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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



Pope Francis at the Vatican on Jan. 12


"Pope Francis continues to scrub away at the stain of scandal and financial excess in the Vatican.
Earlier this week, he replaced four of five supervisory board members at the Vatican bank. He also halted the controversial practice of wealthy donors spending heavily to win special treatment for sainthood candidates.Until now, rich backers of would-be saints have been able to speed up the canonization process by paying for expedited investigations of their lives—a practice that recalls the selling of papal indulgences in times past. But on Jan. 13, Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the office that oversees canonization, said the Vatican would place a cap on spending in support of each candidate. The move is intended to create 'simplicity and fairness' in the process, he said in a speech at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. Since taking office last March, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a more-austere, less-materialistic Church. In October, he suspended a German bishop who built a €31 million ($43 million) residence. And in July, he removed the Vatican bank’s longtime director and deputy director as part of a drive to clean up allegations of corruption and money-laundering at the bank. In the latest Vatican bank shakeup, the pope removed four cardinals from its supervisory board, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had been Pope Benedict’s secretary of state. Francis replaced them with four senior clerics, including his new secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin." (BusinessWeek)





"If there’s a name in standup that qualifies for the 'needs no introduction' treatment, it’s Patton Oswalt. The man who describes himself as 'America’s comedy goblin' is an A-list comic whose specials – the latest of which, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, premieres tonight at 10pm ET on Epix and is available streaming online now via an Epix free trial – are some of the few things in the standup world that approach event viewing. Oswalt is adept at turning run-of-the-mill misanthropy into acerbic fireworks, his best known bits involving rants against KFC Famous Bowls, death beds, self-checkout machines at the grocery store, and the soul-crushing nightmare that is living in New York City. He’s also proven himself to be an immensely talented actor, breaking audiences’ hearts in films like Big Fan and Young Adult, warming them with roles in Ratatouille and Parks and Recreation, and invoking whatever the hell emotion people are supposed to feel when from the mind-melting insanity of The Heart, She Holler. I recently had the chance to talk to Patton over the phone about his latest special, his various internet exploits, and what his generation has accomplished in standup comedy ... You were recently on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If you were able to pick any vehicle out of the annals of pop culture, would a DeLorean have been your first choice? Let me think. I would have liked to have been picked up in Mad Max’s Interceptor from The Road Warrior. That would have been amazing, but that’s a production car only made in Australia, so that might even be beyond Jerry [Seinfeld]’s grasp. But the DeLorean was still pretty thrilling." (Splitsider)


Illustration by Seb Jarnot of Adrian Joffe


"Adrian Joffe, 60, may have the hardest job in fashion. Not because, as president of Comme des Garçons International, he is in charge of all the foreign operations of a Japan-based business with annual sales of $220m but because, if there is 'a cult of Comme', the iconoclastic and hugely influential label founded by Rei Kawakubo in Tokyo in 1969, then he is its high priest. Habitually dressed in a black Comme suit and white Comme shirt, he even has the ascetic style of a disciple, complete with shaven head and skinny frame. It is Joffe, who is also Kawakubo’s husband, who acts as the bridge and the translator between the designer and the rest of the world. It will be Joffe standing backstage next to the designer after her menswear show in Paris this evening, relaying Kawabuko’s gnomic utterances to the waiting journalists and retailers. At last womenswear season, for instance, Kawakubo, speaking through Joffe, explained the genesis of her storm-cloud-meets-astronaut sartorial constructions by announcing, “I felt the only way to do something new was to try not to make clothes.” (Try saying that with a straight face during fashion week.) All of which makes Joffe’s choice of Manhattan’s Russian Tea Room, an over-the-top crimson-and-gold Fabergé egg of a restaurant, stuffed with caviar and high-calorie blinis, a bit counterintuitive. 'But I love this place,' he says with a smile, shuffling across a deep red banquette as I arrive for our lunch." (FT)





"I began the New Year having lunch with art dealer Christopher Ford at the Chateau Marmont. I became friends with Christopher soon after moving to LA when he opened the Pence Gallery in Santa Monica. These days Christopher lives in Palm Springs but he was in LA for the holidays house sitting for a friend. LA is a much friendlier place for smokers these days than New York. Most restaurants and bars have some place that you can have a smoke and of course the weather is nicer and in general you move around more in your own private spaces for the most part including the car. Whatever is your position on smoking ... it's never going to go away. As David Hockney points out, it's been hovering around 20% of the population for several years now so the hard core smokers are obviously not giving up. Basically you just avoid going to the myriad places that are unfriendly to smokers and places like New York are the duller for it. Smoke free is dreary as far as all of us are concerned. I've said my piece! The legendary art dealer Irving Blum and his wife Jackie had our all-smoking group for dinner last week at their beautiful art-filled house in Bel Air. Johnnie Reinhold and Jacqueline de Chollet, like me, were visiting from New York; Bing McGilvray from Gloucester, Mass, and David Hockney all joined LA public relations guru Carolyn Graham, and Beverly Hills Gagosian Gallery Director Deborah McLeod making for a lively dinner party indeed. Irving and Jackie saw the work of Irish artist Richard Mosse at the Venice Biennale this past year and bought one of his large-scale photographs from New York dealer Jack Shainman soon afterwards. The huge photograph came in three pieces before it was installed on a large wall in the Blum’s living room." (NYSocialDiary)




"At editorial meetings in Bloomberg L.P.’s headquarters this week, Michael R. Bloomberg gave clear signs that he would not be taking a hands-off approach as he returned to his old company.
Just two weeks removed from City Hall, and in his first days back at the media giant that he owns and that carries his name, Mr. Bloomberg surprised many employees by showing up at all of the 7:30 a.m. meetings where the day’s big journalistic decisions are made. At the gatherings, in a glass-walled conference room, he spoke up to indicate what coverage interested him, like the traffic scandal involving Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey and the romantic problems of the French president, François Hollande, and what did not, like the suspension of Alex Rodriguez from baseball, according to three people briefed on the meetings. This is not what employees at the company had expected upon Mr. Bloomberg’s return after three terms as the mayor of New York City. While in office, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that he would never go back to running his old company. And only a few months ago, the company’s chief executive, Daniel L. Doctoroff, said in an interview that Mr. Bloomberg did not want 'to get involved in the day-to-day at all.' Mr. Bloomberg’s dive back into the news side of the organization has not only caught employees by surprise, but it has also worried some that the division’s editorial independence could be called into question. Generally, the owners of news organizations try to avoid any appearance of influencing coverage, particularly when they have political affiliations.'There’s a discussion of the ethics of it,' said one current employee, who was at the editorial meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “'here’s this feeling that no one is there to say no to him.' Before entering City Hall, Mr. Bloomberg did not have a reputation for being overly involved in Bloomberg News. He sat on a floor with Bloomberg’s much more lucrative data terminal business, and was not known for attending editorial meetings. But Mr. Bloomberg has signaled that his interests have changed. Now he sits with the TV operation and media group on the fifth floor of the Bloomberg tower on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street, in the same cluster of desks as Justin B. Smith, the new chief executive of Bloomberg Media. On Thursday, at a meeting with the staff of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, Mr. Bloomberg spoke for 20 minutes about the publication and the news industry more broadly, according to people who attended. When asked if he would be interested in buying The New York Times, he joked that he was not, partly because he would not be able to influence the coverage, these people said. At the same meeting, though, he said that while he found that the magazine articles were sometimes too long, 'I’m not going to tell you what to write.'" (NYTimes)

Bloomberg ‘gets lost’ sometimes at office job

"Michael Bloomberg has barely enjoyed any time off since leaving City Hall and going back to work at Bloomberg LLC. 'I go to the office every morning like I always did,' Bloomberg told me at a reception thrown by Leeds Equity at the River Club. The former mayor’s company relocated its headquarters at One Beacon Court about 10 years ago, while he was in office. 'I get lost. I don’t know where everything is yet,' he admitted. As hosts Elizabeth and Jeffrey Leeds mingled with Leeds board chairman Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of Education Dick Riley, TV host Lawrence O’Donnell and writer Vicky Ward, Bloomberg was congratulated on the way he was able to end the Occupy Wall Street protest. 'We had to be patient,' Bloomberg told Deutsche Bank exec Elizabeth Hartnett." (NYPost)

Is Al Roker’s ‘Today’ job in peril?

"All the back-slapping, orchestrated tweeting and phoniness in the world won’t change the fact that weatherman Al Roker is feeling nervous after Sam Champion’s appearance Thursday on the 'Today' show. Champion jumped from ABC’s top-rated 'Good Morning America' to the Weather Channel, which is partly owned by NBC. But TV insiders say the Peacock Network now has some leverage with Roker, whose $8 million contract expires later this year. 'NBC could install Champion at ‘Today’ for a fraction of what they are paying Roker,' said one source. But Champion is locked in for multiple years to host a three-hour block on the Weather Channel. Just when you thought that NBC suits couldn’t create a situation worse than Ann Curry’s bungled, forced exit two years ago, the showdown between Roker and Champion threatens to do just that or worse." (Richard Johnson)

Players welcome the return of Loews Regency power breakfast

"Current and former police commissioners Bill Bratton, Ray Kelly and even Bernie Kerik were all on hand at separate tables for the long-awaited return of the Loews Regency’s power breakfast after a 54-week absence and a $100 million renovation of the Park Avenue hotel. While the sleek room has been rearranged, returning regulars including the Rev. Al Sharpton were seated by major-domo Leigh Wynn in approximately the same spots they previously held down. 'By the fourth window,' explained Bratton of the spot he and wife Rikki Klieman occupied, where the power couple first met in the 1990s. Also on hand: Scott Stringer, David Dinkins, Joe Lhota, Alan Patricof and many members of the Regency’s reigning Tisch clan. One legal eagle was overheard joking to Loews’ co-chairman Jonathan Tisch, 'You took 54 weeks to redo the hotel and four years to redo your apartment?' We asked Sharpton, who sat with Spike Lee, about the morning’s Oscar nominations, and he quipped, “ ‘12 Years a Slave.’ We were holding our breath! I can call off the protest.'" (P6)

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