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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, passes U.S. President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing on Tuesday, November 11. Putin had brief conversations with the leaders of Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and the United States during breaks between official APEC summit events.
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"Ahead of the Nov. 24 deadline for a nuclear deal between the West and Iran, Russia and Iran strike their own nuclear deal.  After Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and EU representative Catherine Ashton failed to make progress toward a nuclear deal, Russian and Iranian officials announced that Russia's state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom would build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran. Russian officials said the agreement would bolster Iran's negotiations with the West because it makes Tehran's nuclear activities more transparent. However, Western diplomats said the new accord could undermine any hope for a deal. From the Los Angeles Times' Paul Richter: 'Rosatom raised concern by adding, in its announcement, that it intended to discuss with Tehran 'the feasibility of fabricating fuel rods in Iran, which will be used at these power units'...Although fuel rods are not components in weapons, the fabrication process could undermine the decade-old international effort to prevent Iran from building a nuclear infrastructure and someday gaining the capacity to build a bomb.; More hereRussia has had a nuclear relationship with Iran for decades. Until yesterday, it had not inserted itself so directly into negotiations. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier said that the negotiations were at a 'make-or- break' moment and that it could take two years to restart negotiations. It's also represents another bold move by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the international stage. Earlier this week, he penned a gas deal cementing ties with Asia. Yesterday, he became a last-minute player in the Iran talks. And Russia continues to cause problems in eastern Ukraine, according to NATO officials. Iran is likely to play a role in the fight against the Islamic State. But this role has yet to be clearly defined. Writing for FP, Emad Kiyaei argues that Iran is the United States' last best hope for defeating the Islamic State. But so much depends on the outcome of nuclear talks. 'Though Obama's engagement with Iran will surely exact a high domestic political toll on the president (and perhaps his party), a breakthrough in the nuclear talks would potentially transform the geopolitical landscape of the entire Middle East, a quagmire for Obama and his predecessors. It possesses the potential to be nothing short of a game-changer.' More hereMany American allies in the region would disagree with this assessment. But Obama has staked so much on the outcome of the Iran nuclear deal. Administration officials have said it would, along with Obamacare, define his legacy." (Foreign Policy's Situation Report)








The dining room at the new Palm in Beverly Hills. CreditMichal Czerwonka for The New York Times

"Power in Hollywood is still signaled by who sits where at a handful of watering holes, but restaurant real estate as status symbol is fleeting: Lose that studio chairmanship on Monday, say hello to Siberia on Tuesday. That is one reason movie and television executives, for nearly four decades, have placed so much value on the caricatures covering the walls of the local Palm steakhouse. Lose at the box office, lose the big client, lose the movie-star good looks — you never lost your spot at the Palm. Status cemented. Until now. The Palm restaurant here has started over, closing its 39-year-old West Hollywood location and opening a $4 million new restaurant here last Friday. And the walls are almost bare, glaringly portrait-free slates that have caused a ripple of anxiety in moviedom over revoked statuses and set up a subtle new immortalization competition. 'The hand-wringing over the caricatures has taken years off my life,' said Bruce B. Bozzi Jr., the executive vice president of the Palm Restaurant Group, which has 26 locations. 'Do we move the old ones? That wasn’t possible. There were 2,300 of them. Do we pick 100 to move? The most powerful? No, I would be a dead man.' So he decided to start over, even though he knew some traditionalists would be unhappy. Only one image, to his knowledge, had ever been removed from the West Hollywood location: O.J. Simpson. (The restaurant covered him up after somebody — following his 1995 murder trial — stuck a steak knife in his portrait forehead.) Some Hollywood heavyweights insist they are thrilled to be obliterated. 'I’m personally relieved to have that picture of me go away,' said Ron Meyer, the vice chairman of NBCUniversal, who first made the Palm’s wall as a co-founder of Creative Artists Agency in the mid-1970s. 'I had an Afro and glasses that were too big.' Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and onetime head of Paramount and Fox, called the decision to start over 'very clever,' helping to refocus entertainment industry attention on the Palm, which had ceded its lunchtime sizzle to newer outposts like Soho House." (NYT)


"When Hillary Clinton announced for president in 2007, she emphasized not her climb to wealth, but her humble roots. 'I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America,' she said in her announcement video. That her father was a prosperous fabric store owner did not necessarily mean her family was not middle class. While the U.S. Census Bureau maintains a rather exacting definition for poverty — there are 48 'thresholds' to cross — there is no official definition for 'middle class.' When Hillary Clinton was growing up in a picturesque suburb northwest of Chicago, to be middle class meant having your own home, a car or two in the carport, taking a family vacation every year, sending your kids to college and having some retirement savings. Most of all, being in the middle class meant security. The socio-economic ladder led only upward. And you were secure in the belief that your children would have a better life than you. If you believe such things today, however, you are an optimist. Or plastered. Today, the middle class is distraught, apprehensive and shrinking. And poorer. In 1989, the median household income in America was $51,681 measured in today’s dollars. In 2012, the median household income was $51,017. That’s right, after 23 years of toil, the middle class managed to get poorer. And imperiled. A 2010 study by the Department of Commerce put it in simple terms: 'It is more difficult now than in the past for many people to achieve middle class status because prices for certain key goods — health care, college and housing — have gone up faster than income.' But one thing the middle class does have going for it currently is sheer size. 'The middle class is made up of 60 to 70 percent of Americans,' Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, told me Monday. 'The bottom 15 to 20 percent are poor. And all of the top 10 percent may not regard themselves as wealthy, but they are on the other side of the Great Divide.' Where you live also determines whether you have crested the divide. 'In San Francisco and Manhattan, you can feel quite poor on $100,000 a year,' Reich added." (Politico)


Tony Sheldon played the Broadway performer/impresario, a la Noel Coward, or a flamboyant Gielgud-esque character; very funny, a send-up, but real underneath. Wonderful.

Also, over at the Harold Pratt House on Park Avenue and 68th Street, the American Friends of Blerancourt hosted a dinner to honor the Honorable Francois Delattre, French Ambassador to the United Nations.  And a few blocks up the avenue Jackie Rogers was hosting a pre-Thanksgiving party, a 'night of fashion' to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF). While across the Park, over on Columbus Circle at the Museum of Art and Design, they were holding the annual MAD Ball. More on that in an upcoming Diary. I missed it all because I was at the New York City Center with friends to see Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tracey Ullman, Michael McKean, Tony Sheldon, Laura Osnes in Dietz and Schwartz’ 'The Band Wagon.'  Kathleen Marshall was director and choreographer, with costumes by William Ivey Long." (NYSD)

John Fairchild and Giselle Masson at La Grenouille's 45th anniversary lunch, December 2007. Photograph by Jonathan Becker.

"OUR GOOD friend, Charles Masson, long the dedicated hard-worker of the famed and elegant La Grenouille restaurant, which has had a long reign on East 52nd Street in Manhattan, has gone to France to attend his mother's funeral in Neuilly on Friday. He is accompanied by his son, Charlie.  Madame Gisele Masson was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen back in the days when she and her movie-star handsome husband opened their restaurant in 1962. It became epic in a splendid moment after Henri Soule convinced Americans that they too could eat fine French food. Charles’s brother, Philipe, is now running La Grenouille and Charles himself will soon open in the new Baccarat restaurant on the East Side. We send all the Massons our sympathy, thinking of their mother with fond beautiful memories." (Liz Smith/NYSD)

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