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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Williams’

ICYMI: Ann Curry to Brian Williams: ‘Preppin’ Ain’t Easy!’

Last week, the illustrious and snarky broadcaster Brian Williams was not at the desk for his post on NBC Nightly News. Filling in for him at 30 Rock was highly touted, sorely missed, dusky-hued Ann Curry. (S’up!)

Once of ‘TODAY’ and a fabled overnight NBC News shift she held forever, Ann has been on a journalistic sabbatical. She calls her shot, takes her crew, tapes a story, and she’s good for a couple of weeks — or so it seems. And then from the ether, she tweets a “You go girl” thought to her cohort and social media went ballistic. In a so very good way.

MEMO to Brian Williams: Work on your eyebrows brother or you’re a goner.

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The Late Night Talk Show Wars Just Got Racy

arsenio-hall-show

Yeah. He just got busy. 

Just when you thought we were all past this crap. Just when you thought 2014 meant something. Just when you thought we could all just get along. And now, we have Arsenio Hall calling out The New York Times and NBC’s grand poobah Brian Williams

And you know what else? Arsenio is right. 

ICYMI: What had happened was both sources were waxing nostalgic about Jay Leno’s empty seat that was just given to Jimmy Fallon. While I dig “The Roots” and Jimmy Fallon (more them than him), there’s a slew of other talk show hosts out there — Letterman, Conan, Kimmel, Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Colbert. Sure there’s more, but there’s also Arsenio.

And he wasn’t given nary a mention on either story…

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Is It Just Us, Or Is NASA Everywhere These Days?

polar vortexThere have been no shortage of stories about the goings on at NASA. Just today, there’s news that five new planets are among a number of “alien worlds” (CBS News’ phrase) discovered by NASA’s Kepler craft.

Then, also today, one of NASA’s telescopes has captured something called “gravitational lensing.”

“In addition to developing a better understanding of emission regions near black holes, scientists say that this study will also help to measure other gravitational lens systems,” says the Christian Science Monitor. Hmm. OK.

There’s a NASA photo of the polar vortex (above). A discussion about putting humans on Mars in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Mars Rover. An advanced look at a new satellite that will be launching on the 23rd. New robots are on the horizon. The stunning photos of the “cosmic dawn” taken by the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes were published. Even Beyonce got in on the action, although that was one bit of news she could’ve done without.

That’s a lot of ink for one organization. But all of this coverage can really be explained in a few lines spoken to Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News yesterday.

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CNN Focuses on Gap between News and Life

There was a day when a 24-hours news network sounded like a brilliant idea. We live in a complex world full of complicated events that highlight the worst and best of humanity.

From violent wars and corrupt politicians to heroic deeds and acts of selflessness, how could a network not fill its programming with constant and original news updates?

However, with the technology that allowed networks to report 24-7 from every corner of the world, we learned something very important about the public: from cuddly kittens to sickening carnage, we’ll watch the same images over and over and over and over and over again. Who needs a news cycle when you can just hit replay again and again?

The public is strongly addicted to emotional footage, and after September 11, coupling dramatic scenes and outlandish scenarios with charged commentary and paranoid speculation fractured viewers into different but loyal viewing demographics. We all know the stereotypes about the people who watch Fox News and the people who watch MSNBC, as stalwart news anchors like Brian Williams continue to scratch their heads.

Just as times were changing back then, times are changing now, and Jeff Zucker, CEO of CNN, fully understands this. Throughout the past decade the public sensibility has evolved and viewers began migrating from the constant barrage of loud news and bombastic analysis to shows that focused on the more pleasant aspects of life such as food, travel, health, history, science and reasonable opinions on real, everyday challenges.

Though yesterday’s bombing of the Boston Marathon demonstrated there will always be senseless violence and inexplicable trauma in our world, the public appears to be internalizing the frailty of life and living by the mantra we all—at least in theory—agreed to after September 11: the best revenge is living well. And now CNN’s network is beginning to reflect that with more accessible programming. Read more

Brian Williams: Doing Comedy ‘Shows That I Have a Personality and a Pulse’

Brian Williams Brian Williams took his trademark blend of levity and gravitas to New York’s 92Y last night. There, exactly an hour after his Nightly News broadcast ended, he provided an in-depth look at the highlights and lowlights of his life. He touched on his connection to the Jersey shore, his early jobs working in a DC college press office and as a broadcast trade association typist and his current post as NBC news anchor.

Williams poked fun at NBC’s pharmaceutical advertisers, vented his anger about the handling of Hurricane Katrina and made poignant comments about the Newtown shooting. However, none of moderator Jonathan Tisch’s queries or the audience’s pre-screened questions addressed his network’s recent ratings decline or the status of Williams’ struggling news magazine show, Rock Center.

Here are selected quotes from Williams on a broad range of topics:

His Early Years:

On food he ate growing up: “For us, mixed greens were something that came out of a mower.”

On his fondness for firefighters: “I still hang out at the firehouse. It’s like I’m their human dalmatian.”

On his education: “I did spectacularly poorly at community college. I’m still only a high school grad; I’m not into that completion thing.”

On his reaction when his mother told him he’d be a good TV reporter: “I’d only been on closed circuit camera at 7-Eleven.”

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Ben & Jerry’s 30 Rock Ice Cream to Guest Star in Finale

Ben & Jerry's 30 Rock Ice CreamThe public loves to tune in to the end of anything. We’re still mad about the last episode of The Sopranos, saddened by the rumored death of Twinkies and, deep down, a little disappointed that the whole “2012 apocalypse” thing never came to pass.

Tomorrow marks the final episode of 30 Rock‘s last season, and we can’t wait to see how the 7-year-old show will end. This perpetual underdog of a sitcom resonated with certain segments of the public, who came to know the characters and quote them during office meetings and happy hours. But now it’s time to say goodbye.

Farewells, of course, bring big ratings numbers. Tomorrow night millions of Americans will watch as Liz Lemon, Jenna Maroney, Jack Donaghy, and that guy who plays Tracy Morgan ride off into the flat screen sunset along with Ben & Jerry. That’s right–the ice cream guys.

Ben & Jerry didn’t become ice cream moguls because they were quirky farmhands; they’ve been a savvy PR team from the beginning. This week, while other brands roll the dice and blow their entire annual marketing budgets on Super Bowl ads, Ben & Jerry chose to aim for a demographic that appreciates their brand of quirk. We have little doubt that fans will literally eat up their latest release, 30 Rock Ice Cream (not to be confused with the Alec Baldwin classic “Schweddy Balls.

Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t want to steal the show, however; the ingredients to the new flavor won’t be revealed until after it’s all over. Let’s just hope Tracy Morgan didn’t make the recipe.

Oh, and here’s Brian Williams explaining the project like only he can:

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Billionaire’s $100M Central Park Donation: PR Win?

Yesterday New York’s Central Park experienced one of its most notable events since the installation of Christo’s temporary art project The Gates in winter 2005: billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation donated $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy. According to Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, “It is believed to be the biggest single gift ever made to park land.”

The New York Times reported on the rationale behind Paulson’s philanthropy: at Tuesday’s press conference announcing the donation, Paulson said, “Central Park is among the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions. And I wanted the gift to make a difference”. The funds will be evenly divided between the park’s endowment and capital improvements.

Paulson joined the Central Park Conservancy board in June, and he has supported the group for 20 years. According to Forbes, this gift far exceeds Paulson’s earlier philanthropic commitments, placing him “in a league with several of his most charitable peers atop New York City’s alternative asset management universe.”

Conservancy officials expressed delight at the bequest–president and CEO Doug Blonsky hailed the gift as “transformational,” saying it will enable the park to break its cycle of restoration and decline.

Paulson’s financial career has also experienced several ups and downs. He founded his hedge fund management company, Paulson & Co, in 1994 and became a billionaire in 2007, making most of his money by shorting subprime loans and effectively rooting for the collapse of the real estate market.

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Media Training Tips and Cautionary Tales

In the high-risk, high-reward world of media training, major stumbles during television interviews are seared indefinitely in the public’s memory. Nailing an interview is not so easy, even for well-known public figures and corporate executives.

Media relies on basic principles and varied techniques. Today we’re focusing on seven tips–and what can happen when interviewees ignore them. As noted below, not everyone is as well-versed in handling the media as Joe Torre, (left) a former Major League Baseball manager.

Preparation is key since winging it is never a good idea. Interviewees need to wrap their heads around not only the core topics, but also the show, the interviewer and his or her questioning style. An example of what not to do? Herman Cain appeared completely clueless when asked about Libya during a video interview in Milwaukee last November, leaving several seconds of awkward, empty air time.

Keep answers brief, limited to quick sound bites. While Vice President Joe Biden is well known for his rambling remarks, the communicator in chief may need to heed this tip as well: During NYU’s Hospitality Investment Conference in June, NBC’s Chuck Todd predicted that President Obama may not win the first debate this fall, because [almost] no one has cut his remarks short during his term in office–and debates have strict time limits.

Beware softball questions. “What newspapers and magazines do you read?” is not a technically difficult question. Still, it was enough to trip up Sarah Palin during her now-infamous interview with Katie Couric during the 2008 Presidential election that was later parodied on SNL.

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Lana Del Rey Is Tops Even Though So Many People Dislike Her

The most inexplicably controversial singer in the pop world, Lana Del Rey, finally got some positive press. By taking pictures, talking with, and smiling at fans, she has proven herself to be a warm-blooded humanoid and finally people are writing something nice.

The last time we visited with Lana, she was being sucked into the vortex of bad buzz generated by a lifeless and poorly-styled appearance on SNL. One so bad, in fact, that it prompted the guest of our debut episode of “My First Big Break,” Brian Williams, to send a personal note to Gawker asking them to give her the business.
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Gawker’s Nick Denton on Boredom, Commenters, and Niche Audiences

An image from Deadspin's Tiger Woods coverage.

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton had some choice words for the commenters on his eight sites, as well as for a couple attendees sitting in the front row at Ad Age’s Media Evolved conference on Tuesday in New York. During a “fireside chat” with Simon Dumenco, Ad Age’s editor-at-large, he was questioned about the sheer volume and often negative tone of comments on Gawker’s sites.

“You can moderate out the toxicity, but not the boring people. They haven’t violated any community guidelines, but they haven’t added to the discussion,” Denton replied.

Boredom was also clearly on his mind when he asked distracted conference attendees seated up front, “By the way, are we boring you?” But Denton’s take on Gawker’s evolution, re-design, editorial goals, interaction with well-known readers and the value of social media was anything but boring.

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