This morning, the Queen of Soul/Surly Auntie of Pop Culture, Aretha Franklin, was beamed via satellite into a dozen or so different local and cable morning shows in a junket to promote her upcoming Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics album (featuring her divisive cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"). As a result of the satellite delay, Franklin's faulty earpiece, her lack of sleep, and her general does-not-give-a-fuck-ness, a comedy of errors ensued. Highlights are above.
LAS VEGAS — It only took 24 hours for the Stockholm Syndrome to set in. It was after the huge, boomerang-sized crab legs had been cleared away and the Wagyu beef had been consumed and all the after-dinner whiskeys had been drained and they'd ushered us past the hundreds of ordinary suckers and through the VIP entrance of the Caesar's Palace nightclub and set us up with a private table and bottle service so we could recline on a couch and watch all the drunk bachelorette party girls shake their asses at the bar in front of us, and the doorman smiled warmly at us and the attractive waitress smiled warmly at us and the PR people smiled warmly at us and we, the journalists, all smiled warmly at each other and took it all in, and I thought to myself, "Vegas, baby!" Vegas, baby. It likes me. And I like it.
Silicon Valley venture capitalist David Hornik's invite-only dealmaking conference, The Lobby, takes place again next week at a plush resort in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Camp Cyprus was nothing compared to this funeral pyre of cash. Who cares that twentysomethings spent their own money to vacation with friends, and filmed an over-the-top video of their frolics? Hornik's hoedown is the ultimate marker of what-me-worry excess in an age of recession. And Valleywag has the complete list of who's going.Here's what should enrage you as you read it: Unlike the Cyprus trip, this one is ostensibly a work event, paid for by investors and shareholders. (I suppose a handful of entrepreneurs may have bought their own tickets, but in the hopes of paying themselves back by scoring an investment.) What's the agenda for this passel of languorous corporate dealmakers, ebullient entrepreneurs, and phlegmatic venture capitalists? They party. You pay. Later on, they consummate some deals with their pals that they would have struck anyway, crediting the boondoggle junket for "making the connection." Last year's event was an epic caper, marked by drink-throwing, late-night excursions, and salacious rumors of barside canoodling. Here's whose exploits we're looking forward to reporting, thanks to the moles we've placed throughout Hornik's guest list:
It's bad enough that 500 bloggers are wasting time and energy "covering" the pointless media spectacle of the upcoming political conventions. Can't tightly-orchestrated pageantry and vacant messaging be left for the television networks and political trades while top bloggers find important actual news that would otherwise go ignored? Apparently not. But the bloggers are making themselves look even more silly and co-opted by accepting a package of goodies, and an embarrassingly nerdy one at that. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
Can't a little movie like Tropic Thunder catch a break? The Ben Stiller comedy has thus far managed to survive racism, ratings, "retards," and American Idol — and that's before it's even come out (Wednesday, August 13!). Still, all that was child's play compared to the newest Tropic trouble, instigated by an overzealous radio DJ who crashed the film's junket to ask Robert Downey Jr. some of the most inane questions Iron Man has ever had to face. Listen in horror as the notoriously rehabbed actor is asked which costar he'd like to “drink a brew and smoke a blunt with” (only the first of many, many stupid questions) — we've even provided a helpful assortment of what we can only imagine were Jack Black and Ben Stiller's reaction shots. Enjoy!
Maybe our boss is being paid off by Jared Paul Stern. Maybe he's trying to score with him. (Ah, those lips.) Either way, we've received orders to continue this ongoing and misguided campaign to suggest that everyone is as corrupt as Page Six is (they're not) and to obfuscate the reality that no matter what other skeeziness exists in the world JPS is still the one on tape asking Ron Burkle for hush money (he is). In today's installment, here are photos of the Daily News's Jo Piazza*, a reporter for the Rush & Molloy gossip column, on that junket to Turkey we previously mentioned. That's her in a headscarf above. And there's more after the jump.