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Archives: March 2005

Page Six, Media Ethicist

wadler.jpgDefamer spots another instance of Page Six getting all up in arms about being played by an industry spinner. Unlike last time, however, it (They? He? What’s the correct pronoun for a newspaper column?) has a point, sort of:

WHO’S the biggest liar in Hollywood? We nominate Nancy Kirkpatrick, the head of public relations for Paramount. Last year, we rang and said Sherry Lansing was stepping down as head of Paramount. Kirkpatrick denied it. Lansing then announced her resignation. We then called and said, “We hear Sherry isn’t going to finish out her contract and will be gone by the end of the year.” Kirkpatrick denied it. Lansing left and was replaced by Brad Grey early this year. We next called and said Paramount Pictures president Donald Deline was leaving. Kirkpatrick so strenuously denied it, she offered to get Grey and Deline on the phone, even though we pointed out there was no way either of them would admit Deline was leaving. She also denied producer Scott Rudin was off for Sony, saying he “has two years left on his contract.”(Hey, didn’t Lansing have two left when they canned her?) Kirkpatrick was so passionate in all of her denials we actually believed her– and then we had to read our scoops in the trades. Hey, Nancy — from now on, don’t expect to hear from us. Lie to some other column.

Hey Page Six, there’s a saying: fool me once, shame on you; fool me four times, I’m a little slow. Not that FishbowlLA endorses corporate publicity spin. But for a journalist to complain about it in print is like a baseball pitcher grousing that the mound is too far from the plate. Or something like that. It’s just part of the playing field.

Meanwhile, Sherry Lansing herself engages in some spin control with NYT gossip columnist Joyce Wadler:

What does Ms. Lansing think of all the turmoil at Paramount? (BRAD GREY, who is of course the new chairman, just recruited GAIL BERMAN, who was of course at Fox Entertainment.) “I wish everybody the best,” Ms. Lansing said a little haltingly and laughed.

At intermission, when we found ourselves together again, she said it again. “Make sure you got that part about wishing everybody the best,” Ms. Lansing said.

New York Post circulation boost

front032905.gifThe New York Daily News reports (a week after we reported, ahem) that the NY Post has been scattering free copies of the paper around Queens and Brooklyn and intends to include them in circulation numbers:

In a frantic, desperate effort to jimmy up circulation numbers, the Post has been littering New York City with free copies encased in red plastic bags – 50,000 copies each weekday.

[Ed.—Note the gratuitous "frantic, desperate".]


If your front steps or lawn is being littered with New York Posts that you didn’t ask for and aren’t going to pay for, please let us know and we’ll try to help.

How charitable.

David Shaw, the Least Popular Man in the Blogosphere

As one might expect, David Shaw’s LAT piece arguing that bloggers should not be eligible for the legal protections accorded to ‘real’ journalists is getting trounced by bloggers everywhere. Jack Shafer sums it up nicely in Slate today:

If I were in the business of licensing journalists, which I’m not, I’d give Shaw a two-week suspension without pay and force him to blog his way back into his readers’ good graces.

Journalist/blogger Matt Welch cogently refutes Shaw’s argument and digs up this self-reverential Shaw piece, in which he investigates what a great investigative journalist he is.

As for this blogger, sure, I’d love to be protected under journalistic shield laws. But mostly I want a Moveable Type spell-check function.

The LA Blogging Tinderbox

Things are a little tense in the Los Angeles blogosphere right now. It feels like the moment right before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, with long-simmering rivalries about to burst. And just like Europe in 1914, untangling who is mad at whom for what is a little hard. But here’s my best try:

Read more

The New York Finger: A Correction

tb3.gifHaving been encouraged/nudged/prodded/pushed into writing about Tina Brown in various previous jobs by various editors and publishers (who were, more often than not, English), we’ve gotten sort of tired of it and were seriously considering retiring our copy of Tina and Harry Come to America and instituting a Tina ban at FishbowlNY—just because we could. No more Tina Brown, we told ourselves. None. Niente. No mas Tina Marrón!

Then she had to go off and compare bloggers to post-Nazi Nazis. Yeesh. At any rate, more Tina Brown this morning, and now this.

The Palm Beach Daily News on the success of VF’s Ron-and-Nancy-dancing cover under Brown:

The Reagan cover was a runaway success, allowing Brown to avoid, at least temporarily, what she called the “New York Finger.”

“That’s when people stick their finger in your chest and ask, ‘When is that magazine of yours going to fail?’

If it were just about the magazine failing, you could chalk it up to friendly competition. But this is New York, and when you put a few million type-A neurotics on a 31-square-mile island you end up with a surplus of schadenfraude that must be expended, lest the entire city descend immediately into Hobbesian violence. It’s not “when is that magazine of yours going to fail?” It’s “when are you going to fail?” If it were about the magazine, you’d have to assume that there’s some industry-wide premium on high-quality magazine publishing, and well, history and the stack of magazines on our desk would seem to indicate otherwise.

But if it’s any consolation to those of you being fingered in the chest at any given moment, the people waiting for you to fail are spending way more on therapy than you are. And it’s probably not working, which means that you have your own schadenfraude opportunity. So it all balances out in the end. Everyone’s happy. Happy in a small, petty and self-destructive way, but happy, nonetheless.

Update: We neglected to mention that Tina’s currently writing about people who fall from lofty heights (figuratively speaking). It is/was called The Icarus Complex—a schadenfraude-laden title if there ever was one.

Joel Stein Plays Catch-Up

When Michael Kinsley came on board as LAT Editorial chief, one of his first moves was to hire Joel Stein to add a young, fresh voice to the paper. But how fresh is Stein? This week he visits Lucha VaVoom, the Mexican themed burlesque show which, he writes, his friends have been telling him about “for months” and describing as a “Mecca for hipsters.”

Great, but Lucha VaVoom has been going on for years and is in fact established enough to have been the subject of several Los Angeles Times pieces, dating as far back as 2002. Stein uses the event to launch into a fairly rote–albeit accurate–examination of the appeal of camp in Los Angeles. Which again, is hardly a newsflash.

Is this the best Stein can do? Is this the best the LAT can do?

(Also, LAObserved catches this editorial oddity– an ‘Outside The Tent’ piece by John Ziegler that was too inaccurate– or TOO HOT?– for print but which Bob Sipchen decided to post online.)

Saturday Night in Venice

Two social events occurred this past Saturday with overlapping constituencies: pretentious literary types at Equator Books celebrating the release of the second issue of lit-journal Swink, and emotionally needy journalist types at Mickey Kaus’s surprisingly tidy apartment. (I don’t know why, but I was expecting something more like a scene from the ‘before’ part of ‘Queer Eye For the Straight Guy’.)

This reporter, despite occasionally moonlighting as a pretentious literary type, chose to spend the evening at Kaus’s. I was going to blog about it, but Luke Ford beat me to it. Which is impressive, because he wasn’t even there. (Scroll down a bit for his recap.) It was exciting to finally see TV figures like Arianna Huffington and Josh Mankiewicz from the waist down.

The Elegant Variation has a run-down of the Swink party. (Thanks for the photo above, too.) In addition to TEV’s list of attendees, I hear Fiona Apple dropped by. Which comes dangerously close to a real Hollywood celebrity sighting at a party mostly attended by people who pretend they live in Cobble Hill.

Weekend leftovers: 03.28.05

·jets.jpgDepartment of questionable headlines: “Pakistani Hints He’ll Turn Over Centrifuges in Iran Investigation” (“President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan says he will consider turning over centrifuges”) Other articles you may have missed this weekend: “With An American Safely Re-elected, Rove Turns Intensity to Policy, American Prays for Troops at Easter Services, and Amtrak Board Wary of American’s Overhaul Plan. And LowCulture reports: “U.S. Sells Jets to Pakistan.” (above left)

· Cheapskate media moguls: “…Sumner Redstone, Charlie Ergen, Rupert Murdoch—aren’t mega-players when it comes to personal philanthropy. All three are on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans but are nowhere to be found among the country’s top charity donors.” Further down: “Then [NBC Universal chairman] Bob Wright picked up the phone and called New York Times executive editor Bill Keller to commend him on a front-page story on autism. Keller assured him the Times wasn’t going to ignore autism, as he felt the paper ignored AIDS at the dawn of that epidemic.” [Variety via Drudge]

· Josh Marshall (not typically a purveyor of snarky commentary, it should be noted) on CNN‘s Schiavo coverage: “I’m not sure I can stay up late enough to see their report on sword-swallowing privatizers or the preview of the new CNN Presents documentary on the man raised from infancy by a pack of lizards and his brave struggle to adjust to life among humans.”

· Ludacris, media critic [Crooks & Liars]

· Columbia University’s Lee Bollinger: “There is no profession more important in the modern world than being a journalist.” And no virtue more important than humility. [Asymmetrical Information]

Parking in LA: More Annoying Than Ever

In the future, the Los Angeles service economy will be completely sexualized. The NYT Sunday Styles section examines Valet of the Dolls, an all-woman parking valet service whose workers dress in slinky outfits and flirt while they park.

The women of Valet of the Dolls tend to have other careers, often in the entertainment industry; many are aspiring actresses, models, writers or stuntwomen. They start at $7.25 an hour, and if a valet works a “costume” event, she gets an extra $10 to $40 a night. Tips are not as plentiful as for waitressing and bartending, but the hours are more flexible. Besides, said Mary Pat Farrell, a comedy writer and supervisor at Valet of the Dolls, “to get a good bartending job in L.A. you have to be so hot it’s not even funny.”

According to Janelle Brown, who wrote the piece, there are several other valet parking companies competing in the same get-your-car-parked-by-a-costumed-Hollywood-wannabe niche.

If this becomes the dominant valet paradigm, I’m going to start a hip retro parking service staffed by pudgy men with indeterminate accents and ill-fitting polyester uniforms. (I can see the DailyCandy email already. “Sometimes, with all the hottie valet services out there, you and your car just want to kick it old-school.”)

The rise of the fake media blog: what hath the Internet wrought?

obrien.jpgFirst there was (“I can’t believe how fat Brooksy’s gotten. He and Friedman could be tag team sumos, of course then they’d have to travel to Japan and Friedman would be sending out his stupid travel log emails. I’m in Japan and a funny thing happened when I ordered my sushi, blah blah blah.”)

Now there’s “I’m Stuck in Rehab with Pat O’Brien.” (Subhed: “Hello. I’m stuck in rehab with Pat O’Brien. I haven’t decided which is worse: being addicted to pain killers or being stuck in rehab with Pat O’Brien.”)

An excerpt:

After dinner we hung around the common room and sang songs. Pat O’Brien had his mandolin. He actually wasn’t that bad. He sang “Eve of Destruction” and “To Sir, With Love.” I just wish he hadn’t taken his shirt off. Nobody wanted to see that.

If this keeps up, we’re really only an unregistered web address away from fan fiction about Rupert Murdoch. Not that we’re encouraging it.

(Yes, we are. Send to That’s F-I-S-H-B…)

Related: Defamer Crazy Talk: Pat O’Brien Hiding Out In Rehab? [Defamer]