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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






"When John and I went to Los Angeles to shoot Barbra Streisand, we were also shooting Drew Barrymore. John was going to join me for the Streisand shoot on Saturday. When we landed in L.A., the plan was for me to call Barbra’s assistant, Kim, and arrange a time to meet at Barbra’s house to discuss the details of the shoot. RoseMarie and I had been dealing with Kim all week. She was difficult, but we held our tongues. I called at four P.M. to ask about meeting with Barbra. 'She’s editing her movie and we can’t do it till later,' Kim told me. I called at six P.M. 'She’s still working,' Kim snapped, with no apology for keeping us waiting. John called my room and asked, 'Maestro, what’s going on?' I told him Barbra was editing and didn’t want us to go over yet. Finally, Kim called at seven P.M. 'She’s ready.' John and I got into our rented convertible and pulled onto the Pacific Coast Highway. I was silent as John drove. 'What’s the matter?' John shouted into the wind. 'I’m nervous,' I told him, and gave him a terrified look. 'Relax, after a few minutes she’ll be like your aunt Barbra.' We pulled up to the mammoth wooden gates of Barbra’s house. There didn’t seem to be a button for guests or an intercom box anywhere, so John got out of the car and shouted into the trees. “Hello? Anybody home?” We heard the click of a latch releasing, and the gate opened automatically.
Situated high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, the house was huge and designed to feel like an idyllic American home, with picket fences, pointed gables, and bright-white clapboard siding. There was a meandering flagstone path leading to an arched front entrance, where I saw a tiny, pale figure in the doorway. Carolyn’s warning, 'She’ll eat you alive,' echoed in my head. As we walked down the path, John whispered, 'Remember, we have dinner plans at nine o’clock.' He wanted to be sure he didn’t get tied up all night. Funny Girl was leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded and a familiar, wry half-smile on her face. 'John, what a young staff you have,' she said in her best Dolly Levi voice. She was wearing white cotton from head to toe: a pair of stretchy pants and a sort of Flashdance-style off-the-shoulder top. She was dewy and freshly moisturized, her hair artfully mussed. She appeared so perfectly casual that it must have taken some time to achieve the look. I had the feeling she hadn’t been editing a movie all afternoon. There was no mistaking who was standing in front of us, but she seemed to be a miniature version of Barbra Streisand. Her eyes were cooler, foxlike and piercing, not those of the lovable, eye-rolling Fanny Brice I had been hoping for. She looked really good at 54 years old. John kissed her on the cheek and introduced me. After shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, she offered us a tour of her house. She spoke in a dramatic way, emphasizing every syllable and punctuating occasionally with a Brooklyn-inflected 'You know what I mean?'" (VF)





"This map shows the 2014 Senate races in blue and red, with the states sized according to their population and colored based on their current occupant. (The gray states are those with no regular Senate election this year.) Senate Class 2, the one contested this year, is far less representative of the nation as a whole than the two other classes. Its 33 states contain slightly more than half (51.8%) of the nation’s population. Class 1 (the 2012 class) also features 33 states, but those states host three-quarters (75.2%) of the population; Class 3, coming in 2016 with 34 states, is similar to Class 1, with 72.6% of the population. One big reason the 2014 Senate class is so unrepresentative is that California, with its 38 million residents (about an eighth of the country’s population), has no Senate election this year. Neither do New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively the nation’s third, fourth, sixth and seventh biggest states. No Senate election is ever a national election — but this year’s least of all. Republicans, as mentioned, need to net six seats to win the Senate, and there are six Democratic-held seats on this map where President Obama got less than 45% of the vote in 2012. Let’s assume the GOP nets those six seats, but everything else remains the same, which is a perfectly plausible scenario. Those states — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia — represent just 3.8% of the U.S. population. Of course, the actual number of residents who are eligible to vote, who show up to vote and who cast a ballot for the GOP candidate is an even smaller share. Assuming turnout in line with the most recent midterm, control of the Senate could end up being switched by 2 million Republican voters, or less — just 0.6% of the American population. That would hardly be a national mandate, though Republicans would assuredly claim one anyway." (CenterforPolitics)





"'Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,' Monica Lewinsky writes in Vanity Fair. And though her affair with Bill Clinton may have kicked off our modern era of sex scandal — and set the standard for the boom-bust cycles of denial and apology, sexist fascination, and pseudo-celebrity — a lot has changed since 1998. A presidential candidate made a sex tape. Two U.S. Congressmen resigned over flirtations with women they never even met. Slut-shaming entered the lexicon, but so did cyberbullying, sexting, and reality star. Sixteen years after Interngate, technology has managed a neat trick: It’s now possible to have a sex scandal that’s simultaneously more chaste in its execution and far sleazier in its aftermath. Anthony Weiner never got laid, but the woman who sank his mayoral campaign nevertheless made and marketed a Weiner-themed porno. By comparison, the woman who had 'oral-anal contact' in the Oval Office is the portrait of ladylike restraint. Monica also enjoyed a brief period of celebrity, of course (remember when she hosted a dating show?), but as America became increasingly attention-obsessed and media-optimized, she fell into an adult life 'so silent … that the buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out?' Today whore is a pejorative that has more to do with profiteering than promiscuity; the mainstream is learning, slowly, to be sex-positive, but there is no corollary term for empathizing with unabashed attention-seekers." (Maureen O'Connor)




"Yesterday was the perfect Spring day for the annual Hat Lunch at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. The official name is the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, and it was its 32nd annual event, but it’s also the post-modern successor to the Easter Parade. It was started in 1982 by a group of women who had also started the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy: Jean Clark, Norma Dana, Marguerite Purnell, and Phyllis Cerf Wagner. Mrs. Wagner died several years ago but the Mmes. Dana, Purnell and Clark are still with us. I saw Norma Dana there yesterday.  I don’t know about the other two founding members but it’s quite possible they were there too. Seeing Norma Dana, I could only wonder what she thinks of what she and her co-founders have achieved and accomplished. The effect and influence of the work of that small group of women is now visible to any and everyone who even walks by Central Park or sees the photographs of it. When I left the luncheon yesterday at about 2:15, I walked from 104th Street down Fifth, alongside the Park wall to 96th Street, just so I could look at the Park. It’s beauty is astounding. The Park right now is just glorious. It looks like a photograph of a perfect pastoral setting. I kept thinking I should be taking some photographs of it. Except. JH, the other (more circumspect) half of the NYSD and its primo photographer, had also been there to photograph the opening, and I knew he’d catch the Park in his reportage." (NYSD)

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