Monday, January 31, 2005

MICHAEL JACKSON TRIAL IS ON

Well, OJ was the trial of the century--- last century. It looks like Michael Jackson's trial is shaping up as the trial of THIS century.

About 1000 reporters from all over the world are credentialed to cover this trial. People from Japan, Australia, everywhere in the world are covering this thing. Unfortunately, not all of them are allowed into the courtroom, so a lot of them are going to have to stand outside and wait for the pool reporter to tell them what happened.

The reporter for the AP story I linked to, Linda Deutsch, had been the regular pool reporter during the O.J. Simpson Trial in Los Angeles and briefed reporters outside every day on what had gone on.

Big difference from the O.J. trial, the most obvious one, is that there's no TV coverage; the cameras were all kicked out. So the masses have been reduced to watching sketch drawings of the proceedings on TV. So CNN and Court TV, whose coverage dominated the Simpson trial, have again been reduced to rubble.

But don't worry, trial fans: E! television has trial re-enactments going on daily. And the entertainment press are having a field day, dragging out all the usual legal commentators, Marcia Clark etc., to report on the proceedings. So it's just like the old days in southern California. L.A.--- what a crazy place with weird people.


AFTERMATH OF IRAQ VOTE

Been reading the blogs about the news media coverage of the Iraq vote and the reaction from this one really sums it up, from PoliPundit. This is in reaction to the overwhelmingly negative tone of the coverage coming from the international news organizations, particularly CNN International which seemed to be reporting nothing but doom and gloom about the election. I've watched some of CNN International's coverage on the Internet and man was it ever downbeat. And BBC World's newscasts are all doom and gloom every night. (Reminds me of when Barbara Frum was hosting the Journal on CBC; she was all doom and gloom as well. But she was still more upbeat than either the BBC and CNN International were in Iraq.)

In sharp contrast, Fox News sent over Geraldo Rivera, who, say the TV watchers, seemed really moved about all the Iraqis who were bravely going to the polls to cast their ballots for the first time in their lives. A lot of people are joking about this, about Geraldo's over-the-top performance, but the truth is that there's a lot of viewers out there who have a warm, mushy feeling about democracy and elections. I know I do. It's just when the voters make a hash of things and elect the wrong people that I get discouraged. But I'm a big believer in democracy, and more importantly, in freedom. If I was over there in Iraq seeing these people voting for the first time in their lives in a free election, doing something we Westerners take for granted, I'd get choked up too.

You know, I think it's great that some reporters got all emotional about these Iraqi elections and were telling it like it is about how great it was for these people. And that's the truth; these elections were great. These Iraqis who suffered for years under Saddam Hussein and his totalitarian dictatorship were now able to share the same freedoms that Canadians and Americans have enjoyed for years- freedoms that eventually came to eastern Europe, to South Africa's black majority, and to Afghanistan. No wonder some of these reporters felt like they were witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall all over again.

But I will say this, though- the conduct of a lot of the reporters over there who were trashing the elections and reporting nothing but doom and gloom, and zeroing in on casualty counts and chaos, was pretty dismal to say the least. I mean, this has really turned me off international journalism. If I ever do news in the future, I'm better off going the tabloid route--- just like Geraldo Rivera! Really, he's the only one of these reporters who gets it! Democracy is GOOD NEWS but these international reporters have been treating it as if it were BAD NEWS. Maybe these correspondents have had their world view all twisted up because of the dead body counts they've seen over the years in Iraq, in Yugoslavia when that war was going on, in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Haiti and Chechnya and throughout the Middle East. Someone please tell these foreign correspondents that there is good news out there to report. But these folks wouldn't be able to recognize good news if they saw it.

These foreign reporters would find a negative angle to the arrival of the Messiah! Really.

BIG ERNIE EVES NEWS

He just resigned his seat in the legislature.

Now the big question is whether Dalton McGillicuddy will call the byelection or force John Tory to sit and rot... which wouldn't be beneath these Liberals either.

Stay tuned.

SPIKE TV GETS TO STAY IN CANUCKISTAN

The problem with having a CRTC around is that you have all these broadcasters out there who think they can use it and abuse it, and get the CRTC to take competing broadcast stations off the air that have every right to stay in Canada. Like, Spike TV for example.

Spike TV, of course, used to be known as TNN: The Nashville Network, and it was allowed into Canada to provide country music programming as a "specialty" service. The problem was that it made no money in the United States as a "specialty" service and was eventually sold off to Viacom, who turned it into TNN: The National Network and turned the whole lineup over to junk reruns like Starsky and Hutch and the Dukes of Hazzard. Basically, it was no longer a specialty service at all, just another rerun cable channel like the rest of them in the 'States. (In fact I think "specialty channel" is a Canadian term- they call them "cable channels" in the States, because they specialize in nothing. TBS and USA and TNT all show reruns and movies. That's it. There's nothing "special" about them at all.)

Recently TNN changed its name to Spike TV and announced they were now programming to guys and showing reruns of VIP starring Pam Anderson. In fact, it seems as if their entire lineup consists of Pam Anderson. Anyway, a few other broadcasters got upset and tried to take advantage of the situation and get Spike TV tossed off the air, claiming that Spike TV was no longer what it once was and was now too much like their own crappy channels.

On the one hand, they're right: Spike TV sure does run the same crappy programs the rest of them do. But that's no reason to toss it from cable TV. The good news is the CRTC decided to keep Spike TV on your cable dial. So don't worry, Pam fans, you'll still get your Spike TV.

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In other news the TV networks are all done covering the Iraqi election and are all disappointed because it wasn't the debacle they all hoped it would be, and the anchors are returning from Jordan or wherever they were kooped up covering the historic election. Now things are back to normal in the TV news biz: everyone has dumped the Iraq story to cover Michael Jackson. Today they started jury selection for his big molestation trial.

And TVNewser got a new look today. Check it out.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

IRAQI ELECTION WAS TODAY

Well from all accounts the Iraqi election was a big success. Turnout was much better than any of the despondent members of the press corps predicted, but then again, what do you expect from the press corps? They've been despondent about things in Iraq from the get-go, and their mindset seems to be to think that nothing good could ever happen in the world, period.

That was the tone of coverage all week, everyone talking about all the people complaining about the election and everyone expecting a complete debacle. What do you expect from the international media? I mean, look at how they reacted in the Ukraine. They expected the absolute worst over there, expected that Russian tanks would roll down the streets, yet things eventually worked out.

And of course the Bush administration is all full of hot air today and bragging about what a big success it was. Well, there was still violence in Iraq today from the al-Zarqawi crowd, with several deaths. And while the Shias are extremely happy about the vote, the Sunnis, who are in the minority, are significantly less thrilled and are boycotting the thing. So Iraq gets a democracy but the problems continue.

Anyway, it's great that Iraqis finally got a say in their country's future and have been liberated forever from Saddam Hussein's dangerous regime, a regime bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction (whether he had them or not). Now, I have a question. Now that the election's been held and now that Saddam and most of his gang have been captured, when the heck is the United States gonna get out of there?! I mean, I thought the whole point of this was to get rid of Saddam and get rid of the weapons of mass destruction. Well, they got rid of Saddam, they held their big election, and there's no weapons of mass destruction. So I see no point really keep the troops there much longer- unless they think that the insurgents are about to restore Saddam. But Saddam's captured already. I say it's almost time to pull the American troops and supply the Iraqi government with tanks so they can fight their own battles. Let the Iraqis kill other Iraqis if that's what they're going to do. I'm convinced, democracy or no, that Iraq is a mess, and the Middle East is a mess, and that it will always be a mess, so why bother.

Boy oh boy, I'm really not sounding like a conservative today on the Iraq war- here I am saying it's time for Iraq to be left to its own devices. This is scary. I'm sounding like a pathetic anti-war liberal. But really, they got rid of Saddam. That was the whole point. It's time to get the heck out of that dump of a country already and go home and watch basketball on TV.

Oh by the way. I notice that nobody in the news media seems to care who won this election. It's like: who cares? They had an election! Who gives a hoot who won?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

POWER COUPLE

I haven't provided much political news lately but here's a blurb I thought you should know about... this is bigger than the big Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt breakup.

Peter MacKay and Belinda Stronach are dating. They're an item! They confirmed it the other day to the press; MacKay says he's smitten by her. So there you go. All you other political guys out there who were lusting after Belinda can cool off. She doesn't want you*.

In other news, there's still no Hockey Night in Canada, but on CTV figure skating is on. AAAAAAAARGHHH!!!!!!

*This means you, Bill Clinton.


Friday, January 28, 2005

BILL COSBY

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

TV NEWS NEWS: COURT TV CHANGES

In my continuing attempt to keep you up to date with the world of TV news, I have a few notes about Court TV.

TVWeek is reporting that Jack Ford and Jami Floyd are returning to the network as anchors- Floyd will be anchoring daytime trial coverage and Ford will be doing something similar a couple of days a week. Both had been in network TV: Floyd was at ABC News while Ford, whose previous network stints were at both ABC and NBC, recently hosted the enormous flop daytime talk show Living It Up! With Jack and Ali (Wentworth). That show was so bad it nearly finished off Jack Ford's career in TV, but fortunately he has good representation, and now he's back on the air on your Court TV dial. In other changes, James Curtis's contract wasn't renewed and Lisa Bloom is getting shifted to another assignment.

In other news I bought Rikki Klieman's book dirt cheap at a rummage sale and it's a good read- she talks about all these trials she did in Boston and so on. I don't think she's at Court TV anymore; she moved to Los Angeles and is now with NBC.

Actually, Los Angeles is the place to be, because the big Michael Jackson trial is set to go for next week and it promises to be the next O.J. (Robert Blake was originally going to be the next O.J., but he turned out to be just too crazy, and Blake's will be stuck in court for years with nothing happening.)

But don't expect the mainstream media to be there in force. No, Dan Rather, Brian Williams, Peter Jennings, Anderson Cooper and the rest of them are all over in Iraq, covering their big election and getting shot at. They deem Iraq to be more important than Jacko, and who can blame them for not wanting to cover that sick story? I'm afraid this time Jacko's people are going to be dealing with a press corps consisting of Court TV and those tabloid artists from Celebrity Justice and Inside Edition, and those titans of supermarket journalism the National Enquirer.

After the Jacko trial finishes all we need to do is sit back and wait for O.J. to get arrested again, and then we'll have O.J. III... or is it O.J. IV? Come to think of it, it's probably O.J. V. I've lost count. He's been in court more often than his former team, the Buffalo Bills, have been in Super Bowls. That's what I'm looking forward to... O.J.'s next trial. For now, though, we have Jacko.

You can bet Court TV will be sending all their anchors and correspondents out to LA in full force, including their ace correspondent Diane Dimond, who basically made her career covering Michael Jackson. Really, that's all she does, covering Jacko.

Amazingly, Dimond works for Court TV but she doesn't have a law degree. Everyone else on the air at Court TV has a law degree, including the ones who've been in journalism for years. In fact Court TV kind of has a reputation for being an escape route for a lot of fed-up attorneys who want to get out of their enslavement at these big corporate law firms they work for.

More later.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

NHL TALKS HAVE FALLEN APART; NO PROPOSALS, NOTHING ELSE PLANNED

Well it turns out that the report of a new proposal for a soft cap/luxury tax/hard cap was erroneous. The NHL talks have broken off with no new proposal tabled to the players. Sportsnet, which has been breaking all kinds of news all day on the story, some of it based on shaky information as it turned out, now says no new talks are planned. The two sides met from 4:30 until 8:30 and then disbanded, and they still have major "philosophical differences".

Maybe they discussed this soft cap/luxury tax/hard cap combination at some point, or maybe the idea was floated as a red herring by somebody to the press. In any event, there's no proposal from the NHL and no more talks. It's over.

And now, as of near-midnight on a Thursday night in January, it looks as if this pathetic National Hockey League is about to hurl itself off a cliff and become the first sports league in North America to cancel its entire season due to labour trouble.

Of course, other leagues have cancelled their entire seasons before, but those were all due to financial problems. The NFL Europe League actually did this in the early 90s. After two years in business, they folded all their North American clubs and cancelled their entire season to reorganize, and then they came back a year later with an all-European lineup of franchises. Other leagues like the Major Indoor Soccer League folded completely, only to revive themselves in a radically different form years later.

The Central Hockey League also, in 1984, went out of business for a full decade before reviving itself in the mid-90s.

But this is different. Hockey is supposed to be a major sport. This isn't the Central Hockey League we're talking about here, we're talking about the NATIONAL Hockey League. It's supposed to be a major league.

Well, it was... until tonight.

Wait until tomorrow when the S hits the fan and all the sports freaks start going crazy over this, this is an outrage. What a total disaster.

IS THIS THE NIGHT SOMEONE QUITS "THE APPRENTICE"?



Welcome to the Apprentice 3 live blog that, for a change, begins on time. And now for news from the wide world of reality TV.

Read on the Internet that Mark Burnett's next show, The Contender, is going to be dynamite. Some reviewer in the NY Daily News took a sneak peek at it and thinks it's brilliant. They're going to take these boxers- real boxers, by the way- and follow them right through to the big title fight. And the production is supposed to be Rocky-esque, with music and camera angles and stuff. You know, I think The Contender could be worth a look. A lot of reality TV is utter trash and garbage, but this sounds like a real reality show with a real look at boxing, and Mark Burnett's shows tend to be first rate, even when they end up being garbage. So I plan to tune in.

In other news the Bachelorette show is being rocked by scandal as apparently one of the contestants (according to the tabloids) is going to announce that he, ahem, doesn't like girls. To which I say: why the heck are you on that freaking show? Looks like this guy was yet another out of work actor with no job due to the reality TV boom, and he managed to trip the producers and their safeguards. Or rather, their supposed safeguards. This is yet another example of reality TV being nothing more than fakery. It's all cheap junk. And now onto the subject of Kristen.

Kristen is a contestant on Apprentice 3 who apparently has made a killing working in real estate. What most people do not know is she's yet another veteran reality-TV actor, who appeared in the lame Fox production Murder in Small Town X. In that freaky show she was picked by her fellow contestants time and time again for the final challenge- where one of the contestants got an opportunity to be killed by the villain they were supposed to be chasing. And she survived week after week after week. That's the same person, and I'm thinking: that's the qualification for working for Trump? Appearing on a previous reality show?

She doesn't have a degree, either, so I say Kristen, you're fired! You know, here at home I'm livid at Trump for the manner in which he's conducting this search for an apprentice. Based on this cast of characters I would have fired Danny right away for his crazy hairdo and lousy performance last week, and then I would have fired the entire "Net Worth" team for not having the requisite degrees that everyone else needs to have in order to get a job. Then I'd simply have the other eight grilled by the Trump people in interviews and pick the best fit, preferably one with business and real estate experience. And that would be it. But Trump wants to humiliate these people on TV first.

Based on the information I got reading the promo material from NBC: supposedly someone quits the show in disgust tonight but I dunno, that could be all hype. Apparently someone else can't eat her food after the big victory during the reward challenge ( miserable about something, so we've been told ), while a third person says something that leaves Trump speechless in the boardroom. I think this is all hype from NBC and I want to see this show to find out if this show tonight is any good. Otherwise I'm ready to say to Monsieur Donald Trump: YOU'RE fired!

8:35-
I'm really sick and tired of Trump goading the university grads about how they should be embarrassed losing to high school grads. There's a lot to be said for graduating from the school of hard knocks, and a lot of these university grads really don't have that much real business experience. A lot of these people worked as lawyers or something equally unfinancial. Besides, everyone got stuck running Burger King! So Trump really ought to shut up about it.

8:41-
Net Worth project manager is Brian- who has experience in real estate and with hotels. Kristen really doesn't like him at all and wants to stir up trouble. She's yelling and screaming at people about how she had to set the budget. Meanwhile this team has to fix up a hotel to get the best ratings etc., and this hotel is a complete DUMP. The place SMELLS. The carpets are RIPPED. What a DUMP.

MICHAEL is project manager for Team Genius. His business, too, is real estate. His hotel, too, is a dump. Verna has a cow over customer service aspects which Michael wants to save for later. So Michael is gonna get blamed for the big customer service failure.

TEAM STREET SMART-
Brian is negotiating with contractors and talking tough- wants toilets ripped up and out. So Brian the other Project Manager is getting yelled at by his team for wanting to spend like mad on new toilets. Audrey looks like she's about to burst into tears over the toilets being replaced!

MAGNA-
Verna is a total pain and totally stressed out. She and Michael are getting into shouting matches.

TEAM STREET SMART-
Brian is getting in trouble for being RASH and JOHN is trying to lecture him over it, tell him to cool off. See, this is where these high schoolers have trouble, they're too prone to getting into FIGHTS. Their humility is completely lacking, and their people skills aren't as refined as those Ivy Leaguers who all learned their people skills by getting indoctrinated at politically-correct institutions like Harvard. Believe me, I've noticed the difference between well-educated people and those less well-education, and it's in personality. Already, Team Net Worth is a TRAIN WRECK full of INFIGHTING! Everyone hates BRIAN and is yelling at him.

TEAM STREET SMART-
A full fledged mutiny is under way at Net Worth right now. Kristen is yelling at Brian over the budget, yelling at Brian about how much the whole team hates him. What a disaster.

TEAM GEEK-
Team Geek is in an even bigger mess. What a total disaster there, too. The rooms still stink. Carolyn says it's a total mess. Team Street Smart is a total one-man show, but at least things over there look a little better. But wow, who'd want to hire any of these jokers.

Looks to me like team Street Smart is in better shape right now, but not by much.

9:07-
TEAM GEEK-
Team Geek's hotel is a wreck, the rooms reek of paint, so they played up "customer service" and turned their whole hotel into Animal House. They're bragging about how this was where their book smarts and university education kicked in: they made sure their customers were having a good time. Looks like they had a blast. Danny is sitting there strumming his guitar and everyone is having a John Belushi good time. Hey, looked like fun to me. I remember when I was in college. I don't think Trump would be impressed by this, though. He'd be pretty downright embarrassed. Would any of the royal princes who stay in Trump's palaces stay at Team Geek's place? Not a chance!

9:12-
TEAM STREET SMART-
Somebody fire Kristen. That woman isn't a real candidate for Trump's job, she's a pathetic ACTRESS, and if Trump doesn't fire her I'll fire TRUMP, because it will mean this show is no better than Paris Hilton's. Now she's getting into senseless arguments with more people. What a loser. Get rid of this woman already.

9:16-
TEAM GEEK-
Magna has a human resources issue: Verna's just quit!! Verna's saying she's quit the team! Now she's wandering down the street, having just decided not to even bother ordering coffee for these people filling out the surveys! The heck is this?!

9:23-
TEAM STREET SMART-
Tana's responsible for customer service and is trying hard to be good at customer service, but the customers are grumpy and if they lose because the other team outclassed them on customer service Tana could get royally screwed over.

TEAM GEEK-
Verna's CRACKED under all the pressure, was found wandering aimlessly by Carolyn. Has a heart to heart with Michael who is trying to calm her down. Verna now is telling everyone that she blew it, which is really big of her to do, but people on the team are still really ticked at her for quitting when the going got tough. You know what, I think she should be fired. If Team Geek loses, Verna HAS to be fired. Even if they win she should be axed. She simply gave up on the team.

9:30-
Time for me to weigh in and say that either Kristen or Verna should go, depending on the team that loses: Kristen for Team Street Smart, Verna for Team Geek.

Net Worth had a score of 2.9- they thought customer service was terrible. Team Geek had great customer service but the motel was "what it was"- and got a score of 3.9. Team Geek Wins and gets to meet Steve Forbes. Net Worth is gonna get fired.

Verna didn't touch her food the whole time with Steve Forbes at dinner. Too burned out.

THE BOARDROOM
According to the spoilers someone is gonna say something that leaves Trump speechless. We'll see.

I think Brian, Kristen and Tana are on the block. Brian had a near-mutiny on his hands, Kristen was absolutely obnoxious, and Tana was responsible for customer service which was a big reason why her team lost. Boy, Brian looks really obnoxious here. He's getting into a big argument with John before the boardroom even begins, with lots of swearing. Wow. What a train wreck this Brian is. I change my mind: I say get rid of Brian and dump Kristen next week. And if Trump fires anyone else I'll fire the show and watch CSI next week.

Wow, Brian just went in and told Trump it's all my fault and you should fire me right now! Trump says he's speechless. Now Kristen is getting into a fight in the boardroom with Brian. Brian now uses the F word in the boardroom- used the F word in describing what happened! Brian now getting ripped for being abrasive.

Brian is fired immediately without being given the opportunity to bring people back into the boardroom. Total debacle: he used the F word, and he's reamed out for a "total lack of judgement" (direct quote) for telling Trump "you should fire me right now!" And that's what Trump did.

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It sure looks as if this Apprentice 3 show is filled with complete idiots this year- a really big change from previous shows. Brian's the first big idiot to blow himself up on television. Good riddance. I'd have fired him too for that performance.

LATEST NHL OFFER

NHL

There's a soft cap, then a luxury tax on top of the soft cap, then a hard cap on the very top. Bottom line, cost certainty. Sportsnet is calling this signs of compromise from the NHL, but from the sounds of it, this looks like something that would be tough for a lot of players to swallow.

We'll see; they will be meeting in New York tonight and tomorrow, and I expect plenty of negotiating. It's about time these folks got down to negotiating. Took them long enough.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

NHL TALKS BACK ON

Well it was pretty hilarious listening to the radio to all these radio sportscasters who were trying to find out where representatives from the NHL and NHLPA were meeting in Toronto. They were scrambling from hotel to hotel, office building to office building, trying in vain to find these guys. Anyway their meeting broke up tonight around 6PM and they plan to meet again tomorrow.

I think this is all a positive sign. I am cautiously optimistic that something might get accomplished. Rumor was floated on the radio that the NHL might consider a higher payroll cap number (around $50 million) and even consider naming one player per team as a "franchise" player who'd be exempt. Surely the union wouldn't be opposed to THAT. But then this could all be a load of bull, made up by some executive somewhere.

Surely, as well, all these people must be seeing the comments in the papers and elsewhere about the NHL's unpopularity with everyone. Nobody in the United States of Basketball cares right now ( it's basketball now, since football season's pretty much over.) And apparently nobody in the Dominion of Hockey cares either. The National Post published a poll that stated that 70% of Canadians claimed they do not miss the NHL at all- and the sporting media claims to be surprised by this. They shouldn't be. Really, they could even poll ME and I'd give them that same line of bull, that I don't miss the NHL. I mean, we have lives, we have other things we can do. I tuned into those movies last Saturday, and frankly, they were GOOD. TVO ran Ocean's Eleven, so I tuned into THAT. If you really want good movies, forget Ron MacLean and Movie Night in Canada and go watch TVO. TVO actually gives you an A effort, and there's no commercials either.

The next day was the NFL anyway, and who freaking cares about the NHL during the NFL playoffs. You think anyone in Philadelphia or Boston misses the NHL today? Maybe they miss the NHL in Pittsburgh today, but the Penguins suck anyway.

Which is my point entirely: now that the NFL's over, NOW we care about hockey not being there. We've got two weeks of nothing until the Super Bowl- nothing but basketball. And don't think for a moment that this isn't going to drive absolutely every sports fan in North America crazy. That's why we need hockey around: to keep us sane until baseball season begins. And basketball doesn't cut it. It's simply not violent enough. And who cares about basketball's regular season- especially in the NCAA, which chooses its playoff tournament teams by committee on the final weekend! It's ridiculous! I agree with all the detractors of that esteemed sport of hoops, I just can't get excited about watching guys shoot hoops on TV on Sunday afternoons. Midweek, yes, I can watch basketball, but not weekends. It is just not the same as watching football or even hockey, with these guys knocking each other's brains out. Basketball, yecch!!

Frankly, I'm surprised how little I've missed the NHL. But I don't miss the actual GAME of hockey, because I've had plenty of opportunities to follow the other leagues and the international game. And junior hockey has been fun to watch and the junior leagues have some big personalities of their own, people like Sidney Crosby (who got roasted by the press for skipping the CHL Prospects Game). So really, I can't say I've missed the trap-and-fight NHL at all.

What looks apparent to me is, if there is going to be some deal done, it will probably be some shotgun deal that will get a season started and which will not solve any of the NHL's problems. Really, they have a lot of work to do to make the game more exciting, to get ticket prices back to a reasonable level, and to make this sport generally more fan-friendly. But it sure looks like nothing of that sort will get accomplished, deal or no deal, and if there's no deal the sport will set itself back years anyway. Already the Edmonton Oilers are announcing that they'll fold their franchise if there's no salary cap. So who knows, we could get a deal that satisfies nobody and solves none of the league's problems. And how happy are the fans going to be about that? All these fans who sat through "Armaggeddon", thinking things were going to improve? That this sacrifice of their beloved NHL Saturday Night tradition and the rest of it was for the good of the game? Tell that to Oiler fans if that team folds!

Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow is the critical day for these NHL talks. We will likely have our answer on the fate of the NHL season, tomorrow.

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Apprentice 3 resumes tomorrow and the Apprentice chumps are all going to be stuck renovating buildings- usual lame task- and on the promos they are saying that one of these contestants is gonna walk out on the show!

I'd love to see that happen.
"You can't fire me, I quit!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

TRIBUTES FOR JOHNNY CARSON

The tributes continue to roll in for Johnny Carson from fans and from people who appeared on the Tonight Show during his long run as host.

On Monday Jay Leno hosted a special edition of the Tonight Show devoted entirely to Carson, and said in paying tribute to him that if you tuned into Carson during his 30-year tenure as the host, "consider yourselves lucky", because we are not going to see his likes ever again.

He spent an hour playing clips of old Carson moments, and Ed McMahon was a guest, recalling his favorite Carson memories. Leno also brought out Don Rickles and Bob Newhart to talk about Johnny. It gave them an opportunity to play back a clip from way back in the 70s, when Rickles destroyed Carson's favorite cigarette box on air when Newhart guest-hosted. Carson then found out about it and went in to interrupt a taping of Rickles' own sitcom, just to ream him out for comic effect. It was hilarious. And I think I remember watching that episode live years ago- it was back in the days when we had just gotten cable TV, and I was watching Carson every night because it was one show we'd been deprived of for the years we didn't have cable.

I must say that Leno's show did Carson justice last night, and it was a masterpiece. I've been critical of Leno's show over the years but last night's show was exceptional. It was probably the best Tonight Show Leno has ever done.

Craig Ferguson paid tribute live on his CBS show at 12:35, saying that as an immigrant from Scotland the one thing that helped him feel at home in America was Johnny Carson hosting the Tonight Show, and that Carson helped make this big scary country feel like a small town, and made America seem like a less frightening place.

Today we will have a tribute from Ellen DeGeneres on her show, and I'm sure we'll see tributes from Dave Letterman and Conan O'Brien as soon as they come back on with new shows; I think Conan's set is where the old Carson show used to be when it was in New York. (Last night's Letterman and Conan shows were reruns.) I'm sure that we'll see a big tribute at the Oscars this year as well, as Carson hosted that show several times.

I also heard former late-night host Mike Bullard on CFRB the other day paying tribute to Johnny. Fans are also talking about the funniest moments from the show, including Art Fern, Carnac the Magnificent, and the other great characters Carson played on the show. And they all talked about the great DVD collection from Carson's shows, which must be selling like hotcakes today.

The one reason why there has been this outpouring over Johnny's death has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of people in Hollywood, and particularly in the comedy community, owe their careers to Carson. For countless top comedians the Carson show was their big break. They'd appear on the Tonight Show and the next day they'd get $10,000 worth of job offers to keep them going. They'd be able to move to LA and start their careers and go on to fame and fortune. Letterman, of course, looked to Carson as a mentor, and Carson's production company produced Letterman's show and Carson even submitted jokes to Letterman in his final years. Leno, of course, appeared as a standup on the show many times before he was named the permanent guest host. Leno and Letterman and Ellen would probably not be where they are today, hosting talk shows, had it not been for Carson's show. The same is probably true for Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Tim Allen, Bob Saget and all the rest of the big time comedians who got their start on the Carson Tonight Show and whose careers were launched because of it. True, Lorne Michaels had a similar impact in helping make young careers, but he was a behind the scenes player. Carson had the ability to let his guests be the star, and that self-effacing manner defined his tenure as a host on television. When Carson gave his stamp of approval to your routine, your career was made.

For me personally, Carson's Tonight Show helped inspire me to get into broadcasting and to even get into comedy writing in university for the charity variety show they had going. And I always wanted to host a talk show, just like Johnny Carson. So I guess you can blame my lousy career(?) in broadcasting on Carson. So, thanks a lot, Johnny!!!! Thanks for nothing, eh?

Seriously, I did manage to fulfill my dream, guest-hosting a talk show on cable TV (yes, they did allow me to host again), and I was a guest on talk shows a couple of times. I can say this from my own personal experience: hosting a talk show on TV is the toughest gig in entertainment. You have to be really good at it to survive, let alone thrive.

I was lucky enough to go on the NBC Studios Tour back in the early 80s in beautiful downtown Burbank and the highlight for everyone was getting to see the old Tonight Show set- which was pretty small to say the least, a lot smaller than I expected. I expected this big hall and we were in... this room! With a shabby little set, with a couch! In fairness, the set for Real People wasn't up to much, either. In fact, it was even worse. The revelations of live TV; amazing what mirrors can do. Still, that trip to California was one of my fondest memories.

My biggest regret is that I never saw one of Carson's shows live. That would have been something. I did, however, sit in the studio audience during one of Ralph Benmurgui's better efforts. But that hardly counts, and no, I never did get to see Conan O'Brien when he was here in TO. I did see Mike Bullard perform live- not on his show, but yes, he was live.

Letterman's right; everyone else is a pretender. Johnny, we'll all miss you.

-------------------------------------------------

PERSONAL ITEM: I want to wish my sister-in-law Jody a speedy recovery after her operation the other day. Jody, get well soon, hope you're feeling better! OK, that's it for today.

Monday, January 24, 2005

NHL TALKS TO RESUME, AGAIN

TSN reporting now that the NHL and NHLPA will meet again this week to try and get something else going in terms of a deal or settlement. We don't know where and we don't know when, but apparently the NHL has some new proposal idea they want to pursue. A few guesses on where this secret meeting might take place: La Guardia? JFK? Reagan National Airport?! How about the Pierre Trudeau International Airport? Or maybe they might really get creative and meet in a bus station. Gang, get this thing settled already! Enough of this!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

GREATEST LATE-NIGHT HOST EVER IS GONE

Johnny Carson was 79.

More to come.

Friday, January 21, 2005

NHL IS HURLING ITSELF OVER A CLIFF

NHL

(UPDATE: Trevor Linden has a press conference scheduled for within the hour to tell the media what happened with these lousy hockey talks and what a debacle it all was, and he's going to tell the players to pack their bags for Europe and be prepared to stay there for a long time--- take up permanent residence, perhaps. TSN is reporting on the total mess that is transpiring right now in the NHL and let me tell you, it is not pretty. Suffice it to say that crunch time is here and it's the NHL that is getting crunched, or is crunching itself. Not to mention its fans.)

Well, after a day for all the hockey pundits and the sports media establishment in Canada to stew and digest what went down in those two airports in Chicago and Toronto the last two days, it's looking more and more like this season is dead and buried under a pile of snow.

That's the impression I got listening to Glenn Healey on the FAN today. He says that on Thursday the NHL representatives came back to the players and told them they wanted a hard cap. Period. Apparently the number floated around was 38 million ( a figure that would decimate teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs ), and that there wouldn't even be a transition period: the hard cap would come in right away and these big teams would have to take themselves apart. What would happen to players who would have be cut under this scenario? Dispersal draft, according to Healey and the information he got.

Wow, if that's really what the owners are looking to do this league is in a sorrier state of affairs than I thought. A proposal like that would just wreak havoc on the large market teams and sever long-standing relationships with the fans. You just can't do something like that to the fans. Fans don't like it when they have to buy programs to try and figure out who's playing on their teams. That's something that these NHL people have never learned: the fans are sick of all these players moving around all the time. The NHL is the worst league in the world for trades, worse than even major league baseball, and far worse than either the NBA or NFL, where the players still stand a hope of playing their entire careers in one city. Fans are sick of all the player movements and while Canadian fans are used to it, that's still something that has been a big problem for the game south of the border. So some FIX this "solution" will be if it comes in. Thanks a lot, NHL.

And now reality is starting to sink in for everyone. These two sides are so far apart on the salary cap there's no point even talking about it. And now the earliest we can even consider having an NHL season is February 9th. That's right, no hockey until almost mid-February. And here we all are in the pit of freezing January, what should be hockey weather, and the NHL won't be returning until it warms up! So what is the point of having a season? Do we really want hockey in summertime? And oh, by the way, by weekend's end it'll be assured that we won't even have a season by Valentine's Day. Even now people are trying to figure out scenarios for a 36-or-28 game regular season for the NHL, which would be comical to say the least. By all practical standards, the season is over and ruined, and now the fur is flying on the radio over it. People are beginning to realize what's happening and they're all upset.

What I have trouble believing is how most of the fans across Canada have been dealing with the lockout. A lot of people have gone on with their lives, but the diehard fans who can't live without hockey don't seem to be angry with the sport, or the NHL owners or players, for what they are doing to their own game right now. They are ruining their sport in North America by wiping out their own season, and yet people are all sitting on their hands! The customers ought to be mad as hell, and threatening to walk away from this sport forever, just like with major league baseball. Yet they're all doing nothing and giving the impression to all these bozos that when this mess is ever settled---- if it's ever settled- that they'll all be back cheering their teams on like mad. Maybe that's to be expected when fans have plenty of alternative hockey to follow and go to, whether it's the AHL or OHL or WHL or whatever. And now, some really fun news for Toronto Maple Leaf fans: the St. John's Baby Leafs may be facing early eviction from their arena in St. John's because of a possible strike over there in early February. In which case, guess what, the Baby Leafs will move to Toronto immediately, without waiting for next September to roll around. So yes, it looks like we hockey fans in Toronto won't have to fight the traffic on the drive to Hamilton to watch professional hockey, because it's coming sooner than we think. Good grief, here we all are in Toronto, getting hopes up for an AHL season. Ugh!!

And with rumblings that the NBA will lock out its players this fall when their own CBA expires, we could be looking at a complete mess in the professional sports world. We could have two entire major pro sports leagues shut down this fall, no joking. That'll leave the Toronto Blue Jays as the only major league club operating and playing games in all of Canada (CFL and NLL excepted). What a mess. What a total, complete, freaking mess.

And of course I'm caught up in it because, well, the industry I've been in has been decimated. You know, I'm glad I decided to go after other experience outside of sports broadcasting in the past year and a half. I knew Armageddon was coming, that everyone in Canada was going to be reduced to covering pee-wee games and I prepared for it; tried the best I could, anyway. But I don't have to be happy about it. Sports coverage was the one thing in broadcast journalism that I was really good at.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

HOCKEY TALKS OVER FOR NOW

Well, representatives from the NHL and NHLPA- not Bettman or Goodenow, though- met again today at a hotel near the Toronto airport amid wild rumors that a deal was about to be struck. There was a report that the Phoenix Coyotes were telling players to stand by for training camp within the next 7 days. And there was another report of a deal on the table for 6 years total length of time.

But finally the two sides broke off their meetings and said that there were still "philosophical differences" that kept the two sides far apart. And so, so much for that. There's still no hockey, dammit!! It's freezing cold today across southern Ontario, and there's no bleeping NHL hockey to watch in this freezing hockey weather! No wonder the fans are angry and frustrated, and furious that these guys still won't come to their senses.

For the last couple of days it looked as if common sense had finally entered the picture. Both sides were talking, they agreed to meet again, and they again talked some more. But in the end there's still a big gulf on the salary cap issue. I keep listening to Bill Watters on 640Toronto and he is convinced that Bob Goodenow has completely misread the owners, and why don't these players simply give up and concede already because the owners will never give in and the players will get stuck with a salary cap anyway. It'll only get worse for the players the longer they are out, so the argument goes. So why not simply come back and make your millions?

That's what a LOT of people are asking. But there's still no deal done. And they're STILL far apart. As long as the philosophical differences are there we'll NEVER get a deal done.

You know, I think we may not have seen the end of the talks, though. The fact that Trevor Linden and Ted Saskin sat down with the NHL brass for a couple of days was a positive development. They know each other VERY well by now and you would hope they could go back and sit down and think of what ideas they could come up with to settle this dispute within the next few days. So I'm still not ready to concede the season yet. I know a lot of people conceded the season last week when Bob Goodenow told the players to pack their bags for Europe, but I thought maybe that move might kickstart some kind of talks and they have. Now I want to see if there are any more talks. You have to think that maybe SOMETHING more is going to happen. Maybe.

APPRENTICE 3 LIVE BLOG IS ON

I am sorry I am late tonight but I was at a job fair today... and unfortunately it did not go well. Did not go well at all. And now here's the really good part: I ended up late coming home. So this BLOG hasn't even started on time. And because I've had such a bad day I don't even feel like watching this freaking APPRENTICE 4 show! Oh, did I say 4? Seems like 4.

And oh yeah, these dumbbells in the National Hockey League are still far apart on an agreement after two days of getting the fans' hopes up. So yeah, I'm in an awesome mood tonight.

I'll tell you straight out, I'm not into it tonight! I care not one whit about any of these contestants. As you know it's Street Smarts versus Book Smarts, and the first task Donald Trump hands off for these jokers to do in this game is, guess what...

... to work at Burger King!

I am not making this up.

Look, here's why I feel the Book Smart people are getting hosed: Book smart people, in business, generally don't have to do chimp tasks like running a Burger King or selling any of their freaking products. Look, lots of people have made fortunes in the burger business. Ray Kroc, Dave Thomas... you name it. Colonel Sanders sold lots of chicken in his day. But you don't need a freaking college degree to do any of that. That's why so many high school kids work at Burger King or McDonald's, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. You don't NEED a degree to work there and university-level education means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as far as getting ahead is concerned in that industry. If you have an MBA you're sure as heck not going to be thrown into some restaurant like these people were tonight, with no instructions. They'll give you a GOOD job on a PROMOTION track, doing REAL jobs in the company, and make sure you stick around long enough not to be fired. If you have a marketing degree, you should do their advertising campaign, not be stuck doing some stupid promotions outside. If you have an MBA, you should be put to work doing reports to root out how these restaurants can make more money. You shouldn't have to be stuck running these crappy restaurants! That's what I mean.

The whole point of getting an education is so you don't need to work at Burger King any longer! Really, that's the truth! If you get an MBA, normally you are able to get jobs as management consultants, investment bankers, or Wall Street bond traders, or some other type of position that would require an actual education. These are jobs which are supposed to use your "brains"- ie. they go to you for advice, and you give advice! Or you're a mathematical genius who studied economics, so you know how to profit from today's markets and stuff. That's where having a degree gives you an advantage over the "street smart" crowd- they may have great real-world skills but your advantage is that you KNOW stuff! Same with law grads: if you have a law degree you KNOW the LAW, that's what your value is. And that asset isn't going to show up when you flip burgers. Where college grads get into trouble is when they get thrown into jobs or situations where the employers don't give a damn about their education, and they're put in jobs that don't require brains and into situations where people are judged based on performing chimp tasks. That's what Trump is doing here and he ought to be ashamed.

If this were a fair contest Trump would be sending these people out to scout out good locations to build new casinos or something, or running some Trump event. Something half decent where it's important to actually be SMART. Instead, here all these people are running a BURGER KING, trying to sell a particular Burger King product! I mean, who has an advantage doing a stupid task like that?! Here are these people with fancy degrees, people who usually are placed on a different career path in business than those street-smart entrepreneur-type people anyway, and they're all being forced into doing the same silly tasks that, quite frankly, any chimpanzee could do. To quote Michael Lewis, what's the point of having a howitzer when the law forces you to hunt with a bow and arrow? Here they are, stuck in Burger King wasting their degrees. Heck, that's how I'd feel. This is total humiliation for Team Genius.

Oh, and here's the best part of tonight's show. The street smart people have called their corporation: "Net Worth". Pretty good name. The book smart people have as their name, get ready--- MAGNA.

As in Magna Cum Laude, they say.

Frank Stronach has to be pretty proud about that. So the geniuses on the genius team make their first dumb mistake- they subconsciously steal some other company's name! Way to go, uh, MAGNA CORPORATION. I hope Stronach sues your rear end for every intellectual property violation imaginable. This team may be book smart, but by stealing another company's name without checking first, the genius team has PROVEN they have no street smarts whatsoever.

So that's TWO reasons why I'm not into this show. I'm cheering for the book smart people, and yet they're already a bunch of total idiots. The street smart people are already at Burger King bragging: "hey, we've go no college degrees and we're proud of it! Those book smart people think they're above this stuff!"

9:24-
Winner is NET WORTH by a nose. High schoolers win. So all of you people with degrees, you might as well chuck your diplomas, they mean nothing to Donald Trump.

By the way, the big news this week is that Donald Trump is getting married to Melania this weekend. It's all over the tabloids.

The losing MAGNA team is going nuts over the debacle that was the marketing strategy and they are KILLING the marketing people for their idiotic marketing plan. This is really sad, really pathetic. They got stuck with a task worthy of a high schooler, and now they're all going to the boardroom. These people are ALL being hosed. ALL OF THEM.

9:35

FIRST BOARDROOM OF SEASON 3-

The people in trouble tonight is Todd, the project manager, Alex, a lawyer, and Danny, who got stuck with the marketing task and got absolutely smoked, and with his wild hair and clothing, sticks out like a sore thumb with this group of uptights.

Donald Trump is humiliating these people for losing to high schoolers, hardy har har. Well, they got stuck with the usual stupid chimp task. Of COURSE they're going to SUCK at it. Their degrees, their big expensive educations got WASTED today. And now one of them's fired.

The team is getting ripped. Carolyn called it the worst promotion ever, and George is ripping the team for failing to sell any burgers. "The objective was to sell this burger", they are being told, and they didn't. Now Danny is getting KILLED because of the freaky clothing he wears. This team thinks his clothes are AWFUL and everyone wants Danny FIRED. One person wants Todd fired for not being able to manage Danny.

Alex, Danny and Todd are coming back in.
Okay, prediction time: I think Todd is going to get RIPPED for bringing in Alex; what the heck did Alex do wrong. George is killing Todd for failing to put enough people at the cash registers and Carolyn concurs. I think TODD is FINISHED.

"Why did you bring in Alex?" Alex now is volunteering that HE was responsible for the point of sale and Trump killed Alex for the cash registers.

Trump calls Danny a total disaster, everyone on the team thought Danny was a total idiot, but Trump instead decides to humiliate Todd on national television for a "total lack of leadership", and says: Todd, you're fired!

WOW, first project manager is fired, and by sending train wreck Danny back upstairs, Trump HOSES the rest of the Book Smart Team. And look out if you're a project manager from here on in, because Trump is still on a roll going after ALL of you.

Really, I mean, the heck was this tonight? One episode into season 3, and I'm already furious with this show.

I'll be back with the blog next week... maybe.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

TV JUNK

My computer is finally back online and finally working again so now I'm going to vent about TV and what's happening.

It's a big week for reality TV because American Idol is back with Season 4. And I get the impression the folks at FOX are a little worried. They see the ratings tanking for Reality TV all over the dial and they are seeing this franchise growing stale. Maybe it was the public getting sick of Kelly and Justin, I dunno, but I get the impression the novelty factor is gone and people don't want to see these manufactured Jessica Simpson clones on the stage. People are tuning in the first couple of weeks to see the embarrassing contestants humiliate themselves, and once that's done, well, show's over. It's the usual "Simon Cowell being himself" routine, right through to the finals. You know, I have to say, I can relate to Simon Cowell. He's usually dead-on about these imposters on stage. If I had to listen to the dreck he listens to on a consistent basis, I'd feel the same way.

I imagine Canadian Idol will be coming back soon- that is a huge monster hit here in Canada, the biggest hit show imaginable, bigger than Corner Gas. But I just can't get into it. I tuned out these Idol shows a long time ago. I'm tuning in to the first couple of weeks just for laughs, to see how bad these contestants get. Then I'm tuning right back out.

I'll save most of my fire for The Apprentice 3 until tomorrow night when I attempt the live blog again. But this show looks bad, and I think their latest gimmick is going to backfire badly. As you know I love The Apprentice shows and love tuning in, but I'm really worried about the gimmicks. This Street Smarts-versus-Book Smarts idea has me really concerned. I know who I'm cheering for, though: book smarts all the way. But I'll say this: to assume, as this show seems to do here, that people who have a lot of education aren't street smart is simply dead wrong. And I'm very concerned these book-smart people are going to be hosed, especially if they have to do these chimpanzee tasks the other contestants had to do. I'll have more to say about this later but I'm convinced Donald Trump and Mark Burnett are going to set the education system back YEARS starting tomorrow night.

I should mention though, that there was talk of doing a reality show about lawyers that had a book smarts versus street smarts theme. They were going to pit the book smart, Ivy League Grade A lawyers in court against the street smart state-school educated types who couldn't get into any of the corporate firms and ended up suing people for a living. And they were going to can people every week until finally a top litigator ended up winning. I think maybe the idea flopped when they realized some of these lawyers can make more money by actually practising law and suing people in court, and collecting millions of dollars for spilled coffee verdicts. Ain't America great.

But it's true, this show was supposed to be a go, but I read somewhere that My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss got started instead and that's what gassed the lawyers' reality show. Now Mark Burnett has up and stolen the whole book smarts/street smarts idea and is using it for a business show... which makes more sense when you think of it.

I think we could be seeing the beginning of the end for the reality shows: they're ALL tanking. The Apprentice is getting beat by CSI, Paris Hilton is a total loser, and those Fab Five guys are on the verge of being cancelled. Last week CBS yanked a reality show "The Will", all about who gets left somebody's estate, after one lousy episode! Good riddance. The fewer reality shows the better in my estimation. The only ones that seem to be any good are American Idol, The Amazing Race, and the shows Mark Burnett produces. That's it. The rest are all garbage, and that's why people aren't watching this junk.

But who knows. I don't know TV, as proven by the fact that Desperate Housewives won Best Comedy at the Golden Globes. I don't understand what's so funny about THAT show. Best TV comedy, my foot. That's what happens when you cancel every sitcom on TV: Teri Hatcher winds up winning an award. (Apparently Everybody Loves Raymond is shooting its final episodes around now.)

I found another web site for one of the previous Apprentice contestants: Jennifer Crisafulli's site is still up. She's now doing some color commentary for the Apprentice 3 web site.

In TV news news, CBS is still reeling from the Memogate disaster, and they still don't have a replacement for Dan Rather at the desk, but Katie Couric remains at the top of the rumor mill and could get the gig, then turn around and beat the heck out of Brian Williams. Where does that leave John Roberts, you ask? Well, he could still emerge as a co-anchor. There are increasing rumors about CBS Prez Les Moonves looking to completely revamp the evening news with multiple anchors in possibly multiple cities. Sounds like they're considering doing something a la the 1970s-era World News Tonight, which had 3 anchors: Frank Reynolds in Washington, Max Robinson in Chicago and Peter Jennings in London, England. Another rumor is that Jon Stewart may be recruited to do commentary- at which point the credibility of CBS News, which is already in the toilet, will be flushed straight down the pipes and downstream into the river. People will be quitting CBS News in protest if that happens, and frankly, I think it's a dumb idea to bring in Jon Stewart! I doubt that's even a serious story, it's probably someone with time on his hands, starting a rumor.

CNN is revamping Headline News to add Nancy Grace and a show called Showbiz Tonight. Sounds like they want to be the lighter, tabloid version of the main CNN- just in time for the big Michael Jackson trial. Also read on TVNewser that Rudi Bakhtiar is back doing afternoons at HN after being off the air in limbo for a while.

Friday, January 14, 2005

SUGGESTION TO THE FEDERAL LIBERALS: WHY DON'T ALL OF YOU RESIGN?

Front page headlines screaming in the papers. Judy Sgro resigned from Cabinet today. The report courtesy CBC News:

TORONTO - Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro said she had to resign Friday to fight the "ridiculously false" allegations that she promised to help a pizza shop owner avoid deportation in return for help on her re-election campaign last spring.

"As long as I was the minister, my hands were tied," she told CBC News.

"I wanted to be free to defend myself very vigorously against these ridiculously false allegations," said Sgro, who becomes the first minister to quit since Prime Minister Paul Martin took power in December 2003.

Martin accepted Sgro's resignation Friday morning. Human Resources Development Minister Joe Volpe replaced her at Citizenship and Immigration in an official swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall early Friday afternoon.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Lucienne Robillard will take over Volpe's old job as well as her current one. She was out of town Friday and will be sworn in when she returns...

...(Sgro) decided to step down a day after an affidavit from Harjit Singh, who owns a pizza shop in Brampton, Ont., was filed in Federal Court in Toronto.

In the sworn affidavit, Singh says Sgro pressed him for free pizza and garlic bread and asked him to supply "15 or 16" volunteers for her campaign office.

This came on the heels of the infamous Strippergate, where Sgro was fast-tracking Eastern Europeans into the country to work at strip clubs. Meanwhile, real immigrants who want to come into the country for the right reasons, who want to use their hard-won professional credentials, get nothing but regulations, grief and other BS from the government and industry and must take jobs pouring coffee at Tim Horton's. It's a disgrace and you have to wonder whose side the Liberals are really on.

I know I know, Judy Sgro is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, yada yada. I think this was a deportation case anyway, so it doesn't really matter. One thing's for sure, though. It's yet another black eye for the Liberals, who seem intent on caring more about their own friends and, for that matter, everyone else in the rest of the world as opposed to the ordinary citizens who pay the taxes and put up with the bureaucracy and regulations here.

I could go on about the embarrassments that have befallen this Martin Liberal regime in the short time it's been in power. There was Paul Martin's big, enthusiastic meeting with Libya's Kaddafi. There's the colossal mishandling of trade relations with the United States, due largely to Carolyn Parrish and her embarrassing antics on national TV- coming at a time when the beef industry is reeling from the Mad Cow debacle. There was the failure to move quickly off the mark on Tsunami relief. There's the continual failure to reduce the lineups for hospital beds throughout this country. And there's been the steadfast refusal by the government to give middle-class Canadians a tax break even though the government is rolling in taxpayer money. And let's not go into the gun registry or Groupaction fiascos, or the Liberals' rampant enthusiasm for demolishing the traditional definition of marriage and trying to use that as a wedge issue to divide the electorate. I could go on and on and on for a long time about the corruption. I'm sure I could find other stuff to complain about. This is all just off the top of my head.

These people are the reason why I'm so fed up with politics, folks. Surely, Canadians can do better than THIS group!!! Hey, Stephen, Jack and Gilles, time to pull the plug on this Parliament. Enough of THIS, already!


Thursday, January 13, 2005

SERENA BOOTED OUT

One of the great things about Law and Order is that when a cast member leaves, they leave in some big dramatic fashion- their character quits in disgust, or they punch out someone like Chris Noth did, or they get killed in some car wreck like Jill Hennessy. Another great thing is that the writers always find some subtle way to reflect the popular culture in their stories. Last night's episode did not disappoint.

Last night was Elisabeth Rohm's departure as assistant DA Serena Southerlyn. And it was memorable. She was seen clashing with the other prosecutors, and at episode's end, she's hauled into Fred Thompson's office, is reamed out for mixing too much passion into her job, is basically told she's no good as a prosecutor and the DA says: "you're fired!"

The writers surely had Donald Trump in mind when writing that episode. It was like watching an episode of the Apprentice. But the best part was yet to come.

Serena then turns to the DA and says: "is it because I'm a lesbian?"

Wow, the fans never saw that one coming. Serena outs herself in her final scene! Another classic exit from the Law and Order building.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

HOCKEY DAY IN CANADA CALLED OFF

Hockey NIght

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the famous last-ditch, drop-dead-day settlement of the 1994-95 lockout. Unfortunately, it's 2005, and Armaggeddon continues. Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. is saying he doesn't expect a season. So I'm not expecting a season now. It looks pretty much dead and over, although I don't think I'm ready to officially throw in the towel and give up for another couple of weeks. But I'm not holding out much hope at this point.

And now, another big national tragedy. The Globe reported on its front page today that the CBC called off Hockey Day in Canada.

Apparently there's a lot of anger within the CBC itself over this stupid, wrongheaded decision. Hockey Day was supposed to be a national day celebrating the grassroots of hockey, with Ron and Don and the rest reporting from these rinks throughout Canada, talking about the impact our Official Sport has on our local communities.

They would also show an NHL tripleheader featuring Canada's NHL teams. But because of the NHL lockout, there is no NHL tripleheader. So the people upstairs decided to simply say sayonara to Hockey Day in Canada. It's outrageous because the fact is that grassroots hockey is as strong as ever, despite the problems with ice time and the cost of equipment and so on. People out there are still playing the game darnit! You don't need to have the National Hockey League around in order to celebrate the sport of hockey in our communities. Surely the CBC could have done SOMETHING to celebrate grassroots hockey, whether it was showing classic games all day or something like that. Then you could come back with Ron and Don in the rinks across Canada, telling stories of local hockey heroes and giving fans across the country an update on the lockout situation. I just think it's wrong for the CBC to declare no Hockey Day in Canada. It implies that we need the NHL around in order to celebrate grassroots hockey. And we don't.

And why should we bother with Hockey Day in Canada if it ever comes back? It looks to me like Hockey Day in Canada is just another cynical attempt to use the grassroots to promote the National Hockey League's tripleheaders. It's just a big ratings stunt for the NHL. It's not really about celebrating the grassroots of hockey at all.

Maybe they think Hockey Day in Canada will turn into a big black eye for the NHL with lots of reports of these souvenir vendors going out of business and the like. The Washington Times reported that Christmas sales of NHL gear were down 85% from the previous Christmas, and that's just the United States. I know that it's a pretty bad situation here, too. Who wants an NHL jersey when there's no hockey? You'd be laughed at for wearing it!

Anyway, boo hoo. Our Official Sport gets another black eye. Why people in this country insist on allowing their hearts to be eaten up by the NHL beats me. This sport is PATHETIC. The people who run hockey have no idea what they're doing, and the players are greedy as heck.

Now, here's an idea for the CBC. Since Hockey Day in Canada is a no go, let's have Movie Day in Canada! A national celebration of our OTHER national pastime- the movies! We could have Ron MacLean go to small-town movie theatres and interview people on movie sets and the like, and show Hollywood movies all day on CBC.

Come to think about it they might as well forget it.

PICTURES

I've finally figured out how to link to images on the Net, woo hoo.

Took me long enough to figure it out.

Jill Arrington

Monday, January 10, 2005

BACHELORETTE IS ON

There's no Monday Night Football on tonight, because the regular season's over. So instead, we get to watch Jennifer Schefft, the adorable Bachelorette, pick her guy. So needless to say, I am not happy. I want my football back!!

The Bachelor/ette is one of the better reality shows out there (which isn't saying much) but boy, as a man, I must say, you need a strong stomach to watch this show. It's so sappy, eh?! The problem with the Bachelorette show is that they always pick some adorable, syrupy Bachelorette who is really some female's idea of what the perfect woman ought to be for these guys. I mean, Jen is adorable. And Trista was adorable too, so she picked as her soul mate the equally sappy animal-loving Ryan! Aaaargh!!

See, this is why a lot of guys can't bear to watch this show. I mean, Jen would be a great catch for someone, but calling her the ultimate woman, the ultimate catch, is a bit of a stretch. What a lot of guys really want is someone who is a little hotter, a little bit more self-confident, and a little bit more adventurous and dangerous. Could you ever imagine Pam Anderson as the Bachelorette, or Angie Everhart, or Jennifer Lopez (pictured wearing hotpants- she is so cute!!), or even Brooke Burke (left)? Guys drool over these women, but you'll never see them on any of these Bachelor shows.


They'd give Julia Roberts a shot before Brooke Burke ever becomes the Bachelorette. They'd also probably even give Jennifer Aniston a shot, since lots of women are obsessed with her. Maybe now that she's back on the market, they'll make HER The Bachelorette.

Come to think of it, would Jennifer Aniston, or Pam Anderson or Angie Everhart or any of them really want any of these boring chumps that they are serving up for this Bachelorette show as potential husband material? These women are known for dating bad boy types, rockers and actors and movie directors and other bigshots. Pam hangs out with hard rockers all the time, and I know that Angie Everhart once dated Howard Stern. Yes, the Howard Stern, the Shock Jock. Now, can you imagine Howard Stern on the Bachelorette? Or better yet, as the Bachelor?! If he were ever on The Bachelor the women would probably all refuse their roses in disgust.

Like I say, you'd see Julia Roberts (!!!) or Jennifer Aniston or Nicole Kidman as the Bachelorette before you'd see any real desirable women on the show, ones that most guys would drool over and kill for. But you know, I could see someone like Penelope Cruz (right) making the cut as a Bachelorette, or the delightful Jennifer Garner. Lots of real guys would drool over them; they are adorable and hot. But again, would Jennifer Garner want any of these guys on the show? No, she'd rather have Ben Affleck.

Another thing is that most of us males just can't relate to any of these pathetic, ahem, "meterosexual" guys on this show, in their suits and stuff. You'd think most guys are into GQ fashions! Yecch! Can't they find some real guys so the rest of us great unwashed can have a hope of bagging a lady like Jen or Trista or whomever? Well, I guess there's no hope for us guys. We should all give up and try out for Average Joe (if it's still on)! See, this is the problem with The Bachelorette show: we can't relate to the bachelors or the bachelorette!

The other problem with this show is that the poor Bachelor/ette finally picks their soul mate, and ultimately they end up breaking up anyway!! So what's the point of it all!? The record of this show in matchmaking is pretty mediocre to say the least. Even Jen broke up with that Andrew Firestone guy before when she was on The Bachelor.

It's hilarious watching these guys fight over Jen. I'm watching it and HOO HOO HOO... some guy fainted on the show!!! The guy dropped to the floor, passed out! And in a future episode there's going to be COPS showing up, and Jen's going to be breaking down in SOBS!

See, this is what I mean when I say you need a STRONG STOMACH to watch. The Bachelorette falls in the so-bad-it's-good category.

MEMOGATE REPORT OUT; CBS CANS 4 PEOPLE



CBS News canned four news employees, including three executives, in the wake of Memogate. The executive producer and the No. 2 at 60 Minutes Wednesday were asked to hand in their resignations, while the producer of the piece was out-and-out fired. They also asked for and accepted the resignation of the VP of prime-time news programming. Not canned was the correspondent of the piece, Dan Rather. The usual Rather-haters and other people are going to say Rather should have been canned over this, it's always the minnows that get it in the end and never the big fish, bla bla blah. (I provided the link to Rathergate which says Rather ought to be fired.) Also not canned was CBS News president Andrew Heyward. But still, a lot of big fish got canned at CBS News today.

This reminds me a little of what happened in the Tailwind scandal at CNN: the two people who produced that bogus Tailwind piece were fired, but the correspondent on the piece (Peter Arnett) was not because all he got to do was recite the words on the piece. Mind you, Arnett's reputation was shredded and he eventually resigned in disgrace, but initially he escaped. Dunno what the future holds for Rather- or for that matter for 60 Minutes Wednesday. They might just decide to cancel the entire show, in which case the minnows really will get hurt in the end.

The report itself slams CBS News for its haste in rushing this story of George W. Bush's National Guard service on the air without properly vetting the piece or authenticating the documents involved in the story.

TVNewser should be having a field day.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

MORE BROADCASTING STUFF AND MY OWN PONDERINGS

Well, I've added the website of Sharon Tay to the growing list of people on the sidebar. Sharon Tay recently quit her job anchoring the morning news on KTLA to go host an entertainment show on MSNBC, a show that will also feature Canadian Claudia Difolco. Claudia used to be at Citytv years ago. Now she's a big star in the USA.

As for my post earlier about Anne-Marie Green and whether she got an agent to land that KYW gig, weeeell--- turns out her agent is Gregg Willinger, as I found out reading Medialine. So yes she has representation, which explains why she could go to the USA. Willinger's own website is pretty impressive, he represents a ton of names in TV news and claims to specialize in representing Canadians looking for jobs in the States. He represents former Citytv anchors Monita Rajpal and Natalie Pujo. But I know of other agencies like Napoli, If Management, N.S. Bienstock, and Kenny Lindner. They have lots of Canadian clients. Sarika Sehgal has an agent, I know that for sure.

I also added a sportscasters' link called Callofthegame.com; it's heavy on moves in play-by-play sports and broadcasting stuff. It mentioned that Rob Faulds is off the Blue Jay games next season on TV. I think it has to do, partly, with the death of John Cerutti. I just don't think they want any memories of that broadcast team to seep into the broadcast: too many sad memories. They also had a story on there about how all the Pittsburgh Penguins' broadcasters are doing and how they are spending the lockout; they aren't happy people.

As for me, broadcasting is where my heart is, and I love doing sports broadcasting, but I think I need to get out of sports. Among other things, it's a complete ghetto and I'm tired of trying to make it in sports TV. I know Eric Smith (of the FAN) was stuck behind the scenes for several years, cutting tape etc, before he finally made it on the air doing the NBA, and I know lots of people at the Score and TSN who had to do their time, spending years in low-paying dead-end production gigs logging tapes and feeds, trying to get on the air. Elliotte Friedman had to work for no pay for a while at the FAN before he got hired. The guy who now does the Hamilton Bulldogs games on radio basically starved for years trying to make it as a play-by-play man in southern Ontario. I know I've had to pay tons of dues, logging tapes and feeds, running tapes to and from the Skydome on game days, doing internships, and commuting back and forth to Mississauga to get live TV anchoring experience. I got to the point of being totally fed up a long time ago.

I probably should have done something else other than sports broadcasting, but sports was the only way I could get in the door in broadcasting and the only way I could get any kind of a foothold anchoring on live television. The reason I need to get out is pretty obvious, eh? Sports in Canada is geared to total coverage of the National Hockey League, and the NHL is destroying itself. When it finally comes back in January of 2006 (!) (?) it will be a shell of its former self.

I'm in a quandary, I am not sure what I should do with my broadcasting career or experience. My gut tells me to do news; that's where my experience would be of the most benefit, and there are more jobs there. But there are problems. Deep ones. I've never done very well at news. I've felt like a glorified factory worker. I find it very hard to work up any enthusiasm for the relentless onslaught of depressing crime stories. Right now it's all weeping relatives of tsunami victims. Who wants to do that? I don't like intruding on people's lives and tragedies. But I guess I'd need to put up with doing tear-jerk journalism until I find something better which I might be better at, like hosting talk shows. Something which would be impossible to get fired from- firings happen a lot in TV news.

The other deep problem with news is my news demo tape, and it's all my fault because I'm lousy at news. It's a montage of standups of me being blown around outside covering strikes and the like. I don't even have a decent anchor read on it. I'll need to go to a consultant to do a news anchor read so I can put it on my freaking tape, then I'll need to put it on Medialine just to have a shot at offers. Finding the consultant to do the trick would not be a problem: there's one in the D.C. area I can go to. It costs a lot, though.

( UPDATE: Some people say I'm being too negative about myself here, re: my news experience. Okay, then, I'm a terrific news reporter and better than half the people on the air, and yes I do have experience covering Teamsters strikes, it's all on tape. So there! Seriously, I really need to give my news tape an Extreme Makeover, my sports demo puts my news demo to shame. But on the positive side, it shouldn't be too hard. All I'd need to do is record a good anchor read and revise a few things, and I'd be able to send a tape out and feel I have a hope. The only thing missing would be me covering a hurricane a la Anderson Cooper.)

At least I know the switch to TV news has been done: I know at least five people I worked with at the Score who ended up leaving for the CBC and one of them became a big TV news anchor. So it's been done. But my conservative friends are going to freak out if they hear me on the CBC doing my stories, assuming they allow me on the air. They hate that place.

Friday, January 07, 2005

IT'S OFFICIAL: VINCE CARTER MAILED IT IN

Vince Carter

Well that bum Vince Carter did a really stupid thing yesterday. He sat down for TNT and admitted to them on TV that he basically didn't give his best effort when he was with the Raptors, and that what went on after 2000 had a lot to do with it.

And today Vince is getting absolutely ripped in the sports media here. All his former fans in Toronto hate him now, calling him a point-shaver and worse. He is really being crucified. When the New Jersey Nets come to Toronto to play in April, Vince is going to really be booed. All I've got to say is good riddance to him. It's no wonder that Toronto never won a championship with Vince if that's really how he feels. That guy will NEVER win a title, mark my words, with his attitude.

By the way, lacrosse season starts tonight, the Toronto Rock are on the road playing. That's it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

WRECKING CREW AT CNN: CROSSFIRE CANCELLED

TVNewser reporting on the changes at CNN now that Tucker Carlson has bid farewell to the audience. Here's what is apparently in store for Crossfire: death. CNN is planning to incorporate Crossfire as a 10-minute segment in its Inside Politics show. And they are rumored to be moving Judy Woodruff and that show to George Washington University and put a studio audience in there, too. Maybe they're going to turn Inside Politics into Crossfire. Who knows. But I think this is bad news.

In a related move they are also planning to chuck Capital Gang. TVNewser is saying there are philosophical reasons behind all these moves: the new Jonathan Klein regime at CNN apparently wants to move into "storytelling" and away from the argument shows that characterize Fox News and MSNBC. They're saying that this is why Tucker Carlson was allowed to leave: he wanted to do another "lively debate" show and CNN wants to get away from that business and let news be the star again. They're killing everyone with their tsunami coverage so that may factor into their thinking. But still, they seem to be going over the score in trashing the "lively debate" on CNN. I mean, you need these kinds of shows to liven up CNN when the news is over. You can't program a network with 24 hours a day of live coverage of death and gore. That would be too depressing.

So yet another good CNN show gets the boot, and I say, watch out Larry King. You're next; you and all those tabloid-artist guests from all these trials you cover.

BIG NHL GOVERNOR'S MEETING SCRAPPED

Well, the NHL board of governor's meeting-- that big one on the 14th that was supposedly supposed to set a drop dead date and the rest of it-- has been cancelled.

Reason it was scrapped: well, there's no news and nothing happening. Consensus out there is that the NHL owners seem to want the players to come back with a new proposal. But there ain't any new proposals and nothing happening, so no reason for these owners to meet. Meanwhile, Business Week came out with another article trashing the NHL management and trashing Gary Bettman, and who can blame them? The article ranks Bettman fifth on its list of the seven worst managers. They claim, rightly, that this current bunch that heads the NHL has run this league into the ground, especially after they made that disasterous recent TV deal with NBC. So Business Week just gave the players another hand grenade to throw at Bettman.

You know, I'm almost ready to GIVE UP on the NHL, this season looks like it's OVER. What a bunch of clowns! What bozos! That Business Week article is the kiss of death in my judgement. This gives the union all kinds of ammo and further reason to hang tough. A lot of people have been holding out hope that the players would capitulate and rise up and fire Bob Goodenow, but I don't think it's happening. In fact, I think all those rumors of capitulation are all getting their start in the corridors of the NHL offices in Manhattan. It's also wishful thinking as far as I'm concerned. I don't see any of the players rising up to get rid of Goodenow. I think it's all hot air. This ain't going to happen folks, and that is why I think the NHL cancelled the meeting, because they know the players are hanging tough behind Goodenow, and the owners themselves are hanging tough, and nothing is happening.

The other thing is that these people in the media keep on saying and thinking "the fans will come back!" But I don't know if I want to come back. In fact I'm pretty down on professional sports, not just because of the NHL. The whole Vince Carter crybaby trade demand fiasco really turned off a lot of fans, and it seems like all the baseball players are on steroids. It's pretty hard to get into following ANY of these guys! About the only sport worth following these days is football, but Canada doesn't have any NFL teams. So to be honest with you I'm watching more movies and TV and following the entertainment scene. I'm even starting to join the rest of North America in watching CSI on TV! And I'm now totally riveted to watching late-night comedians on TV. I wonder if that's the case now with a lot of fans. Let's face it, we've seen all these classic games a million times before on the highlight reel. At some point you can't be held captive by an entire sport, you have to move on with your life. But these NHL guys seem to think all of the NHL's fans are a captive audience. Well, I can tell you I'm not. I'm planning to swear off NHL hockey if they scrap the season.

What's clear now is that we're going to have to put up with this "no hockey" situation through the entire month of January. And these bozos don't even have the guts to set a "drop-dead" date! Gary Bettman doesn't have the GUTS to set a date to get a deal done to save the season! Gang, get on with setting a drop-dead date, then maybe that will spur people to start talking, and even if it doesn't, at least we'll all be put out of our misery!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

NEWS FROM THE LAND OF TV: TUCKER CARLSON BOLTS AND OTHER HAPPENINGS

TVNewser has broken the story that Tucker Carlson has officially bolted CNN. His contract has expired and CNN could not or would not offer him his own show. So it's sayonara, CNN. Carlson is expected to get his own show on MSNBC.

In other news CNN is reportedly (TVNewser again) on the verge of dropping Crossfire. Say what?!! Why the heck does CNN insist on getting rid of its good shows? Maybe CNN wants to get rid of their own viewers and send them over to Fox News. I say KEEP Crossfire, but get rid of James Carville and Paul Begala, and gas the studio audience while you're at it! Bring Buchanan and Press back! But don't cancel the whole freaking show! Man, what are those people at CNN going to try and do next: boot out Larry King?

CRAIG FERGUSON DEBUTS

This is the first week for Craig Ferguson at the Late Late Show and I think it's too early to tell how he's doing. I watched the first show and to be honest I really didn't get into it, thought it was a bit dull. But I didn't get into Conan O'Brien's first show, either, or for that matter, Craig Kilborn's. I guess my reaction was of the "OK, good, this won't bomb like Chevy Chase" variety, but I wasn't blown away. I think it's too soon to draw any conclusions. Apparently the folks at CBS and people like Dave Letterman are really high on this Scottish guy Ferguson. He looks like he's got a lot of talent. But hosting a late night talk show is a really different kettle of fish. I mean, look at Dennis Miller, he had a late night talk show and he couldn't even make it work.

Some first shows are enough to render a verdict right away: I remember when I watched the first Tonight Show with Jay Leno as the host, and this was the week after the emotional farewell to Johnny Carson---- actually, weeks and weeks of emotional farewells. So on comes Jay with his boring assortment of standard Hollywood hotshot guests, Billy Crystal and the like, trying to hawk their latest movies , and I thought to myself, "man, this show is an INSULT to NBC!" The soul of the Carson Tonight show was down the drain: Carnac, "stump the band!" and all those animals they used to bring in to the show, all consigned to the history books. The Tonight Show was turned from something special into a show like the rest of them. Admittedly, that was the reason why it survived under Leno, but I defected right then and there on the opening night of the new era. My reason for tuning in was up in smoke.

As it turned out, my instincts were correct. Leno's show initially WAS garbage: in fact, there was all kinds of behind the scenes turmoil involving Leno's maniacal manager that I won't get into. You can read about it in Bill Carter's book The Late Shift, about all the behind the scenes stuff that went on. Eventually, the manager got the boot and the show eventually improved, but it was too late to get me back as a viewer. So sometimes you can tell whether or not a show is rubbish on the opening night. I say the verdict is still out on Craig Ferguson. I dunno whether middle America will accept that Scottish accent of his, and his show is a work in progress, but he IS funny. At least this show has a HOST now, it was getting embarrassing for a while.

DYNASTY TRIBUTE MOVIE AIRED THIS WEEK

I should mention I saw that Dynasty movie this week, the one where they did the behind the scenes look at the rise and fall of that show. You know, looking back on that show, it's incredible that this show became such a hit. No wonder it was called a "guilty pleasure": it was really ridiculous television with the catfights, and babies getting kidnapped all the time, and the Moldavians coming in to kill the entire cast etc. I admit it, I was one of the millions sucked into watching that show, and I eventually was one of the millions who eventually turned on the show and said "this is unwatchable! What garbage!"

Now I look back on it and I'm embarrassed that I even tuned into one episode. Really, this show was really, really bad, but we were sucked in to the show so we had to keep watching, even though it was a ridiculous show. Keep in mind those were the early days of cable TV, no TSN or MuchMusic, even. If there were decent alternatives on the tube, there's no way I would have watched that ridiculous, embarrassing show.

In the movie they had scenes featuring this blue-collar family from middle America tuning into Dynasty and getting their reactions, and it was after the infamous Moldavian Massacre that this middle American family totally bolted and declared "this show sucks!" (The Moldavian Massacre was the show where the entire cast was shot by Moldavians. The next season, the whole cast re-emerged mostly alive and well.) They said in the movie that the people who did Dynasty lost respect for their audience, and that's exactly what happened. I think they took their audience for granted, and thought they would be gullible enough to put up with any crappy storyline they came up with. Anyway, it was fun watching the movie and it awfully satisfying when it got to the scene when the show was cancelled, because you were pulling for this show to be pulled.

Finally, WHO'S YOUR DADDY tanked in its time slot on Monday. Next Tuesday Richard Branson picks his CEO, finally on the Rebel Billionaire (yawn). And The Apprentice 3 comes back on the 20th.

That's my TV rant for this week.