Posted by Danielle Berrin
Why are U.S. billionaires absconding for London? The tax rate there is substantially higher for the wealthy than in the U.S., clocking in at 50%. But who cares, says Edgar Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune and who also belongs to one of the Jewish world’s most dedicated philanthropic families. He’s movin up and out: Bronfman will move his family of six from New York to London where he will take over Warner Music, the world’s third largest music company.
From the Times online:
Madonna may have rediscovered her appetite for the Big Apple, but the American media mogul who runs her former record company has decided that life may be a little better on this side of the Atlantic.
Undeterred by the rise in the higher rate of income tax to 50 per cent, Edgar Bronfman, the billionaire heir to the Seagram fortune and the chief executive of Warner Music, is leaving his native New York for a house in Kensington, West London, with his wife, Clarissa, and four young children from his second marriage.
He plans to run Warner Music — the world’s third-largest music company, home to Green Day and R.E.M — from both London and New York, in a move that is a coup for the British capital, which had been losing ground to its American rival as the City struggles amid the credit crunch.
Mr Bronfman said that his principal reason for moving was to give his children some experience of life outside the United States and he plans to stay in the UK “for a period of one or two school years”. His presence will help to boost Warner’s faltering British operations, which have performed worse than its American business.
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June 2, 2009 | 3:55 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The hilarious and high-profile stunt orchestrated by Sacha Baron Cohen and Eminem at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards was indeed staged, but it’s still stunning.
“As publicity stunts go, it might not have been the most imaginative, but you had to admire the precision of its execution and targeting,” writes Ben Child in The Guardian.
Child’s brilliant synopsis (which was almost as good as the real thing) describes Sacha Baron Cohen “in the guise of his flamboyantly gay fashionista alter ego Brüno” making a grand high-wire entrance “in full angel costume with a gold jockstrap and bare derrière” who lands his spread-eagled buttocks in the face of Eminem, a rapper known for his anti-gay lyrics. A disgusted Eminem shouts profanities at Bruno and then storms out of the auditorium with his bodyguards.
After it happened, the blogosphere went ballistic as to whether or not the stunt was real or staged. If it wasn’t completely authentic and improvisational, perhaps it wouldn’t have been as funny, the worries went. But when the L.A. Times reported that Scott Aukerman, the head writer of the MTV Movie Awards announced on his blog that it was all an act, the stunt gained added gravitas.
If it hadn’t been staged, it would have been the usual homophobic offensiveness that thrives in popular culture. But the fact that it was planned, purposeful and practiced is what makes it so interesting. According to Child, “If Baron Cohen’s impending film Brüno, a mockumentary about the eponymous presenter for the fictitious Austrian Gay TV, has any higher purpose beyond pure entertainment, it might be the lampooning of homophobic attitudes in the US and beyond.” The idea that one of the music industry’s most vocally anti-gay artists would participate in such a stunt proves this theory true—it wasn’t Bruno’s flaming queen being mocked, it was Eminem’s homophobia. That Eminem agreed to this kind of exposure, in which a public mockery is made of his homophobia proves Baron Cohen has something wise up his sleeve.
Baron Cohen’s characters are themselves, offensive, obnoxious and absurd. But in this case he proves even the ridiculous can have a meaningful impact.
June 1, 2009 | 1:55 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
A new spate of Holocaust films are finally letting Jews have their revenge.
This comes after decades of Hollywood’s preferred Holocaust, in which Jews diligently parade to their deaths and evil Nazis escape to Canada. But lately, a handful of filmmakers are imagining a new ending. And this time, it’s the Nazis who are in danger.
In Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” Brad Pitt and his cadre of Jewish-American commandos are tasked with a Nazi killing spree.
The only problem is, with the world so accustomed to Jewish victimhood, no one’s sure how to receive this new fantasy.
Some critics are praising the film for being subversive. Others condemn it for rewriting history. Patrick Goldstein from the L.A. Times quoted one of the film’s stars, actor/director Eli Roth, who called the film “kosher porn”.
“It’s almost a deep sexual satisfaction of wanting to beat Nazis to death, an orgasmic feeling,” Roth explained to Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. For his part, Goldberg criticized the film for its excessive brutality and wrote that torturing Nazis “doesn’t sound like the Jewish thing to do.” Daniel Mendelsohn, who wrote the formidable tome, “The Lost” about his relatives who perished in the Holocaust, argued in Time that the film’s masterful accomplishment (or horrifying failure, depending on your outlook) is that it turns Jews into Nazis.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw named it a “WW2 shlocker...[that] is achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious.”
Next up is “This Must Be the Place,” written by an Italian duo that puts Sean Penn on the prowl for his father’s Nazi-killer. Penn will play an aging musician who trades in retirement for first-degree murder. (Apparently, Penn is exploring his Jewish side—he won an Oscar last February for playing the Jewish activist Harvey Milk and recently found himself lip-locked with Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman, who denied their fling.)
Whether or not these ideas gain further momentum remains to be seen. Rewriting history is no small feat. But the idea of a retroactive Jewish fantasy in which Nazis pay for their crimes is certainly welcome entertainment. After all, Hollywood itself was created by Jews who wanted to escape their pasts and live a better future.