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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Friedman’

Deathbed State of Film Criticism Plays Key Role in Endless Awards Prognostication

BanehamOscarWe joked the other day that perhaps they should just move the Oscars to the first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival. So as to kill two North American birds with one statuette and get the whole damn awards season thing over with, at a time when pundits are shuffling the deck at a most furious Twitter pace.

But then it hit us. While film criticism as a legitimate form of journalism has been flat-lining for years, the eleven-and-a-half-month annual rigamarole through which an increasing number of film journalists calibrate the chances of this actor and that studio for a BATFA, SAG, Golden Globe and Academy Award is a phenomenon that would meet with the hearty approval of a character played by Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston and others. It’s survival of the aisle-seat fittest.

If you filter the enterprising work of folks like Anne Thompson, David Poland, Jeffrey Wells, Sasha Stone, Roger Friedman and Anthony Breznican through the prism of changing-with-the-film-criticism-times, awards season journalism becomes suddenly a very different animal. It’s not just an attempt to keep the ad dollars rolling in. It’s also a clever and necessary way for film journalists to keep their opinions relevant.

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Outlander Author Diana Gabaldon on Writing Best Sellers and Playing Nice With Hollywood

LunchAtMichaelsJudging by the decibel level at Michael’s today the media mavens and swells had plenty to talk about between bites of their Korean tacos (delish!) and Cobb salads. There’s always a flurry of activity on the last Wednesday in July before most of the last remaining power lunchers depart for their much-needed vacations in August. You can only be fabulous (or pretend to be) for so long before you have to regroup and refuel.

For us, July isn’t going out with a whisper but rather with a bang as I had one of the most fascinating Michael’s lunches in eons with best-selling author Diana Gabaldon, whose wildly popular Outlander novels rocket right to the top spot on The New York Times best-seller list as soon as they’re published. She has sold a head-spinning 25 million books that have been translated into 24 languages. The mind reels. Her most recent, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (how’s that for a title?) came out in June, the same week Hillary Clinton‘s book did. I guess you know whose publisher had a better week. I was “the last stop” on Diana’s magical mystical media tour, which has included an SRO appearance at Comic-Con, a sell-out conversation at the 92nd Street Y and, just this morning, an appearance on CBS This Morning with the two lead actors of the new original series based on the books that premieres August 9 on Starz.

Diana Gabaldon and Diane Clehane.

Diana Gabaldon and Diane Clehane

It’s always a bit of a crapshoot sitting down with someone I’ve never met to make conversation over lunch with the expressed purpose of learning as much as I can about my companion in about an hour while fielding the numerous “newsflashes” that come courtesy of the diners around the room. I was grateful I got a good night’s sleep last night because simply put, Diana is a force of nature. I could barely keep up as she recounted the story of how she decided “to write a book just to learn what it took to do it; I did it for practice” and how her pragmatic approach to novel writing (which hasn’t changed much, by the way) has catapulted her to international stardom.

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Tom Brokaw and the Inside Track From New York’s Democratic National Committeeman

LunchAtMichaelsIt was business as usual at Michael’s today as the regulars (Jerry Inzerillo, William Lauder) packed the dining room before the summer vacation season kicks off next week. Plenty of heads swiveled in his direction as Tom Brokaw took his seat at Table Three, but mostly today’s crowd consisted of the usual suspects who were there to see and be seen between bites of their Cobb salads.

Today I was joined by two of my favorite regulars, marketing/PR man and political commentator Robert Zimmerman and producer Joan Gelman for our semi-annual Michael’s lunch, where there’s always a lot of laughs and plenty of juicy dish on the menu. (Sorry, but most of the good stuff is OTR.) Today, the two passionate democrats who first met 15 years ago in East Hampton at the home of a mutual friend, wanted to talk politics and there was plenty of fodder for us to chew on. Robert was fresh off  last night’s appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight and The Kelly File on Fox News where, he said, he engaged in a “fiery debate” with Peter Hegseth on Iraq. “He was fantastic!” enthused Joan. Robert’s take on the issue: “The Iraqi government doesn’t deserve a second chance.” And, he said, he’s clearly not alone in believing that. Despite the contentiousness of his conversation with Hegseth as Megan Kelly played referee, Robert said with every passing day, “the consensus that opposes going back into Iraq cuts across party lines.”

Robert Zimmerman, Diane Clehane and Joan Gelman

Robert Zimmerman, Diane Clehane and Joan Gelman

After the segment aired, Robert told me he discovered that polarizing and profane points of view are alive and well on Twitter. A relative newcomer to the social media site (“My account got a baptism by fire!”), he was floored by the venomous comments lobbed at him by some “followers.”  ”The kindest ones wanted to save my soul. There were people speculating on my sex life,” he said with a laugh. “I’m glad anyone is interested.” As for the haters, he still sounded a bit shocked, they were “so vulgar I couldn’t believe the language.”

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Roger Friedman Suffers Through The Fault in Our Stars

FaultInOurStarsCoverThe early Rotten Tomatoes line on The Fault in Our Stars is pretty good – 90% from critics, 96% from the public.

Then there’s Roger Friedman‘s take. The Showbiz 411 columnist does not link his stuff through RT. If he did, and if RT was still allowing reader comments on individual reviews, the teen Multiplex crowd would be all over him for his slam of Hollywood’s adaptation of John Green‘s bestselling tearjerker:

Just as the Beebs hoped Anne Frank would have been a Belieber, Green picks the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam as the spot where his romantic (and cancer stricken) teen couple can make out. This is followed by slow clapping from the other tourists visiting the most famous spot in the world where Jews hid from the Nazis. Why not?…

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Art Garfunkel and Good Housekeeping‘s Campaign to End Childhood Hunger

LunchAtMichaelsThere wasn’t much that could top last week’s head-spinning celebrity scene at Michael’s, so today was pretty quiet by comparison except for the random appearance of Art Garfunkel. I guess I could have asked him about Paul Simon‘s recent trip to a Connecticut courtroom and perhaps gotten him to weigh in on his erstwhile partner’s domestic woes, but I only noticed him on the way out the door. It’s hard to fathom, I know, but in the era that spawned Kimye there are some celebrities who prefer to go unnoticed. However, the same cannot be said the mavens and machers who are Wednesday regulars at 55th and Fifth. After all, if your power lunch isn’t documented for posterity, what good is it? Present and accounted for: Star Jones, Jonathan Wald (most recently of the now-defunct Piers Morgan Tonight), ex-CNBC talker Larry Kudlow, Ed Klein and Andrew Stein (together at Table 3) among the crowd of familiar faces.

Diane Clehane and Jane Francisco

Diane Clehane and Jane Francisco

I was joined today by Good Housekeeping‘s smart, vivacious new-ish EIC Jane Francisco, and we had plenty to talk about. We shared horror stories over malfunctioning tape recorders during celebrity interviews (more on that later) and traded favorites among our mutual passions, which included books (she’s a big Jane Austen fan) and scripted TV drama (she’s a “binge watcher” of The Good Wife, Scandal and past seasons Mad Men – no spoiler talk, please). But I was also interested in finding out what the transplanted Canadian (who was born in Michigan, but headed for The Great White North with her family when she was 4) had to say about her experience taking the reigns at GH, a quintessential American brand. Having come from Chatelaine, Canada’s leading women’s lifestyle brand and the country’s largest paid circulation magazine, Jane was no stranger to helming a major media franchise with a broad audience when she was tapped for the top job in November of last year. “When I first met with Ellen Levine (Hearst’s editorial director and former GH EIC), we had lunch and she told me Good Housekeeping was ‘uniquely American,’ but I grew up with it and both my mother and grandmother read it in Canada.”

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Former Billboard Editorial Director Points to Egregious Example of ‘Echo Chamber Reporting’

LadyGagaARTPOPOn Monday, BuzzFeed’s Myles Tanzer introduced a whole new audience to Angela Cheng, a pseudonymous music blogger who recently shifted her very questionable act from examiner.com to the URL popmusicgadfly.com.

Entangled in this trail is former Billboard editorial director Bill Werde and industry superstar Lady Gaga. The publication of the BuzzFeed story led Werde to reluctantly chime in via Tumblr and sparked a follow-up post from Cheng on April 1. We’re going to focus on Werde’s post, since it addresses the “Culpability of the Media” and what appears to be some very lazy reporting:

On November 17, 2013, “Sabrina O’Connor” [another mysterious examiner.com blogger byline] posted a story on Examiner.com that claimed Lady Gaga’s Interscope label had spent $25 million to promote her album ARTPOP, which had been released 11 days earlier.

Within days that number had been repeated in seemingly any outlet that could credibly cover such a matter: Business Week; New York magazine; Business Insider. A couple of weeks later, the New York Post published a razor-sharp hatchet job on Gaga, once again, floating the $25 million figure.

(Credit where it’s due: the only outlet I could find that called bullshit, and did it the very next day, was Roger Friedman at Showbiz 411.)

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Exclusive! The First Interview with Dr. Oz on His New Hearst Title

LunchAtMichaelsWe understand that the deadline for Oscar voters to send in their ballots is today, but we’re still more than a little miffed that we missed seeing Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Dern and Richard Gere by a day. A little birdie told us Paramount threw a schmoozefest in the middle of Michael’s dining room yesterday to drum up some Academy love for its pictures — the overly long and ridiculously profane The Wolf of Wall Street and the absolutely brilliant Nebraska. Having a slew of Tinseltown A-listers in their midst gave the regular folks (it’s a relative term, I know) a chance to do some serious stargazing. “It was a bit surreal,” one diner told me. It seems only fitting to us that Hollywood took over the dining room on a day when the rest of Manhattan was in a deep freeze straight out of a disaster movie. The Day After Tomorrow, anyone?

Well, it is Wednesday, after all, and we wanted to start our new year of celebrity confabs off on the right foot so who better to whip us into shape than none other than Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Emmy-Award winning daytime television host, author of seven New York Times Bestsellers and dispenser of daily doses of helpful medical tips on 1010WINS.

Diane Clehane and Dr. Mehmet Oz

Diane Clehane and Dr. Mehmet Oz

And oh, yes, he’s also a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, who somehow manages to find the time to perform about 100 heart surgeries a year (he has office hours on Thursdays if you’re wondering) and a part-time superhero who goes around rescuing New Yorkers in peril all in the course of an average day. At lunch he told me of another tale of  being at the right place at the right time which occurred the same month he came to the aid of the woman who was seriously injured when she was hit by a cab on Sixth Avenue. During a trip to Salt Lake City, a fellow marathoner literally fell in Dr. Oz’s path when the man went into distress due to a heart problem. Of course, Dr. Oz was able to put him in an ambulance, visit him the next day and has stayed in touch to stay apprised of his defacto patient’s recovery.

The good doctor is launching his own lifestyle magazine in partnership with Hearst titled Dr. Oz The Good Life, and this afternoon he brought along a retinue of bigwigs and handlers from his various projects and his charming wife Lisa Oz, whose CV includes a career in television and her own slew of bestsellers (the couple co-authored their You series together; Lisa wrote Us solo and as a result, says Dr. Oz, his wife has “one more bestseller than I do!”).

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Deadline’s Mike Fleming is Going Bicoastal

DeadlineHollywoodlogoBeginning next month, Nikki Finke‘s tireless film editor will divide his time equally each month between Long Island and Los Angeles. It’s a big change for Fleming, one he wants you to know is not an indication of troubles at the mother ship:

I think Deadline is thriving despite a recent batch of articles implying otherwise, and it pisses me off when journalists cheap shot us (I disagree with New York Times’ reporter Brooks Barnes and his assessment that Deadline has grown bland. The only thing that concerns me is Barnes could teach a master class on how to write blandly, so he’s as close to an authority as you’ll find on the subject).

Ha ha. Fleming goes on to share all sorts of great recollections: how his showbiz reporter career began accidentally in connection with a project involving Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Peter Bart; how a Long Dong Silver porn tape threw Variety parent company execs for a loop; how a trial run living in LA was ended by his wife’s ultimatum; and how Disney learned to live with his Jessica Rabbit revelations.

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Cate Blanchett Tells Reporter It’s a Little Early to Call Oscar Race

The headline of the USA TODAY article by Ann Oldenburg reads “Oscar Buzz Builds for Cate Blanchett.” Builds? Really?

First of all, it’s July. Yes, the Cannes Film Festival can sometimes spark the beginning of inexorable Academy Awards chatter, but by all civilized rights this cottage industry should be kept at a minimum until Telluride, Labor Day and Toronto. Secondly, Blanchett’s turn as a Ruth Madoff type in Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine hasn’t even opened yet.

When Oldenburg raised the specter of an Oscar nomination during her New York hotel room chat with Blanchett, the actress replied with an apt analogy:

“Um,” she says. “The horse is hardly out of the gate. There’s always many great female performances. I just hope people go see the movie.”

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Roger Friedman Calls Out Tina Brown, Diane Dimond

For the briefest time Sunday morning, some alleged “news” published by UK’s Sunday Mirror newspaper about the late Michael Jackson was above The Drudge Report fold. But the multiple featured links quickly disappeared from Drudge, perhaps because the site’s Showbiz 411 pal Roger Friedman may have alerted that there was no substance to the sensational allegations.

This afternoon, Friedman is zeroing in on The Daily Beast article “The Story Behind The Latest Michael Jackson Bombshell:”

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