Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving/ Happy Hannukah

via the awesome Nancy Jo Sales.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church including at the very top  – saying the church needs to rethink rules and customs that are no longer widely understood or effective for evangelizing. 'I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,' the Pope said in a major new statement. 'I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures,' Francis added. The Pope's address, called an 'apostolic exhortation,' is part mission statement, part pep talk for the world's 1.5 billion Catholics. Francis' bold language and sweeping call for change are likely to surprise even those who've grown accustomed to his unconventional papacy.'Not everyone will like this document,' said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author in New York. 'For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo.' And it's not just a verbal challenge, the Pope said on Tuesday. 'I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences.' Since his election in March, Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, has made headlines by decrying the iniquities of modern capitalism, embracing the poor and people with disabilities and reaching out to gays and lesbians.
At the same time, the 77-year-old pontiff, has sought to to awaken a spirit of joy and compassion in the church, scolding Catholic 'sourpusses' who hunt down rule-breakers and calling out a 'tomb psychology' that 'slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum.''An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!' the Pope said. Officially known in Latin as 'Evangelii Gaudium' (The Joy of the Gospel), the 85-page statement released on Tuesday is the first official document written entirely by Pope Francis. (An earlier document was co-written by Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.)

"When I was a young boy growing up in a small town in New England, my mother, and my father (who was a born-and-bred Irishman from Brooklyn) used to reminisce — much to the kid’s fascination — about the city where he grew up in the first two decades of the 20th century.  Among his memories was the wonder of 'Mr. Schwab’s house,' the greatest mansion in New York. My father was one of those New Yorkers, an inevitable expatriate as it happened, who loved the city and spoke of its wonders with an awe and respect that was separate from everything and everyone else he knew. Mr. Schwab had the greatest mansion ... stuck in my craw.About a year ago while researching something, I found myself reading about the man, Charles M. Schwab, and his mansion, which occupied the entire block on Riverside Drive and West End Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets. That childhood memory intensified my curiosity and so I learned even more than my father knew about Mr. Schwab’s mansion and the remarkable man who built it. He was a kid from Loretto, a little village in the Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania founded by Roman Catholic priests, and the first Catholic community in the United States. He was born Charles Michael Schwab on February 18, 1862 during the second year of the American Civil War, when the world was always dark at night, and quiet except for the sounds of animal life, the wind, and the weather. There was no electricity. There were no telephones, no cars, and no indoor plumbing for ordinary working people.  His parents were first generation Americans, both children of German immigrants. Father ran a coach service led by horses between the village and the railroad station in nearby Braddock. As an early teenager, Charlie drove the stage occasionally until he got a job in the next town working for a man named A.J. Spiegelmire, who owned a general store. The pay: $3 a week. For the next couple of years, the boy sold calico and dried apples. He was a good worker, even earned extra money giving piano lessons to local children, but the job bored him." (NYSocialDiary)

"The Architectural Digest AD100 party used to be dubbed 'the shark tank' by some designers for the ferocious competition in the room. But at this year’s bash Monday at the Four Seasons, the professionals kept it cordial and no one was tossed into the restaurant’s pool. The magazine selects the top designers and architects for the biennial list, which this year includes Bunny Williams, Michael Smith, David Easton, Richard Meier and Peter Marino. Those celebrating the honorees included Alan Cumming, Amy Fine Collins, Aerin Lauder, Martha Stewart, Robert A.M. Stern and Hunt Slonem. Mario Buatta, who has been on the list every year since 1990, was one of the last to leave the bash." (PageSix)

"While introducing Martin Scorsese’s much-anticipated 'The Wolf of Wall Street' to a starry crowd, Brad Grey referred to the debauchery in the opening scenes (which include Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jordan Belfort, snorting cocaine off a prostitute’s posterior), saying, to laughs, 'Remember, Marty almost became a priest.' Paramount president/CEO Grey hosted a friends-and-family screening of the movie, which premieres Dec. 25. Among those getting a first look at the film on Monday night and then celebrating at ‘21’ were Viacom chief Philippe Dauman, Keanu Reeves, Jeff Goldblum, Steve Buscemi, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, Lorne Michaels, Katie Couric, Kyra Sedgwick, Olivier Theyskens, Grace Hightower, Michael Moore, Josh Hutcherson, 50 Cent, Jemima Kirke, John Leguizamo, Natasha Lyonne, Gretchen Mol, Emily Mortimer and NY Jet Mark Sanchez. Scorsese, who, in fact, did want to become a priest before pursuing film, had a private moment with DiCaprio earlier at ‘21’ in the Remington Room." (PageSix)

"Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan has confirmed reports that he was once an Israeli spy and arms dealer. Milchan — whose credits include 'Pretty Woman,' '12 Years a Slave' and Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming 'Noah' — told 'Uvda,' an Israeli TV show: 'Do you know what it’s like to be a 20-something-year-old kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting.' The 68-year-old once worked for spy agency Lekem — also known as his country’s now-defunct Bureau of Scientific Relations — in the 1960s to secretly cultivate Israel’s nuclear arms program. 'When I came to Hollywood, I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted — filmmaking,' Milchan added. 'But sometimes it gets mixed up.' He asserted, 'I did it for my country, and I’m proud of it.' His long-rumored spy background was detailed in a 2011 book, 'Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan.'” (PageSix)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides' adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic. The U.S. goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons before they are built, without the United States having to take military action to eliminate them. While it is commonly assumed that the United States could eliminate the Iranian nuclear program at will with airstrikes, as with most military actions, doing so would be more difficult and riskier than it might appear at first glance. The United States in effect has now traded a risky and unpredictable air campaign for some controls over the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranians' primary goal is regime preservation. While Tehran managed the Green Revolution in 2009 because the protesters lacked broad public support, Western sanctions have dramatically increased the economic pressure on Iran and have affected a wide swath of the Iranian public. It isn't clear that public unhappiness has reached a breaking point, but were the public to be facing years of economic dysfunction, the future would be unpredictable. The election of President Hassan Rouhani to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the latter's two terms was a sign of unhappiness. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei clearly noted this, displaying a willingness to trade a nuclear program that had not yet produced a weapon for the elimination of some sanctions. The logic here suggests a process leading to the elimination of all sanctions in exchange for the supervision of Iran's nuclear activities to prevent it from developing a weapon. Unless this is an Iranian trick to somehow buy time to complete a weapon and test it, I would think that the deal could be done in six months. An Iranian ploy to create cover for building a weapon would also demand a reliable missile and a launch pad invisible to surveillance satellites and the CIA, National Security Agency, Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence agencies. The Iranians would likely fail at this, triggering airstrikes however risky they might be and putting Iran back where it started economically. While this is a possibility, the scenario is not likely when analyzed closely." (STRATFOR)

"The social calendar has quieted down for the upcoming holiday. Or sort of. Yesterday was the annual Tiffany Holiday Luncheon. The luncheon is given to editors from newspapers, magazines and web, a kind of thank you. They’ve been doing this since 1987. It is a very nice kind of thank you in the Tiffany style, in the executive dining room for about 50 guests. Michael J. Kowalski gives a brief speech just before lunch outlining Tiffany’s year just passing. Mr. Kowalski has been CEO of Tiffany for the past fourteen years (with the company for thirty). He’s a quiet-spoken man, focused and conscientious, the kind of person you’d like to have running your business. Every year I’ve attended this lunch, he has reported on the progress of the company in terms of its worldwide expansion, its sales and earnings growth, and its steady eye upon Tiffany’s reputation and product quality.In the course of his report, he explains also that the 'business' part is required in terms of a proper 'business' event. Nevertheless, it’s always interesting. I don’t have many personal dealings with Tiffany. It’s mainly business, as they do advertise on the NYSD and I have covered certain public events of theirs for many years. Dealing with Tiffany’s public relations staff is the same as everything else about the company: first rate, first class, and a pleasure. They are efficient, thorough and always very pleasant. In a town where are a lot of us are always in a rush and have a backpack of impatience to call on, this is an almost Zen relief." (NYSocialDiary)

"Is there anything better for Christmas than a bit of a laugh? Well, a visit by, say, the blonde CIA agent in Homeland would be preferable, but I think she’s got other things on her mind than yours truly. Great comebacks are my favorites. For example: When the great French actress Arletty was dragged into court and accused of giving comfort the French way to a German Luftwaffe officer, her only defense was, 'If you men hadn’t let them in so easily, I wouldn’t have slept with him.' She also added that her heart belongs to France, 'but my ass is international.' She was cheered and set free immediately ... A comeback as good as Voltaire’s—who some believe had thought of his comeback beforehand as he knew what the priest would ask him—was from John Wilkes, the brilliant orator and Parliamentarian when he was told by the Earl of Sandwich that he would die either in the gallows or by the pox. Wilkes never missed a beat: 'That depends, Sir, whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.' Robert Benchley, one of our greatest humorists, was also a famous lush. Emerging from a nightclub he saw the resplendent doorman in uniform and said, 'My good man, call me a taxi.' 'How dare you,' said a furious gentleman, 'I am a United States admiral.' 'Oh, in that case, call me a battleship.'" (Taki)

"Britain’s Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday at Buckingham Palace with a host of American guests — telling them of his joy of becoming a grandfather to Prince George. The Prince of Wales’s birthday dinner was hosted by London power couple Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala, international venture capitalists who moved to the British capital five years ago. Guests included Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CEO Gary Barber, US society doyennes Mercedes Bass and Lynn Wyatt, Judith Giuliani along with two couples from Philadelphia, software entrepreneur Michael Sanchez and publicist wife Nancy Assuncao and Walt and Sue Buckley of Internet Capital Group. Charles mingled with guests over cocktails and discussed the importance of philanthropy, and a source said he described 'how he really enjoyed being a grandfather and how he wished he had grandchildren earlier. He said he was envious of his friends who already have many grandchildren.' Also there were Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, and Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames. We’re told Charles told his guests from Philadelphia how he liked the city and that he met with the late philanthropist Leonore Annenberg during a 2007 visit and was impressed with how she supported the arts. He added, 'The Americans really get it right with how philanthropic they are.'" (PageSix)

"A fast-approaching, divisive GOP primary has kick-started the sprint to a high-stakes 2014 House special election in Florida. As early as this week, officials are scheduled to send primary ballots to voters for the race to succeed the late Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young in the highly competitive 13th District. Both GOP candidates, lobbyist David Jolly and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, are expected to campaign over the Thanksgiving holiday. But the Jan. 14 primary has already divided St. Petersburg-area GOP politicians, operatives and even members of Young’s family. Meanwhile, Democrats cleared the field for their likely nominee, Alex Sink. The future nominees will soon endure a deluge from national parties in this long-held GOP district that President Barack Obama won by 1 point last year. The Republican nominee, especially, will have a responsibility as the first candidate of the 2014 cycle to test-drive the GOP’s case against Obama and the implementation of his health care overhaul law. 'If you’d asked me right after the shutdown, I’d say this was a slam dunk for the Democrats, but as it looks now, I think it’s going to be a very, very competitive race because it will be very nationalized,' said former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis of Virginia. 'And it will be the first time the voters can express themselves on the president and the Affordable Care Act [rollout].' In recent cycles, most high-profile GOP primaries have featured a fight between an established candidate and a tea-party-backed Republican. That’s not the case in this contest. Neither Peters nor Jolly fits the tea party mold, and the 13th District lacks an organized activist contingent. Also, Young served as a master appropriator in the region: Bringing federal money is part of politics there" (RollCall)

"The city of Los Angeles and its satellite communities like Manhattan Beach make up the celebrity mecca of the universe, and among all the hot stars and not-so-hot ones who can be spotted around here, the name does not quite register. Jordan Belfort? And Jordan Belfort is also a convict, one of a particularly loathed class—a white-collar crook who duped innocent investors to finance an insatiable greed. Belfort was convicted of scamming more than $100 million throughout the nineties to finance a hedonistic paradise. Stratton Oakmont, the firm he started, became a kind of cult. 'It should have been Sodom and Gomorrah,” Belfort would later write. 'After all, it wasn’t every firm that sported hookers in the basement, drug dealers in the parking lot, exotic animals in the boardroom, and midget-tossing competitions on Fridays.' Belfort’s background in finance was limited. After dropping out of dental school, he sold frozen lobsters and steaks door-to-door; one of his first experiences in sales came from hawking ices as a kid. He proved to be a great talker and fearless mimic, modeling himself after his hero, Gordon Gekko, the ruthless corporate raider in Wall Street, a favorite film, and assumed what he called 'a devilish alter ego.' It was a truly epic scam, in which he used his powers of persuasion to screw investors and then train a small army to do the screwing for him. But eventually, Belfort sank his own empire. He spent some of his fortune on megamansions, only to have the government seize them. He purchased his own helicopter, only to almost crash it on his front lawn while flying it stoned. He owned a 166-foot yacht built for Coco Chanel, only to tell the captain to steer it into a storm and nearly kill himself, his friends, and his crew before the ship sank in the Mediterranean. Even with the hundreds of prostitutes he claimed to have hired, Belfort struggled to perform. He was taking so many drugs that his penis, as he writes, had taken the form of a 'No. 2 pencil eraser.' It was in prison that Belfort discovered his talents were transferable. His cube mate, or 'cubie' (at his facility, there were no cells), was Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame. Chong laughed so hard at Belfort’s stories he pushed Belfort to write them down and get them published. Employing the same zeal that made him a financial-industry tycoon, Belfort set out to become a writer. In prison, he studied Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, taking notes on character development, dialogue, tone. He then applied the Wolfean techniques to his own tales, writing two memoirs that detail his quest for fortune and approval. And, now as then, people cannot get enough of Jordan Belfort. He’s using the same skills, working the same stories, only this time, the gig is entirely legal. His ruthless rise and self-destructive fall was ripe for a big Hollywood production. Leonardo DiCaprio signed on to play Belfort, with Martin Scorsese directing." (NYMag)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Netanyahu has spent the past several months advocating forcefully against an agreement he deems bad; and he deems this one bad. But is it wise of him to continue condemning the deal, now that it has been realized? Or is he closing the proverbial barn door too tardily, in the process damaging his ability to shape future events? For the entirety of Netanyahu’s current term, he has engaged in a sustained game, in public and no doubt in private as well, with Barack Obama, whose presidency began just two months earlier than his prime ministership. The game is this: On Iran’s nuclear program, try to use Israel’s leverage in order to get the United States to go along with Israel’s interests as he perceives them. Netanyahu sees a country fewer than 1000 miles away with an avowedly anti-Zionist leadership developing a nuclear program that sure looks like it has a military component. This was strictly not-okay. In fact, he almost certainly decided that the best thing for his country would be a military strike to cripple Iran’s program. But this game was extremely challenging. For one thing, the United States is differently situated—bigger, stronger, thousands of miles farther away—and hence has different interests. For another, Netanyahu’s bluff could always be called, and the proof of that was the fact that Netanyahu felt he needed to play the game in the first place. After all, if he wanted to bomb Iran himself, he probably could have (particularly back when his defense minister was Ehud Barak, for the first four years of his tenure). But he likely felt he could not, because a strike without U.S. cooperation would have lacked even more legitimacy in the international eye and almost certainly would have done damage not sufficient to justify it. Give
Bibi credit: This was a nearly unwinnable game, and yet for nearly five years he won it. He got a liberal American president not to rule out a military strike and to insist that an Iranian nuclear weapon is unacceptable—that “containment” is not an option. Netanyahu almost certainly created a context in which the weekend’s agreement was less Iran-friendly than it would otherwise have been.
But there was always a fundamental difference, and we are now seeing it made manifest. Neither Obama nor Netanyahu is okay with Iran having nuclear weapons. But Obama is much more okay with Iran’s nuclear program developing, if it means bringing it under greater international control and generally slowly welcoming Iran back into the community of nations. That is how what Netanyahu defines as a bad deal nonetheless gets made (and don’t forget that China, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, and newly hawkish France also agreed to it). Obama likely feels this way due to his interpretation of American interests. (Personally, on these matters I like to trust people like nonproliferation expert David Albright, who says this is a good deal.) This was inevitable." (TNR)

"Saudi Arabia broke with Israel on Monday and offered cautious support for a U.S.-backed nuclear deal with Iran. 'This agreement could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran's nuclear program, if there are good intentions,' the Saudi government said in a statement, according to the Agence France Presse. The statement leaves Israel isolated as the only outright foe of this weekend's preliminary deal to loosen sanctions in exchange for a freeze on aspects of Iran's nuclear program. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel would not be bound by a deal he said 'made the world a much more dangerous place.' The Saudi statement indicates the U.S. ally wants to avoid publicly confronting the Obama administration over a key diplomatic objective of the president's second term despite grave misgivings." (TheHill)

"In a cultural context where idealists have linked social media to democracy, egalitarianism, and participation, the tech scene in Silicon Valley considers itself to be exceptional. Supporters speak glowingly of a singularly meritocratic environment where innovative entrepreneurs disrupt fusty old industries and facilitate sweeping social change. But if the tech scene is really a meritocracy, why are so many of its key players, from Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs, white men? If entrepreneurs are born, not made, why are there so many programs attempting to create entrepreneurs? If tech is truly game-changing, why are old-fashioned capitalism and the commodification of personal information never truly questioned? The myths of authenticity, meritocracy, and entrepreneurialism do have some basis in fact. But they are powerful because they reinforce ideals of the tech scene that shore up its power structures and privileges. Believing that the tech scene is a meritocracy implies that those who obtain great wealth deserve it, and that those who don’t succeed do not. The undue emphasis placed on entrepreneurship, combined with a limited view of who 'counts' as an entrepreneur, function to exclude entire categories of people from ascending to the upper echelon of the industry. And the ideal of authenticity privileges a particular type of self-presentation that encourages people to strategically apply business logics to the way they see themselves and others. Taken as a whole, these themes of authenticity, meritocracy, and entrepreneurialism reinforce both a closed system of privilege and one centered almost entirely around the core beliefs of neoliberal capitalism. This does not make technology intrinsically better or worse than any other American business; I’d certainly rather socialize with tech people than bankers. But it does reveal the threadbare nature of digital exceptionalism." (via -- of all places -- WIRED)

"Last Thursday night I went down to East Fourth Street where La MaMa was holding its 3rd annual La MaMa DIY Season Gala where they were honoring Patsy Tarr, the dance philanthropist and publisher, and theatre critic Michael Feingold, formerly of the Village Voice and now at Theatermania ( A lot of New Yorkers still don’t know about La MaMa which opened its door fifty-two years ago, founded by a fiercely independent impresario of new theatre, Ellen Stewart. Ms. Stewart’s objective nurtured an entire generation of theatre talent, in all area from acting, producing, directing, writing; everything, and her legacy continues today. There was also a video tribute to Michael Feingold created by Miller and Ben Louis Nicholas – all passages from his writings which were so trenchant and compelling (theatre criticism), not a little of it cracked me up because Feingold is very funny ... This was followed by a video tribute to Patsy by Miller and Nicholas. And then the irrepressible Isaac Mizrahi took the stage to introduce his friend, pointing out firstly that she was a huge fan of Geoffrey Beene and wore a lot of his clothes (which she was wearing on this night). Isaac is the only American fashion designer with a performer’s personality, and he can always leave ‘em laughing." (NYSocialDiary)

"Time Inc. made its initial public filing on Friday afternoon, as it prepares to jettison from Time Warner. Nothing surprising in there: As we already knew, the publishing giant has been watching its revenue flatline — or worse – for years, but it still continues to generate hundreds of millions in profit. But Time’s first filing does contain at least one snippet that gives you a sense of what it has been like to work there for the last few years ... Time did pull the trigger on a deal to acquire American Express Publishing this fall, which let it add properties like Food & Wine magazine, but that was also pretty modest: Because AmEx and Time Inc. were already in something close to a joint venture, Time Inc. will end up netting $20 million on the transaction. That stasis isn’t surprising, given the revolving door at the top of Time Inc. Longtime CEO Ann Moore left in 2010, and was replaced by Jack Griffin, who lasted less than six months. The publisher was left without a new boss for another year until Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brought in Laura Lang, who made it a bit more than a year before announcing she was leaving, too. New CEO Joe Ripp came in about half a year later. And while Time Inc executives said they were given the go-ahead by Time Warner bosses to pursue M&A opportunities even when they didn’t have a CEO to report to, it’s hard to imagine the company making bold bets or writing big checks during that period." (AllThingD)

"The meet-uncute of Nikki Finke, scourge of Hollywood, and Jay Penske, automotive scion, happened through the matchmaking services of mutual friend A. Scott Berg, the Pulitzer-winning biographer whose brother Jeff is a powerful Hollywood agent. Finke had interviewed Berg, and Berg had written about Penske. This was in 2008, when Finke’s entertainment-news blog Deadline had become an essential, compulsive read in Hollywood, drawing impressive web traffic. Over a two-year period, Finke says, some 25 potential buyers, reportedly including Variety owner Reed Elsevier, the Huffington Post, IFC, and the billionaire Haim Saban, began 'kicking the tires.' Berg and another intermediary, Dani Janssen, the host of a prominent Oscars party, reached out to Finke to tell her that Penske was interested, too. 'Scott said, ‘He’s the real thing,’' Finke remembers.Finke was reluctant to sell to anyone, but her father, stricken with bladder cancer, urged her to seize the moment: It might pass, and here was a chance to become financially secure. He died in January 2009, and Finke spent the next six months negotiating with Penske. She was impressed by his knowledge of the Internet, by what she calls 'one of the most agile, bright, and articulate minds I’ve encountered,' and by what seemed like their shared vision for how to grow the site. 'He was relentless,' Finke says. 'We fought like cats and dogs during the negotiations. I cried. I got mad at him. I called it off at least a few times. It was always, ‘I don’t want a boss. I love being my own boss.’ ' Finke warned Penske she’d be 'the worst employee you’ll ever have.' Coming from Finke, who turns 60 next month, this was not hyperbole." (NYMag)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Alec Baldwin Talks To James Toback

Medfia-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Whhen the email landed in my inbox late last week, forwarded by a friend in Iowa Republican circles, the subject line—Whose side are you on?—caught my attention. 'You guys see this?' my friend wrote at the top. 'They must be getting scared.' The message itself was a battle cry issued by the libertarian wing of our state GOP. 'The Republican Party, forged in the fire of the American Civil War, is embroiled in a civil war of its own,' it declared. 'Conservatives and liberty activists across Iowa must come together and fight to hold our ground.' The message was signed by Joel Kurtinitis, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, and sent by Liberty Iowa, a libertarian PAC. But I saw A.J. Spiker’s fingerprints all over it. For more than a year, my Republican friends and the party activists I’ve known for years have been complaining with increasing intensity about Spiker, a 34-year-old realtor and former Ron Paul aide who is the unlikely chair of the Iowa Republican Party. It’s been a crazy kind of war, complete with Facebook unfriending, rumors and name-calling. Now, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s political team is finally gearing up to try to get rid of Spiker. At the governor’s big birthday bash with special guest Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Saturday night, Branstad’s reelection campaign team asked donors to sign up to serve as delegates at the county, district and state conventions so they can take back the party leadership. Judging from Kurtinitis’s email last week, Spiker and his allies know the fight is coming. 'They’re going to show up to the caucuses and conventions, and run you out of the party,' the email warns in a bold font. It accuses the party establishment of championing 'liberal policies' and engineering 'sellouts.' 'But grassroots conservatives were watching,' it says. 'And now we are fighting back.' 'Never have I seen the Republican Party of Iowa so dysfunctional,' says Bill Dahlsten, who’s been involved in Iowa politics since 1972, organizing congressional races and serving on his county GOP committee. 'A.J. Spiker,' Dahlsten tells me, 'is like Rome’s later emperors—the personification of self-indulgence.' In his short, stormy tenure, he has been accused of abandoning traditional Republican causes in order to promote his libertarian agenda; a common refrain these days is that RPI no longer stands for the Republican Party of Iowa but for Rand Paul, Inc." (Politico)

"I was surprised by my first reaction to George W. Bush in person. Having spent thousands of hours filming Barack Obama in diners, state fairs, and high-school gymnasia, I thought I’d gained some special insight into the character of presidents. But there I was, like any ordinary person watching a White House ceremony on television, thinking, 'Oh wow, look at how gray he’s gotten!' It was 2008, and I was in the Oval Office as President-elect Obama’s official photographer, which was my position during the presidential transition. President Bush was giving Obama a tour of his soon-to-be home ... After my naïve initial shock over Bush’s hair color, I began to wonder about their skepticism of the 'YouTube guy.' Candidate Obama might’ve been the first to have his campaign videotaped 24/7, but George W. Bush clearly shared Obama’s amazing ability—which I’d hung my entire video strategy on—to be the same person on and off camera. As I sprinted up the stairs to the White House behind Bush’s photographer, Eric Draper, dodging the kitty litter in the back stairs, we arrived at the rooms where the First Family actually lives. The president was showing the president-elect a few of his favorite things. 'See this room?' he said, sounding astonishingly like Will Ferrell doing his best 'W' impression. 'This is a good room for sittin’, Barack. I like to do a lot of sittin’ right here.' Americans detest inauthenticity above all things, especially in our politicians. Our electoral history is littered with losing candidates the nation deemed 'inauthentic'–John Kerry and Mitt Romney being just two of the latest. Even though the 43rd president’s approval rating was hovering at 22 percent at the time, I think most of us would’ve approved of how frankly and familiarly the departing President spoke about his end-of-term woes. 'People are pissed, you know?' I remember him saying. Every Presidential transition is a passing of the baton from someone who has been crushed by the grim reality of governance to someone who still believes in its seemingly limitless potential. That the presidency is taxing, grueling, and aging is cliché, but I think one of the most underappreciated parts—and tricky to observe in the veritable flipbook of pool photos of the graying President—is the vast emotional intelligence required to shift between different frequencies for different events, day out and day in, as the schedule veers wildly from a press conference to a major national disaster to a state dinner. When, after the transition, I joined the White House photo department as the official videographer, I grew accustomed to capturing all the dramatic transitions of a president’s day. One minute, I’d be filming a tearful embrace between POTUS and a shooting victim’s family member in the oval office; the next I’d be helping Samantha Tubman, deputy Social Secretary, pep up a drooping sports team unused to standing for hours in suits. When my footage of the Obama Presidency becomes public by law, as all film and photos of the president do, I believe people will be surprised by the sheer volume of these shifts in the president’s schedule." (TNR)

"Erik Prince is not whining, he wants that clear. 'However much I had to put up with, in terms of the assault from all sides, from the lawyers and the bureaucrats, pales in comparison to guys who lost their lives, who were maimed, either active-duty military or contractors,' he says. 'I’m just providing a cautionary tale to the next guy dumb enough to run to the sound of the alarm bell. Because the government can drop you on a dime and leave you hanging.' For Prince, who in less than a decade took an obscure military training facility, Blackwater USA, and transformed it, with government contracts, into a billion-dollar company before selling it in late 2010, even score-settling is a public service.In a dark suit and white, open-collar shirt, Prince is sitting warily in a hotel suite above New York’s Times Square. For years he’s been rumored to be working on a memoir about Blackwater (now called Academi), a name linked in the public imagination with the killings of dozens of Iraqis and Afghans. Now, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror, is published, and Prince is busy promoting it. A private person, he submits to an interview with the enthusiasm of a dog in a shower. And yet he’s been waiting for this, too—to make the case for himself and his company and place the blame where he believes it belongs: 'If I could send a message back to my younger self, it would be: Do not work for the State Department at all' ... The business catered to law enforcement and the military—post-Cold War cuts had reduced training capacity—but struggled to find clients for its first couple of years. After Sept. 11, however, Prince and Blackwater went from training soldiers to finding them work, deploying thousands of vets to guard and transport American diplomats, aid workers, politicians, and CIA case officers through two wars. Forty-one Blackwater contractors eventually died in the line of duty. None of the U.S. State Department officials they were guarding were killed or seriously injured. While running the company, Prince says, he did covert intelligence work for the CIA." (BusinessWeek)

"Whether it’s her Oscar winning turn as the mafia princess in 'Prizzi’s Honor,' the quietly unhinged mistress in 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' or her embodiment of Morticia Addams in “The Addams Family,” there always seems to be an interesting tension in Ms. Huston, a bent toward decorum with the sense that at any minute things may go the other way. It’s hard to recall an actor of recent vintage who is so adept at keeping our attention on-screen without chewing the scenery.  Her public image as a symbol of Los Angeles chic (has there ever been a cooler couple than Ms. Huston and Jack Nicholson in the ‘70s and ‘80s?) belies a gemütlich woman who is funny and eager to please, perhaps the legacy of her father, the director John Huston, who was both doting and intensely critical. She is matter-of-fact (of her shoulder-baring sweater by the designer Donna Karan: 'Karan’s a genius. She says that shoulders are the last thing to go on a woman, and I think she’s right') and something of a fashion historian. Her memories of an enchanted Irish childhood (where John Steinbeck played Santa at Christmas, or the guy jumping out and yelling 'Boo' at you was Peter O’Toole dressed in his 'Lawrence of Arabia' robes) are wrapped in the clothing of those around her, particularly her father’s.'Fashion been important to me since I was very little,' she said. 'Often I can call up my memories of a time and place by what I and the people around me were wearing.'  When I suggested to Ms. Huston that 'A Story Lately Told' is in part a tribute to her father, that he would have loved it, she teared up. 'One of the things I discovered in this book is how my father made me love men who were ...' Impossible? 'Who lived large lives,' she said, laughing. (Although here, too, is a paradox — she may have been Mr. Nicholson’s most enduring relationship, but she found love and marriage with the serious, quiet sculptor Robert Graham.) She also loves men with style, and men who are open to her style." (NYTimes)

"Howie Gordon directed my grade school plays. As a third grader, I vaguely understood that he was qualified for this gig because he had acting experience. I had no idea that much of it was in pornography. It was only a year ago that I figured it out. I was watching 'After Porn Ends,' a documentary about what happens when adult performers return to “civilian” life, when I recognized Howie, the father of my classmate, the guy who enthusiastically taught us how to perform on stage and edited videos of our adolescent attempts at acting. It turned out Howie had an X-rated alter ego in the ’70s and ’80s: Richard Pacheco. My drama teacher, the porn star. Not only that but he’s a prolific, award-winning performer and Playgirl Man of the Year who worked with legends like John Holmes and Marilyn Chambers. He was even inducted into the Adult Video News Hall of Fame.
As of very recently, he’s also the author of a memoir about his days in porn, 'Hindsight: True Love & Mischief in the Golden Age of Porn.' It’s a tale of an overweight boy from Pittsburgh who sheds 50 pounds, starts lifting weights and finds himself doing adult movies. Before long, he’s posing for Playgirl and performing with porn’s greats. The book is appropriately filled with salacious details about his flings, on-screen and off, but it’s also a thoughtful and philosophical read. For him, doing porn was political: 'I foolishly expected the heirs to the Sixties sexual revolution to be there en masse,' he writes. 'They weren’t. And it remained sadly unconscionable that the sexual media for the entire culture of that time was largely relegated to an underclass of amateurs and criminals who mostly created a pornographic world of sexual looting and moral midgetry.' He expected more of the medium. It’s no surprise then that he is both a defender of the industry and a critic. 'Sometimes the domination of male rage in the industry just gets to me,' he writes. 'It comes off as so nasty and mean-spirited that it’s like sex without humanity.'" (Salon via Susannah Breslin)

Alec Baldwin Talks with Kristen Wiig and Dick Cavett

Friday, November 22, 2013

Charlie Rose: The State of Television

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Readers of this magazine may have heard of a certain Massachusetts senator named Elizabeth Warren. She has also taken on too big to fail, as an antecedent to her agenda of building an economy that works for ordinary Americans, rather than using them as giant wealth-extraction machines. And Warren has something Brown and Vitter don’t—a national platform, with the ability to shape and transform the national debate. She has already used this power to provoke incremental changes, mostly because regulators would rather be on her side than in her crosshairs. Nobody is better positioned to put this new set of facts from the GAO to use than the Warren wing of the Democratic Party. To see this attitude change in real time, simply review the Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearings for Janet Yellen, nominated to take over the chair of the Federal Reserve. In 2009, Ben Bernanke sought confirmation for the same position, and when he was questioned about the Fed’s failures in financial regulation before the crisis, he vociferously defended the institution’s actions. Yellen, right in her opening statement, added financial regulation to the Fed’s core responsibilities, along with full employment and price stability—a huge shift. During questioning from Warren, Yellen agreed that the Board of Governors should reinstate regular principals meetings on financial supervision for the first time in 20 years, instead of relegating the decision-making to the staff level ... Warren is highly unlikely to run for President. But the next best thing is to have everyone chatter about a potential candidacy. That gives her policy arguments more resonance, and forces the regulators she helps oversee on the Banking Committee to listen. Warren’s presence makes it less possible for the normal course of Washington’s love affair with Wall Street to occur. And that’s as valuable as anything she can offer." (TNR)

"Crack may be one of the most addictive substances on earth—as the indelible images of crack babies supposedly born hooked drove home in the 1980s. But there are growing indications that some smokers can handle their shit. And just as onetime crack dens have been transformed into high-end real estate, the glass pipe, too, has been gentrified. Clouds of crack smoke are now wafting from upscale lofts on the Bowery and West Hollywood hotel rooms and from bungalows in Venice Beach and converted warehouses in Bushwick. The HBO comedy Girls got it exactly right. In one episode, über-uptight Shoshanna accidently smokes crack at a Brooklyn warehouse party, thinking the pipe she is casually passed contains weed. Hilarious, yes, but not ludicrous. Drugs follow money. And they follow young, edgy creative-hipster types eager to go through some kind of dark, skid-row rite of passage. Yesterday's scourge of the underclass is today's indulgence of the idle class. 'There's a stigma to crack that excites certain people,' says one 36-year-old fashion photographer who works on New York's Lower East Side. He says he knows 'tons of people' in fashion, music, and art who either have smoked rock or would be willing to try it as long as 'someone else in the room has it and knows what they are doing.' I randomly saw this play out on an autumn Sunday night in New York City's East Village. At a hip dive bar, I met Neil, an Internet executive, and his friend Keith, who works in the financial industry (both asked that their full names be withheld). When they rolled out of the bar at around 1:30 A.M., after an evening punctuated by blow and Adderall, Keith suggested they cap the night with crack. Neil bought four tiny blue Baggies, each containing a one-hit rock, for $10 a pop from a kid on a bike, then picked up a $3 glass stem from a corner deli. He and Keith started smoking their crack in the taxi on their way home to the industrial-chic Gowanus section of Brooklyn. "'t's like coke times 100,' said Keith, letting out an acrid belch of smoke." (Details)

"So a comedian undergoing glaucoma treatment walks into the Cognac Room at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. He’s wearing a Mets cap and the black jeans that he might have slept in. He swigs some coffee and complains about a 2 p.m. wake-up call, which is understandable once he explains he went to bed at 9 a.m. 'I haven’t eaten yet today. I don’t know what time it is. Who am I? Where am I? What city? What hour?' says Bill Maher, gazing out the window at a grim November sky. 'May I use this interview as a one-issue diatribe against daylight savings? Fucking farmers. For the sake of two or three giant agribusinesses, the rest of us have to suffer. The one time we need more light, they take it away.' Outside on 55th Street, a pedestrian spots Maher, bangs on the window and cocks his fist in a gesture of solidarity. It should be noted that this passerby is black—as are a considerable number of Maher’s fans (and not just those he’s dated, a roster that includes several black women of the curvaceous gentlemen’s club variety). In explaining the popularity that a pallid Irish-Jew from New Jersey would enjoy with African Americans, New York magazine once quoted Christopher 'Kid' Reid, a Maher confidante and one half of the hip-hop duo Kid ‘n’ Play. “What people of color like about Bill is his honesty,' he said. 'Black people can smell fear in white people. They’re like bloodhounds. When Bill and I hang out, and there are people of color around, they gravitate to him.' To be sure, Maher’s fearlessness explains his political posture: He’s unapologetically liberal, populist and outraged. Accordingly, he’s a bête noire to conservatives and inspires their fury even when his commentary veers away from the political." (Politico)

"If I’m a billionaire, Lord Sugar is a gentleman. This sounds a bit phony, but if I were a billionaire I’d give 850 million away. 150 million greenbacks or 100 million quid should be tops for everyone. One can fly private, own a boat and a decent house and take care of the children and grandchildren. Billions make people very strange and suspicious of others, and make their children even stranger. The insane idolatry of money warps minds and character quicker than any drug or liquor. I have known many billionaires in my life—inflation churns them out regularly nowadays, as does criminality in the old Soviet Union—and the only ones who live normal lives and have normal children are both Greek and although very distantly related have the same surname." (Taki)

"Despite social media’s rise since 1998, there’s still a demand for traditional ways to consume gossip. But the names and outlets have changed drastically. Scandals and mishaps were covered by an elite guard consisting of Army Archerd of Variety, George Christy of The Hollywood Reporter, Rush & Molloy and Mitchell Fink of the New York Daily News, Beth Landman at New York magazine’s Intelligencer. and even the august New York Times had the 'non gossip, gossip column' Public Lives. All were in competition with us at the New York Post, which dominated the sphere with three gossip columnists — Neal Travis, Cindy Adams, and Liz Smith — as well as my former employer, 'Page Six,' the heavyweight column run by bon vivant Richard Johnson. Sure, there were celebrity magazines also covering the foibles of the rich and famous — but not nearly as many as there are now. US Weekly was US monthly and a news magazine, the European invasion in the form of the Bauer titles (In Touch, Life & Style) and OK! was years away, and People magazine had yet to become the favorite drop-off slot for publicists and their clients who just wanted to tell 'their side of the story.' Back then, People was still running lengthier, reported, in-depth, newsy articles, as well as not-so-nice pieces on celebrities from their detractors (sample headline: 'LeAnn Rimes 'Manipulative': Stepmom') — something that would never happen in the touchy-feely “we celebrate celebrities” People of today. The National Enquirer was given a run for its money by sister publication Star – which was, back before Bonnie Fuller and David Pecker, a downmarket, non-glossy, hard-hitting tabloid … with over 2 million readers. Now, the dinosaurs of the industry — Mitchell Fink, Beth Landman, and Liz Smith — have been put out to pasture. Neal Travis and Army Archerd passed away. First Rush and then Molloy retired from gossip — and even Richard Johnson left 'Page Six' (to eventually come back to the Post with his own column). And a horde of gossip-chasing entertainment websites have since sprouted up — TMZ, most notably — updating news not just every hour but sometimes every minute, ensuring that every iota of celebrity is covered from every angle. If something is happening and someone is on hand to witness it, you can be assured of finding out about it almost immediately." (Paula Froelich)

"Graydon Carter held a private dinner at the Beatrice Inn on Wednesday honoring Bono, Apple’s Jony Ive and industrial designer Marc Newson ahead of their Sotheby’s auction to benefit Bono’s (Red) charity on Saturday. 'This dinner is like a celebrity petting zoo,' Brian Williams was heard saying about the crowd, which included Mayor Bloom­berg, David Geffen, Anjelica Huston, Jimmy Iovine, Liberty Ross, Ralph and Ricky Lauren, Cindy Sherman, Jon Stewart and Dasha Zhukova. We’re told Bono toasted Carter, recalling when he once asked him to change the mag’s title 'from Vanity Fair to Fair Vanity. He said, ‘Um . . . no.’ ” (PageSix)

"Howard Stern had ravaged her and drained the usually witty brunette of her sass. By the time she finished his show Wednesday morning and arrived at the Bowery Hotel, Sarah Silverman was too tired to laugh — even at the fact that the guy interviewing her shared the same last name. Or maybe it just wasn't funny. 'It’s the name I’ve always had,' Silverman said, gazing at the wall, with nothing else to say about the matter. Apparently Stern had tried to get Silverman to instigate some 'comedian-on-comedian crime' by asking her to name other comics that she didn’t like, something Silverman was not about to do. 'You want to be an interesting interview,' she said, 'but you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or make anyone in your life mad. So it’s a high-wire balancing act.' Deflecting Stern proved exhausting, especially because Silverman kept her ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel’s advice in mind and answered all of Howard’s questions immediately. To pause would reveal weakness, or something she wanted to hide, and it was important not to give Howard a cue to start digging." (Justin Rocket Silverman)

"This past Monday night, Seth & Alexi Meyers, Elie Tahari, Diane von Furstenberg, Glamour Editor-In-Chief Cindi Leive, Ann Curry, Top Chef Master Sang Yoon, NY Jets David Nelson, Alison and Howard Lutnick, Sarah Hughes, Sara Ziff, Chris Del Gatto and Veronica Webb and many others came out to support Worldwide Orphans at their 9th Annual Gala in at Cipriani in NYC. Seth Meyers hosted and the evening honored exceptional Worldwide Orphans ambassadors including long-time supporter Diane von Furstenberg and Dr. Sophie Mengistu, WWO Ethiopia Country Director. There were certainly some light moments throughout the night, though. Before walking the blue carpet, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg helped Dr. Jane Aronson tie her signature DVF wrap dress that Jane had put on incorrectly with the help of her two sons. Amy Poehler shared a video expressing the need for people to donate as it makes them skinny, but also shared that she was so upset that she couldn't attend as Seth has a restraining order against her. " (NYSocialDiary)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvr

"Every time Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opens his mouth, the markets move. But few could have guessed that in an offhand remark he would add legitimacy to the Bitcoin, the virtual currency that competes with the American dollar as a reserve currency and an international trading medium. Yet that is what he did when he held out a friendly hand to the notion of fantasy currencies in a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Understandably, this improbable endorsement from the guardian of the mighty dollar sent the value of the Bitcoin soaring. Until recently, the Bitcoin was seen as a novel, experimental, somewhat piratical cyberspace Monopoly money that has proved useful in moving money around the world without the hampering and costly help of banks, which slow things down, waste days while the cash lingers in limbo, and take a hefty slice of every transaction. Bitcoin’s headiest moment was as the currency of choice of the Deepnet black market website Silk Road, which sold everything from crack cocaine to child porn, and was closed down by the FBI last month. Bernanke sees far beyond the illicit uses of virtual currencies as a means of paying for contraband or shuffling hot money around without being traced. He believes they could become an ingenious means whereby the globalized market in legitimate goods and services can work more efficiently without the dead hand of the banks. The Fed chairman told the Senate Committee members, who are anxious that something outside the control of Congress will be used as a currency for criminals and terrorists, to think before consigning Bitcoin and similar monetary confections to oblivion. Forget money-laundering, he wrote, 'there are also areas where [virtual currencies] may hold long-term promise.' Bernanke’s guarded welcome to virtual currencies as an ingenious innovation that will liberate world trade seemed like an aside, but his glancing approval may ultimately prove a revolutionary step in both economics and politics. Competing private currencies have long been seen by free market economists as the holy grail. So long as the state governs the price of money through interest rates and insists that only one currency can be used in a geographical area, there is no chance of approaching a truly free market. Friedrich Hayek’s stunted Austrian economic notions may have failed to prevent the Keynesian revolution in macroeconomics, but his broader political vision of a world where untrammeled commerce replaces state-run, community-accountable institutions regulated by democratic bodies remains potent among conservatives. We remain a long way from his ideal of a world where countries protected by patriotism and highly-defended borders are succeeded by competing commercial city-states fueled by a borderless international free market in labor." (Reuters)

"Two former secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger, garnered loud applause during Tuesday night’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria where both Clinton and Antonio Banderas were being honored. 'We want our successors to do well,' Kissinger joked to more than 150 guests, 'but not so well as to draw unwanted comparisons.' The room later broke out in applause when Kissinger noted that 'four former secretaries of state have gone on to become president' as Hillary looked on with a twinkle in her eye. Notables there included host Oscar de la Renta, Michael Douglas, Chelsea Clinton, Diane von Furstenberg, Valentino, Carolina Herrera and Queen Sofia of Spain." (PageSix)

"Yesterday was the Michael’s Wednesday. It was a quieter Wednesday, decibel-wise, which I’ve a feeling it will be until after the end of the year. Strictly business. But pleasant; and always myriad conversations going on. The list looked something like this. By 'something' I mean, it is incomplete, the names I am most(ly) familiar with. Including: Matt Rubel; Sanford & Stein; Christine Schott; Lida Burpee; Michael Tannenbaum; Ed Kosner with Da Boyz: Kramer, della Femina and Imber, Bergman; Andrea Fahnestock; Mitch Kanner; Alice Mayhew; Philippe Salomon, Adam Schiff; Stan Shuman; Diane Sokolow; Shelley Zalis; Carl Bernstein; Robert Zimmerman with Alison Mazzola; Suzanne Bracker, Rick Davis; Jane Hartley; Angela Mariani, Jay McInerney; Chris Meigher; Bob Towbin, Philip Warner; Judith Regan with Joe Armstrong; Catherine Saxton with the Honorable Harry Herbert; Sara Beth Shrager; Beverly Camhe; Sir Norman Foster, Tracey Jackson; Debra Shriver ... You don’t recognize the names, some of the names, most of the names? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I don’t recognize them all myself. But they are: writers, bankers, lawyers, public relations people, tycoons, ladies-who-lunch-seriously, actors, artists, editors, talkers and such ... The Honorable Harry Herbert whom you see in the picture is the younger brother of the 8th Earl of Carnavon. He grew up in a Jacobean house the whole world knows now: Highclere Castle, a/k/a Downton Abbey. His father, the 7th Earl, also know as Lord Porchester – or 'Porchy' – was the racing manager for Queen Elizabeth II, and a lifelong friend and thusly very close to Her Majesty who is passionate about her horses and their racing abilities." (NYSocialDiary)

"The recent purchase of the $142 million Francis Bacon artwork by the Acquavella Gallery was the buzz of the party that the respected New York gallery threw for artist Enoc Perez’s new monograph from Assouline. After Page Six reported the real buyer was Qatar’s Sheikha Al-Mayassa, a host of intrigued art lovers turned up Tuesday hoping for comment from the gallery’s owners, but the family, including William Acquavella, remained politely tight-lipped. Well-wishers who arrived to congratulate Perez and Martine and Prosper Assouline included Alex Rodriguez, Tony Shafrazi, mega-collectors Alberto Mugrabi and Aby Rosen, writer Bob Colacello and J. Mendel designer Gilles Mendel, who celebrated his collaboration with Perez on an art book the night before at his new Madison Avenue store, with a fashion crowd that included models Chanel Iman, ­Constance Jablonski and Alek Wek, as well as Lauren Santo Domingo and Stefano ­Tonchi." (PageSix)

"Vanity Fair: When writing a joke like that, what is the thought process for you? How do you even get to that scenario in your head? Sarah Silverman: 'I have no idea. A lot of times, I use Twitter to write jokes. And I really like it for that. Some things have to be a tweet, and they don’t really expand well. But some I can make into something bigger. That was just probably like a stoned late-night tweet that tickled me. I watch all of this crap on TV. . . I swear, like the Real Housewives probably inspire the deepest of what I can offer for material. It’s such a modern tragedy in so many ways.' VF: It’s existentially depressing and yet addictive. Sarah: 'It is fascinating. These are grown women who are behaving badly because, I think, they are getting direct approval and love for their behavior from these unseen producers. They are rewarded for bad behavior. And even though they are grown ups, there is this inner child that responds to that. It’s so like the kid behaving badly for attention, even if it is negative attention. Ahh. It’s amazing.'" (VanityFair)

"After being felled by a brutal bug (which I picked up in my doctor’s office while waiting for my flu shot) last week, I was glad to be back at 55th and Fifth today where I embarked on the second leg of my own personal trifecta of reporting on every aspect of my television obsession, Downton Abbey ... Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd: (Table 2). Author Jay McInerney with a bookish, bespectacled fellow we didn’t recognize. Carl Bernstein (in jeans!) stopped by their table to say hello. (Table)3. Judith Regan with a lanky young gent we didn’t get to meet. Judith wished the lad a  happy Thanksgiving and then made her rounds in the dining room before departing." (Diane Clehane)