Comments: Week of March 29, 2010

1. Joe Hagan’s profile of the Cheney family’s post–White House life (“The Cheney Government in Exile,” March 15–22)—and, in particular, Liz Cheney’s spirited defense of her father—was widely picked up by the blogosphere’s political junkies, including Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, the Atlantic Wire, and the Daily Beast. The conservative-leaning New Ledger was impressed by the fairness of the piece: “It’s notable both for its evenhanded tone … and its forward-looking outlook, focused primarily on the vice-president’s daughter. Cheney’s history has been written and written again, and it’s refreshing to read a slightly different take on the man.” Many of Liz Cheney’s detractors focused on her recent prevalence in the media, and Hagan’s reporting on her ties to NBC reporters and hosts was featured in a New York Times op-ed by Frank Rich, where he noted, “Liz Cheney’s unsupportable charges are not quarantined in the Murdoch empire. Her chummy off-camera relationship with a trio of network news stars … helps explain her rise in the so-called mainstream media.” And others, such as Michael Roston at True/Slant, were piqued by Hagan’s suggestions that she could be planning a run for Senate from Virginia. “That’s a dicey proposition,” opines Roston. “While she’s been gifted with her family’s scalpel-like political skills, she’s also been the beneficiary of quite a bit of nepotism that has placed her on a higher plane than she’s ever needed to work for. Performing strongly in positions you didn’t need to fight your way into … isn’t evidence enough of the complicated political decision-making that a person needs when they run for office, and later run our country.”

2. Amanda Fortini’s investigation into the effects of Botox and plastic surgery on the ability of actors to, well, act “Lines, Please,” (March 15–22) sparked a lively online conversation, too. Many were skeptical of Hollywood’s Botox obsession. “The most telling part of the article deals with emotion as a sort of compromise, actors figuring out what facial movements are necessary for their careers,” wrote a blogger at Cinematical. “Actors—who are in the business of portraying life—are now attempting to quantify that ever-important range of emotions.” Others rebutted the claim that actors needed to be more natural. “I don’t really see the point in bemoaning this lack of naturalness or ‘reality’ in Hollywood acting, since it was never there in the first place,” wrote a blogger at “Since when has the mainstream ‘entertainment industry’ ever been about anything but artifice?” A commenter from expressed sympathy for injection-happy actresses. “It’s a Catch-22: If they don’t do the surgery, they may find it difficult to get work; if they do do it, however, their blank expressions may render them unemployable.”

3. Commenters took issue with Adam Sternbergh’s assertion that reality television is strip-mining the nation of talented stars (“Are We Running Out of Talent?” March 15–22). “It’s a problem with the medium, not with the talent level,” wrote one commenter. “Reality TV producers have many other criteria for selecting people. They’d rather have people willing to make fools of themselves with mediocre talent, than boring, highly talented people.” Others just wanted to defend their personal favorite shows. “To include Ace of Cakes is to imply that they belong in the bevy of awful shows,” opined one. “Talent-wise, everyone who works at Charm City Cakes is very good at what they do. Plus, they’re funny, entertaining and more endearing than any of the blockheads on Jersey Shore could ever hope to be.”

4. This Tuesday, Ecco/HarperCollins will publish My First New York, a collection of notable New Yorkers’ memories of their early adventures in the big city. The book, which greatly expands a cover feature New York Magazine published last year, includes reminiscences from over 50 of our neighbors. Five contributions are excerpted here.

5. New York Magazine’s was honored to receive, for the second year running, the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in Digital Media from the American Society of Magazine Editors last Thursday. Our coverage of New York Fashion Week won us another so-called Digital Ellie for Best Multimedia Feature or Package. How to respond? We suppose Sandra Bullock said it best: “Did we really earn this, or did we just wear you all down?” New York is also a finalist for ten additional National Magazine Awards in print categories, including Magazine of the Year and General Excellence in Print, which will be presented next month. And while we’re at it (and if you’ll excuse the back-patting), the magazine’s design and photo departments are medal finalists for twelve awards, including Magazine of the Year, at the Society of Publication Designers’ annual competition.

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Comments: Week of March 29, 2010