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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"When I interviewed The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart two years ago for a documentary I co-directed, The Muslims Are Coming!, one of the questions I posed to the talk show host was: Do you think your show has had an impact on issues? Surprisingly, Stewart responded 'no.'  At first, my co-director, Negin Farsad, and I thought Stewart was being unduly modest. But he was actually being sincere. Stewart went on to list issues he had railed against for years—such as media sensationalism—and noted that nothing tangible had changed despite his best efforts. But if that question were put to Stewart today, honesty would compel him to answer that his efforts have changed the way many who follow him now view one issue: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically, Stewart has raised awareness about the human toll that this conflict has inflicted upon Palestinian civilians.
I first noticed Stewart’s efforts in January 2009 during the 22-day battle between Hamas and the Israeli military. That episode resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians being killed, of which human rights groups say 700 were civilians. Stewart’s coverage included the segment 'Gaza Strip Maul.' (The title summed up his POV.) In it, Stewart comically noted that the only thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is supporting Israeli’s bombing of Gaza, likening it to a Mobius Strip, which is an object with only one side to it. Stewart, of course, did express sympathy for the people of Israel suffering from Hamas missiles. But clearly he was moved by the massive Palestinian civilian casualties, calling it a 'civilian carnage Toyotathon.'" (TheDailyBeast)



"Potential Democratic presidential candidates have a must-stop this campaign season: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s backyard. At Reid’s request, Vice President Joe Biden helped fill the coffers last week of a Nevada Democratic congressional candidate and his state party’s political apparatus, a central cog in the Senate majority leader’s political machine.  A couple of months earlier, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley reached out to Reid’s team to let the majority leader know he would be the main speaker at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Las Vegas for the Clark County Democratic Party. O’Malley followed up with a donation to Reid’s preferred candidate in the lieutenant governor’s race. In September, Hillary Clinton will deliver the keynote address at Reid’s annual clean energy summit at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, after Reid asked her to speak at his prized seven-year-old event. And there are ongoing discussions about adding another Clinton event to the calendar: a fundraiser for the state party this fall, several sources said this week.  The decision to swing through Nevada two years before campaign season speaks to the state’s position as the first in the West during the presidential nominating contest in 2016. But it also highlights an indisputable fact: No matter how unpopular Reid is with Republicans, leading Democrats are eager to woo the powerful majority leader with a long memory and reputation for loyalty. His backing could be an important factor in a contested primary and even more crucial if he continues to lead Senate Democrats into the next administration, regardless of whether the party keeps its grip on the majority. And there is no better way to win over Reid than to raise cash and help his team win elections. " (Politico)




"Being there and seeing a painting of my grandmother I had never seen before from when she was in her 20s and knowing that she and my grandfather had walked on those marble flagstones at a time when the future was not known to them and yet strains of unease must already have been palpable. While today there is a leak in the skylight that illumines the grand entranceway, and water puddles on the floor. It was all profoundly moving, I’ve been crying ever since I got back to Key West. I keep wanting to say I’m home but I notice I only say I’m back. I think Serbia is my home. I’m more torn than ever. Towards the end of my grandmother’s life when a little bit of confusion began muddling her thoughts we flew from Paris to London together. When it was time to get off the plane, this being the 80s when the stewardesses would line up at the front as one exited, they still do, but it used to be more formal. The formality confused my grandmother and took her back to a time when long lines of uniformed servants would wait outside fancy dwellings to greet or bid farewell, and it was her habit to stop and shake everybody’s hand and speak a word to each. So she stopped at every stewardess and shook their hand and said something sweet and special to each one. I could have shuffled her on, I could have explained it wasn’t what she thought, but I let her do her thing. I remember one summer house, called Pratolino outside of Florence, and I remember arriving and departing and seeing the composed army of staff in a long line leading to the front door. This was a world and a life my grandmother was familiar with, the only one she knew growing up. Years later after settling in Paris and after the death of her husband she learned to get around town on buses." (Christina Oxenberg)





"I went down to Michael’s for lunch. I was about ten minutes late because of the traffic going across down (and the fact that one of the blocks on East 63rd was closed suddenly)(typical of New York traffic now). I was relieved that my guest had not yet arrived. No problem; I don’t mind waiting for people since so many have waited for me. I talked to Michael, to Steve Millington the restaurant’s GM, to Mickey Ateyeh, the jewelry and accessories executive (Angela Cummings, Tiffany, etc.) and Betsy Perry, the writer, who was lunching with her. Then I took my seat. It was 1:25.  I was beginning to get the feeling maybe she wouldn’t show. This is also not a problem for me. I hadn’t been to Michael’s in several days and because it’s one of the ways I get out of the house on weekdays, I was glad to be there, to see everybody and to view the room. At 1:30, I decided to order just in case. I tried calling my lunch date and couldn’t reach her. No problem. Hoping everything was all right on her end. 1:40, I knew I was going solo. Steve brought me a couple magazines to look at:  The Hollywood Reporter and Hamptons. The latter, mainly real estate ads for large houses selling for what used to be considered a great personal fortune and is now considered a shrug. The former (HR) full of items about entertainment executives. Zzzzzz. You had to be there ... There were agents and publishing people, bankers and PR. Authors – Diane Clehane of mediabistro.com was lunching with Diana Gabaldon, the best selling novelist. Joni Evans (literary agent) was lunching with Suzanne Gluck (literary agent) and Tracy Fisher. Bonnie Fuller and Gerry Byrne were in the bay at Table 1 with Wednesday guests; Roger Friedman, Broadway and Hollywood columnist, blogger, journalist; Alice Mayhew, editor at Simon & Schuster; Andrew Stein; Jerry Inzerillo of Forbes Travel; Dennis Basso at Table 2, next door to me; Harry Benson was lunching with another Forbes editor, Joseph DeAcetis; PR guru Lisa Linden with Christopher Heywood of NYC & Company;  Neil Lasher of EMI; Peggy Siegal; Thomas Moore; Andy Sandow  of Sandow Media; Michael Appelbaum; Nancy Murray of Louis Vuitton; Steven Stolman with Tom Shea; Vogue’s  Susan Plagemann; Kim Bryant of WABCPatricia Malone; Noble Smith; Roxan Cason; Karen Tarteof Sparks  Global Brand Agency; Karen Katzman of Badgely Mischka; David Stern, former head of the NBA; Antonio Weiss; Dini von Mueffling, and dozens more just like ‘em." (NYSD)


Woody Allen CREDIT: Emily Assiran/New York Observer
(Photos by Emily Assiran/New York Observer)


"Would it kill you to know that Woody Allen is just like us? He’s got two teenage girls who listen to pop music on their iPhones. He’s always worried that something bad will happen to them. He exercises every morning but struggles to keep his weight up. (Okay. He’s not totally like us.)
He’s also 78 years old, has won four Academy Awards, has directed actors to six more wins (18 nominations), and has never missed a year releasing a film since 1977. This past weekend came No. 44, a comedy called Magic in the Moonlight. Whether it’s a hit or not doesn’t matter to him particularly, because it’s done, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He’s busy finishing No. 45 and thinking about No. 46. But so far, so good: in 17 theaters, Magic took in a very healthy $426,000.
His frequent collaborator, Marshall Brickman, co-author of such classic Allen films as Annie Hall and Manhattan Murder Mystery, tells me: 'He secretes movies like honey. It’s an astonishing record. I don’t think anyone’s come close to it.'  Mr. Allen’s had some problems, but we all know about them. That’s not what this is about. Mr. Allen’s had a life since 1992, when he left Mia Farrow and subsequently married her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. It’s been 22 years. There must be something else to talk about. There is: he’s still thinking about life and death, the end of the world, and why we’re all here. All the years with Ms. Farrow, Mr. Allen lived alone on the East Side of Central Park. He wasn’t domiciled until he married Soon-Yi and they started a family. When I meet him at his shambling, low-profile production office off of Fifth Avenue, it’s one of the first things to come up: are the big questions easier now? 'No, it only becomes more tragic,' Mr. Allen says. He’s dressed like, well, Woody Allen, compactly and neat in a button down shirt and chinos. His feathery gray hair is always a jolt because the Mr. Allen you have in your mind is Alvy Singer. But he’s really, pleasantly, the same as ever." (Observer)





"In the glory days, no man ever went to Yale to learn anything. God gave us Columbia and Harvard for that. OK, there’s Harold Bloom, but otherwise, Yale was intended for unadulterated gentlemanly pleasure and sport. As Wilde said, 'If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough.' Is there anyone around who remembers when Yale was the most splendid, elegant, and gentlemanly of Ivy League colleges; when Andover and St. Paul’s sent their best and brightest to New Haven; when, as Fitzgerald wrote, 'Taft and Hotchkiss…prepared the wealth of the Middle West for social success at Yale'? Where are the Yale men who had their soft tweed jackets and their Oxford-gray flannel trousers made at J. Press and Arthur M. Rosenberg; who trod the Memorial Quadrangle shod in the Raywood-model, full brogue, slip-on Peal shoe and the Oxford-cloth, rolling, button-down-collar Brooks Brothers shirt? And what’s happened to the tables down at Mory’s, which the 21 Club wished it looked like? And whither the Fence Club ...? Ralph Lauren would have made a mess of himself had he seen such authentic WASP class and décor: stuffed leather chairs, polished mahogany tables, Turkish carpets, and framed pictures of Y-sweatered Eli captains sitting on the Yale Fence. O, where is the Yale of Skull and Bones, when it was the world’s most prestigious college underground secret society? Admittedly, it always had a meritocratic, hence slightly middle-class, tinge. The fifteen senior “knights” might include such campus big shots as a team captain and the editor of the Yale Daily News, but its graduate patriarchs became presidents, ambassadors, and, most important of all, partners in Brown Brothers Harriman. And where are the modern equivalents of Donald Ogden Stewart, Gerald Murphy, and Brendan Gill, who represented the lefty, artistic wing of the brotherhood—yet gentlemen all? O, where is the Yale of Bones’ chief rival, Scroll and Key, whose brothers deferentially referred to themselves publicly as second in fame to Bones, knowing full well privately that they were, in fact, the snottiest of senior societies? Like the Order of the Garter, which Lord Melbourne coveted 'because there was no damn merit in it,' Scroll and Key preferred aristocratic and moneyed birth over brash achievement. O, where are the likes of Jock Whitney and Paul Mellon, both cringingly shy, and Scroll and Key visions of the beau ideal? And who remembers when Scroll and Key’s idea of an arty-farty brother was the composer of 'Eli Yale! Bulldog! Bulldog!' the über-sophisticate, Cole Porter?" (Bunky Mortimer)


Juliet Nicolson, author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm.


"The social scene in New York is practically non-existent as far as NYSD’s coverage of interest. It’s been moved west to 'The Hamptons' --  Southampton, East Hampton, and everything in between and north (Sag Harbor). For me there’s more time for reading, and for my birthday a friend of mine gave me a book with the message, 'It all happened before ...' obviously referring to the state of our world today.  The message aroused my curiosity so that I opened just to look, and I’ve been swimming through it with great pleasure – and more than few laughs -- for the past two days. It is called “The Perfect Summer; England 1911 Just Before the Storm” by Juliet Nicolson. Ms. Nicolson is the daughter of the late Nigel Nicolson, the British writer/publisher and politician who died ten years ago at age 87. Ms. Nicolson is also the granddaughter of two now legendary characters who came of age in the era of the Edwardians – Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Their son Nigel (there was another son Ben) published a famous book about forty years ago about his parents’ marriage called 'Portrait of a Marriage.' In it we learn that both man and wife – who individually led very productive professional lives as writers (and he also a diplomat) – were gay. They also had to varying degrees, active sex lives with their gay partners. Vita – a most fascinating character (captured beautifully in a biography by Victoria Glendenning, published in the late 1960s, called 'Vita') – was a novelist, an essayist and a horticulturalist." (NYSD)





"Today the Crystal Ball is switching its gubernatorial race ratings in five states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, and Wisconsin. All five contests are competitive and close, and our new ratings will not be our last in these states. But as of mid-summer, we believe the following about each race:
Arkansas: In a battle of two former members of the U.S. House, Asa Hutchinson (R) has built a small lead in the polls against Mike Ross (D) in the Natural State’s open-seat contest. Should Hutchinson win, it would mark a turnover from the Democrats as incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe (D) is term-limited. Arkansas has moved very sharply toward Republicans in recent years at the federal level, though Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is trying to buck this trend in the state’s Senate race this cycle. But the GOP has also made significant gains at the state level, taking full control of the state legislature in 2012 for the first time since Reconstruction. With Hutchinson’s polling lead and the increasingly Republican proclivities of Arkansans, we’re moving it from Toss-up to Leans Republican.Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) is so personally unpopular that he will be lucky to survive the Democratic primary against state Sen. David Ige. In fact, Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling recently found Ige leading Abercrombie 49%-39%, though any survey in the notoriously-difficult-to-poll Aloha State must be treated with caution. That said, we’re hearing that the public polls in Hawaii might not be far off the mark, and that Abercrombie is in real trouble heading into the Saturday, Aug. 9 primary. Even if Abercrombie wins renomination, he may well falter in the general election matchup against his 2010 general election opponent, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R). Moreover, the independent candidacy of former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, an ex-Democrat, will further complicate things. This race shifts from Leans Democratic to Toss-up, and the primary is a Toss-up, too. We still favor Sen. Brian Schatz (D) in his primary against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D): Abercrombie’s appointment of Schatz to deceased former Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) Senate seat, against the deathbed wishes of the Hawaii legend, is contributing to Abercrombie’s troubles with his own party, but perhaps isn’t hurting Schatz in the same way. (What was Schatz supposed to do — turn down the appointment?) Schatz also lacks Abercrombie’s grating style. Both primaries will be very much worth watching. Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn (D), barely elected to his first full term in 2010 and hampered by a poor state economy and budget problems, appears to be losing so far to a wealthy Republican, Bruce Rauner. Quinn’s narrow win in 2010 happened in part because his opponent was very conservative, too much so for Illinois even in the midst of a gigantic Republican wave that cycle. However, this time Quinn faces an “outsider” opponent in Rauner, who is promising to clean up the mess in Springfield and who can also self-fund his campaign to a large degree. While this race could well shift again this cycle, we’re now moving it from Toss-up to Leans Republican. We’ve heard a lot of pessimism from Democrats about Quinn’s odds, though they hold out hope that he can pull the rabbit out of a hat once again. He might, but he’s down right now — and facing a better candidate, Rauner, than he did last time. According to Politico’s Kyle Cheney, Quinn would be the first governor from the president’s home state (and of the president’s party) to lose reelection since 1892." (Sabato)

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