Jeff Bewkes Starts Cleaning House at Time WarnerMEDIA
• At least 75 Time Warner layoffs are expected to be announced today. The layoffs are among CEO Jeff Bewkes’s first public tasks since taking the helm of the company from Dick Parsons last month. Earlier today, Time Warner announced a 41 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings. [MSNBC& AdAge]
• Maybe some of those Time Warner folks can hang their hats over at Condé Nast. The Observer evaluates Portfolio’s recent spending spree, during which it recruited top talent from The New Yorker, the Post, and the Times. [NYO]
• (Product)Red, the love child of Bono, iPod, and the Gap, has raised more than $22 million for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. But considering the big advertising bucks spent during the Super Bowl and elsewhere, some are arguing that it’s not enough. [NYT]
Bush Says State of the Union Will Mostly Address Economy; Guest List Begs to DifferAre you guys as excited for President George Bush’s State of the Union Address tonight as we are? Hoo-ah! Wait. You realized there still is a president, even though everybody’s busy trying to pick who the next one will be, right? We know, it’s hard to remember. And even though there are primaries tomorrow, tonight belongs to current president George Bush. Early reports say that his address will largely focus on the economy, which is probably what most ordinary citizens are hoping he will talk about. “Expect few surprises and no big initiatives,” says the Associated Press. Housing reform will come up, press secretary Dana Perino says, as well as health care and veteran’s care, alternative energy sources, climate change, faith-based initiatives, and conditional troop withdrawal in Iraq.
But today the list of Presidential guests has been released for the event. These are the people who sit up with Laura Bush in the balcony, who are generally alluded to in the text of the speech (to much unilateral applause). In addition the lovely Bush twins and that sexpot Lynn Cheney, we’ve summarized the guest list for you.
Augustine Asiedu, the Last King of New York?
How do you know New York’s still the capital of the world? Our car-service kingpins are actual kingpins. Augustine Asiedu, the president of a Brooklyn limo company called Fone-A-Car, has been charged with looting the business to finance a million-dollar election campaign in his native Ghana. The kicker? Dude won — and now, under the name Nana Amoakoh, he serves in the country’s parliament. Which, needless to say, complicates extradition. We went looking for an official bio of Mr. Asiedu/Amoakoh, but the Ghanaian government’s Website is down (now, that doesn’t bode well for a country). We’re left to imagine his campaign slogan: “Our guy will be there in five minutes. Vote Amoakoh.”
Owner Is Accused of Looting His Car Service to Seek Office in Africa [NYT]
Madonna as the Maternal Girl: Bad CastingMadonna is famous and infamous for her sinful buffet of personas. She’s been a geisha, a virgin, and a dominatrix, but she’s always been an original. Which is what’s so troubling about her latest reinvention. Why is she trying to be Angelina Jolie?
‘Vanity Fair’: We Are All Africa, Ad PagesThough you might have heard something about maternally inclined stars like Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and Oprah caring for some kids in the name of child welfare on the African continent, no superstar has as yet made a really chic effort to solve the country’s problems. Sure, Bill Gates’s wife, Melinda, upped the camera quotient on that couple, but they don’t carry the same paparazzi punch as a face-painted Gwyneth in an “I Am African” ad. Enter Bono and Vanity Fair, which is letting the U2 front man edit the July issue. “Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” Bono said of his editorial agenda. It’s not exactly clear yet how the marriage of Graydon Carter, debt relief, “Pride (In the Name of Love),” and AIDS is going to resolve a few hundred years of turmoil, but whatever happens, no way is it going to be frazzled, blonde, and fifteen pounds overweight: “We are trying to deal with the Sally Struthers thing … When you see people humiliated by extreme poverty and wasting away with flies buzzing around their eyes, it is easy not to believe that they are same as us,” says Bono. So what to expect? Carter claims that “a co-mingling of brands will help sell a tough subject,” so we’re seeing sand to the horizon, Jil Sander on the suffering, and some kind of headdress on Dominick Dunne.
Citizen Bono Brings African to Idle Rich [NYT]
Condé Nast Balls for Africa
Last night was “The Black Ball,” Condé Nast’s curiously named benefit gala for African AIDS charity Keep a Child Alive, and the arrivals line at Hammerstein Ballroom looked like a high-society version of that bit in Legally Blonde when the Harvard snobs tell Elle Woods to come to the party in costume but they’re totally lying. White person after white person — Elijah Woods, Sophie Dahl, Tinsley Mortimer, Garavani Valentino (whose skin, admittedly, more closely resembles orange) — showed up in head to toe black, as Iman in bright red and Gayle King in yellow sauntered by, laughing away. We imagined joke invitations and meetings on subterfuge strategies, but, thankfully, the gala was not a room divided. Here, some touching moments of togetherness …