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Archives: August 2005

Niblets, Rock n’ Roll edition

  • Sex, Drugs, Cocoa Puffs and Fancy Canadian Lunches: Celebrity sighting! Chuck Klosterman in Toronto having lunch at the spiffy Bistro 990, where the celebs like to dine during the FilmFest. Klosterman’s in town for the Canadian launch of “Killing Yourself To Live” at The Horseshoe tonight (the Stones have played there, FYI). We are SO tempted to go by and rock some AC/DC. We always thought the line should have been “knockin’ me out with those Canadian thighs,” anyway.
  • Rick Moody is in a boring, boring band: In a recent piece for the Guardian UK, Rick Moody talks about his band, “The Wingdale Community Singers” (though he doesn’t mention his book “The Diviners” or either of its covers). “I don’t drink at all, and neither of the others drinks very much. Two-thirds of us are well into our 40s, and David Grubbs, the lead guitar player, has a baby whom he adores, and so we don’t stay out late at night, unless some club is insisting that we start at midnight. We all bathe regularly. We have no groupies.” Further proof: His band is called “The Wingdale Community Singers.” Sounds kind of like “The Von Trapp Family Singers” — maybe Rick performs in liederhosen? Okay, his band just got more interesting. [GuardianUK via TMFTML, who thinks Moody is a mite patronizing]
  • A Rolling Stone gathers no moss, or anything else that would clutter a tidy workspace: Jossip reminds us all that tomorrow is Jann Wenner’s big desk inspection day. He was reminded by a memo from Wenner’s assistant announcing that Wenner would match any donations to hurricane relief, and also that the inspection would not be forestalled. See the memo at Jossip, or just tip over your wastepaperbasket in silent defiance. [Jossip]
  • Dog days of August: officially over. Well, in a few hours. See you in September!
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    Bush to address Katrina on GMA

    Wow. This is a huge get. President Bush will guest on “Good Morning America” tomorrow in an exclusive live interview with Diane Sawyer to discuss Hurricane Katrina and the emergency relief efforts. He probably won’t get around to talking about his 45% approval rating but we’re betting that the phrase “war on terror” will somehow sneak in there.

    TVNewser has the scoop, as always, and wonders aloud: “When was the last time Bush granted a live interview?” Chalk one up for Karl Rove; this is, as usual, a PR masterstroke, and FAR safer than the White House press corps.

    UPDATE: This? PR masterstroke, not so much.

    UPDATE: Thanks to an eagle-eyed tipster I have corrected the approval rating. 38% was incorrect and reflected specifically the approval rating on Bush’s handling of Iraq, not his overall approval rating. Sorry, tipster. You know Fishbowl tries to be fair and balanced.

    Newspapers deny newsosauriness

    According to Editor & Publisher, both the NYT and LAT are denying Nikki Finke’s claim that they’re about to lose a whole lot of movie advertising because their readership is not sufficiently young to appeal to movie studio marketing departments:

    In a written statement to E&P, the Los Angeles Times called Finke’s piece “misleading in its description of the state of newspaper readership and of the Los Angeles Times’ value as an advertising vehicle for movie studios.”

    The paper then went on to cite a Scarborough Research report that shows that 52% of 18-24 year olds who go to three or more movies a month read the paper weekly. Among 18-24 year olds who usually go to movies on opening weekend, the Los Angeles Times says 43% read the paper each week.

    New York Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis told E&P Wednesday that the Times has not felt the cutbacks Finke’s column portends. Furthermore, Mathis said the movie industry views the paper as a trade publication as well as a “highly influential ticket-selling vehicle in New York.” And finally, she said, The Times is increasing selling combined ad packages for print and online — presumably to snag that younger audience.

    Well, since Finke portends cutbacks, I’m not sure why the fact that the NYT hasn’t felt them yet disproves her reporting. Anyway, we will see in the coming months if the Finke Prophecy comes into being.

    Dov Charney: maybe a mensch after all

    charney91.jpgA few weeks ago, Dov Charney called my editor-in-chief, asking her to take down this post. He claimed that the Jewish Journal article the item linked to was deeply unfair to him.

    I called Charney to follow up, and then discussed his grievances via email with Jewish Journal editor Howard Blume, who oversaw the article in question. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing mis-reported in the article per se, which pretty carefully distinguishes between allegation and fact. Although of course, one could argue about balance and bias in any piece like this. However, as Blume pointed out to me, if Charney really objects to the article, maybe he ought to write a letter to the editor, which the Journal would print, and which he hasn’t done.

    Nonetheless, since Charney is concerned about his reputation, a few points bear emphasis:

    -Charney’s now-infamous liaison with a writer for the magazine Jane was completely consensual. And they both had a great time.
    -Two of the main sources in the Jewish Journal article have long-standing disputes with Charney stemming from the attempt to unionize American Apparel a few years ago, which was voted down by the company’s workers.
    -Many clothing companies which American Apparel does business with regularly inspect AA’s facilities and financial records, and, claims Charney, would take note of any worker exploitation.
    -The writer of the Jewish Journal article never visited the company’s facilities.

    Charney also thinks that there is a movement in the blogo- and media-spheres to take him down, because he is successful and colorful. I don’t really agree with this, but I do think there may be a tendency to make fun of him a little, since he has a silly moustache and talks a lot about sex. (And by the way, there’s this.) In any case, if Charney really thinks blogs are bad for society (which is what he told me), I’m not sure why his company advertises so heavily on the Gawker Media empire.

    Anyway, all this is neither here nor there. The point is that Charney may actually be a good guy. I would also like to endorse his T-shirts, which I find to hang quite flatteringly on the lanky, sinewy frames of certain semitically handsome media bloggers.

    Lunch at Michael’s: August…You know what we mean

    You didn’t miss much today. Hope you were in the Poconos or Central Park or somewhere. The three new kids — Domino, OK! and Shop etc. — vied for mama’s attention. Charlie Rose and Dan Rather nodded each other’s way. Tina relaxed with the Telegraph‘s Andrew Neil. There was a gaggle of media reporters to witness the shenanigans, but (sigh), no shenanigans.

    This might be a good time to tee up your Fall by sending Loreal (the woman who decides what table you are assigned) a Baby Gift! We have heard that many people did, but if you haven’t yet, you still have time. The baby’s name is Sophia Grace Hazel Sherman. We urge you to heed our call and send cards, gifts, flowers, swag and what-not to: Michael’s Restaurant, 24 West 55th Street, New York, NY, 10036. Phone: 212-767-0555.

    Feel free to correct us if we are wrong on anything by writing LaurelT AT mediabistro Dot Com.

    Table 1: Phil Ramone, Billy Joel’s producer, with entertainment attorney big-wig Freddie Gershon, and a woman who arrived late, wearing a patterned blouse or dress.

    2: Keith Kelly put out the red carpet for Bauer VP, Mark Pasetsky, who just happened to be quoted in the Post today on that very subject…

    4: Literary agent Owen Laster, in the most wonderfully outrageous fuschia shirt, with Penguin’s Dan Conaway, in a decidedly staid beige suit.

    5: Dan Rather with Gil Schwartz.

    3: A team of high-powered headhunters from Bentley & Farrell Executive Search were with Christian Toksvig, head of the so-far wildly successful OK! Magazine. Lots of male bonding rituals performed at this table. Loud guffaws, bawdy jokes and shoulder slapping. OK! must be hiring up!

    6: Anna Perez, head of corp comm for NBC Universal (formerly worked for Condi Rice and Barbara Bush), sitting with two other women, one in khaki pants, with a blue thing on her ankle, in from LA. Anna seems to know everyone, Rather, Rose, Tina, and on.

    7: George Malkemus, of Manolo Blahnik, with colleagues, most of whom were female and blonde.

    8: Brooke Duchin (wife of Peter Duchin) with New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia.

    11: Tina Brown, looking rested after some time abroad (Positano, England, etc.). She was in a beige, striped jacket (wearing a white t-shirt underneath. We approve!) and beige slacks by Michael Kors. Only Tina could be at a garden party chatting up the Queen “when alarms started going off everywhere!” It was the London bombing scare. Today, she was dining with Andrew Neil, formerly of the Financial Times, now at the Telegraph. No doubt doing research for her Princess Di book.

    12: Shop etc. Publisher Cynthia Lewis, wearing very deep, brick-colored lipstick (we liked it) bemoaned the loss of Laurie when she sat down. Who Laurie is we don’t know. But we overheard her tell her guest, a woman in a dark blue dress or suit, with a spidery blue-crystaled pin, “Laurie’s leaving me…. Going to that woman we talked about!” Is Laurie her housekeeper? One of her sales execs? Tell us, if you know.
    [This just in from a reader: "Laurie is likely Lori Rhodes, Executive Marketing Director (and a great lady)."]

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    The “Our Tsunami” comparisons: Irresistible, and inevitable

    The Post's Tsunami.jpgIt was only a matter of time, of course, before the comparisons were made — and not without reason: death, destruction, flooding, homes and people washed away, horrific scenes of devastation. It’s certainly a hell of a lot more germane than a Hollywood breakup (long memories, Kent Brownridge).

    Even so, the scope really doesn’t compare, and the Tsunami-comparing backlash is gearing up, starting with Romenesko letters (again), as a Corey Pein writes in from Bangkok:

    “The tsunami hit a whole region and killed hundreds of thousands of
    people and came without leaving enough time to evacuate. The worst-hit places here in Thailand are still [messed] up, whole villages of shell-shocked people who lost their families and their livelihoods. It is possible to convey the scope of the disaster on the Gulf Coast without resorting to such hyperbole. From this perch, it only offers evidence to support the worst stereotypes about Americans, ie, that we only think of ourselves.”

    E&P editor Greg Mitchell wades into the fray and writes:

    “I’d like to add that I hope the media also doesn’t swallow and follow Gov. Barbour’s widely-published (front page of NY Times etc.) declaration that the Gulf Coast of Mississippi now seems like “Hiroshima.” The differences are monumental (in the degree of destruction, loss of life and, let’s not forget, horrid radiation effects). This is not to minimize the Mississippi tragedy; I just fear that to make such a comparison tends to minimize the utterly unique and must-be-avoided danger of nuclear weapons.”

    Still, you try telling a floating corpse in Louisiana that Katrina doesn’t technically merit a comparison to another devastating tragedy. It’s pretty fucking brutal no matter how you slice it.

    Caption-writers show their colors: The “Loot/Find” debate

    loot and ye shall find.jpg

    This is interesting, really interesting: a letter to Romenesko off of this Boing Boing post notes that two identical pictures from hurricane-ravaged Louisiana featured white people “finding” groceries and a black person “looting” them. Ouch.

    We don’t really know if there is more information that we don’t have but offhand it does seem a little telling. Still there is no doubt that there is a blurry area between what could be construed as “looting” and “finding” – on one hand there’s the Jean Valjean-esque taking of food because of absolute need, and on the other there is shooting at people for the sake of scoring TVs, VCRs, jeans and whatever else is being absconded with in the watery streets of New Orleans.

    Amid all the stories of death and destruction it’s hit a defiite nerve: witness chatter on Technorati and our own MB boards, plus the immediate follow-up on by an Emerson j-school prof Jerry Lanson on Romenesko. Have to say it, eschewer of blogs though he is, Romenesko is good for tapping into things like this.

    Writes Christina Pazzanese: “Should editors, in a rush to publish poignant or startling images, relax their standards or allow personal or regional biases creep into captions and stories?Perhaps these photos will stimulate a media “gut check” as we race to
    tell the stories of the thousands who lost their lives and livelihoods.”

    It’s an interesting topic, the “gut check” — in the swirl of Katrina reportage on air, on blog and on deadline it’s not surprising that something off-color would emerge with a blurt. We know there is looting; we know there must be finding. The gray area in the middle? Somewhere between black and white.

    Anonymous Lawyer goes to bat for Jolie

    Jergens.jpgEven as Seventeen celebrates the hiring of their new beauty editor, the non-anonymous blogger non-Nadine Haobsh non-female Desi Gallegos (whisked away from the associate beauty editorship at Teen People), the NYT and a brother in anonymous blogging arms stick up for almost-beauty editor Nadine Haobsh, who saw her job offer yanked when she was outed as beautyblogger Jolie. That was a very long sentence.

    Jeremy Blachman, the Harvard law student who blogged as beleagured white-shoe hiring partner Anonymous Lawyer, leaps to Haobsh’s defense* in today’s op-ed pages, agreeing that, yes, people can get fired for all sorts of stupid stuff but that weblogs ought to be protected, dammit. Otherwise how would people know to slather on Jergens for a natural yet reasonably-priced glow? Or what goes on inside a white-shoe law firm? (er, just a quick note on that: didn’t you make it all up? Not that it’s not hilarious satire – especially this entry and this one too – but it’s not, strictly speaking, the truth. Though as a former associate in a white-shoe firm I can definitely attest to the some-truth).

    Blachman’s point is that the public interest in free-flowing information ought to trump the employer’s interest in not being outed as a vacation-ruining taskmaster or a spa-vacationing iPod-enjoying cosmetic-shilling SwagHag (did I just make that one up?). I’m actually not sure I agree; as much as I’m a fan of fighting the power and heeding the bloggy muse, I don’t think random employees should be able to blog willy-nilly about their employers with impunity. There are obvious dangers inherent in that, particularly with respect to bloggers less thoughtful than Haobsh or fictionalized like Blachman. This is not to say that I don’t think employers should be cool about anonablogs: after reading pretty much all of Jolie I didn’t think she had crossed any lines at all and thought the LHJ firing was uncalled for and the rescinding of the Seventeen offer appalling (nice message to send to your readers about speaking out, Atoosa). But there are lines, and when employees cross them it’s just as unfair to deny employers redress.

    But don’t take our word for it, see what Blachman has to say – he must be pretty convincing, considering that he actually recieved a bunch of r&#233sum&#233s from law students wanting to work at his pretend slave-driver firm. Aw, kind of reminds me of how we got the Fishterns.

    *It feels funny not to call you Jolie, Nadine. Sigh. But we all must grow up sometime. Fly, fly, fly, little bird.

    Yes, I know there’s a hurricane…

    To the anonymous emailer who asked me, politely, why I wasn’t giving any coverage to Hurricane Katrina, I ask, politely, why are you looking for coverage of a hurricane in the Southeast US on a blog about Los Angeles media? Anyway, Variety does have a story about Katrina’s effect on productions underway in New Orleans and environs (coincidentally, the subject of a recent LAT feature).

    Evacuating the Superdome as the water rises

    In New Orleans, they are finally evacuating the SuperDome, apparenty planning to airlift people to the Astrodome in Houston. I will never make fun of sports again. Meanwhile, amazingly, water still continues to pour into the city with two levees destroyed — CNN has a video here (as a side note, CNN has finally dropped their tasteless and oft-mocked “Watch Free!” video plug).

    On the newsblogs, more reports of the devastation: The Daily Nightly has an account by NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders who flew over New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, Miss. in a helicopter yesterday (video here) – he typed it in the air but couldn’t post it ’til today. Hardly pre-packaged news.

    The newsies continue to fan out but still the scope is too gigantic to cover, even as they capture the personal moments (Jon Friedman feels a little voyeuristic being privy to such raw grief; Robin Roberts reports from her home state of Mississippi, voice shaking).

    An emailer writes:

    “It takes a lot of exposure to understand how this impacts people. You grow blas&#233 after seeing your hundredth house submerged, until you realize that it means you can’t live in the house. And your neighbor can’t live in his. And no one can live in any of theirs. And there’s nowhere to go. And the one place there was to go to is a hot, humid, football stadium with no plumbing or water and tons of trash. And people are looting and rioting on the dry parts, without any law enforcement. And the water’s rising, and every other city nearby is the exact same way.”

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