological advancement and development is required for countries such as China that want to participate in future resource development in space. The Chinese space program officially began in 1958. Beijing launched its first earth-orbiting satellite in 1970, and while there were a series of launch failures in the 1990s, China carried out its first manned mission -- Shenzhou 5, which put a man in orbit -- in 2003. More manned missions would follow in 2005, 2008 and 2012. A major uptick in activity began in 2010, when China successfully completed 15 unmanned launches, including a lunar orbiting probe. Nineteen more launches would follow in 2011 and 2012. China is now one of only two countries -- Russia being the other -- actively putting people into space and plans to land an unmanned craft on the moon in late 2013. The latest mission, Shenzhou 10, was launched as part of the testing process for docking capabilities with Tiangong 1, the small space module that is part of the program that will eventually culminate in China's own full-sized space station, planned for the 2020s. The mission, which reached completion June 26, also set out to advance flying abilities; demonstrate adaptability and efficiency while completing objectives on the complex; and test coordination of various systems." (STRATFOR)

"It's too soon to see which way the Senate winds will be blowing in the fall of 2014. But unless conditions somehow change drastically, one thing seems certain, even 18 months out: The seat flips will be mainly or entirely in one Red direction. Right now, Democrats aren't seriously contesting any Republican seat (excluding New Jersey), while the GOP has an excellent chance to flip two Democratic seats (South Dakota and West Virginia) and at least a fair chance in four other states (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina). Republicans, there's your good news. Nothing in politics is static for long, and we expect a shift here and there. For example, if the Republicans nominate far-right Reps. Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey in Georgia, then prospective Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn could actually have a shot at a seat in the congressional chamber her father, Sam, once helped run. On the other hand, if former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) surprises everyone and doesn't run for the open Senate seat of retiring Democrat Max Baucus in Montana, Republicans will have another likely pickup. So we recognize that the chess board is not yet fully assembled.What's unusual is that, already, there are far more Red chess pieces on the board than Blue, and in better strategic positions. Since 1954, there have been nine (out of 30 total) cycles where one party didn’t flip a single Senate seat held by the opposing party. These flat, 'zero-base' Senate elections have hurt both parties at different times: the Democrats in 1980, 1994 and 2010, and the Republicans in 1958, 2006 and 2008 (all were wave years). The three other instances were years of little movement: in 1960, Republicans flipped two Democratic seats while Democrats flipped none; in 1966, Republicans won three Democratic-held seats while the Democrats didn’t add any; and in 1990, Democrats netted a single Republican seat while the Republicans didn’t win a single Democratic seat. Obviously, in the event that Democrats can’t flip any Republican seat, they’d prefer to limit their damage, as in 1960 or 1966. Republicans want a repeat of 1980, 1994 or 2010: a wave election where all or almost all the tight Senate races fall in their direction. They argue that Obama's popularity is already dipping, scandals are taking their toll, and the lack of much action (helped along by GOP intransigence in the House) will produce the dreaded "sixth year itch" -- dreaded, that is, by the incumbent White House party, because the out-of-power party gains lots of seats when the phenomenon occurs. The recent, best instances of sixth-year itch have all helped the Democrats -- 1974, 1986 and 2006 -- so maybe Republicans are due some turnabout as fair play." (Sabato)

"'Pop-Tarts...they can't go stale because they were never fresh!' Long form entertainment, it's the wave of the future. Huh? Don't we live in the short attention span era? WRONG! Ignore everything said by anybody who proffers this theory. Ever see a kid play video games? You can't tear him away. The truth is we all want to dig deeper, and he who realizes this will own the future. Huh? Aren't you the wanker who tells musicians to stop making albums? 'A small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.' That's why Jerry didn't do another season of 'Seinfeld.' He was worried about compromising the white hot relationship between the show and its fans. Once it's not quite as good, it's awful. Kind of like a standup...he's genius if he kills for an hour ten, after an hour and a half, it's way too much, you're looking at your watch, you're ready to go home. Come on, you've had this feeling at the gig. You can't believe you're there, that they're playing your song! And it's not that you don't want to hear any more, but that special's evaporating. But first you need an audience. That's your goal. And if you think you gain an audience through an album, you're clueless about relationships. Relationships are fostered on specialness, then you bring on the quantity. I watched Seinfeld's show from its inception, because I was aware of him from late night TV, with his routine about the supermarket and women...that's why they call it the 'checkout' line. But despite being on Johnny Carson for nine years, NBC never offered him a gig. It was his manager, George Shapiro, who started the conversation. Shapiro sent a one sentence letter to the NBC brass, saying he saw Jerry on NBC in the future. Huh. I was just discussing this last night. Trink said you need to put yourself out there, you need a plan...I always wait for things to come to me. Maybe Trink's right. And Jerry takes the meeting and doesn't pitch an idea. He hasn't got one. But then he tells the story to Larry David, they go to a restaurant, goof on some people, and Larry says...THIS IS THE SHOW! And the rest is both TV and comedy history." (Lefsetz)

"Meanwhile back in New York, on today’s Diary, Jeanne Lawrence covers an opening exhibition in the new Museum of Chinese Art (MOCA) in Chinatown. I haven’t been there yet but I was introduced to it by Patty Tang. We ran a picture of Patty and her daughter and her mother who was celebrating her 101st birthday at Sistina. They had taken over the restaurant for a birthday lunch. I met Patty and her husband at a dinner party a couple of  years ago at the downtown house of Corice Arman, wife of the late French-born American artist. The Tangs are Chinese but have lived all or almost all of their lives here in New York, so they’re as American as this kid. Except they are more worldly and more sophisticated culturally. I had lunch with Patty at Michael’s one day about a month ago. She told me about her family’s past. These are the Chinese that abandoned China with the coming of Mao. Obviously they were upper class Chinese and their properties were being confiscated, as well as their assets. This generation has lived long enough to see that world change and then change again. And if we give them a little more time, God knows what the changes will be.Madame Chiang Kai-shek lived in the neighborhood also, at 10 Gracie Square, until she died 10 years ago. Evidently she’d lived there for years among a host of famous New York names like Jock Whitney, Mrs. Mellon Hitchock, Brooke Astor, Gloria Vanderbilt et al." (NYSocialDiary)

The 2013 Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival officially commenced with its 81st Season Opening Gala on Saturday, June 15th. Attendance for the Gala was the highest since the Festival's 75th anniversary in 2007, and the evening raised a record-breaking $411,000 for the organization.Honorary Co-Chairs for the Season Opening Gala included Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet Wendy Whelan. Gala Co-Chairs were Jacob's Pillow Board President Mark Leavitt, Taryn Leavitt, Board Treasurer Christopher Jones, and Deb McAlister. An outdoor cocktail reception kicked off the event, along with an exclusive exhibit preview of two new exhibits: Shooting Stars, a series of behind-the-curtain photographs by dancers Wendy Whelan, Miguel Anaya, Amber Star Merkens, and others; and Dancers Among Us, Jordan Matter's celebration of dancers in everyday places. Cocktails were followed by a Gala performance held in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre and featured a variety of extraordinary artists and choreographers, including a world premiere by resident choreographer for the Atlanta Ballet Helen Pickett, performed by the Ballet Program dancers of The School at Jacob's Pillow." (NYSocialDiary)

Howard Stern intrerviews Kathy Griffith

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Russia has undergone a series of fundamental changes over the past year, with more changes on the horizon. Russia's economic model based on energy is being tested, the country's social and demographic make-up is shifting, and its political elites are aging. All this has led the Kremlin to begin asking how the country should be led once its unifying leader, Vladimir Putin, is gone. Already, a restructuring of the political elite is taking place, and hints of succession plans have emerged. Historically, Russia has been plagued by the dilemma of trying to create a succession plan following a strong and autocratic leader. The question now is whether Putin can set a system in place for his own passing out of the Russian leadership (whenever the time may be) without destabilizing the system as a whole. Without a heavy-handed leader, Russia struggles to maintain stability. Instability is inherent to Russia given its massive, inhospitable territory, indefensible borders, hostile neighboring powers and diverse population. Only when it has had an autocratic leader who set up a system where competing factions are balanced against each other has Russia enjoyed prosperity and stability. A system of balances under one resolute figure existed during the rule of some of the country's most prominent leaders, such as Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander II, Josef Stalin -- and now Vladimir Putin. Each Russian leader must create and tinker with this system to ensure the governing apparatus does not atrophy, fracture or rise in mutiny. For this reason, Russian leaders have continually had to rearrange the power circles beneath them. Significant adjustments have been necessary as Russia grows and stabilizes or declines and comes under threat. However, creating a power balance in the government with layers whose collective loyalty is ultimately to a single figure at the apex has created succession problems. When a clear succession plan is not in place, Russia tends to fall into chaos during leadership transitions -- sometimes even ripping itself apart. The so-called Time of Troubles, a brutal civil war in the 16th century, broke out after Ivan the Terrible killed his only competent son. During the Soviet period, a vicious succession struggle erupted upon Lenin's death in 1924, with Josef Stalin ultimately winning and his main challenger, Leon Trotsky, exiled and later assassinated. Following Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev, Vyacheslav Molotov and Lavrentiy Beria engaged in a similar power struggle." (STRATFOR)

"There was an article by Ruth La Ferla called 'What Price Generosity' in the Style section of this past Sunday’s New York Times about the charity circuit and how much it costs those girls to make it in New York and to keep at it. Ms. La Ferla used the annual New York Botanical Garden gala dinner dance at the Botanical Garden as the scene to exemplify the result of all that expense.  The Botanical evening is one of the very last of the Spring season (it used to mark the end of it, although nowadays there is no end to anything). Its patrons are among the wealthiest, and in many cases (not all) most established members of the New York social set. Ms. LaFerla called me about the piece when she was working on it. The objective, as I understood it, was to figure out How Much It Cost to partake of this kind of 'high profile' New York social life. I told her, off the top, that it took 'a lot of chutzpah and a lot of money.' She thought that was funny and laughed (and never used the quote). It is funny and it doesn’t apply to everyone of course, but it does apply to a prominent aspect of the charity social scene these days. The getting and spending of money has long been part of the city’s social life. It reaches back decades and now even centuries. There have always been women who were extravagant in their achievement as fashion plates ... When Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis it was reported that she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on her wardrobe (allegedly much to his annoyance). Although this came as a surprise to the average reader, it was still a pittance compared to some of her friends who would spend in the millions. They were considered the Best Dressed, of course, and many believed it was necessary in order to achieve such fashion glory. (And after their divorce, it was unlikely that Mrs. Onassis would spend those kinds of sums of her own money, as she was known to be tight with a buck.) These women, especially Mrs. Onassis and some of the Capote swans like Gloria Guinness, Babe Paley and Marella Agnelli were also good for the fashion business." (NYSocialDiary)

"Details of Princess Eugenie of York’s job in New York at online auction house Paddle8 are still being hashed out, sources close to the deal say. Reports recently broke that Eugenie, 23 — the daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, and sixth in line to the British throne — will relocate to the Big Apple this fall for the gig. But further details haven’t emerged, and sources say her duties are still being 'sketched out.' Page Six exclusively reported this month that Aditya Julka and Alexander Gilkes’ site received a new cash infusion of $6 million from investors including Damien Hirst, Alexander von Furstenberg, gallerist Jay Jopling and Matthew Mellon." (PageSix)

"Everyone loved Chapter Two. Straitlaced Dottie Renfrew—Vassar class of 1933 and a virgin—has gone home with the handsome but dissipated Dick Brown. He undresses her slowly, so that she “was hardly trembling when she stood there in front of him with nothing on but her pearls.” Dick makes Dottie lie down on a towel, and after she experiences some “rubbing and stroking,” and then some “pushing and stabbing,” she starts to get the hang of things. “All of a sudden, she seemed to explode in a series of long, uncontrollable contractions that embarrassed her, like the hiccups … ” No hearts and flowers here, simply a female orgasm described by a female writer who was as empirical and precise as the male writers of her day—perhaps more so—yet always attuned to the social niceties imprinted upon a certain class of female mind. Dick removes the towel, impressed by the minute stain, and in a remark that pulled the romantic veil from the usual novelistic pillow talk, says of his ex-wife, 'Betty bled like a pig.'  It was the first line of Chapter Three, however, that brought mythic status to Mary McCarthy’s fifth novel, The Group. 'Get yourself a pessary,' Dick says the next morning, walking Dottie to the door. The chapter proceeds to offer a tutorial on the etiquette, economics, semiotics, and symbolism of this particular form of contraception, circa 1933.Diaphragm, ring, plug—call it what you will—when The Group was published, in 1963, the subject was still shocking. Sidney Lumet’s movie of The Group—released three years later, smack in the middle of the sexual revolution—included Dottie’s deflowering and subsequent trip to a gynecologist but substituted euphemisms for McCarthy’s blunt language. Instead, Dick Brown says, 'The right lady doctor could make us a lot happier.' Critics of The Group would call it Mary McCarthy’s 'lady-writer’s novel' and 'lady-book,' insults meant to suggest it was a falling-off from her previous work. And it was different from what she’d done before. Up until The Group, McCarthy was feared and revered in the smart, tight, testy, and frequently backstabbing world of midcentury literary quarterlies and political reviews. Her critical assessments of theater and literature were scathing, and no one was too high to be brought low. Arthur Miller, J. D. Salinger, and Tennessee Williams—the greats of the day—all came in for vivisection, McCarthy’s own Theater of Cruelty on the page." (VanityFair)

"My friend Hugh Dancy came to London this week while on a break before filming a series about that least friendly of fictional characters, Thomas Harris’s serial killer Hannibal Lecter. One of Harris’s characters calls Lecter 'a pure sociopath…it’s so rare to get one alive.' I am necessarily fascinated with sociopaths and psychopaths. These are equivalent terms, by the way. The former, more recent term focuses on social causes for the condition, while the latter term has returned to favor as biological origins are explored. I have just completed the first draft of my first novel, The Making of Harry Greene, whose title character is one of these strange creatures. He moves through life with an amorally penetrating mind and body, piercing through the other characters and scenery like a hard-nosed bullet. It wasn’t Lecter that Hugh and I spent our time discussing in a well-oiled evening in the pub, but that far more expertly drawn sketch of the species by William Shakespeare in his masterpiece Othello. Critics have long been obsessed by Iago, an animal of 'motiveless malignity' as Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him, as was Shakespeare himself. No other secondary character in all his works has more lines than the principal. The early 20th century Oxford Professor of Poetry A. C. Bradley came closest to pinning Iago’s psychology down over a decade before the term 'psychopathy'  had been defined in his lectures on the play. My theory is that Shakespeare did something unique in literary history—he turned a vacuum into a virtue.  Othello was written somewhere around 1602, most likely immediately after Hamlet. The original source of Othello was the 1565 Italian story 'A Moorish Captai'” by Giovanni Battista Giraldi. In that tale, the betraying agent is a character so minor he is given no name—he is called simply “the ensign”—nor any motive for betraying his captain. A lesser writer would have fleshed out this cipher as a character who could justify his actions, most likely along the lines Iago falsely offers for himself: annoyance at being passed over for a promotion by Cassio or jealousy that Othello may have slept with his Emilia. But Shakespeare creates a man who says many things but in the end does what he does simply because he can." (Alexander Fisk-Harrison)

"Paul Pope, son of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, has been banned from contacting his wealthy, 79-year-old Palm Beach socialite mother, Lois Pope, after he was arrested for stalking her. Paul spent several days behind bars earlier this month for allegedly stalking Lois while demanding millions from her. He had filed a lawsuit against her, alleging fraud and excessive spending. She sought a restraining order, claiming his 'cruel behavior' was causing her to 'suffer substantial emotional distress and to genuinely fear for her safety.' On June 17, the Palm Beach County Court issued an injunction banning Paul from going within 500 feet of his mother. He didn’t respond to our calls and e-mails." (PageSix)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The Theatre of the Absurd. Well, the late Mrs. Astor’s friends finally got their justice: they put her 89-year-old son behind bars for allegedly trying to change her will which would give him millions more than she had allegedly intended. Everything’s copasetic now. We feel certain that Mrs. Astor would have been pleased to know that her boy (who now is said to suffer from dementia) will not be stealing any money that isn’t his. Besides, after all this folderol, Mrs. Astor’s money isn’t what it used to be. Lawyers took tens of millions. Too bad the charities won’t be getting what (if anything) they had coming either. So too the son who turned on his father. Everybody wins/loses. I couldn’t help wondering what the lady herself would have thought of what her friends had done. She certainly had a lot of respect and possibly even affection for them and their stature in the society of the city. She was also, contrary to what some people might 'believe,'  very close to her son, and he very close to her. It has been suggested to me more than once that certain friends of Mrs. Astor were actually jealous of that closeness. That seems odd yet jealousy and envy are more emotional than rational and often mask a sense of deprivation that is deepseated and otherwise inexplicable. We had a lot of mail on this case, as you might imagine. The following are two messages from professionals, neither of whom live or work in or around New York. One from a woman and one from a man. One in the Northeast and one from the Midwest." (NYSocialDiary)

"A first-round loser at Wimbledon this year will receive $35,000 for showing up even if he defaults before the first ball is struck. Back in 1957 I got close to 200 dollars for losing in the singles qualifying draw and getting into the draws for the men’s doubles and mixed. Call it inflation if you’d like, but today’s pros outside the top 100 need the moolah more than we did back then. I traveled with two Cubans (the Garrido brothers) and two Chileans (Pato Rodriguez and Potoko Aguirre). We lived in a cheap hotel near Earls Court and paid one pound per week for a room without bath. On the Sunday before the championships started, I met a beautiful actress, Liza Gastoni, who lived in Deanery Mews next to the Dorchester Hotel. When she saw the shithole I was living in, she invited me to stay and I moved in for the duration. My fellow tennis players were envious as well as furious. (Jealous, actually.) When I brought her to Wimbledon, my doubles partner, Wayne Van Vorhees, fell madly in love with her and threatened to pull out of the competition unless I stopped being possessive. All I can say 56 years later is that he played his heart out in the doubles. Tennis was a wonderful sport when it was shamateur." (Taki)

"He has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office, pending the outcome of an appeal. The 76-year-old media tycoon had denied all the allegations against him. Mr Berlusconi is already embroiled in several other court cases. In October 2012 he was given a four-year sentence for tax fraud. In this latest court ruling, he was found guilty of paying for sex with a Moroccan girl, Karima El Mahroug, known as 'Ruby the Heart Stealer', who was just 17 at the time. The judgement could have major political repercussions for Italy, analysts say. They say a guilty ruling could weaken current Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government, which depends on the support of Mr Berlusconi's centre-right party, People of Freedom (PdL)." (BBC)

"Quiet as it was, 'In Care Of' was a pretty eventful wrap-up to Mad Men’s sixth season. Peggy got dolled up and started dating again to punish Ted for courting her and then re-embracing his domestic life; a shaken Ted showed up at her apartment for a post-date Hail Mary pitch, stayed the night, and briefly talked about leaving his wife, then thought better of it by the light of day and kicked Peggy to the curb with such politeness and sensitivity that it only made his male entitlement more obvious. 'Someday you’ll be glad I made this decision,' he told her. 'Well aren’t you lucky to have decisions,' she replied, perhaps a bit too 2013-gender-studies of a comeback, but so on-point that it still deserves applause. Peggy endured so much romantic whiplash in this episode that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her walk out of it in a neck brace. Bob went to Detroit with Pete, who’d rejected his pass two episodes back. Pete was despondent and furious over his mother’s mysterious disappearance while enjoying an ocean cruise with Bob’s old friend, the manservant Manolo. Bob avenged himself on Pete in the Motor City by tricking him into trying to drive a car that he couldn’t actually drive and causing a showroom accident. By the end of the episode Pete had returned to New York, humiliated and humbled, freed of his mother’s awful grip, perhaps, and in a state of mind that could lead to a truce with Trudy." (NYMag)

"Kristina Schake, first lady Michelle Obama's communications director since late 2010, is leaving the White House for a job in the private sector and will be replaced by an Estee Lauder executive, the East Wing said Monday. 'Kristina has been an essential and valued advisor to me over the past two and a half years,' the first lady said in a statement. 'Her expertise in strategic planning and her creativity have been invaluable not just to me but to the entire administration and I am truly grateful for her leadership and counsel.  While she will be greatly missed at the White House, the impact of her work will be lasting.' Schake told POLITICO that she is headed to L'Oreal USA as chief communications officer, overseeing communications, government relations and philanthropy. She'll start in Paris in July and will eventually be based in New York. Schake previously worked as a senior communications aide to then-California first lady Maria Shriver, and was co-founder of a communications firm with Chad Griffin, now the president of the Human Rights Campaign. Camille Johnston, an executive at Siemens, was the first lady's first White House communications director.
Taking Schake's place in July is Maria Cristina Gonzalez Noguera, senior vice president for corporate communications at Estee Lauder Companies .." (Politico)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Leo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall Street

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Pick almost any recent big story out of Washington. The secret phone and email surveillance. The proposal to give 11 million illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship. President Obama's drone 'kill list,' or American weapons for Syria's rebels. On these and other issues, Lindsey Graham is at odds with prevailing—in his preferred description, merely louder—opinion in the GOP. He is also one of his party's leading legislators. The South Carolinian is spearheading the immigration-reform push in the Senate, even as he fights to protect a Democratic president's war powers.  Mr. Graham also faces re-election next year, and something may have to give. 'If I lose, I lose,' he says, invoking one of his trademark sayings: 'I don't want to stop being a senator to be senator.' But Mr. Graham, a practiced politician, says the assumptions about the GOP's mood and future direction are wrong. He says defense and immigration are a winner for him, even with South Carolina primary voters, as well as for the Republican Party.That proposition is going to be tested. The immigration-reform bill is headed for Senate passage, likely next week, and a rough debate in the House in the fall. Mr. Graham was one of the four Republicans and four Democrats—the Gang of Eight—who came together in January to work out a comprehensive package. 'With immigration, we know what we need to do,' he says. 'We're just afraid to do it, because people on the right and the left sometimes yell about things like this.'" (WSJ)

"After weeks of Wednesdays full of Hollywood heavyweights (culminating in our Table One sit-down with Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch last week) there were more moguls (William Lauder, Jimmy Finkelstein) than celebrities at Michael’s today. However, the talking head contingent was represented by regulars Star Jones and MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. Today’s most intriguing table was the one where Jann Wenner was sitting with his son, Gus Wenner. Discussing the finer points of the power lunch, perhaps? Or maybe just tossing around some ideas for the website the 22 year-old publishing scion is now running. No matter — when dad’s the boss, I’m sure there’s plenty of room on that learning curve regardless of the subject." (Diane Clehane)

'It was a brothel!' exclaims Goga Ashkenazi delightedly by way of greeting. I have just walked into our private lunch room at Lapérouse in Paris. The Kazakh oligarch-turned-fashion-designer is pointing a perfectly manicured finger to the scratches in the mirror above her head, and reciting a story about the 19th-century courtesans who frequented these upstairs salons. 'They were testing the diamonds that they were being paid with, and they would test whether or not they were authentic on the mirrors.' Actually, we agree, some of the names scratched into the glass look suspiciously contemporary. Ashkenazi concludes: 'It’s a very funny place but it’s got fantastic food.' Ashkenazi is best-known for her social circle: a pal of Britain’s Prince Andrew, she has a glittering array of former boyfriends. Her surname comes from a brief marriage to American hotel heir Stefan Ashkenazy. Timur Kulibayev, the married billionaire son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s eternal president Nursultan Nazarbayev, fathered her two young sons. Fiat heir Lapo Elkann is her latest former boyfriend. Yet the 33-year-old, who recently jumped from the oil and gas industries to purchase the venerable French fashion house Vionnet, is also a case-study of how elites from resource-rich economies are buying up western Europe. This woman embodies the shifting global economy. In the confines of our private salon, Ashkenazi is quite a presence: sharp central Asian cheekbones, long shiny black hair, full lips. One hand has green nail polish to match her trousers, the other black to match her top. In the place where other people wear a belt buckle, she has an upside-down black heart. Is she wearing Vionnet? She beams and gushes, in accented but fluent English:  'Just for you. I just flew in from Tokyo, I didn’t have time to change. For your sake, I actually had to travel like this.' The clothes are her own creation: unusually, Ashkenazi is both creative director and owner of Vionnet." (FT)

"Over the course of her career working as a journalist for Vanity Fair, New York Magazine and Harper's Bazaar, among other publications, writer Nancy Jo Sales has seen a lot of kids behaving badly. Make that rich kids behaving badly. Over the years, she's covered everything from promiscuous prep schoolers to Upper West Side-dwelling, drug-dealing "gangsters,' and has turned into something of an expert on privileged youth acting out. So, in the fall of 2009, when a troop of well-off Calabasas, California kids got arrested for burglarizing the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom, it made perfect sense that Sales would hop on a plane from New York and head out west to join the media fray that was slowly converging on the soon-to-be-named 'Bling Ring.'  Landing interviews with suspects Nick Prugo, Courtney Ames and Alexis Neiers (who would appear on the much-maligned E! reality show Pretty Wild and would leave Sales a highly memorable voicemail), Sales went on to publish a feature in Vanity Fair about the saga called 'The Suspects Wore Louboutins,' which, as many know by now, caught the eye of Sofia Coppola who optioned the article and turned it into The Bling Ring movie, a fictionalized version of the real-life events starring Emma Watson. Around that time, Sales was approached to write a book of the same name, based off of her original article and expanding on interviews with the suspects as well as addressing larger themes and issues surrounding the crime spree. With the movie's nationwide release today and the book's recent publication, we talked to Sales about some of the most outlandish aspects of the 'Bling Ring' case, what she thinks contributed to the wealthy teens' desires to commit the crimes in the first place and why we, like the 'Bling Ring' kids, are all so celebrity-obsessed." (Papermag)

"Kanye West’s militant new song 'Black Skinhead,' decrying the way the rapper’s been treated by white America, is a peculiar choice for a movie about wealthy white Wall Street types. And yet the trailer for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest collaboration dropped this week, with West’s hard-driving drums playing behind scenes of DiCaprio frolicking on a yacht, dancing in a tux, throwing out $100 bills and using lobsters as weapons. It’s eminently GIF-ready. If Kanye West’s latter career and the trailer for the forthcoming film 'The Wolf of Wall Street' have anything in common, it’s an uncanny sense that America is more or less over the class resentment generated by the 2008 Wall Street crash. In 2011, Americans occupied Wall Street; in 2013, they’re buying 'Yeezus,' the album of a rapper who’s gone from bragging he was a millionaire (on “Watch the Throne”) to calling himself a god. And they’re preparing to see the second film in six months in which DiCaprio plays a charming, roguish financial swindler with a taste for excess. Occupy Wall Street gave rise to little popular art other than the mere fact of its own existence as a happening, and movies post-crash have barely acknowledged the themes of fundamental inequity expressed in Zuccotti Park. And there’s been very little acknowledgment onscreen that a financial crash even happened; the years since 2008 have seen a slow trickle of films about Wall Street, which generally seemed off-key." (Salon)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"For someone selling doom and gloom, Meredith Whitney is feeling pretty good. The Wall Street celebri-analyst, who made her name with a prescient bearish call on Citigroup in 2007 (then spent the next few years making TV appearances, pontificating on the markets, and featuring prominently in Michael Lewis's The Big Short), is back in the news again, this time for her new book arguing that many of America's cities and states are on the brink of financial ruin. Whitney's book, Fate of the States, came out of an appearance she did on 60 Minutes in 2010, when she predicted a large spate of municipal defaults as cities struggled to pay back their debts. Those defaults haven't exactly materialized — and that fact, combined with some unfortunately timed recoveries that have dated some of the book's gloomy claims, has given plenty of ammo to her critics. (Bloomberg's nasty review was titled 'Meredith Whitney Offers Barrage of Numbers, Errors'; Reuters muni bond guru Cate Long said it 'felt like the book had been written over a year ago and was not in tune with current fiscal realities.') But Fate of the States isn't really about the 60 Minutes call or the state of municipal finance. It's an accessible beginner's guide to muni-land, hung on Whitney's thesis that the financial mismanagement of cities and states all over the country has created a new geography of opportunity — one that favors the central states, where goods are made, tax burdens are lower, and municipal finances are less screwed up, over the coasts." (NYMag)

"In the first week of January 1988, Ava Gardner asked me to ghost her memoirs. Since I had never met Ava Gardner, the call, late on a Sunday evening, was clearly a hoax. 'Sounds great, Ava,' I played along. 'Does Frank approve? I don’t want to upset Frank.' There was a small silence, then a brief husky laugh. 'Fuck Frank,' she said with a faint southern drawl. 'Are you interested or not, honey?'I should have said no right there. I wasn’t a ghostwriter. I was working 15 hours a day to finish my third novel. But this was Ava Gardner calling me. Only a fool would say he wasn’t interested. 'I’m told we’d get along fine, but who the hell knows? You’ve been a journalist; I hate journalists. I don’t trust them,' she said. 'But Dirk Bogarde says you’re O.K. Dirk said you deal from a clean deck, and you’re not a faggot. Don’t get me wrong. I get on fine with fags, I just prefer dealing with guys who aren’t. Dirk reckons you’d break your ass to get the book right. Are you taping this?' she suddenly asked sharply. “This is between the two of us, right?' 'Of course,' I said. 'I’ll tell you when the meter starts,” she said. I assured her again that I wasn’t taping her. However, I was making plenty of notes.
Eleven days after her first phone call, Ava invited me to her apartment, spread across the first floor of two converted fin de siècle mansions in Ennismore Gardens, in the Knightsbridge section of London.Her bell had the name Baker. 'It’s my mother’s maiden name. I live like a goddamn spy,' she’d told me earlier. Her housekeeper, Carmen Vargas, met me and led the way to the drawing room. 'I think the most vulgar thing about Hollywood is the way it believes its own gossip,' Ava told me that day. 'I know a lot of men fantasize about me; that’s how Hollywood gossip becomes Hollywood history.''Is that why you want to write a book?,' I asked warily. 'You want to put the record straight?''I’m broke, honey. I either write the book or sell the jewels.' I was surprised at the frankness with which she admitted it. 'And I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels,' she added." (VanityFair)

" I lunched four times this week at Michael’s. This is the result of an obsessive/compulsive personality on one hand, eternal curiosity on another, and the fact that habits are security blankets that we all need for one reason or another (to keep warm). The big day of course was Wednesday because for some reason that is the center of the Michael’s week of people and their professional politics. That is the day that people go there if they want to be seen. 'To Be Seen' is important if you are “out there” professionally. It’s also not a bad idea even if you aren’t. It may provide a lead, even get you a job, introduce you to someone you’d like to meet. 'Friending,' to use the Facebook word, is an operative term in Michael’s except it is far more serious than adding another address to your list. Michael’s role is that of an important social venue in the media industry. So, Wednesday, I went to lunch with Nina Griscom whom you may know from her travel pieces to Africa and Paris that she’s done for NYSD ( Nina has lived a kaleidoscopic New York life; rich and colorful and transforming. Born and bred here. Model, television personality, socialite, writer, mother (daughter now in college), and wife (more than once, or thrice). If you see a picture of her, you see a wry smile – in the eyes too – an almost devilish grin. If you get to know her, the grin is often accompanied by a throaty laugh, a champagne chortle, because she’s one of those women who has the ability to take it all in and enjoy. When Auntie Mame exclaimed that 'life’s a banquet…!' well, that’s Nina’s MV. If she read this, and she might, she’d probably and say 'he’s crazy, he doesn’t know the half of it' because she’s a woman whose mind is working all the time. And you know that kind of mental full-time activity isn’t about paradise. Except when it is. So the occasional times we meet for lunch we put all that on the table, along with several plates off the Michael’s menu of 45 items (small plates). Meanwhile, while we were there chortling away, William Lauder was at Table One with Alan Quasha, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Quadrant Investment Management. The presidential level of politics knows Mr. Quasha as well. At the table in front of them, Washington, D. C. attorney Robert ('Bob') Barnett – you’ve read about him before – Rita Braver’s husband who is even more important than she is famous (in that business). After Mr. Barnett was finished, Lucy Danziger, Editor of SELF and gallerist Alexandre Chemla. " (NYSocialDiary)

"Just the muted click of cameras announced their arrival the other night at the Conservatory Ball, the annual spring fund-raising party of the New York Botanical Garden. Alighting on a swatch of crimson runner and posing gamely for photographers were the Fendi heiress Fé Fendi, swathed in a Carolina Herrera floral chiffon; the philanthropist Somers Farkas in a pewter Maggie Norris evening slip; and the social stalwart Mai Hallingby Harrison, sheathed in vintage Halston.  Theirs was a stately parade, but it picked up steam when Jean Shafiroff stepped onto the carpet in a froth of baby pink designed by Zang Toi, a favorite of the gilded set. For what seemed like 10 minutes, Ms. Shafiroff fanned out her skirt for photographers and twirled like a music box ballerina, all but hijacking this otherwise decorous affair. Hers was the sort of unabashed swanning that’s become almost reflexive on the charity circuit as guests, old-guard and new, turn the prominent benefits that dot the city’s social calendar into the East Coast equivalent of a Hollywood gala, with much of that activity chronicled by a few tireless society photographers whose pictures end up in New York Magazine, WWD, The New York Times and a seemingly inexhaustible number of party-tracking Web sites. 'Increasingly there is the feeling,' said Peter Davis, the editor of Scene, a society magazine, 'that if Patrick McMullan or Billy Farrell doesn’t take your picture, you weren’t at the party. And if you weren’t at the party, you don’t exist in New York.'" (Ruth La Ferla)

"As controversy swirls around a new documentary about Venus and Serena Williams on the eve of Wimbledon, Serena calmly co-hosted a pre-tournament party with fellow tennis stars Maria Sharapova, Laura Robson and Heather Watson for the Women’s Tennis Association on Thursday night. Richard Branson co-hosted the London bash at the Roof Gardens in Kensington for the WTA’s 40th anniversary. Guests included Prince Harry’s gal pal Cressida Bonas, Brit model Jade Parfitt, Bianca Jagger, designers Henry Holland and Jasmine Guinness and London party promoter Henry Conway. Earlier this week, 'Venus and Serena' coincidentally premiered in London, even while its filmmakers are being sued in federal court by the United States Tennis Association for using what it claims is unlicensed footage. Directors Maiken Baird and Michelle Major said in an introduction at the Curzon Mayfair Cinema, 'The USTA is trying to censor and stop the exhibition of this film about two of the greatest Americans to ever play tennis.'" (PageSix)

"Bloomberg reports that three former interns are suing Gawker Media and publisher Nick Denton for unpaid wages and overtime. According to the suit filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday, the plaintiffs — identified by the New York Post as Aulistar Mark, Andrew Hudson, and Hanchen Lu — all claim they moderated comment sections and researched, wrote, edited, and promoted posts for Gawker blogs between 2008 and 2010 without compensation. 'Gawker employs numerous other 'interns' in the same way, paying them nothing or underpaying them and utilizing their services to publish its content on the Internet, an enterprise that generates significant amounts of revenue for Gawker,' said the complaint. This comes just days after a judge ruled that two Fox Searchlight interns who performed menial tasks on the set of Black Swan should have been paid for their work because their coffee-fetching and lunch order-taking immediately benefited the studio, which did not provide the kids with a sufficiently educational experience." (NyMag)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Now that (Samantha) Power has returned to the administration as (pending Senate confirmation) the U.N. ambassador, it’s her role as a former journalist that explains much of the excitement that has greeted her appointment in the press. Although America’s man (or woman) in Turtle Bay has often been an intellectual—from Arthur Goldberg to Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Jeane Kirkpatrick—we’ve never had an intellectual quite like Power, one whose dazzling first career was as a crusading, bearing-witness writer determined to make America live up to its ideals. From the moment in 1993, when, fresh from Yale, she arrived in the Balkans to cover the conflict as a stringer for the Boston Globe, Power has been a sui generis figure in journalism. 'She was a force of nature,' recalls Barbara Demick, who was in Sarajevo for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is now the Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. Power spoke Bosnian. She harangued her editors for more column inches to describe the latest atrocity. The New York Times’ Roger Cohen remembers the night he lost a vodka-­drinking contest to a Russian U.N. official and wound up passed out in the street, only to have Power carry him back to the Sarajevo Holiday Inn. More than anything, it was what Cohen calls the 'fierce moral indignation' of Power’s war coverage that brought her acclaim. She seemed destined for a storied career as a foreign correspondent, but instead she returned to the States to attend Harvard Law, then set up a human-rights center at the university. This provided her a perch to be even more vivid—and effective—with her writing. She contributed long, deeply reported articles on topics such as Rwanda and Darfur for publications like The Atlantic and The New Yorker. In 2002, she published her seminal book on genocide and American inaction, A Problem From Hell, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Although the book documented the moral failures of those in authority, it also celebrated the voices of the few officials who did try to prevent genocide. It was a thrilling though unlikely fantasy to imagine Power someday becoming one of them. And then she was." (NYMag)

"Rupert Murdoch’s decision to divorce Wendi Deng Murdoch makes official the long-rumored breakdown of their relationship. But it was not always that way. Years ago, when I was invited to visit their imposing loft apartment, I was struck by the atmosphere of domestic bliss that the titanically powerful couple had created. I was meeting Rupert’s daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch, head of the UK-based production company Shine. We were discussing a possible television adaptation of Chic Happens, a fashion gossip column I was co-writing at the time with Horacio Silva, who spent ten years at the New York Times’ T magazine. Arriving at the Prince Street address, I realized with alarm that we didn’t know the Murdochs’ apartment number. 'Just hit the top buzzer,' Horacio suggested and…well, duh. Ms. Murdoch was slightly surprised when we ascended to her father’s triplex penthouse in the freight elevator. In my nervousness, I had assumed the cage-doored contraption in the lobby was a charming nod to the bohemian-billionaire SoHo vibe? But no, we had just taken the wrong elevator. The loft was warm and blended Australian and Chinese décor. Murdoch pere renounced his native citizenship in 1985, but his birth country dominated the space, from oil paintings of outback scenes to shelves of Australian-themed books. Even the muted color scheme seemed to be drawn from the dun hues of the parched Australian countryside. Striking Chinese jade sculptures popped against this backdrop of gray and brown. A fold-up stroller, stowed under the baby grand piano, added another homey touch. The Murdochs’ daughter, Grace, was barely one at the time, and in the guest bathroom was a gag New York Post cover of Rupert holding the baby with a headline implying he’d kidnapped her." (Ben Widdicombe)

"The New York Times reported yesterday that Anthony Marshall, the son and only child of the late Brooke Astor will be surrendering himself to prison this week to serve a term of one to three years. Mr. Marshall, who was 89 last month, will not be — according to the Times — the only old guy in the prison. That’s about as sympathetic as the paper of record could be toward the man. The article pointed out that he will get no special treatment. That’s good, because besides being unable to stand up or walk for any prolonged (five minutes) period of time, he should be comfortable and be able to 'learn the lessons of justice' for the crimes he was accused of by his mother’s devoted friends and supporters. This drama began more than sixty years ago when Vincent Astor was married to another woman — Minnie Cushing. Minnie who was wife number two, was famous in New York and some parts of the world as one of the Cushing Sisters, daughters of the great Dr. Harvey Cushing, America’s first neurosurgeon." (NYSocialDiary)

"The trouble was I windsurfed to Saudi Arabia. The one time I attempted this sport I grasped the standing part, and I could do a decent job of staying up and traveling in any direction the wind would take me, but despite a week of lessons I could not learn how to turn the thing around. This was 1986 and I was in Jordan at the time, a guest of the late King Hussein and his fourth wife, the cool tall blonde half American half Syrian Queen Noor. When I windsurfed to Saudi Arabia I was rescued by a flotilla of the King of Jordan’s servants who motored out and gathered me up and into their boat and lashed my sailing device off the stern, back to the Palace on the Gulf of Aqaba. One day the King took me, and some other guests, in his power boat. He said it was the big brother to a cigarette. It sure went fast. All of us with crazy hair zagging to the side as we clung to padded handles and smiled at each other and felt the chattering of teeth from the force.Then we slowed and bobbed nearby a promontory of crags with some sort of structure atop it. 'Now we are in Egypt,' The King told us, and then he revved the power boat and we zoomed away, back to Jordan, keeping wide of Israeli waters and an eye out for submarines." (Christina Oxenberg)