You're the boss at the New York Times. The warden at the jail holding celebrity snoop Anthony Pellicano issued an order barring anyone other than family and lawyers from seeing him. Getting a scoop with Pellicano will certainly boost newstainment sales.
Do you: A. Respect the order and write stories without talking to Pellicano. B. Appeal to a judge to lift the order. C. Send in a "reporter" with a 20 year old law degree and California State Bar credential card who may or may not have filled out a form stating "Purpose of the visit: legal" which forces Pellicano out of his cell and into "outrage."
If you answered C, you could be New York Times management.
The media usually leaves Hollywood out of the class warfare it engenders, but NBC's Michael Okwu found a sore spot among union members angry at Hollywood hot shots like George Clooney: Top dollar celebrities pulling down millions to voice over commercial spots.
“Let’s put it this way, there are some people that are
making a million dollars an hour,” announcer Tom Kane griped. Okwu told viewers
Kane is paid “a lot less.”
“Just go make
your movies. Let us do our commercials and no one gets hurt,” Kane told Okwu.
But Kane is far
more successful than the average union dues-paying announcer and he himself has
starred in a few animated movies.
A look at Kane’s
professional Web site and his profile at the Internet Movie Database
(imdb.com), tell of a career voicing over television shows, video games, and
trailers to movies such as “Booty Call,” “Ice Age 2,” and “Jimmy Neutron.”
Fair warning for those that are sensitive to vulgarity, for this post will need to use some to properly quote the individual involved. Comedian Robin Williams was on the “Tonight Show” Thursday, and used the occasion to make fun of Rush Limbaugh’s recent Viagra incident. To be sensitive to those that might be offended, all obscene quotes will appear in the "Read More" section.
Now, to be fair, I am a huge Robin Williams fan, and believe him to be an equal opportunity offender. Even Rush, who has a fabulous sense of humor, likely would think this was funny (video link to follow).
With that in mind, host Jay Leno nicely set up Williams by asking for his opinion about the recent Viagra story concerning Limbaugh. Williams answered:
The 70-year-old comic book superhero Superman has always had the longtime slogan, "Truth, justice, and the American way." But in the latest movie reincarnation of the Man of Steel, the slogan is a little different: "Truth, justice and all that stuff."
The makers of the movie claim that "the world is different" than it was in the 40's and 50's, and that the film has to be applicable for movie watchers around the world.
While audiences in Dubuque might bristle at Superman's newfound global agenda, patrons in Dubai likely will find the DC Comics protagonist more palatable. And with the increasing importance of the overseas boxoffice -- as evidenced by summer tentpoles like "The Da Vinci Code" -- foreign sensibilities can no longer be ignored.
One of the writers of the screenplay, Dan Harris, says "the American way" doesn't mean the same thing anymore.
Should we look for Matt Lauer to close his next interview of Condi Rice by clasping her hands? Perhaps a verklempt Dick Cheney thanking Campbell Brown for "standing by me through every crisis"? Could be, judging by Al Roker's interview of Star Jones this morning.
OK. Star isn't Secretary of State. She's someone who got bounced as co-host of a televised coffee klatsch. Even so, some of the journalistic values on display were eye-brow raising. For openers, what does it say about Today's news values that the interview, stretching across two half-hours and three segments, was the longest this veteran Today watcher can remember?
And then there was the personal relationship between Al and Star. The flag first went up when Star thanked Al for having phoned her with information: "I actually remember a phone call when you saw something in the paper that I had not even seen that was pretty nasty."
A few hours after a televised display of saccharine warmth and affection between Barbara Walters and Star Jones Reynolds - who yesterday surprised her "View" colleagues by announcing she's leaving in mid-July - their relationship turned very chilly indeed.
Never mind Walters' previous public assurances that Jones Reynolds was welcome to stay on the show as long as she wanted. Yesterday, "The View's" alpha female - the show's co-owner and co-executive producer - told me that she lied "to protect Star" from the damaging news that ABC long ago decided not to renew her contract.
"The network made this decision based on a variety of reasons which I won't go into now. But we were never going to say this. We wanted to protect [S]tar. And so we told her that she could say whatever she wanted about why she was leaving and that we would back her up."
Well I'll be, The View is a news program after all. If she did this to protect someone she dislikes, just think what she's done to protect the people she likes.
As a veteran Couric watcher, I've recently come to follow [without actually watching] doings at The View, since Katie's replacement Meredith Vieira was for years a member of the show's cast. For those unfamiliar with it, The View is an all-female televised coffee klatsch and gabfest of which Barbara Walters is the creator, partial owner and a co-host.
The View has a distinct liberal tint to its patter. And as we know, one of the tenets of feminist theology is that women have a right to whatever body size they want, free of societal restraints.
How ironic - some might say hypocritical - that one reason for the recent firing of co-host Star Jones is that . . . she refused to stay fat! As you'll note from the before and after pics here, Star has undergone a dramatic physical transformation. According to this AP article:
The MRC Business & Media Institute's latest study is getting notice in the media.
The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens did a write-up below-the-fold in the business section today.
"Bad Company," the first of a three-part study series on media coverage of the American businessman is available here.
Here's a bit of what Ahrens wrote:
On the heels of last month's conviction of top Enron Corp.
executives comes this nugget from the Media Research Center, a
conservative television watchdog group that examines programming to
determine how certain groups are portrayed. In this study, the group
claims that Hollywood unfairly and overwhelmingly casts businessmen and
women as "criminal CEOs and murdering MBAs."
Mark Twain once said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress."
Today's Hollywood TV executives would beg to differ. To them there's no distinctly native criminal class except American businessmen.
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute is out with our latest study, the first of a three-part series looking at the media's bias against businessmen.
Almost 10 years ago, the Media Research Center’s
Business & Media Institute published “Businessmen Behaving Badly,”
which found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any
other demographic. In this new study, BMI looked at 129 episodes
from 12 top-rated dramas on the four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and
NBC. These broadcasts were picked from two “sweeps” months in 2005 –
May and November – when networks try to attract the largest
audiences to maximize ad dollars.
In this look at primetime, BMI found:
Negative toward Business: Negative plots about business and
businessmen outnumbered positive ones by almost 4-to-1. Of the 39
episodes that included business-related plots or characters, 30
(77 percent) cast businessmen and commerce in a negative light.
According to Drudge, the checkbook journalism practiced by People Magazine extended to another Time Warner property; Anderson Cooper.
There's loud chatter among industry insiders that the $4 million deal PEOPLE Mag's editor Larry Hackett cut with Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt for their baby pictures extended to CNN, also part of the TIME WARNER family. A rep for CNN denies any TIMEWARNER deal secured the interview. "Angelina Jolie's representative approached Anderson Cooper's senior executive producer David Doss because Angelina is an admirer of Anderson's work, especially his commitment to covering Africa and the plight of refugees."
There is one sure way of finding out. It is imperative that Time Warner immediately release the original contract with Angelina to determine if anything other than People Magazine is mentioned. If it were any other organization implicated in an unethical practice, wouldn't CNN demand the same of them?
Their actions over the weekend will speak directly to the ethics, transparency, and values of the news operation. (i.e. don't expect much more than more denials, obfuscating the facts, and refusing to expose the contract.)
TV critic Alessandra Stanley goes after host Jay Leno for not laying a glove on his Wednesday night guest Ann Coulter in Friday’s Arts review, “A Battle of Wits, And No Clear Win.”
It’s clear who the liberal Stanley is rooting for in this clash of TV talker vs. best-selling conservative titan, chastening both Leno and David Letterman for failing to verbally spank Coulter: “As his tut-tutting chat with the mean girl of the moment showed, Jay Leno is a terrible interviewer….Mr. Leno, who will be replaced by Conan O'Brien in 2009, can afford to slack off, but it is [rival TV talker David] Letterman who seems to be taking too many of his shows pass/fail. And it's a shame, because the host of CBS's ‘Late Show’ is the comedian intellectually and temperamentally most suited to taking on the conservative enfant terrible and giving her a much-deserved public swat.”
Writing at NewsMax, Steve Malzberg talks about how the liberal press holds Ann Coulter to a much higher standard than it does for left-wing humorists.
You have to admire the brazen
hypocrisy being exhibited by the liberal media when it comes to the
treatment that Ann Coulter has been receiving from them.
She has been so vilified that at least one liberal columnist has
reportedly suggested she'd be better off dead. He actually asked her,
"Would it kill you to do us all a favor and kill yourself?" But that
columnist, Simon Dumenco of Ad Age, gets away unscathed – as do the
rest of those who have directed vile, outrageous and shameful remarks
in the direction of Coulter and others on the right.
Here's what BMI's Dan Gainor posted Thursday about Lauer's Tuesday night foray into documentary-making (click here for the full article):
“We are the problem,” declared NBC’s “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer doing a stint as host for the SciFi network. Lauer was referring to mankind’s alleged misuse of planet Earth, but his comment better suits the media and his apocalyptic documentary.
Lauer’s program, “Countdown to Doomsday,” merged nearly every science-fiction disaster flick ever made – “The Terminator,” “Deep Impact,” “I, Robot” and, of course, the SciFi Channel’s own “Battlestar Gallactica.” Lauer’s news background gave an air of respectability to the documentary and the show was filled with news footage from Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and more to reinforce that impression.
The world has taken another turn for the bizarre. CNSNews reported on Friday (hat tip to NB reader RJ) that a new family movie about football, “Facing the Giants,” has been given a “PG” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America apparently for having too much religious content.
Too much religious content? Are you kidding me?
This story appears to have first been reported by Terry Mattingly at the Scripps Howard News Service on Wednesday: “‘What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents,’ said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like ‘The Squid and the Whale.’"
Just what kind of “thematic elements” are present? The article elaborated:
Reuters reports that the country music trio Dixie Chicks is having trouble filling seats at concerts as it continues to take heat for criticism of President Bush.
While early ticket purchases for their first major tour in three years are generally robust in Northeastern cities, initial sales have fallen short of expectations in numerous markets, especially in the Midwest and South, forcing some dates to be scrubbed.
Who would have thought that the biggest country music fans would be in Boston and New York?
By contrast, the group's latest album, "Taking the Long Way," opened atop the U.S. pop charts last week, selling 526,000 copies during its first seven days and remaining No. 1 in its second week to notch one of the year's strongest debuts.
Human Events Online reports that "The Passion of the Christ" is in no danger of being passed up by "The Da Vinci Code" in ticket sales, even after 15 days.
As reported here earlier, The Passion of The Christ, which IMDb ranks No. 10 in U.S. box office sales for all time, continues to outpace The Da Vinci Code’s U.S. box office performance in head-to-head match-ups of day-by-day sales—a trend that continues to send Hollywood this unmistakable message: “Blasphemy doesn’t pay.”
Imagine it as a horserace between Passion and Code.
Passion, at the week three, Day 15 turn had sold $228,134,000 at the U.S. box office, while Code lagged behind at $172,656,000 in U.S. ticket sales....
The Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) is co-hosting a symposium on June 6 with TCSDaily.com at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Hollywood's treatment of capitalism on the silver screen. The panelists include Fox News Watch's James Pinkerton, film critic Michael Medved, Clinton acolyte Lanny Davis, and BMI director Dan Gainor.
The free event lasts from 6-9 p.m. and includes free cocktails. Bloggers are particularly welcome.
Seats are still available. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For you conservatives tired of the to-the-right-of-Attila ribbings, know that liberals sometimes brag up their own ideological bearings. So in the Weekend section of the Washington Post on Friday, obnoxious red-headed comedienne and old "Suddenly Susan" character Kathy Griffin proclaimed: "I'm super, super loudmouth lefty. I'm so far left I'm not even a Democrat anymore [sic]...I'm a Sandinista."
So what's with the I'm-a-Sandinista line? Is it funny to align yourselves with overthrown (by vote) communist dictatorships? A little Googling brought me back home to the January 23 CyberAlert, where I learned this Sandinista line is apparently a regular Griffin riff, as she described her approach to doing comedy for USO tours for the troops in Iraq: "My politics are so far to the left I'm not even a Democrat, I'm like a Sandinista at this point. So nobody wants to hear my blue state liberal crap over there. So I try to keep a lid on it and just try and make them laugh and do a good show."
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission refused to reconsider on Wednesday its decision to fine 20 CBS Corp. (CBSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) television stations a total of $550,000 for airing pop singer Janet Jackson's breast flash in 2004.
The decision sets up a likely court battle over the FCC's attempt to crack down on indecent content broadcast on television and radio.
Jackson briefly exposed her breast during the Super Bowl football halftime show, sparking an outrage among some lawmakers and parents groups and provoking regulators to impose the fine on CBS for violating U.S. decency standards.
Can you imagine the visage of Adolf Hitler being incorporated as a kitsch pop item and celebrated as a "kind of George Washington, James Dean" icon in the mainstream press?
Probably you can’t. But left-wing mass-murderers get an irony pass in both the media and pop culture. Chairman Mao's image is almost as ubiquitous as that of Che Guevara (another left-wing killer, albeit on a less grand scale). A Sunday Week in Review story by David Barboza ("Chameleon Mao, the Face of Tiananmen Square") celebrates Mao's image without acknowledging the millions of murders under his long reign.
MRC's Michelle Humphrey spotted an incredibly effusive endorsement for Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth" in a surprising venue -- the "Daily 10" show on the E! entertainment channel. This is a show apparently geared toward people under 25, if not under 18, with a really young group of hosts (except for thirtysomething Debbie Matenopoulos). As part of the feature called "Lyons' Den," Ben Lyons (son of "Sneak Previews" movie critic Jeffrey Lyons and surprise, a Michael Moore fan) poured on the goo for Gore just after his thumbs-up for the third X-Men film:
Lyons: "I would rather talk about something a little bit more important that needs our support. And that’s the Al Gore film, 'An Inconvenient Truth.'"
Times music writer Kelefa Sanneh tosses ice on the liberal media’s celebration of the Dixie Chicks in Thursday’s “It’s Dixie Chicks vs. Country Fans, but Who’s Dissing Whom?”
The female country music trio are best known lately for dissing President Bush at a London concert in 2003, and since then have picked fights with the overtly patriotic country singer Toby Keith. But kudos from liberal media outlets like the Times and Time magazine have proven easier conquests than radio stations, where there first two singles have struggled to get airplay and have tumbled down the charts.
A half hour after championing Al Gore's "comeback" on Tuesday's Good Morning America (see this earlier NewsBusters item), the show celebrated the Dixie Chicks and their new album, treating them as victims for the negative reaction to the lead singer's 2003 charge, from overseas, that she was "ashamed" to be from the same state as President Bush. Diane Sawyer fretted over how "suddenly country radio stations pulled their music, people destroyed the album, hounded their relatives and tracked them down with death threats." But, she touted, "they are roaring back. It is a new album called 'Taking the Long Way' and in it they dare to announce, at least when it comes to the haters, they're not ready to make nice. They are spirited, unbowed and they are back with a new single called 'Not Ready to Make Nice.'" Sawyer insisted that "among their biggest supporters were the soldiers fighting in Iraq who said they were fighting for the right to freedom of thought and speech." After highlighting how the group's video features a hit on Vice President Cheney -- "to talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming" -- Sawyer read a sympathetic e-mail to them: "Do you feel basically that you've been vindicated and that the American public moved to your position?" (Transcript follows)
The Dixie Chicks and their marketing gurus clearly know publicity. They asked themselves: How can we get ourselves featured on the cover of Time and hailed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” just before the new CD comes out? Easy. Trash George W. Bush again.
Time’s cover had the three women framed in black with the celebratory title “Radical Chicks.” They were famous not because of their music, but because “They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.” That’s a bit off. They criticized George W. Bush, with lead singer Natalie Maines telling a London audience the band so despised him they were ashamed to be from the same home state. That isn’t exactly a brilliant anti-war policy statement that Madeleine Albright would crib. It was an insult.
Times music critic Jon Pareles thinks the anti-Bush country group The Dixie Chicks were right all along in Sunday’s front page Arts & Leisure feature, "The Dixie Chicks: America Catches Up With Them"
"The Dixie Chicks call it 'the Incident': the anti-Bush remark that Natalie Maines, their lead singer, made onstage in London in 2003. 'Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,' said Ms. Maines, a Texan herself.
"It led to a partisan firestorm, a radio boycott, death threats and, now, to an album that's anything but repentant."
What Pareles doesn’t mention: It also got them cover stories on several news magazines and newspapers back then, and they’re still milking their profile in courage -- Time Magazine this week has them on the cover in a typically favorable article (they apparently have "The Biggest Balls In American Music," apparently because it's just so courageous to stand up in front of an anti-war audience and bash Bush).
It's a spicy set of covers on the news magazines this week. U.S. News asks how low Bush can go in the polls. Newsweek is having another agnostic's crush on Mary Magdalene. But Time magazine wins the liberal-bias award for promoting the Dixie Chicks on its cover with the words "Radical Chicks." (Cover copy: "They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.") Josh Tyrangiel's cover story begins predictably by hailing the lead singer:
Natalie Maines is one of those people born middle finger first.
As a high school senior in Lubbock, Texas, she'd skip a class a day in an attempt to prove that because she never got caught and some Mexican students did, the system was racist.
If you would like to see the range of opinion among film critics on "The DaVinci Code," one very nice inventory of major-media reviews can be found at metacritic.com. It earned a 48 out of 100, well below this weekend's new cartoon, "Over the Hedge," which averaged out to 67.
On Thursday night, NBC aired the final episode of "Will & Grace" after eight seasons, but on Thursday’s "Today," MRC’s Geoff Dickens noticed Katie Couric interviewed the cast and just lathered on the praise that her 14-year-old daughter learned so much about tolerance for homosexuality from the show, and "I think that’s a great contribution to society," because "I think you have to teach tolerance at a very early age and the more comfortable people feel with people who are different, starting when they're young, the more tolerant and accepting they're gonna be as they go into adulthood." So much for CBS hiring an even-handed new anchor on the hot social issues of the day.
You would expect an NBC show to praise an NBC show, but Couric went way beyond that to a serious political lecture. She began the segment by touting the victory over what critics call homophobia:
After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
When Mel Gibson introduced "The Passion of the Christ" into the public conversation, Hollywood had a lot to say about it. Now Hollywood is offering its response with the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code," inviting commentary not on that movie, but on Hollywood itself.
Three years ago, Mel Gibson gambled his own personal fortune on a great creative risk, going completely outside the established Tinseltown system to produce a horrifyingly realistic reenactment of Our Lord’s crucifixion, and resurrection. It took not just sacrifice but also real courage to make this. The studios all scoffed at the idea. The reviews were horrible – before anyone had seen a frame of it.