Friday, September 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"My Uncle Thanassis is 81 years old. Over the course of his long life, he has weathered every Greek identity crisis since World War II: the bitterness that divided and impoverished the country after its bloody 1946-1949 civil war between communists and conservatives. The painful postwar years that sent his friends to Australia and the United States for work. The 1967-1974 military junta that smothered free expression and movement. The rise in the 1980s of the populist socialism pushed by former premier Andreas Papandreou, a mercurial, Harvard-educated economist. The good-time 1990s, when even the souvlaki-shop owners in Athens seemed to be making enough money to buy new Alfa Romeos and island vacation homes. The Europeanization of the last decade, when espresso freddos replaced the traditional sweet, grainy coffees in cafes -- and when a white-haired man who wore three-piece suits and liked dancing to wailing clarinet music seemed hopelessly out of place.Through it all, my uncle maintained that being Greek was a gift. 'Greeks make people feel good,' he used to say, his eyes twinkling. 'We show people how to live in the moment, to appreciate the scent of lemons and jasmine in the summer, to dance instead of cry when the stress of life gets to be too much. Whatever is wrong with this country, we always have that.' Not anymore." (ForeignPolicy)

"Let’s say Chris Christie decides to run for president – then what? It’s a question that has occurred to Christie and his circle of intimates — and they’ve begun sketching a plan in the case the governor goes forward with a run. They understand that all the enthusiasm and pleading in some Republican quarters for a Christie candidacy obscures the fact that the New Jersey governor would immediately have to scale the side of a steep and unforgiving political mountain. With the initial primary and caucus states poised to move up their contests to January, an October announcement means that Christie would immediately confront two questions of some urgency: where would he compete and how would he get on the ballot in an array of states coming in rapid succession. Those decisions have to be made and action needs to be taken while also handling myriad other demands — all of it on the fly. While Christie’s camp is staying mum, the governor is aware, according to top Republicans and donors, that the hour is growing late. He has to decide what to do within the week — and below are the issues he’d have to address." (Politico)

"The Metropolitan Opera opened its season with its eagerly awaited production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena. I initially wondered if the almost-four-hour opera would be too long. It wasn’t. The only minutes I’m counting are the ones until I can see it again. Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano, sang the title role in the operatic melodrama about Henry VIII’s second wife. Ms. Netrebko was joined by Ekatrerina Gubanova (mezzo-soprano and a fellow Russian), Tamara Mumford (mezzo-soprano), Ildar Abdrazakov (also Russian), and tenor Stephen Costello in title roles. Marco Armiliato conducted, David McVicar directed, Robert Jones designed the sets, and Jenny Tiramani was responsible for the lavish costumes. We can thank Peter Gelb, the Met’s general Manager who has, for a long time, wanted to add this splendid opera to the repertory. And the Met can thank Mercedes Bass for underwriting the entire evening." (NYSocialDiary)

"The premium cable channels, HBO, Showtime, and Starz, make their livings by selling consumers on the idea that they can't get the sort of programming these channels offer anywhere else. Some of what consumers can't get anywhere else, the premium networks would loudly proclaim, are world-class dramas, more complex and risqué than anything else on TV. Something else consumers can't get anywhere else, the premium networks proclaim a smidge less loudly, are naked people. On premium cable, there will be boob, or at least ass — especially on the dramas. HBO's most recent series — Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire — didn't skimp on the nudity, and Showtime's upcoming terrorist drama Homeland and Starz's forthcoming Boss both, reliably, deliver breast in the first episode. On average, someone will be naked in the first episode of a premium cable drama in eighteen minutes and 36 seconds. To be fair, the king of the premium cable pack, HBO, actually shows more restraint than the other networks: On average, it takes 23 minutes and 33 seconds for someone to appear unclothed. On Showtime, it only takes 11 minutes and 28 seconds, while on Starz it takes 16 minutes and 44 seconds (if you don't count Boss, which waits a whole 40-minutes-plus to provide a long, lingering nipple close-up, Starz would win, usually providing nudity in 6 minutes, 19 seconds). Take a look at the complete, time-stamped list to see to see which shows and networks are most swiftly providing consumers with naked people for their buck." (NYMag)

"Here are some things I can tell you about Anna Chapman. Her hair is redder in real life than in photos, a brilliant Kodachrome blaze falling over her shoulders. I can tell you that she wore a cream-colored dress with a modest-length hem and a black sash belt. Chapman, 29, is also disarmingly attractive, not because of the dress or the hair, but because of the way she looks at you. Right in the eyes. Like she wants to, you know, connect. She may have done unremarkable work back in the U.S. as a spy for Russia, but the woman the Russian media calls Agent 90-60-90 (for her measurements, in centimeters) is, somehow, everywhere. It’s been a little over a year since her return, a year of centerfolds, talk shows, and political rallies. The media, largely controlled by the authorities, still reports each of her many moves. Clearly the Kremlin has found her a useful hero. Days after she was unmasked by the FBI along with nine other spies living as unassuming professionals in Boston, New York, and New Jersey and traded for four Russian prisoners on a tarmac in Vienna, Chapman received a hero’s welcome at the Kremlin. She and her fellow spies sang a patriotic song from the Soviet film Sword and Shield with Putin and, a few months later, were given medals by Medvedev. She was appointed to a high post in the ruling party’s youth brigades and was the subject of a fawning one-hour interview special on government-controlled Channel One. She attended an innovation forum led by Medvedev and showed up at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to cheer on a Russian rocket launch. Chapman was in Baikonur because she had been hired as an 'innovation consultant' by a little-known bank that specializes in financing Russia’s space industry and whose initials are, coincidentally, FSB, the same as those of the successor of the KGB." (Businessweek)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"On December 14, 2010, the television news program 60 Minutes aired a 14-minute piece about U.S. state and local finances. Correspondent Steve Kroft interviewed a private Wall Street analyst named Meredith Whitney, who, back in 2007, had gone from being obscure to famous when she correctly suggested that Citigroup’s losses in U.S. subprime bonds were far bigger than anyone imagined, and predicted the bank would be forced to cut its dividend. The 60 Minutes segment noted that U.S. state and local governments faced a collective annual deficit of roughly half a trillion dollars, adding that another trillion-dollar gap existed between what the governments owed retired workers and the money they had on hand to pay them. Whitney pointed out that even these numbers were unreliable, and probably optimistic, as the states did a poor job of providing information about their finances to the public. New Jersey governor Chris Christie concurred with her and added, 'At this point, if it’s worse, what’s the difference?' ... All states may have been created equal, but they were equal no longer. The states that had enjoyed the biggest boom were now facing the biggest busts. “How does the United States emerge from the credit crisis?' Whitney asked herself. 'I was convinced—because the credit crisis had been so different from region to region—that it would emerge with new regional strengths and weaknesses. Companies are more likely to flourish in the stronger states; the individuals will go to where the jobs are. Ultimately, the people will follow the companies.' The country, she thought, might organize itself increasingly into zones of financial security and zones of financial crisis. And the more clearly people understood which zones were which, the more friction there would be between the two. (Indiana is going to be like, ‘N.F.W. I’m bailing out New Jersey.’ ) As more and more people grasped which places had serious financial problems and which did not, the problems would only increase. 'Those who have money and can move do so,' Whitney wrote in her report to her Wall Street clients, 'those without money and who cannot move do not, and ultimately rely more on state and local assistance. It becomes effectively a tragedy of the commons.’ The point of Meredith Whitney’s investigation, in her mind, was not to predict defaults in the municipal-bond market. It was to compare the states with one another so that they might be ranked. She wanted to get a sense of who in America was likely to play the role of the Greeks, and who the Germans. Of who was strong, and who weak. In the process she had, in effect, unearthed America’s scariest financial places. 'So what’s the scariest state?' I asked her. She had to think for only about two seconds. 'California.'." (Michael Lewis/Vanity Fair)

"Will Michele Bachmann make it to Iowa? Insiders are whispering that the Tea Party darling’s financials are grim and she may be out of the race before she makes it to the Iowa caucus in February, even though she has a strong base in the state. Sources tell us say Bachmann’s skeletal staff are holding their collective breath until the deadline to disclose her fundraising report on Oct. 15. Meanwhile, we hear a computer vendor has called her campaign headquarters threatening to shut down the power due to an outstanding bill. Sources say she had about $400,000 at the beginning of September, but also stacks of bills. 'She does not like to ask for money. She should have been focusing on big donors about three months ago,' a source said. 'She’s only cultivated low dollar donors with direct mailings and that’s hurt her.' But at a rally in Virginia yesterday, Bachmann declared that she does not intend to back out of the race. 'We intend to be the comeback kid in this race,” she said. Her rep said, “None of that is true.'" (PageSix)

"There was a good crowd at Michael’s where I went to lunch with Liz Peek, who heads the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT. Liz and her team have in just a few years raised the public profile of the Museum with their Couture Council activities, one of which has now become the opening act of Fashion Week in September with their fundraising luncheons honoring a major fashion figure. This year you might remember, if you care, that it was Valentino, the man himself. The luncheon event was soon followed by the opening of the Daphne Guinness Collection which is running now through January 7th at the Museum. There is an excellent piece on this and the lady by Rebecca Mead in last week’s New Yorker ... At the tables. Peter Brown, Jamie Niven and Leonard Lauder; Barbara Tober and Donna Solloway, Randy Jones, Joni Evans, Steven Stolman and Bill Crittenden, Paula Wagner, the famous Tom Cruise producing partner; Michael’s very own Brenda Starr, Diane Clehane with HarperCollins’ Lisa Sharkey; Liz Wood; David Sanford of the WSJ; Jack Kliger of TV Guide .." (NYSocialDiary)

"Things have been pretty busy at Michael’s this week. On Monday, none other than James Bond aka Daniel Craig dropped by. ('His eye are so blue!' cooed one smitten staffer). Yesterday, a very laid back Rosie O’Donnell showed up with, so we’re told, a new lady love in tow, and they didn’t have to wait for one of the coveted tables at the very front of the restaurant. They settled for something further back. Today, the usual Wednesday SRO crowd started showing up well before the appointed lunch hour, leaving plenty of time for air kissing and glad handing all around ... (Table 2). Six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, with PR gal Tammy Brooks and some other lovely looking ladies we didn’t get to meet ... 8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia (who stopped by our table to say hello) with Liz Peek" (FishbowlNY)

"This latest stampede to Christie came after Perry delivered a sometimes incoherent debate performance last week. The Texas governor also managed to anger the party’s right-wing base with a policy offering subsidized education for the children of illegal immigrants. Perry has been getting pummeled ever since. He has been accused of not being prepared, and of being dumb. And that’s just from Republicans. A recent poll showed Mitt Romney leapfrogging ahead of him—but neither the media nor the party establishment will rally around Romney as a frontrunner. 'That’s because Romney was branded the loser last time, and the narrative hasn’t changed yet,' says Jeff Jarvis, a New Jersey blogger and author who has followed Christie’s career closely. 'I can’t tell you what he’s going to do, but I definitely think he’s being coquettish now—instead of cutting speculation off.'" (TheDailyBeast)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"On Saturday afternoon, Vladimir Putin announced that he would finally sync reality with formality and become Russia's actual president yet again. Once the initial sting wore off -- Putin seems on track to rule as long as Stalin -- cooler heads began to prevail. This will bring clarity and end the schizophrenia of the tandem contradicting itself, the thinking went. Putin was talking like he understood reform was necessary -- and even doubters had to admit that he was the only person with the political capital to accomplish it. Just two days later, however, the ground shifted yet again. Dmitry Medvedev, coming off a couple of really bad days, very publicly fired the finance minister, Alexei Kudrin: perhaps the one person in the Russian government whom Western investors see as credible, the one who saved Russia when the bottom dropped out in 2008, the one holding the Russian government back by the scruff of the neck from total economic disaster. Kudrin's abrupt firing stunned everyone and completely destroyed the thesis that Putin's announcement would calm down Russia and its uneasy economy. Everyone knew there were power struggles going on behind the curtain, but rarely have there been so many elbows and knees jutting through, and, in recent weeks, actual people flying out.  What is going on? In short, no one really knows. But one thing is clear: Putin's return is not going to usher in a new reign of stability. If anything, the system is as unstable as it's ever been, and no one can tell when -- or into what form -- it will settle." (ForeignPolicy)

"President Obama said statistics that show his administration is on track to deport more illegal immigrants than the Bush administration are misleading.Obama explained that enhanced border security has led to Border Patrol agents arresting more people as they cross into the country illegally. Those people are quickly sent back to their countries, but are counted as deported illegal immigrants. He said his administration has focused on deporting illegal immigrants who have committed violent crimes. 'Our enforcement priority is not to chase down young people who are following all the other laws,' he said.  The online talk was hosted by Yahoo, MSN Latino and AOL Latino/Huffington Post Latino Voice. Users submitted their questions online for the president." (TheHill)

"Last night CNN feted its newest anchor, Erin Burnett, at Robert restaurant at The Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle, just a few hundred feet from CNN’s NYC headquarters. Overlooking Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Central Park, guests watched the city fade into night, while clips of Burnett preparing for her show played on a loop on TV sets spread throughout the space. Just after 7:30 PM, CNN/U.S. executive VP Ken Jautz and CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker made some brief remarks. Jautz commented that Burnett is extremely passionate about news, and that anyone expecting a curt reply when asking her what she is working on is in for a long conversation. Burnett then addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support. Her agent John Ferriter was in attendance, as was her fiancee David Rubulotta. Jautz and Whitaker got shout-outs, as did CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton and CNN ad sales chief Greg D’alba, both of whom were working the room." (TVNewser)

"The Autumn social season has begun again. I was going through invitations to openings, to cocktail receptions, to kick-offs, to galas, to museum dinners, filling up the October calendar many times over. For some reason October 5th is a popular moment, with seven different events on my calendar. Although September has had a bit of a respite this last week (after UN Week), things are already stirring. Last night between 6 and 8 at the Palm Court at the Plaza, Evelyn Lauder, honorary hostess, and Liza Minnelli, Hamish Bowles, Harold Koda and Shane Krige, General Manager of the Plaza, hosted a reception to celebrate the publication of Glamour Icons; Perfume Bottle Design by Marc Rosen, the dean of fragrance packaging and design ... Later on this month’s calendar, the 28th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala, this one themed 'Hollywood Glamour' will take place on Tuesday, the 25th of October at the Waldorf-Astoria. This year Somers Farkas will be honored with the Rita Hayworth Award. Led by Founder and General Chair, Rita’s daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, along with Gala Chairs Jay McInerney and Anne Hearst McInerney hosted a kick-off cocktail party this past Monday night at Yasmin’s apartment." (NYSocialDiary)

"After two highly rated airings, Fox’s new comedy series New Girl is getting an early back-nine pickup — which in this case is a back-11 pickup — bringing the order to the show starring Zooey Deschanel to 24 episodes. The 20th TV/Chernin Entertainment series, which gave Fox the elusive first live-action half-hour comedy hit in a decade, launched with a big 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 last week. Last night, it logged a 4.5, topping all Tuesday competition in the demo both weeks. New Girl was created by Liz Meriwether who is executive producing with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and helmer Jake Kasdan, who directed both the pilot and last night’s second episode." (Deadline)

"PAPER hosted our 7th Annual Nightlife Awards ceremony last night at Hiro Ballroom and we're still reeling from all of the fun. The evening featured a performance from the inimitable Mary J. Blige, who's on the cover of our upcoming October nightlife issue and who performed her new single "25/8" as well as classic jams 'Real Love' and 'Family Affair.' There were celebrity presenters on hand including Swizz Beatz, Estelle, Andrew WK, Michael Musto, Patricia Field and Paul Iacono, and we even had a real-life crasher who jumped on stage to plug her album or something. Pretty fancy! Of course, let us not forget amazing mistress of ceremonies Wendy Williams, who told the room full of nightlife bigwigs, newcomers and general freaks,'You're my people.' It was a fantastic night and we want to congratulate everyone who won and everyone who was nominated. You're all big deals in our book and make going out in New York fun." (Papermag)

"News Corporation's iPad-only newspaper the Daily, the first of its kind, lost about $10 million in its opening quarter, and over half a year later it's less than one-fourth of the way to making money. Bloomberg reports today that the iPad app averages about 120,000 weekly readers, but that figure does not differentiate those who pay and those who don't under the publication's two-week free trial. 'They won’t tell us how many paying subscribers, but that’s how many uniques the Daily is getting,' said an advertising executive who works with the paper. For some perspective, Bloomberg notes, 'Newspapers with circulation of about 120,000 include The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, and the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.' News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said at launch time that the project would need 500,000 subscribers to break even, with each week of work running the company about $500,000. News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller said back in February that the hope was to have a '50-50' revenue split between paid readers and advertisers." (NYMag)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Policy makers in Europe now understand the severity of the sovereign-debt crisis and the actions that need to be taken, according to Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Mohamed A. El-Erian. 'What I learned in Washington is that Europeans finally get it,' El-Erian, chief executive and co-chief investment officer at the world’s biggest manager of bond funds, said in a radio interview today on 'Bloomberg Surveillance' with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. 'They recognize they have deep problems and they recognize they need to do something about it. And now they are going back and will try to do something about it. This was a very important wake-up call for Europe.' Euro-region finance chiefs committed at a gathering of the Group of 20 in Washington on Sept. 22 to boost the flexibility of their rescue fund and 'maximize its impact' by the time of the next G-20 conclave. Euro-area finance ministers meet Oct. 3. European Central Bank officials have indicated they will consider expanding liquidity provisions when they meet Oct. 6. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner set the tone at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank by warning that failure to combat the Greek-led turmoil threatened 'cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk.' That gathering followed the G-20 session." (Bloomberg)

"Hollywood is not my natural habitat. I have known several actors and directors over the years but have found it hard to generalize about them. One of them was Ronald Reagan, whom I worked for in the White House, and while he was a good deal more conservative than I am, I found him to be one of the best leaders I have ever known. A few others from Hollywood also impressed, but — as in politics — there were a disproportionate number of egomaniacs and phonies. Before my trip, Sony had allowed me to preview his new film, The Ides of March (opening October 7). I found it riveting. It's a political drama but could have just as easily been set in corporate America, as it explores the tensions between loyalty and betrayal, sex and power. Clooney co-wrote, acted and directed. Sometime soon, I hope to show it to students at the Harvard Kennedy School (my day job), as it will spark good conversation. Still, it didn't tell me what I really wanted to know: who is George Clooney when the cameras stop? What makes him tick? And, by the way, would I be able to keep my eyes open? This was my third trip across the Atlantic in the space of a short time, and as I landed in Milan, I was beat. Would I be a total bore? Would he look upon my presence as a total pain-in-the-ass?  He had sent his driver to fetch me, and we zoomed off on the 45-minute drive toward his villa. A narrow road winds up from the town, along the lake, homes and shops pressing in from each side, and then suddenly a gate appeared. We slipped in and down the short drive to his home. It was just after 9 a.m.   To my surprise, he was waiting there alone, reading and sipping a cup of coffee, dressed in a gray T-shirt and cut offs. He offered to make coffee, and went off to fetch a cappuccino. Then we sat outside in a brilliant sun and talked for a steady hour, chatting about this and that, starting to exchange funny stories laughing. He was setting the tone for the weekend." (David Gergen)

"It’s been the recurring theme in the race for the GOP presidential nomination: A candidate enters with a splash, then quickly fizzles, leaving Republicans clamoring for a new white knight to hurtle them into the White House. It happened with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. It happened with Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). Now it’s happening with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is fending off freefall after a meteoric rise to frontrunner status. A new round of calls for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to enter the race just months before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses is feeding the narrative that Republicans are underwhelmed by their choices, although conservatives insist that the public complaints won’t hurt the eventual nominee’s chances to defeat President Obama. While Obama is raising money in California and campaigning against GOP obstructionism in Congress, many Republicans are openly musing about if only Christie, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would get in the race. Republicans in Florida bucked their party’s two front-runners on Saturday, with businessman Herman Cain, who polls nationally in the single digits, winning more votes than Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney combined. 'Everyone’s willing to settle for Mitt Romney, but nobody wants to settle for Mitt Romney,' said Erick Erickson, the publisher of the conservative blog" (TheHill)

"The global financial system is currently being roiled by one thing and one thing only: the fate of Europe. This past weekend, high-level meetings of both the International Monetary Fund and the G20 nations took place in Washington, and the predominant focus was on Europe and whether the nations of the European Union and the euro zone would be able to stave off what increasingly appears to be a make-or-break crisis over banks, the sovereign debt of Greece, and the stability of the international financial system. The markets—save for a rally on Monday—have been placing their bet, and it is a decisive no. For a change, this isn’t about the United States, or the size of the American national debt, or for that matter about Obama and the Tea Party. It is about Europe (and for all those who believe that the entire global financial system hinges on America, sorry, this one really is about Europe and its implications for the cost of mortgages in Eureka and small-business loans in Athens, Ohio). The assumption in finance land is that Greece will default on its debts, and that will then trigger a financial crisis to rival, if not surpass, what happened three years ago. Mavens such as George Soros have predicted as much." (TheDailyBeast)

"Last night at the Plaza in the Grand Ballroom, The American Theatre Wing celebrated its 2011 Gala, honoring Sir Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony, and paying tribute to the late Douglas Leeds, a former president of the Wing and a dear friend not only to the organization but to many. Doug served on the board and many capacities of the Wing for twenty-one years. He was president between 2004 and 2008. That face you see in the picture is one of a cheerful man, a friend to many, a love to many especially his wife Anki. He came to an untimely end, age 63, of cancer, last May 9th. In last night’s program Sondra Gilman, who was Chairman of the American Theatre Wing board when Doug was president, said of the man: 'We’ve heard the statement He was a beautiful person but after I knew and worked with Doug over many years, I understood exactly what it meant. Doug took every day of his life with gratitude. He gave everything he had to what he loved: his family, his work and, of course, to theatre and the Wing' ... Last night’s program, fittingly, had a lot of Broadway entertainment besides Mr. Donnell and Ms. Mackay. James Naughton performed Rodgers and Hart’s 'My Funny Valentine,' as well as a parody of their 'Thou Swell' that was written for Sir Howard. Breandon Victor Dixon sang Sondheim’s 'Being Alive.' Elaine Paige sang 'With One Look.' Jennifer Hudson performed also, and Angela Lansbury presented Sir Howard with his award." (NYSocialDiary)

"Everyone has been going crazy about 'frictionless sharing' for the last week. That's Facebook's cute new term for what happens when you give permission for something new and fun to enter your life and then it takes you to a party and 'auto-shares' your activity with the world. You drunk slag. What to do? Short version long... you should probably get off the Internet now while the getting is good. (Well? At least consider it!" (Choire Sicha/TheAwl)

"GOV. Cuomo, his father Mario Cuomo and brother Chris Cuomo gave touching tributes to family matriarch Matilda to celebrate her 80th birthday. At a party at the rolling estate of Maria Cuomo Cole and husband Kenneth Cole in Purchase on Sunday, the gov said of his mother, in front of nearly 200 guests, 'When I was growing up, the kitchen table was the center of the universe. Everything I ever learned was first learned there, from you ... We’re at last at an age where we can really appreciate how powerful your love has been.' ABC newsman Chris said, 'My mother is the untold beautiful story in the family.' Ex-Gov. Mario told the crowd, 'Matilda has produced two governors ... one when I first ran and she campaigned all across upstate and got us two extra points we needed ... and again, when she had Andrew.' He said of his wife of more than 50 years, 'The whole world is discovering your strength and goodness.' Guests included Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sandra Lee and Harold Holzer." (PageSix)

"It looks like companies like College Humor, Vimeo,, and Newsweek/Daily Beast could soon be getting business advice from American royalty. The Financial Times reports that 31-year-old Chelsea Clinton isn’t too busy with her graduate studies at Oxford or work at the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative to join the board at digital media powerhouse IAC over at the “big white frosty” building on West 18th. She’ll be the youngest member of IAC’s board by seven years, joining heavyweights like Michael Eisner and Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman of Warner Music Group or as we like to think of him, MIA’s future father-in-law. We’d also like to wish the former hedgie, who worked at both McKinsey and Avenue Capital, a warm welcome to startupland–and business caz. It seems the same whispers about a last name that opens doors have followed Ms. Clinton into the digital sphere. When she joined Avenue back in 2006, the Wall Street Journal points out, 'There was crowing about how Avenue Capital founders Marc Lasry and Sonia Gardner had both donated to Mrs. Clinton’s New York Senate re-election campaign.' In the case of IAC, the Journal notes that Barry Diller, now IAC’s chairman, supported both Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid." (BetaBeat)

"Did you hear the news? Chris Christie is going to save the Republicans from Rick Perry, who was supposed to save them from Mitt Romney but turned out to be a completely inept debater and a traitor on issues like illegal immigration and injecting little girls with mental retardation. Now, granted, Christie has said a hundred times that he isn't ready to run for president and won't do it. He's even threatened to kill himself to show how serious he is. But with Perry proving himself less than ideal, the never-satisfied GOP elite is once again pining for a conservative savior who can unite the party (or at least the anti-Romney faction of the party) and defeat President Obama. According to various reports, Christie is telling donors that, public refusals notwithstanding, he's open to reconsidering. Yesterday, former New Jersey governor Tom Kean said Christie is 'giving it a lot of thought.'
But if conservatives think Christie is the answer to their every prayer, they may be making the same mistake they made with Perry — allowing themselves to become enamored with the idea of Christie, while overlooking who he actually is." (NYMag)

Monday, September 26, 2011

SNL: Red Flag

so excellent:

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Governing is about choosing. And a much-diminished American president has made his choice. Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking isn't and shouldn't be Barack Obama's top priority. Getting reelected is. And that means carefully husbanding his eroding political currency and expending it on matters domestic and economic. Despite all the kerfuffle at the United Nations this week, the last thing he needs to do is pick an unproductive fight with Israel or the Republicans on an Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has been dead for some time now.The 'sky is falling' crowd bemoaning the loss of American influence on the peace process ought to stop whining. There's no deal now that anyone can broker. The president is right to protect his political flanks. This isn't cheap or dirty politics; it's smart. If Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas presents a bid for U.N. membership in the Security Council this week or next month, Obama should veto it and sleep well that night." (ForeignPolicy)

"More than 40 years after helping to elect Richard Nixon, (Roger) Ailes is more in demand than ever as the man to see for Republicans with designs on the White House. Perry stopped by his midtown Manhattan office a few months back, Newsweek has learned, when he was still weighing whether to make a run, and confided that he was worried about being able to raise the big bucks. 'Money will find you if people believe in your message,' Ailes assured him. Afterward, Ailes concluded that Perry had a look that “if he tells people he’s gonna kick their ass, he might actually do it, which is useful for a president.' Three weeks after dropping out of the race, Tim Pawlenty showed up to ask for a gig at Fox. But there was a complication: Pawlenty was on the verge of endorsing Romney. 'I’m not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney,' Ailes said. When Romney himself sought out Ailes for a pasta dinner, the Fox chief was struck by a sense of humor rarely displayed in public. 'You ought to be looser on the air,' he said while dropping off the former Massachusetts governor at his hotel." (TheDailyBeast)

"Other points in the new oral history that stuck were Jackie’s remarks about the great Charles de Gaulle, calling him 'that egomaniac.' De Gaulle had Jackie’s number from the start. Just after JFK’s funeral he told his Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux that Jackie would end up on an oilman’s yacht in two to three years’ time. Onassis owned tankers, de Gaulle’s secret services had spied on her during her Greek sojourn, and le Grand Charles was off only by a year. She married Onassis four years after JFK was buried. Jackie suspected Clare Boothe Luce of having lesbian tendencies, but I beg to differ. She also called President Abboud of the Sudan one of the smartest leaders she had ever met. Again, I beg to differ. I knew the general quite well, as I visited him regularly in the presidential palace in Khartoum and dispensed gifts in the form of British pounds from my father, who owned Africa’s largest textile plant and employed more than 5,000 Sudanese workers. Abboud was a nice man but extremely limited intellectually. Jackie loved him because following a state visit to Washington he had showered her with expensive gifts." (Takimag)

"A date is set for Spain’s scandalous wedding between the fabulously wealthy Duchess of Alba, 85, to civil servant Alfonso Diez, 61. The duchess -- or Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart -- is the most titled aristocrat in the world and a descendant of King James II of England. Headlines in Spain this summer said that she signed away up to $5 billion in order to marry Diez after her six children tried to block the union. They’ll wed on Oct. 5, sources say, at the duchess’ Palacio de las Duefias in Seville. (She also has palaces in Madrid, Salamanca and San Sebastián, if you’re counting.) A source says the wedding will be 'small, for close friends and family only.' The dress is being designed by Victorio and Lucchino. But don’t feel too badly for the octogenarian royal. Despite reports, sources said the duchess only agreed to make her will public to her kids in order to convince them that Diez was marrying for love and not dinero. Other reports said she agreed to give her kids their inheritance early to get their blessing. She’ll still live in the manner to which she’s grown accustomed till death." (PageSix)

"The exceptional and not very well-known works of 'wearable sculpture' by a variety of artists ranging from Picasso to Koons is on display at the MAD Museum. Among the 135 artists on display are Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Anthony Caro, Max Ernst, John Chamberlain, Donald Sultan, Arman, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, George Rickey, Jaume Plensa, Nam June Paik, and Andy Warhol. There are pendants, brooches, cuff links, belts, headpieces, rings, and even a wristwatch by Mr. Warhol. The exhibition was put together by Diane Venet, a former radio and television journalist from France." (NYSocialDiary)

"Anna Wintour is still quietly but persuasively campaigning to land the new Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, for the cover of US Vogue. Sources tell us that Wintour has been appealing to famed photographer Mario Testino, a close friend of the British royals, to reach out to the elegant newlywed to shoot her for the fashion bible. There has been huge competition to land the first big cover shoot with Kate, who married Prince William in April. A source tells us, 'Anna has been speaking to Mario about winning over Kate. She is really pressing him to shoot Kate for the cover.' Peruvian-born Testino is famed for his iconic photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales, and has remained a close family friend, photographing William, his brother, Prince Harry, and Prince Charles. Testino also took William and Kate’s official engagement photo. Another source said, 'Every magazine has been trying to get Kate, and many assume it will eventually be Vogue. But even with the Mario Testino relationship, it is not clear when this will happen. The Palace must approve it, and they are very protective of Kate.'" (PageSix)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"... Saudi Arabia and the United States have been at odds for much of the last decade, over not just Palestine but also terrorism, energy policy, and the Iraq war. The question is whether repeated strains in the relationship starting even before the 9/11 attacks are leading toward a substantive shift in the kingdom's attitude toward its main foreign protector for the past seven decades. This is a question of major strategic importance for the United States given the kingdom's role as the world's top oil producer in terms of capacity (12.5 million barrels a day) and its No. 4 ranking in foreign exchange holdings ($540 billion). The Saudis continue to hold out against demands from some other oil producers for payment in currency other than the U.S. dollar, partly or totally. What would be the consequences if they agreed to a change in this policy? Is Obama willing to find out? The United States and Saudi Arabia have always had trouble describing how they relate to each other. For decades, the core of the relationship was summed up in the cryptic description of 'oil for security,' meaning assured Saudi oil supplies at reasonable prices in return for assured U.S. security of the kingdom against its external enemies, be it Iraq, Iran, or al Qaeda. In the early 1970s, the two countries coined the term 'special relationship,' even while Saudi Arabia steadfastly refused to become a 'non-NATO ally' of the United States, like Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan, or sign any formal defense agreements. After 9/11, neither side spoke any longer about a 'special relationship.' It took four years to adopt the term 'strategic dialogue,' the same used to describe U.S. engagement with China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia." (ForeignPolicy)

"It has been a busy time for Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the independent court set up in the Hague almost a decade ago to investigate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity ... It has yet to secure a single conviction. And so far it has yet to open a single case outside Africa. This has fed the perception among Africans that it is being used as a political whip in western hands to beat the continent with ...  An outsized ego may be an additional complicating factor for the ICC’s chief prosecutor. His supposedly overbearing management style has led to resignations by senior lawyers on his team, some of whom have expressed discomfort privately at his readiness to leap into the public spotlight before all his legal ducks are in a row. He shrugs this off too. The hirsute Moreno-Ocampo evidently enjoys holding centre stage. And in his presence I am soon reminded of a joke Chileans tell at the expense of their Latin neighbours: why do Argentines run outside in thunder and lightning? Because they think God is taking their picture. As we begin eating hamachi with fennel and east Indian cress he reaches for a quick anecdote about how he defended an FT colleague who was under fire in Argentina for exposing bribery .." (FT)

"My sources say Sony’s newcomer Moneyball has been rising as the night goes on for maybe the best baseball-themed opening ever. It’s definitely No. 1 Friday with approximately $6.8M from 2,993 theaters. (As a Sony exec told me, '$6 million would be great. $7 million amazing. $8 million would be a triumph.') With a healthy adult bump tomorrow, it’s looking at a $21M weekend. That solid number helps keep Brad Pitt’s star wattage shining and his awards chances climbing because of this well-reviewed male-centric sports movie. Audiences really liked this pic: it received all A’s — male, female, young, old — from CinemaScore. But a rival studio exec points out, 'The audience is very old – almost 60% of audience over 50.' 2. Even Disney is surprised that its Lion King 3D is in 2nd place tonight from 2,330 theaters which sold mostly higher priced tickets. But rival studios tell me it got a boost today from the rain back East for a $6.2M Friday, or an excellent holding -31% from its opening a week ago. With the normal kiddie matinee bump, that’s a $21M weekend as well. This re-release is projected to hit a cume of $60M by Monday. Here’s my question: why is it that in all the promotional hype I’ve been sent by the studio about this pic, no one at Disney is thanking Jeffrey Katzenberg for micro-managing the original? C’mon, Mouse House, give credit where credit is due. Even if Jeffrey is a big pain in everyone’s ass." (Deadline)

"Luxry line Pirelli kicked off Fashion Week in Milan this week with the opening of their first flagship store, Pirelli Corso Venezia, and the launch of their PZero Fashion Collection. Originally launched in 2002, PZero has evolved into a collection of clothing and goods, overseen by creative director Renato Montagner and his design team. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, a long time Pirelli fan and calendar girl, hosted the event in a sparkling Dolce and Gabbana mini dress, which showed off her impossibly long legs. Also on hand were supermodel Eva Herzigova, model Valeria Mazza, model Bianca Balti .." (Papermag)

"Philip Falcone took his share of knocks playing hockey for Harvard and later as a pro in Sweden. Yet the athlete-turned-hedge fund billionaire has never faced a defensive line like the one standing in the way of his new telecom venture, LightSquared. Critics include the U.S. military, General Motors (GM), FedEx (FDX), major U.S. airlines, and some lawmakers. Falcone wants to exploit airwaves used mainly by satellites to build a $14 billion nationwide mobile network to rival those ofAT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ). LightSquared would act as a wholesaler, allowing partners, including Best Buy (BBY), to sell smartphones and laptops under their own brands. The New York financier says LightSquared will revolutionize communications—not to mention further the Obama Administration’s goal of finding more spectrum for data-hungry devices straining the nation’s wireless ecosystem. There’s just one hitch. LightSquared’s more powerful signal may drown out the faint beams of satellites that support the global-positioning system, critics contend. 'Sort of like running a lawnmower in a library where people whisper,' is how Philip Straub, a vice-president for navigation gear maker Garmin (GRMN), described it in congressional testimony in June. Opponents, including companies that have banded together into the Coalition to Save our GPS, say Falcone’s network could hinder hurricane tracking, lead customers of GM’s OnStar service astray, and cause 794 additional deaths in plane crashes over a decade. Anyone who uses a GPS-connected device, such as an iPhone, may also be affected." (Businessweek)

"Downstairs in the kitchen, the designer Gilles Mendel and Rick and Kathy Hilton watched Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin prepare food. Wearing a medallion as big as Flavor Flav’s clock, Andrew Crisford, guild master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, had flown in from England as a sort of horological ambassador. People were staring at his chest. 'Now I know how you women feel,' he said.  Upstairs, we said hello to Waris Ahluwalia, the designer and maven of the downtown scene, who was perhaps somewhat out of place. 'I’m Uptown Waris, you must have me confused with someone else,' he said. Downtown Waris, he said, wasn’t allowed north of 23rd Street. Later, we wandered the mansion’s art collection and snapped photographs of him as he petted a taxidermy leopard.  At dinner, we sat next to Jay McInerney, who every few minutes lamented that Nocturnalist’s column would be all about him. Mr. McInerney’s name had featured prominently on an e-mail invitation we had received, we told him, to his surprise." (NYTimes)

"Gala premieres at Lincoln Center tend to generate more murmurs than roars. But things were buzzing more than usual last night at New York City Ballet's Ocean's Kingdom. The camera phones were out, the dolled-up spectators on seat's edge. There was, as musical director Fayçal Karoui announced during the orchestral warm-up, 'a whole different level of excitement.' That's because the composer of the season opener, an old-fashioned fairy tale about star-crossed lovers from land and sea, was a guy named Paul McCartney. His daughter, Stella, did the costumes, and between the two of them, they brought in more than the usual crowd of benefactors." (Style)

"Former President Bill Clinton is offering up a plan to fix the economy and push the United States into the future in a new book to be published in November by Knopf.  In the book, titled 'Back to Work,' Mr. Clinton will make the case for why government matters, explaining his ideas on energy, job creation and financial responsibility, his publisher said Thursday. 'I wrote this book because I love my country and I’m concerned about our future,' Mr. Clinton said in a statement. 'As I often said when I first ran for president in 1992, America at its core is an idea — the idea that no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dreams and leave your kids a country where they can chase theirs.' The book’s timing will create an unusual tableau: Mr. Clinton on a national book tour this fall, espousing his economic remedies, at the same time that President Obama will be presenting his own plans to the public." (NYTimes)

"Post-blackness entails a different perspective from earlier generations’, one that takes for granted what they fought for: equal rights, integration, middle-class status, affirmative action and political power. While rooted in blackness, it is not restricted by it, as Michael Eric Dyson says in the book’s foreword; it is an enormously complex and malleable state, Touré says, 'a completely liquid shape-shifter that can take any form.' With so many ways of performing blackness, there is now no consensus about what it is or should be. One of his goals, Touré writes in 'Who’s Afraid of Post-­Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now,' is 'to attack and destroy the idea that there is a correct or legitimate way of doing blackness.' Post-blackness has no patience with 'self-appointed identity cops' and their 'cultural bullying.'" (NYTBR)       

Friday, September 23, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Who's to blame for the continued failure of the Middle East peace process? Former President Bill Clintonsaid today that it is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- whose government moved the goalposts upon taking power, and whose rise represents a key reason there has been no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Clinton, in a roundtable with bloggers today on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, gave an extensive recounting of the deterioration in the Middle East peace process since he pressed both parties to agree to a final settlement at Camp David in 2000. He said there are two main reasons for the lack of a comprehensive peace today: the reluctance of the Netanyahu administration to accept the terms of the Camp David deal and a demographic shift in Israel that is making the Israeli public less amenable to peace. 'The two great tragedies in modern Middle Eastern politics, which make you wonder if God wants Middle East peace or not, were [Yitzhak] Rabin's assassination and [Ariel] Sharon's stroke,' Clinton said. Sharon had decided he needed to build a new centrist coalition, so he created the Kadima party and gained the support of leaders like Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert. He was working toward a consensus for a peace deal before he fell ill, Clinton said. But that effort was scuttled when the Likud party returned to power." (ForeignPolicy)

"The nation’s top military official said Thursday that Pakistan’s spy agency played a direct role in supporting the insurgents who carried out the deadly attack on the American Embassy in Kabul last week. It was the most serious charge that the United States has leveled against Pakistan in the decade that America has been at war in Afghanistan.  In comments that were the first to directly link the spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, with an assault on the United States, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went further than any other American official in blaming the ISI for undermining the American effort in Afghanistan. His remarks were certain to further fray America’s shaky relationship with Pakistan, a nominal ally ... The United States gives Pakistan more than $2 billion in security assistance annually, although this summer the Obama administration decided to suspend or in some cases cancel about a third of that aid this year. Altogether, about $800 million in military aid and equipment could be affected. The suspension was intended to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers this year and to press its army to fight militants more effectively. The decision was made after the Bin Laden raid in Pakistan, where the leader of Al Qaeda had been living comfortably near a top military academy ... Although American military officials believe that the ISI is in many cases directing the Haqqani network to attack United States forces in Afghanistan, they did not go so far as to say on Thursday that the ISI specifically directed the assault on the American Embassy. American military officials did not describe the kind of support they believe the ISI gave the Haqqani network for the embassy attack, and also offered no evidence for their claim. In July 2008, the United States was able to determine that the ISI was behind the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul based on intercepted communications of ISI officers." (NYTimes)    

"On September 11, Carl Colby, a documentary filmmaker and son of the late C.I.A. director William Colby, was in Los Angeles watching the Twin Towers smolder on CNN. He was startled to hear former Secretary of State James Baker say that he believed the unprecedented attack could be directly traced to the dismantling of the C.I.A.’s ability to perform clandestine operations. It was a directive that came after William Colby testified before Senator Frank Church’s 1975 hearings on U.S. intelligence operations. In that post-Watergate era—four of the burglars had been found to have C.I.A. connections—and as Saigon was falling at the end of the Vietnam War, former C.I.A. Saigon station chief Colby’s blunt and controversial recounting of the agency’s more nefarious practices not only brought on Congressional oversight of the C.I.A. for the first time but also ensured Colby’s sacking later that year by President Ford. In an effort to explain his father, Carl Colby’s new documentary, The Man Nobody Knew, which premieres tomorrow, offers a Who’s Who parade of former top-level C.I.A. and government officials as well as some of the most knowledgeable journalists who cover the agency—from Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld to Sy Hersh and David Ignatius. As they opine on the institution and William Colby’s influence, the film gives viewers a true sense of what it is to live a lie day after day and to hobnob at the highest levels in other countries—all while seeking to advance U.S. interests by whatever means necessary." (VanityFair)

"The food, pretty much everyone agreed, was mediocre at best. The location hadn't been cool for years. And unless you were Woody Allen, you would never get a good table. Nonetheless, everybody loved Elaine's. 'Of course I loved Elaine's,' said writer Jay McInerney, as he arrived at the auction of the estate of the late Elaine Kaufman and her eponymous restaurant. 'Elaine's was where you'd go to drink, have fights and make out with someone's girlfriend in the bathroom. I have many happy memories of Elaine's.'  Ever since the famed Upper East Side restaurant closed, soon after Kaufman died in December 2010, many of those who had been frequenting the immortalised venue – Billy Joel sang about it, Woody Allen filmed it – since it opened in the 70s, have had, they said, nowhere to go. 'Elaine's felt like home,' said Broadway composer and lyricist Steven Morris who, along with his friend, Joe Shane, had been a regular since 1994. 'It was somewhere you'd go to lose yourself and find yourself.' 'I used to come with George Saunders,' added PR Laurence Gay. 'I miss it. I miss it a lot.'
On Tuesday, the unlikely setting of Doyle auction house on the Upper East Side took on the clubby feel of Elaine's itself, as regulars, many of whom hadn't seen one another since the restaurant shut, yelped with delight as each familiar face walked in and embraced one another. The whole room sighed with bittersweet sentimentality when familiar lots – the carousel horse that used to be in the restaurant's front window, the lanterns that hung over the bar – came up for bidding.
'Hey, who's in there?' Morris asked of one gentleman who was on his way out. 'Everyone,' was the answer." (Guardian)

"Lindsay Lohan got her claws out in a confrontation with the Indian model wife of millionaire hotelier Vikram Chatwal, just days after the troubled starlet and Chatwal were spotted kissing at his home in New York. Lohan rudely confronted stunning Priya Sachdev at the Dream Downtown on Wednesday night, saying with obvious disdain, 'You are his wife?' This was followed by a sour face right out of her movie 'Mean Girls,' spies said. Dream owner Chatwal married Sachdev at a lavish seven-day ceremony in 2006, and they later separated. They have a daughter and have remained close. But Chatwal was seen kissing Lohan on photographs posted on the Internet as they cozied up near a window of his New York home a few days ago. A source told us, 'Lindsay had been staying at Vikram’s house and even installed her hairdresser in the baby’s room, but was told to leave before his wife arrived from India with the child a few days ago. His father, Sant Singh, has tried to order Lindsay out numerous times. 'Lindsay found out Vikram was hosting a dinner at the Dream, and turned up with a friend at the hotel’s Electric Room, waiting for him,' the source said. 'That’s when the trouble started. Priya was very dignified, but Lindsay was so rude. She acted as if she’d had no idea Vikram was married, and tried to make it clear that Vikram was her friend. Others had to step in to calm things down.'  Chatwal flew Lohan to town before Fashion Week on his jet, and they’ve been repeatedly spotted partying together. Our source said, 'Vikram’s family worry that Lindsay is bad news and want him to stay away from her.'"(PageSix)

"My friend Leila Heller, the gallerist, formerly most recently of the Upper East Side, has moved down to Chelsea on a ground floor space at 568 West 25th Street, with an inaugural exhibition of 40 photographs: 'Firooz Zahedi: Elizabeth Taylor in Iran.' This happened in 1976 just three years before the fall of the Shah and the emergence of the mullahs. Those were the halcyon days of modern Iran and because of the Shah and the oil business, the world was going to Iran. Among those visitors was Ms. Taylor, and in the company of Mr. Zahedi, now a Los Angeleno who has worked for several of the leading fashion and lifestyle magazines for years. He started his career in the mid-70s with Andy Warhol’s Interview. Leila Heller’s debut has included a luncheon hosted by her old friend Beth DeWoody, and then a cocktail reception followed by a private dinner for the photographer. Of these Party Pictures of Patrick McMullan, the most interesting to me was seeing Liza Todd-Tivey, the only child of Elizabeth and Michael Todd who came to an untimely death in a plane crash. I don’t know Ms. Todd-Tivey and have seen her only once before – in 1975 at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Tennis Tournament in Forest Hills. She was just a kid then but stunning with her father’s countenance and her mother’s coloring and bright eyes." (NYSocialDiary)

"Business Insider announced earlier this week that it had raised a fresh $7 million in venture funding from the likes of IVP and RRE. The site earned investor’s capital by showing impressive growth in terms of both unique visitors and pageviews, even booking a small profit. But a pair of posts from late last night questioned the methods by which the site achieves this enviable traffic.The first came from Ryan McCarthy over at Reuters entitled: “Business Insider, Over-Aggregation, and the Mad Grab for Traffic. It points out that BI frequently takes all the salient facts from a story, adds little to no original reporting, and offers not much beyond a small link in return. It’s the classic argument made against the Huffington Post, that it’s more a of parasite than a publisher." (BetaBeat)

"Looks like that boycott called by hardcore fans didn’t amount to much. Nor were buyers perturbed by some very controversial changes in the 9-disc Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga with 40 hours of extras. Instead, the Complete Saga on Blu-ray release broke global sales records with 1 million units sold and $84 million filling cash registers. It quickly becomes the #1 pre-order and #1 catalog title since the launch of the high-definition format. Needless to say, Lucasfilm Ltd and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment are high-fiving today’s announcement that Star Wars is the bestselling catalog Blu-ray Disc of all time, including 515,000 units sold in North America in its first week alone." (Deadline)