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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


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"In our first ranking of the very large and very unsettled 2016 Republican presidential field back in April of last year, we decided to not even include the name of one of the brightest stars in the GOP universe: Jeb Bush. We just didn’t think, at the time, that the former Florida governor and brother and son of presidents was all that interested in running. But during 2013 and into this new year, we’ve gotten the sense, like many others, that things might be changing. So much so that we now consider Bush the leader of the field if he decides to run. Why? There are several reasons, and one of the most important does not have much to do with Bush, at least on the surface: Chris Christie’s bridge scandal.
To understand the potential importance of l’affaire bridge in determining whether Jeb Bush might run for president, we need to look back at the 2012 presidential cycle. In the late summer of 2011, the Bush family surveyed the seemingly finalized Republican presidential primary field and apparently didn’t like what they saw. As reported by Dan Balz in Collision 2012 and Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in Double Down, Chris Christie received a phone call from former President George W. Bush in August 2011. Bush and Christie talked for 45 minutes about the pluses and minuses of running for president. Shortly thereafter, Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, got a call from former First Lady Barbara Bush, who described the benefits of raising a family in the White House. Christie also sat down with Bush consigliere Karl Rove and consulted with other Republican heavyweights, some close to the Bushes and some not. Christie, who at the time was in the middle of just his second year as New Jersey’s governor, eventually decided to pass on the race. While many have observed that Christie’s recent troubles have created an opening for Jeb Bush, there’s another connection to be made: With Christie damaged, the Bush family might have lost its preferred 2016 candidate, leaving a void that only a Bush can fill. Enter Jeb, who apparently shares — or at least shared — his family’s affection for Christie (“I love the guy,” Bush said of Christie in March 2013). In mid-November, as Christie was basking in his 60% reelection victory, Politico’s Ben White reported on Jeb Bush’s not-quite 50/50 chances of running, citing several Wall Street and Washington sources. One factor in Bush’s decision-making was Christie, whose star at that precise moment could not have shined brighter. Essentially, if Christie was obviously putting together a strong campaign, that would probably keep Bush out; but if he wasn’t, that could induce Bush to enter. Of course, we know what happened in the months that followed" (CenterforPolitics)


PHOTOGRAPHS: LEFT, FROM UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UIG/GETTY IMAGES; RIGHT, FROM LOST ART KOORDINIERUNGSSTELLE MAGDEBURG/GETTY IMAGES; INSET © MARKUS HANNICH/BILD-ZEITUNG.

"At about 9PM on September 22, 2010, the high-speed train from Zurich to Munich passed the Lindau border, and Bavarian customs officers came aboard for a routine check of passengers. A lot of 'black' money—off-the-books cash—is taken back and forth at this crossing by Germans with Swiss bank accounts, and officers are trained to be on the lookout for suspicious travelers. As reported by the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, while making his way down the aisle, one of the officers came upon a frail, well-dressed, white-haired man traveling alone and asked for his papers. The old man produced an Austrian passport that said he was Rolf Nikolaus Cornelius Gurlitt, born in Hamburg in 1932. He reportedly told the officer that the purpose of his trip was for business, at an art gallery in Bern. Gurlitt was behaving so nervously that the officer decided to take him into the bathroom to search him, and he found on his person an envelope containing 9,000 euros ($12,000) in crisp new bills.Though he had done nothing illegal—amounts under 10,000 euros don’t need to be declared—the old man’s behavior and the money aroused the officer’s suspicion. He gave back Gurlitt’s papers and money and let him return to his seat, but the customs officer flagged Cornelius Gurlitt for further investigation, and this would put into motion the explosive dĂ©nouement of a tragic mystery more than a hundred years in the making." (VF)



"Back in the '90s, Tad Friend wrote a long essay in Spin magazine titled 'Notes on The Death of the Celebrity Profile.' It was filled with now-familiar complaints: Magazine writers are at the mercy of a p.r. apparatus, which dictates what can be discussed (nothing of substance) and how long an interview can last (as long as it takes the star to finish lunch). A decade and a half later, the celebrity profile keeps chugging along (Friend makes his living writing quite good ones for The New Yorker), but the form reached a new nadir this week, courtesy of Friend’s colleague Anthony Lane and a 5000-word feature on the “Unstoppable Scarlett Johansson.' Lane’s piece, the worst profile I can remember reading in The New Yorker, can be reduced to one basic takeaway: Anthony Lane thinks Scarlett Johansson is radiant, and wants to tell you all about it. Johansson, who has two movies coming out in the next few weeks and was recently the center of a controversy over her endorsement of SodaStream, isn’t a bad subject. (Though Lane’s question, “Why should we watch Johansson with any more attention than we pay to other actors?” can be easily answered: We don’t.) But he has barely any time with the star: He watches her during a 7-minute photoshoot in a Waldorf-Astoria suite, and hangs around for a while afterwards as one of Johansson's publicists supervises. He’s under strict instructions not to mention Johansson’s pregnancy, and he complies with those terms. He briefly asks her about the Sodastream affair and the Woody Allen controversy, but dispatches with those topics in a few hundred words. He doesn’t supplement this flimsy interview with any other reporting.So what do you do when you only get a couple minutes of supervised time with a starlet? Writers usually try to make up for this by extracting esoteric meaning from the way a celebrity eats her salad or fries. Unfortunately for Lane, Johansson doesn’t so much as take a drink during their Waldorf-Astoria rendezvous, so instead he describes her as food: 'She has played an operating system, using nothing but the honey of her voice.' 'She seemed to be made from champagne.” “Then came the laugh: dry and dirty, as if this were a drama class and her task was to play a Martini.' Try to imagine The New Yorker running this about Matthew McConaughey, or Michael Fassbender." (TNR)

Mercedes Ellington, Michele Riggi, Janice Becker, and Maria Yang

"On March 13, Members of the Carnegie Hall Notables and French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) Young Patrons enjoyed cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a private recital featuring Ensemble ACJW at the French Consulate. Notables Committee members J. Brooks and Adriana Herrera, along withArun Sinha, were instrumental in making the evening a success. Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, Financier, and Veuve Cliquot were the evening's sponsors. Winter Heat, an annual Benefit Gala that supports the Career Transition For Dancers mission, took place at the Edison Ballroom on Monday, March 10, 2014. Benefit chairs included Janice Becker, Mercedes Ellington, Michele Riggi,and Maria Yang. The benefit committee included American Guild of Musical Artists AFL-CIO, Kelly DeMarco, Alexander J. DubĂ©, Cynthia G. Fischer, Esq., Nancy S. MacMillan, Susan Wicht, and Misty Widelitz. There was a special performance by Arthur Murray Dance Center and music by Louis Bauzo and the Havana San Juan Orchestra." (NYSD)

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