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Archive for Rupert Murdoch

The New Trophy Wives of the Top Media Moguls via [Marie Claire]

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The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce  Wasserstein. Why are the West's most powerful men coupling up with  younger Asian women?

Call it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn — 35 years his junior — he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty!

Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng — 17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.

Were these tycoons consciously courting Asian babes? Do any of them qualify for the unnerving “yellow fever” or “rice king” moniker? It’s unsavory to think so. But after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized.

Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes — Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual — are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie‘s “China Girl” topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them?

Because they’re omnipresent — and often entertaining. Even now, how many cinematic greats, literary best sellers, or even cell-phone ads (see Motorola’s latest) characterize Asian women as something other than geishas, ninjas, or dragon ladies? As the object of opening-line zingers like “Me love you long time” (the infamous line from Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket), I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the cheeky blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, which ranks Asian girls at number 11 because “Asian women avoid key white women characteristics, such as having a midlife crisis, divorce, and hobbies that don’t involve taking care of the children.” Sure, I’m petite and was in fact born in Shanghai, but — to the shock of more than one guy I’ve gone out with — I’d rather down an icy beer and burger than nurse bubble tea and eat dumplings while massaging his back with my toes.

“This is a common experience among Asian-American women,” says Bich Minh Nguyen, who broaches the stereotypes in her latest novel, Short Girls. “They’re dating a white guy, and they may not know if it’s a fetish thing.”

“It’s like a curse that Asian-American women can’t avoid,” says C.N. Le, director of Asian and Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “From an academic point of view, the perception still serves as a motivation for white men.”

In researching his new book, The East, the West, and Sex, author Richard Bernstein found that the Orientalist illusion continues to influence. “Historically, Asia provided certain sexual opportunities that would be much more difficult for Western men to have at home. But it remains a happy hunting ground for them today,” he says, citing one phenomenon in the northeastern region of Thailand called Issan, where 15 percent of marriages are between young Thai women and Western men well into their 60s.

But I suspect there’s something else about the East that’s seducing business bigwigs at this very moment: globalization. Consider that, stateside, Mandarin classes have spiked 200 percent over the past five years (apparently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was an early adopter; he taught Mandarin classes in his Dartmouth days), and China has claimed status as the world’s top export nation. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that Asian kids’ intrinsic work ethic makes them outsmart American kids in math. (In the latest Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development international education survey, Taiwanese students were tops in math, while the U.S. placed 35th.) It’s as though these Western men are hungry for a piece of that mystical Eastern formula. As such, Asians (in addition to African orphans) are hot commodities right about now — status symbols as prized as a private Gulfstream jet or a museum wing bearing your name (neither of which goes so well with a frumpy, aging first wife).

Tellingly, most current trophies of choice are far more than exotic arm candy. They are accomplished musicians and journalists, they have Ivy League MBAs and hail from prestigious political families (Mrs. Wasserstein’s older sis is former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao). Why, then, are these women falling for rich white patriarchs? Why be a target for headline comparisons to concubines? When Wendi Deng was described as “The Yellow Peril” in a recent magazine profile, it only marginalized her achievement: As chief strategist for MySpace China, she has become central to News Corp.’s expansion into the elusive Chinese market — something Murdoch himself had attempted, and failed to do, before she came into the picture.

While I’m sure that real love and affection is sometimes the bond in these culture-crossing May-December romances, could it be that power divorcés of a certain ilk make the perfect renegade suitors for these overachieving Asian good girls — an ultimate (yet lame) attempt at rebellion? Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliché that is predominantly true). Or…are these women just glorified opportunists? What’s so perverse is that while Asians have always revered their elders, sleeping with a guy old enough to be your grandfather is just creepy — in any culture.

Skepticism aside, the new trophy trend does have its benefits. We’re already seeing a positive impact on global politics, economics, and the arts: The Chinese became privy to online social networking in 2007 with the launch of MySpace China under the News Corp. umbrella; contemporary Chinese painters — including Xiaogang Zhang and Minjun Yue — have rung up nearly $400 million in sales on international art circuits since 2006, thanks to well-connected supporters like Ziyi Zhang; and almost 43 percent of international adoptions, which have more than tripled since 1990, now come out of Asian countries (more playdates for Pax and Maddox). What’s more, perhaps a proliferation of gorgeous, mixed-race, multilingual offspring (assuming a classical Mandarin tutor is on the Chen-Moonves registry) is just good for our landscape. However you look at it, one thing’s for sure: We’re going to have to get used to this new international power family — aging mogul and foxy Asian wife flaunting a double-wide with newborn and adopted Malawian tot. What’s next — the token trophy pet? I hear endangered Burmese rabbits are exceptionally cuddly.



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World’s RICHEST man, Slim is a born wheeler-dealer via [Reuters]


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World’s richest man, Carlos Slim, a born wheeler-dealer

by Noel Randewich

MEXICO CITY
(Reuters) – Mexico‘s Carlos Slim, named the world’s richest man on
Wednesday, first showed a talent for business as a 10-year-old kid when
he filled his pockets with pesos selling drinks and snacks to his
family. 

Lifestyle |  Mexico
As a youngster he also kept accounting ledgers of what he earned and
spent and bought a government savings bond from which he learned
valuable lessons about compound interest.
More than half a century later Slim, 70, has amassed a fortune of
$53.5 billion, beating Microsoft founder Bill Gates to top the list of
the world’s richest people, according to a new ranking published by
Forbes magazine (www.forbes.com).
His far-flung business empire includes some of Mexico’s best-known
department stores, its biggest telecoms operator, hotels, restaurants,
oil drilling, building firms and Inbursa bank (GFINBURO.MX)
— making it hard to go a day in Mexico without paying him some money.
Outside Mexico Slim has holdings in such prestigious groups as
retailer Saks (SKS.N)
and New York Times Co (NYT.N).
His defining foray occurred in 1990 when he and his partners bought
creaking state telephone company Telmex (TELMEXL.MX)
for $1.7 billion. Turning it into a cash-making jewel, he spun off
America Movil (AMXL.MX)
and expanded it through acquisitions to become the world’s No. 4
wireless operator.
While critics accuse him of using a monopoly to build his fortune,
Slim has a simple philosophy about making money.
“Wealth is like an orchard,” he told Reuters in 2007. “With the
orchard, what you have to do is make it grow, reinvest to make it
bigger, or diversify into other areas.”
Cigar-smoking Slim’s trademark is his “Midas” touch, acquiring
struggling firms and turning them into cash cows.
In 2008, he bought a minority stake in the New York Times as the
stock tanked. Now, warrants he received for lending the publisher $250
million could net him more than $80 million and could lead to a 16
percent stake in the company for Slim, who says he has no interest in
becoming a U.S. media baron.
But Slim’s newspaper investment has ruffled feathers in the New York
media establishment. As investors speculated last week that he could
move to acquire more of the Times, media mogul Rupert Murdoch said he
doubted the controlling family would relinquish control to an outsider,
especially from abroad.
FRUGAL LIFESTYLE
Slim learned his first business lessons from his father, Julian Slim
Haddad, a Lebanese immigrant who came to Mexico in the early 1900s,
opened the “Star of the Orient” general store and bought properties
cheap during the Mexican Revolution.
In 1987, when stocks nosedived during one of Mexico’s many crises,
Slim saw opportunities where others feared disaster, picking up
low-priced shares and selling when they recovered.
“We know that crises are always temporary and there is no evil that
lasts 100 years, there is always an overshoot,” Slim once said. “When
there is a crisis that provokes an adjustment, an overreaction comes
along and things get undervalued.”
Slim’s enormous wealth stands starkly against his frugal lifestyle.
He has lived in the same house for about 40 years and drives an aging
Mercedes Benz, although it is armored and trailed by bodyguards. He
eschews private jets, yachts and other luxuries popular among Mexico’s
elite.
After studying engineering, Slim founded a real estate company and
worked as a trader on the Mexican stock exchange.
His wealth growing, he opened a brokerage in the mid-1960s and a
decade later he began his trademark trait of buying failing businesses,
including a cigarette company. He acquired department store and cafe
Sanborns, a mine operator and manufacturers of cables and tires.
By 1990 Slim had built the fortune he used with partners to buy
Telmex and launch his telecoms empire. America Movil now has 201
million customers from Brazil to the United States.
Slim has handed over the day-to-day operation of his companies to
his three sons and loyal business partners but remains clearly in
charge when appearing with them at media events.
He has become involved in combating poverty, illiteracy and poor
healthcare in Latin America and promotes sports projects for the poor,
but has never voiced plans to give chunks of his wealth to charity like
Gates or fellow billionaire Warren Buffett.
Businessmen, he says, do more good by creating jobs and wealth
through investment, “not by being Santa Claus.”
(Editing by Catherine
Bremer
and Eric
Walsh
)



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