Oprah Makes Surprise Appearance During Leno’s Seinfeld Interview On Inaugural Episode (VIDEO)

Jay Leno's new 10 o'clock show premiered tonight on NBC, and his first guest was his old friend Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld, decked out in a tuxedo, professed himself honored to be the inaugural guest on Leno's new show, however he expressed surprise that Leno couldn't find a bigger celebrity to be the first guest.

Seinfeld said he heard that Leno had tried to get Oprah but failed. Leno confirmed this, and Seinfeld promptly told him that he could get Oprah. A television screen then lowered and the talk show queen herself appeared.


James Warren: This Week in Magazines: Armani on Newspapers, Traveling With a Purpose

Hurrah! Giorgio Armani thinks newspapers are cool (sort of)!...A new magazine about traveling "with a purpose"...A melancholy look at Bosnia and the Dayton Accord...Time on work, Newsweek on Jamie Dimon and the New Yorker on last year's Wall Street debacle...And Consumer Reports tells us which store brands really do taste better than the fancy brand-names ones.

Robert Duvall's Lieut. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now famously loved the smell of napalm in the morning. It's with rare pleasure that we can report that an Italian fashion icon loves an endangered species composed of ink and newsprint.

"If there is a smell I associate with the realization that I was becoming successful, it was newspaper," Giorgio Armani tells WSJ, the new monthly offering from the Wall Street Journal, in an issue devoted to the seemingly fragile state of luxury goods. "I'd open the paper and see the good reviews and realize that people were noticing my designs."

Hey, you remember newspapers, don't you? I know it's not cool but maybe, just maybe, you can buy one every once in a while and, at minimum, keep some of the folks we elect to office just a tad more honest. You know, when the cat's away, the mice will play and all that.

The Armani chat is part of a strong, if not always novel, look at luxury in an age of recession and anxiety with conspicuous consumption by some members of the propertied class. We're informed that the champagne industry is sharply dropping prices amid declining sales; the diamond industry is scurrying, with layoffs and closing of stories, as one-carat high-quality diamonds have sunk by about 20 percent in price, with five-carat gems down 30 percent; high-end handbag makers are producing cheaper bags and accessories; with some trophy real estate morphing into white elephants, it's just "socially unacceptable" to brag about buying a $25 million apartment, unless you can boast about getting a bargain; and then there's the curious "artful dissonance" of "rough luxe," namely reconciling the old and contemporary in interior furnishing, at times simply melding "the decrepit with the pristine."

There are a host of socio-cultural developments inherent in all of this, though some don't get much mention. For example, there's how the very concept of luxury had changed long before the recession, with a new populism in which there is mass accessibility to the highest quality of design, be it via Martha Stewart or Tiffany knockoffs. No matter what F. Scott Fitzgerald thought, the differences between the rich and the rest of us are, in some ways, less than they once were. Maybe I'll rent a stretch limo for a night on the town.

--What don't we have in the pretty strong and creative travel sector? Well, the premier of AFAR is premised on the notion that we're increasingly driven by a search for meaning, not necessarily consumption and entertainment, and there are lots of tales out there about people and culture we've been missing.

There are some smart, fun tales, including a profile of a globetrotting web programmer who exploits the fact he can work from anywhere; travels "with a purpose" to meet experts trying to save our oceans and marine biology; a look at how a hallowed-out loaf of bread with vegetarian or meat curry became South Africa favorite street food; and how costume-play cafes in Tokyo are a magnet for youth seeking social connections. There are lots of fun tidbits, such as a two-page graphic on the biggest coca bean-producing and -consuming nations (the Irish eat the most chocolate, while Americans way back in 12th spot) and, all in all, the sum of the parts may be greater than the whole but this will be worth a second look and watching, especially in a tortuous climate for start-ups.

--"The Death of Dayton: How to Stop Bosnia from Falling Apart" in the September-October Foreign Affairs by Patrice McMahon and Jon Western analyses the legacy of the 19965 Dayton Accord and argues that Bosnia is certainly no longer the "poster child" for post-war reconstruction:

"After 14 years of intense international efforts to stabilize and rebuild Bosnia, the country now stands on the brink of collapse. For the first time since November 1995 -- when the Dayton accord ended three and a half years of bloody ethnic strife -- Bosnians are once again talking about the potential for war."

"Bosnia was once the poster child for international reconstruction efforts. It was routinely touted by U.S. and European leaders as proof that under the right conditions the international community could successfully rebuild conflict-ridden countries. The 1995 Dayton peace agreement divided Bosnia into two semi-independent entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, inhabited mainly by Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (Serb Republic, or RS), each with its own government, controlling taxation, educational policy, and even foreign policy. Soon after the war's end, the country was flooded with attention and over $14 billion in international aid, making it a laboratory for what was arguably the most extensive and innovative democratization experiment in history. By the end of 1996, 17 different foreign governments, 18 UN agencies, 27 intergovernmental organizations, and about 200 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) -- not to mention tens of thousands of troops from across the globe -- were involved in reconstruction efforts. On a per capita basis, the reconstruction of Bosnia -- with less than four million citizens -- made the post-World War II rebuilding of Germany and Japan look modest."

"As successful as Dayton was at ending the violence, it also sowed the seeds of instability by creating a decentralized political system that undermined the state's authority. In the past three years, ethnic nationalist rhetoric from leaders of the country's three constituent ethnic groups -- Muslims, Croats, and Serbs -- has intensified, bringing reform to a standstill. The economy has stalled, unemployment is over 27 percent, about 25 percent of the population lives in poverty, and Bosnia remains near the bottom of World Bank rankings for business development."

--Sept. 21 Time's "Out of Work in America" is a solid job, especially as it broaches the possibility of real structural changes underway in certain sectors of the labor market, while elsewhere offering profiles of socially responsible workers and entrepreneurs, with Barack and Michelle Obama opining on the topic. Meanwhile, Newsweek offers an homage to JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon, in the form of excerpting a book suggesting he exhibited courage and foresight in agreeing to take over a wounded Bear Stearns and, in the process, save the government's butt. But the strongest of pieces this week on the one-year anniversary of historic financial events is the estimable James Stewart's characteristically superbly-reported "Eight Days" in the New Yorker, which offers some new insights into the decisions to let Lehman Brothers go down the tubes but saving A.I.G; ultimately underscoring some of the hotly-debated matters involving the role of markets and government in a democracy.

--Finally, speaking of markets or, ah, supermarkets, October ShopSmart from the folks at Consumer Reports gives us "Store Brand Winners," namely lots and lots of examples of private-label foods that it decrees to taste better than famous brand products. For example, it prefers Archer Farms (Target) Oatmeal Raisin Chewy Soft Baked Cookies over Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookies; Kirkland Signature (Costco) Organic Salsa, Medium over Old El Paso Thick n' Chunky Salsa, Medium; and 365 (Whole Foods) Organic Steak Sauce over AI Steak Sauce.

Eric Boehlert: Michelle Malkin And The Anatomy Of The 2 Million Protester Lie

Blame it on a tweet.

It turns out that's what kicked off the right-wing blogosphere's comically inept misinformation campaign last weekend to try to swell the size of Saturday's anti-Obama protest in the nation's capital, to jack the crowd size up to the wildly inflated -- and erroneous -- number of 2 million people.

For most sane observers, what transpired over the weekend resembled a comical bout of telephone tag -- the game schoolchildren play when they whisper something into a friend's ear and then get a big laugh when, six or seven friends later, they hear how distorted the original message has become via garbled repetition. (Two million protesters!) The sad part is that right-wing bloggers are serious. They think they're engaging in some bold new era of citizen journalism. Instead, they just, you know, make stuff up.

It's just the latest example in a string of unforgettable whoppers from online conservatives who rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. And, yes, irony abounds in that right-wing bloggers hate the press and that they hate the practice of journalism. They lecture reporters about accountability and fairness all the time, yet whenever amateur conservatives try their hand at reporting, they just produce guffaws for the rest of us. (Did I mention they miscalculated the size of the crowd by 1,930,000 people?)

On Saturday, facts didn't matter because right-wing ringleader Malkin was helping to spread a sprawling (and illogical) lie, and her dutiful followers knew just what to do: spread it hard and fast. Perhaps Malkin's only regret was she didn't aim higher; she could have claimed there were news reports of 12 million people protesting in D.C., and I'm sure every one of her willingly gullible devotees would have linked to her.

They really are shameless. And they really do inhabit their own parallel political universe where everyone's allergic to facts.

Read the entire Media Matters column here.

Casey Gane-McCalla: Katrina’s Lessons Are as Important as 9/11’s

Last Friday was the 8th anniversary of 9/11. The previous week was the 4th anniversary of Katrina. While the media covered a lot of the 9/11 memorials, concerts and memories, it seemed as if the legacy of Katrina got very little attention. Both events have had a great impact on our country, but it seems as if politicians and pundits only learned something from 9/11.

I'd like to think that the lessons of 9/11 would be: Be extremely cautious about domestic terrorists, don't train militant religious fanatics to fight your enemies, because they might come back to bite us and treat all threats against our country seriously.

While people in the media talk about the lessons of 9/11 very often, it is rare to hear pundits and politicians talk about the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. While 9/11 left 2,998 people dead or missing, Hurricane Katrina left 2,536 people dead or missing and displaced over one million people.

But 9/11 changed several ways the government operates in terms of foreign and domestic polices, while Katrina changed very little. After 9/11, we invaded two countries, started the patriot act and changed airline travel as we know it.

Katrina has caused no significant changes in US policy. What the world saw after Katrina, was a natural disaster inflamed by poverty, segregation and racism. While the government may not have been able to stop the hurricane, the U.S. could have definitely prevented the racism and poverty that made Hurricane Katrina way worse than it should have been.

Hurricane Katrina was an embarrassment to the United States. Despite its great wealth, the U.S. could not take care of its own. After Katrina, George Bush's approval rating was 45%, half of the 90% it reached after September 11th.

Hubert Humphrey once said, "A nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. Congress should not ignore the plight of our nation's poorest and sickest beneficiaries any longer."

The judgment on George Bush from his reaction to Katrina both domestically and internationally is part of his legacy forever. Still, it seems as if the lessons of Katrina have been lost on the Republican party.

The Republicans obviously have not learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, as they continue to disregard poor, disenfranchised people, which is reflected in their opposition to health care.

Diseases, like hurricanes, affect everybody. Yet, as in Katrina, the rich seem to be protected against them, while the poor and minority populations are vulnerable and often left with no help to protect themselves against them.

If the next Katrina comes as a virus (like Swine Flu), once again the rest of the world will see how America treats its poorest and sickest beneficiaries. That is why we need health care for every citizen. If America has learned anything from the lessons of Katrina, it is that America must protect all of its citizens, regardless of economic or racial backgrounds.

Katrina was a reminder of the poor people who are rarely on TV and not seen or heard. These people are Americans, not third world refugees. They are entitled to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness given to us in the Declaration of Independence. Just like the government is responsible for trying to help its citizens from disaster, it should be responsible for taking care of its citizens from diseases and health risks.

Protecting our citizens and keeping our country safe is no just about bombing countries that we think our threats. Not all threats come from Islamic extremists. Hunger, poverty, crime, natural disasters and diseases also threaten the safety of our country and citizens. If we can spend billions of dollars to invade other countries to keep our country safer, we should sacrifice to make the country safer for all of our citizens from natural disasters and diseases.

It is time to heed the lessons of Katrina. We are one country and all of our citizens are important, rich and poor, black and white. When a government gives an every man for himself attitude towards disease and natural disasters, it reflects badly on our country. It is the duty of our country to protect its citizens not only against terrorist attacks, but also against natural disasters and diseases as well. That's why we need to make sure every one of our citizens has the right to health care.

Ivy Pochoda: The Day My Book Was Born — Will It Survive?

On the morning of September 15th, 2009 I will be standing in a crowd outside my local bookstore, waiting to rush towards the new fiction releases. At the shelves, the crowd and I separate. They will grab copies of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (Doubleday). I will snag my own novel, The Art of Disappearing (St. Martin's Press). I'm willing to bet that no two books released on the same day for the rest of the year will top our combined total sales. Dan Brown and I are going to make publishing history.

I've always known that I would have to share my release date with a host of eager novices and established authors. But I had no idea that I'd be joined by Mr. Brown, a literary juggernaut, a one-man stimulus package for the book business. His income from The Da Vinci Code, $250 million dollars, could float a fleet of struggling publishing houses and bookstores.

With an astounding first edition print run of 6.5 million, the largest in Random House's history, Mr. Brown is going to bring customers out in droves. (I will not mention here by how many powers of ten his print run dwarfs mine.) But in case a bookstore sells out of The Lost Symbol, or a customer wants varied fictional fare, my novel will be beckoning. I'll happily ride Mr. Brown's coattails as long as I can.

Internet conspiracies have been swirling about our mutual publication date, hinting its significance will be revealed in The Lost Symbol. Whatever this may be, for me it represents the only day that Dan Brown and I will be collaborators. On September 16th, 2009, we will go our separate ways.

In terms of publicity, we are going to divvy up the terrain. Mr. Brown is an old hand with the high-end media outlets. He'll handle CNN, the Today show, and NPR, but he won't show up in your local bookstore or do a tour of book blogs. You probably won't be able to chat with him online or send him an email.

But I'm going to grind it out on the ground. I'll be reading high and low -- from dive bars in Brooklyn to the Harvard Club of New York. I'll be traveling to independent bookstores and stopping by Barnes & Noble and Borders. I'm going reader-to-reader, meeting the people who've honored me by choosing my book. Along the way, I hope to reaffirm that literary culture is still alive: it's just transformed, gone viral.

You don't believe me? Look at the Internet. There is an abundance of literary social networking sites, Goodreads, Librarything, Redroom, Shelfari, and WeRead, which boast memberships in the millions. These sites make authors available to their fans and critics and allow readers to discuss books with each other. I've joined all of them. The word is out. I'm waiting to hear from you. You'll be hearing back.

Then of course there is Facebook, where Dan Brown and I both have personal pages. Mr. Brown's page boasts an remarkable 60,000 members. Mine, somewhat less. But I'm an untested quantity. I might catch up. However, I'm pretty sure Mr. Brown isn't sitting behind his desk, Tweeting his whereabouts. That's left to his army of social media strategists. But each update or Tweet bearing my name comes straight from the source. It's thrilling to me to be able to reach out to my readers, to participate in this new breed of social media that democratizes literary culture and opens interactive channels of communication between those who love to write books and those who love to read them.

There are critics out there who will question my desire to associate with Mr. Brown. Consorting, even theoretically, with a mass-market bestselling author is not the company that an aspiring writer of literary fiction should aim to keep. But authors who have reached or surpassed the same mind blowing sales figures as Dan Brown (83 million copies) include J.D. Salinger and Charles Dickens. I'll hang with them.

It's no secret that cultural acceptance is fickle and faddish. Unless they feature vampires, wizards, or Robert Langdon, it's hard to judge what books will triumph. Success can come from the most surprising places -- perhaps sharing a release date with Dan Brown is one of them. Maybe in a few years when my second novel is about to drop, a first time author will discover that she has the same release date as I, and blog, Tweet, or editorialize about it, hoping to ride my success to the top.

Richard Blakeley, Gawker Editor, Arrested On Domestic Violence Charges

Gawker video editor Richard Blakeley was arrested earlier this month on charges of domestic violence.

Blakeley, who co-authored a book based on the blog This Is Why You're Fat, denied the charges on his personal blog:

Yes it's true, I was arrested for assault.

However the allegations against me are 100% not true. In cases of domestic abuse there's an assumption not of innocence but of guilt so half of you won't believe me. I hope we can put this behind us and move on with our lives as quickly as possible.

The police report indicates that the alleged incident occurred on August 25, and that Blakeley was arrested on September 4. He is due in court November 4.

In May 2008, Blakeley solicited suggestions for an article on "where to take a girl on a first date...rape" from friends, asking "where you would take a girl if you were planning on date raping her for the first time."

Jacob Heilbrunn: Sarah’s Choice

Sarah Palin is hitting the lecture circuit. On September 23 she's scheduled to address the CLSA investors' group in Hong Kong. The title of her talk, however, is a secret. According to CNN, CLSA flack Simone Wheeler says, "We are not disclosing the topic of Sarah Palin's presentation at this point." Nor is the media going to be allowed to attend.

But keeping mum about Palin's talk is sure to whet curiousity about it. What hot tips about maximizing personal income might the former Governor of Alaska be dispensing? One key source may be Levi Johnston's recent chronicle in Vanity Fair of his several months spent living in the Palin household. If his observations are anything to go by, Palin definitely has her own approach to work. She doesn't like it.

Levi's account suggests that her favorite activity is getting others to do her bidding. And she likes free stuff -- free room service, free clothes, free hotel rooms. Once the campaign ended, Levi says, her motto was, "I want to just take this money and quit being governor." And so she has.

In her venality, Palin represents the quintessence of the ethos that flourished during the Bush years. Her credo of something for nothing contrasts starkly with President Obama's admonition to Wall Street today: "I want everybody here to hear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses."

Palin clearly isn't listening. But her audiences should. When Palin says whatever tumbles into her head in Hong Kong, her listeners would do well to remember what John McCain quickly learned: she herself has always been a volatile and bad investment.