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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres










"We’ve been noting for months the odd circumstances in the Kansas gubernatorial contest, where Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is in a Toss-up race with state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) despite the state’s inherent conservatism. But it’s also become clear that Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is also not exactly as safe as one might think. Despite facing a weak primary opponent in physician Milton Wolf (R), Roberts didn’t even crack 50% in the primary held earlier this month. The primary campaign revealed Roberts to be rather weak himself, particularly because he basically doesn’t even live in Kansas, a modern-day political no-no. Some recent polls, have shown Roberts leading but under 40% against two main opponents: Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor (D) and businessman Greg Orman, an independent former Democrat who can heavily self-fund.
Let’s be clear: Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1932, and Roberts’ poor performance as a candidate isn’t by itself enough to change that, particularly because the split field might actually benefit the incumbent in a state with no runoff. But to be cautious, we’re moving this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican ... A pair of Midwestern Republican governors, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio, have long held strong positions in our ratings, in part because of weak, underfunded opponents. Branstad’s challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), got the nomination only because it seemed like no one else wanted it. The same could arguably be said for Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) in Ohio, where Democrats have a surprisingly weak bench given the state’s longstanding status as a political battleground. It now appears that the outcome in both races isn’t much in doubt, so we’re switching both from Likely Republican to Safe Republican ... One other race of note this week: We’re moving NY-18 from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic. There’s not a specific development that’s prompting this change in the rematch between Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) and former Rep. Nan Hayworth (R): Rather, we’re just getting the sense that it’s more competitive than we previously thought, which makes sense in a district where the 2012 presidential results (51%-47% Obama) were the same as the national results (AZ-9, the Sinema seat mentioned above, is another 51%-47% Obama seat). Maloney, perhaps best known these days for the aerial photography at his recent wedding, remains a favorite." (SabatosCrystalBall)





"In a juicy new tell-all book, Katie Couric comes across as brash, striving, and self-absorbed, Diane Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic, and Christiane Amanpour has an off-putting moral superiority. For Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour, the moment of truth is about to arrive—or at least a book-length facsimile thereof. News executives and network publicists have been distracting themselves from this summer’s seriously depressing or otherwise alarming world events by passing around and poring over bound galleys of The News Sorority, veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s gossipy chronicle of the rise (and occasional stumbles) of three of television news’ best-known women. In Weller’s narrative—which, as the subtitle indicates, aspires to document 'the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News'—Couric comes off as brash, striving, self-absorbed, and occasionally insensitive to the realities faced by her less well-compensated coworkers, yet steeled by personal tragedy (the cancer-related deaths of her husband and her sister) and capable of big-hearted generosity. Sawyer is a Machiavellian, often-inscrutable workaholic who uses her seductive charm and good looks to professional advantage and torments news producers with her relentless perfectionism and insecurity—an apparent consequence of a fraught relationship with her judgmental, formidable mother (who once sent the adult Sawyer into a self-flagellating death spiral, Weller writes, when she criticized how her TV star daughter had made her bed). Amanpour is the reigning queen of the warzone, more physically courageous and resourceful than her male colleagues in perilous combat situations, but with an occasionally off-putting sense of moral superiority which, along with her posh British accent, sometimes renders her brittle and inaccessible to American audiences—a factor which seems to have hampered her career.
All three, in Weller’s account, are superb journalists who have risen to the top of their profession through sheer talent, brains, and hard work in an industry whose culture, even in the second decade of the 21st century, remains more than vestigially sexist. In one representative anecdote, CBS News Executive Vice President Paul Friedman publicly muses on an open audio line about which female anchor looks worse without makeup—Sawyer or Couric. 'I was blown back in my chair,' a female producer tells Weller. 'What did it say about a man in senior management that he didn’t know he shouldn’t say that, of his boss [Katie], out loud?'" (Lloyd Grove)


DPC and Arlene Dahl finishing up lunch yesterday at Michael's.


"Yesterday, I went to lunch at Michael’s with Arlene Dahl who is being honored today on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with an all-day program of some of her filmography. I’ve seen Arlene in films and I even saw her first film at MGM when I was a kid, the first movie musical ' I ever saw: Three Little Words' with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Released in 1950. The 17-year-old Debbie Reynolds had her first film role at MGM in that picture lip-synching Helen Kane singing 'I Wanna Be Loved By You.' It was also Arlene’s first role under contract to the studio. I had my own education of Hollywood in the years I lived there, through my associations with a variety of men and women who were part of the vanguard of the mid-century film industry. I also wrote Debbie Reynolds' 1988 Memoir (“Debbie, My Life,” William Morrow publishers), and in the process met many more individuals who worked and created in the glory days of the studio system. It was a glamorous life to the kid out there in middle-America looking through the prism of Technicolor. And in some ways it remained that in my own experience. It wasn’t until decades later that I got a good look at the creative productivity of enormous studio teams of off-camera geniuses whose collaboration with the actor as cameraman, costume designer, choreographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, drama coach, lighting director, set designer, writer, producer, director actually created Stars whose images influenced the Americanization of the culture of the world. Arlene went to work at MGM in 1946. At the time her agent, Lew Wasserman got her contracts with both MGM and Warners, for whom she worked a divided week. A redhead from Minnesota, she started a professional career as a  model for a Chicago department store when she was still in her teens. Her supervisor who was leaving the job took Arlene to New York on one of her buying trips to see the fashions that she would be modeling, so she could make judgments without the director’s assistance." (NYSD)







"Joan Rivers is in critical condition after she stopped breathing during a medical procedure on Thursday, police sources tell The Post. The E! Fashion critic, 81, was a patient at Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd street near Third Avenue in New York City, police also confirmed.
After she stopped breathing, a 911 call was placed at around 9:40 a.m. TMZ reports the caller said, 'We have somebody in either cardiac or respiratory arrest.' She was reportedly rushed to Mount Sinai hospital. Sources says Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, is rushing to New York. Rivers had stressful week, performing 'Fashion Police' duty with the Video Music Awards and Emmys back to back." (P6)


Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)
Robert Simonson. (Photo: Daniel Krieger)


"When Robert Simonson walked into The Long Island Bar on a recent Friday afternoon, he did so with a tote bag full of goodies. Inside that bag? A galley of the forthcoming Death & Co cocktail book, as well as a bottle of Batavia Arrack, which the Atlantic Avenue drinking establishment does not stock. 'This is probably totally illegal,' said Mr. Simonson, as we slid into a back booth. The idea was to have Phil Ward—the former Death & Co head bartender and current co-owner of Mayahuel, who still takes a regular shift at The Long Island Bar—whip up one of his original creations called the Shattered Glasser. Of course, bringing the cocktail book was unnecessary; Mr. Ward remembers all of his specs. And besides, we were here to talk about a different book all together, one penned by Mr. Simonson. The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, which came out earlier this year, is a beautiful hardcover tome, with lush photographs, deeply researched lore and a whole mess of recipes. Mr. Simonson, who writes about all things bar and cocktail for The New York Times, picked out one such recipe for me to try: the tequila-based Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, another Phil Ward creation. Having recently returned from New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail, where he gave a presentation on his favorite drink, Mr. Simonson wasn’t sure he could stomach another Old-Fashioned. I pledged to drink for two. Let’s talk about the history of the Old-Fashioned. Where does the name come from? 'The full name is the Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail. It started out as the Whiskey Cocktail, and that was served up and not on ice. Then around the 1870s, bartenders started putting other things in it, like maraschino liqueur and absinthe, to make it exciting and racy. Some people thought it tasted pretty good, but the old-timers didn’t, so they started asking for an old-fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.'" (Observer)

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