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Archives: April 2005

America Behind the Huffington Mockery Curve

ahz.jpgShame on all of us. The first Huffington Post satire comes not from our native soil, but from England. And not some British blog, but The Guardian! (Or, as I assume it’s known as in the U.K., ‘Mainstream Bloody Media’.)

(Link via Gawker.)

The New York Racquet and Tennis Club, where members are always welcome

swimmy.jpgJust when you thought they couldn’t top strutting peacocks in seersucker suits, The New York Times Thursday Styles section struts a different sort of– oh, forget it, it’s just too damn easy. Today Dana Vachon writes about the warm, womblike comfort of swimming in the buff with other men at the New York Racquet and Tennis Club, appparent bastion of guys getting naked and splashing around together.

Honestly, the thing speaks for itself:

“It’s not a far leap to make a connection between showering at prep school and naked swimming in New York.”

“If you meet someone swimming naked in a pool, surely you’re going to do much better in an interview with them” (Ed. Especially if you let them call you Shirley!).

“What goes on at the R.T.C. stays at the R.T.C.”

“One guy wasn’t looking when he was coming out of a lap and grabbed another guy. He felt something strange, but familiar.”

And finally, a model of understatement: “The roots of male nude bathing are planted at least partly in homoeroticism.”

Oh yes, just partly. Meanwhile, Jenny 8. Lee is so wishing she wrote this.

The Tao of Skinny-Dipping [NYT]

Bush Press Conference: Jeff Gannon, ready thy softballs!

bush and prez seal.jpgPresident Bush will hold a prime-time press conference tonight at 8:30 pm.m. to address his plans for Social Security and energy (and, depending on whether he’s asked about it, Iraq).

The address comes during a drop in Bush’s approval rating. Considering criticism from DeLay-gate, Bolton-gate, Schiavo-gate, Abdullah-gate, and macking-your-wife-in-the-middle-of-the-pope’s-funeral-gate (okay, well, this Newsweek reader wasn’t impressed), the time is ripe for some damage control.

Scott McLellan announced the press conference just yesterday, but it’s doubtful that this was a spontaneous idea – Karl Rove leaves little to chance. But, they’ve planned a press conference, not a straight address. Who asks what questions following will no doubt be relevant.

And, if you agree with Sydney Schanberg in the Village Voice, it will no doubt be controlled: “The administration of George W. Bush has raised secrecy and information control to a level never before seen in Washington.” Ditto Eric Alterman, whose piece “Bush’s War on the Press” argues that the Bush administration undermines journlists with “secrets, lies and fake news” in its bid to control the outward flow of information from the White House. He raising the issues of payments made to right-wing pundits and, of course, the softball-lobbing, barely-credentialed Jeff Gannon:

Press secretary McClellan would often call on Gannon when he wanted to extricate himself from a particularly effective line of questioning. The words “Go ahead, Jeff,” signaled that the press corps could be getting into an area that might embarrass the White House–or could be discovering a nugget of genuine news.

Both Alterman and Schanberg accuse the media of being complicit in the effort by mostly toeing the line. Draw your own conclusions after tonight’s question period. In the meantime, Atrios puts the night in in perspective here, reminding us of all the good TV we’ll be missing.

Bush plans prime time news conference [CNN]
Bush’s War on the Press [The Nation]
A Time for Disobedience [Village Voice]

Some bloggers lead lives of quiet desperation, others just count the money

Blogs, bloggers, blogging – everyone’s got a story, everyone’s got an opinion (not to mention a blog – thanks, Ariana Huffington!).

For some, the other side of the blog fence looks like Nirvana. For those who live it, the grass underfoot is not always so green, with meager existences eked out in soul-crushing day jobs. Simon Houpt, New York columnist for Canada’s Globe & Mail, characterizes bloggers thus:

If you spend any time trolling through the diaries of the anonymous masses available at places like or, you already know that misery and self-pity are defining features of the so-called blogosphere.

Others just sell ad space to the New York Times, take their million page views, and call it a day.

Blogging on the boulevard of broken dreams [The Globe & Mail]
New York’s Real Estate Know-It-All [BusinessWeek Online]

Hollywood Momentum Gets Anthropological

Hollywood Momentum, a website aimed at industry assistants, is so well-maintained and frequently-updated, given what has to be a wispy thread of a revenue stream, that at first I assumed it was some sort of Scientology front. I think I was wrong about this.

This week, the website has a column about the convention known as Assistant Drinks– the ritualized interaction through which low level Hollywood workers form social bonds and (if they are new in town) learn how to assimilate into the culture. It’s presented as a How To guide– How To Network Effectively, How To Make Sure You Don’t Get Too Drunk, etc. But for those of us who are not Hollywood assistants, it’s also an interesting view into the social patterns of a foreign subculture:

You know how it starts: you’ve been on a desk for a few months, there are a couple of phone numbers you start to memorize because you call those offices so many times, you start to become “friends” with the assistant to whom the only words you ever mutter are “I have fill-in-the blank for fill-in-the-blank.” You don’t even really talk, unless it takes a minute for your bosses to connect, and then you ask a standard question like “how was your weekend” and get a standard response like “it was great.”… One day that voice says “let’s get drinks.”

That one paragraph says so much about alienation from labor, petit-bourgeois worker solidarity, and the commodification of pleasure in post-industrial society that I want to go to grad school and write a dissertation on it.

IHT: Wells out, Schmemann Oreskes in?

Last month we mentioned that departing International Herald Tribune exec editor Walter Wells would likely be replaced by the edit page’s Serge Schmemann. This month, we change our tune thanks to new intel: apparently deputy managing editor Mike Oreskes is in line for the top spot.

When we told her what we’d heard, NYT Vice President Corporate Communications Catherine Mathis said that “a final decision has not been made on that job.” So we’ll leave it as idle gossip and frivolous, unsubstantiated rumor for now.

WGA: East Sues West

The disagreement about dues-sharing between the Writers’ Guilds West and East has moved a step closer to a courtroom. On Monday, the WGAe submitted a complaint to a U.S. District Court judge stating that it was not obligated to arbitrate its differences with the WGAw despite the arbitration proviso in the Constitution that binds (sort of) the two Guilds together.

The WGAw maintains that the differences between the guilds should be resolved via arbitration. A summit is scheduled in New York for mid-June, but in an email to WGAw members yesterday, President Daniel Petrie Jr. stated that the guild is not optimistic that anything will be resolved.

Slater: I Was Railroaded

In an email to his friends and family (and LAObserved, which posted it), fired LAT reporter Eric Slater tells his side of the story:

On Monday, April 17, following a brief investigation, LA Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet told me that either I could resign or I would be fired. Because I could not reach my attorney at 8:30 a.m., I agreed to resign. I told Dean that I would meet with my counsel and draft a letter of resignation that I would file as soon as possible. Everyone agreed that was the way to proceed.

A few hours later, a reporter for another paper phoned me to ask for a comment on my resignation. The Times, this journalist said, was reporting that I had resigned. She was right. Before I was given time to write my letter of resignation, the LA Times was reporting to other journalists (and Dean confirmed this personally to me) that I had indeed resigned.

Following weeks of odd inquiries, thinly veiled threats about the impending ruin of my career, inappropriate questions about my health and personal life, I asked my attorney if I could retract my resignation. He encouraged me to do just that.

I did. The Times fired me.

Slater goes on to state that in the “near future” he will release exonerating materials from his time in Chico “including original notes, AmEx and other receipts, as well as a dozen or so versions of the story as it was written, edited and rewritten.” However, he claims to have no plans to sue the LAT, and instead wants to clear his reputation so he can get another job.

NY Daily News oughta be in pictures

spotlights.gifNot only is the New York Daily News hilarious, but it’s telegenic as well: at least Bravo must think so, because they’ve tapped the NYDN to ‘star’ in their new documentary series chronicling the daily workings of a newspaper.

The series, which will consist of six one-hour episodes, will be shot as an unfolding drama, focusing on “the action-packed days of our reporters, photographers and editors as they break the biggest and hottest news stories of the day” (per the Daily News).

Less impressed is NYDN arch-nemesis the New York Post, which sniffed via Media Ink columnist Keith Kelly “Bravo already missed the biggest drama of the year when the News’ Scratch n’ Stiff scandal erupted after it printed the wrong winning numbers for the bingo-card contest.” The ongoing snipping between the Post and what it affectionately refers to as “the Daily Snooze” will figure prominently in the series, according to Tom Scocca in the NYO.

Daily News EIC Michael Cooke concedes that his staff may not be movie star material, but thinks that footage of them cranking out copy in the NYDN’s “dirty” newsroom will be nonetheless worthy of note. If not, we hear Page Six’s Paula Froelich has a book out that can help.

Bravo! News to star on TV [NYDN]
See Ya, Kirstie! News Starring As Fat Tabloid [NYO]
Media Ink [NY Post]

Only 331 Days Until The Vanity Fair 2006 Oscar Party!

Vanity Fair, the annual Academy Awards party that also publishes a glossy monthly brochure, has posted to its website a weird music video comprised of clips from the 2005 party strung together over a song by a band that sounds suspiciously like the guys who played at my Bar Mitzvah.

Meanwhile the May issue is full of Oscar-party residue. My favorite trace element is the photo of and item about the assistants who helped plan the party in the Contributors section on page 58 (I don’t have a scanner, so you’ll have to find an excuse to visit the bathroom of a subscriber to see the photo, wherein the assistants look like they’re being huddled together by out-of-frame cattle prods on either side of them):

… [T]he team could not function without the leadership of Sara Marks, director of special projects. “You couldn’t work for just anyone,” says Jane Hill, a seven-year veteran of the Oscar-party team. “Sara treats us with such affection and respect. We adore her.”

Yay, Sara! And, of course, elsewhere in the issue, Dominick Dunne weighs in on the party:

It sounds braggy to keep saying it year after year, but Vanity Fair‘s Oscar party remains the No. 1 stelar event on Hollywood’s night of nights… [I]t is the dream-party come trye, an olio of the famous, the rich and the beautiful, intermingling and enjoying one another.

For the record, Dunne thought the Academy Awards ceremony itself was kind of boring and dreary this year.

Vanity Fair
article I’d like to read: Dominick Dunne Visits Burning Man.