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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Mikula’

Rachel Maddow on TV Success: “It’s Like Winning an Ego Lottery”


In what is believed to be the 432nd profile of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (okay, we’re exaggerating, but not by much) New York Magazine’s Jessica Pressler delivers some new Maddow nuggets, including the fact that Maddow’s Air America producer sits in on her MSNBC staff meetings and that her partner, Susan Mikula encouraged Maddow to wear makeup on the show. Without it, “she looked like a dead person,” says Mikula.

At 4,200 words, the profile analyzes the good, the bad and the ugly times that have led to MSNBC finally becoming competitive in prime time.

Before the network hired Maddow, MSNBC had started to seem like a fight club, where hosts regularly sniped at each other on-air (Keith Olbermann telling his gushing Republican colleague Joe Scarborough to “get a shovel”), made sexist comments (Tucker Carlson saying he “involuntarily crossed his legs” whenever Hillary came onscreen), and fueled rumors of power struggles in the press.

And Maddow’s big break:

Her break came when Carlson’s show was canceled last year and Olbermann asked her to appear more frequently on Countdown. He admired the way Maddow had excoriated Carlson on his own turf, punctuating her arguments with a friendly laugh, like an athlete offering her hand to the loser after a winning game. “We were friends from the start,” says Olbermann. “Our worldviews overlap.”

And, after the jump, who’s responsible for Maddow’s MSNBC show anyway?

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The Cable TV Rising Star, Who Doesn’t Own a TV

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Maddow_7.19.jpgThe smartest, gayest rising star in cable news is a self-described dork.

“I’m not cool and I don’t want to be,” says MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I tend to pursue avenues of interest that are quirky and nerdy and weird.”

She likes country music, trout fishing and cocktails “from before Prohibition.” She’s never owned a TV. Her idea of a good time is shooting cans with her BB gun at her 1860′s home on a river in Western Massachusetts.

In fact, on their first date, Maddow and her partner of nine years, artist Susan Mikula, 50, went to a shooting range.

A Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford Ph.D. in political science, Maddow, 35, just finished a two-week fill-in stint for Keith Olbermann (Cornell ’79). As part of her new, exclusive TV deal with the network, she appears regularly on his show as a political pundit.

MSNBC boss Phil Griffin is an unabashed apostle.

“We don’t have a place for Rachel right now, but she is in our future,” he says. “She has the magic. Sit tight; she’s going to fill in for everybody. We’re letting her grow.”

Maddow’s TV break began at liberal Air America radio, where the former AIDS activist hosts a 6-to-9 p.m. weekday show. Hungry to book talking heads at Air America’s 2004 launch, the networks began calling the unknown Maddow.

“I was fresh meat,” she says. “I was never anybody’s first choice. Ultimately, they got to the bottom of the barrel. I started doing hits for CNN, ABC, MSNBC. If the producers like you, you get asked back.”

From the beginning, Maddow’s career path has never followed a straight line.

Then again, the odds were stacked. Growing up in the Bay area; her father was an Air Force captain; her mother’s side was filled with Newfoundland nuns.

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