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Archives: November 2005

The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Media Minutiae


  • We have never been more jealous of Cameron Diaz, and it has nothing to do with Justin Timberlake: Julie Andrews plays one of our favorite games, namely “cast your dream remake of “The Sound of Music!” Julie’s pick for the demure young Fra&#252lein is Cameron Diaz, which would be good for the pratfalling (sitting on a pinecone! Falling out of a canoe!) but maybe she’s a little past the whole super-innocent-nun thing. Ooh! I’ve got it! Rachel MacAdams. Innocent, lovely, AND Canadian. Pre-Syriana weight gain Clooney for the captain, perhaps, maybe with his “Good Night and Good Luck” buddy Jeff Daniels as Uncle Max? Whoopi Goldberg as the Mother Abbess? Alexis Bledel as Liesl? (AJ Jacobs would like that). And is it me or is Ryan Phillipe a perfect Rolf?). I think sometimes we all need someone older and wiser telling us what to do (those who need someone sixteen going on seventeen, best keep those impulses in check. AJ Jacobs, I’m talkin’ to you). [NYDN]

  • CJR’s Steve Lovelady takes NYT crack biz reporter Gretchen Morgenstern to task for alarmist predictions that she can’t back up. Fortunately, her article is behind the TimesSelect subscription wall so only 135,000 people really have any reason to panic. [CJR]
  • Defending AndyCoop: Over at TVSquad there was apparently quite a hue and cry over CNN’s replacement of Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper, so much so that editor Bob Sassone felt compelled to defend poor Anderson’s honor. I actually did not know that Anderson started as a private citizen hoofing it through war-torn regions with just his video camera. It’s an interesting piece, not only for its content but for what prompted it. I wonder if Jon Klein anticipated this kind of sustained reaction to the dissolution of “fire and ice.” I’m guessing no. [TVSquad]
  • Newspaper Death Knell #4,285,723: The Village Voice’s Syd Schanberg muses about where newspaper dreams go to die and isn’t too concerned: good journalism, he thinks, will always thrive, because there will always be the need. He then goes on to laud some particularly fine work in his field, from the LAT to the NYT to The Nation to Celebrity Living. Wait, you mean Jessica Simpson‘s NOT pregnant? I feel so betrayed. [Village Voice, also WWD and Boldface Names]
  • LAT in 90 seconds

    - In, Patrick Goldstein criticizes Oscar-obsessed blogs, including

    - Eminent Domain Gone Wild!

    - Most E-Mailed Stories analysis: Apparently the readership feels maturity-challenged today. This beats out Randy Cunningham?

    Wow, that was fast: New Times / Village Voice Media merger approved

    Everyone expected the Justice Department to approve the New Times / Village Voice merger. But everyone expected it to take a few months. Instead, it took about four weeks. Which goes to show how this alternative weekly merger is just, like, exactly what The Man / The Pigs / Big Brother / The Suits want/s, because it totally silences non-mainstream voices. At least that’s what we’re expecting at least one letter-writer to declare in next week’s LA Weekly. Probably with lots of CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!

    Anyway, still no reliable word on what this is going to mean for the LA Weekly. I just hope they don’t silence the Jonathan Gold reprints.

    Is it me or might this actually be worth $10 million?

    From today’s freedom-fighting Lowdown:

    For his estimated $500,000, I hear that 50 Cent performed only four or five songs – and badly – though he did manage to work in the lyric, “Go shorty, it’s your bat miztvah, we gonna party like it’s your bat mitzvah.”

    Classic. Apparently some crazy dad (Long Island multimillionaire David H. Brooks) dropped a commensurate sum on the performing talent for his daughter’s bat mitzvah. Don Henley apparently did not relish performing for “a kid’s party,” obviously unaware that the solemn day meant the lucky bat mitzvah girl was a WOMAN. Wakka wakka, Don! Don’t tell the boys of summer!

    Also: “the 150 kids in attendance seemed more impressed by their $1,000 gift bags, complete with digital cameras and the latest video iPod.” Sigh. I remember when those glittery spray-paint t-shirts were a really big deal.

    Oh, a p.s.: apparently Brooks is a defense contractor. That’s just depressing.

    Not-so-Petty cash to rock bat mitzvah [Lowdown]

    New blood at Harper’s, whereby “new” we mean “not so much”

    Lew Lap.jpg Rodge Hodge.png As reported by David Carr in today’s NYT, Roger D. Hodge has been named to succeed Lewis Lapham as editor of Harper’s Magazine. Hodge (or “Rog Hodge” as we shall now unoriginally dub him) is the current deputy editor, a nine-year veteran of the magazine representiing a safe, solid choice.

    So – who is Rog Hodge and what will become of Harper’s?

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss:

    “It will be the same magazine,” he said. “We are not going to tear up a good format that is working. I don’t have so much vanity that I think I have to walk in and put my stamp on it.”

    Meet the new boss’ boss, publisher John R. MacArthur: “I think it is very important to ramp up the journalism in the magazine and develop a more serious presence in Washington,” he said.

    …but either way, this should help a lot when putting together the Index:

    Mr. Hodge was born and raised in Del Rio, Tex., and as the son of a rancher knows his way around cattle, sheep and a gun.

    And finally, always look on the bright side of life:

    “This is a great time to be editing a magazine,” he said. “There is a global war on terror, a war in Iraq and we have a presidential administration that is collapsing. And we don’t seem to have any politicians that know what to do about it.

    Yay! The new editor’s an optimist!

    Harper’s Set to Name its Next Editor [NYT]

    Yesterday’s conjecture, today:
    Who’s Next at Harper’s? [Encyclopedia Hanasiana]

    Media Minutiae, Your Eggs Aren’t Getting Any Younger Edition

    Jemima Puddle Duck.gif

  • Give Lloyd Grove an inch, and he’ll take a mile. Over at Slate Jack Shafer loves him for it and thinks Time Warner’s Richard Parsons is a tool. Lloyd Grove, freedom fighter! We attribute it all to the belt buckle. [Slate]

  • The Village Voice and The New Times: Their love is real, dammit: And who are the FTC and the Justice Department to argue? Both bodies okayed the pair’s merger and it’s all but a done deal. Hooray for independent media! [NYP]
  • Brr! It’s cold in here! It must be the prescription drugs in the atmosphere! To quote the NYT: “Known for their athleticism, postage-stamp skirts and persuasive enthusiasm, cheerleaders have many qualities the drug industry looks for in its sales force.” Whoo! Go team!! [NYT]
  • Rebecca Traister takes a peek at Maureen Dowd‘s comments for “Are Men Necessary?” and quickly learnst that it’s not the spot to find your dream man. One charming gent has a message for MoDo: “WOMEN HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE. MEN DON’T.” Whew! Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Sunshine. Hope you’re free on Saturday, ’cause apparently I gots to hurry! [Broadsheet]
  • Jemima Puddle-Duck: far more depressing as an adult The NYT reviews a Beatrix Potter exhibit in Amherst, Mass., bringing me back to one of my childhoold favorites, “The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck,” which I reread to my horror here. It’s awful: she tries and tries to find a place to lay her eggs in peace and a fox almost eats her, but then some dogs save her. Even so, the dogs eat her eggs! She eventually lays new ones, but not as many. Come on, Jemima’s not getting any younger. Moral of the story? WOMEN HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE. MEN DON’T. [NYT]
  • Miles and Soledad: “My Kingdom for an extra hour of sleep!” They didn’t actually say that but man that extra hour in the morning’s gotta suck. Please, I can barely get up in time to watch Wolf. [TVNewser]
  • Barbara Walters, giving a whole new meaning to “getting the get”

    Thanks to John Cook at Reference Tone, we now know exactly how Barbara Walters would conduct an interview with Saddam Hussein. Barbara was on “Larry King Live” last night discussing her “Ten Most Fascinating People of 2005″ special (are we sick of Jennifer Aniston yet?) with the always-inquisitive Larry, who wondered about her policy against profiling the infamous:

    KING: You wouldn’t do Saddam Hussein?

    WALTERS: No.

    KING: But if he gave you the interview, would you do him?

    WALTERS: Oh, I would do him for hours and hours and hours.

    Yikes. We’re so juvenile. Please forgive us Barbara!

    And If Osama Gave Her Some “Face Time,” He’d Forget All About Those 72 Virgins [Reference Tone]

    Media Minutiae II, Canadian Blog Synchronicity Edition

    canflag.jpgIt’s not by design, intelligent or otherwise, but for some reason today is the most Canadianest day ever on Fishbowl. Especially in terms of spelling (we spell things differently up there. Scout’s honour). Okay, I’m going to post as I go because it’s getting late. Stay with me, I’m about to unmask a whole bunch of closet Canadians. Whoo hoo!

  • Big News: Novak’s gonna testify! Except it’s not that Novak; he’s still out there glowering at the world and being evil. However, Time reporter Viveca Novak, from the mag’s DC bureau, is set to go before the grand jury regarding conversations she had with Rove. Back to Rove! Oh what a tangled web they weave when first (and second, and third, and fourth…) they practice to deceive. Viveca Novak is not, to the best of my knowledge, Canadian. False alarm. [Yahoo! News]
  • Of Mag Machers and Managers: AdAge’s Simon Dumenco turns his sharp eye and witty pen to the breakup of Wenner media’s Tweedledum-Tweedledee partnership of Jann Wenner and Kent Brownridge. “The real Wenner story, its unique value proposition among print-media companies, is that an erratic megalomaniac was paired so long, so steadfastly, with a professional manager,” says Dumenco. But what do you really think about Wenner? Don’t hold back. Now Wenner’s alone at the wheel, and God help Men’s Journal. In other news, yes! SIMON DUMENCO IS HALF-CANADIAN! I can’t exactly remember how it works but I think it’s on his Mom’s side. Will update, but the important part is, he’s one of us. [AdAge]
  • 100 Reasons to curl up with a good book: MEL‘s all aflutter about the the NYT’s “100 Notable Books of the Year” which includes our dear Harry Potter, Tom Friedman and his bewitching moustache, the Freakonomics Stephens and their bewitching toes, MoDo’s “Are Men Necessary?” (which may imply that questionably-motivated NYTBR reviews are not), and our old pal David Margolick‘s “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink,” which we like even more because Margolick is…HALF-CANADIAN! (His father hails from Montreal. Bien!). There are 95 other books on the list, including “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning” by Joshua Mahler, which we included just so we could say “And one for Mahler!” in context. It’s the little things. [NYT]
  • Happy Birthday, Little Jonny Liebowitz! You’re all growed up now, and your name is Jon Stewart. Happy 43rd, big guy! Info courtesy of The Local, which also notes that today is the anniversary of the 1939 passing of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and, yes, a Canadian. I think that is enough of an excuse for me to meet Paul Shirley. I’m just sayin’. [The Local]
  • NYT + T.O. = 2-getha 4-eva Big day for the New York Times, and for Torontonian readers: for the first time ever, the NYT is going to print the national edition at a location outside the U.S. (i.e. in Toronto), which will beef up distribution to Rochester and Buffalo. Buffalo’s got the spirit, talkin’ proud, talkin’ proud…Rochester, I don’t quite know what you got. But the ferry was a good start. [Crain's]
  • The French Riots: Pass the Le Corbusier, machinima, and a merci to TNR‘s Marty Peretz

    TNR Superstar.gifI know, that’s kind of a mouthful of a headline, mais there has suddenly been all sorts of interesting dust-settling France coverage, and considering that a chunk of it ended up in my inbox with nary a mouseclick required from me I figured I should pass it along. Then I saw two more stories and, well, three’s a trend.

    J’aime bien le pamplemousse. Oui, c’est vrai.

    First, a shout-out to New Republic editor Marty Peretz, whose personalized email made me feel very special (how did you know that “Reader” was my special nickname?). Peretz drew my attention to TNR’s France-o-centric issue (see sad little Napoleon up above.Oh, buck up, little emperor. Elba’s not that bad), which features articles on why the French have failed to assimilate their minorities, and, confusingly, why the riots are uniquely French but also why all of this is also a European problem. Yowsers.

    Next the New York Times Magazine published an architectural take on the riots, turning blame away from the French toward the Swiss, specifically the architect Le Corbusier, whose version of “upwardly mobile” is actually oxymoronic when taken literally in his high-rises on the outskirts of Paris. I think that sentence made sense but I’m not entirely sure.

    And finally, in one of the more unique commentaries on the events overseas, over at Collision Detection FishFriend Clive Thompson writes of a unique project dramatizing the experiences of various French characters via machinimia (basically making art/video from video game characters and interfaces – more here). The TNR articles provide an interesting backdrop; the video-game-cum-movies highlight the assimilation/identity problems behind the more general marginalization of disaffected youth.

    In any case, trois est un tr&#232nde, et aussi, je ne pas parler le Fran&#231ais vraiment bon. Zut alors! But that doesn’t change how I feel about grapefruit. Tasty, that.

    Update: Allez allez allez! Fishbowl has been informed of more relevant links in this matter, specifically TNR cover-story-writer Paul Berman‘s book Power and the Idealists, as reviewed in yesterday’s NYBTR; it’s actually a super-favorable review and sounds like a really interesting book about the rise of post-1968 fascism in Europe, framed against, inter alia, the 1972 Olympics (a hot topic in the coming month when Munich is released). Wow, from France to Germany all in one post about unrest and racial violence in Europe. Nothing unsettling about that.

    Revolting High Rises [NYT Mag]
    A Machinima commentary on the riots in France [Collision Detection]

    Kate Moss on VF: With so many nipples, maybe they won’t notice that you don’t have an actual interview

    Kate Moss VF.jpgVanity Fair‘s December cover was, by all accounts, a score: a gorgeous, doe-eyed shot of a winsome, un-strung-out looking Kate Moss with the coverline: “Kate Moss: The Inside Story of the Cocaine, the Boyfriend, the Shattered Career. Can She Come Back?” Readers could be forgiven for thinking that Vanity Fair had scored an interview with the supermodel. It had not.

    At the Globe & Mail, New York columnist Simon Houpt raises an eyebrow at Vanity Fair‘s inability to score an interview with its subject. He recalls interviewing Graydon Carter who said of his subjects: “Most of the time, we figure out who we want, and then we just get them.” Case in point: the bestselling Jennifer Aniston September cover by Leslie Bennetts.* Case not in point: Vicky Ward‘s December cover story on Kate Moss, which cobbles together factoids from the public record with comments from her friends (we’re to trust that these people are friends and not “hangers on” as friends of Moss boyfriend Pete Doherty are described).

    Ward’s write-around glosses over the lack of access, never specifically alluding to any attempt to contact Moss or even whether she had an official spokesperson (at one point she cites Moss’ lawyer Gerrard Tyrrell, but it’s unclear whether she spoke to him or lifted from the public record). Ward does write that Moss “has rarely given interviews — and then usually only to top magazines, such as American Vogue.” I’d say snap, but can you snap yourself?

    Lacking such access, Ward does survey a number of presumably close friends of Moss, leading with “an acquaintance” who opines authoritatively on Moss’ relationship and then quoting her hairdresser, artist Tracey Emin (described in this week’s New York magazine, incidentally, as “bigmouth”) and people at a photo shoot, “people she has known for years.” These people might all be her best buddies or they might be total media whores; honestly, there is no way for us to tell. (We can tell that the pics are from a year ago…if we read the fine print.)

    Houpt asked Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak about it:

    “The cover line does not in any way suggest that we spoke to her, or that she talked to us,” she said. I asked whether carrying that photo on the cover suggests Moss co-operated with the article. “I can see how someone might assume that she had because, as you say, usually our cover stories do have interviews. But I don’t think there have been any letters to the editor complaining about it.”

    Aim high, VF.

    (BTW, UK Vogue was fooled, writing “Just days after getting out of rehab, Kate Moss has swept away any doubt of her comeback with a cover for Vanity Fair that is bound to send sales through the roof. The British supermodel…looks better than ever as she poses over 11 pages inside.” The headline? “Kate Moss Returns.” Don’t feel bad, UK Vogue; they were fooled (“Moss has another crack at modeling”), and them (“Moss comes back as covergirl”), and them (“Kate Moss makes modelling comeback with Vanity Fair cover”).

    The story is really good but it’s locked away behind the Canadian equivalent of TimesSelect so I’ve reproduced it after the jump. Disclosure: Simon Houpt is a friend of mine. Kate Moss is not. If she was, I expect I might have had a shot at getting into Vicky Ward’s article.


    Vanity Fair: Kate Moss nipple alert [FishbowlNY]

    Read more