Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Writer's strike ends -- ratification vote scheduled

The Writer's Guild posted the following on their United Hollywood blog today. It says all that's needed. Congrats to the writers. Actually, congrats to both sides for making this happen.

WGA Members Vote to End Strike

This was sent out today by the WGA:

LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK – The membership of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today voted overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the restraining order and ending their 100-day strike that began on Nov. 5. 3,775 writers turned out in Los Angeles and New York to cast ballots or fax in proxies, with 92.5% voting in favor of ending the work stoppage.

“The strike is over. Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. “This was not a strike we wanted, but one we had to conduct in order to win jurisdiction and establish appropriate residuals for writing in new media and on the Internet. Those advances now give us a foothold in the digital age. Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed.”

“The success of this strike is a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East. “The commitment and solidarity of our members made it happen and have been an inspiration not only to us but the entire organized labor movement. We will build on that energy and unity to make our two unions stronger than ever.”

WGAW and WGAE members will next vote to ratify the tentative three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The membership ratification vote will be conducted by mail and also at membership meetings on February 25, 2008.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thoughts on the Grammys -- scripts are for actors, not musicians

We don't normally watch most of the Grammys, but I did last night. And though it was enjoyable in many respects, it also was pretty empty. Too much of it was stiff and formal. The opening electronic duet with Alicia Keys live and Frank Sinatra on film set the tone for the evening that there would be a lot of nods to the past. I thought Keys could have toned her voice down a little and been more powerful. But that wasn't as bad as some of the other segments, for example the John Fogerty-Little Richard-Jerry Lee Lewis segment. Lewis, one of our musical heroes, looked horrible and completely lost. Fogerty was off key. Only Little Richard brought any spark to that performance. Amazing how he still can at his age.
Speaking of age, for the first time, Tina showed hers. She still can move it, though. Gotta give her that.
Aretha Franklin was good, too. We kept wishing Ray Charles was still around to sing with her like he did at the Fillmore way back when. How great that would have been.
We also wish Ringo Starr could have used a little of the natural Liverpool humor he exhibits in radio interviews. It would have made for a memorable highlight.
The Amy Winehouse bit was actually one of the best and one of the worst parts of the show. Her performance was good and reminded me of Phil Spector, who, you notice, was not remembered by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Her reaction after winning the Grammy, though, was priceless and well worth seeing. The fact it was unscripted -- or seemed to be -- injected a little human drama that most of the show was missing. Too bad, though, the announcers saw fit to plug her performance every 10 minutes.
And we didn't even stay around to see Herbie Hancock's surprise win at the end. After the first five commercials after Winehouse, we gave up.

The latest Republican "strategy"

Those geniuses at the RNC have really been working overtime. Check out this link. You can send Republican Valentine greetings with your favorite Dems on them.

Wonder if anyone at the RNC can spell desperation?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Driving while Republican

Funny story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's the lead and the first couple of paragraphs.

An 18-year-old Republican's enthusiasm for presidential hopeful Ron Paul could cost him more than $550.

Cody Hauer has been cited four times in one week for displaying a 13-inch-by-40-inch "Ron Paul Revolution" decal in the rear window of his car. The problem is that such decals are illegal if they obstruct the driver's view.

"I support Ron Paul, the city police department doesn't," he said. "They gave me a DWR — driving while Republican."

So, does driving while Republican mean constantly driving backwards? Not making a turn unless Rush Limbaugh says it's ok?

Imagine the possibilities.

What's your idea of driving Republican? Add a comment.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

This just in: Reuters reports tentative deal in writer's strike

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The union representing striking Hollywood writers said Saturday it had reached a "tentative deal" with the studios after a three-month walkout that has crippled television production, hurt the local economy and overshadowed the awards season.

"While this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success," the Writers Guild of America said in a memo emailed to members.

United Hollywood, the Writer's Guild blog is confirming that with this post:
  • Letter From The Presidents With Deal Summary

    Initial comments on the blog indicate some questions from members. Not surprising. A union contract settlement rarely has all the members in agreement over how good it is. But let's hope whatever questions there are are worked out fairly easily.

    And again, congrats to both sides.

  • Friday, February 8, 2008

    Surprising results for best liked, best hated news personalities

    Harris Interactive issued a press release Friday listing America's top three favorite and least favorite news personalities. Bill O'Reilly got 23% of the vote on both sides of the issue. He, Charles Gibson and Anderson Cooper came out the three favorites.
    The least favorites were Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Larry King. Michael Savage, our choice for third, didn't even place. (You know that's gonna tick that egomaniac off.)

    Anyway, the entire press release is below. The results are interesting, to say the least.


    Conservative Talk Show Hosts Top Lists of Both Favorite and Least Favorite News and Current Affairs Personalities

    O’Reilly, Gibson and Cooper Top Favorites and Limbaugh, O’Reilly and King Top Least Favorites List

    ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The days of old when there was just network news and newspapers for people to go to for their information are long gone, and people who deliver the news have become much more numerous. They are no longer just newscasters, but rather news and current affairs personalities; toward that end, America has their favorites and, of course, their least favorites.

    Leading the list of favorites, just under one-quarter (23%) of Americans cite Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly as one of their three favorite news and current affairs personalities, followed by the host of ABC’s World News Tonight, Charles Gibson and CNN’s Anderson Cooper (17% each).

    Leading the list of least favorites, a plurality of Americans (42%) say Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is one of their least favorite news and current affairs personalities. The same number who cite Bill O’Reilly as one of their favorites also say he is one of their least favorites (23%) and 19 percent say CNN’s Larry King is one of their least favorite news and current affairs personalities.

    These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,302 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 15 and 22, 2008 by Harris Interactive®.

    Rounding out the top five favorite news and current affairs personalities is NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams (16%) and then with 13 percent each is Meet the Press host Tim Russert, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and 60 Minutes host Mike Wallace. On the other side, 17 percent say that CNN Headline News’ Nancy Grace is one of their least favorites and just under that (16%) cite Katie Couric. In looking at the two lists, there are a number of the same people who are in the top ten on both. Bill O’Reilly, Katie Couric, ABC’s 20/20’s Barbara Walters, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’s Sean Hannity all are in the top half of the favorites and the least favorites list.

    Partisan Differences

    It’s not just the backing of candidates that show partisan differences, their choices of favorite and least favorite news and current affairs personalities are also very different. For Republicans, their top three favorites are Bill O’Reilly (42%), Rush Limbaugh (28%) and Sean Hannity (27%). Perhaps, not surprisingly, Democrats have a very different list of favorites – Anderson Cooper (22%), Brian Williams (20%) and Charles Gibson (19%). One thing to note is that Republicans are more united behind their favorites while the Democrats are a bit more fragmented.

    Where the Democrats do show stronger support is in the list of their least favorites as three in five Democrats (60%) say it’s Rush Limbaugh, followed by one-third (34%) who say Bill O’Reilly and 17 percent who say Nancy Grace. For Republicans, just over a quarter (26%) each says Larry King and Katie Couric are their least favorites. Rush Limbaugh definitely inspires mixed emotions for Republicans as 24 percent say he is one of their least favorites.

    So What?

    With the rise of online news and information sites and the 24 hour nature of news, there are many more places for Americans to get their news. This means that just having the anchor seated behind the table isn’t enough to grab viewers or listeners. These news personalities are competing for these viewers and each must try to stand out in some way. Maybe they focus on a single issue, trying to be the dominant news source on it. Maybe they go extremely high tech for announcing elections or, as in Tim Russert’s case, very low tech and just carry around a white board and marker. Whatever it may be, the dissemination of news has changed and the Cronkites, Brinkleys and Huntleys are no longer around.

    TABLE 1


    “Thinking now of the media in general, of the news and current affairs personalities listed below, which three would you say are your favorites?”

    Base: All adults
    Total Republican Democrat Independent
    % % % %
    Bill O’Reilly 23 42 11 19
    Charles Gibson 17 17 19 19
    Anderson Cooper 17 14 22 17
    Brian Williams 16 16 20 12
    Tim Russert 13 9 18 16
    Katie Couric 13 10 17 12
    Mike Wallace 13 9 17 16
    Barbara Walters 12 10 16 12
    Rush Limbaugh 12 28 2 11
    Sean Hannity 11 27 2 7
    George Stephanopoulos 11 8 13 14
    Larry King 9 9 11 7
    Keith Olbermann 7 2 10 9
    Chris Matthews 6 5 8 8
    Lou Dobbs 6 3 8 9
    Nancy Grace 6 6 7 7
    Bob Schieffer 6 4 6 9
    Wolf Blitzer 5 5 7 5
    Shepard Smith 5 9 3 4
    Greta Van Susteran 4 7 3 3
    Tucker Carlson 2 3 1 2
    Alan Colmes 2 4 1 1
    None of these 23 13 22 23

    TABLE 2


    “Of the news and current affairs personalities below, which three would you say are your least favorites?”

    Base: All adults
    Total Republican Democrat Independent
    % % % %
    Rush Limbaugh 42 24 60 50
    Bill O’Reilly 23 10 34 29
    Larry King 19 26 16 18
    Nancy Grace 17 17 17 19
    Katie Couric 16 26 10 16
    Barbara Walters 15 20 10 16
    Sean Hannity 10 3 15 15
    Wolf Blitzer 9 13 8 8
    George Stephanopoulos 8 14 3 10
    Greta Van Susteran 8 9 9 6
    Chris Matthews 6 11 3 5
    Mike Wallace 5 10 2 4
    Alan Colmes 5 9 3 4
    Keith Olbermann 5 8 3 5
    Tucker Carlson 4 4 5 3
    Lou Dobbs 3 3 5 2
    Anderson Cooper 3 4 2 2
    Tim Russert 2 5 1 2
    Brian Williams 2 3 2 2
    Shepard Smith 2 1 2 2
    Charles Gibson 2 2 2 1
    Bob Schieffer 1 3 1 1
    None of these 25 20 23 21


    This Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States January 15 and 22, among 2,302 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


    Q580, 585

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the largest and fastest-growing market research firms in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at Harris Interactive is an independent, non-partisan research company and does not take part in political campaigning or primary predictions.

    To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at

    The writer's strike ... could it really be "The End"?

    Two importants items we found after we wrote the item below: United Hollywood, the Writer's Guild blog, is holding a live conference at 1 p.m. today (Friday). We're guessing you have to be members for this.
    Also, the WGA is holding a general membership meeting at the Shrine Auditorium, 665 W Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, at 7 p.m. Saturday night. We assume they're hoping to have a contract to present to the members.

    After all the false alarms and false hopeful (and really unfounded) reports in some papers lately, the writer's strike is really showing signs of ending. The Los Angeles Times reports writers could be back to work Monday if a deal currently being hammered out is presented to members this weekend.

    And the New York Times had a great background story today about how the efforts of one woman helped turned the strike from possibility of becoming a hopeless impasse to the real possibility of a settlement. 

    Props to both sides for hammering this thing out. Early reports say the writers did get some measure of income from the internet use of their material. That was only fair and we're glad that both sides were able to discuss it civilly.

    But it ain't over 'till it's over. Cross your fingers. And we hope both sides will persevere to get this thing done and get this strike over with and put behind them. 

    Then, we can make this the dramatic conclusion and really say it's "The End."

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    They're coming to take us away, ha ha?

    Are you afraid? Maybe you should be. Some "scientists" think that this week's outer space transmission of the Beatles song "Across the Universe" might get some of those little green men out in space mad enough to where they might invade us.
    No, I'm not making this up. It's right here.
    In fact, we'll reprint part of it.

    Fears that malevolent aliens will tune into this week's broadcast of The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" have been voiced by scientists.

    NASA started to beam the song towards the North Star, 431 light years from Earth at midnight GMT on Monday, drawing congratulations from former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who mused that it marked "the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe."

    But today's New Scientist asks whether such signals could expose us to the risk of attack from mean spirited aliens.

    Scientists considered this question at the "Sound of Silence" meeting at Arizona State University in Tempe this week.

    "Before sending out even symbolic messages, we need an open discussion about the potential risks," says Douglas Vakoch of the Seti (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Mountain View, California.

    Risks? Over an Beatle song? Over these lyrics??

    Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
    They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
    Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
    Possessing and caressing me.
    Jai guru de va om
    Nothing's gonna change my world,
    Nothing's gonna change my world.
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world.

    Those are destined to provoke violence, aren't they?

    Thank goodness NASA didn't send the Rolling Stones song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    The John McCain mutiny

    Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that a bloc of right-wing talk show hosts are united against John McCain? Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Hugh Hewitt have all come out for Romney.
    Said Ingraham in the Washington Post, "There is no way in hell I could pull the lever for John McCain."
    Not only that, Rush Limbaugh, never one for being in the background, says he'd support the Democrats in the general election if it keeps McCain from being elected.
    "If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."
    Does anybody really believe this hogwash? Why do we smell a little Republican mischief here? What drugs are these guys on? After all, all of these talk show hosts march lockstep to GOP marching orders. Limbaugh support a Democrat? He'd rather have a boil removed from his backside.
    McCain adviser Mark McKinnon went along with the game. "Our question is, 'Isn't it better to get behind a Republican you may disagree with from time to time than work for an outcome that puts a Democrat in the White House with whom you will disagree all of the time?' . ."
    As the Post suggests, this is most likely an attention-getting maneuver by Limbaugh, who revels in being in the spotlight.
    Wouldn't it be funny, though, if this strategy backfires in his face?

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    Writer's talks continue -- no deal yet

    Despite the language we've heard on news reports, there is no deal yet between the writers and producers, according to United Hollywood, the Writer's Guild blog. Talks are continuing under a media blackout, a very good sign that things are progressing. The union, however, is still planning picketing for Monday if the strike isn't settled. It wouldn't be a total surprise if this is settled during the night, but, having been involved in the labor side of possible strikes before, it ain't over till it's over.
    But it appears that could be soon.
    Our best to the Writer's Guild. We're pulling for you.

    Another reason why gossip sites aren't news sources

    The high and mighty has this headline on an item today:
    The End is Near -- Studios and Writers Make a Deal. Except the link that's included in the item (to an MSNBC story) clearly says the tentative deal "could be near". It's the same link we posted here yesterday with that information.
    Stick to following Britney Spears 24/7, you dopes, and stay away from real news. It's too difficult for you.

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Writer's strike breakthrough?

    MSNBC and the New York Times are reporting a possible breakthough in the talks between the Writer's Guild and the AMPTP. The Guild's United Hollywood blog isn't giving any hints. The Writer's Guild West website itself has a link to a letter from the union president that's only accessible to Guild West Coast members.
    But given the tight-lipped atmosphere, one could deduce that something is indeed happening.
    Good luck to the Writer's Guild.

    Friday, February 1, 2008


    NEW YORK – January 30, 2008 – Following are quotes from "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" for the week of Jan. 21-25. "Countdown" airs weeknights, 8-9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Complete program transcripts are available at

    [Referring to Attorney General Michael Mukasey's portrait of George Orwell that is in his office]
    Olbermann: "He [Mukasey] says the portrait hangs there because he likes the clarity of Orwell's writing. Mr. Mukasey adds he adores Pamela Anderson's penmanship."

    [Referring to a theme park in Lithuania called 1984]
    Olbermann: "I thought that was in Washington, D.C."

    Olbermann: "WMDs that didn't exist, Mike Huckabee says they were hidden like Easter eggs."

    [Referring to Jan. 21, which is considered to be the most depressing day of the year]
    Olbermann: "Ask Keifer Sutherland. His jail term wouldn't interfere with the production of his TV show. Now he's out of the joint, but his show and all the others are out on strike."

    Olbermann: "Economic stimulus package? I got your economic stimulus package right here – Britney Spears contributes $120 million to our economy."

    [Referring to reports that Jamie Lynn Spears will give her baby to her mother]
    Olbermann: "Lynne Spears is all for it, reportedly, believing that her daughter should be allowed to grow up like a normal teenager and pursue her career, a policy that's worked great so far."

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