Saturday, October 31, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Two of the most influential columnists on foreign affairs are Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and David Ignatius of the Washington Post. Both are centrist middle-aged white men writing for major newspapers. Both also are successful authors, though the Rousseauian Friedman produces optimistic non-fiction works, while the more Hobbesian Ignatius writes dark thrillers about intelligence. Also, I think Friedman tends to be influenced a bit more by diplomats, while Ignatius seems a bit more plugged into the worlds of intelligence and the military. These very similar writers have come to very different conclusions on what President Obama should do in Afghanistan. Friedman says cut your losses, while Ignatius says put in more troops." (ForeignPolicy)

"It’s just as well that the couch I’m sitting on is plump and hospitable or I might have fallen off it: Martin Scorsese tells me that the real inspiration for the tone and voice of Goodfellas was not Scarface or Public Enemy, but Kind Hearts and Coronets. Oh, right: Alec Guinness in drag, Joe Pesci in murderous hysterics, I see. But, when you think about it for a minute, the revelation makes perfect sense. The note of black glee in Ray Liotta’s interior monologues ('As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster') is not that far away from Dennis Price’s cool plan to murder his way into the landed class that presumes to despise him. They share the smirk of superior knowledge, the contempt for the chumps who do things the regular way. Mayhem and chuckling are never far apart in either the British postwar comedies or Scorsese’s opera of mischief. Stick a fedora on Price or Alastair Sim, unclip the accent and they could breeze downtown. The wiseguys in Goodfellas spend even more time laughing than killing. Sometimes the uproar is so unhinged that it looks as if De Niro, Liotta and Pesci will dislocate their jaws, like pythons guffawing as they digest a goat." (FT)

"During the July 4 holiday weekend, the latest in a series of cyberattacks was launched against popular government Web sites in the United States and South Korea, effectively shutting them down for several hours. It is unlikely that the real culprits will ever be identified or caught. Most disturbing, their limited success may embolden future hackers to attack critical infrastructure, such as power generators or air-traffic-control systems, with devastating consequences for the U.S. economy and national security. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote earlier this year in these pages, 'The United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory' in the conflicts of the future. When it comes to cybersecurity, Washington faces an uphill battle. And as a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies report put it, "It is a battle we are losing.' There is no form of military combat more irregular than an electronic attack: it is extremely cheap, is very fast, can be carried out anonymously, and can disrupt or deny critical services precisely at the moment of maximum peril. Everything about the subtlety, complexity, and effectiveness of the assaults already inflicted on the United States' electronic defenses indicates that other nations have thought carefully about this form of combat. Disturbingly, they seem to understand the vulnerabilities of the United States' network infrastructure better than many Americans do." (Wesley K. Clark and Peter L. Levin/ ForeignAffairs)

"Last night, Georgina Chapman, Mark Ronson, and so and so were all honored by the Young Patrons of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall. Afterwards, guests and honorees alike headed to Hudson Hotel to celebrate, where Guest of a Guest talked to Mark Ronson. One surefire way to amp up the star power at an event is to invite people with beyond fabulous plus ones, twos and threes. Such was the case last night at the Lincoln Center Masquerade Ball. Mark Ronson was honored for his work in the musical arts and proud mother Ann Dexter Jones was in front row attendance along with his twin sisters Samantha and Charlotte Ronson of designing and Lindsay Lohan dating fame. Half brother Alexander Dexter-Jones rounded out the impossibly chic family reunion ... Marchesa Designer Georgina Champan was at the ball as well with not as high powered as he used to be hubby Harvey Weinstein in tow." (Guestofaguest)

"So the conversations Plouffe recounts in The Audacity to Win, published next week and excerpted in Time magazine this week, are unusually insightful. Especially two decision moments: one about Obama’s veep pick, and one about McCain’s. Obama stunned his closest advisers during discussions about who he’d like as vice president. Plouffe and his partner in politics David Axelrod were taken aback to hear that the candidate was considering Hillary Clinton for the job. 'What surprised me at [our first meeting to discuss the vice presidency] was that Obama was clearly thinking more seriously about picking Hillary Clinton than Ax and I had realized,' wrote Plouffe. 'He said if his central criterion measured who could be the best VP, she had to be included in that list. She was competent, could help in Congress, would have international bona fides and had been through this before, albeit in a different role. He wanted to continue discussing her as we moved forward.' That account does not entirely track with my own reporting in my book Renegade. It sounds entirely logical, as if Plouffe is channeling his Spock-like boss. But it's not entirely convincing. Clinton had to be included on the list, and was considered more seriously than expected. But that isn’t saying much, given that she wasn’t expected to be considered at all. At the same time, Obama had already slotted Clinton into the position of secretary of state. In fact, he had done so in his own mind before the primaries were over. At least, that’s what President Obama would later tell me in the Oval Office. Which puts Obama’s decision-making process in a different perspective. Having already decided what job Clinton should have, Obama proceeded with a full review of his own instincts—a vetting of his own decision. He tests his judgment, and those of his advisers, without really engaging with a fully open mind. That helps explain Obama’s next meeting, a couple of weeks later. Clinton remained on the list, but by this point had a presidential-sized asterisk by her name. 'Barack continued to be intrigued by Hillary,' Plouffe writes. 'I still think Hillary has a lot of what I am looking for in a VP,' he said to us. 'Smarts, discipline, steadfastness. I think Bill may be too big a complication. If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship,' Plouffe writes." (TheDailyBeast)

(Richard Johnson, Jean-Marc Houmard, Jim Gold, John Demsey via Caroline Torem Craig)

"WHAT: Book signing party for Indochine's 25th anniversary book, Indochine: Stories, Shaken And Stirred. WHERE: Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave. WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 2009. WHO: Jean-Marc Houmard, Narciso Rodriguez, Jim Gold, Linda Fargo, Veronica Webb, Carmen D'alessio, Helen Schifter, Belinda Becker, Frederique van der Wal, Richard Johnson. OVERHEARD: When PAPER asked Richard Johnson what he thought about 'everything' he said: 'Everything is on the upswing! It's all better!' From another guest: 'I used to love to come to the Indochine canteen and eat with the New York City Ballet dancers. They would order all the fried foods and never gain any weight! Dancing all the calories off was the answer!'" (Papermag)

"ZAC GOLDSMITH, millionaire playboy, eco-warrior and quixotic Conservative candidate for Parliament, is trying to explain why his bid for political power should be seen as more than a rich kid’s flight of environmental fancy. 'I mean, what is so radical about pushing for a clean car fleet in five years or environmental taxes,' he said, as he drove his banged-up Prius through the dark streets of Richmond, the affluent London suburb in which he is waging his campaign. The nub of a hand-rolled cigarette — at least his 20th of the day — is clenched in his teeth, but it does little to slow the rat-a-tat-tat of his aristocratic patter. 'Our green manifesto is the greenest in the history of the Conservative Party,' he continued, but said it would be a challenge, as he praised the environmental bona fides of the Conservative Party chief David Cameron, whom he had introduced at a political event earlier that evening. 'You know I don’t really have faith in politicians — this is quite a sleazy business. But there is no law which says that all politicians will turn out to be scumbags.'" (NYTimes)

"The Obama administration did a Friday afternoon news dump of the names of 500 visitors to the White House spanning the time period from January 20 to July 31, 2009. And almost no one from Hollywood showed up to meet the president or his family or his aides. Weird, especially since so much of Hollywood was supporting the Obama campaign. But the list is not comprehensive, just a response to specific disclosure requests. So who stopped by? George Clooney who once visited Vice President Joe Biden; Denzel Washington, twice, as part of a group tour; and Oprah who came by twice -- once for a reception, and once to conduct an interview with Michelle Obama. Also, Jeff Immelt, chairman of GE which owns NBC/Universal, 4 times. And a guy named Michael Moore who visited 8 times and isn't the Hollywood documentary maker." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"Huge local crowds, a little bit of chaos and international stars turned out Thursday night for the official opening of the inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. The I.M. Pei designed Museum of Islamic Art served as the very impressive backdrop for the festival’s opening night pre-reception and screening of Mira Nair’s 'Amelia.' Three-thousand locals along with international guests turned up on the museum’s expansive grounds along the coast, with director Martin Scorsese, Mira Nair, Oscar-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson and others joining the Tribeca Film Festival’s Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff and Geoff Gilmore for the event. The Americans joined other regional celebs and members of the Qatari royal family in an upstairs VIP area prior to the screening, while other invitees socialized outside in the museum’s beautiful courtyard. While some watched the screening inside, other invitees joined the locals at an outdoor screening that quickly ran out of seats, prompting some guests to simply give up and head out." (IndieWIRE)

"According to a a Thailand-based human rights group, the Myanmar junta arrested up to 50 people this week including journalists, political activists and university students. This is the second security crackdown this month in the biggest city of the nation formerly known as Burma ... President Obama has called for the release of Myanmar's most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi. 'Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention, isolation and show trial, based on spurious charges, cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime's willingness to be a responsible member of the international community,' the President said in May. 'This is an important opportunity for the government in Burma to demonstrate that it respects its own laws and its own people.' Myanmar was--along with the Sudan and Iran--indifferent to the previous administration's "stick-or-stick approach," but is facing serious international pressure, including economic sanctions from both the EU and the United States, to ease its repressive policies and release political prisoners. The European Union in particular has tried various punitive sanctions for years, including travel bans, sanctions and sanctions extensions but none of them have worked." (RonMwangaguhunga/AirAmerica)

"Iraqis prefer checkpoints manned by Iraqis—as I observed time and again, they have learned how to navigate them. They often appear to know one of the security men—perhaps a distant relation or a friend of a friend. They know how to butter up the checkpoint guards with a kind word or humorous turn of phrase, and get past them even if they lack official permission. By contrast, they find American (or Peruvian) checkpoints, with their large signs in hortatory English and poorly rendered Arabic, bewildering, arbitrary, and humiliating. Over the years, many an altercation has occurred in these places owing to misunderstandings, impatience, or simply ill will. Conversely, many Americans dislike, distrust, and resent Iraqi checkpoints. In a recent incident reported by Anthony Shadid in The Washington Post, Iraqi soldiers allegedly beat four American DynCorps contractors who refused to follow their orders at one of the entrances to the Green Zone[1] —a reminder that the tables are turning. I had flashed only two pieces of ID on my first visit to the Green Zone. But on my second day, Iraqi soldiers at the checkpoint one encounters when entering the Green Zone from the 14th of July Bridge insisted that I also produce an official bahtch or, failing that, procure a US Department of Defense escort, since I had told them I was on my way to meet General Raymond Odierno, who has succeeded David Petraeus as the US commanding officer in Iraq. An American soldier lingering nearby, with no apparent mission other than to monitor the Iraqi soldiers, sauntered up to find out why I was being denied access to the Green Zone. After listening to my explanation that the Iraqis, now joined by an officer, required that I have an escort, he launched a verbal offensive that was as deeply insulting to the Iraqis' national self-esteem ('This is why we were able to defeat them in two days') as it was disrespectful and crude ('We could easily kill them all')." (NYRB)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In addition to being repeatedly urged to bomb the trails into South Vietnam from the North (which he never did), Kennedy was repeatedly urged to send combat troop divisions (not merely instructors and advisers as Eisenhower had done before him) to supplement South Vietnam’s own troops. (But he never did.) As I advised him: 'If ever there was a country that needed to save itself, that country is Vietnam.' Today that country is Afghanistan. But too many of Obama’s advisers, ignoring Kennedy’s lesson, apparently think the answer in Afghanistan is sending more U.S. combat troops. The real question is not the number of American troops in Afghanistan but their mission—to win more deadly battles with the Afghan people, or to win their goodwill? As a United States senator, Kennedy had notably warned against futile American involvement in the attempt to suppress nationalism in either Algeria or Indochina. As president, he recalled those warnings and held his fire. Obama, as a presidential candidate, sounded much the same alarm against the dangers of another quagmire in Iraq and, by indirection, Afghanistan. He, too, should recall his earlier warnings. America’s national security, much less its way of life, was never at stake in Vietnam, thousands of miles from our shores, nor is it in Afghanistan. U.S. leaders say we must win to establish sufficient control in Afghanistan to prevent our enemies from ever again meeting to plan, plot, and train anywhere in that vast, ungovernable country. Every bomb we drop, antagonizing more civilians, makes that goal more unrealizable." (Ted Sorenson/TheDailyBeast)

(Helena Christensen, in Marchesa, with Georgina Chapman, in Marchesa via fashionweekdaily)

"The downtown set was divided among bevies of fĂȘtes Tuesday night, from launches to shopping parties and in-store cocktails galore. The Garrard showroom in the heart of Soho hosted a group of Marchesa-clad ladies as Georgina Chapman unveiled her collection for the British jewelry brand, designed in collaboration with creative director Stephen Webster ... The feathery theme affected even the night's attendees; Helena Christensen breezed in wearing a micro-mini dress and a feathered topper, eliciting an emphatic 'Yowza!' from (Harvey) Weinstein." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Last night I went a benefit dinner for the Smithsonian Archive of the Arts at the Mandarin Oriental. Many times I am invited to occasions such as this when I have no specific idea of what it’s about. My motivation is based entirely on curiosity and this diary and you dear reader, so I hope you’re not dozing as you read this. This was the case last night. I’d decided to go because they were honoring Doug Cramer whom I have known for a long time, having met him when he was Aaron Spelling’s partner and a hugely successful television producer in Los Angeles. Although he’s never been one who operated in an orbit of flash, back in those days it was said that he was earning a million dollars a week. That was thirty years ago. Whether or not that figure was accurate, it served to described the 'community’s' perception of the man which is the Hollywood version of highest esteem, as you can imagine. There were others but damned few. At that time – early 80s – those two guys were the hottest in their business, and presumably the richest. Mr. Spelling eventually expressed his wealth by building the biggest house in Beverly Hills (except for the Doheny mansion, Greystone). Mr. Cramer expressed his wealth by living wealthily compared to the rest of us working stiffs, but especially by becoming a collector of Contemporary Art of the first order." (NYSocialDiary)

"The big back-to-school buzz in London is about the Museum of Everything, dedicated exclusively to outsider art. The museum opens in mid-October, in conjunction with the Frieze Art Fair. The labyrinthine space is housed in an old dairy, which later became a well-known recording studio in Primrose Hill. The museum is the brainchild of one James Brett, an eccentric and creative fellow whose vision for the museum was inspired by William Brett (no relation), who has a quirky museum with the same name on the Isle of Wight. (Outsider arts can also be found at an annual fair in New York or at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago. A handful of other museums dedicated to the work can be found in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, America, and Ireland.) ... Brett finds this work dynamic because it exists 'in every country, in all price ranges and from an array of wonderful creators.' For him it is not 'outsider art' but 'insider art,' 'because it reflects the private interiors of the artists who create it.' Brett also hopes to invite individuals from around the world to show their collections. Among the supporters and individuals associated with the museum are: Ed Ruscha, Eva Rothschild, Lee Friedlander, Hans Ulrich Olbrist, Paul Noble, and Annette Messager." (Mandolyna Theodoracopulos/ Takimag)

"Sydney Morning Herald: What are some of the more unusual things you've done on camera? Monica Mayhem: Can we talk about tamakeri? It's a Japanese fetish where you basically kick the guy in the balls as hard as you can to make that slapping sound and that's what they get off on. I kind of did it just to say that I did it and to experience it cause I thought that is so bizarre that anyone would want to go through that. But usually it's the type of guys who've been tormented at school maybe and they want to be tortured by beautiful woman and it turns them on. The sneezing fetish; they made me sneeze, I had to sniff pepper or stick a toothpick up my nose and then blow my nose and that's a fetish. I've had my foot in places that it should never be. SMH: How much longer do you see yourself making porn movies? Monica Mayhem: I've been thinking about that lately, and I mean you can work until you are 80 ... there's a niche market for everything." (SydneyMorningHerald)

"Qatar is joining the Middle East movie gold rush. Qatari media group Alnoor Holdings has launched the $200 million Alnoor fund to finance and produce up to 15 features for the international market in the next five years. Alnoor Holdings, which has been building up its investment in the Arab media biz in recent years, will invest $40 million into the fund directly, with the remaining coin coming from private investors across the Gulf region. The fund will be aimed squarely at Hollywood and international projects. Alnoor Holdings is consulting Entertainment Capital Advisers on which projects to invest in. Fund managers hope to finance ethically based, family-friendly projects. They will likely avoid pics that deal explicitly with sex, politics or other contentious subjects. 'If you want to invest in the film industry, the best place to invest is Hollywood,' Alnoor Holdings chairman Ahmed Al-Mustafawi Al-Hashemi told Daily Variety. "They have the established business center. No business is without risk but we have been studying this for some time now and we believe that a 10% return on our investment is available. We believe in this business.' Alnoor execs plan to announce the first greenlit project in the coming days. The announcement coincided with Thursday's launch of the inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival. The four-day event is a partnership between the Qatar Museums Authority, dedicated to developing cultural initiatives in the country, and Tribeca co-founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff." (Variety)

(Emily Rossum via fashionweekdaily via patrickmcmullen)

"'It's a sea of suits!' one guest exclaimed as she clamored her way through the Edison Hotel's lounge last night during GQ's Gentlemen's Ball, the second annual gala benefiting a myriad of charities including UNICEF, Oceana, The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and the Pat Tillman Foundation. Packed with supporters of the cause, revelers balanced their Ketel One vodka cocktails as they dodged elbows, careful not to get mauled by a pair of cufflinks. Indeed, the venue was swarming with handsome, sharp-lookers like Ashton Kutcher, Adrian Grenier, and Mark Wahlberg, all of whom are Gentlemen's Fund Ambassadors. Josh Lucas, Sebastian Stan, Italo Zucchelli, Jamie Burke and other celebrity friends all slipped on their slickest duds for the cause ... GQ Creative Director Jim Moore sang the praises of Grenier and company. 'Charity involvement is the ultimate test of a gentleman. It's not all about a well-tailored suit or a slick tie!' Moore rattled off his ultimate gentleman list. 'Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, Paul Newman. There are so many!' Undoubtedly, there were too many dignified chaps to choose from. The girls fiercely batted their eyelashes, and rightly so. Rossum, who was chatting with fellow actor Stan, revealed, 'I like to be taken to the theater.' She continued with her modest list of requirements. 'A gentleman is kind and never plays games...and he opens your door!'" (Fashionweekdaily)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Little Of The old In And Out

In: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Is this then finally her "Iron Lady moment"? This blogger has a little parlor game going as to how long it will take for the last-standing-newsweeklies -- Newsweek, Time, The Economist -- to have a cover story of Hillary Clinton as "The Iron Lady." It is inevitable, isn't it? As someone who has observed the American -- particularly New York -- media world and also, ancillary to that, seen the Clinton narrative play itself out, it just seems logical.

Yesterday was a strong day for Madame Secretary. As I wrote at my side job, Kenneth Cole's AWEARNESS blog:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was greeted in Islamabad at the start of her 3-day mission on Wednesday by a massive car bomb which killed at least 90 people in a crowded market. "These attacks on innocent people are cowardly; they are not courageous; they are cowardly," Clinton, showing visible anger, told reporters, emphasizing that last word. Later in the day, Clinton initiated U.S. assistance program for Pakistan's energy sector -- strikingly contrasted against the nihilism of the bomb attack -- aimed at reducing electricity shortages. It is a perfect articulation of "smart power"; as one side seeks to annihilate, the other seeks to build Pakistan's economy. The Secretary has signalled that her foreign policy focus will be on women and children, the unsung victims of wars (and the majority of the planet's population). The first phase of Clinton's program, the centerpiece of the Secretary's first day in Pakistan, involves $125 million of American funding to Pakistan's beleaguered power sector.

That flash of moral anger by Hillary Clinton, not seen since those hot Tuesdays last summer in the thick of the 2008 Democrat primaries, reminds us that the standstill in Pakistan pending the outcome of the recent military actions and the President's plans for Afghanistan notwithsatnding, the United States is still capable of expressing moral anger at the murder of innocents.

Out: Quincy Smith. Quincy Smith, CEO of CBS Interactive is going starting an advisory buiness. From Paidcontent:

Smith’s mission at CBS was to grow online fast and the checkbook was open. Not blank, mind you, but if Smith could justify it, Moonves was likely to spend it from start through CNET. “We had to make acquisitions,” Smith said following the announcement. (The interviews were separate.) The biggest was $1.8 billion for CNET last year, a deal other media companies walked away from but Smith saw as a major complement to what CBS already had as well as a way to push CBS towards the top in traffic and video. (While I was typing this, CBSi sent out a press release saying it had jumped three spots to #4 in unique video viewers, according to comScore Videometrix.) Along the way Smith and CBS spent $280 million on UK music discovery service, $43 million on MaxPreps (Moonves calls it a “tuck in), and a few million here and there on smaller acquisitions and investments. They were buying ahead of the crash, when valuations were higher and money was flowing more easily.

It didn’t take Moonves long when I told him I was working on an estimate of how much CBS has spent on interactive—Smith prefers the term “investment”—in the last three years. I suggested $2.5 billion; no, maybe $2.2 billion is more like it, replied the CBS CEO. Was it worth it? “Absolutely. How would a media company look if they weren’t a major player online with their content?'

Quincy's first job in his start up will be advising CBS on their Web video strategy.
Martin Scorsese's 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

The Changeling, Number 6

Marty Scorsese is the American ultimate film curmudgeon (sorry, Bogdanovich) and so when he makes a list of the 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time -- on The Daily Beast -- well, we have to take note. But that doesn't mean that we should not ask questions. Like -- where the fuck is The Omen on that list? The Omen is, IMHO, the scariest film of all time, bar none. That scene in the abandoned Etruscan cemetery ("..Why here in this terrible place?") on a cold, windy night when Gregory Peck ("Father Spiletto, my name is Thorn") finds those twin graves: one with the remains of his murdered child and another with the bones of a jackal ... it is terrifying beyond words.

Also: an honorable mention for the profoundly spooky dreamscape of Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural ought to be in order.
Bill Maher on Gore Vidal

Bill Maher and Gore Vidal -- two of my favorite contrarians -- are at odds over Roman Polanski. It is a culturally significant argument in that I have never seen an issue so polarizing. Hardcore progressives and conservatives -- philosophical mortal enemies -- have sort of teamed up against Euro-Hollywood jet-setting elites, drawing interesting class lines. From the VillageVoice:

"Roy Edroso, VV: Did you see Gore Vidal on the Atlantic web site this week? He made some comments on Roman Polanski. (Excerpt; 'Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?... The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko - that's what people were calling him - well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.') Your reaction?

Bill Maher: I don't agree. I love Gore, and I love the fact that when you get old, you can say anything. And the older you get, the more inappropriate and politically incorrect you can be: 'I'm 85, fuck off.' But he's dead wrong. That's being contrarian just to be contrary. It's a 13-year-old girl. I said this on my show: I don't know where you draw the line if you can drug and anally rape a 13-year old. I don't know what then we can say is out of bounds. I don't have any sympathy for Roman Polanski and I was surprised that so many people in Hollywood defended this. It's a defense of the indefensible."

I have to agree with Bill here. I don't quite know if it is an American-European thing, or a Hollywood thing (Gore has lived in both Ravello, Italy and the Hollywood Hills), but how could anyone in their right minds properly construe that a 13-year old could have consensual anal sex with a powerful A-List Hollywood director?
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The Emperor strikes Manhattan! Valentino's legendary presence dominated VBH last night, as he celebrated the wild success of Valentino: The Last Emperor with a DVD launch party of royal proportions alongside Giancarlo Giammetti and director Matt Tyrnauer. Gwyneth Paltrow and Bruce Hoeksema hosted the affair, and an assembly of friends including Hamish Bowles and Zac Posen ventured out into the rain to honor one of the most illustrious figures in the fashion industry and to extol the power of documentary film. Dust off the red carpet...and hot iron and steam it ... Bowles chatted with Valentino and Paltrow, and later recounted a recent trip to the Greek islands. 'One afternoon in Patmos we were on a speedboat back to the yacht, and all of Valentino's pugs were being lifted ceremoniously into the boat. It was so surreal to see all these pugs and their prim footman who were dressed white, frantically scrubbing their paws before they landed on the yacht. So very Valentino!'" (Fashionweekdaily)

"Paranormal Activity began its otherworldly existence as a little horror flick, made for $11,000 and shot entirely in the director’s house over the course of seven days. Now, thanks to a little help from Steven Spielberg and a savvy world-of-mouth marketing campaign by Paramount, its box office total has reached $62 million and counting. Hollywood is spellbound — and there are even plans for a sequel. But the film has proved positively life-changing for stars Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, who were originally paid $500 each for their work (and who, like writer-director Oren Peli, will reap some of the film’s profits)." (Popwatch)

"AS we left off yesterday I was auditing an Upper East Side townhouse scene. Oliver Stone directing Shia LaBeouf and Josh Brolin for 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.' So, to continue. Lunch was at a nearby church. The crew had co-opted its basement for their wardrobe facility and mess hall ... 'Listen, guys we're dealing with are heavies. Compared to them, Madoff was chickenshit. We're in depth with 15-20 top lawyers, bankers, traders constantly. Going through everything for the facts. When it's too complicated, we have to change the dialogue and remember that this story is not about words, it's about people. About what money does to people. We're talking greed and envy. A shark made $8 million? Not enough. Because now he has to make $120 million!'" (CindyAdams)

(image via NYSD)

"Last night, I missed several more fundraisers going on in New York and went down to the PaceWildenstein, Pace McGill Gallery at 524 West 25th Street (between 10th and 11th) for another opening of David Hockney’s new landscapes of his native Yorkshire. Many of the guests were the painter’s friends, as well as collectors who collect his work, and art world people. Hockney himself is a very pleasant fellow on meeting and although he is now in his early seventies, there is still a quiet boyish quality to his persona. I always get the feeling that this is a happy man, and happy mainly, perhaps, because he can work all the time. Someone told me last night that this past four years have been some of his most productive in his life. He’s also been turning out portraits, digital and otherwise, as well as his iPhone series which he paints on the iPhone very frequently in the morning and then emails them off to close friends to see. The iPhone Hockneys are becoming Collectors items although they are no larger than the iPhone screen and cannot be purchased, obviously. They can be, nevertheless, transferred to the computer screen and printed out." (NYSocialDiary)

"In the end, it doesn't matter much who is cutting the checks for Ahmed Wali Karzai - be it the CIA, as the New York Times reported on its Web site Tuesday night, some other agency in the U.S. government, or no one at all, for that matter. Either way, Washington and this notorious brother of the Afghan president are bound to keep cooperating. And unfortunate as it is, there's little that either side could or would want to do about it. Ahmed Wali Karzai, who controls the drug trade and much else in the bellwether province of Kandahar where he is president of the provincial council, is clearly his own man. Implying that he works for the CIA, would be like calling the late Rep. Thomas P. 'Tip' O'Neill a tool of the Democratic National Committee. That late House speaker lorded over his Cambridge-Somerville, Massachusetts fiefdom for 34 years, doing favors for those who needed them, and expecting the favors to be returned. The resemblance is indeed so striking that, without prompting last month, a former top NATO official in Afghanistan described Wali Karzai to me as 'a Tip O'Neill, a ward heeler,' to whom all outsiders paid tribute." (ForeignPolicy)

"Comedian Wanda Sykes was in (the Howard Stern Show) studio to promote her new talk show today. Howard started off telling Wanda she is a very attractive woman ... Then Howard jumped to Wanda being a lesbian. Wanda is openly gay, and has been with her wife for three years, plus they have two children together. Howard asked if Wanda knew she was gay as a kid. She said, 'I think so, people know early.' But Wanda thought it was wrong, so she didn’t act on it until later ... Wanda’s parents aren’t too thrilled about her coming out, and marrying a woman. In fact, they didn’t even attend her wedding. Neither did anybody else from Wanda’s family. But her wife’s relatives were there, they flew in from France ..Wanda is blissfully married now, saying, 'I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.' And now has two 6 month old babies." (Sternshowblog)

"Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) was a finalist to be President Barack Obama’s vice presidential nominee alongside Joe Biden, according to a new book. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s, excerpted in Time Magazine, reveals he and senior strategist David Axelrod met with Biden, Bayh and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), the three finalists for the job. During those meetings, Plouffe writes, Biden filibustered the two top strategists, alternately explaining why he should be picked and why he did not want the job. Biden 'could not be taught new tricks,' Plouffe writes. 'Bayh’s answers to our questions were substantively close to perfect, if cautiously so,' Plouffe writes. Kaine acknowledged that he was likely on the bottom of the list, and he told Plouffe and Axelrod he would have no hard feelings if he weren't picked." (TheHill)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Artie Lange On Jimmy Fallon

From HowardStern:

"Artie told the crew about his bizarre experience on last night's Jimmy Fallon show – first they asked him to stick around after his interview to sit in during Olivia Munn’s interview and for a segment with famed Momofuku chef David Chang, who cooked on the show. To end the show, Olivia wanted to play ping-pong against him and Jimmy – and then brought a 'special partner,' Susan Sarandon, who owns a ping-pong bar named Spin in downtown NYC.

Artie laughed: 'My competitive nature kicked in. I'll tell ya what happened. I started getting f’ing mad! It's me and Jimmy against these two broads and now I wanna win.' Howard said, 'I understand. Absolutely.' Artie served to Susan: 'I said scumbag serving Oscar-winner...and Susan started trashing me. She said, 'Are you high? I said, 'First of all, yes, and I can't believe you're here.' She said, 'Neither can I.' Artie and Jimmy eventually lost, mainly because they made Jimmy play with a tiny ping pong paddle: "But it was very nice...she looked fantastic. She's so sexy.""
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Wait for it: Ben Silverman’s new company -- thus far under wraps and under the radar -- is called Electus. As in: 'Chosen' (in Latin). Select. Or, in Barry Diller-speak: Bespoke. (Like suits. In England.) ... The Q3 earnings report for Diller’s Interactive Corporation brought us a few details about it, which we checked out to find the latest on this quiet venture. First, let’s take a minute to marvel at just how much cash Barry Diller has: $1.8 billion on the balance sheet of IAC. This must serve as a reminder that Barry can spend as damn much as he pleases on the Daily Beast, for example, for as long as he chooses, and it still wouldn’t make much of a dent. Tina, go ahead and order drapes for your office. Electus, meanwhile, is being capitalized at about $125 million, with Silverman in the process of closing deals with content creators including his bff Ryan Seacrest and 'SNL' chief Lorne Michaels. He's seeking to corral more than a half-dozen brand-name content creators -- Ben Stiller, for one, but I hear a deal is not close -- to partner them with advertising brands. The concept is a United Artists of multiplatform content." (TheWrap)

"Ashley Dupre returned to her roots on Saturday. Dupre, who was a cocktail waitress at the Penthouse Executive Club before becoming a high-end call girl, showed up at Scores with three pals. 'She was definitely enjoying herself,' manager Ed Norwick tells us. 'She introduced me to her boyfriend, P.J. -- the two of them were making out and all over each other all night long.' Dupre did not respond to a request for comment." (PageSix)

"Against a repeat lineup on CBS, ABC took the night, though impressively CBS managed second place both in overall viewers and adults 18-49. NBC is now famously on record that it thought The Jay Leno Show would fare better against repeats. I was on record early saying that repeats of CSI: Miami would still best Jay. But I’m not sure I expected the beat down to be so bad. Last night at 10pm a rerun of CSI: Miami averaged a 3.1 rating with adults 18-49, while The Jay Leno Show averaged a 1.3 rating. Castle averaged a 2.8 rating, though that might get adjusted down a touch in the final numbers due to Dancing With the Stars overrun (also, in the Philadelphia market, Monday Night Football aired on the ABC affiliate and is counted in the numbers below, and that might have been the case in the Washington, D.C. market as well — that will be adjusted out in the finals). The real story to me though isn’t Leno’s ratings, it’s how great CBS Monday lineup does in repeats. This isn’t a new trend, but it still impresses me." (TVByTheNumbers)

"Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills and Nash) stopped by (the Howard Stern Show) to promote his new album, 'Live at Shephard's Bush,' and Howard asked him about his songwriting process ... Howard questioned Stephen about being asked to be in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, so Stephen explained he'd endeared himself to Jimi by 'being easy' and called Jimi 'the best.' Stephen added that his management withheld the message: 'I was in Hawaii...Jimi and I had been thinking about this over in London for a while. But they didn't pass on the message.' Stephen added that the reason they didn’t this was that the manager didn’t want to break up CSN. Howard wondered if Stephen would've taken the job and Stephen snapped:'Hell yeah!'Stephen later denied ever being in love with Joni Mitchell ('No. Well, I mean I love her but I was never in love with her.') or ever being heavily into drugs: "Opinions vary. I managed myself pretty well.'" (HowardStern)

(image via NYSD)

"While up in Central Park, underneath a tent, the Central Park Conservancy was holding its annual Halloween Ball. The eerie, the supernatural and the Big Hams all meet under the chosen theme of 'Twilight.' A costume contest, dancing and dining. Chaired by Suzanne and Bob Cochran. A fundraiser and fun-raiser." (NYSocialDiary)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Revealed: Francis Ford Coppola

It is, I know, cliched for a man of a certain age to say Francis Ford Coppola is an idol. It stamps him as common, Still, beyond the Godfather -- which IMHO is not his most innovative work -- Coppolla is an indie icon. But beyond quoting Apocalypse Now (not even the director's cut) and Godfather at the pony kegger, most young men don't know shit about Coppola's more experimental work which continues to this day at a leisurely clip featured in arthouse cinemas around the country.

Unlike, say, Lucas or Spielberg -- Francis' immediate contemporaries -- Coppola has resisted the urge to become a part of the Establishment, comfortable, making boatloads of money producing safe, mainstream-middlebrow fare while talent ossifies lazily within the confines of their mansions in the Hollywood Hills (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Coppola's audience is not nor has it ever been the common man (Or, apparently, the common writer). He continues to take artistic risks, developing his particular artistic themes -- obsessions, really -- include: Immortality, Memory, Identity; his previous artistic themes involved: Family, Manhood, Power and War.

And he has a wine label. The man is suave.

CNN International has a wonderful series called "Revealed," where they do an in-depth interview with a celebrity. This is part one of their Coppola at Cannes. The rest here. (Part 2, Part 3)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"At this moment, there are more females serving on the United States Supreme Court than there are writing for Late Show with David Letterman, The Jay Leno Show, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien combined. Out of the 50 or so comedy writers working on these programs, exactly zero are women. It would be funny if it weren’t true. Late-night talk shows have long snubbed female writers. ('Blaaaaame Johnny!') Now old charges of sexism have joined new concerns about sexual harassment, triggered by an alleged extortion plot that prompted David Letterman to admit on-air, 'I have had sex with women who work for me on this show.'" (VanityFair)

"Rosie O'Donnell stopped by (The Howard Stern Show) to talk about her new Sirius XM radio show – on Channel 102 – and revealed that, like Artie, she had was disturbed by outliving a parent: 'My mother died when she was 39 and that was a big reason why I left my [TV] show [when she was 39]' ... Howard asked Rosie if she planned to start dating famous lesbians now that she's most likely going to be single, but Rosie blew it off: 'I don't even think of dating to tell you the truth. With some heavy-hitter lesbo?' Howard listed Lindsay Lohan as a potential candidate, so Rosie explained her 'anti-fame' dating rule: 'Way too're not allowed to be famous if I date you.' Rosie also claimed she'd never be interested in stealing Portia de Rossi from Ellen Degeneres: 'I have an anti-fame rule!'" (HowardStern)

"The U.S. economy’s worst recession since the 1930s seems to be over, said Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the financial crisis. The economic recovery in advanced nations will still be 'anemic,' Roubini, chairman of New York-based research and advisory service Roubini Global Economics, said via satellite to a conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The economist said he’s 'more optimistic' on the outlook for growth in emerging markets. Roubini’s July 2006 warning about the financial crisis protected investors from losses in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s worst annual tumble in seven decades. The U.S. equity benchmark has surged 58 percent from a 12-year low in March even as Roubini said that month the advance was a 'dead-cat bounce,' that it may 'fizzle' in May and warned in July that the economy is 'not out of the woods.' Roubini, also known as Dr. Doom for his pessimistic forecasts on markets and the economy, said this month that stock markets have “gone up too much, too soon, too fast.'" (Bloomberg)

"America's sweetheart, the actress Sandra Bullock, is being dragged into an unpleasant legal battle to prove that she is a better parent than her husband’s former wife, the star of more than 100 pornographic movies. Bullock is backing claims by her husband Jesse James, the television celebrity, that they have made a good home for Sunny, his five-year-old daughter. His ex-wife Janine Lindemulder, 40, star of such video titles as Mrs Behavin’, Sleeping Booty and Dyke Diner, disagrees. She has just been released from a six-month prison sentence for tax evasion. When she was in jail in Oregon she reportedly sent her former husband a bitter text message that read: 'U win. Sandra finally has her baby — congratulations.' The tattooed blonde remains in a halfway house in Los Angeles until the end of this year when she can seek custody of her daughter. James, 40, has launched a pre-emptive legal strike in wealthy Orange county, south of Los Angeles, where all three have beachside homes. He has asked a judge to rule on whether Lindemulder is a fit mother." (TimesOnline)

"A Taliban fighter killed this spring by NATO troops in southern Afghanistan was found to have a tattoo from the Aston Villa Football Club, indicating he may have grown up in Britain's West Midlands. It was the latest evidence that British Muslims of South Asian origin have joined the fight in Afghanistan. (Read the full report here.) For some time, Royal Air Force spy planes have picked up radio communication between Taliban fighters who speak with thick accents from Manchester, Birmingham, West Bromwich and Bradford, all cities with large populations of British Muslims of South Asian origin. 'But it was a shock to hear that the guys we were fighting against supported the same football clubs as us, and maybe even grew up on the same streets as us,' the Telegraph newspaper quoted an unnamed British military official as saying." (ForeignPolicy)

"Because of their large fan bases, television actors and showrunners have flocked to Twitter since its inception. Not so the movie insiders. But that's all changing. No, you still won't find parenting tips from Brangelina, twitpics from Steven Spielberg or 'Pirates 4' revelations from the Tweetdeck of Johnny Depp. But over the last few months, Twitter has become the place to get tips about upcoming blockbusters like 'Iron Man 2' or 'New Moon,' or read riffs by the droll likes of Russell Brand. In deciding on the 30 tweeters to follow, TheWrap weighed certain criteria. It wasn't enough to have an account (hint, hint, Zooey Deschanel) -- stars, directors, scribes and journalists had to update frequently, too. We also tried to reward quality of tweets. Screenwriter Roger Avary's tweets crackle with the same love of language that made his collaboration with Quentin Tarantino on 'Pulp Fiction' a classic. And we had to make space for the bloggers and reporters who cover the studio scene. From fanboy favorites like Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles to veteran reviewers like Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, they're all must stops to find breaking news and fresh takes on buzzworthy movies." (TheWrap)

"DIANE von Furstenberg was mugged in Madrid on Sunday. The head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who was in Spain to collect a Telva Fashion Award, tweeted: 'I just got robbed in the street in front of the Thyssen museum . . . My wallet, cash and all my credit cards!!' The Belgian-born wife of billionaire Barry Diller later typed, 'I am totally fine!! I hope it the worst thing that will happen to me. Getting a big prize tomorrow so going to sleep now.'" (PageSix)

"Last night I went to the annual fundraising dinner for the New York Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC). It was at 583 Park for the first time and it was a very pleasant place, indeed, to go to one of these gala dinners. Deborah Norville was emcee, as she has been for several years. She recounted the story that has been in the news this week about the four-year-old Jayden Lenescar who was beaten to death by someone in his household (the boyfriend? The mother? The both?) in Crown Heights last Friday. I have a hard time with those stories. They bring out in me the kind of rage that was expressed in the murdering of that child. I think to myself the murderers should get it but worse, if that is possible." (NYSocialDiary)

"The rustic properties on the Baltic island of Faro where the director Ingmar Bergman lived and worked will become a nonprofit retreat for artists and scholars. The sale of Bergman’s property, which includes a library, film collection, furniture and art, was arranged by Linn Ullmann, his daughter with the actress Liv Ullmann. 'Now the legacy of my father will be preserved,' Linn Ullmann said Monday in a telephone interview. 'Nobody has bought it to make Bergman’s Bed-and-Breakfast or Bergmanland.' Mr. Bergman first visited Faro, off the coast of Gotland, Sweden, in 1960 while scouting locations for his film 'Through a Glass Darkly.' He died at his home there in 2007 and was buried at a local church alongside his wife, Ingrid." (David Itzkoff/NYTimes)

"While Friday night revelers on Crosby Street may have had stilettos on their feet, they certainly had sneakers on the brain as they celebrated, along with hosts Frida Giannini and Mark Ronson, the official kick-off of the Gucci Icon-Temporary flash sneaker store opening ... Perfectly-coifed (per usual) and decked out in his own blue and white boat shoe/sneaker hybrids, Ronson confessed, 'There is definitely some pressure because I've never done anything like this before. You don't want the first thing you do to come out and be lame.' Lame was the last word on guest's minds. 'All these shoes are crazy,' Mary J. Blige gushed. 'But these are beyond,' she said, pointing to a gilded (naturally!) pair of lace-ups. 'Now these are crazy-crazy.' She paused from chatting with Wyclef Jean to bust out a quick dance move, underscoring her enthusiasm with a hip-shake." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, will challenge California's Barbara Boxer for a shot at the Senate.." (CindyAdams)

"This past Saturday night, artist Todd DiCiurcio presented 'Heartstrings,' his latest exhibition of portraits at Confederacy on Hollywood. The high-end boutique and art space held a fancy reception sponsored by Rag & Bone, featuring photos by Rony’s Photobooth and complimentary pineapple vodkas all night long. Store owner Danny Masterson DJ’ed for all his famous pals and select pretty people. Among the celebs spotted darting between the racks of fabulous clothes: Hillary Duff, Ashley Greene, Taryn Manning, Christopher Masterson, Bijou Phillips and our vampiric-looking host, Ed Westwick." (Papermag)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mad Men Recap: Girls Rule

Betty Draper was colder than January (Jones) last night, easily winning the contest of wills over Don's secret drawer. Brutal. Her fainting couch was no where in evidence, replaced instead by the key to Don's secret-of-secrets and an icy laser-beam glare. On one level, Mad Men is the competition between Don and Betty, in the gladiatorial fundament of their marriage, as they jockey for position. It is somewhat sexy to be a voyeur in this intimate marital cosmos of yesteryear, but also to be sure cringe-worthy. Last night, dear reader, was particularly so.

Don Draper exists almost wholly as a self-created ideal. Profoundly American creature, he. Don's position in the office, the meme -- all attest to the fact that Don Draper, the ad man, the seller of dreams, is an almost iconic American character. His rise from unwanted Pennsyltucky hillbilly to upwardly mobile upper-middle class, urbane career man with the glamorous wife and the perfect children parallels perfectly America's rise on the global stage with the photogenic Camelot Presidency. Ironically, Draper's fall also parallels American decline under the heir of Bush and, at present, Camelot's heir.

Last night Don Draper, American icon, took a beating. For weeks there have been hints that the well-crafted veneer was coming unglued. Hippie swindlers knocked him out in a motel room (what were you even doing there, Don?) off a lonely stretch of highway. He had slipped, after months of good behavior, into an affair he promised his then-pregnant wife would never happen again ("penitential monogamy" is how Slate's Patrick Radden Keefe described it). Draper, who always seemed like a sympathetic champion of the minority, blasted both closeted Sal and the ambitious and super-talented Peggy. His invincibility was fading, even as America's does today.

But Don Draper's secret drawer was his Waterloo. The poor bastard; he never stood a chance. Betty -- supposedly visiting family -- laid in waiting, behind the children, enfolded in the chiaroscuro of their home. Entrapped! She didn't even let him get his hat! What a contrast with Don's mistress Suzanne, who is left waiting in the car as the family drama unfolds, who leaves the light on for him when she's not home. There was something spiderlike -- trap door -- about how events unfolded the moment Don entered the house. Keeping all of his secrets in a single location proved to be too much to bear for Betty Draper's bored housewife curiosity. After Don lost the intense stare-eye contest with Betty, he looked wobbly. "You don't get to ask any questions," Betty hisses at Don, all the years of pent-up seething released. As Don stumbled into the kitchen, fumbling for his fallen cigarette, Betty was stalking right behind him, predatory, smelling the blood. When Don fumbled for his cigarette as it fell, he was also simultaneously protecting his exposed vitals. "Are you thinking of what to say," said Betty, hard on his bloody trail, "or are you just looking at that door?" Popwatch noted the use of hands, almost as intense as the eye action:

"Betty stood there, brow furrowed, eyes looking into and through him. His hand holding those dastardly keys fell to the desk with a thud. All the artifice had been shot out of him. Then that same hand — loosening his tie as he wobbled into the kitchen like a man on the brink of a heart attack, palming water into his dry mouth, fumbling for a cigarette. I felt flooded with such enormous feeling for the riveting last 20 minutes. An Emmy for Jon Hamm's hands!"

The stunning siren Annabelle Mathis, Roger Sterling's former lover, prophecied Don's fall. Annabelle, a new client at Sterling Cooper via her Caldecott Farm brand, is newly widowed. From Popwatch: "'lung cancer,' she said, as a cloud of smoke mushroomed around Don's face." The poor bastard never stood a chance.

Sure, there were other interesting storylines going on, like Roger and Annabelle and, of course, Joan braining creepy-rapey-doctormanboy. But the unmasking of Don by Betty was the most unsettling event on the show all season. Watching the formerly invincible Don stumble, unmasked, into the kitchen as Betty trailed him made me feel as if I had seen my dad naked.