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Channel Surfing

Tom Freston, Shane Smith Talk About Their Billion-Dollar VICE Enterprise

Right off the THR print magazine Q&A bat, VICE founder Shane Smith and his main backer Tom Freston spin a very enviable privately owned narrative. Smith tells senior writer Eriq Gardner that the multi-media guerilla operation currently has 1,250 full-time employees/4,000 contributors in 34 different countries, while Freston boasts that VICE is already on an audience-engagement par with MTV, SNL and Rolling Stone magazine.

We’re not sure about that last part, but there’s no denying that with VICE’s HBO documentary series debuting tonight at 11 p.m. and featuring a first episode that was cleverly shared earlier this week on YouTube, VICE’s bodacious brand will only be further enhanced. It can also be argued that nothing recently compares to the free-publicity juggernaut VICE triggered by taking Dennis Rodman and three Harlem Globetrotters to North Korea.

In a separate Web-only Q&A with Erin Carlson, Smith clarifies that VICE did not smuggle the basketball players into the DPRK and says the ensuing media circus was actually cause for great concern:

We were really worried… Rodman was only there for two days and we were there for 10 days and our team was on the ground shooting. And we know how crazy the North Koreans are and how easily they’ll sort of put someone away so we were very nervous.

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Albuquerque Sun Sets on Bryan Cranston’s No-Pants Rule

After watching Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston do his thing on location in New Mexico for the upcoming final season of the AMC program, in the bitter January cold, visiting LA reporter Ruben Nepales sat down with the actor in a nearby hotel suite. What followed was a most unusual line of questioning:

I told Bryan what his co-star Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) told me earlier. “No one knows this,” Aaron said, relaxing with a drink after a day’s shoot, “but Bryan never wears pants in close-up shots. He is very proud of what is happening down there and he thinks it is intimidating for all of us, in a loving way. From the belly down, he has nothing on.”

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Fred Roggin Adds Second Sunday Night Sports Show

This weekend’s big sports story will be The Masters and whether Tiger Woods can add a 15th major to his redemptive, winner’s circle march.

Over on DirectTV channels 201 through 207, viewers can watch every conceivable part of the Augusta action. And Sunday night at midnight, SoCal golf fans looking for post-tournament coverage and more can tune in to the debut of Going Roggin on NBC4 Southern California. From today’s announcement:

The 30-minute show will feature various segments including “Freducation,” “Local Legend,” “Viewer Comments” and “Fredtime Story.” In the “Freducation” segment, Fred Roggin gives a commentary on the week’s top stories and welcomes guests to debate and provide opinions. The segment also includes What The Fred?!, a look at some of the most unusual stories and videos from around the world of sports.

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Kevin Frazier Sits Down with Kobe Bryant

Glad we’re not alone. Looking over the teaser announcement for Wednesday night’s debut of Connected With… Kobe Bryant on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, we were immediately struck by the following excerpt:

On retiring: “I could play another five years. That’s not to say I will.”

Say what!? Veteran Laker watchers have all bandied about the time frame of two to three years. This latest reminder of Bryant’s super-human physical specimen qualities, from the specimen himself, is new and as also noted at Lakers Nation by Daniel Buerge, jaw-dropping. Maybe this is Bryant’s way of letting interested Chinese parties know that he will be ready and able to suit up over there around the fall of 2015.

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Joan Rivers Tells Johnny Carson It Still Hurts

Wow. On last night’s episode of WE program JOAN & MELISSA: joan knows best?, the hint of cancer and some bucket list consideration brought up the notion of dancing on Johnny Carson‘s grave. That is, until Joan realized Carson was cremated and his ashes given to family members.

Rivers instead traveled to Johnny Carson Park in Burbank for a posthumous heart-to-heart with her mentor turned tor-mentor. The title of the episode, “The C Word,” refers to cancer. But in this case it also, very sadly, doubles as a reference to the poisoned final chapter of her relationship with Carson.

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BRAVO’s Newest OC Housewife Boasts Impressive Media Background

How’s this for a mixed media message? Lydia McLaughlin, the newest co-star of BRAVO’s original franchise hit The Real Housewives of Orange County, co-owns quarterly magazine Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine. And it was via that zip, 90210, that she came to the Season 8 opportunity rather than Dana Point’s 92624, where she lives with her husband and two young children.

Maybe this is old hat for Real Housewives fans, but it was news to us. There’s other fun info in Orange County Register reporter Richard Chang’s Q&A, including McLaughlin’s equally impressive Fourth Estate family tree:

Lydia is the granddaughter of Canadian media mogul Geoff Stirling, founder of Stirling Communications International. One of Stirling’s biggest properties is NTV in Newfoundland, North America’s first 24-hour TV station.

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SoCalConnected Tries to Make Sense of Some Very Fuzzy Compton City Council Math

Has KCETLink’s flagship news magazine unearthed “the next Bell?” That’s the provocative sub-header question the station asks in a brief news bulletin touting this evening’s SoCal Connected look at some very questionable Compton City Council activities.

One strand relates to the short meetings council members billed for in 2012. According to reporter Laurel Erickson’s calculations, last year individuals earned $39,000 of their $55,000 annual salaries for an aggregate total of 26 hours of conferences convened for a quartet of different commissions. That works out to roughly $1,500 an hour.

The report also details $7,800 car allowances that seem out of whack with a ten-square-mile area of responsibility. Not to mention radios purchased for a police department that does not yet exist and a $3.1 million developer debt that was forgiven in 2006 as part of a complicated tit-for-tat deal. And the best part about that uncovered transaction? The developer’s attorney says his client has yet to begin repaying a different, $3.5 million part of the agreement because Compton never finished the paperwork.

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Tonight Show Chatter Has LA TV Producer Remembering Carson’s Killer Extra 15 Minutes

David Steinberg, whose many appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson during the show’s New York heyday were surpassed only by those of the late Bob Hope, was recently reminiscing with Jimmy Fallon (in the very same 30 Rock studio) about some of his 140 guest spots. Clips like this take on added resonance in the wake of Wednesday’s bombshell NYT report by Bill Carter that NBC is planning to move the program back to Manhattan in 2014 with Fallon as host.

Three thousand miles away from Studio 6B, our pal Michael Horowicz also couldn’t help but reminisce about some Carson lore anchored to Fallon’s studio. During a trip to New York in the mid-90s, Horowicz and Late Late Show colleague Tom Snyder had dinner with former WNBC weatherman Dr. Frank Field at Bello on Ninth Avenue. Field, to the amazement of his dinner companions, explained that when The Tonight Show was done in New York, it actually started around 11:15 p.m. At the time, NBC affiliates aired only 15 minutes of evening news and so, from 11:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. – or so Field claimed – it was him, Johnny, Doc and the gathering band, hanging out on-air to fill the nightly gap.

“Tom and I didn’t believe him,” Horowicz tells FishbowlLA. “We both considered ourselves great students of late night TV, and we’d never heard about this extra 15 minutes. Furthermore, we’d never heard of any NBC affiliate that didn’t do a full 30-minute late news. We honestly thought Frank was full of sh*t, or at least full of sherry.”

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KCETLink Has Details About ‘LA Model’ for Catholic Priest Reassignment

Tonight’s episode of SoCal Connected is timely, to say the least. A day after the election of Pope Francis, the KCETLink program has unearthed an old recording of Father Stephen Rosetti talking about the “LA model” for reassigning Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct.

As SoCal Connected often does, a behind-the-scenes segment frames the story. Madeleine Brand will talk with reporter Vincent Gonzales about both what has gone in to this ongoing enterprise project and a new online search tool* being developed by the program to track where individual priests were stationed. Per today’s pre-show announcement:

SoCal Connected gained access to tapes of a 1996 lecture in which a church official discusses the “LA Model,” an experimental program that placed some accused priests in desk jobs in the Archdiocese or helped them find employment throughout the city, without informing the public of their misdeeds.

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CNN Latino Anchor Coming to LA for Pair of Tapings

Fernando del Rincón (pictured), the handsome Atlanta-based host of the CNN en Espańol prime time news show Conclusiones, also anchors Panorama USA for the network’s CNN Latino programming block. Currently, only viewers in Southern California have TV access to CNN Latino, which launched January 28.

To help kick start this exciting new venture, del Rincón is flying out here tomorrow and will be hosting Panorama USA Thursday from Plaza Mexico in Lynwood and Friday from Plaza La Alameda in Walnut Park. He may not be familiar to English-speaking locals, but make no mistake – this guy is a star. From his bio:

In his interviews, he has covered a broad range of topics, from international politics to literary icons, which include the president of Guatemala, Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, former Mexican president Vicente Fox and former Mexico First Lady Marta Sahagun. In March 2011, he was sent by CNN en Español to cover the outcomes of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan…

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