Thursday, July 31, 2008

Media-Whore D'Oevres

"As the United Nations Security Council prepares today to vote on renewing the mandate for peacekeeping troops in Darfur, the Save Darfur Coalition issued a report titled 'Grounded: the International Community's Betrayal of UNAMID.' According to the United Nations over 300,000 Darfurians have died and more than 2.2 million have been displaced since February 2003. Thomas Withington, an aviation expert who wrote the report and is acutely aware of the advantage of helicopters judiciously employed in the theatre to stave off genocide, came to the conclusion .." (Ron Mwangaguhunga/AWEARNESS)

"Political strategists are fascinated by this McCain ploy. Here is one of history’s most uncharismatic candidates attempting to capitalize on his blandness by stressing the celebrity of his rival." (Peter Bart/Variety)

"Given the historic presence of the nation's first major-party African-American presidential nominee, it was likely inevitable. But now the combustible issue of Barack Obama's racial identity has been thrust squarely into the heated political battle of the 2008 race. Obama Wednesday warned voters that John McCain or his allies would try to 'scare' them with his race, and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis responded furiously on Thursday, accusing Obama of playing the race card. Behind the accusations from both sides in the last 24 hours lies a furious battle to frame the racially charged conflict many in both campaigns have been girding for and to find effective ways to blame the other campaign for any unpalatable racial subtext to a race that — in theory — could actually show the better angels of America’s nature." (Politico)
Christopher Ciccone on Madonna Bio: "(Guy Ritchie) Is One Of The Most Insecure Straight Men I Have Ever Come Across"

(image via vf/dafydd jones)

Oh, it's on; it's on like Gray Poupon! David Geffen wanted to marry Madonna? Mama says What?! Madonna gives her just enough rope to keep Ingrid Casares around? There alot in George Wayne's Vanity Fair interview with Christopher Ciccone, which is sure to help make him something of a gay icon. Among the takeaways from VF:

"George Wayne: I am sure your publisher’s lawyers vetted this book.

Christopher Ciccone: Of course. But what I got from that exchange was that I have spent 20 years with this woman and she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t have a clue, which is kind of depressing and kind of amazing. So the process has been kind of incredible. I am enjoying every minute of it. You know if I had written that book—and I could easily have chosen to tear her apart. I could have made it a bloodbath."


George Wayne: Another gorgeous morsel—and the one that will probably be most hurtful in this book—is the whole Sean Penn–Shanghai Surprise drama. That was the saddest part, when she ran into your hotel room screaming, and he was knocking at the door.

CC: For me, that was the moment. I was always a fan of Sean’s, always protected him, and took his side when everybody else didn’t. That moment, that day, was when it changed. At that moment, I was: 'O.K., you suck.'

GW: What about Warren Beatty?
CC: Warren, I love. Warren I would have happily given head to.

GW: Which you probably should have.
CC: Warren was fucking brilliant.

Uh-huh. Also:

GW: Another gorgeous morsel: David Geffen wanted to marry Madonna?
CC: And it was fucking endless. Every time we went to his goddamn house in Malibu, from the moment we arrived until the moment we left: 'Marry me, just marry me.' And she was like, 'Hahaha.' He was endless.

But let's not forget:

"GW: Another gorgeous morsel: you and Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell doing coke at Johnny Depp’s house while he was downstairs smoking pot and swilling bourbon with Liam and Noel Gallagher from Oasis.
CC: I wanted so much to be one of the guys.

Yup. And so much more at Vanity Fair.
A Little Of The Old In And Out

Haunted eyes, gaunt ass. (image via Nytimes)

In: Tyrants Cross-Examined. Tyrants are almost always broken little boys who bend the state into the shape of a toy easy to grasp. For anyone who has ever wondered if there is Justice in the world after living in the grip of tyrannical regimes, there is some bittersweetness in reading the testy exchanges at the Hague, where former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is fighting for his ass. From The NYTimes:

"Mr. Karadzic, 63, who was transferred early Wednesday from Serbia to a jail cell near here, was gaunt and unsmiling, in contrast to his years as the swaggering leader of the Bosnian Serbs, one of the men most closely associated with the horrors of the Yugoslav conflict and who has been charged with the massacre of some 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995.

"But his temper broke through in a testy exchange with the court judge as he said that, prior to being handed over to the authorities on July 21, he had been kidnapped and illegally held for three days in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.

"He also raised an old accusation, saying he had gone into hiding in 1996 in a deal arranged with the United States envoy at the time, Richard C. Holbrooke. In an interview, Mr. Holbrooke denied making any such deal, describing the charge as 'ridiculous.'

More here.

Out: Les Moonves. Methuselan media overlord Sumner Redsteone's lunar polestar Les "The Moon" Moonves put on his best face -- despite the fact that CBS Class B shares didn't have a good day -- as he said in a conference call that the stated goal of CNET is to reach $1 billion in revenue in the next 3 years, from the mid-$600 million this year. But Wall Street was not impressed.
Will The Alighieri's Forgive Florence?

The cultural memory of Italians is truly muscular. Vendettas that outlast the lives of the original participants endure. Count Pieralvise Serego Alighieri, the most public descendant of the extraordinary Dante Aligieri, has turned down a request from city officials in Florence, Italy to attend an apology ceremony for the poet's banishment centuries ago. Transforming his anger into one of the most sublime works of Art, Dante composed a cosmology and sentenced his enemies to a Hell. And Dante got the last laugh, creating a work of such brilliance, it outlived by centuries all those named within its pages. Students in Italy and abroad now know the names of the long-dead Farinata, Filippo Argento and Brunetto Latini.

Of course The Divine Comedy is more than just a literary amber in which his political foes are trapped. The Divine Comedy is also a complex moral compass -- not unlike Homer's Odyssey -- made for navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of expressing far-reaching ideas under a repressive regime. As a refugee from Idi Amin's Uganda, The Corsair always found magnificent wisdom in Dante's work and the considerable political pressures that must have influenced his noble philosophy and otherworldly versifying, which was never -- mirabile dictu -- stained by the sepia-colored negativity of Hobbes, who came from a similarly precarious political climate, but came out squarely on the side of the pessimists on human nature. From Time:

"Italian master poet Dante Alighieri was ruthless with the leaders of his day. Armed with the mightiest of quills, he used his epic poem the Divine Comedy to finger contemporary politicians for everything from corruption and treason, to usury and sodomy. He wrote that Venedico Caccianemico, the head of Bologna's Guelph faction, prostituted his own sister to gain political advantage. Trapped in the boiling tar pits and frozen lakes of hell, these politicos were doomed to eternal literary damnation.

"Dante reserved his sharpest vitriol for the city fathers of his hometown Florence. Indeed, the poet's rancor for the ruling class came in large part from the 1302 decision by Florentine officials to exile him for life because of an ongoing political disagreement. 'Joy to you, Florence, that your banners swell,' wrote Dante in his masterwork. 'beating their proud wings over land and sea/and that your name expands through all of Hell!'

"Seven centuries on and Florence's city council is finally considering a symbolic end to the banishment by granting Dante a posthumous medal. A solid majority of council members voted last month to grant the poet the city's highest honor, the golden florin. Several leftists, though, voted 'no.' Nicola Rotondaro, from one of Italy's small Communist parties, said Dante doesn't need to be rehabilitated by the council. 'If he'd been condemned to death, would we have been asked to resurrect him?,' he quipped.

"In a retort that may prolong the controversy, oh, another century or two, Pieralvise Serego Alighieri, 54, a Tuscan winegrower ... this week said he will refuse the award on behalf of the family. The vote, he told Milan daily Corriere della Sera, fell well short of the clear mea culpa that his legendary forefather deserves. 'When I read the statements (of the opponents), I could have wept,' said Serego Alighieri, who wonders when Dante will 'finally be left in peace.'
Spike Jonze And Michelle Williams

Some people carry about with them an air of sadness and for some reason Michelle Williams seems like that to this blogger. And Spike Jonze, so cruelly satirized and mocked by his ex-wife, Sophia Coppolla, in "Lost in Translation" similarly has had some public heartbreak. It is good to hear that the two are still together, helping each other heal. From Thisislondon:

"Michelle Williams has found love again with director Spike Jonze seven months after the tragic death of her former fiancé Heath Ledger.

"The pair boarded a private jet bound for Oregon yesterday along with the Brokeback Mountain actress's two-year-old daughter Matilda.

"The trio were seen strolling together outside the airport, Williams at one point breaking into a broad smile.

"Williams and Jonze, who previously dated Drew Barrymore, first met in 2006 when she auditioned for his film adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children's book Where The Wild Things Are.

"She was offered a part, but later withdrew from the film.

"But last year, the pair finally worked together on Synecdoche, New York in summer 2007 and struck up a friendship."
Hooray For Bollywood: Dreamworks-Reliance Deal To Go Through

(image via vanityfair)

The wonderfully bitchy soap opera that is DreamWorks -- high Hollywood or Hollywood High -- is about to achieve inner serenity from deep-pocketed Indian investors that won't fuck with Steven's vision. Expect some Viacomedic parting shots launched 'cross the starboard bough. From DeadlineHollywoodDaily:

"I'm told that the DreamWorks financing deal with India's media and entertainment conglomerate Reliance ADA -- for at least $500 million -- is almost completed and will be announced in the next week to 10 days. The Reliance people were in Los Angeles last week meeting with DreamWorks. I hear they also met with Jeffrey Katzenberg (whose public company DreamWorks Animation has an 'out' clause from its Paramount distribution deal after 10 films...). However, David Geffen officially severs his ties with Paramount as soon as August, and Spielberg can leave in October. Then DreamWorks has to make a distribution deal, probably with Universal where Spielberg still keeps his office."
Barack Obama Needs To Counterprogram Against Mitt Romney

Logically, Mitt Romney appears, on paper at least, to be the best choice for Senator John McCain (The Corsair judiciously sips "the fizzy"). This morning, for example, the second-most listened to conservative talk show host, Sean Hannity said that Romney would be the man he'd most like to see McCain pick. To be sure, McCain could veer to the center -- picking Lieberman, with whom he seems most comfortable on the campaign trail-- but that would leave his right flank unguarded, vulnerable, tender. And Senator McCain was never solid with the party base; the old boys never forgave him for Campaign Finance Reform (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Ron Paul's anti-convention will highlight that fact to McCain's detriment (especially in the Rocky Mountain West and the ever-Libertarianish Nevada).

No, chances are McCain will shrewdly pick Romney, with his aura of corporate competence and the serendipitous afterglow of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, so favorably comparing against China's smoggy official coming out party. The Senator from Arizona will studiously ignore the labors of the Paul contingent. That having been said, that Romney probability gives Obama another advantage over Senator McCain. If it is, as it appears,likely that McCain picks Romney, then this gives Obama an opportunity to counterprogram with a running mate that would most contrast against Romney with the American electorate. Who can clean Romney's clock in a Presidential debate? Bayh, unlikely; Barry Schwitzer, possibly- maybe; Sibelius, meh; Kaine, not sure.

Beyond the debates: Who can most skillfully attack Romney from the Populist position? Mitt's political Kryptonite is his slightly over-polished surface, which, when contrasted against a populist -- say, a Huckabee -- looks to the average American like the last boss that laid them off (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Romney's matinee-idol good looks and smooth projection of corporate competence may actually be a hindrance -- not help -- to McCain, if a populist can, for example, pin the present economic woes on the thumoeideutic excesses of members of Romney's class. From the NYTimes:

"Conventional wisdom correctly suggests that Mr. McCain could benefit from a running mate who adds credibility on economic issues and excites the Republicans’ conservative base. Mr. Romney’s accomplishments in the private sector would be valuable in a discussion of jobs creation and economic growth, but he was attacked relentlessly in his campaign for Senate against Ted Kennedy for the layoffs and downsizing that occurred in companies he had acquired. At a time when voters are worried about their own job security, those same criticisms could pack greater punch this year.

"Mr. Romney’s ability to motivate the G.O.P. base is even more of an open question. While Mr. McCain is still trying to shore up his support among conservatives, there’s no evidence that Mr. Romney, who lost those voters to John McCain and Mike Huckabee in the primaries, would help close the sale. Already, several religious conservative leaders have come forward warning that naming Mitt Romney would be counterproductive. Indeed, Mr. McCain can still rally these voters on his own by talking about national security, tax cuts and energy policy, or by scaring them about Barack Obama. But it’s hard to see how Mr. Romney makes that rally any easier."

Frankly, we think Carly Fiorina would be a more formidable running mate for McCain, although a maneuver that politically radical is alien to McCain's southwestern conservative mindset. Fiorina, a former CEO of a Forbes 400 company who has had graduate studies in the Medieval Age, is almost more Hillary than Hillary, poised, sharp, super-smart, and that appeals to many suburban white women -- a demographic that Obama has had some trouble with because of the contentious primary. Fiorina would also be a clear signal that McCain has a sense of the winds of political change in this election cycle. Fiorina is young and fresh and, because of her work in the private sector, exudes more "competence" -- and "executive-experience" than even those young, oft-touted Governors Jindal and Palen, who are probably not-yet-ready-for-Prime-Time. Those young lions need time for "seasoning."

But McCain will probably pick Romney, the more predictable and conservative choice, with an eye for Fiorina as his Chief of Staff should he win. His loss.
Media-Whore D'Oevres

"Katie Couric made her first appearance on The View this morning. The CBS Evening News anchor was promoting the multi-network Stand Up To Cancer benefit Sept. 5. She also talked about her future with CBS News, the press coverage of her including being misquoted in an Israeli newspaper, first reported here. Barbara Walters, who talked about being the first woman co-anchor on a network newscast asked the first woman anchor of a network newscast: 'Are you going to stay for five years?'" (TVNewser)

", a website created by former aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to push her as presidential candidate Barack Obama’s running mate, is shutting down because Clinton is 'no longer under consideration.' Sam Arora and Adam Parkhomenko said in an e-mail to the more than 40,000 supporters who signed up on their website that, because Obama has tapped Clinton to be his keynote speaker at the Democratic convention, she must no longer be in the running to join the Illinois senator on the ticket." (TheHill)

"IT sure looked like Hillary Rodham Clinton was plotting her political future at a secret ladies-only dinner in Washington the other night. The New York senator was guest of honor at Tuesday's hush-hush powwow that raised speculation about a possible White House run in 2012. The gathering was hosted by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and attended by Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily's List, which supports pro-choice, female Dems; Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the New Democrat Coalition; and Hilary Rosen, former Recording Industry Association of America CEO, who's now political director of the Huffington Post. A source tells Page Six they all met for dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak, a chophouse noted for its cellar of 10,000 bottles of wine and spectacular views of the Capitol." (PageSix)

"'What could be better,' wondered Lisa Salzer, 'Than having all your best friends in one room?' Last night, the Lulu Frost designer invited her dearest, mom and dad compris, to celebrate summer and toast her new studio space on lower Lafayette. Salzer's illustrious co-hosts: Alexis Bryan Morgan, 7.5 months pregnant who was later joined by husband Spencer, as well as Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, who's bound for London to continue her studies in--no joke--biomedical engineering. 'I met Elettra through Chris Benz,' Salzer explained. "When we collaborated for his show last season, we became girlfriends.' 'Isn't it beautiful?' said Wiedemann, as a guest admired her elaborate Lulu Frost collar necklace, which Salzer whipped up earlier in the day. Indeed. A slew of downtown's finest flooded the dance floor, and salsa-ed to the sounds of Chito Pons and his Cuban quartet. (Luigi Tadini, we're looking at you.) Truth be told, it was largely a couples affair--the Morgans, lovebirds Hedi Ferjani and Erin Fetherston, dapper Sam Shaffer and his glowingly pregnant femme Kathryn Neale .." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Michael’s was its Wednesday jammed. Joe Armstrong with producer Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman; Shubert’s Gerry Schoenfeld with Clive Gillinson (Sir Clive to you and me), the executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, formerly managing director (and cellist) of the London Symphony Orchestra. Next door was Herb Siegel with his pal Frank Gifford, and next to them were Dr. Gerry Imber, Andy Berger and Jerry della Femina. These guys meet every week and have for years and years, always at Michael’s, sometimes two, three, sometimes six or eight. All old friends. And next to them: Kathy Lee Gifford and her colleague Hoda Kotb .. Around the room Bonnie Timmerman and Richard Belzer; Esquire’s David Granger with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. At another, Wynton Marsalis with Michael Fricklag; Showtime’s Matt Blank .." (NYSocialDiary)

"The cabaret show Ryan Raftery and Friends: A Solo Act At Paris Commune drew a friend of Raftery's by the name of Christopher Ciccone last week. After seeing the show, Chris gave Raftery a quote for his poster: 'Dietrich...with balls.' But Chris is more prone to be mentioning another blonde bombshell with a vagina these days--his sister Madonna, whom his tell-almost-all book says is rather a beyotch (but he holds no grudges, of course)." (Musto)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Encounter With Al Franken

Al Franken is a dick. And he's not funny. Politically, he may be leagues above Norm "I Hate The UN" Coleman, but personally Franken is a true prick and I know whereof I speak. A true story: years ago, on the Upper West Side (Riverside Drive to be exact), I encountered Al Franken. As Al Franken isn't really a "celebrity," I just walked on by as if it were just any other New Yorker. As I got closer, Franken began to eye me. Suspiciously. I don't know if Franken thought I was a crazy fan or something, but he watched me very closely, actually crouching just a bit -- defensively, as menacingly as a 50 year old comedy writer can be -- as if he were anticipating that I was going to attack him or something. It was fucking weird and I never quite forgot the feeling. Was it a racial thing? Is he paranoid? Was he doing an impromptu stand-up routine? No. He definitely wasn't doing a joke. There was no jovial vibe; rather, it was ugly.

Al Franken was trained as a wrestler and has been known to "throw down ( From the NYTimes mag: "'He seemed like a total jock,' says the comedian Laraine Newman, who was a member of the original cast.")." Franken actually tackled a heckler at a Howard Dean speech, in the process snapping his glasses in two. And his prickishness is well remarked upon by former SNL cast member Jay Mohr, who wrote in Gasping For Airtime:

".. (W)hen Emma Thompson hosted the show and Smashing Pumpkins was the musical guest, Al and I had another dust up. Emma Thompson had just broken through in American film, and though I knew who she was, I made the mistake of wandering through the writers’ room, a blank on ideas that was causing me to blank on everything, and bothering Franken about it. He was sitting at the writers’ table chewing on a pencil. He would go through about three pencils a night with his mouth. I asked Al, 'Who is Emma Thompson?' He went ballistic. 'Are you fucking kidding me?' He threw his chewed pencil across the room. 'She was nominated for a fucking Academy Award!”

I thought he was remarkably angry for such an innocuous question. Most of the writers were seated at the table with Al and had seen and heard the entire exchange. I was being screamed at like I was a child in front of my coworkers. I looked around to see if anyone was going to tell Al to calm down, but they didn’t. I was on my own. I looked at Franken and asked, 'Hey, Al, who are Smashing Pumpkins?' Franken turned red and then bluish red. Getting up from the table and storming out of the room, he yelled over his shoulder: 'I don’t know. But they didn’t get nominated for a fucking Academy Award!' Uh, touche, I guess."

Today Steve Kornaki writes in The Observer about how Franken is looking to be something of a loser in his Senate run even as the more bullish of prognosticators are talking about the Democrats winning four to six Senate seats. From the salmon-colored weekly:

"Coleman is poised to buck the same odds that Robb did in 1994 – and he owes it all to Minnesota’s Democrats, who have, just like Virginia’s Republican 14 years ago, picked the one candidate capable of squandering the enormous built-in advantages that their party enjoys.

That would be Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live writer and performer and Air America host, who returned to his native Minnesota a few years ago with an eye on Coleman’s Senate seat. As a public figure, Franken is proving to be about as polarizing as North – although, obviously, for very different reasons. (Franken has never stood accused of coordinating the illicit sale of weapons to Iran, transferring the resulting profits to an illegal war in Central America, or even of lying to Congress).

But Franken has attracted the same intense passion from his party’s left-wing base that North generated from conservatives. To the left, Franken is something of a folk-hero for his scathing mockery of the right, beginning 12 years ago with his best-seller Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot. Other books (and countless media appearances and his own radio show) followed, and in the years since, the party’s grassroots activists – in Minnesota and nationally – have come to rely on Franken for pointed, unsparing derision of the right. This has given him a strong base of political and financial support.

To the right, of course, this makes Franken an obnoxious limousine liberal, a symbol of the condescension and cultural elitism that, they believe, defines the left and the Democratic Party. In a year when Republicans aren’t motivated about much, Minnesota’s conservatives are salivating over the prospect of handing Franken a defeat – in the same way that liberals in Virginia, most of whom cared little for Robb, found reason to work overtime when faced with the prospect of a Senator North in ’94."

More here.
Olmert To Step Down In September

(image via

So now the question is: Will Ehud Barack or the noxious Benjamin Netanyahu be the next Prime Minister of Israel? From Bloomberg:

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today he will step down "with honor" when the ruling Kadima party chooses a new chief in September, ending 2 1/2 years in power amid a corruption scandal.

"'When a new party chairman is selected, I will resign as prime minister in order to let the chairman assemble a new government quickly and efficiently,'' he told reporters at his Jerusalem home in televised remarks.

"Olmert, 62, has been under pressure to leave because of a police probe into allegations he took money from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky. He described himself today as a victim of investigations and of 'unreasonably disproportionate' attacks."
The Waitress Wore Him Out

Rolling Stone Ron Wood is clearly at an existential moment -- does he continue to behave like the rock star he has been for most of his adult life, or does he accept that even a party god has limits. Ron can't fornicate and drink all day and night like he did when he was younger. Gravity and Time conspire, always and everywhere, to rob us of our vitality. The money and the power shielded Wood, but now the body had provided a final framework that Wood must address. From Thisislondon:

"Dressed in jeans, a green t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt, Ronnie was still wearing his wedding ring and had a sprig of wheat in his hair.

"The 61-year-old's wife Jo is said to have ended their 23-year marriage after Wood brought cocktail waitress Ekaterina Ivanova, 19, to his Irish bolthole.

"A few days after arriving on the Emerald Isle, his 30-year-old son Jesse flew over to meet him in County Kildare to attempt to persuade his father to seek help.

"After flying back to London two weeks ago, Ronnie's family managed to convince the guitarist to have treatment."

Moral of the story: Don't mess with Russian cocktail waitresses.
Corsair Classic

On Baghead

(image via wired)

There have been a lot of reviews of Baghead, starring indie darling Greta Gerwig -- some positive, some negative; all highly opinionated -- but this one seems the most coherent and well argued. From Indiewire:

"A refreshingly high-concept low-budget outing, the Duplass Brothers' 'Baghead' is an immensely likable and surprisingly well-executed genre hybrid. The difficulty one finds in trying to categorize it is part of its charm, and this is not just whether one sees it as horror, comedy, or relationship roundelay but also how one defines and compartmentalizes its aesthetic: 'Baghead''s makers and at least one of its stars may have crawled out from under the 'mumble'-corps, but its adherence to a somewhat conventional narrative framework successfully contorts and expands the boundaries of what that short-lived almost-collective of filmmakers were after. And furthermore, and of greater significance, it smartly proves that it only takes the slightest, smartest tweaks to temporarily revitalize an entire genre.

Cinematical also gives the film the thumbs up. More here.
Does Alec Baldwin Want To Be A Kennedy?

Alec, near Ethel. (image via JT/NYSocialDiary)

Alec, clearly pleased at his photographic "prowess," and Ethel, yet again. (image via JT/NYSocialDiary)

Alec and Rory. (image via JT/NYSocialDiary)

The (Robert F.) Kennedy Family. Where's Alec?

"Borrowed glory" is what they call it -- isn't it? -- when someone seeks proximity to the great. As if power and glamour and chic could be gained through osmosis. That looks to be what Massepequa-born Alec Baldwin is doing, slyly, at the 40th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial at Courtney Sale Ross' estate.

An association with the Robert F. Kennedy's is clearly a plus for the actor, who has hinted that he might run for Congress someday. And for an Irish-American Long Islander of his generation, the name Kennedy conjures up all sorts of heroic associations. But he might want to tone it down a bit, tighten up his game, mix with people other than those with the last name Kennedy. Just saying ..
Buthole Surfer Gibby Hynes Gets Into Fight, Is Arrested While Performing

(image via myspace)

(image via brooklynvegan)

In college, because The Corsair was young and didn't know any better, we listened to a little band called The Butthole Surfers. Yes, we know. It's not something The Corsair is proud of, sonically, but it is a part of our narrative and we own it. There are no words to express how crass and dissonant and, well, ugly the music sounds. But that -- the punk phase -- is probably what appeals so much to young men before they learn to appreciate, say, the beauty of Miles Davis or the rhythmic magnificence of Claudio Monteverdi.

Anyhoo: Butthole Surfers. As you can imagine, their live shows are probably quite swishy affairs. From BrooklynVegan:

"After playing for almost an hour and a half, Gibby Haynes got mad at the sound guy who was on the side of the stage - something about not turning up the monitors. I don't know his name, but the sound guy was one of the Bowery Presents regulars. Gibby walked over and punched him and/or threw a bottle at him. Next thing you know security escorts Gibby off the stage mid-song. Nobody really knew what was going on. The band continued to play for at least one more song, and then left in a proper manner with lots of applause and high fives to the front row. Everyone started going crazy (in a good and drunken way), demanding an encore. It's not often you hear the crowd actually scream for a band to come back. We're all so spoiled. We just assume they always will. Of course there was the confusion about the way Gibby made his exit, and that was probably why people were chanting 'Gibby' even louder and longer than usual.

"The only people who came back to the stage though, were big security guards, and the occasional School of Rock kid to clean up some gear. Then all of a sudden Genesis P-Orridge saunters on stage and strangely had people shouting louder, but was also telling people to be silent. Security then pulled Genesis off the stage and more and more security filled it up. Finally the video guy came back to grab his laptop and turn off the projections (which by the way had still been running along with background music that whole time). The lights were also still off. I was close to the video guy and he was one who told me the show was over because Gibby got arrested. I guess he won't be DJing at the afterparty."

Gee, ya think? More here.
Media-Whore D'Oevres

The Rat(ner) Pack. (image via style)

Dear Quentin, Love Salma. (image via style)

"On Saturday in Beverly Hills, filmmaker and renowned party-thrower Brett Ratner transformed the backyard of his Benedict Canyon home into a day spa. The reason: to showcase the new Biodynamic Beauty cosmetics range recently launched by all-natural company Jurlique. In keeping with the unlikely pairing of Ratner and the French beauty brand, the crowd was pretty eclectic: highly respected directors like Francis Ford Coppola, James Toback, and Oliver Stone; less-respected tabloid fodder like Jared Leto, Scott Caan, and Paris Hilton; the incomparable Stevie Wonder; and actresses Rosanna Arquette, Ileanna Douglas, and Salma Hayek." (image via style)

"Seeking to both elevate and diminish his rival's status, John McCain is up with a new ad featuring images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears but declaring that they take a back seat to Barack Obama. 'He's the biggest celebrity in the world,' says the announcer of Obama, set to images from his massive Berlin speech. 'But is he ready to lead?'" (Politico)

"Wait, let me revise that headline a little bit: Lindsay and Samantha tried THE Cock--the richly atmospheric and at times wonderfully seedy gay bar on Second Avenue on Monday. It's the same place, in fact, where I had a wild dry-humping session with an Argentinian dogwalker on a recent Wednesday. But enough about me. Linds and Sam were tres cute, making out and snuggling in between digging to Josh Sparber's DJ smorgasbord." (Musto)

(image via JT/NYSocialDiary)

"Last Saturday night in East Hampton at the estate of Courtney Sale Ross, friends and family gathered to celebrate the inaugural event of the 40th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, including his widow Ethel and some of his children." (NYSocialDiary)

"... Last night marked the finale of one of our favorite summer treats -- Diego Garcia's summer residency at the Bowery Hotel aka the Belvedere Rehearsals. The opening acts were singer/violinist Caitlin Moe as well as surprise special guests The Brazilian Girls! There were a slew of VIPs in attendance (Lauren Santo Domingo, Andres Santo Domingo, Erin Fetherston, Thurston Moore, Bebel Giberto, Steve Gaghan, Sean McPherson, Lindsay Lohan, Sam Ronson, Mark Ronson, Ann Dexter Jones, Duncan Shiek, Zac Posen, Genevieve Jones and Fabiola Bercasa)..." (Papermag)
Sumner Redstone: "I Have Witnessed More Than Enough Economic Cycles"

In what can only be properly construed as the media understatement of the year, The NYTimes reports today that Methuselan media overlord Sumner Redstone, reeling after the lower-than-expected ad sales of his increasingly irrelevant basic cable channels, told a conference call with analysts, "I have witnessed more than enough economic cycles."

Of course he has. That goes without saying. With secret elixirs and probably more than a whisper of alchemy, Sumner has probably lived, unlawfully, many, many lifetimes. He probably farts dust. What's an economic quarter to a man like Sumner? Redstone could have added, laconically, "I have seen the hubris of the Age of Reptiles. I domesticated the Great Cats. I walked the earth at the dawn of man. The rise and fall of civilizations. I took up arms for Caesar in the Gallic Wars. Let me please introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and taste."

And then Redstone could have also have hissed, out of the corner of his mouth, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. C-beams glittering in the dark by the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

Quentin thinks she's perfect for the part. (image via thecobrasnake)

Hey! Who cut the cheese? (image via thecobrasnake)

Rusty pipes! (image via thecobrasnake)

Cobrasnake Meet Cobracluch. (image via thecobrasnake)

The Epitome of Effortlessness: Heroin Chic Sleep. (image via thecobrasnake)

"Why does it burn when I pee?" (image via thecobrasnake)
Is Lewis Black's CD Grammy Worthy?

Of course Lewis Black's new CD "Anticipation" is funny stuff. We are just busting the chops of Jack Vaughn, who runs Comedy Central Records, who took the time to answer our questions. The following is an email exchange:

The Corsair: Is this CD Grammy worthy?

Jack Vaughn: You bet. Lew has been nominated for his last two albums and won it for 'The Carnegie Hall Performance,' so history and quality are on our side.

The Corsair: The press release says, "Black spends the bulk of his time in kinder, gentler territory." Is this a new Lewis Black?

Jack Vaughn: The "Kinder, gentler territory" quote may be a tad misleading in that it's the same old Lewis, but instead of eviscerating public figures who are so desperately deserving, he has turned his fury to topics like golf, gambling, and Christmas. Just don't expect any diminished edge.

The Corsair: What makes Lewis Black "America's Foremost Commentator on Everything"?

Jack Vaughn: Lewis is a voracious consumer of news and information, and has such has developed quite a few opinions on these matters. You've seen it on The Daily Show and in his specials and now, if anything, this album proves it. To be able to whipsaw from commenting on the mispronunciation of Hanukkah to musing on the intersection of blueberry pancakes and fellatio takes a special kind of talent.

Lewis Black's new CDrelease, "Anticipation," on COMEDY CENTRAL Records drops Tuesday, August 5.
Law & Order Replaces Warren Leight With 2 Executive Producers

(image via peytonhamil)

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor abrupt 5.8 earthquake can stop Nikki Finke from covering the entertainment industry (though her phone was knocked out for a spell). From DeadlineHollywoodDaily:

"Talk about flattering. I've just learned that Warren Leight has been replaced by not one but two executive producers on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Sources tell me that Dick Wolf's plan is to break the 16-episode season into two sets of 8 episodes each. Walon Green will exec produce the 8 episodes starring Vincent D'Onofrio, while Robert Nathan will exec produce the episodes starring newcomer Jeff Goldblum who replaced Chris Noth. And of course Wolf supervises everyone. I broke the news back on May 31st that, within days of USA Networks renewing CI and in the middle of hammering out his new CI deal, Leight jumped to HBO's In Treatment."

Walon Green has Executive Produced over 60 episodes of Law and Order since 1992; Nathan has co-executive produced 21 episodes in the past few years. The full story here.
Audience Tracker: Viewers See Up To 20 Percent Of Their TV Shows Online

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No wonder the networks are in such a frantic rush to develop a coherent online strategy. From Paidcontent:

"At industry events, TV network execs often stress that streamed versions of their broadcast programs are additive and not cannibalistic. But a report from audience tracker Integrated Media Measurement Inc. says that at least half of viewers are using the web not just as fill-in or catch-up, but as a TV replacement (see chart below). Looking at primetime shows across the major networks, IMMI found that viewers see up to 20 percent of their TV shows online, though that varies according to genre and the amount of time the show has been on the air. This amount is higher now and in a few cases, is higher even than DVR viewing of the broadcast shows."

The full story on Paidcontent.
Blind Item: Little Terror!

From our favorite superhero gossip team, Rush and Molloy:

"What designer's grandson was a 'tiny terror' at Super Saturday in the Hamptons last weekend? As Lorraine Bracco, Christy Turlington, Kelly Ripa and 1,500 others shopped at the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund benefit, 'The kid was a category 5 tornado,' one shocked shopper tells us, 'knocking over clothing and displays.' He then lifted a woman's dress, and, the source adds: 'Neither his mother nor a nanny bothered to intercede. [The mom] didn't seem the slightest bit embarrassed.' Finally, after several hours of misdeeds, the child was taken home."

Hmm. Would that be little Sebastian De Felice, grandson of Donna Karan, in a cranky mood? Hey, we all have our off days, kid.
NBC's Digital Olympics

(image via flickr)

Sports plays well online. It is so compelling, in fact, that CBS combined sports with its less dynamic news division to double up on the synergy. So how well will the Olympics, the biggest of all sporting events, play? From TheHollywoodReporter:

"Olympics fans will have a bevy of opportunities to get content from NBC Universal next month -- 2,200 hours of live online coverage, live events on their mobile phone and even a way to download coverage to computers with Microsoft Vista.

The network announced plans that will encompass many of the digital platforms in use today. It also will include fantasy and casual gaming, VOD and interactive TV. Major partners include Microsoft, Amazon Unbox, Schematic and many others.

"... 'What we're trying to accomplish with the NBC Olympics site is to allow people to watch as much of the Olympics as they care to,' Schematic CEO/founder Trevor Kaufman said. "Every minute of every event is available through the player."

One of the many features in the Schematic player is a continuous closed caption stream of live commentary, which viewers can read and navigate even if they have the sound down.

"... The breadth and depth of coverage online, as well as the three-week-long games, invites comparisons to the other big online sporting event, CBS Sports' March Madness on Demand. There's no comparable 'boss button' like on the CBS Sports online player, but the same potential question is there. How many workers are going to be tuning in to see their favorite Olympic sports live over the Web?"

The March Madness model is a good comparison. CBS Interactive, under the leadership of our media man-crush Larry Kramer, was able to use that popularity to draw users to its mobile content. Will NBC Universal be as successful? This is the question that the media digerati are asking.
Dixie Chick To Sing At Stern Wedding

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Anticipation grows over the wedding of Howard Stern to Hampton's magazine covergirl Beth Ostrovsky. First there has been talk that Stern is inviting Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn -- who are expecting twins -- as well as Romijn's ex, John Stamos, whom the shock jock named his bulldog after (awkward moment?). Then, there was -- and still is -- talk that soap opera actor Marc Consuelos, Kelly Ripa's husband, might perform the nuptials. The Stern diamond has been drawing some coverage in the blogosphere; and Howard's announcement that he will get a "ring tatoo" has been roundly blasted as wretched celebrity excess. Now, this. From TheTennessean:

"Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines will be making a very special appearance at the upcoming wedding of radio shock-jock Howard Stern and his beautiful bride-to-be, Beth Ostrovsky.

"Stern announced earlier last week on his SIRIUS radio show that Maines has agreed to perform as a wedding gift to the couple. Apparently they became close pals with Maines and her husband, Adrian Pasdar, after an introduction while vacationing in Mexico.

"Stern told his listeners that he and Pasdar bonded over a few rounds of chess."
Will Kaine Be Obama's Veep?

(image via nga)

Governor Timothy M. Kaine certainly has the politically sexy bio, the regional street cred and the evangelical alliances that would be attractive to any Democratic candidate. It doesn't hurt that the governor happens to speak Spanish (Obama's not strong with that demo, as Hillary exposed) from his work as a missionary in Honduras. Granted, he is no Mark Warner -- or, for that matter, Jim Webb -- but Warner will probably take maverick-centrist John Warner's Senate seat in Virginia and, oddly, Jim Webb has decided he'd rather, for the moment at least, aspire to being the heir to Ted Kennedy in the Senate rather than Vice President of the United States of America. And so, to cement a victory in the all-important state of Virginia, which has been trending Democratic for some time now, all eyes fall on Timothy M. Kaine. From The WashPo:

"Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has told close associates that he has had 'very serious' conversations with Sen. Barack Obama about joining the Democratic presidential ticket and has provided documents to the campaign as it combs through his background, according to several sources close to Kaine.

"Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) are also being seriously vetted by the campaign staff, according to sources with knowledge of the process."

UPDATE: Howard Fineman approves.
Liz Smith "So Relieved" That Carla Bruni Sarkozy Only Had 15 Lovers

(image via fishbowlla)

We always were of the mindset that Liz Smith was kind of the cool elder stateswoman of the New York Chattering Classes, the kind of person one could go to if a high-powered editor knocked you up or had fired you without just cause. Smith seemed sort of like the endearing Gena Rowlands character in Woody Allen's exquisite Another Woman, mentoring the up-and-coming Martha Plimpton on the treacherous narrows of the Upper West Side circuit. Liz likes to quote difficult thinkers of the West at the start of her columns, and she has had a 15-year companionship with the archaeologist Iris Love. All of this backstory speaks well in her favor as being something of a woman of substance. But we realized, ultimately, that she, like many of her generation and class and social position (at Le Cirque, no doubt) live in another world with regards to their take on conventional morality vis-a-vis our generation. She is bound by the tragedy of History. This odd sentiment, which can only be properly construed as thoroughly Edwardian in character (Averted Gaze), from Liz Smith:

"FRANCE'S controversial and saucy first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, now says her boasting of having had 30 lovers was just 'poetic license.' I am so relieved to learn she has only had 15."

And we're relieved that Liz is relieved (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment).
Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed List 2008

(image via jamati)

Just got this press release "Vanity Fair’s 69th annual International Best-Dressed List is below in full:


"CARLA BRUNI-SARKOZY, model, singer, First Lady of France
"JULIA KOCH, mother of three
"EVELYN LAUDER, cosmetics executive, photographer, philanthropist
"MICHELLE OBAMA, vice president for community and external affairs, University of Chicago Hospitals (on leave)
"SARAH JESSICA PARKER, actor, producer, entrepreneur
"DIANA TAYLOR, managing director, Wolfensohn & Co.; chairperson of the Hudson
River Park Trust; New York City’s de facto First Lady
"IVANKA TRUMP, vice president of development and acquisitions, the Trump Organization; president, Ivanka Trump Jewelry


"DAVID BECKHAM, midfielder, Los Angeles Galaxy
"LAPO ELKANN, entrepreneur, founder of Italia Independent and Independent Ideas, international ambassador for Italy’s Museo del Design (Triennale)
"ZAC GOLDSMITH, director, The Ecologist magazine; environmental-policy adviser to Britain’s Conservative Party
"MATT LAUER, Today show anchor
"BRYAN LOURD, managing partner, Creative Artists Agency
"MORLEY SAFER, 60 Minutes anchor
"KANYE WEST, musician"

UPDATE: Jezebel no like.
Mark Whitaker To Become NBC Bureau Chief

(image via nypost)

There is life after magazines! It has always seemed obvious to us that newspaper and magazine writers and editors are a perfect fit for television as editors/producers and writers. Television news, for example, runs almost entirely from the news snatched almost entirely from the papers. How many entertainment news magazines rely almost entirely on Page Six? How many evening news broadcasts rely on The New York Times, which sets the agenda. And how many local news broadcasts rely on their local tabloids headlines for their lead stories? The layoffs from the ad recessions only highlight the need for television to open doors when newspapers and magazines close. From TVNewser:

"Insiders tell TVNewser that NBC News senior VP Mark Whitaker will be named chief of the network's Washington bureau perhaps as early as today.

"The bureau chief position has been vacant since the death of Tim Russert June 13. Whitaker joined NBC News in May of 2007 from WashingtonPost-Newsweek Interactive, the digital division of the Washington Post Company where he was VP and editor-in-chief of new ventures. Before that, he was editor of Newsweek."
You Do The Math

As a Gemini who is more than a little fascinated in age inappropriate relationships between consenting adults, here are some of our favorite recent May/December pairings:

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, or, How Many Times Does 63 Go Into 38.(image via thisislondon)

Helen Mirren, an unidentified toyboy, and that infamous itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, figure hugging red bikini. (image via thedailymail)

When race car billionaire Flavio Briatore was born, the world population numbered 2.52 billion. When model Elisabetta Gregoraci was born, the world population numbered 4.43 billion. They plan to make up for lost time. (image via thisislondon)
Separated At Birth?

Feral Los Angeles radio talk show host, Ryan Seacrest ...

--And Feral tree-top Conversationalist The Cheshire Cat? (image via allposters)
Media-Whore D'Oevres

(image via patrickmcmullen via fashionweekdaily)

"It's always the chicest garage sale on the block, where billionaires (avec wives and children) pilfer through designer duds and add-ons. Super Saturday 11 delivered the same thrills and great finds we have come to expect from the annual event, which is hosted by Donna Karan, In Style and Kelly Ripa to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation .. Gabby Karan DeFelice planted and painted with her son Sebastian, while Betsey Johnson had a field day running around the grounds with her granddaughter Layla. Lydia Hearst, Jessica Stam, Katie Lee Joel, Charlotte Ronson, Yigal Azrouël, Michelle Smith, Melissa Obadesh and Nanette Lepore browsed and schmoozed." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Let's talk Dionne Warwick, children. Let's strip away her later career embarrassment with the Psychic Friends Network, not to mention her mismanagement of donations via some botched AIDS charity. I'm not here to dredge all that horseshit up again. I want you to remember that way back in the '60s, she was a scintillating pop singer with a husky voice that proved to be the perfect venue for Bacharach-David hits from 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' to 'Alfie' and beyond, always matching her material with style and class. Dionne could do sultry, pained, wispy, and regretful, all with sophisticated phrasings that made her a vocal emblem for the '60s heartbeat. But THAT'S not really what I'm here to talk about either. I want to bring up a hideous career misstep she made called Slaves, a 1969 turkey du cinema starring a shackled Ossie Davis, a sneering Stephen Boyd as 'massa,' and Dionne as Cassy, Boyd's mistress who, according to the Times review 'lollygags around the house drinking rum and changing her clothes.'" (Musto)

"Not sure what the city was like on Sunday, but the East End was like a scene from the Wizard of Oz. Imagine live power lines laying across Montauk Highway, the wooden fence around my pool swept to the ground, tree limbs, flooding, and danger -- oh my! But that did not stop me, and countless others, from braving the elements and finding our way to Grey Gardens to fete Russell Simmons. A small gathering of about 30 thrown by hostess extraordinaire Frances Hayward for the hip-hop impresario Simmons and Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society. The event was called 'Art for Animals,' combining two of Frances' most beloved passions .. Ann Dexter-Jones (my new favorite person!) showed off her self-designed jewelry pieces and I talked a lot with the University of Illinois student who started the infamous blog, Park Avenue Peerage." (Papermag)

"Tom Ford, fresh from the triumphant opening of his glam store in Milan, thoughtfully redirected his gaze from my affliction to my eyebrows, and those of everyone present. The handsome Mr. Ford is, as it turns out, a font of tips and information about the improvement and shaping of brows." (Observer)