Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obama snags the heavyweight endorsement

OK, so Schwarzenneger is endorsing John McCain. Chuck Norris is endorsing Mike Huckabee. But the endorsement all the candidates wanted went to Barack Obama. That's right -- Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster told Jimmy Kimmel he believed Barack Obama was the ‘choice,’ and that he hoped Barack Obama would win the presidency, according to PoliJam.
What you gonna do, Hillary?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The best of Bush

To jog those memory banks, here's a David Letterman top 10 list Letterman taped for the 2007 White House Correspondents Dinner -- the Top 10 George Bush moments.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let us hear from you

We know you're out there, so let us hear your opinions on our topics or yours.

Another studio makes a deal with writers

The Associated Press is reporting Lionsgate has signed an agreement with the Writer's Guild.
Meanwhile, talks between the writers and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is continuing under a news blackout. That's usually a good sign of progress.
We're crossing our fingers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A tribute ... or pushing the product?

On tonight's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann," his second runner-up in his "Worst People" was a Best Buy that put up a Heath Ledger display enticing people to buy his DVDs shortly after the news of his death broke out. We're aware of the Borders Books in Fremont, CA., that put a magazine with Ledger up on a display "as a tribute," we're told. And to hopefully get people to buy stuff, we presume. Bad form, Borders!

Comings and goings at the SF Chronicle?

Phil Bronstein's moving on and rumors are flying at the Chron who will replace him. The rumors around the Chron newsroom say the replacement is a woman and Bronstein put a little more oomph in it by saying his successor had "deep roots in the Bay Area." Two names being bandied about are Carole Leigh Hutton, who just got dropped by the free-falling San Jose Mercury News, and Susan Goldberg, who left that same Mercury News for greener pastures at the Cleveland Plain Dealer last year.
Of those two, our money's on Hutton, who came into the Bay Area in early 2007 from Detroit as publisher of the Palo Alto-based Daily News Group and vice president of California Newspapers Partnership (CNP), the company controlled by Dean Singleton's MediaNews, moved on to the Mercury News in May, then quit the Merc earlier this month. Not exactly "deep" Bay Area roots, though.
These days, though, you take newspaper executives where you can find 'em, so who knows who might be the one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The swiftboating of Hillary Clinton has begun

It was only a matter of time before the Republican slime machine would kick in with rumors about Hillary Clinton.
And, of course, those rumors are sexual. Specifically, lesbian. The type of crap they've been saying about her for years. Now they get to bring it up again.
The whispers say Hillary and her top aide, Huma Abedin, are more than co-workers. It may have started in November with the UK Times Online story. It may have been before that.
One blog quoted a passage from Gennifer Flowers' book (you remember her sexual charges against Bill Clinton) and said Bill admitted Hillary was gay.
They'll deny they said it, of course. But someone is doing the whispering.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Britney Spears death watch

The news last week that the Associated Press has begun compiling Britney Spears' obituary might shock those outside the newspaper business, but believe me, this is routine stuff. Newspapers generally have a bank of obituaries on file, especially for older celebrities with extensive careers who are likely to pass on soon.
Sound a bit morbid or give you the impression that the newspaper business is like buzzards? It shouldn't. In the process of putting the news together for each day's paper, not everything can be compiled on deadline. Doing this advance work makes the process easier when the time does come and offers the reader better coverage.
But it is unusual that Britney Spears is the focus of one. With her unusual actions -- the latest being prancing around nude in a clothing store -- she's definitely in the high risk category for becoming a story on the obit page.
I know at the newspaper I worked for, we had the obit for Bob Hope in the works for years. It almost became a running joke that Bob would outlive us all. When the day finally did come, the writer who was given the assignment (a long time in advance, incidentally) was the focus of ribbing from the staff because the time had finally come.
Maybe, though, this will be the wake up call for someone who gives a damn about Spears. No one seems to right now. Too many people are making money off her every move. And certainly, a lot of people are rooting for her death for all the money their pictures will make.

One year to go

One year from today -- Jan. 20, 2009 -- will mark the day President Bush will hand over his office to his successor. Remember what Gerald Ford said about the long national nightmare coming to an end? We've put up a poll to ask whether the day will make you sad or glad. We hope you'll vote.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Writer's strike -- a sign of progress

United Hollywood reports informal discussions have begun between the Writer's Guild and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). They're not negotiations -- yet. But it's a good sign.
We're crossing our fingers.

A great (almost) unknown

So many faces on our TV screens aren't the big stars. They're the second bananas and character actors whose roles fill out the shows we watch, sometimes adding more than just a face and a voice.
One of those people was Allan Melvin, who died of cancer Thursday at 84. The Associated Press obituary calls his most memorable role that of Sam the Butcher on "The Brady Bunch."
But Melvin's career was far more extensive. According to, his career began in 1955 with the role of Cpl. Steve Henshaw on "The Phil Silvers Show."
He also was well known as Barney Hepner on over two dozen episodes of "All in the Family" and its successor, "Archie Bunker's Place." He also acted in several episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C" and "The Andy Griffith Show."
His list of one-shot sitcom credits reads like a television encyclopedia: "Grindl," "Dr. Kildare," "McHale's Navy," "Make Room For Daddy," "The Bill Dana Show," "Ben Casey," "Slattery's People," "Perry Mason", "Lost in Space," "The Mod Squad," "Green Acres" and "Love American Style."
Young viewers heard his voice on many cartoons, including "Chattanooga Cats," "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour," "The Flintstones" and "The Magilla Gorilla Show."
What a list.
So here's to Allan Melvin. Thanks for the memories.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Just report the story. Don't be the story.

Two reasons why journalists should just report stories and be done with it.
First, there's Alycia Lane, the Philly news anchor who punched a cop during a traffic stop and mailed sexy pics of herself to a (married) friend. She was fired last week by the station that employed her.
"We have concluded that it would be impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she, herself, has become the focus of so many news stories," said CBS 3 (KYW-TV) President and General Manager Michael Colleran, reported the New York Daily News. Colleran, however, made it clear that he was not judging her guilt or innocence, just the fact she became the story.
Then there's Dave Seanor, now a former editor at Golfweek, who was fired for producing this week's magazine cover, reports It had a noose against a purple sky and the title, "Caught in a Noose." The subtitle said, "Tilghman (referring to the Golf Channel anchor who started the controversy mentioning "noose" and "Tiger Woods" in the same breath) slips up, and Golf Channel can't wriggle free."
Lane used bad judgment not once, but twice. Visible people like Lane should know their actions can be news.
As for Seanor, we suspect he wasn't thinking. Editors (and we know this firsthand) put together covers in a business-like manner and don't always, because of deadlines, give full consideration to what they're using. That's one reason editors need to have dirty minds, even if they don't want to, if you know what I mean.
Like Don Imus, though, we suspect Lane will find another job, probably in a smaller market. Same for Seanor. Dumb mistakes can hurt you, but not always for life.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


NEW YORK – January 15, 2008 – Following are quotes from "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" for the weeks of Jan. 2-4 and Jan. 7-11. "Countdown," a unique newscast that counts down the day's top stories, telecasts weeknights, 8-9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Complete program transcripts are available at

[Referring to the fact that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee admitted he had no clue about the NIE, but knows about Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy]
Olbermann: "Lord help us if we start electing or not electing presidents based on their Britney Spears I.Q."

[Referring to Britney Spears losing all visitation rights to ex-husband Kevin Federline]
Tom O'Neill, In Touch Weekly: "I'd like to say they are safe with K-Fed, but they're with K-Fed."

[Referring to a new book that claims Tom Cruise is the number two ranking official in the Church of Scientology and that his daughter, Suri, might have been fathered with the frozen sperm of the late L. Ron Hubbard]
Olbermann: "I thought it was Heather Graham starring in the remake of "Rosemary's Baby," not Katie Holmes [Cruise's wife]."

[Referring to Fox News' Sean Hannity being chased by an angry mob of Ron Paul supporters in New Hampshire}
Olbermann: "The villagers have gotten their pitchforks and their torches and stormed the mad scientist's castle that is Fox News Channel."

"On his [syndicated radio host Bill Cunningham] Sunday broadcast, he repeatedly identified a Democratic presidential candidate as, 'Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama' even though that is not his name. That is as offensive and dishonest as calling that host 'Bill Intelligent Cunningham.'"

[Referring to the fact that Bill O'Reilly is trying to link NBC and GE to Osama Bin Laden]
Olbermann: "That's right, Bill, and John Wilkes Booth worked for us, too."

Olbermann: "Rudy Giuliani has said you need to read, write, and speak English to become an American citizen. He started running a new campaign commercial on three Miami TV stations. The commercial is in – yes, Spanish."

Writer's strike -- some movement?

The Director's Guild of America (DGA) has reached a tentative agreement with the producers' Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that includes, among other things, money for Internet content, a sore point with the Writer's Guild.
More significant -- the AMPTP's announcement included this:

Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining. We look forward to these discussions, and to the day when our entire industry gets back to work.

It could be. Let's hope.

The best local news anchor in America is retiring

Outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, we doubt many people have heard of Dennis Richmond. But he's a Bay Area legend, and as the headline says, in our opinion, anyway, the best local news anchor in the country.
Richmond announced Wednesday he will retire in May. The Bay Area is losing a magnificent journalist who was, we repeat, the best local news anchor in the country.
Why are we trumpeting so much over a local news anchor?
It's simple. In an age where news shows are dominated by shallow personalities engaged in happy talk and cute comments, Richmond, in his 30 years as news anchor of KTVU's "The 10 O'Clock News," has delivered the who, what, when, where and why without hoopla or gimmicks. His straightforward, unbiased manner is the news the way it should be, but isn't.
In a story on KTVU's website, the station's Vice President and General Manager Tom McVay said, "As a working journalist, Dennis is the pinnacle of objectivity and fairness. When you watch him anchor, you know you're getting the real news. He has never let his feelings or opinions drift into the stories he delivers. Dennis and his style of delivery has defined KTVU for decades."
Exactly. In an age defined by news anchors who claim to be unbiased but aren't, Richmond was the real deal. Richmond delivered the news without embellishments and gave viewers the facts. Just the facts and nothing more.
It's unbelievable that there aren't more like him. Actually, it's kind of sad. There is an undercurrent of distrust of the media today, but there was nothing like that with Richmond. Delivering the news to him means telling it like it is. Period.
Those of us in the journalism profession looked up to Richmond. As a longtime viewer of Bay Area TV news, we've seen it all. The personable types, the down-to-earth anchors and the crusaders. Richmond is better than all of them.
Thanks, Dennis. We'll sadly countdown the days until your final broadcast May 21.
We feel sorry for whoever at KTVU has to pick your successor. That'll be one hell of a tough job.

Bill Maher returns

Adding to the fray of political pundits working without writers (now there's an interesting concept), Bill Maher returned last Friday with his first new show since November because of the writer's strike.
And it was a great show, one of the best we've seen. He had a great combination of guests -- former White House press secretary Tony Snow, entrepreneur Mark Cuban and journalist Catherine Crier. Snow, in particular, was lively and kept the debate going strong. It even ended on a peaceful note when a question from the Internet asked about devisiveness between Democrats and Republicans and Snow admitted there's a lot of it around, though not admitting that conservatives must take most of the blame.
In another move among the political shows to pick up the slack caused by the writer's strike, there was no new New Rules, one of our favorite parts. To replace it, Maher has moved up the questions from the Internet, which had run in continued discussions fueled by the web after the show was off the air, to during the show.
At any rate, it was good to see Maher back. His show has consistently been one of the best political discussion shows.
His monologue may have been missing a bit of its usual spark without the writers, and the show was minus New Rules, but talk is cheap and Maher knows how to carry on a good discussion. It's good to see him back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Netflix lifts limits on online viewing

Netflix has announced that its time limits on viewing movies online has been dropped for all but the cheapest plans. Netflix customers on subscription plans costing $9 and up can spend unlimited hours streaming movies and TV shows at no extra cost instead of waiting for them to be shipped in the mail. Those on the cheapest plan -- costing $5 -- will get up to two hours of free monthly streaming, reports the Los Angeles Times.
We've used the online viewing feature a couple of times and find it great. The only downside is that it doesn't work with Firefox, only with Internet Explorer.

TV season basically signed off after four studios cancel contracts with writers

Four of the biggest studios in Hollywood have cancelled their contracts with striking writers, effectively sinking any hopes of salvaging this TV season, reports the Los Angeles Times. 20th Century Fox Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Television have terminated their development agreements, the Times reported. There has been a landslide of cancelled writer's Guild agreements since Friday -- 65 studios in all. And the Times quoted one studio exec as saying if the strike continues into February, many more cuts would be coming. Let's hope someone gets sense before then.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Latest news roundup on the writer's strike

A deal with the Director's Guild of America (DGA) could be imminent, according to rumors on the Writer's Guild blog, United Hollywood, which is saying the deal could be announced Tuesday. A DGA agreement could break the logjam of the writer's strike, though the writers aren't bound by any DGA agreement, the blogs says. The Writer's Guild says also that they won't get less than what the DGA gets. But the strike continues.
Also, in other developments, small independent studio Media Rights Capitol (MRC) has struck a deal with the Writer's Guild. The terms of the agreement are similar to the Guild's recent deals with Worldwide Pants and United Artists.

Brit happens ... and happens .. and happens

It's gotten to the point where we really don't care if we ever see Britney Spears in the news again.
Why are people so obsessed that they have to follow this woman's every movement? As pathetic as she is, there's a point where enough is enough. And we passed that point with Spears long ago.
Today, for example, on, that website has a live cam set up in front of the courthouse where she's rumored to make an appearance.
It's clear that she's a troubled person. Her situation parallels Elvis Presley in his last years with one major difference. Elvis was older and maybe a little more emotionally able to handle what was happening to him. Spears isn't.
Like Presley, Spears is a prisoner of her fame. And we believe Presley basically did everything he could to hasten his death in his final years through his use of drugs and his horrendous eating habits.
Spears appears to be headed that way, too. And it appears as though some people are only too happy to photograph her on that path because it fattens their wallets.
But enough is enough. We don't need to see her die on camera.
Unfortunately, that sad Hollywood ending is probably where this is heading.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Writer's strike update; Another night host returns, DGA negotiations

Bill Maher is back. His "Real Time With Bill Maher" is airing his first new show since the beginning of the strike tonight (Friday).
But the bigger news is that negotiations between the DGA (Director's Guild of America) and the AMTPT begin Jan. 12. Deadline Hollywood Daily reported that DGA President Michael Apted told members in a letter today "We would not enter negotiations with the AMPTP unless we were within shouting distance of an agreement on our two most important issues: jurisdiction for our members to work in new media and appropriate compensation for the reuse of our work on the Internet and other new media platforms." The Writer's Guild says it will be watching those negotiations closely and is certain that the DGA will address some of the issues its members are striking about.
It could be an interesting weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Latest writer's strike development

The New York Times reports in its afternoon update today that the Weinstein Company, one of Hollywood's biggest independent production companies, is about to sign an agreement with the Writer's Guild. This is the biggest boost yet for the striking writers.
The Los Angeles Times, however, in an opinion piece, wrote that these side agreements are giving less incentive to the producers to settle.
We disagree. The more of these companies agree and the more the public sees the work with the writers back in place, the more pressure will be on the producers to settle.

In first new show, "The Daily Show" confronts strike

"The Daily Show" returned Monday with its first new show of the year in the wake of the ongoing Writer's Guild strike. And while "The Colbert Report kept to mostly light-hearted references, Jon Stewart discussed the strike at length with a professor who specialized in labor relations. The discussion clearly revealed that Stewart, while making some jokes about the situation, supports the writers. He discussed the writer's strategy of making side agreements, the latest being with United Artists and how this could affect the situation.
But like with "The Colbert Report, it's one down and many more shows to go in this ongoing dispute.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The election ain't over till it's over

Funny how so many commentators thought the election was basically over after the Iowa caucuses.
Guess what? It's a long way 'till November, folks.
And though we think there won't be any change in the strong candidates, don't look for a Bill Clinton-type shift between now and the conventions. What you see is what you'll get.
There's also a long way to go.

Latest writer's strike update

The Writer's Guild announced an agreement with United Artists (co-owned by Tom Cruise) on Monday. The agreement is virtually identical to the agreement signed by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants late in December.

Hall of Fame vote strikes out again

We cringe every year the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced.
Not for who makes it, but who doesn't. Especially the close ones.
This year, Rich "Goose" Gossage was elected. It only took him nine tries to earn the 75 percent vote from the ten-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. That's pitiful.
“It was very emotional I’ll tell you, off the charts. I can’t describe the feeling,” Gossage told reporters after getting the call telling him he was in. “I can’t lie. There’s been some frustration and some disappointment.”
Former Red Sox hitter Jim Rice just missed getting in by 16 votes. Next year is his last year of eligibility on the BWAA ballots. It would be disgraceful if he doesn't make it.
But it's a story that's repeated every year. So many players who deserve to get in don't because of the Hall of Fame's overly stringent election requirements.
Here's the vote totals of players that got 50 percent or more of the vote and who aren't going in this year: Jim Rice 392 (72.2 percent), Andre Dawson 358 (65.9 percent) and Bert Blyleven 336 (61.9 percent).
All of those players would be proud additions to the Hall. But not one of them may make it.
The Hall of Fame needs to stop looking at itself as the overly elitist group it is now. Too many players that deserve to be there aren't. Being elite means nothing when so many good players aren't being honored.
But like the steroid issue, baseball will probably ignore it. It won't wake up to reality.
Meanwhile, too many players that accomplished great things on the field won't get the one thing that would crown their career because of an archaic situation.

Colbert returns with a vengeance

"The Colbert Report" returned last night. And he managed to do a decent show in spite of the writer's strike with some crafty moves.
His show opening introduction included all the usual words but stopped short to point up the missing writer's contributions.
The audience helped him, too, with an incredibly long ovation that he let continue and eventually stopped by personally going out into the audience and hugging people and telling them to sit down.
He commented on the writer's strike with a brilliant segment about how he hated unions, which led into "The Word." But there was no "Word" because the writers didn't write it. It was a commentary in his own subtle way that yes, he did need them.
One thing Stephen Colbert fans can apparently look forward to is more interviews. He interviewed authors Andrew Sullivan and Richard Freeman.
Sullivan talked about his recent magazine article on the Barack Obama candidacy. Freeman, who crossed a picket line to be on the show, talked about why unions are more viable. Colbert ended the interview by asking him if he was a member of a union. Freeman said he wasn't. End of discussion.
Colbert closed the show by telling the writers, "I'll see you in my dreams."
Maybe he's dreaming he doesn't need them. Stephen Colbert got through the first night.
But there could be many more tough nights to come.

Monday, January 7, 2008

More developments in the writer's strike

Tonight, "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" both return without their writers. Both heavily rely on them. How will they fare? Both shows exist on the genius of their hosts, but both will certainly be crippled somewhat by the lack of the writers.
Still, will viewers care? They should. The quality won't be the same. If you think Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart writes all those funny lines, you're wrong.
And with the Golden Globes coming this weekend -- that actors have pledged to boycott
because of the strike -- this will be a week when viewers will see firsthand what the strike is doing.
Again, the question is, will they care? And the answer is, again, they should. The writers are asking for basic issues -- compensation for their work on the Internet and on DVD.
Greed is a terrible thing. And that's what the producers are standing behind.
A good measure of where things stand is the Writer's Guild blog, United Hollywood. The latest issues are spelled out, with both pro and con reaction. You can see the issues as they happen.

Letterman on the writer's strike

David Letterman tries to explain the Writer's Guild strike.

More on the O'Reilly dustup

In this video, O'Reilly can be heard calling Marvin Nicholson, who O'Reilly says he "gently" moved out of the way, names, though the actual confrontation is not seen.

Fox News caught in a big lie

This first clip is from an interview with a guy in a random focus group saying he supports John McCain. The second clip is the same guy ... in a different state, now an undecided voter. We report, you decide, huh?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bill O'Reilly in dustup at Obama rally

A story only Bill O'Reilly could make.
The Associated Press reports O'Reilly was involved in what can be described as an altercation with a Barack Obama staff member at a New Hampshire rally. When the staff member, who stands at Obama's side at all times, blocked a camera shot O'Reilly's crew was trying to get, O'Reilly yelled at him to get out of the way.
"Then he grabbed me with both of his arms and tried to push me out of the way," the staffer, Marvin Nicholson, was quoted by the AP.
Nicholson told him, "I told him, 'Sir, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't shove me anymore.' Reilly called him "low class."
Nicholson, who worked as Sen. John Kerry's personal aide in the 2004 presidential campaign, also said, "I've never seen a member of the press lay hands on a staffer before," he said.
Obama said he would consider going on O'Reilly's show after the primaries.
What we want to know is why O'Reilly wasn't arrested for assault. This isn't the first time O'Reilly's been involved in a scrape with the law. Who doesn't forget the sexual harrassment suit against him and his falafel comment that will live in infamy?
That wasn't all. He also showed up at a Hillary Clinton rally and, according to an interview on Fox News, actually had a good-natured banter with Sen. Clinton. We're sure he was disappointed it was nothing he could exploit.
And it's no surprise that O'Reilly plans to show the tape of the dustup on his show Monday. Nothing like exploiting it for ratings, Bill-0.

On to New Hampshire

Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are big fans of Iowa after this week's caucuses.
But neither of them should get comfortable. There's still a long road ahead.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may have finished a surprising third, but she'll surely bounce back. With Bill Clinton's help, if need be.
As for the Republicans, the evangelical support Huckabee received in Iowa won't be there as strongly in New Hampshire. John McCain should do better. He has to. So should Rudy Giuliani.
It's still a long way to November. Both sides have a lot of work to do. It's only just begun.

  • CNN resorts to Fox News tactics: CNN's highly speculative story, "If Clinton wins, would Justice Clinton be far behind?," is unusual for CNN. It's the type of story you'd see on the Fox News Channel or their gossip-laden Fox News Channel website.
    But then, CNN has been trying to get back to ratings supremacy over Fox News since the Rupert Murdoch monster took CNN's once top spot.
    Highly speculative stories shouldn't be the realm of CNN. Let Fox News have the gossip channel.
    Stick with the news, CNN.

  • Friday, January 4, 2008

    Some words everyone should hear ...

    If you didn't see it last night, listen to Barack Obama's victory speech in Iowa last night. His words inspire. He evokes the spirit of some of the greats of the past. Whether he wins the presidency or not, we sure can use that spirit now.

    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    Leno told he can't write monologues

    As we mentioned in our post earlier today, Jay Leno used a monologue on "The Tonight Show" last night in apparent defiance of union rules. Friday, the Writer's Guild informed union member Leno he was wrong to do so.
    The Guild issued the following statement on Friday:

    “A discussion took place today between Jay Leno and the Writers Guild to clarify to him that writing for The Tonight Show constitutes a violation of the Guilds’ strike rules.”

    The Writer's Guild blog United Hollywood also noted:
    We've spoken to our WGA sources, and here's what we have: The Guild talked on the phone with Jay today. They discussed the strike rules and how they apply to him. As a WGA member, he can't write anything, including monologues.

    Jay is a strong supporter of the Guild and writers, but at the same time he has a show to put on and wanted to see if there wasn't some way he could write his monologues as a "host." The Guild told him, diplomatically, respectfully but directly, that there is not.

    As the blog notes, the dispute is not with Leno, it's with NBC. Where David Letterman's agreement with the writers broke the logjam of negotiations, should Leno defy the union, the results could get more contentious.
    We hope they don't. The writers are only asking for what they deserve.

    The joke's on Leno, Kimmel and O'Brien

    The late-night talk shows, sent into forced hibernation by the writer's strike, came back on the air again last night. Some of it worked. Some of it looked ugly.
    The best of the bunch was David Letterman, whose Worldwide Pants outfit made a separate agreement with the writers to go back to work. “You’re watching the only show on the air that has jokes written by union writers,” Letterman told his audience. “I hear you at home thinking to yourself, ‘This crap is written?”
    Letterman used the strike in his top 10 list -- "Demands of the Striking Writers."

    10. “Complimentary tote bag with next insulting contract offer” — Tim Carvell, from “The Daily Show.”
    9. “No rollbacks in health benefits, so I can treat the hypothermia I caught on the picket lines” — Laura Krafft, from “The Colbert Report.”
    8. “Full salary and benefits for my imaginary writing partner, Lester” — Melissa Salmons, writer for daytime TV.
    7. “Members of the AMPTP must explain what the hell AMPTP stands for” — Warren Leight, writer for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
    6. “No disciplinary action taken against any writer caught having inappropriate relationship with a copier” — Jay Katsir, from “The Colbert Report.”
    5. “I’d like a date with a woman” — Steve Bodow, from “The Daily Show.”
    4. “Hazard pay for breaking up fights on ‘The View”’ — from writer and director Nora Ephron.
    3. “I’m no accountant, but instead of us getting 4 cents for a $20 DVD, how about we get $20 for a 4-cent DVD?” — Gina Johnfrido of “Law & Order.”
    2. “I don’t have a joke. I just want to remind everyone that we’re on strike, so none of us are responsible for this lame list” — Chris Albers from Conan O’Brien’s “Late Night.”
    1. “Producers must immediately remove their heads from their -----” — author Alan Zwiebel.

    Hillary Clinton even added to the levity on Letterman in a taped introduction. “Dave has been off the air for eight long weeks because of the writers strike,” she said. “Tonight, he’s back. Oh, well, all good things come to an end.”
    Craig Ferguson, whose "Late Late Show" is also a part of the Worldwide Pants agreement, added this self-deprecating jibe: “I just want to send a message to the D-list celebrities of Hollywood. You’re still welcome here.”
    On some of the other shows, things were embarrassing or downright ugly. Conan O’Brien, who, like Letterman grew a beard during his offtime, displayed Christmas cards, danced on his table and tried to fill time by seeing how long he could spin his wedding ring on his desk. Jay Leno delivered a monologue in apparent defiance of the writers guild, which intends to discuss the situation with Leno. Jimmy Kimmel was more defiant -- he criticized the strike. “I don’t want to depart too much from the party line, but I think it’s ridiculous. Jay Leno, he paid his staff while they were out. Conan did the same thing. I don’t know. I just think at a certain point you back off a little bit.”
    Actually, Jimmy, you don't. You keep up the pressure. Kimmel's statement last night was a shift from a statement in a press release issued in December announcing his show would be back on the air. "Though it makes me sick to do so without my writers, there are more than a hundred people whose financial well-being depends on our show. It is time to go back to work. I support my colleagues and friends in the WGA completely and hope this ends both fairly and soon," the statement said.
    Jay Leno even got presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has sought union support in his presidential campaign, to cross a picket line to be on his show. Of course, Huckabee, like any good politician, denied he had done so, but a sign outside the "Tonight Show" taping calling Huckabee a scab told the real story. The Writer's Guild blog, United Hollywood, addressed this.
    "My understanding is that there was a special arrangement made for the late-night shows, and the writers have made this agreement to let the late night shows to come back on, so I don't anticipate that it's crossing a picket line," said Huckabee.

    "I support the writers, by the way. Unequivocally, absolutely. They're dead right on this one. And they ought to get royalties off the residuals and the long-term contracts. I don't think anybody supports the producers on this one. Maybe the producers support the producers, but I think everybody in the business and even the general public supports the writers."

    However, when the reporters told Huckabee he was incorrect and the WGA had only made a separate deal with David Letterman's company - and not the Tonight Show - Huckabee pled ignorance: "But my understanding is there's a sort of dispensation given to the late-night shows, is that right?"

    And when the reporters tried yet again to tell Huckabee he was flat out wrong? His response: "Hmmm. Oh."

    So he knew. And not just from the reporters. has confirmed that members of Huckabee's staff were in contact with Guild officials while Huckabee was on the NBC lot - but before the Tonight Show taping started. To again explain the situation and clear up any "confusion" Huckabee had. To make it crystal clear that he was indeed crossing a picket line. Period.

    But to no avail.

    Apparently "unequivocally" and "absolutely" don't mean what they used to. Or perhaps "this show has an agreement, this show doesn't" is really, really, really confusing. Unlike less complicated issues such as foreign policy and the economy.

    The Guild also issued a statement about Huckabee's appearance.
    "The Writers Guild is disappointed that Mike Huckabee crossed the WGA picket line today at NBC. We welcome the statements of support he has made for striking writers, but we ask him to respect our picket lines in the future and urge the media conglomerates to return to the bargaining table to make a fair deal that will put writers and the entertainment industry back to work."

    Funny thing is that both Leno and O'Brien expressed support of the writers, even though they're back on the air without them.
    Here's what Conan O'Brien told viewers about the strike in his monologue.
    "Let's talk for a minute about the situation we find ourselves in. As you know, 2 months ago the Writers Guild of America went out on strike and we took our show "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" off the air in support of the writers. This has been a tough time not only for our show, but for a lot of people in the entertainment industry. Good people right now are out of work. And possibly worse, with all the late night shows off the air, Americans have been forced to read books and occasionally even speak to one another, which has been horrifying.

    We're back now but sadly, we do not have our writers with us. I want to make this clear, I support their cause – these are very talented, very creative people who work extremely hard and I believe what they're asking for is fair. My biggest wish is that they get a great deal very quickly and get back here because we desperately need them on the show. Think about it: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, The Masturbating Bear, The Walker Texas Ranger Lever – it's all writing. Well, not the Masturbating Bear. That's just instinct. Which brings us to the big $64,000 question of the evening: What do we do now?

    And Leno. “The writers are correct, by the way. I’m a writer ... I’m on the side of the writers,” Leno said.
    We hope the writers turn the pressure up on Leno, O'Brien and Kimmel. It should be painfully obvious that their shows are shells without the creative talent of the striking writers.
    Otherwise we'll be reduced to jokes like this: What do you give a dog with a fever? Mustard. It's good for a hot dog.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    The biggest idiots of 2007

    Yeah, I know, everybody usually comes out with their lists before the year is over. We like to wait until the year is done so we don't miss anything.
    Anyway, here's our top five in descending order:

    5) The top brass at the San Francisco Zoo:
    Whether those three guys provoked that tiger or not, you have some 'splaining to do for the wall that you admitted was too short. Doesn't a zoo patron have the right to think he'll be safe from animals who happen to wander out of their enclosures? Especially from things like tigers?

    4. Brittany Spears: If I hear one more radio announcer say, "Oh, oh, wanna hear the latest about Brittany Spears?" No thanks. Her stupidity apparently knows no bounds. And the people around here seem to be enjoying it. After all they're not stopping her. And how come Ryan Seacrest puts up with her? Actually, how come Ryan Seacrest is everywhere? It's bad enough he's on the lame "American Idol". But "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," too?

    3. Paris Hilton: Notice how Ms. Hilton began doing her part to reform the world after her jail time?
    (Long pause.)

    2. Bill O'Reilly: Bill-O made the world (unintentionally) funnier though his blustering stupidity. Our favorite was the Stephen Colbert episode. You notice he hasn't appeared on Letterman's show lately? I guess two humiliations were enough.

    1. Larry Craig: There's really no other choice. No, he's not gay. No, he didn't do anything in the restroom. Yes, he pled guilty. Yes, he'll resign. No, he won't. Yes, he will. Hey, Larry, be sure and make a big splash at the Republican Convention.

    Happy New Year, everyone.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2008

    They're coming to take your music away, ha ha!

    Those whizkids at the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have done it again. A story in the Washington Post reveals they are now going after users who have mp3s on their hard drives. Mp3s from those CDs they legally bought.
    You think I'm kidding?

    Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
    The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

    So all that money you paid for those CDs you bought to avoid downloading music is for naught. The RIAA isn't satisfied, anyway. You can't transfer the files to your hard drive, then to your iPod without running aground of the RIAA.
    Music fans are, not surprisingly, angry.
    The Electronic Freedom Foundation, a group that has defended several of those accused of file sharing, has yet to post a reaction to this story. But they do have a petition against the RIAA.
    Personally, we see this akin to the old Betamax ruling. There are so many users with iPods now that the industry couldn't put a kibosh on this practice. That and the fact that record stores are the dinosaurs of modern times. (Latest evidence: the huge Virgin Records store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is closing.)
    Obviously, the RIAA knows the ship is sinking and is trying to make as much money as they can for their clients. But you need to keep the customers satisfied enough to where they'll at least come back, not piss them off forever.
    And that's exactly what this ill-advised tactic will lead to.

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