Sunday, July 31, 2005

NOT ALL THE MOVIES ARE FLOPS

This is a long weekend here in Toronto so I imagine a lot of people in dire need of something to do may want to pay a visit to the movie theatre. Don't worry, the lineups won't be too big. It should be easy to get a good seat, and the wait to buy popcorn and Raisonettes isn't long, either.

I've been ranting about this being the Year of the Flop, but there are a couple of hits trading places at the top of the box office these days, both of which have been getting good reviews.

The Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson Wedding Crashers is at the top of the box office, raking in $20 million dollars this weekend. This movie was a laugh riot when I went to see it. Everyone came out of there thinking that movie was hilarious. I imagine word of mouth has been dynamite, explaining why it's in first place now after three weeks in theatres. See, this is what happens when you have an original idea that breaks all the rules and is funny: you get a hit. (And with an R rating, too. A lot of movie executives are scared of the R rating, because they worry that teenagers won't be able to go to the theatres. )

Wedding Crashers nosed out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Tim Burton version of the early-70s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which had been No.1 for two weeks and has taken in $148 million dollars. Yeah, another not-so-original idea. But it is a hit, one of the few.

But the movies that debuted this weekend, like Sky High, Stealth (another action movie) and Must Like Dogs (another chick flick with proven superstar, Diane Lane), all did lousy business. I noticed the Bad News Bears are sinking fast. And Michael Bay's enormous flop The Island, which took in 12.4 mil in its opening weekend, took in something like $5 million this week, a total embarrassment in addition to being a debacle. I wouldn't be surprised if they pull that movie right out of the theatres pretty soon. I read that it cost something like $124 million just to make that movie. Well, that movie is definitely not going to make its money back. This puts it in Heaven's Gate and Ishtar territory as far as expensive flops are concerned. Some studio head is going to be fired for this. Heads are gonna roll.

And the movie theatres are back to being in a slump again. They were doing good business for just a few weeks thanks to the Fantastic Four, that article in Zap2It says. But thanks to The Island and these other non-hits, it's officially back to the usual empty seats in the movie houses, as usual, in The Year Of The Flop.

Friday, July 29, 2005

NHL DRAFT LINKS

Live coverage of the NHL Draft can be found here:

NHL.com
TSN
Sportsnet
Fan590 Toronto

And I'm sure a few other places. Draft starts 12PM EST.
Sidney Crosby to the Pens #1, no question.

IN A FOOTBALL MOOD


Everyone is going nuts on TV and radio about the NHL Draft tomorrow, and I'll definitely tune it, but frankly I'm in a football mood. Maybe it's because I've been reading Drew Rosenhaus' book on the sports agent business lately and have basically been missing the NFL, and also college football. During the football season I'd turn on the radio and listen to these college games from the deep South on these 50,000 watt radio stations, from places like Tennessee, and Louisiana, and the Carolinas. I can't wait for them to get back to playing for real.

For now, I'll have to be content to follow the CFL. Tonight the team I root for, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, are going to be in action again against Ottawa. Hopefully they will win.

I am a huge, mad football fan and the reason why has a lot to do with geography. I grew up in Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan is football country. It's also hockey country, but one of the reasons football is so big in western Canada is because for so many years the football teams were the only big pro sports teams there. Westerners did not have the NHL to go to, but they did have the CFL. So as a result football was a big deal and that's why in places like Calgary and Edmonton and Winnipeg you have such enthusiasm for CFL football.

In Ontario I've found it a lot different. Fans here in Ontario are blase about the CFL and about football. It's so obvious in Toronto that hockey is the number one sport; or check that, the LEAFS are the number one sport. When hockey season ends, everyone is miserable because it's not hockey season. You get the impression that people here think all the other sports are somehow second-rate. You don't find this attitude out West at all. People there love football and look forward to football season, because they think it's a great sport in its own right. Not like it's a summer "replacement" to the NHL or something like that.

The other thing that is a factor here is the proximity to the NFL in Buffalo. The cool thing for Torontonians to do if they want to see a football game is to hop on the bus to ride off to Orchard Park to watch the Bills. Vancouver has a similar problem with people hopping on buses to take in the Seahawks, but there's still more CFL fans there. I'd say there are tons of NFL fans in Toronto and fewer CFL fans, but the CFL fans here are loud and vocal about how much they love the CFL. They scream about how much better the CFL is and how it's more wide-open and so on and so forth.

Me, I'm just don't care about debating the merits of the CFL versus the NFL. For me I just care about watching football. If it's on I'll watch it, doesn't matter whether it's CFL or NFL. I've gone to countless CFL games all over Canada and will watch the games on TV, and on the radio. The way I look at the CFL is this: it may not be the NFL, but it's still big-time football. It's Canada's major football league. Living in Saskatchewan and following the 'Riders is similar to living in Nebraska or Iowa or somewhere like that, and following the big college teams there. Those aren't NFL areas, either, but you can't tell me the Iowa Hawkeyes aren't a big deal in Iowa. I think life in Iowa or Nebraska or Oklahoma is pretty similar to life in Saskatchewan, because all that people care about is football. (As for life in Texas, well, see Alberta.)

So that's my stance on football. I think I'm going to have to take in a game live, again. And I can't wait for college football to come back, and especially for the NFL season to get started again so I can watch the games on Sunday afternoons.

Watching NASCAR races on Sundays is great, but I want to see more football again.
(UPDATE: Added a picture of a hot Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. I think she's cute! )

Thursday, July 28, 2005

THE VERDICT IS IN ON "THE LAW FIRM": GUILTY


WHAT A SLEAZE FIRM THE LAW FIRM IS

Well, it didn't turn out to be such a great show after all. Wow, I couldn't believe how stale this show looked. I was shocked. Roy Black just looked stiff as heck, and I'm surprised because he should be used to appearing on TV by now.

And in total-cliche fashion, this "law firm" was totally dysfunctional, as you'd expect to happen with a reality TV law firm. So what else is new. That took the life right out of the show for me. What attraction is there to working for this "law firm" filled with this argumentative group of dimbulbs? You're better off quitting and putting your big mug on billboards and TV ads and the rest of it, and getting away from all these people looking over your shoulder. This series makes a great case for solo practise. Aren't you fed up yet of seeing dysfunctional people on reality shows? Who'd want to work with these people!

So right away there's a big conceptual problem with the show. This "law firm" needed to be a place these lawyers would want to be at: a place filled with excellent mentors and interesting cases. Instead, this firm comes off as some lousy ambulance-law sleaze firm with riff-raff for clients. Who needs it. If you read the Greedy Associates forums, their idea of a good firm is some Wall Street Biglaw powerhouse that does securities law and big deals. And the Greedy criminal lawyers might dream of working for the Justice Department or the Manhattan D.A.'s office or somewhere like that. They'd laugh at you if you suggested to them that they work for a place like this one on this show. Even if the boss was Roy Black!

At least on Trump's show there was the attraction of getting to be part of the Trump empire if you won. You could hang with the Donald and meet celebrities, and be exposed to people who had lots of money, and at the end of the day you'd end up with a pretty good job where you get to learn something. But who wants to work for a firm that has you fighting cases involving three-legged dogs? This was a really stupid case with embarrassing witnesses. Even lawyers who like being in court all the time must think it was a joke.

I didn't expect reality from this show and certainly didn't get it watching. No law firm operates like this one did. The people fired tonight would have saved their jobs in any of these other firms if they had worked insane hard and brought in business. But I guess they didn't want to show lawyers rainmaking or billing a lot of hours.

Some of these lawyers were LAME. I couldn't believe how bad they were. I know law students who were better prepared and faster on their feet in court than this bunch. These folks looked like they were arguing cases in Moot Court for the very first time. Where did they get some of these attorneys? They had to have been rounded up off the street!

And Roy Black? All I will say is: this guy is no Donald Trump. Donald Trump's boardrooms can be something to behold at times, and quite frankly, Trump needs to get back to having exciting boardrooms again on The Apprentice. And Black fired two members of winning teams, so what point is there to winning a case if you're going to be fired!? Roy Black's boardrooms are just a boring waste of time. Black's lame "the verdict is in... you're out" tagline was just plain hokey. I know he's trying to come up with something different from the famous Trump line "you're fired!" Here's a suggestion for a tag line: "I quit!" Because that's what most lawyers would have said about working for this dump on TV.

As I say, if I were at a real law firm that was like this one I'd quit. The cases are a laugh, and the slightest mistake can get you reamed out and fired, so it's a miserable place to work. And by lawyer standards the money isn't even that good: only $250,000 if you're the last one standing? And your colleagues there not only are backstabbers; clearly, they're also goofballs, so being at the firm does nothing for your general reputation in the profession or with clients. To top it all off, this firm is clearly, in plain view of the TV cameras, representing clients on both sides of the litigation (hee hee). If this was an actual law firm the State Bar would throw the book at all of them! This place is a HOLE.

And that in a nutshell is the problem with the show. This is the worst law firm on the planet and the TV executives didn't even notice. Case closed.

Mind you, there are lots of law firms out there that are as crappy as this one is, in real life. And these trials, lame as they are, mirror what you actually see in court: not very glamorous witnesses or cases. The show's realistic in this sense: you see the idiots these lawyers have to deal with and the garbage they put up with on a regular basis from witnesses, judges and colleagues. No wonder rates of clinical depression are so high in the legal field. No wonder so many attorneys turn to alcohol, or quit in desperation to go into TV news like so many of the anchors and reporters at Court TV.

Nice try, David E. Kelley. Noticed you quit the legal field for TV, too.

UPDATE: Noticed this show is also running now at 8PM on CTV on Thursdays.

Ain't It Cool News actually likes this show, thought it was better than The Apprentice (can't agree there), but the review also links to the range of opinion from the NY Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter et. al., whose general lack of enthusiasm pretty much mirrors my own reaction to the show. Also noticed a lot of the viewers writing their own reactions to the Ain't It Cool review and they all thought the show sucked, and their reaction pretty much was similar to my own and many of them are, like me, voicing their total disgust with reality TV. About the only thing missing were my "sleaze firm" comments, but their opinions mirrored mine to the letter.

The people commenting on the show were comparing the cases to what you'd get on Judge Judy. Actually, not much of a stretch when you think of it. Those cases we saw on The Law Firm were all Small Claims matters for under $5000 so yes, they're exactly the types of cases Judge Judy would hear. So when you think of it, these cases REALLY weren't that great after all.

VERY UNUSUAL NHL DRAFT THIS WEEKEND

SCALED-DOWN DRAFT

As everyone knows by now the NHL Draft will be held beginning at 12 noon on Saturday in a hotel ballroom in Ottawa.

It's bizarre simply because they aren't holding it in a huge arena like they usually do. But you know, a lot of these drafts are held in conference halls and the like. The NFL and NBA don't hold their drafts in big arenas, as far as I can tell. The NBA Draft is only a couple of rounds long anyway, and takes place at midweek in a big conference room. And the NFL Draft takes place in New York every year in some big conference hall or hotel or somewhere like that. I think what we're going to see this weekend is something similar to what the NFL already does. A lot of aspiring NFL players and NFL agents don't even go up to the draft in New York. Instead they listen in by conference call to the proceedings with their agents at home. Only the really big college hotshots go up to New York to put on their NFL jerseys. That's what I expect to see from the NHL this year, so I expect it will still look like a real draft. Even though it's a scaled-down effort (only seven rounds) it should still be a huge weekend for the general managers and agents, and of course the players selected.

The story right now is that the Anaheim Mighty Ducks may not hold onto the number two pick. That team already has a ton of young talent and they wouldn't mind trading their pick for some good veteran talent. So look out for some interesting action.

HNIC SIGNS HUGHSON

Did you hear that Hockey Night in Canada made a deal of their own? They have signed Jim Hughson to do play-by-play for them and I expect he will be doing the West Coast games, especially ones involving his team the Canucks.

BOB GOODENOW RESIGNS

Ted Saskin will replace him as general counsel at the NHLPA. Story from TSN.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

THE FLOPS JUST KEEP ON COMING

Well, The Year of the Flop continues in Hollywood. Someone should write a book about this. This is getting truly ridiculous, the number of flops Hollywood has churned out this year. I was watching Radio-Canada tonight and they had yet another story about it, with these French-speaking filmgoers telling reporters they'd rather stay at home and watch DVDs than pay to watch the garbage at the theatres.

The problems are so obvious to me: there's nothing fresh at the theatres. We're seeing the same old cookie-cutter formulas and same old remakes, with the same old actors sleepwalking through their parts. The final nail in the coffin for Hollywood this year, though, is that even the reliable big name directors including Steven Spielberg are unexpectedly serving up the least memorable films of their careers. It's as if everybody in Hollywood chose 2005 as the year to mail it in.

The latest bomb is The Island from famed director Michael Bay, about a bunch of clones on an island. Bay has directed some of the biggest blockbusters from Hollywood, stuff like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. His movies have made huge fortunes and the National Post speculated that the studio was gambling that people would rush to see The Island, just because it was a "Michael Bay" movie. If anyone could have turned the situation in Hollywood around it was him. Fat hope that was.

The Island finished fourth in its opening weekend behind a couple of movies that have been out for a couple of weeks already, and a sad Bay calls it a debacle. It made something like 14 million dollars or something last weekend and probably won't make its money back. It's the biggest flop of Bay's career, truly his 1941. (I don't think I have to explain 1941, you can find out for yourself.) So much for his ability to pack them into the theatres, his big winning streak is over. The Year of the Flop eats Michael Bay for dinner along with everyone else. The losing continues.

The Bad News Bears, yet another retread, also opened to a bunch of yawns, I hear, so this whole summer is a washout. At least Steven Spielberg got his money back for War of the Worlds, thanks to the European audiences. But the North American audiences were a big help.

I guess it's all up to The Dukes of Hazzard to save Hollywood now, and all I will say about that is good luck counting on these idiots the Dukes to bail the movie industry out. The fact that Burt Reynolds is in the movie tells you all you need to know about its prospects. Already you have former cast members from the TV series trashing the movie, religious nuts are trashing Jessica Simpson, and I've seen critics, who haven't even seen it yet, call the film trash. They'll probably get good business for the first weekend but after that I'm sure it will be business as usual. The year is already a washout and the sad people running the theatres are all going to have to wait for King Kong to bail them out.

The Dukes are going to be in Toronto by the way, this weekend. The actors, Jessica Simpson and everyone, will be at the ChumCity building on Queen and John to be on TV this weekend. and they're having a big event there. So look forward to seeing these big actors in town.

BIG PROBLEMS FOR THE SHUTTLE

I had a really bad feeling about this latest Shuttle Discovery mission- in fact I think a lot of people did. There was big coverage of the Shuttle launch and I think there was heightened interest for one reason only: morbid curiosity. Everyone remembers what happened last time.

Now some foam has been spotted falling off the Shuttle during liftoff and well, that's enough to ground the whole fleet. A similar problem caused the Shuttle Columbia disaster apparently, though this latest problem is not as severe and they expect the rest of the mission to proceed with no further problems. But still, this is a big setback for the space program. No more Shuttles into space now until they figure out their next move.

The situation is serious enough that there's concern these astronauts may have to head off for an extended hotel stay eating crummy space food at the International Space Station- until NASA sends them a cab ride home. At least it beats dying. Space travel- ain't it great.

Sadly I think the time has come for the people at NASA to rethink this whole Shuttle program. The program is important and a lot of important scientific work gets done, but they are going to have to try to figure out some safer way to go back and forth into space.

ANOTHER VETERAN OF TV NEWS RETIRES

This time it's the CBC's David Halton.

This web site needs to meet its Canadian content requirements, you know.

NHL TO COMCAST?

As many of you know the NHL is looking for a new cable television deal in the United States after getting kicked off of ESPN. ESPN didn't want to spend $60 million a year in rights fees so they said get lost to the NHL.

The main contenders for a new cable television deal in the United States appear to be Spike and Comcast. Those would be the two likeliest possibilities at this point. Spike TV already has the rights to the WWE and other extreme sports, but more importantly it has national distribution, so NHL games would be assured of being seen everywhere (unlike back in the dark ages when Sportschannel America was the rightsholder to NHL games). Spike TV is also available in Canada and so there might be a possibility we could see those games up here (depending on TSN's reaction; they might try and block it from happening, but the NHL ultimately would have the final say here).

Comcast already runs a number of regional sports networks in the United States and have carried NHL games locally in places like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., but they have big plans for a national network. What they are looking at doing is possibly starting up a new sports network to rival ESPN. ESPN is also a possibility but they are not going to ante up the $60 million that they agreed to before.

Here's an article on what Comcast is hoping to do. They are looking at killing OLN (the American version, anyway) and replacing it with a new all-sports channel. Key to the deal would be coverage of the NHL and possibly a deal for National Football League games. The NFL is looking at a cable partner for Thursday and Saturday games beginning in 2006. If they get the NFL distribution of the channel would basically be assured. The coverage of the Tour de France, which was OLN's highest rated show, would continue to be a cornerstone of the network.

I dunno about you but it sounds a little risky. Then again there seeems to be an insatiable appetite for sports in the US. Just this year ESPN launched a new all-collegiate sports network in addition to their original two networks and ESPN News. There's also the Golf Network, Speed Channel, the NFL Network, NBA TV, and the regional sports networks Comcast, Fox Sports Net and MSG, plus several more. And don't forget TNT and TBS, two mainstream channels that have heavy sports coverage, plus all the regular networks and local stations. The competition is fierce down there.

I don't know whether it would work, putting NHL games on Comcast, but the NHL needs a TV deal in the United States. Fast.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ANOTHER CANCER SURVIVOR

It's amazing what you learn every day.

I stumbled upon another blog from one of the people I met in politics. This person worked on John Tory's leadership campaign last year, and had a pretty important job doing tour for the campaign. I remember we put up posters in that park in downtown Toronto where they were holding a meet-and-greet barbeque with the candidate, and it was all very successful. The campaign sold a bunch of memberships that day, and our man wound up winning the leadership.

Well, I didn't know this but she had gone through a cancer battle. Wow, you could have fooled me, she looked just fine to me. She didn't look like she'd fought for her life. She must have had great doctors who caught this thing just in time. Now she's decided to write about it on her blog site. Good for her, and I hope she is able to inspire people with her story.

It makes me and my own troubles took puny by comparison. I've had some pretty devastating experiences happen to me in my life, the kind of stuff that would flatten lots of people. But nothing like getting cancer. Wow. If you can overcome that, well, there's nothing you can't overcome. (I also have a sister-in-law who had cancer and beat it, plus other relatives who've been fighting this disease.)

Jen should get some of her Tory friends to quit smoking. That's priority number one.

WASHED-UP TV NEWS REPORTERS

Seems like a lot of news reporters these days are leaving their jobs (ie. Ben Chin going into politics) and getting new gigs.

Read a number of reports that Dan Rather's days at CBS could be numbered- a lot of speculation that people are waiting for him to leave and that he has little to do. They keep speculating he's going to end up at CNN but who knows right now. All we know is that it sounds like he's being treated like a leper in a non-leper colony over at CBS.

Also read on TVNewser that Wilf Dinnick is leaving Global TV and is going to be ABC News Jerusalem correspondent, one of the better gigs in the business. I met Wilf during my news internship at CTV. I spent a day at YTV News and saw Wilf put one of his stories together in the edit suite. As I say, only a matter of time before I meet Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather or any of the other bigshots of the news business.

The other really big story last week was that Bill Hemmer signed with Fox News in what has to be embarrassing news for CNN. CNN basically was going to demote him, but now Hemmer has turned around and defected to the arch-rivals for a yearly salary of reportedly, as Dr. Evil would say, one MILLION DOLLARS. That does it. I've got to get back into TV news, no more sports for me. I want to be a millionaire.

In other news, an interesting signing... I read this at TVBarn. Seems that unpopular TV journalist Ashleigh Banfield (or, as the CBC would say, Canadian TV journalist Ashleigh Banfield) has officially joined Court TV and will be filling in on daytime programs including Catherine Crier Live.

I say she's supposedly "unpopular" because if you regularly look at the boards over at the TVSpy vault, a lot of these news people have nothing good to say about her from her MSNBC days. Don't know why that is, I didn't think she was so bad. But a lot of these folks are convinced that she's some sort of tabloid artist. Anyway, she won't shake that reputation much at Court TV, covering all these criminals. Didn't that channel also hire Andrea Thompson, the ex-actress from NYPD Blue who wanted to switch to TV news? Boy did she ever wash out quickly at CNN. That's someone else who's really hated by all these no-lives types in the news business, just for being an actress.

Monday, July 25, 2005

SUPER AGENT

Well, I am watching Super Agent right now on Toronto 1. The show actually originates on Spike TV. It takes all these NFL agents and follows them as they try to impress and sign this NFL prospect, Shaun Cody. And I must say it's looking pretty interesting. These agents all bring a lot of different skills to the table and you get to learn a lot about what goes into being an agent. You learn what these clients are looking for. It's really interesting, not the usual backstabbing or any of that. These aren't wannabe actors here. The guy's looking for an agent for goodness sake, and these are real agents. And all they want to do is win the big client. They don't want to make it in Hollywood, they couldn't care less. Interesting show.

Football agents seem to be a big deal in the USA- as I say, in Canada the way to go is to become a hockey agent because it seems nobody cares about any other sports. It's too bad, because there are a lot of aspiring agents in this country who would love to get involved with football and the National Football League. For one thing, the football agents get to look for clients at all these NCAA universities, and college football is a huge, huge deal down there. The other thing is there are more opportunities than ever before for football players to turn pro. In addition to the NFL and the CFL, there's the NFL Europe League and the Arena Football League-- both of them ( there's also Arena 2.) So I think there's a lot of opportunity out there for football players and their agents.

As for hockey agents, they're a big deal in Canada, no question, but the jobs situation seems to be getting worse for hockey players, not better. That's the problem. On the flip side you can travel to Russia and other exotic locales and there are still a lot of jobs out there in the minor leagues and in Europe.

I'm still on the lookout for interesting reality shows that aren't complete jokes and I think this is one of them.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

DAVID E. KELLEY TRIES TO GET REAL WITH "THE LAW FIRM"

As you may have noticed I have upped the legal content on this site, in part because I've made a conscious decision to get more involved with law again, though I still am not sure whether I want to try it again on a full time basis myself. At the very least, though, I've decided to write more about it.

David E. Kelley is back in the news again with a new show called The Law Firm. It's a reality show that pits teams of lawyers against each other and frankly, it kind of looks similar to The Apprentice. In fact The Apprentice and The Law Firm have one thing in common: they both had plenty of lawyers on as contestants. Interesting.

These two teams will be trying cases against one another and will be working like mad to prepare each case. The "firm" is led by managing partner Roy Black, who many of you know is one of the most prominent criminal lawyers in the United States. He's best known for working on sex cases: he got William Kennedy Smith acquitted of rape charges. He was not as successful with Marv Albert, accepting a plea deal that saw Albert plead guilty to assault in that sodomy trial. He'll be the one doing the Donald Trump routine and I expect he'll be firing members of the losing trial team every week. So conceptually it actually sounds promising and with David E. Kelley in charge it may actually stand a chance. And people love courtroom shows at the moment.

The thing is that David E. Kelley is supposed to not like reality shows. He was all upset years ago because FOX scheduled "Joe Millionaire" against The Practice on Monday nights and literally destroyed that show. So he called it "crap" and went on a rampage against reality TV. He was right then and right now, but yet he's turned around and is doing a reality show. Maybe he thinks he can do a better job. Heck, anyone can do a better job than most of these clods producing reality TV these days. I heard a few months ago that Kelley was working on a legal-type show, and there were actually a few ideas being tossed around as to how to actually do it. There was one show that was supposed to be on NBC that was thinking of doing the "street-smarts"-"book smarts" thing, but that concept eventually ended up on The Apprentice 3. This new show won't be doing that so maybe they scrapped the idea or brought in different producers.

Anyway, who knows. Maybe with David E. Kelley in charge the show might actually stand a chance of being a quality production. Certainly the promos look promising. It looks like it's going to be better than The Princes of Malibu, or that hideous Average Joe show. I hope so.

What worries me is that these trials may not be fair ones. A lot of the time these trials are decided based on precedents, so you may end up having to fight a bleeping losing case that you know for darned sure is a bleeping losing case, whether you want to or not. If you're stuck trying to defend against a spilled-coffee lawsuit, for example, or defending some tobacco company in a liability case, good luck. You'll need it. I sure hope these contestants get a choice whether or not they get to accept any of these cases that might end up sinking their careers on national television. Lawyers in real life make those types of decisions all the time, whether to accept cases or not, and if it looks like a loser they'll say so and demand their money up front. That's asuming they even accept the case.

The other thing I noticed was that a lot of these 12 contestants were trial lawyers in real life- most of them criminal lawyers, in fact. Some were PI lawyers and some did other types of litigation, and a couple did entertainment law. Now, this is not the normal composition of the legal profession, folks. The legal profession is not filled to the gills with criminal/PI/trial lawyers. In fact, criminal law and PI experience is something a lot of law firms look down on; it's seen as sleazy, especially PI work. So most of these contestants come from the two sleaziest wings of the legal profession in the eyes of most law firms.

Most firms would rather would have people who can do bank law and really bring in the business. Winning or losing cases doesn't matter. In fact, I am sure there are partners in these corporate law firms who've never tried a case, much less won them. I know lots of lawyers who were fired by law firms even though they had winning records in court all the time. Doesn't matter; it usually comes down to office politics. I read Rikki Klieman's book and she says that she was humiliatingly voted down for partnership at the Boston white-shoe law firm she was working at because the people there didn't want her doing criminal law. They didn't want her criminal-element clients sitting in the same lobby as these bankers, or something. It didn't matter that she was winning all these cases and getting all this recognition as one of the top criminal lawyers in the United States. Same thing with prosecutors. Prosecutors win in court pretty much all the time; heck, they're usually up against people who are guilty all the time. But if your boss, the D.A., is defeated in the election, you end up fired. That's what happened to Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom. She lost her prosecuting job in San Francisco because her boss was defeated, and had to move to L.A. (Eventually, she was re-hired.) I believe Nancy Grace also lost her job in some similar circumstance ( resigned before she was fired ) and that's how she ended up on TV. So it really doesn't matter at any of these places whether they won all these cases or not. It matters to the clients, though, but I guess the clients don't count in the real world with real law firms.

This show may give people the impression that the way to make it in a law firm is to win a lot of cases or be a criminal lawyer. It's not true and sadly that's kind of too bad, because it would be a much more meritocratic profession if firms operated that way.

But the part about people being fired every week is true. Okay, I'm half-kidding, but people do get fired a lot for nonsensical reasons.

So to be honest I am not expecting to see a lot of reality from this reality show. I just hope it's good entertainment. David E. Kelley may have a legal background (he worked in a Boston law firm before getting into the TV show business) but the thing that you notice about all of his shows is that there is not a lot of reality to them- they are sort of outsized versions of what legal life is like. In fact, that's why a lot of lawyers like his shows: because they sort of represent what they wish law practise really was, but isn't. Frankly, a lot of lawyers wish they were part of cool law firms like the ones in The Practice or Boston Legal, and lots of women wish they could appear in court all the time all fashionable in those short skirts like Ally McBeal. In the real world, though, Ally would be stuck in a dungeon office doing paperwork, and wouldn't be caught dead wearing those fashions. Most real lawyers want out of this crummy profession, because it's not like it's portrayed on TV. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if some of these contestants on this show are hoping it will be a big hit so they can become famous, then they can get out of their boring high-stress law jobs and into show business. So I expect some of these people to get into catfights and do the Omarosa thing, just to make the most of their 15 minutes of fame.

Not likely that we're going to see these lawyers churning out billable hours on this reality show. Too boring.

UPDATE- Here's another article on the show, which airs Thursdays at 9 EST on NBC, and you know, reading this article, this show sounds very promising: apparently it won't all be about winning or losing every case and Roy Black is not going to go for any contestants sticking around based on theatrics or whether they look good on TV. Producers won't be whispering in his ear about who to get rid of. That's good. There may be hope for reality TV yet.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

REALITY BITES

I've about had it with reality TV.

I know it is the summer and that the summer is traditionally the time when the networks roll out all the reality TV, because nobody watches TV in summertime and all that. So they feel they have to program reruns or cheap junk to get an audience. We all know that. But man, the stuff on TV these days is garbage. And I can't take any more of this reality TV.

For instance, we have The Princes of Malibu, probably the worst show ever shown on TV in my book. It ranks right down there with any of the complete travesties Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and Geraldo have ever been associated with. You had this record mogul getting in to nonsensical arguments with his stepkids who he threatened to cut off, so he made them go get real jobs and stuff. Except that instead of being happy that these losers got jobs it would be another excuse for the dad to get mad at them again. It was so obvious that this show was staged and that everyone on the show was an idiot. Now I hear that the mom and record producer have split up! They're getting a divorce, and the show has been CANCELLED by FOX afrter only two shows. Good. The Princes of Malibu was a FRAUD.

Another show that has me riled up is I Want to Be a Hilton. I saw that show and all I will say is that it's a boring ripoff of a ripoff. I don't know which one, but I swear I've seen this crap somewhere before. Kathy Hilton has no talent whatever. It looks like this show is a flop anyway, but really, I have had enough of these phony reality TV "stars". They all have no talent and are a waste of TV space, and I'm convinced they're being foisted on a public that doesn't want to see them, period. I don't want to see the Hiltons, or Rob and Amber, or Trista from the Bachelor/ette, or Omarosa, or Richard Hatch, or Elizabeth Hasselback or any of these other losers on my TV screen ever again. Their 15 minutes ended a long time ago. I read somewhere that Ereka from The Apprentice was ashcanned by the Tony Danza Show - that's progress.

Another thing we are seeing now are more stupid dance shows. ABC had a big hit with Dancing with the Stars, even though I have no idea why. When I tuned in to it I quickly came to the conclusion that the show was a boring waste of time, with amateurish celebrity ballroom dancers with two left feet all getting yelled at by pretentious judges. Not what I call entertainment, not much effort put into the show I must say. And yet millions of Americans tuned in to see the sexy Kelly Monaco win. I don't get it. And now they claim that soap actress Kelly didn't deserve to win, she supposedly screwed up her dance routine and the judges were too stupid to notice. That she won because she posed for Playboy and that people voted for her because of her sex appeal. Whatever. (By the way, Trista was in this one, too, but she lost, probably because she posed for the wrong magazine: MAXIM.)

Now FOX has come up with the requisite edgy ripoff show, So You Think You Can Dance. It's produced by the same geniuses who gave you American Idol and so we get all these crummy dancers getting heckled by judges. Already this waste of time is a hit, so we can expect network TV to serve up even more reality trash in the future.

Not all these shows were terrible- I must admit I kind of liked Beauty and the Geek. It was a really fun, goofy show with adorable people on it. At least it was an original idea, which a lot of these shows are not. A lot of these new shows are blatantly ripping off American Idol or Dancing With the Stars, because they think people will go for that nonsense. Which means we can expect a lot more dance ripoff shows and shows with arrogant judges on them, humiliating people. I wouldn't be surprised to see a celebrity figure-skating reality show. Mark my words, it's going to happen, people. We've already had the absolutely lame Hit Me Baby One More Time, with a bunch of has-beens trying in vain to come up with another hit song. The network exec who approved that really stupid idea for a show deserves impeachment.

As a viewer I must say I am really frustrated. I want to see good TV on the networks again and especially want to see good comedy and drama- stuff where it's obvious that the people working on the show made a reasonable effort to produce something good. But all the boring people in middle America keep making hits out of the lamest, cheapest TV shows. All this does is encourage these networks to dumb down and put on even more crap, so we get Rock Star INXS and all these other lousy ripoff shows. And we don't get network investment in shows that might actually contend for Emmys or improve the general state of television in the United States. Plus, the religious right is scaring the heck out of advertisers and going ape over wardrobe malfunctions. So the networks are scared to try any edgy groundbreaking stuff that might win awards and get critical praise (you know, with gangsters in it and stuff), all because they're afraid of advertisers pulling out.

In a lot of ways the networks' hands are tied. They're giving the public what they want, and what they want right now on TV is junk.

Thanks a lot, you American couch potatoes.

Friday, July 22, 2005

BEN CHIN GOES INTO POLITICS, SAYS THE TORONTO STAR

Well, in a strange twist Ben Chin is quitting TV news... to join the Liberals! AAAAARGHHH!!!

I read in the Toronto Star that Chin is joining the Dalton McGuinty government in an as-yet undefined role, reporting to the executive communications director. The report states that he could run for office pretty soon, following in the footsteps of fellow media personality/Liberal Jennifer Mossop, who had been an anchorwoman for many years at CH in Hamilton and also at CBC. She now is an MPP at Queen's Park for McGuinty.

This follows on the heels of Peter Kent's decision to run for office for the Tories, in St. Paul's, whenever the next federal election will be held. Why the heck are so many of these media people leaving TV news for politics?! Is the TV business in that bad a shape? Who's next, Jacqueline Milczarek? Diana Swain?! Ken Shaw?! Don't tell me, let me guess: Graham Richardson!! Covering those local news stories over at CTV must be getting old by now for that political junkie. I'll bet these Liberals will try and go after him next.

I have a feeling that a lot of people in TV news get fed up with the business. They normally put up with a lot of nonsense that people with real jobs wouldn't put up with. You know, Jennifer Mossop went through a miserable, controversial firing from CH (people writing letters in protest trying to reinstate her and stuff), and Ben Chin saw his whole show cancelled at Toronto 1, and even though they got jobs elsewhere in TV I think those bad experiences factored into their decisions whether they want to admit it or not. I wouldn't blame Chin for being burned right out after trying to build up a news program at Toronto 1, only for it to be cancelled. If I were in Ben's shoes I'd be feeling mighty low. Having your evening newscast cancelled has got to be the worst thing that can happen to you in TV news. It's worse than losing your job, even, because you're fired AND cancelled! It's pretty difficult to stay motivated and keep your enthusiasm for the news business at 100% after that. Better to recharge your batteries by doing something new. Even if it is politics!

I think Ben Chin will actually enjoy it in politics. I sure did on these campaigns. Sad to say, but in politics people are generally paid better and deal with more interesting issues, plus they can be free to voice their own opinions and don't need to hide behind any pretense of "objectivity" or "fairness" or any of that nonsense. And if you miss having your ego stroked, you can always run as a candidate and get elected, and then get yelled at by your constituents on a regular basis.

The irony though is that Chin had just gotten another job, as Toronto bureau chief at Global TV. Now he's gone after a month. That was fast. But you know, he probably wasn't going to be too happy as a Toronto bureau chief anywhere anyway. Heck, he was a national anchor at CBC and a main anchor at Toronto 1, and did some anchoring over at Citytv for a lot of years, too. Being a Toronto bureau chief for Global was probably a step down for him. It's obvious that anchorman Leslie Roberts isn't about to drop dead any time soon, so Ben Chin might as well quit and go into politics.

But really, joining the provincial Fiberals? That sinking ship? Why didn't Chin hit Paul Martin up for a job like Belinda and Ken Dryden and everyone else?! Instead he's joining sure-fire loser McGuinty. Yecch. I guess the provincial Liberals are in dire need of expert media help to explain away all their lies and broken promises, etc. etc.

One less Liberal on the air. I guess that's good.

MARIO! MARIO! GETS CROSBY

I think it is poetic justice that the most decrepit franchise in the NHL gets Sidney Crosby as the number 1 pick. The Pittsburgh Penguins need a new arena and are in terrible shape. They really need Crosby to save them, the way Mario Lemieux did. Again.

I know some of these commentators are boohooing the fact that Crosby is going to a dump city and won't be playing in some big glamorous market, that nobody cares about Pittsburgh. But that's life. The worst teams usually get to draft first, and the Penguins are just terrible. So I think it's good that they got him. Wasn't this the whole point of the lockout, so that these teams in smaller markets and lunch-bucket blue-collar burgs could compete for players with the big cities? How quickly these commentators forget. Besides, Crosby should like it in Pittsburgh; he put up with living in Rimouski, after all. Pittsburgh is bound to be an improvement.

( And if they don't get an arena in Pittsburgh, don't worry, the team will move to WINNIPEG and all of Canada will go nuts over Crosby.)

Next thing is: what's with this new NHL logo? The whole logo looks like it's crooked or backward or something. I was squinting at it and man, it was weird to look at.

SIDNEY CROSBY! SIDNEY CROSBY!

The NHL is unveiling it's "new NHL" today with a big press conference around 2:30, then at 4PM Gary Bettman will announce the results of the NHL Draft Lottery which will determine the order in which teams will draft in Ottawa next week, among other things. That's one of the side stories people are missing out on. Everyone's obsessed with Sidney Crosby but a few teams could really end up getting screwed because of the draft order. I mean, this really looks like a case of teams being chosen at random. And these teams with more balls really only have just a little bit more chance of landing Crosby than the rest of them. It's as if they bought a few extra lottery tickets at the local convenience story. Really.

Already people are saying the fix is in, Crosby will go to the Rangers. So the rich get richer, even though the Rangers are notorious for spending money like there's no tomorrow on crummy teams that never get into the playoffs! Others are saying Crosby should go to the Leafs and frankly, I'll vomit if Crosby goes to the Leafs. Leaf fans will go nuts and celebrate as if they won the Stanley Cup--- these gullible fools. The Leafs don't need Sidney Crosby, they have enough fans. If the Leafs get Crosby they'll just up their ticket prices ( cheap seats to $70 a pop, probably) and these gullible fans will buy them. Dummies.

If Crosby is going anywhere I hope he goes to Pittsburgh, because that franchise in in serious trouble and really needs the help. Same with Buffalo or somewhere like that. Even Chicago could use Crosby, Chicago's been in bad shape for a long time. Toronto doesn't need Crosby for crying out loud, and neither does Detroit or Dallas or Colorado. But anyone could get Crosby.

Man, think of the outrage likely to happen in Canada if a Sunbelt team like Tampa Bay gets Crosby. They already won the Stanley Cup, so they don't need him anyway! If they get Crosby Tampa Bay will become a dynasty and the Cup will never return to Canada. And all the Canadian fans hate the Sunbelt because they feel they hate hockey down there and that the fans are all dummies who just go to the games so they can watch the fights. Could happen.

TSN has live streaming coverage beginning at 2PM. And in another example of the strength of popularity of this game, I'm noticing everyone in Canada is going bananas over the "new" NHL and all the rule changes and the like, and are devoting saturation coverage. As they always do.

But the Americans, well, they don't care. A few regional sports networks that people hardly watch are gonna show the big draft lottery and frankly, that's all this sport deserves after last year's chaos. Personally I think it's the AMERICANS who are the sensible ones here. A lot of people in Canada are blasting the Americans for not caring about today's big NHL revival press conference but frankly today's event is nothing more than a big cynical PR stunt as far as I'm concerned. The "new NHL"- better than ever before. Yeah, right.

I like this sport, I always will, and it's great that they are back. But these guys all deserve a stay in the doghouse for quite a while yet, as far as I'm concerned.

DREW ROSENHAUS SAVES A LIFE

As I have stated here a few times I would definitely be interested in pursuing a career as an agent, though I'm really not sure what type of agent: talent OR sports. In both cases the agents have a lot of clout and make deals.

One guy who is a big agent is Drew Rosenhaus. He's based in football-crazy Miami and represents NFL players. Now, a lot of stories have been written about this guy about how evil he is, and how big a shark he is. He's notorious for holding players out, like Terrell Owens. There are people who say Jerry Maguire was based on this guy which I find a little hard to believe. Jerry Maguire was a sweet, lovable individual compared to Drew. I've seen Drew on TV and on his frequent appearances on the sportscasts on WSVN Miami (which are streamed on the Internet) and he is one extremely intense individual who basically grabs life by the throat. All the bleeping time.

Anyway, he saved some kid from drowning this week by doing CPR on him, and I noticed that the sportscasters are really amused by this. They don't know what to make of him now. Is this guy a hero because he saved a kid's life, or is this yet another example of Drew acting like the big bigshot that he is? I dunno, I think it might be a bit of both. I think he probably got a big kick out of saving this kid's life. I also read his book and he said he rescued a bunch of his clients from a drifting boat during the 1997 Super Bowl. So I think it's another example of the lengths he'll go to get things done and accomplished, generally.

All I know is that life as a sports agent must be great. You'd get to represent star athletes and also save people from drowning. Sounds good to me. But I'd probably need to try and go the hockey route. The most prominent sports agents in Canada are all NHL agents. They make the biggest money and are well-respected in the sports community up here. They get to be on TSN all the time, etc. But NHL agents basically have the same job- they have to deal with a draft and have to sign prospects, and they now have to deal with a salary cap. Yikes.

The NHL agents are going to be watching the NHL Draft Lottery later today pretty closely and what we do know is that it's going to be Sidney Crosby #1 to somebody.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

BIG VOTE TODAY IN THE NHL

Well, today's big ratification vote is a foregone conclusion so I don't know why there's all this fuss about it. Players are in Toronto at this big meeting and there are scores of television cameras and crews there and they are all covering it, like it's an election or something. I'm just waiting for Peter Mansbridge to show up.

I mean really, is this really that important to Canada? You'd think these media people would find something else to cover that's more important. I guess this must be a slow news day, nothing else important going on in the world, no bombings or any of that. No important news.

See, it's really hard for me to take hockey seriously after what's happened. And it's hard for me to take the breathless hockey coverage seriously from TSN or Sportsnet, or any of these other stations. They're planning these big specials and all this relentless hype, to get Canadians excited about a sport that, well, hosed them. Why should we really care anyway. I noticed the rest of the world wasn't suffering like we were during the hockey lockout. The Americans did just fine without hockey, and most of the rest of the world followed soccer and that was all anyone really cared about. It's hard for me to take hockey seriously as a sport when nobody else in the rest of the world cares. It's almost as if we Canadians feel we have a patriotic obligation to follow and prop up this sport, because one of the things that distinguishes us from the rest of the world is the fact that we care about this stupid sport.

Well, continuing to go nuts over a sport that nobody else in the world cares about, that just locked itself out all year, makes Canadians look like a bunch of freaks and weirdoes. Especially right now on a stinking hot day in Toronto, no winter weather anywhere in sight.

Tomorrow they're holding a big draft lottery for the most hyped-up player ever, Sidney Crosby, and there's going to be massive coverage of that, too, and ridiculous hype from TSN and Sportsnet. I think he could wind up going anywhere in the league based on this ping-pong-ball lottery they have planned. This draft lottery setup is crazy, the traditional losing teams aren't getting any real advantage at all like they usually do, all they're getting is a couple of extra ping-pong balls. Another reason why I can't take this league seriously anymore.

NOT AGAIN

Link to BBC.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

TORONTO IS RUN BY IDIOTS

I'm pretty well-connected to people in municipal politics here and have some friends who are political aides and the like with city councillors, and I should definitely ask them what they think of the Natalie Glebova flap.

They probably agree with the Toronto Sun... that Toronto is being run by idiots. And David Miller, well, he sure looks like a fool in office. He claims he didn't know about this but I'm sure the Donald or somebody in that Miss Universe organization let him know about this after the fact.

Before Miller came to office Toronto at least was making attempts to be a world-class city, but now the city is an international joke. Thanks to this snub of Natalie Glebova. It makes Toronto look like an uptight city that doesn't like to have fun. All these Miss Universe-obsessed Latin Americans have to be laughing at Toronto now for this silly affair. I know it was some bureaucrat's fault for kicking her out of Nathan Phillips Square but still, this happened under Miller's watch.

By the way, the Sun likes Miss Universe now. They finally put her on the front page. They know a good story when they see it.

The city may be run by idiots but at least that paper isn't.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MISS UNIVERSE UNWELCOME IN TORONTO; SHE OUGHT TO MOVE TO MISSISSAUGA IN PROTEST

Our local Miss Universe gets absolutely no respect at all from her own home city of Toronto. People in power here are convinced that she demeans women and is some kind of tramp.

You think I am kidding but I am not. Read this Toronto Sun story. Miss Universe Banned from Nathan Phillips Square by our local civic politicians.

Granted, the Sun are a bunch of total sexists who run pictures of Sunshine Girls on their pages in bikinis. But they're right, the hot weather has clearly fried more than a few brains at City Hall. This is political correctness gone mad. Yet another example why I'm disgusted with politics and politicians, although I must say that most of the politicians down at Toronto City Hall are of the uptight-NDP variety and therefore are fools to begin with.

Donald Trump ought to raise hell over this; this is an insult to Miss Universe.

UPDATE: Maybe Natalie Glebova won't have to move to Mississauga after all: Mayor David Miller has issued her an apology.

BUSH MAKES HIS PICK

Americans routinely go nuts over Supreme Court appointments and especially confirmation hearings, especially after what happened in the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. But those were different times, there were a lot more Democrats on the Hill.

Tonight's announcement should be greeted with the usual crazed reaction from the press. George W. Bush plans to make his announcement about 9PM tonight EST and the confirmation hearings to follow should be high theatre as they usually are.

He has to pick a woman, I think, or the equality-type people will really have a cow.

UPDATE: Bush has announced it is John C. Roberts Jr, a solid conservative appointed to the Supreme Court. Expect to see all these special interest groups to go nuts with TV ads in the next few weeks.

Monday, July 18, 2005

TORIES POLL NUMBERS STILL DISMAL, HARPER GETS BLAMED AGAIN

If the Tories were led by a Brian Mulroney-type moderate, say the pollsters, they'd be WAY ahead of the Liberals, in the 50s. And I believe them. 100%.

And I'm beginning to think that the federal Tories are a lost cause if we go into an election with Stephen Harper leading it, in spite of all the money the party has raised and the great candidates that were recruited. This party ought to be poised for the greatest landslide victory this country ever had, but Stephen Harper is doing nothing to help the party's cause. Every time he opens is mouth the Tories lose votes because of something he tells reporters. The people in charge simply think the problem is cosmetic, that all he needs to do is flip some burgers and smile more and tell some jokes, and things will be just fine.

Just today the increasingly pro-Liberal Globe and Mail ranted about Harper's new vows to repeal same-sex marriage, and people don't want to hear about it. That issue is DONE, it's OVER, and everyone is sick and tired of hearing Stephen Harper ranting about it. I'm not even in favor of repealing the legislation now that it's in place, even though I opposed bringing it in earlier. Now that we have a law on gay marriages, we can't simply toss it out. What are they going to do, nullify a bunch of gay marriages under this legislation and say they don't exist anymore?! That's completely unworkable and probably unconstitutional, and the courts would have a big cow over it. And people don't want Harper to use the notwithstanding clause, that's pretty clear, too. In fact, most people don't really care one way or another on this issue, they just want this debate over with and settled. Harper should just listen to what people are saying and think pragmatically, for a change! Our country is stuck with gay marriages whether we want it or not. Stephen Harper should get over it and quit making comments on it.

And frankly, people don't want to see the next election fought based on angry-white-man-type wedge issues generally. People are fed up with the low road and wedge-issue politics and quite frankly, so am I. What they want is a complete change of style, a change of atmosphere. They want people who will get government off people's backs and clean up the corruption. Usually that's what Conservatives stand for anyway. Instead they see from the top down of the Conservative Party a group of hostile people who are intent on regulating people's social lives and playing the usual politics.

People want to see a positive alternative to the Liberals, not some negative bunch of uptights taking over. Canadians are clearly disgusted with the Martin Liberals and their cynical, flip-flopping, low-road dirty politics. But they see the Conservatives with Harper and the usual gang of angry social-conservatives and Gurmant Grewal-type incompetents, and they see no improvement. And it's Harper who's setting the tone with his comments and his general direction.

Enough already. People at the top of the Tories, it's about time you went out and sold to the Canadian people some decent, moderate, positive policies that they'll vote for! The politics and tone of negativism and division will not work for the Conservatives no matter how much burger-flipping and glad-handing you do.

I hope someone in the party is listening to this rant but I doubt it. Man, I am fed up with politics; even the party I am supporting is completely messed up. This country is HOPELESS.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

LIBERALS CAN'T RAISE ANY MONEY

You know, I think a story like this one is pretty important. The Liberals are having all kinds of trouble raising money and I think it's a telling sign that that party is in some trouble.

Meanwhile I think the indications are that the Conservatives are going to be just fine in the fund-raising department and are in better shape that these polls are indicating. You see it with larger crowds at nomination meetings and more money in the bank. They may not be in command of the polls right now but organizationally the Conservatives are looking to be in pretty good shape, and organization is really important in an election. This is good news for Tories. The important thing for the Conservatives is to get themselves organized and start targeting some ridings and certain people (Belinda Stronach).

I wonder how Stephen Harper is doing out there, must be getting valuable experience flipping burgers. When he eventually leaves politics he can open a restaurant or something and get rich.

Friday, July 15, 2005

BOB GOODENOW GETTING TRASHED IN PRINT

It is the typical Canadian thing to do: trashing people who make big money or have big paycheques. People sort of expect every Canadian to work on a crummy civil service salary and that anyone who earns a six-figure salary is completely undeserving. In fact, working for the government is the "in" thing for Canadians to do. Working in the evil private sector for a big paycheque is a big no-no in this country. No wonder free enterprise-type people leave for the States or Asia or somewhere, given this climate.

So in typical Canadian fashion the Globe and Mail trashed NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow for making $2.5 million a year- even though he supposedly caved in to the salary cap and rolled back salaries 24%.

First of all, I think it's really unfair to blame Bob Goodenow for caving in to all the NHL demands. If you are going to throw darts at Bob Goodenow, it's for being a HAWK who couldn't get a deal done because he was a hawk! He did everything he could to stop a salary cap from coming in. It's the players who were caving in and putting the pressure on Goodenow to cave in, just to get a deal done. So he did what they told him to do! He did his job.

And if the players don't like the fact Goodenow agreed to cave in like this, they should tell Goodenow this and not complain about it. The players still have to vote on this deal and if they don't like the deal that Goodenow negotiated, then they should put up or shut up and reject the deal, and order the NHLPA to negotiate a better one. I just don't buy the arguments that Bob Goodenow should be held responsible for caving in to the NHL. That's utter nonsense.

Second, the players may not be happy with the deal they are going to get, but they made out like bandits for most of the Bob Goodenow era. Player salaries absolutely went through the roof and even with this lousy deal, the players still make out like bandits--- thanks to Goodenow's efforts over the last decade of the CBA. The average NHLer will still make far more money than your average NFL player. Think about it.

Finally, I suggest to the Globe and Mail that they are making a big scandal out of Bob Goodenow's salary for nothing. Because when his own contract is up I expect Bob Goodenow will be taking a big paycut of his own. And believe me, it's gonna be a lot more than 24%.

A lot more.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

EMMYS PLAY IT SAFE AND GIVE THOSE GOOFY WISTERIA LANE WOMEN A BUNCH OF NOMINATIONS

They say the Academy went the safe route and you can say that again.

I can understand 15 nominations for Desperate Housewives given all the hype, even though I personally don't watch the show and personally like other shows a lot more. But I really, really don't understand the 15 they also gave to Will and Grace, a show that is in big decline in my book. I also don't understand why they put Desperate Housewives in the comedy category because it isn't even a traditional comedy- it's more like a funny drama. I have a feeling that Will and Grace is going to come home with very little to show for its 15 nominations, because Desperate Housewives is going to win. Big.

And this is going to make no sense to me when it happens, because I thought Sex and the City (which went after pretty much the same audience) was a much better show with a better cast. And it always got snubbed every year. Anyway, a lot of what the Academy does makes no sense.

Ain't It Cool had this to say about Desperate Housewives:

Earlier this year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave its Golden Globe for best comedy series to “Desperate Housewives,” signifying that “Desperate” is a funnier show than “The Venture Bros.,” “South Park,” “Arrested Development,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Scrubs,” among many many others. Now the Emmys have nominated “Desperate” as best comedy series as well. “Desperate Housewives” must be funnier than “Fawlty Towers,” “Larry Sanders” and “The Daily Show” put together!!

I suppose these voters don't care whether a show is actually funny. Didn't these same clowns keep on snubbing Seinfeld every year, too? And that show was an absolute classic. These people know nothing about comedy.

Ain't It Cool News was also aghast that Battlestar Galactica got shut out, and same with Veronica Mars. In fact everyone is having a cow over Veronica Mars. I also looked at Aaron Barnhart's site and he, too, was going nuts because he thought that show was getting robbed. He was also aghast that voters ignored Gilmore Girls (yet again) and Reba, and fell head over heels for the promotional campaigns for some of these shows like Deadwood and Six Feet Under.

I know a lot of people are going nuts that Eva Longoria didn't get nominated for Best Actress, but I think it's just the Desperate Housewives fans who are nuts about it. Everyone else probably thinks others were more deserving. Anyway, that's the Emmy race.

I agree with the selections in the reality category with the exception of the nomination for American Idol. I really question that nod, because that show had all kinds of problems and notoriety this year. So that choice made no sense to me. The rest I have no problem with.

I think The Amazing Race is probably the frontrunner for the Emmy again and had a great season again this year but then again, so did Survivor. You know, it's too bad for Mark Burnett because he at least tries to put on reality shows that aren't total garbage. But I suspect this is his best shot at an Emmy for Survivor after the great year it had, and I think if Survivor doesn't win the Emmy this year it will NEVER win it and HE will never win it. Because I think this year was a fluke for that show and that it's all downhill from here. And Burnett has no shot with The Apprentice. The Apprentice deserved to be nominated, but it doesn't deserve the Emmy because the firings are just too predictable and the product placements on the show are too big of a joke, and other shows had a better year than they did.

THE MOVIE SLUMP

Here's yet another article on the slump at the movie box offices this year.

The article speculates that really, no one knows the real reason. I think it's a combination of a lot of things: too many retreads, watching DVDs at home a better option for a lot of people right now, nobody has any money, the movies are lousy, too many people stuck in their offices, etc. I thought another reason might be that there's a big anti-celebrity mood out there right now. Everyone hates Brad and Angelina for what they did to stab Jen in the back, supposedly, and everyone thinks Tom Cruise is a crazy Scientologist and that his love for Katie Holmes is a big act. But then people rushed to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and War of the Worlds, so that theory may be up in smoke. So I guess there really is no reason why the box office stinks, overall.

They also complain that going to movies is no fun anymore. You have to stand in huge lineups to pay a fortune to see a movie, and the concessions cost an absolute fortune. It's something like $3.50 for a soft drink! And not even a large soft drink! Then when you get in there you have to watch 20 minutes of commercials. Not just the cool movie trailers: real ads like the crummy ones you see on TV. Well, if you wanted to see ads you could just as well have stayed at home and watched TV!

I went to War of the Worlds the other night and had to endure 20 minutes of advertising for everyone from cosmetics companies like Maybelline to Russell Oliver buying your jewellery, while waiting in vain for the movie to start. And the movie ended up being depressing and miserable, the aliens coming in to zap and kill everyone. Nice, uplifting evening. At least the air conditioning worked.

I just think they've got to find a way to make going to movies a fun experience again. Maybe they could bring back the old-style classic theatre look, or something like that. Hey, it worked for baseball in recent years with the classic stadium designs. And they need better movies to show on the screens because the present crop is garbage. The big movie this week, The Fantastic Four, got two thumbs down from Ebert and Roeper, and the Dukes of Hazzard promises to be equally inane. So I think this summer is a writeoff.

I will say though: I saw the trailer for King Kong, and from the trailer it looks spectacular. It really looks terrific. I have a feeling that movie is going to be huge, but it isn't going to be at theatres until December. King Kong may be the ape that saves the movie industry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

MORE ON NHL SETTLEMENT

Well, click here to get all the details from Sportsnet about the terms of the NHL settlement and I guess my reaction to it all is that I'm glad this mess is finally over.

Most of the reports have a cap at 39 million and a rollback of salaries across the board of 24%. The deal is supposed to run for six years but NHL players can also opt to get out of this deal after four years.

And news of the deal has dominated the media across Canada. Noticed CTV's Lloyd Robertson was interviewing Bob McKenzie tonight on the news. The settlement was also the top story on every newscast in town and has lit up the phone lines on sports talk shows across Canada. Also noticed they were claiming that the Americans were ignoring this story (in yet another "boo hoo, the Americans hate our national sport and therefore are out to lunch" story), but that isn't true either: it got big play on ESPN's web site. The NHL probably thinks it's a great PR move to do this deal during All-Star Week so that they can brag about how great their sport is, that they have their act together and have a deal, and start the hype for all the great rule changes they have in store to make this sport great again. Sure.

Sounds like it's going to be the 1980s all over again, in every respect: we'll have high scoring and mass ignorance from south of the border. That was the state of affairs throughout the 1980s and it's coming back, folks. I also heard they are going to expand the playoffs to 20 teams and have five rounds of playoffs, which is a big joke as far as I'm concerned. Hockey has this terrible reputation for being the league that allows everyone into the playoffs, including all these losing teams. I remember the 1980s when the Leafs had all these terrible teams that made the playoffs because they were in the same division as the God-awful Detroit Red Wings, back in the old days before the Red Wings became a great organization again.

I think this is terrible news, expanding the playoffs, but I guess people were worried about teams like Atlanta being out of the race every year and fan support suffering as a result. This would automatically put Atlanta in the race for the playoffs, whether people like it or not.

They're also going to have the NHL draft lottery next week and it's a complicated format they have for drawing and figuring out who gets Sidney Crosby, but it sounds as if even these winning teams have a shot at him, not only the usual losers. Great, last thing we need is Crosby going to the Red Wings or Avalanche. That's really going to help the sport.

They're going to have the NHL Draft in Ottawa at the end of the month, possibly July 30th, but probably not at the Corel Centre. They'll probably have a scaled-down affair in a conference hall or something like that in a hotel. But at least Ottawa will get to see a draft.

I want to see what happens under this salary cap to these veterans- I think a lot of them are going to lose their jobs are retire. That's what you see all the time in the NFL. I also want to know what is going to happen to these 400 free agents. Man, that is ridiculous, 400 free agents. That's basically the whole freaking league. I'm concerned that you're going to need a program to recognize the lineup on your local NHL team. This has always been a trade-happy league with rosters difficult to follow, but this league is going to be unrecognizable this fall if these players end up moving everywhere.

All in all, I am glad this league has ended this mess once and for all. The league had to end this mess before any more damage was inflicted on this sport and this game. They just couldn't have allowed it to continue into the fall with replacement players or any of that other nonsense they were talking about doing. As it stands, the 301 days of locked-out hockey has really wrecked the sport's image. The sport has been the butt of jokes from late-night comedians and ridiculed by sports writers and talk show hosts. This sport has lost a TV deal with ESPN and countless fans, especially in the United States. A generation of young fans, who could have tuned in and been exposed to NHL hockey for the first time last year, are gone. I don't think we really know the true scale of the carnage yet and I think there's probably a lot of denial. These teams seem to think that if they kiss up to the fans and promote all these freaking "improvements to the game" that the fans will come back. But I don't know.

The one good thing is that the players are guaranteed to play in the Olympics, and the Olympics usually get the biggest ratings for hockey in the United States on TV and are usually a great showcase for the sport, generally. I think it was vital for the sport to get back on the ice, just so they could confirm their status for the Olympics. Frankly they need the exposure the Olympics will give this sport, more now than ever, to try and repair their image with the public. If there's ever a year that Team USA has to win a Gold Medal, it's 2006, just to revive interest again in hockey in the United States. The only hockey that anyone really goes nuts for down there is of the Olympic variety. But I think a lot of fans in the United States won't be back. I'm not worried about Detroit or Minnesota or even Buffalo: those fans are absolute diehards. But have a feeling we'll be seeing lots of empty arenas in places like St. Louis and Chicago and even Los Angeles. I even think the New York teams will be hit hard at the gate. I think a lot of people are worried about the reaction in Boston. I have a bad feeling that the Bruins are going to be one of those teams that will be hit with one of the worse drops in attendance, especially since every team in town has been playing and winning championships of one sort or another (even the Celtics won a division title) while the Bruins were doing nothing, locked out.

The tone of the coverage in Canada, though, seems to be of the celebratory variety, of the "this game is coming back better than ever" variety. So I think lots of Canadians are willing to forgive and forget, and are prepared to part with their hard-earned money to watch hockey games. But I am in no mood to be kissed up to by these hockey players.

They did the unforgivable this year, these players and owners. They killed the entire season and wiped out the Stanley Cup. They didn't care about the Stanley Cup enough to want to play for it. If these people don't care about the Stanley Cup, why should we?

One thing is true for me. I have been and always will be a hockey fan. It is in my blood, and the passion for the game is one of those things that defines us as Canadians. Canadians aren't just fans of this game, they are serious about this game and care deeply about it's issues and problems. It truly is our national game and a part of the fabric of the country.

I still care about the game, and I wouldn't rant and rave about the NHL on this blog site on a regular basis if I didn't care about the game. But after what these people did to their own fans this year I cannot say that NHL games will ever be the same life-or-death affairs for me anymore.

I don't think I can ever take the NHL quite so seriously again.

NHL LABOUR WAR IS OVER, FINALLY

The NHL and NHLPA have REACHED A SETTLEMENT.

I don't have much time to comment on this yet, but I will go through it all soon. From what I hear, the official line of spin everyone in hockey is putting out is that there are going to be all these great rule changes and how this deal is great for the game. Forgive me for being cynical. But you can't make me believe that what the NHL has just been through is good for the game. Frankly what happened in the last several months has set this sport back years.

Personally, when the league comes back I hope the fans boo these players the moment they hit the ice for the first time. That's what they deserve, not some standing ovation for coming back to do their jobs. I looked at TSN's home page and the tone of the coverage was that we all ought to celebrate the fact that these bums are back. Right.

For the latest news here's links to TSN and Sportsnet. Top story in Canada is the deal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

GO INTO MOVIES AND WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT

I always wanted to get into the entertainment field and got a law degree hoping it would open some doors. Instead, my brother beat me to it.

It's not often that my brother gets things written about him these days, but this appeared in the Vancouver Film School promotional material about his career as an assistant director in films. He currently works for a TV series you may have seen or heard of, Stargate SG-1. The quote I like the most in this article is this one:

"I enjoy my work because it is so untraditional," says Cairns. "I could choose to grow my hair, not shave, wear anything I wanted, and no one would care. We also get to shoot in a lot of different places, meet many interesting people, and see things that you only usually see in the movies; car crashes, gunfire, explosions. The hours can be long with not a lot of time for sleeping but it's a pretty good paycheque and it only gets better as you go up the ladder."

This quote illustrates in a nutshell why my own career choices have been riddled with potholes. In television news, people would have a cow over my looks, what I wore, how I presented myself, everything under the sun. A couple of producers went nuts over the way people dressed and one of them even reamed me out over it. (People who know me from TV probably are doubling over in laughter reading this story, because I wore a suit and tie most of the time and always kept my hair pretty short, and I shaved every day. A fat lot of good that did for me.) So getting reamed out by the fashion police was a joke. It was enough to make you want to go into radio.

It got to the point where even I started obsessing about how I looked and when you get to that point, man, your priorities as a male are really all messed up.

Clearly, my brother would not be able to survive one day in TV news. Unfortunately, I'm not able to survive, either. I should get out.

I should definitely pursue entertainment, just to get away from these phony fashion rules and regulations.

Monday, July 11, 2005

LAWGIRL: SURVIVOR

In law school I did happen to like the subject matter in one course: intellectual property. I've always been fascinated by the subject, in part because the entertainment industry deals with "rights" issues all the time. I guess I'm just interested in the whole entertainment business and couldn't really care about business law or the rest of the legal curriculum, though I was interested in the criminal law classes.

One time several years ago I was looking around the Internet and stumbled on a quirky website by someone who called herself Lawgirl. Turns out she was a sole practitioner in entertainment and intellectual property law out of Los Angeles.

So naturally I wanted to check out this website and see what it was about, and I was really impressed. Keep in mind this was back in the 90s when websites were in their beginning stages. I came from Saskatchewan where a lot of lawyers knew absolutely nothing about the Internet and in fact didn't even know how to type or do any clerical stuff whatever. They had no websites, nothing, and were all amateurs compared to Lawgirl.

It was a pretty good website she had going about about intellectual property law and the entertainment industry. Lawgirl was commenting on all these legal subjects from musicians to Ally McBeal. Keep in mind this was back when Ally McBeal was all the rage on TV and all these women lawyers wanted to be Ally. Lawgirl had a big article trashing the Ally McBeal show, about how phony and unrealistic it was. I must agree; if Ally McBeal worked for any real law firms, she wouldn't last very long. She'd be fired pretty quickly, if she ever got hired in the first place, this goofy Ally McBeal woman. There's no way they would allow those short skirts in these uptight firms or even in some of the courtrooms.

Lawgirl also had some feature called the "Web Hunk of the Month" or something to that effect and well, I couldn't care less about that. I guess it's good that she likes guys, but she really needs to add a "Web Babe of the Month" or something, too. Equal rights, eh?

Anyway I forgot about this Lawgirl site for a really long time. Just recently, though, I happened to stumble upon the site again. It was still up, which was good, but I was surprised to find out that Lawgirl, whose real name is Jodi L. Sax, Esq., was actually out of commission for a while. She was diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer a couple of years ago at a very young age and she almost died from it.

She had to get four cancer operations and the chemo and all the rest of it, and it sounds like what she had to go through to beat cancer was pretty awful. But she came through and went into full remission, and now it looks like she's hopefully beaten this disease. Now she's living in New York City and setting up some new foundation to help young cancer survivors. Looks like she's devoting most of her efforts to that and not so much with the intellectual property stuff these days. Seems like a great cause and I hope it does very well and helps a lot of people.

You know, she should get some celebrities to help out. Maybe she can contact comedian Tom Green- he's a cancer survivor, and same for Mario Lemieux.

I thought I'd mention it not only because I was impressed with her funky website, something a lot of lawyers might be too uptight to even attempt, but also because Jodi Sax also met Lance Armstrong who is also a cancer survivor. He is doing battle in the Tour de France as we speak. So with Lance in the news again, people are really talking about fighting cancer and wearing these Live Strong bracelets Lance has been promoting. I know that people at ABC News have been wearing these bracelets in honor of Peter Jennings.

The other day Lance gave up the yellow jersey, but I wouldn't count him out with the Alps climb coming up. That's where Lance usually excels, so I wouldn't cash in any chips before the Alps portion is done. The Tour de Lance is going to continue for several days yet.

ALL-STAR WEEK

This is the quietest night of the year in the sports world, nothing going on except a stupid home-run derby in Detroit.

Every year All-Star Week would show up and I've always found it a time to totally decompress as a sports fan. Because, really, there's nothing out there going on at all in any of the sports, except for the Tour de Lance, maybe. Other than a few minor-league games, that's it. That's good. I'll be able to concentrate on other things, like maybe go see a movie or something. Maybe I'll see a sports movie- I should take up that money-back guarantee to see Cinderella Man. I must admit, though, the movie selection these days still isn't up to much. But I am looking forward to seeing Wedding Crashers. If Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are in the movie then it's sure to be worth your money.

In Canada I noticed TSN's front page was plastered with the NHL and I'm going: give up already. I don't want to hear about the NHL and its negotiations at all. But you can bet we'll get a ton of newspapers jumping the gun in th next few days to announce a deal's done, to try and be first, when in fact the deal won't be done yet. That's how the sports media operates in Canada, they announce a big settlement before the settlement, just to make it look like they have the scoop.

All we know is they're working to come up with something and they seem to be in no rush, but they're going to have a deal eventually. Fine. And every day some bitter, disgusted hockey player makes some comment trashing the union because of the crummy deal the players are about to get, and it gets reported by the press and it's supposed to be big news. You expect me to be sympathetic to any of these guys?!

Only in Canada do we get all this obsession with the NHL in the middle of baseball season. You know, I'm still in baseball mode right now and I'm also following the CFL. I don't want to hear about the NHL again until it is hockey season. It's summer, and it's stinking hot out. Enough already, man.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I HATE MY LIFE

Surfed the web and found this site that I found very useful.

Life in America is definitely not good for a lot of people, as this site makes very plain. No safety net whatsoever for anyone. Wow.

MOLSON INDY: 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Well, as you know I went to the Molson Indy a couple of days ago and I must say that the event was great. It always is a great event and a big boost to Toronto. In fact the event is better than the race. They could simply skip the race and no one would notice in this town, because they're too drunk to notice.

What struck me was the fact that the event seemed to have more to do with beer and beauty contests, and partying and drinking than it had to do with auto racing and sports in general. It seemed like every company in town was handing out stuff at the race, free samples of this and that. Someone gave me a free sample of Reactine allergy medication. You get the idea. There were big supersized inflated beer cans all over the place promoting Molson, and lots of beer gardens everywhere. I don't think anyone there cared about the race cars. Really.

I watched the actual race on TV today and boy, this race was filled with accidents; Paul Tracy's car got into an accident and then ran out of gas, and a few other cars collided into tiny pieces. The race ended under caution- way to go, eh, ChampCar?! In NASCAR they don't end races under caution, they sprint to the finish as often as they can. There's some rule where they have to try and run the final three laps under the full green, so the fans go home happy, guaranteed.

So it ended up being a comedy of errors and Justin Wilson (who???!!) ended up winning the race. Who cares about him.

I can tell you this, the CART-IRL Split has ruined this race. And the split continues: apparently merger talks are off again. This split is going to continue until the day the ChampCar World Series goes right out of business.

It's really sad because for years the CART series had all the best Indy drivers under one roof. And the Indy 500 was part of the series and counted in the points standings. So the same cars that raced at Indianapolis raced in Toronto at the Molson Indy.

Then the big split happened in the mid-90s and everybody bolted the Indianapolis 500. While a bunch of no-name teams and assorted bums were racing in the IRL at the Indy 500 in the immediate aftermath of the split with Tony George, pretty much all of the teams that made the Indy 500 so great went with CART. It was as if the great Indianapolis 500 race teams were all forced into exile. David Letterman deserted his hometown to stick with CART. CART had the Andrettis, Team Green, Team Rahal, Target-Chip Ganassi, Penske, Newman-Haas, and Player's-Forsythe and all of them were still competing at the Molson Indy.

But the IRL has done a great job luring most of these teams back the last couple of years. Now only the last two teams remain in ChampCar, and one of them (Newman-Haas) actually put its cars and drivers (including the reigning ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais) into competition at the IRL's Indy 500 this year. So it's ChampCar that has the lock on the no-names and bums and it's the Molson Indy that is suffering through the tough times now. Only a few die-hard drivers like Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Alex Tagliani have hung in with the ChampCar circuit. Even Patrick Carpentier has bolted to the IRL. Sad.

I've even heard some rumors that Paul Tracy might quit too, after this season, to do some other series. If he leaves, the Molson Indy is FINISHED, because he's the only star attraction left. He was the only guy people in the media cared about around here, because there IS no one else. Everyone's left for the IRL.

If the teams that left the Molson Indy for the IRL had all stayed, Danica Patrick would have been right here in Toronto. Imagine what a sensation that would have been. Instead of lining up to meet Miss Molson Indy contestants, guys would have been lining up for her autograph. Anyway, she wasn't here.

And Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti weren't here, either, celebrating the 20th anniversary of an event they were a big part of building and making great. Andretti won seven times here and just won the Indy 500 as an owner for the first time. Too bad they aren't here, but that's life these days, I guess. I know that I'm sort of lamenting the state of the Molson Indy race but this is the truth and someone in Toronto has to say it. The event is still great but the race isn't.

I've noticed the fans are really bitter, blaming Tony George for the mess and muttering epithets about him. In fact you see a lot of people defending the ChampCar series and racers in spite of the problems, and trashing the IRL. I guess there's a lot of loyalty because so many Canadians have been involved in ChampCar over the years and have done so well. A lot of the race fans here hate Tony George and they hate the IRL for what they've done to destroy open-wheel racing in North America. Certainly the split has messed the sport right up. The IRL may be in much better shape than ChampCar these days but it's being left in the dust by NASCAR, thanks to the infamous split. The only race on the IRL circuit that anyone cares about is Indianapolis. ChampCar, on the other hand, still has more good venues than the IRL but the IRL has been moving in to traditional CART territory in Miami, Milwaukee, Michigan, and elsewhere, and really, nobody cares about this series anymore outside of Canada. Who cares about these bums!? Even in Canada they really only care about the Canadian drivers these days. Everyone's just waiting for the day NASCAR comes to Canada so that they can go support that. That's the mood up here these days. Some even say they should just have the NASCAR cars race in the streets and make the Molson Indy some sort of NASCAR event, but I think that's no way to go. Personally I think the promoters of the Molson Indy are ultimately better off simply bolting the ChampCar series for the IRL given the current state of things, because most of the real history of the Toronto race is now part of the IRL series. And you'd still be able to call it the "Indy"! But that's only my opinion and I don't think it's likely to happen very soon.

Next week the ChampCar circuit goes to Edmonton for the first time and I think that race ought to be a big success. An event loaded with beer and girls is bound to do well in Edmonton. Plus, it's still a major sporting event and Edmonton is a sports-minded town. But I really wish everyone in open-wheel racing would simply figure out some sort of merger and get it over with already, for the good of the sport.