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Archives: July 2008

Unconfirmed: People Gets the Golden Children

wyclef-jean-brad-angelina-twins.jpgLooks like People has scored the right to pay between $10 and $15 million to publish pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s newborn twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline.

This news comes to us via Just Jared, and has yet to be confirmed (so, sort of similar to John Edward’s alleged love-child news coming to us via the National Enquirer, one supposes). Anyway, the pictures will not be published this week and needless to say, all the money is probably going to charity.

Tom Can’t Cruise Away from Scientology

Cruisephoto.jpgTom Cruise, ever the crusader for Scientological aims, is one of the targets in a new $250 million lawsuit against the “Church” filed in Florida this month. The suit involves Peter Letterese, a long-time critic of the church and names Cruise as being involved in a systematic harassment on him by members of the church, which included phone calls to Letterese’s wife from a man claiming to be a homosexual lover of her husband, according to the New York Daily News.

Letterese calls the church a “crime syndicate” and wants it broken up under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law, just as the feds have broken up Mafia families.

He singles out Cruise, who’s made no secret of his religion, saying that Scientology head David Miscavage is “aided and abetted by the actions of Tom Cruise, his right-hand man for foreign and domestic promotion, as well as for foreign and domestic lobbying. He has assisted the syndicate in acquiring funds and [made] his own donations of money believed to be in the multiple tens of millions of dollars.”

One of Letterese’s beefs is that the church allegedly uses a business book, “Effective Sales Closing Techniques,” as part of its teachings. He says this violates his intellectual property rights, since he bought the rights to the book from the widow of author Leslie Dane.

Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, told us: “This is a frivolous suit based on falsehoods.”

Meanwhile, Hollywood private eye Paul Baressi, who has investigated problems for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy and now Cruise has taken up the cause defending the “Mission Impossible” star. Baressi, a former investigative associate of jailed private eye Anthony Pellicano, claims that Letterese “is just including a celebrity name to get attention.”

Lost in LEGOs at Comic Con

comiccon01.gifWe’re wrapping up all our exclusive Comic Con coverage. We’re going through our picture files and doing another pass in our notebook to see if there’s anything we’ve missed.

There is.

We found this display on the showroom floor. It’s amazing to us that even as a LEGO man Josh Holloway is hot.

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FBLA’s Interview With Editor Jonathon Feit

feit1.jpgEditor of With This Ring, the first and new gay/all-inclusive wedding magazine, Jonathon Feit, sat down with FBLA for a little Q&A:

FBLA: We heard you are the editor of the first gay weddings magazine and you happen to be a straight, single guy. How did that happen?

JF: The source of my own passion was actually a tragic development: just as With This Ring was taking shape, a colleague and mentor of mine found his family unceremoniously ripped apart on account of some legal technicalities that could never have occurred if he had been allowed to marry his partner. The moral of that story hit home profoundly: whether one agrees or not with the notion of same-sex unions (no matter their title), no one-gay, straight, black, white, or purple – deserves to have their life’s love stolen.

It seemed a natural extension for me to take up the cause, and no matter what the industry says about the future state of print, media in general is still a most effective way to reach people, influence opinions, and hopefully-eventually-policy. My personal politics aside (I’m a Democrat, as if that fact weren’t clear), these are families we’re talking about; that’s real beyond rhetoric.

I have the words “Integrity” and “Equality” tattooed on my back above an American eagle, and published a magazine called “Citizen Culture.” Wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I didn’t rise when duty called?

FBLA: Seriously, you’re a single straight guy?

Read more

Television News Moves to Purple Alert

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What does it all mean? According to the ever-vigilant Times purple is the new beige, or blue, or whatever news anchors used to wear prior to this week.

Is this, as the Times seems to suggest, some sort of code for “we are not biased!” — purple being what you get when you mix red and blue. Or is it all just a mid-summer sartorial coincidence? Or is the Times merely feeling the mid-summer lack of news (and, if so, who are we to criticize?) We leave it to you to decide.

Times Beijing Correspondent Is a Time Traveler

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Jim Yardley, the New York Times‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter currently covering the Olympics from Beijing, wrote a story about the country’s increased pollution controls.

Only problem? It’s published on August 1, which is tomorrow. Maybe Yardley could use his skills to clear the air.

Tales of the Tribune Co.: It’s All Gone Straight to Zell

40_zell_ggsam.gi.jpg“If current trends in advertising are permanent, we have a really serious problem.” No kidding. Words to live by from Sam Zell who may have met his Waterloo in the form the Tribune deal he orchestrated last year, which he is currently referring to as “the deal from hell.” No doubt slightly more hellish for the couple of hundred employees that have lost their jobs in the past few months. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon thanks in large part to the enormous debt Zell has piled on, which “is forcing Tribune to take more and more desperate actions.” It’s unclear whether the fact Zell threatened to “cut off their ties” of Tribune executives “if he caught them looking so formal at future meetings” is one of them. Also worrisome: Zell’s obvious disdain for the newspaper business, his questionable hiring practices, and the fact that his COO, Randy Michaels, a former “shock jock, has installed “jukeboxes, pinball machines, and a sculpture of a six-legged man running in circles.”

Meanwhile, in a scraping the barrel sort of way, there is some good news coming out of the Tribune-owned LA Times. Top editor Russ Stanton told staffers that the recent newsroom “deep cuts” had numbered 135, instead of the expected 150, and that fewer pages would be lost. So there, the road to newspaper hell is not without its tiny rays of sunshine.

The Search for Carl

In the spirit of Comic Con and everything weird – this was sent to us from a search for the live action character Carl for Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

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The cartoon version is after the jump.

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To Reveal Oneself or to Remain Anonymous. That Is the (Beijing) Question

olympic2008.gifDespite promises to the contrary, it looks more and more like Chinese officials will limit media access during the 2008 Olympics kicking off in eight days. (Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise. The country promised clean air, but that wasn’t exactly true either.)

Given Beijing’s decidedly negative attitude towards snooping reporters, perhaps in-country journos should consider staying anonymous. Deadspin’s trio of intrepid comrades have chosen this route, citing a “healthy fear of deportation (and an outside chance of imprisonment).”


Mark Glaser
‘s Mediashift went the other way, recruiting University of Missouri journalism student Elle Moxley to blog about her experience on the ground in Beijing as a media volunteer. Moxley, along with 58 other students, has toured the city and been less than impressed. “By the end of the day, we are calling this ‘Propaganda Tour 2008,’” she writes.

She rapidly became even more disillusioned with the state of the country:

As I navigate Beijing’s packed streets with a knowledge of Mandarin that begins and ends with xie xie (“thank you”), I’m not so sure [the media freedom exists]. I might not speak the language, but I can still read the signs.

Great stuff, but watch out for those mascots. They look cute, but censorship is no laughing matter.

According to Google Privacy is a Notion Whose Time has Passed

proj34pic11.jpgThere was a time, not all that long ago, when a person would be well within their right to shoot anyone trespassing on their land. But the time-honored rights of the American home owner may be in jeopardy thanks to Google who says that privacy is so 20th century! Seems a couple in the Pittsburgh area has filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Google in reaction to the image of their house that appears on Google’s Street View mapping feature, which literally provides a street view of any address. Ha! says Google, and their six man lawyer team, you and your silly notions of privacy.

[The couple] live in a residential community in the twenty-first-century United States, where every step upon private property is not deemed by law to be an actionable trespass…Today’s satellite-image technology means that even in today’s desert, complete privacy does not exist. In any event, Plaintiffs live far from the desert and are far from hermits.
Apparently you must prove your hermit bona fides to qualify for Google’s privacy plan. Anyway the interesting part is that it appears that the “unremarkable photos of the exterior of their home,” were taken during a “brief entry upon their driveway” using, the couple contends, a “Google vehicle — outfitted with a panoramic camera on its roof.” So yeah, a little creepy. And, why is Google driving down someone’s driveway with a panoramic camera? Furthermore, why doesn’t Google put all this Street View equipment to actual use and locate Osama, we bet no one would have “privacy” issues then.

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