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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Griffin’

Spike Lee Directs New MSNBC Ads

MSNBC debuted new “Lean Forward” ads today featuring the network’s four primetime hosts: Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz.

But there’s something different about the ads this time around. They’re directed by Spike Lee, and Oscar-nominated Matthew Libatique, who worked on “Black Swan,” served as the director of photography.

According to a press release, the ads were “all shot completely unscripted” and will appear on television,, and in movie theaters across the country this summer. Separate print ads will run in “major publications.”

“These ads are unlike anything else,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said. “They are mini-documentaries that express the passion of our primetime hosts. You’re able to truly learn what drives them and why their audience tunes in to watch their shows.”

Check out the new ad campaign here.

MSNBC’s WHCD Party Lands at Embassy of Italy

It begins…

Embassy of Italy

MSNBC and Phil Griffin officially kicked off prom season this evening with the release of an invitation to their White House Correspondents’ Dinner After Party.  Last year the network made a splash by hosting  a blowout, post-dinner bash at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in downtown Washington.  Guests like Chelsea Handler, Kim Kardashian, Jon Bon Jovi and Morgan Freeman grooved to a live performance by KC and the Sunshine Band, nibbled on funky finger food and sipped cocktails mixed with love by celebrity bartender, Rachel Maddow.

This year’s event will be held at the Embassy of Italy and benefits classrooms in need through  No word on what surprises MSNBC has up their sleeves but we look forward to finding out on April 30th.

Philly Inquirer Goes Easy on Matthews

Sure, it’s his hometown paper.

But did the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Bob Fernandez have to make things so cushy for MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in a profile (of sorts) today? The moments of so-called tension are expected: A Sarah Palin trip to Israel is “phony baloney.” Family gatherings with his Republican brother, Jim Matthews, who ran for the state’s lieutenant governor in 2006, are charged. “It’s a huge crowd,” Matthews tells the Inquirer of family Christmases in Lower Gwynedd. “It keeps the cousins together. Some of the cousins.”

More business story than fluffy feature, the peg is that Matthews is now an employee for the “rebooted” Comcast Corp.

An excerpt: “We are now working for a company that’s selling our content to the home,” said Matthews, an often-repeated view at NBC. “They can help us. Before, we were working for a company that manufactured aircraft engines and lightbulbs.” That is not to say there is not some apprehension. “It’s very business-oriented,” Matthews later observed confidentially. “These guys, I understand, are very IBM-ish.”

MSNBC President Phil Griffin claims “Fox is now in our vision, and there are a couple of hours where it’s getting close.” The story says CNN did not return a phone call about ratings.

It’s unclear what Matthews means entirely when discussing potentially (as in never) going head to head with CNN’s former host Larry King. “Larry [King] is the only one who would have beat me. And he’s gone. I don’t think of myself in that way anyway,” he tells the newspaper after they call him “youthful” for his 65 years and declare him one of the “longest-serving” cable hosts. “I’m so energized.”

The genuinely interesting part of this story? This photograph…of Matthews as a boy with his dog. The year is 1957. Matthews is 11 years old.

Olbermann Suspension Lifted

That was fast. In a statement sent by NBC’s Jeremy Gaines, MSNBC President Phil Griffin declares “Countdown” Host Keith Olbermann‘s suspension over.

The release:


From Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC:

After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.

Inside the Mindset of MSNBC Branding

So just how does MSNBC get its branding ideas? We have stockpiled the following bits of evidence of how the network’s mindset works.

1. Howard Kurtz from WaPo Monday: “MSNBC has a new slogan — “Lean Forward” — that has skeptics wondering what the network of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow is trying to say.  “A rather halfhearted attempt by MSNBC to gloss its same-old lefty line with a coat of empty post-ideological babble,” Daniel Foster writes on National Review Online.   Nonsense, says MSNBC President Phil Griffin, recalling that he got the idea watching Bryant Gumbel lean forward in his chair.” Full story here.

Sound familiar? Here’s why…

2. New York Magazine last week: “One afternoon in January 2007, Griffin was in NBC News’s Washington bureau when Tim Russert called him into his office. “Griff, you’re gonna have the greatest election of our lifetime, “ Russert told him. “This is going to be fantastic. Own it.”  The previous fall, Griffin debuted a new tagline — “The Place for Politics” — a phrase Russert had happened to say on the air.” Full story here.

By the way… speaking of getting ideas this way, remember how Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough was hired?

3. St. Pete Times reported in 2003: “Scarborough remembered his response last year when MSNBC’s Griffin – jazzed by Scarborough’s appearance as a guest on “Hardball” and aware of his work as a guest host on “Crossfire” and “Hannity and Colmes” – asked if he wanted his own show.” Full story here.

Lawrence O Goes Full-Time on MSNBC With His Own Show

<img alt="lawrence-odonnell-1-sized.jpg" src="/fishbowlDC/files/original/lawrence-odonnell-1-sized.jpg" width="242" class="alignright" hspace="3" vspace="3"/ Lawrence O’Donnell will host a new weeknight primetime hour on MSNBC, the network’s President Phil Griffin has announced. O’Donnell will begin immediately planning for a new 10 p.m. (EST) show.

O’Donnell has been working part-time for the network since MSNBC launched in 1996. He’s well known for being an Emmy-award winning producer and writer for NBC’s “The West Wing.”

Olbermann’s Potential Veto Seating Power at WHCA

kid-boys-fighting.jpg The White House Correspondents’ Dinner could potentially get really uncomfortable next weekend at the MSNBC tables, particularly if hosts Keith Olbermann and Donny Deutsch are in the mix of guests and stars.

Olbermann showed up to WHCA’s dinner last year — will he come again this year? Media insiders want to know: Will Griffin split the pair up, or will Olbermann refuse to sit with Deutsch if he attends? And who decides the seating chart? “Is Olbermann controlling the strings?” a media rep asked.

This week we’re compiling an Awkward Seating Chart for media folks around town. If you have input on potentially uncomfortable pairings, tell us about it. E-mail us at

Deutsch is off the air this week, at least in part, we’re hearing, because Olbermann was furious about Deutsch floating a photograph of him while speaking of the Tea Partiers and “America the Angry.” President Phil Griffin was also reportedly angry and said as much to Deutsch and his producer, Gresham Striegel, who’s also off for the rest of the week.

Deutsch Creating Bad Blood at MSNBC

donny_deutsch1_1.jpg We’re hearing that Donny Deutsch is on rocky terms this week with MSNBC because he put up Host Keith Olbermann‘s face when talking about the Tea Party Movement (which recently protested in D.C.) and “America the Angry” on his show Tuesday. Deutsch has been anchoring the 3 p.m. hour for this week, but will not host the show for the rest of the week due to a personal issue.

Last night, Olbermann allegedly expressed anger about Deutsch as well as the producers of the show.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin was not happy about Deutsch’s behavior on the show and spoke with him and the producer about it. It is uncertain at this point whether the temporary host will return when his personal matter clears up.

Some may recall that “Morning Joe” Host Mika Brzezinski has also been uncomfortable with Deutsch at times. He fairly recently bought her expensive Christian Loubouton shoes to make up for what she called his “rudeness” on the air. She appeared to have forgiven him.

See also TVNewser’s item on Deutsch and watch a clip of what he said on air.

The Most Powerful People in TV News

Roger Ailes 2010.jpg

TVWeek has released their “10 Most Powerful in TV News” list today. Who else but Fox News President Roger Ailes (who has long been called the “most powerful name” in news) tops the list. For as much as cable and national news channels squabble amongst themselves, all vying to be on top, they’ve all landed somewhere on this list.

Some numbers have more than one correspondent underneath. For instance, number 10 is soon-to-be ABC “This Week” host Christiane Amanpour and CNN’s Candy Crowley.


2. Steve Capus, NBC News; Phil Griffin, president, MSNBC
3. Jom Klein, president, CNN/U.S.
4. Sean McManus, president, CBS
5. Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart
6. David Westin, ABC News
7. FNC’s Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck
8. Barbara Walters and the Women of “The View”

Read the full story here.

Cosby’s “About Our Children” Airs on MSNBC Last Night from Howard University

Bill Cosby was in town this weekend– spotted by Politico having dinner with Chris Matthews at Tosca Saturday– for a special event “About Our Children,” which aired on MSNBC last evening from Howard University.

NPR’s and frequent MSNBC guest Michelle Bernard moderated the panel, which included Harvard professor Dr. Alvin Poussaint, NAACP President Ben Jealous, author Terrie Williams, and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

Chris and Kathleen Matthews, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin and NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker, as well as Austan Goolsbee, were in attendance.