Sunday, December 31, 2006

SADDAM GETS HANGED ON THE INTERNET

You know, old media is FINISHED. While everyone else is utilizing restraint and self-censorship, the no-holds-barred Internet is stopping at nothing when it comes to showing the most vile and revolting stuff imaginable. It was bad enough when we were seeing TV news anchors make verbal slip-ups on the air; now we're seeing them choke to death. (J.J. Ramberg). We're now getting access to the most graphic images of our out-of-control entertainers (Britney Spears). You can click and see photos of the ex-Miss Nevada USA kissing girls if you want to. Now we've hit the new low point of the medium.

This link takes you to the execution video of Saddam Hussein, recorded on a cell phone. Do not follow that link if you have a weak stomach. You actually see this guy get hanged. You know, CNN and all these other networks were hand-wringing about showing graphic images of Saddam being hanged and all that. Well, this settles it: Saddam's death is the world's first major "televised" execution---- except without the television.

This reminds me of that cover story in Maclean's earlier this year where they claimed that the Internet was a total cesspool. They're right! Loaded with spammers, scammers, ripoff artists, and other filth-ridden types, this medium is out of control, and they were all handwringing about how it got that way.

Yet you keep hearing these mainstream media types say what is going on right now with the Net is so revolutionary. They claim these Internet sites like Youtube are revolutionary because people want to see citizens create their own video. What hogwash. People want to see what they can't get to see on TV, that's why they tune in to Youtube and its imitators/compatriots. I don't see what's so revolutionary about it, there's nothing new about that. People have been trying to get information past the filters for years. Except now there's been a big breakdown in the filters. It's as if you have all this raw sewage coming in now, whereas in the old days Old Media would filter this stuff out.

The only reason why these Internet video sites are so big is because most of the popular stuff that is on it is banned on TV or not posted on websites by the mainstream media. You think MSNBC would show any videos of Saddam hanging---- let alone JJ Ramberg?! They'd ban all this stuff!

They don't allow any of this stuff on TV, folks, but on the Internet, it's there and it's available. Moreover you have all of these various blog sites and the rest of them, spouting their own rants and conspiracy theories, so you get total bias from everyone. Bottom line is the Web is out of control. You get to see women upskirt, you get all these hackers and spammers, and now you get televised executions!!! Let's face facts, the World Wide Web is a cesspool. And no one is able to stop it because too many people are getting sucked in by this stuff.

Happy New Year, I'm going back to watching TV---- get away from this awful Internet filth. Enjoy watching Saddam, I'm outta here.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

BOWL GAMES COMING UP

Because there are plenty of college football bowl games coming up I provide this link to the ESPN bowl game page.

I know, i know. Who cares about bowl games. Well, agreed, the only game that counts is between Ohio State and Florida. The rest are a joke. But still, it's football, and you may want to know when these games are on.

Tomorrow is the last day of the NFL regular season so stay turned for that. Monday is College Bowl Games all day--- nice way to cure a headache.

GERALD FORD FUNERAL COVERAGE

Happening right now. And again I link you to:

www.cnn.com
www.msnbc.com
www.foxnews.com
www.cbsnews.com
www.abcnews.com

JJ RAMBERG CHOKES ON THE AIR ON MSNBC

Youtube is cruel to news anchors, every goofup and slipup gets the full treatment. Here, JJ Ramberg of MSNBC chokes and gags on the air while anchoring a story on of all things, Saddam Hussein's execution.



The irony here is too good. One wag is calling this Saddam's revenge on MSNBC. I dunno if JJ Ramberg finds it too funny, though. (Apparently, JJ survived).

Incidentally YouTube is also posting video of CNN's coverage of the execution as the news broke. Check it out.

Friday, December 29, 2006

PAUL ROMANUK DOING THE SPENGLER CUP

Since I am ranting about sportscasters this week and the Spengler Cup happens to be on, here's a profile of Paul Romanuk who does the play-by-play of the international hockey tournament for Sportsnet. The article is from last year when Romanuk was packing his bags and moving to London, England with his wife. From what I gather he still lives there and in fact has this blog going, too. Of course the Spengler Cup is happening not far from where he lives now-- Europe.

Thought I'd post this to counteract the fawning and drooling I did this week, over the brainy and beautiful eye candy Erin Andrews. I need to get a grip.

HE'S DEAD

Saddam Hussein executed shortly after 10:00 PM EST. Big celebrations around Iraq.

Wonder what George W. thinks of this. "Mission Accomplished!" Right.

SADDAM DEATH WATCH

Check out CNN for all the latest. Latest word is that Saddam Hussein could be hanged by 6AM Iraq time tomorrow. That's 10PM EST tonight, folks!

Or as they say, 10PM, 9 Central and Mountain. (Well I guess not Mountain. By the way, it's snowing in Denver again.)

TV: THE BEST, WORST AND I DON'T GET IT

I checked out the Hein Sight blog over at TV Guide to find out the best, worst, and I-don't-get-it TV shows of 2006.

Among the best, certainly I agree with The Office, though I will admit I haven't really seen The Wire. I should check it out. They also mention Heroes, 24 and Deadwood.

Among the worst, well, they mention Big Day, that awful ABC show about a wedding day. Piece of junk. Me, I don't know, I didn't watch the show. They also trashed 3 lbs (deservedly) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (!), The Class and Day Break.

In the "I don't get it" category Jon Hein also mentions Grey's Anatomy. He doesn't get why this show is supposedly so great, and quite frankly, neither do I! I tuned in one time and thought it was, well, not total garbage but---- I don't share the enthusiasm for that show either! I'm sure it's a guy thing, we just aren't into this Doctor McDreamy business, or Doctor McSteamy either, or any of that stupidity. Maybe if there was a doctor show on the air that was chock-loaded with hot-looking women on it, women who are actually popular with guys (not Sandra Oh), then maybe we all might be hooked. But this isn't the show for that.

Hein doesn't get Criminal Minds either. He's definitely not alone on that count. Everyone's scratching their heads trying to figure out why the heck that show is so popular. He also doesn't get Friday Night Lights and Dancing With the Stars, or The View, but I think it's understandable why in those cases. These latter two shows are proof that the boring people in middle America have no clue what to watch on TV.

He gives shark jump of the year to Lost for obvious reasons. QUOTE:

Strike One - Ignoring the 24 model and splitting the season hoping that fans will return after suffering through Day Break.

Strike Two - Not learning from last year's mistake of abandoning the original cast to focus on the Tailies. This season is immersed in Juliet, Ben and The Others. Where's DriveShaft when you need 'em?

Strike Three - Sawyer and Kate. Did this come as a surprise to anyone? Does anyone really care? Aren't Sun and Jin a more compelling love story at this point? Hey, I'd even take an episode about Rose and Bernard.
(COURTESY TV GUIDE)

I have my own list of best and worst shows on TV and I should be compiling my annual "worst of TV" list for 2006 this weekend. I expect to post it some time this weekend. Needless to say there are plenty of candidates this year--- there was a LOT of BAD TV this year.

MIKE TYSON BUSTED AGAIN

For DUI and cocaine. Man. This guy just won't quit will he?

Talk about a sad story from boxing. This is why boxing is in trouble, folks, it's all because of guys like Tyson. It's his troubles and his image (ie. biting Evander Holyfield's ear off) that have contributed to the rapid decline of the sport of boxing in the eyes of the public.

You look at Rocky Balboa and these movies and it's an idealized look at the sport. It's the way you want that sport to be. But then there's the reality, and Tyson is the personification of that. And what's really sad is he was the greatest when he was at the top of his game! No one touch him. Unfortunately, the only man who could beat Mike Tyson was Mike Tyson---- and ubnfortunately, that is exactly what has happened.

I wish the sport of boxing was like those Rocky movies. But it isn't. And it's too bad.

VENEZUELA's RCTV FACING THE AXE


Well, it was bound to happen. Hugo Chavez gets re-elected by the Venezuelan voters and now he is going nuts using his power.

Now he wants to close down this station, RCTV. He wants to take away its license in March 2007 because they claim that station endorses coup attempts against his government. What a load of nonsense. The worst you can say for RCTV is that they oppose the government. But given Chavez' new heavy-handed interference in the nation's television programs, is it any wonder why they would be opposed to his government?

You know, this is a disgrace. In general I do not believe any government has the right to close down independent television networks. We've seen it happen in Russia when networks like TV6 (TB6) would get booted off the air completely for flimsy reason. NTV (HTB in Russian letters) got totally taken over by the government and its entire staff had to flee the channel to do their newscasts elsewhere. Russian TV has been in a sad state. Now the same sort of nonsense is running rampant in Venezuela.

What Chavez obviously wants to do is wipe out all private TV in Venezuela with this move. RCTV is actually available live on the Internet and I'm watching it right now, and what they are doing is interrupting regular programming to tell the world what is going on. In fact, usually this channel shows telenovelas and American imports. They show lots of cartoons in the afternoons, and right now they are showing stuff aimed at teenagers! It looks practically like an American channel. No doubt that is why Chavez wants it off the air. His idea of a good channel, no doubt, is Cubavision--- and anyone who has ever seen that lousy channel has to agree that the people of Cuba are to be pitied. Their TV is bad, bad, bad.

Soon, Venezuelan TV will be as bad as Cuban TV, if this keeps up from Chavez. This is a clear violation of freedom of speech. I don't care if there was an election and that Chavez won; that doesn't give anyone the right to close down communications and opposition voices. What's going on in Venexuela is a trampling of democratic institutions and it's sad and a disgrace.

By the way, don't worry, this move doesn't affect the Miss Venezuela/Miss Universe Pageant. Those are shown on Venevision, the other station. How long THEY stay in business, too, is anyone's guess now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

FED-UP TV ANCHOR SPEAKS OUT ON VACATIONING CBS NEWS ANCHOR

TIME FOR THE AXE, CBS

I am fed up.

Now I know that I was technically a SPORTS anchor, not a news anchor, and not even a full-time one at that. In fact I wasn't even on the STAFF, but I was on the air anchoring regularly and I did occasionally cover the news, as a reporter!! I'm not even on the air anymore either, which makes me even more ticked off than usual.

Instead of hiring hard-working people like me who would cancel their vacations and rush to the studio in a moment to work on a big story like the death of former president Gerald Ford, these fools in TV news insist on wasting their money on big salaries for people who don't bother to show up during breaking news!!

If I were on the job in TV news right now at a major network, anchoring a flagship broadcast, you can bet your hat I wouldn't be off galavanting around the world at a time like this--- not with Gerald Ford about to be buried, and not with Saddam Hussein about to be hanged. I'd be on the air, where I belonged--- serving the PUBLIC.

Katie Couric, where are you?! TVNewser wonders if you are in Cancun. It doesn't matter if you are halfway around the world, Katie, surely you could have shown up at some bureau somewhere--- London or wherever--- and gotten your fat @$$ on the air (quoting Donald Trump)!

It's too late. Wherever it is you are on vacation, whatever beach you are on, you might as well stay there because you've MISSED THE STORY. Even Larry King is on the job, and nobody confuses him for you serious anchor-types, or supposed serious-news types. But where are you, Katie? Spending your 15 million, no doubt. You haven't even figured out that Charlie and Brian and Anderson and Shep and everyone else are ON THE AIR right now, covering this big story. A President dies, and you're missing!

Katie, you deserve the BOOT. You ought to rot in local TV after this week; that's exactly where you belong!

As for CBS News, they didn't even cut into regular programming to announce that Gerald Ford had DIED, that's how incompetent they are over there! I guess they were worried about their jobs after what happened when they cut in to the final seconds of some CSI episode to announce that Yasser Arafat had died. They cut in, and there were so many complaints from viewers that the producer who made that decision ended up getting fired! CBS News is a train wreck and Katie Couric is the chief engineer. This anchor is a disaster. She has to go. Get rid of her already.

NEWS ABOUT LAWYERS LEAVING TELEVISION NEWS

Actually, she's a law school graduate, not a lawyer, but Angela Rae from WFOR Miami has left. Apparently it was a mutual decision and she's getting right out of the TV business. "I don't feel like delivering any more bad news,'' she said. The article stated she has a law degree from the University of Virginia but she says: "You couldn't put a gun to my head to make me practice law.'' I can relate, totally. Maybe Katie can take her job.

ENTERTAINMENT LAWYERS

For my own uses. really, I post this link to an article I found in Variety about the Barnes Morris law firm. It's just had its tenth year in business and they do entertainment law. They got their start repping the guys who created South Park. I don't know why I am posting this. Maybe this might be an attractive option for those of you lawyers stuck in office buildings drafting boring documents all the time. Thing is, you need a client first. Want to be an entertainment lawyer? Open your own office! And have clients. That's what they apparently did.

In other news I read an article about a UCLA screenwriting class on pitching, involving some ex-lawyer who was now working in TV and managed to dig up this web site about her. Turns out she's a stand-up comedian. She was also heavily involved in her Law Revue show in law school (same as me). I did some digging and it turns out she went to NYU.

You know, I don't know why I don't pursue stand-up comedy or something like that. I'd certainly enjoy it, that's for sure, and I sure enjoyed my time working on that law show way back in the old days. I guess there are other things I'd rather do. Anyway I throw this out there--- as another potential option for you poor suffering lawyers stuck in office buildings this Christmas season, pouring over boring documents all the time. Don't slit your wrists, there are options out there for you!

That's all for now.

REFUNDS FOR JAMES BROWN

This has, unfortunately, been a big week for famous people dying.

Gerald Ford died the other day, so that's all you're getting on CNN and MSNBC these days. And the day before that, so did the Godfather of Soul James Brown. Dead. 73.

This hardest working man in show business was actually slated to perform in Saskatchewan, of all places. But now, Casino Regina is refunding money for all the tickets sold for that concert that Brown was going to have in Regina. Isn't this no good? You're looking forward to seeing James Brown in Regina, and then he dies. Sort of like having tickets to see Elvis, only for him to die, too. Terrible.

So James Brown won't be in Regina. Instead he is performing live at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem. I don't think you need to buy any tickets for that.

These folks who still have these James Brown concert tickets might want to think about putting them up on eBay. You know, there's bound to be lots of souvenir hunters looking for stuff like this. I'm sure there will be big offers on the table for tickets to "The Concert James Brown Never Gave". So you'd make a big profit! At least then you'll be able to say: "I feel good!" Anyway, enough of that.

In other news about famous people facing the Grim Reaper, Saddam Hussein's death sentence was upheld and now he could be executed as early as this Saturday. I guess he'll miss out on all the big NFL action and the playoff scenarios.

What a week of death. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, not.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

MORE PROOF THAT THE LADS MAGS ARE FINISHED

MAXIM MAGAZINE IS GETTING KILLED

Ever since the big announcement came down that FHM is shutting down its US edition (effective the March 2007 issue), I have been doing some digging about the state of these "lads mags" in North America. And a sad state it is.

I've seen the January issues of MAXIM and Stuff on the stands and all I will say is that these magazines are rail-thin. These magazines used to be packed with ads aimed at a younger audience. You know, video game ads, beer ads, the works. But the latest MAXIM only has 120 pages and the issue of Stuff is only about 108 or so. And there's hardly any ads in there.

From what I've read, though, in these trades, ad sales are supposed to be up for these magazines! Really? If the ad revenues truly are up, you could have fooled me. Even FHM has a thicker issue and that rag is going out of business! I'm convinced MAXIM and Stuff are in some trouble.

Moreover, these magazines seem to be going nowhere fast, content-wise. Stuff at least put a gorgeous hottie on the cover in Victoria Pratt (CANADIAN!!!!). Good move on their part; Victoria Pratt is hot, hot, hot! Only problem is that she's done these lads mags before, so who cares, but at least she's gorgeous. As for MAXIM, they put on the cover some B-list actress I never heard of, Lacey Chabert. Who the heck is she?! Who cares.

That's the problem with MAXIM. Nobody cares about their cover girls anymore, mainly because everyone else has been putting girls on their covers! It seems like Britney is on the cover of every magazine everywhere; same for Angelina and all these other actresses. In fact, MAXIM had Angelina on the cover last month. So what reason is there to buy MAXIM!? In the old days you used to rush to buy MAXIM to check out these movie starlets, and these girls you saw on your favorite TV shows on the WB! They may have been B-list actresses but they were hotties! Most important, these women were popular.

But the WB is out of business, the record industry has crashed, and these actresses are overexposed as it is nowadays. No one wants to see Britney Spears anymore --- everyone thinks she's a freak. So MAXIM has totally given up, serving up Lacey Chabert. And she's not even naked either, as usual, so why bother.

MAXIM GETS STOMPED ON BY THE RABBIT (AND BY TRICIA HELFER)

These guys at MAXIM aren't giving guys much reason to buy their rag these days. Neither is PLAYBOY, either, this month, serving up Pam Anderson for the zillionth time. I'm sure guys are drooling over her, too, not! What a waste of time. Really, who cares about Pam anymore either, except maybe for these animals she is saving.

Shows you how worried PLAYBOY is about MAXIM and FHM these days when they mail it in with an issue like that. This is not the magazine it used to be, folks! MAXIM could take down PLAYBOY easily if they would only make a decent effort--- and they haven't and won't. Not with these gutless "tease" pictorials they do all the time.

I'll say this about PLAYBOY. They may not be so hot these days, but at least they are still trying over there occasionally! I know everyone complains that the celebrities they get are too old and should have posed a decade ago, or they appeared on a stupid reality show and are not even B-listers, and where is Jessica Simpson or Jessica Alba, and bla bla bla. All the usual complaints. Still, these folks will make an attempt occasionally to show you some hot actress like Jaime Pressly or some WWE diva or somebody like that! And that's just enough to out-do MAXIM and stay in business, so that Hef and his girlfriends can keep throwing parties and spending money on things to do for their silly TV show! Last month they killed everyone with their big Cindy Margolis pictorial. Better late than never, I guess.

Next month, those guys over there at the Mansion intend to kill MAXIM again and show a woman who's extremely popular with guys: none other than Tricia Helfer! Yes, she of Battlestar Galactica and Canada's Next Top Model fame. Naked.

Well, she better be naked, or that magazine will be finished, too. Just like FHM and MAXIM are finished.

MAXIM RIPS OFF VANITY FAIR (!) (?)

Another reason MAXIM is going down the drain has to do with the articles these days. For one thing, they did this big redesign and revamp to try and keep all their readers from defecting to other publications, but it kind of isn't working. The "new" MAXIM looks very little like the old "beer and babes" MAXIM. They are now running "serious" articles by respected writers, for a change!! They have been recruiting guys who write for VANITY FAIR in order to try and save that publication. The New York Post has this article that said that MAXIM was running the essay "A Life of Living Dangerously" by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens in its pages. Wow, MAXIM has really moved up in the world. Or Hitchens has moved down! Whatever.

Now, I have a lot of respect for Vanity Fair, but this is ridiculous. MAXIM is not Vanity Fair. Copying them is the death of the magazine--- they've gone from being a distinctive publication in their own right to some pale copy of some other rag. Sure, they need to class the magazine up and get more readers, but this is no way to go. This is like Cosmo looking to MAXIM for ideas to get female readers!

You know what's coming, folks, they'll run a pictorial in MAXIM featuring Sienna Miller next. Or Scarlett Johansson. Heck, that's what Vanity Fair did, they ran pictorials featuring these two with their clothes off! Surely, that's what's next for MAXIM!

Believe you me-- if that ever happens that will be the day that MAXIM will truly be finished. If they aren't already.

ERIN ANDREWS


SHE'S A BABE

Since this is the time of year when we get a ton of sports on TV from virtually all the leagues going right now (especially football, basketball and hockey), I thought I would serve up this profile of gorgeous ESPN hottie Erin Andrews that ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She mainly works as a sideline reporter on college football and basketball these days, and also on baseball broadcasts.

Erin actually lives in Atlanta and did Atlanta Braves games for TBS at one point, so that's why a newspaper in Atlanta was so interested in her. Basically she's telling the paper "don't hate me because I'm beautiful".

NOW ON TO THE REQUISITE CANADIAN CONTENT

In order to meet my CRTC quotas I am compelled to say that Erin worked on hockey broadcasts for the Tampa Bay Lightning at the start of her career, and also worked on the national NHL hockey broadcasts on ABC as well, as a sideline reporter. Erin also worked on Atlanta Thrashers broadcasts for a period of time. It's pretty clear to me that the reason why NHL ratings are down in the 'States is all because Erin Andrews isn't doing the games anymore. Same for Sam Ryan and these other women who used to do these games in the 'States. Did you see any of these women covering the Stanley Cup last year? No! No wonder the ratings were so bad-- all these boring guys on there! Who wants to watch that?! Guys want to see gorgeous women on their sports broadcasts from time to time and they ain't seeing any of that on these American hockey broadcasts these days. We need more women covering hockey games!!!

There, that should do it, that ought to satisfy the Canadian government--- the requisite ranting about Canada's official sport, etc.etc.!

UPDATE: Here's another Erin Andrews story at Call of the Game.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

GERALD FORD HAS DIED

Former president was 93.

www.cnn.com
www.msnbc.com
www.foxnews.com
www.cbsnews.com
www.abcnews.com

WORLD JUNIORS ON TSN BROADBAND

Well the World Junior Hockey Championships are on once again and for the first time TSN is streaming this popular tournament on broadband. In the old days TSN would just post the scoreboard on their website with live updates; not this year.

So click on www.tsn.ca during the tournament and check it out--- if you get it to work, which I can't seem to be able to do right now. I think there's too much traffic. You know, Canada has to be the only place in the entire world where this World Junior tournament is popular. And there are still lots of people spending the Christmas season in their offices-- lots of sad lawyers and stockbrokers and other unfortunates. So they need to be able to follow this tournament some way and, since they can't get to a TV, the only way they can do it is by broadband.

It's STILL not working. Rats!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

CHRISTMAS DAY TV IS BAD AND BORING

You know, all the Christmas specials leading up to Christmas Day are pretty good. You have Rudolph, you have Charlie Brown, you have the Grinch. You have reruns of these great old movies like It's a Wonderful Life. But Christmas Day itself? Blecch.

Tune in on Christmas Day and you're likely to see a Yule Log program on your local CW channel! In New York, the CW11 has been showing this burning log every Christmas Day for 40 years--- just to satisfy all these apartment-dwellers and other unfortunate people who don't have fireplaces!

Supposedly you turn the TV on to Channel 11, and pretend that it's a fireplace! What I don't understand is why Channel 11 doesn't run real programs instead. More people would watch! Who knows. Anyway a lot of people in Canada are able to get the CW11, it's sort of the official CW station for much of the country. So we'll get to see this silly burning log, too, on cable!!! Lucky us, not. And they are also running some documentary about this log, too, at 12 EST.

Shaw Cable does this as well every year out West. They turn one of their cable channels over to live continuing coverage of a fireplace, with a fire burning. This is really a lot of nonsense and a waste of cable fees.

Why don't they run a show where they show a turkey basting in the oven, too, while they are at it?! Then people at home can pretend that the TV is an oven? This really is bad TV, folks. I can't believe this "yule log" thing has caught on, it really seems like a joke.

Of course, at midnight, you usually get to see some religious service involving the Pope or something like that. And in the Commonwealth countries the big program we get to watch is a message from, who else, The Queen. Well, it beats looking at a burning log on TV! Christmas Day TV is terribly dull and boring.

Thank heavens for football and the NBA, otherwise there would be nothing to watch!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

REMEMBERING JOE BARBERA

It's Saturday and what better day of the week to remember animation legend Joe Barbera who died earlier this week at the ripe old age of 95.

You know, Saturday morning used to be the day of the week to watch cartoons. The Hanna-Barbera studio dominated Saturday morning television for years and years, with shows like Yogi Bear, the Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Wacky Races, Hong Kong Phooey and so many others. In fact, the last time I checked Scooby-Doo was still on, haunting Saturday mornings for the Kids WB (on CW)! That show was the biggest TV hit that studio ever produced, it ran for the longest time and it's still on the air.

Of course, in prime time they had The Flintstones which also ran forever. Before television, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera directed the Tom and Jerry series for MGM which won several Academy Awards. In fact they probably would have kept on directing Tom and Jerry forever had MGM not closed their unit down! That forced Hanna and Barbera to open their own studio and they became rich. Anyway, here's a Toronto Sun tribute to Barbera.

His role at this studio went beyond merely directing the cartoons; Barbera was usually the point man when it came to pitching ideas to the networks and getting shows on the air. It was Barbera who had to sit down with the advertisers and get them to buy these shows. It was him who had to deal with biggies in the TV business like Fred Silverman and Michael Eisner when they were in charge of Saturday morning. In fact Eisner made a steal of a deal with Barbera by swiping Scooby-Doo away from CBS to ABC. So Barbera did all these deals and created a lot of characters while Hanna stuck to running the animation most of the time.

Of course, the Sun article just had to mention that it was the Hanna-Barbera studio that created Peter Puck. They had to include a "Canadian" angle. You know, there are all sorts of obscure cartoon characters that studio created. This studio put out so many characters that you lost count! There was Atom Ant, the Herculoids, Space Ghost, and Birdman! Birdman was one of the many "superhero" characters developed during the late-60s "action" era of Saturday morning TV. It was violent, rock-em-sock-em stuff and all these shows were ushered out by the 1970s to make room for Bugs Bunny, Archie, the Pink Panther and these other non-violent characters. All these PTA groups banded together to get rid of all this violence on TV. Birdman himself actually went into hiding and we never saw him again.

Birdman eventually was brought back to become Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. If you want to see all the great Hanna-Barbera characters come back to life with subversive cameo appearances, that is the show to watch. Bizarre stuff. Space Ghost also came back to host a talk show, or something.

Another bunch of characters you may not necessarily associate with Hanna-Barbera were the Smurfs. Personally, I hated this show. This was the show that permanently turned me right off Saturday morning cartoons. Anyway Barbera was responsible for this piece of junk, which Fred Silverman bought for NBC in one of his last acts before being fired. And it turned into the biggest hit ever for NBC on Saturday mornings! I have no idea why-- the show was junk! I guess kids put up with lots of junk.

Personally, I preferred the stuff the studio put out in the 1960s, cool stuff like the Flintstones, the Jetsons and Jonny Quest. Anyway, the Hanna-Barbera studio ended up part of the Ted Turner empire and ultimately were absorbed by Warner Brothers. It's really ironic given that Hanna and Barbera were mortal foes of the WB cartoon studio back in the 1950s, winning those Academy Awards for Tom and Jerry while Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner were getting beat--- though they did win an Oscar occasionally. (Another irony is that Chuck Jones, who made his name directing Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, directed Tom and Jerry for MGM after Hanna and Barbera left!) Also, during the 1960s, the classic HB cartoons like the Flintstones were distributed by Columbia Pictures! So it's really funny that this studio ended up under the same roof as the Looney Tunes.

With the passing of Bill Hanna, the original Hanna-Barbera studio was fully absorbed into Warner Brothers Animation. They now call the place Cartoon Network Studios, but as far as I can tell that unit is just Hanna-Barbera without Hanna or Barbera. The Cartoon Network itself owes most of its programming to Hanna-Barbera to begin with, including much of the newer stuff including Johnny Bravo and so on. This tribute says it all: without Joe Barbera there is no Cartoon Network. I agree.

Anyway I thought I would provide a couple of Hanna-Barbera links in tribute. One is Saturday Morning Forever, which links to a lot of broadband clips featuring cool episodes of Hong Kong Phooey, Jonny Quest and other Hanna-Barbera shows. And here is a link to the Hanna-Barbera official site with more good stuff and links to lots of videos.

And finally, the famous YouTube video of Fred and Barney hawking Winston cigarettes! Fun stuff. I just couldn't resist, and neither could a few other blogs this week.

That's it for now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

CRAZY WEATHER

What's with all this strange weather right now?

In Denver, Colorado they have had a massive blizzard this week that closed down their big "hub" international airport. The place basically got snowed right under, and a lot of vacation plans of a lot of people flying in and out of that place got messed up.

Reminds me of the time when I was an intern at CTV News when a big snowstorm hit the USA. I had to help cover the storm that hit the Northeast and called up all the airlines to find out what routes were all cancelled. Toronto wasn't hit but New York got affected. We were getting feeds from these places in the USA that were snowed right under. Anyway, Denver has been digging itself out from under.

And the whole west coast has been getting hit with storms all the time. Vancouver has been pretty hard hit. I know people who have been going on and on about moving to BC permanently, and one reason cited all the time is this claim that the weather is so great there. Oh, really?! It's been one big storm after another and one power outage after another. There have been bad road conditions and boil-water orders and all I will say about this is that life is terrible in British Columbia.

I really question this claim that life in BC would be so great. In fact, there's probably a greater chance of freezing rain there--- so you might slip, fall and get hurt! I know crime is out of control there, as well. Vancouver in particular is loaded with drug addicts and criminals. Traffic there is gridlock, too. And the place is expensive. Me, I got sick when I was in BC one time from food that I ate there. In fact, I could have died! So I don't see what the great attraction is of the place.

I'm on record already as declaring my desire to go somewhere warmer and sunnier, like California. But this fall they absolutely baked under record heat while Calgary was getting record cold weather. There's the Sunbelt of the USA--- but then Albuquerque got snowed under this week, too. Lots of snow. Well, darnet. I guess I can forget about the Sunbelt. Which proves my point: weather can be bad anywhere.

Meanwhile, here I am having moved back to the West at the very time that all Central Canada is enjoying "balmy weather". Central Canada apparently is going to enjoy a non-White Christmas. There is no snow on the ground anywhere--- not even in Ottawa. This is ridiculous, folks. There is no reason for Albuquerque to get snow while Ontario gets nothing. No snow in Toronto I can understand, but Ottawa? You're kidding.

Keep in mind, though, that earlier this fall Torontonians were getting hit with horrible storms all the time, with rain and a lot of winds. The temperatures cooled down rapidly and it was all quite unpleasant. So I wouldn't say people in Toronto have been spending all fall enjoying themselves with this lack of snow. The skies were cloudy and life was bad all the time. Definitely no fun.

There was a TV story which noted that people were complaining about this lack of snow back in 1998, too, ranting about how bad this was for business and all that. Then two weeks later they got a blizzard that was so bad that Mayor Mel Lastman infamously called in the Army to clear the place up. Me, I looked out my window that day and just laughed at Toronto's inability to deal with the snow.

The thing about Ontario is that the weather differs depending on what season it is. In the winter, life in Toronto can be quite miserable. But in the summer, there is no better place to be in Canada--- except it can be as hot as Los Angeles. And the smog is as bad as Los Angeles. I gotta say, Toronto is the Los Angeles of Canada. They think they're similar to New York, but they're not. The public transit system is just as bad as LA and the suburbs are just as sprawling and spread out. There's plenty of movie stars and production going on, and red carpet events. The place is crawling with immigrants, just like LA. And, very important, there's no NFL team either.

So during the summer there's really no difference between Toronto and LA; both places are stinking hot and smog is out of control.

The problem is that once the fall arrives it's usually OVER. After the film festival is over, that's the end of the good weather and you're stuck with lousy conditions, right through hockey season. So if you didn't enjoy the summer and it was smoggy all summer long, tough luck. Usually there's nothing else to do all winter than stay indoors and watch the Leafs on TV, because conditions are usually miserable. But this year it's actually not too bad there. Still, winter weather is NEVER as fun as summer weather in my book. I guess I like summer much more.

There's also massive fog in London, England right now but I'm sort of going: what's strange about that? So there's fog in London, that's not unusual. A foggy day in Londontown. Big deal. But apparently people there think it's unusually foggy. Okay, then.

The reason this weird weather is happening is due to El Nino. It's not global warming, folks, at least not yet. There was an El Nino that developed over the Pacific Ocean and that's caused all these storms that hit the Pacific and then hit the mountain states and places like Denver, Colorado. That's the reason why there were so few hurricanes hitting the United States this year: it was all because El Nino happened.

So enjoy the crazy weather this Christmas. I know I will. Not!

THE DONALD ON LARRY KING


I tuned in to the Larry King Live show last night on CNN and Donald Trump phoned in, and boy did he go nuts on that show last night. He went nuts trashing Rosie O'Donnell and you know what, after listening to him I gotta admit he's right! Rosie is a vile woman!

He went on and on and on trashing Rosie and that show The View, saying how Danny DeVito was made to look like a drunk after appearing on that show, and how Kelly Ripa got trashed, too, by these folks. You know, I think there's a lot of celebrities out there that are going to think twice about appearing on that show, worried their reputations might get shredded.

The Donald was talking about how he's friends with Barbara Walters and all that, and on this point the Donald went totally nuclear! He told Larry last night that Barbara hated Rosie and was embarrassed by her!!! Quote: "Barbara is not a fan of Rosie. She's embarrassed by Rosie. She doesn't like Rosie. And I guess she can't say that publicly. But trust me, Larry, that's what she told me over the phone."

Hoo hoo hoo!!!!!! Tension on The View!!

And of course the Donald went on to say Rosie's own talk show was a disaster, and that her magazine failed and was a "total catastrophe", and on and on.

He even went nuts talking about Rosie's girlfriend! "The best thing Rosie has going is her girlfriend, Kelli. Now, if Kelli ever leaves Rosie, she'll never find another one, believe me, because who's going to want Rosie? How would you like to have to kiss that good night, Larry? "

Is this the Larry King Show or the Howard Stern Show?! Really funny stuff.

But you know, Trump is right! Rosie definitely is destroying The View. And she's just a mean individual. But I never watched the show anyway, so I really don't have any vested interest.

Merry Christmas, ho ho ho. Peace on earth!!!! (?)

UPDATE: Fox News got into the act and Trump phoned in to Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly seemed to say Trump should have engaged Rosie intellectually instead of resorting to name-calling. Anyway, check out that link, too.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ANOTHER BEAUTY-GONE-WILD: MISS NEVADA USA LOSES TITLE!!

The heck is going on in the USA with these beauty pageant winners? Must be El Nino- that's what's causing all those storms in Colorado and Albuquerque, N.M. too. Anyway, another scandal has hit the pageant world.

Did you hear this? Miss Nevada USA today had her title taken away from her because she was photographed kissing girls in public and also exposed one of her, uh, uh, ahem, breasts.

I'm trying to be a family show here!! Give me a break! This is really getting ridiculous. These "beauty queens gone wild" are unstoppable right now. What's going on here?! I know, it's all Britney Spears' fault!!! She started all this nonsense with her bad behavior, taking her clothes off in public. Now, every girl in the USA is acting like her! Shame, shame.

Anyway, that's Miss Nevada replaced. You know, that's a cardinal sin with these beauty pageants, getting naked. This is what got Vanessa Williams canned! You think if Tara Conner had pulled a stunt like that that she'd still be holding the Miss USA title? Heck no!

These girls these days!!!!!

THE DONALD TAKES ON ROSIE: GIVE UP ALREADY, MAN




You know, I really am done with this Tara Conner drinking/partying/girl-kissing story. I am sick and tired of Miss USA, and I am finished with Donald Trump. But Trump isn't finished with us.

Now he's planning on suing Rosie O'Donnell because Rosie went hog wild on The View on Miss USA.

Rosie said the Donald had no right to be a "moral compass" on Miss USA and claimed the Donald went bankrupt. He called the Donald a hypocrite and trashed Trump because of all the women he went through! Now Trump wants to sue her because, among other things, the Donald never did go completely bankrupt. The Donald is now very busy trashing Rosie in the press. You can read all about it. I saw the Donald on TV calling Rosie all kinds of names, calling Rosie fat. Actually, I think the precise words were "fat @$$". His remarks were absolutely disparaging and pretty funny actually.

Tonight he's gonna go on Larry King to trash Rosie some more. What a bunch of nonsense.

You know, people are now saying that what happened this week was nothing more than the Donald playing the press for his own benefit, that it was all a big publicity stunt. They are saying Tara's eviction from her apartment and all the leaks about her partying and kissing girls and all that were all part of the "grand design" by Trump to lure the press in. It was all designed to create publicity for the pageant during a boring time of year, and also to promote Trump's upcoming TV show on NBC! They are saying this whole week was all staged!

If that was the idea all along (and I wouldn't be surprised) to manufacture this whole "second chance" bull$#!t, it's really a strange way to get publicity for the Miss USA pageant. Because the press this week has been nothing but bad! Miss USA Tara Conner is now the most famous underage drinker in the United States of America. She reminds me of those wild ex-Carolina Panthers cheerleaders; remember them? They made out in the washrooms and then got into a fight and got arrested!! Tara looks as crazy as those two babes. You really think it was good for the Miss USA pageant to see Tara crying on national TV? This week was pathetic, ladies and gentleman. They could have put Tara into rehab LAST week and saved themselves all this press, because this whole week of fanning the flames did NOTHING for the pageant.

To top it all off, people are fed up with Trump's stupid feuds with people. He had that idiotic feud with Martha Stewart last year and all that did was turn people off of Trump's Apprentice show! Now people are going to turn off Miss USA, too!

I think it's the Donald who looks out of control. What did Trump expect Rosie O'Donnell to say about this Miss USA mess? That this is good for the pageant?! To say nice things about him? He should forget it. Who cares about those fools on The View--- they whine about everyone, those mean women! The Donald may love publicity, but I'm of the view that there is such a thing as bad publicity, and the Donald needs to dial it back a bit. Reporters are seeing through these "publicity stunts" and "feuds"! People are thinking the Donald is too thin-skinned and too full of himself.

Donald Trump needs to stay off the TV screens a little bit---- he's beginning to look too much like Tom Cruise in the eyes of the public.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BYE BYE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

See you in Kansas City, now that the Isle of Capri casino bid got the boot. That bid would have gotten the Penguins a new arena in Pittsburgh. Now, it appears they will have to move to another city unless some miracle happens.

ENTIRE CFL PACKAGE TO TSN

Done deal. TSN announced today that it won the rights to the entire CFL package. 72 regular season games and the entire playoffs go to TSN---- including the Grey Cup.

That's right, The Grey Cup goes to cable TV for the first time--- so the release says anyway.

You know, great for TSN, I'm sure they will do a great job over there. They really put an effort into showcasing the CFL and making it the top sporting package on that network. But this is a really sad day for CBC Sports. This was one of the sports they really did give a hoot about, the CFL, and it's gone.

Then again, after last year's infamous CBC lockout and what went down with the broadcasts last year with announcerless football games and all that, maybe the CBC deserves what it got today. And it'll deserve the ratings hit it will get when all those millions of football viewers migrate to TSN. Maybe the CBC didn't bother with a major bid; if so, they are fools. I gotta say, I keep trying to find reasons to keep watching the CBC, I want to support this network, but they are doing their best to drive me away. The loss of the CFL is one less reason for me to watch the CBC.

We now await the fate of Hockey Night in Canada--- seems the CBC is entirely betting its hat on saving that. We shall see.

UPDATE: Now I'm reading that CBC is not totally shut out; apparently they will keep showing the Grey Cup and probably take the TSN feed for that. Well, they needed to keep SOMETHING.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Forget what I just said. I'm hearing the CFL commish on FAN 590 and he doesn't know of any such deal with CBC in place. Also read this story at the CBC website and the CBC is acting as if it's totally shut out. So unless TSN decides to sell the CBC a piece of the Grey Cup, that's it.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Now the word from the CBC is that they were planning a bid but never got a chance to put that bid before the CFL! The CFL went and negotiated with TSN and that was it!

People are now saying the CFL did a lousy deal for themselves and could have negotiated for more money if they allowed CBC to put up a bid. I think they have a point. Personally I don't see how going cable-only helps this league, but that's only my opinion.

IDENTITY

I've been up late reading some stuff tonight, so I thought I would check in one more time with some thoughts about Identity, that new show on NBC where contestants guess people's identities. They are running it all this week.

Last night's show was wild--- one guy ran the table and won half a million dollars!! It was so exciting. He was risking it all on the final identity and got it right, and won the whole shebang, and his whole family went nuts. Great TV.

The last time I saw a game show as exciting as this was perhaps the incredible night John Carpenter won that million dollars on Millionaire. Though, personally, nothing could top that night when that crazy fool risked big winnings to try and win the biggest payday ever on the Chuck Woolery-hosted game show Greed. And of course he went and got it wrong, and lost.

Anyway, check out Identity, it ain't half bad.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

MISS USA, YOU'RE NOT FIRED!!!



Well, Tara Conner gets to keep her job as Miss USA, but she's going into rehab.

Did you see that joke of a press conference this morning?! Donald Trump was up there giving this tale about how Tara got seduced by the bright lights and big city, and said how he's a believer in second chances, and on and on. All that bull. Well, why the heck didn't she go into rehab last week, then? If they had agreed to do that then this would have saved everyone all the trouble. They could have held the press conference last week and been done with it, and saved themselves a week of this press and this humiliation!!! Tara Conner's name is mud now, title or no title, because of the way this thing was handled! It could have been over last Friday.

But instead Trump had to drag it out with this week of the "ultimate psych-out". These last few days- with Tara being kicked out of her apartment and all that- were all about freaking Tara out enough to get her serious about being Miss USA, I guess?!?!

I dunno. Maybe The Donald was trying to drum up interest in his sinking Apprentice show again, doing his "you're fired" routine without actually firing anyone. Heck, he was up there bragging today about how he fired Miss Universe a few years ago because she was a complete disaster. Then again, maybe he really was going to fire Tara Conner today, and what happened was he simply melted in poor Tara's presence during that firing meeting this morning. I can see it now: Tara was probably in there with Trump, crying and begging for a second chance, and the Donald turned into a big bowl of blubber himself and let her off the hook. Heck, I've seen all these Apprentice shows and how Trump is a softy in the presence of these beautiful women. He kept giving all these hot-looking women second chances on that show, too. Doesn't surprise me one bit.

He did say, though, that a lot of the rumors were not true. Tara was saying that she was in Columbus, Ohio last week and not drowning her sorrows in booze at bars in New York City. So I don't know what's true or not true, whether the cocaine rumors are true, or the kissing with Miss Teen USA, or what the deal is. All we know for sure is that she has a drinking problem and runs around with boys. Big deal! In any event, she admitted she needed to do something about her drinking problems. But who cares, really. This is just a case of a girl gone wild, and a press corps going crazy looking for the next Britney Spears, the next embarrassment.

Which brings me to my point: they could have announced this last week and been done with it, and nobody would have cared! Tara could have held her press conference and said "I have a drinking problem" and put herself into rehab, and no one would have called this a big scandal! She could have turned it into a positive and turned into a role model by taking charge of her life! But instead, this whole thing turned into a big black eye for the whole Miss USA organization, and it didn't need to happen. This was a PR fiasco from start to finish.

I gotta blame the Donald again for mishandling this situation by dragging it out a week, by fanning the flames of the press by kicking Tara out of her apartment (she's now being allowed to go back), and his penchant for firing everyone in sight ( from Apprentice right-hand woman Carolyn Kepcher to these former Miss Universe winners) got everyone assuming he would pull the trigger again. Heck, everyone knows that he fired one Miss Universe already for incompetence, and almost fired a second one (Alicia Machado) for supposedly getting too fat. As I said, this could have been OVER last Friday. Tara Conner could have gone into rehab, and that would have been the end of it and NO ONE WOULD HAVE CARED. Heck, this is America, land of celebrities and drug addicts. People would have understood; it's not all religious nuts and uptight people down there.

Instead, Trump turned Miss USA into a sideshow and a circus--- just as he's turned the Miss Universe title into a sideshow and a circus. Maybe instead of firing Miss USA they need to fire that trigger-happy guy who runs the pageant.

Monday, December 18, 2006

NBA LOWERS BOOM AFTER KNICKS-NUGGETS BRAWL

Ahem. Remember how I said that hockey was getting to be too tame, and how basketball has more fights than hockey these days?!

Well, this is a perfect example. Check out the video of the brawl at Madison Square Garden between the Rangers and the Avalanche... wait, check that. It's the Knicks and Nuggets that duked it out and humiliated themselves and the NBA.

And here's the dirt on the suspensions. Seven players get suspensions with Carmelo Anthony out for 15 games. Each team fined half a million dollars! David Stern is mad as heck. The suspensions all came down today.

This is happening way too often to this National Basketball Association. Remember not too long ago when the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers got into that huge brawl that involved those fans?! I wouldn't go near an NBA game, for fear that I might unwittingly get involved in a fight. This league is a personal injury lawsuit waiting to happen.

At least they're doing something about these players and suspending people, which is more than I can say for the National. Football. League. Terrell Owens spit on another player in that game the other night. but is the league ever gonna stop him? No. Give the NBA credit for doing something--- or trying to do something, because it just seems as if these suspensions are kind of futile. They never seem to work!

TARA CONNER UPDATE




Well, here's yet another update from me on the big Miss USA scandal. Hoo boy, is Tara Conner ever in big trouble. You have to feel bad for this girl.

The reports are circulating now that poor Miss USA tested positive for cocaine. Not marijuana, not LSD... cocaine. That's pretty bad if true.

Also, it seems that in addition to all these rocker guys Tara is hanging out with, she's also getting cozy with reigning Miss Teen USA Katie Blair and the word is that she was spotted kissing her on the mouth!

For a moment you have to wonder if Miss USA officials haven't confused Tara with Britney Spears. So Tara Conner is, if true, an underage drinker, a cocaine user, runs around with guys at bars, sneaks boys into her apartment without permission, and enjoys kissing girls! Yeah, she definitely has to go: can't have someone like that representing the No-Fun States of America, land of religion and uptight people.

Anyway, Entertainment Tonight was reporting tonight that on Friday, Tara was spotted at local New York nightclubs drowning her sorrows with the likes of Constantine from American Idol, and boohooing the fact that she had been evicted from her Trump Place apartment. Seems certain that pageant officials are about to give her the punt.

TMZ.com was interviewing Shanna Moakler of Dancing With the Stars fame about this whole fiasco playing out. Shanna was Miss USA at age 19 and knows all about the drill. She was saying that lots of young women aren't prepared for all the responsibilities associated with being Miss USA, and she was saying how they hooked her up with some 60-year old chaperone who watched her like a hawk, and that there are strict rules against drinking, swearing, you name it! There are lots of responsibilities working with charities, going to all these events. Being Miss USA sounds like no fun at all, especially for a 19-year-old! It almost sounds like a political job, this gig, and it is in a lot of ways.

Ironically, even though Shanna Moakler is probably the best-known former Miss USA these days (as TMZ described her), she didn't actually win the pageant. She was first runner-up and assumed the crown when the woman who beat her went on to win the Miss Universe title. She knows all about what Miss California is going through, assuming someone else's title in mid-year at a press conference instead of at the pageant. The other irony about Moakler is that after she was done being Miss USA, she famously went and posed for Playboy---a big no-no to the Miss USA people and a scandal in its own right. In fact she was Playmate of the Month.

Already, the rumors are flying now that Tara Conner is about to be offered unbelievable amounts of money to pose in these various magazines. Certainly, if Tara takes an offer like that it would be a big "up yours" to the entire Trump organization and the pageant officials. It would be the ultimate "f-you". I'd love to see it happen, and not simply because Tara is unbelievable looking. No, I want to see how the Donald reacts. He will blow his top. He will rant and rave, just as he ranted and raved a few years ago when he fired Miss Russia as Miss Universe in midyear in similar fashion.

Methinks this guy with the funny hair has been too busy firing people and he should get back to, I dunno, hiring them?! Or something. What an uptight individual.

Anyway, happy 21st birthday Tara Conner, I guess. Enjoy "legal drinking age!" She is sooooooo fired.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

SURVIVOR FINALE IS ON

And in a big twist the jury is going to decide a winner based not on the final two, but the final three.

I gotta hand it to Mark Burnett; he's trying every trick in the book to keep this show fresh. I give him an A for effort. He's tried exile to another island, he's tried mutiny, he's even tried apartheid (tribes based on racial lines)! Now he's expanded the jury and voting is based on three finalists instead of two.

He's having better luck coming up with interesting gimmicks with this show than he is for The Apprentice. Another thing the Apprentice is planning on doing is allowing the project managers to stay project managers until their team loses--- which is a sure-fire way for teams to mutiny and for plots to develop. Apparently a couple of these wannabe actors/candidates on The Apprentice hook up on the show! Here's an idea for a new gimmick for The Apprentice: how about getting rid of the product placements? Fat hope that will happen.

Anyway, I still think Survivor's finale is the Super Bowl of reality television. As for who will win Survivor: Cook Islands I really don't care anymore. I've kind of got bored with all the gimmicks and changes, but I'll say this for the show; at least I'll be watching.

I'VE JUST BEEN NAMED PERSON OF THE YEAR BY TIME

And so have you. All of us users of content on the World Wide Web have been chosen Person of the Year by Time.

And all I have to say about that is what a copout by Time! Apparently they had trouble narrowing it down: there were all these bad guys in the world including the president of Iran, and these incompetents at the White House. You would have thought that the Middle East mess is the biggest story in the world, and someone from over there ought to have gotten the nod.

But no. Instead, they just choose everyone, and they seem to be saying everyone in the world gets to select what the biggest story is; it's not up to them anymore. So you're the Person of the Year. What nonsense. I guess I don't need to read TIME to determine who the Person of the Year is anymore, I can make one up myself.

Shouldn't it be TIME that should be closing its doors this weekend, based on this copout performance?! Instead of FHM? ( I forgot: FHM put Vida Guerra on the cover again. I guess they can't find anyone else.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

FHM: R.I.P.


It seems like I'm talking about girls all the time here, lately. I can't help it. This has been a big week for news about babes--- thank you very much, Tara Conner.

And here's some really big news that isn't going to sit well with lots of guys: FHM is toast.

Wow. I didn't see this coming, although I shouldn't really be surprised. These "lads magazines" have had their problems lately on both sides of the Atlantic. Definitely the end of an era for all guys, though, as "lads culture" is finished.

You know, the lad mags like FHM, MAXIM, Loaded (U.K.), Stuff and the rest of them were once all the rage. Dave Itzkoff wrote a book about it called "Lads", about working in the biz for MAXIM. These rags did so well that Playboy had to do a big redesign and stole an editor away from MAXIM just to keep up. Even Details, which these days doesn't give a hoot about girls, was a "lad mag" for a time, putting gorgeous actresses on the cover.

It was the height of "lads culture", with Toronto's Mojo Radio going heavily into the beer and babes theme; with Spike TV showing reruns featuring Pam Anderson every evening; with TV hosts like Craig Kilborn putting hot models on his show every night; and with The Best Damn Sports Show, Period and ESPN's Cold Pizza trying to go the same route on TV. But it was these mags that started it.

The "lad mags" fad has proven to be just that, a fad, and FHM has become the first big casualty. Today, they announced they are shutting the US edition down and that the final issue is slated for March 2007. Ad sales have gone right into the tank for this magazine, with the flight to the Internet. The "lad mags" are also getting clobbered in the UK and have had to up the sex content and make it more risque in order to lure buyers, but they are doing a lot better there than in the USA. The good news is the British title is not going to close down, so FHM will remain--- with the UK edition and their other titles around the world.

The thing is, though, that FHM is really a British publication anyway. These "lad mags" were part of the British invasion of American popular culture in the late 1990s/early 2000s era. The first one to arrive on US soil was MAXIM, and then came FHM, Stuff, and other second-rate imitators. (Loaded was slated to come too, but never did, probably because they couldn't come up with an American version that could do justice to the wild and raunchy British effort.)

They caused a sensation by featuring the hottest young TV and movie stars. They had no trouble finding actresses to pose for them- these actresses from Hollywood who appeared in TV or in the movies. They didn't want to do Playboy, so they went to the lad mags. So we got to see Jill Hennessy in her underwear, and Melissa Joan Hart, and all these other girls.

Problem was that these magazines were too tame, too chicken! They needed to get on newsstands and get ad revenues in the USA, though, so they figured they had to show no skin or else be deemed "pornography" by these uptights. FHM and MAXIM were timid as heck with their pictorials, showing bikini-clad women and the like. That worked for a while with advertisers, but nowadays FHM is getting kicked off of newsstands because people think their covers are too risque for the USA! These lads mags are getting tossed out of Wal-Mart and out of train stations by these religious fanatics and other pro-family groups. What a country, the US.

Meanwhile, guys got frustrated with these lazy magazines showing us the same actresses from these TV shows all the time, teasing the readers wearing their hotpants and swimsuits! What was really maddening was that the UK edition was able to get away with a lot more. In fact all the American "lad mags" were pale imitations of the British versions, which didn't have to worry about these uptight American advertisers. There's really no point to buying the US rag when you can just go and purchase the "real" FHM and see a magazine that guys would actually be interested in reading, with editors willing to show some daring pictures--- for a change. This year, FHM was going crazy showing pictorials featuring their latest cover girl, 20-year old Page 3 sensation Keeley Hazell, in the British edition. Naked.

Like heck will you see Keeley Hazell in the American edition like that! Instead, Americans get stuck with the same B-listers like Vida Guerra all the time in bikinis, all covered up. This rag has done Vida Guerra to death. FHM bragged about how they made her career and so on, but who cares about seeing a rear view of her in a swimsuit yet again, especially now that Vida's stripped for Playboy. People are sick and tired of seeing the same boring women all the time. Last month was another perfect example. The best FHM could do was lingerie shots of that boring tease Jeri Ryan. Again.

And you wonder why FHM is going out of business in the USA?! FHM serves up Jeri Ryan; meanwhile that magazine run by that pajama-clad guy with the three girlfriends was running a pictorial featuring another notorious tease, the most downloaded woman on the planet Cindy Margolis. Except this time Cindy was totally naked. Cindy had just turned 40 and wanted to prove to the world what a hot babe she still was. FHM got smoked.

FHM is also infamous for airbrushing and photoshoping their models to death. These women looked nothing like how they looked in real life after getting the FHM treatment; it was worse than any airbrushing stunts anyone else ever did. Let's face it, this magazine is crap! FHM is junk! The American version, anyway. It only took this long for guys to realize that the magazine was garbage and to stop buying it, and to go buy the British edition instead!

As for MAXIM, that rag that promoted the "beer and babes" lifestyle in the first place, it was always a lot better and funnier than FHM. But it's losing audience and going downhill fast, too, because guys are fed up seeing these timid, gutless tease pictorials and the stupid articles that they run all the time. In fact, they did a whole revamp of that rag, too, trying to class it up, because they realize guys are sick of the stupidity of that piece-of-junk magazine. Guys are fed up with the whole MAXIM lifestyle; it's a good way to get fat and die of a heart attack! Guys want more than beer and babes these days, they want fast cars and fast women, and tips on how to down a martini and how to win at poker. Fat chance MAXIM will give you any of that. If they give you advice, it's probably stupid advice that will help you lose! So they pretty much have to make changes over there, too. What a waste of time these rags are. These "lads mags" have had it.

MORE ON THAT HARD-DRINKING, HARD-LIVING MISS USA

Seems that Miss USA Tara Conner is definitely getting the boot, word is that she's been kicked out of her Trump Plaza apartment. "She doesn't live here anymore", some doorman said.

And there are reports flying now that in addition to all the drinking that there is substance abuse going on too, and that the Trump organization requested that she get tested for recreational drugs!!!!

Hoo boy. The cable networks are going to have a field day over this.

Friday, December 15, 2006

MISS USA: DETHRONED!?




The folks at TMZ have done it again. They scooped the world on this Michael Richards racism brouhaha and also did a big number on Mel Gibson, and Britney Spears. Now they are going after Tara Conner.

The gorgeous Miss USA hottie is in big trouble with the Miss USA Pageant and faces being stripped of her tiara because of personal issues and numerous indiscretions. Word is that she is an out-of-control party animal freak who gets drunk in bars all the time--- which isn't so bad, until you realize she's underage!!

Add to that rumors of substance abuse ( according to Nancy Grace's show) and it seems as if Miss USA could be stripped of her crown as early as next week, possibly Tuesday. The initial report was that it was going to happen yesterday. But now they say it might happen next week. The cable channels are having a field day over this.

Harvey Levin of TMZ.com was on TV, saying Miss California (the first runner-up) was told by the pageant to be ready to take over! The way he describes it, it sounds like Tara is as good as gone. But the official word from officials is that they are looking out for the best interests of Tara Conner first, and then the pageant. I wouldn't rule out Tara agreeing to some treatment program for alcohol abuse or something like that, in order to keep her title.

Recall that the Miss Universe pageant almost stripped Alicia Machado of her crown for allegedly overeating. But Donald Trump put her on a diet and she retained her crown. And there have been a few beauty queens who lost their crowns over nude photographs,Vanessa Williams the most infamous example.

Personally, if this is the best they can come up with against Tara Conner, then all I will say is this is really ridiculous. Losing a beauty pageant title over drinking? Talk about trivial. But maybe they have even worse dirt than this.

We will see what comes of this. All I will say is this really is a bunch of nonsense.

CHANGES IN DETROIT SPORTS TV

I already ranted about the changes in Buffalo TV. Now I will rant about the changes in Detroit.

I noticed a new sports anchor at WDIV. Her name is Katrina Hancock and she fills the spot left vacant with the departure of Fred McLeod to Cleveland. McLeod was in the Detroit market for an incredibly long time with WDIV and with WJBK before that, and had called the Pistons games for years on television. But this year he's decamped to FSN Ohio calling the Cleveland Cavaliers games.

In fact it sounds as if the WDIV sports department is extremely staff-depleted. I can't believe they only have two people there! Anyway, Hancock will take over as host of Sports Final Edition, McLeod's old gig.

Having seen her tonight on WDIV all I will say is--- boy is she ever different from Bernie Smilovitz. Hancock was dead serious tonight. Meanwhile, Smilovitz is famous at WDIV for his fun and games, his schtick and his comedy routines. His trademark line is "we got highlights!" I think Smilovitz is great, but he cannot be taken seriously as a broadcaster, he just can't help himself. Looking at him these days, he seems really over the top!

Apparently this was the reason why Bernie was a big flop when he went to New York for a period in the 1990s: his comedy routines didn't fly there, the town was too dead-serious about sports! The fans there all thought Bernie was an idiot, and he was fired.

So he went back to Detroit, where it's easier for sportscasters to get away with acting like idiots. Obviously this is no place for Katrina Hancock. Maybe what Hancock really needs to do is get to New York City.

As for Cleveland, I'm sure McLeod will fit in well there, that place is known for having plenty of quality local sportscasters. Unfortunately, read elsewhere that one of the local TV guys Casey Coleman had passed away. Cancer. Not good news.

PENGUINS BID WITHDRAWN

Read a story that Jim Balsillie, who only brought us the Blackberry, has withdrawn his bid for the Pittsburgh Penguins because the NHL attached a number of conditions to the sale that he could not abide with.

Such as: keeping the team in Pittsburgh.

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Sources say the NHL introduced a lengthy list of terms and conditions on the closing day that Balsillie would have to agree to if he were going to be approved as the new owner of the team. The sources added that those conditions included keeping the franchise in Pittsburgh under any circumstances and also provided for a scenario where the league could take control the franchise if it deemed it necessary.
(Courtesy TSN.)

I read on the TSN web site some of the reactions from all these starving Canadian fans who would think nothing about poaching an American team and putting them in Canada. They were all looking forward to seeing Sidney Crosby play on Canadian soil in Kitchener-Waterloo or wherever they were going to put this team. But why would anyone want to watch NHL games in Kitchener? I'm sorry, but that place is too small. While it is within the market radius for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the place is too far away from Hogtown to be viable. Do you really think people in Leafs Nation would be crazy enough to go see games there? Would they want to go to the games? I know these Leafs fans and a lot of them refuse to support any other teams because they see them as a threat to the Leafs. They don't even support the Toronto Raptors because they think the money that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment throws at the Raptors is money that could have been spent upgrading the Leafs. There is no way any team in Kitchener or Hamilton or wherever will be able to compete with the Leafs Nation for attention.

Besides, they don't even have an arena in Kitchener.

I say good for the NHL that they did this, putting all these conditions in, if this is really what happened. I'm not a fan of teams moving out of cities to begin with. Investors in NHL teams should be civic-minded enough to want to make commitments to these communities! The NHL clearly wants this team to stay in Pittsburgh and wants to find a way to make it work there. Having a new owner who's ready to pull a team out of a city is just asking for trouble.

Really, there's nothing wrong with Pittsburgh as a market. The Penguins have loyal fans---- as long as the team wins!! They will show up to see star players and a good team. It's only when they have a stinking, embarrassing team on the ice that this franchise has gotten into trouble.

Clearly, with the talent they've got down there, the Penguins are no joke.

CFL TO TSN/CTV

Read a report in the Globe that it's a done deal; the entire CFL package is going to Bell Globemedia and TSN/CTV.

What's unclear is whether Bell will sell some of the package to CBC. (During the World Cup Rogers Sportsnet won rights to the entire tournament, but sold part of the package to TSN/CTV.) I think the CBC may not go for such a deal, though. I think they may take the money that they usually spend on the CFL and give it to the NHL, and that will be the way they keep the NHL rights. If they keep the NHL rights.

People are starting to say what a big change this is and all that for the CFL, and how CBC showed the Grey Cup game for 50 years and so on and so forth, but keep in mind CTV and TSN also have a long history of showing the CFL. CTV actually shared the rights to air the Grey Cup game for 25 years, ending after the 1986 game. The one thing I will miss, though, will be those reruns of those old Grey Cup games that CBC always puts on late at night during Grey Cup week.

Though I will not miss the replays of the 1967, 1972, 1976 or 1997 Grey Cup games. Riders fans have long memories.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT---FOR PRICE

NEW HOST SOON?

Rumors are flying that the next host of The Price is Right after Bob Barker retires will be... CBS Early Show's Dave Price. In fact it sounds like a done deal according to the latest reports. He'll stay at the Early Show and tape Price is Right during off hours.

Whether the actual show will survive with him as host is anyone's guess. Theoretically, the Price is Right show ought to continue forever regardless of who hosts it, but I don't know if Dave Price can do it. He doesn't have a game show background; his background is news broadcasting and doing the weather. Other shows have had changes in hosts: both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have changed hosts and survived, and Hollywood Squares has gone through several by now. But Bob Barker has been there for so long.

A lot of viewers might say "that's it" once Barker leaves. And that may be the end of the show. Keep in mind this is the very last network game show on daytime TV: the rest of these game shows are either syndicated or in prime time. The Price is Right by its very nature is an anachronism, the last of a dying breed. All the other network daytime game shows were driven off network TV because affiliates were refusing to air them. If the new host flops, the affiliates could dump The Price is Right and run syndicated talk show junk featuring Tyra Banks or Tony Danza or someone like that.

BARKER'S BEAUTIES

Personally, though, it makes no difference to me who hosts, because this show totally jumped when Janice Pennington left. The models on this show in the old days used to be terrific! Barker's beauties had PERSONALITY. They were BABES! This current bunch of models has far less personality than those suitcase women on Deal or No Deal. What is the Price is Right going to call them now, Price's Beauties?!

Interesting note: Dave Price served time in local television in Erie, Pennsylvania at WSEE, Channel 35. (Take note you folks in London, Ontario who get this channel on cable.) He got into television after a career in human resources. Price actually wrote a letter to Ed Bradley of CBS News, asking for career advice and Bradley actually wrote him back, telling him to figure out what his passion was and to follow it. Years later Price made it to CBS and got to meet Ed Bradley in person. Great story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

SASSAFRAZ GOES UP IN SMOKE

Well, all you film industry people who all like to go hang out and eat at Sassafraz on Cumberland Ave in Toronto during the Film Festival are going to have to find another restaurant.

Because, unfortunately, the place burned down today.

There was a big five-alarm fire at the restaurant which has been a favored hangout for the big celebrities. The whole blaze started in the kitchen apparently, and the place is gutted completely. I don't know if they have plans to rebuild the place.

It's too bad, the place was a landmark in Toronto of sorts and everyone in town knew about it, because they ran commercials for the place on local TV just before Letterman came on. Of course I never ate there, I figured it would be too expensive.

This is bad news for the star-gazers and other gawkers who would hang around outside the restaurant during the Film Festival, looking for Ron Howard and Tom Hanks and other people at the restaurant--- regardless of whether they were actually in Toronto not.

"NO JOBS AFFECTED" AT CHANNEL 7 BUFFALO

Found out that big changes are going on in Buffalo with one of the stations there. Susan Banks has resigned at Channel 7 News WKBW. She was co-anchor with Keith Radford but according to this story she refused to accept a demotion and a pay cut, so she resigned. I guess she's leaving tonight!

This was just hours after anchor Radford read on the air that no jobs were going to be lost due to the bankruptcy of the parent company Granite Broadcasting! Now, that is beyond bad.

Sure no jobs were affected. I guess demoting people and forcing them to take pay cuts in order to stay around counts as "not being affected." She wasn't "fired", so she wasn't affected! What B.S., this smells like a fish.

Banks, who had successfully fought off breast cancer, now plans to pursue "other interests" outside of broadcasting. I dunno what other interests she might pursue. Maybe she'll pursue a lawsuit.

You'd think Banks would have a case for agism, but it's difficult to prove. The station can just blame her for bad ratings and claim that as their excuse, and get away with it in court. There was one anchorwoman in Buffalo who was kicked off the air from another station and she sued, claiming discrimination and the rest of it. But she lost. The woman who replaced her, ironically, soon quit and went to Denver or somewhere like that. It stinks, but that's the business.

I'm quite familiar with Buffalo's TV scene having seen their local news ample times while living in Toronto. (I'm also quite familiar with the TV news scene from Detroit, having watched those newscasts often). This is the biggest anchor change in the western Ontario market since Irv Weinstein left. I don't think Channel 7 ever really recovered from that, or from the name change from Eyewitness News.

That news operation has really gone downhill in the last few years---- they have fallen from Number One to Number Three. And it's too bad, because their sports department is pretty good. See, this is what happens when you finish in third place; heads roll. What do you expect from this industry. Life sucks in television news. Better off going into radio, or doing commercials for a living, or even going into acting!

Hey, Katie Couric, you may as well take note--- you and your third place anchor job.

THE EMBATTLED KATIE COURIC

Well the CAIRNS BLOG continues our live continuing coverage of the woes of embattled CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric.

It's still getting killed, that newscast. Apparently ABC has been battling NBC for the lead and has started beating it on most nights recently. CBS is not only running third but doing worse than it did under Bob Schieffer, and Katie's newscast is running seventh in Los Angeles, according to Drudge. That's pretty bad.

Read this article from Jon Friedman in Marketwatch and he comes up with the lamest excuse ever for why the CBS Evening News is doing so badly. He says:

America wasn't truly ready for the first solo woman evening-news anchor, let alone someone smart and attractive with pretensions to sounding puckish and hip (at one point, K-Cour quipped that she'd sign off each night with this line: "Peace out, homies!")

The folks at TVNewser have had a field day, with e-mailers reacting angrily to this line of bull. "In response to Jon Friedman, maybe America, shockingly, is not ready for any woman or man to present the evening news as if it's Entertainment Tonight," was a pretty typical response. Another response was to say that anyone else could have done better, like Diane Sawyer or Campbell Brown or whomever.

I think it's a copout for people to say America isn't ready for a woman anchor. That's a load of nonsense. I'm sure the folks at CBS could find someone with credibility who is a female, who could report on international events and politics and the rest of it. The problem is that these networks are putting in there women who have no clue about these things! Katie Couric always looks to me like someone completely uncomfortable with hard news stories, especially political stories. And Elizabeth Vargas was the same way over at ABC. She seemed to concentrate on doing women's stories and health stories and the like--- she seemed kind of uncomfortable with the politics and the rest of it.

Why Diane Sawyer isn't anchoring the evening news anywhere is a big mystery to me. I can't believe ABC was willing to give Vargas a shot and not Sawyer. I also can't believe CBS didn't try and lure Sawyer over to the anchor chair- after all, she has a history with that network, having worked there earlier. What's most baffling is that she'd be able to do international stories and political stories! Don't let all those celebrity interviews she's done fool you: she actually knows politics, this woman. A lot of people don't know this but Diane Sawyer actually worked in politics for a while. She worked in the Nixon White House and then helped work on Nixon's memoirs after he left office. So she seems like someone able to do those types of big stories.

Yet here she is, rotting away on Good Morning America interviewing celebrities and other idiots, while Katie Couric is blowing it on the evening news. Life is not fair for Diane Sawyer. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if something big happens--- like maybe CBS dumps Katie and sends her to the Early Show, and they give Diane the anchor chair for the evening news.

Could happen. Heck, these folks are after ratings here. Diane's contract is up soon, too, I understand.

In the meantime, Katie keeps on treading water with her newscast, which some people say is getting newsier. To me, though, it's like what happened with the Jay Leno Tonight Show. Leno took over from the legendary Johnny Carson, and the first week sucked, and it sucked for months, and ratings went down and it took a long time for them to come back. People were comparing Leno's show, unfavorably, to Johnny Carson. Leno came very close to being fired, in fact. The producers, though, did get fired and probably deserved it, based on the stuff I read in Bill Carter's book The Late Shift. It sounded like that show was in chaos.

The difference is that in spite of all the problems, Leno was still in first place. Lemme tell you, it's easier to survive when you are running in first place. Katie, though, is in third place. Moreover, as managing editor she's called a lot of the shots and okayed certain hires. She's put her own head on the line, too, in addition to the producers who have made a hash of that show. It's a tough spot to be in.

Couric is getting some strange support from unusual places, though. One person coming to her defence is that former female anchor of the CBS Evening News, Connie Chung. She's saying lay off of Katie already, and saying Couric is a pioneer in this field and give her time.

Well, all I will say about that is that an endorsement from that notorious much-hated tabloid artist wife of Maury Povich is the kiss of death for Katie. All the hard-news people hate Connie's guts. So an endorsement from Connie Chung is just gonna mean more trouble for Katie, who already is in deep trouble with these uptight, serious-journalism types of people.

The reason she is in trouble is all because there's a perception out there that her show is too soft. What Americans want from their newscasts isn't soft news, but hard news about all the troubles in the world. And the perception is that the CBS Evening News isn't delivering on that--- instead, it's seen as a newsmagazine pretending to be a newscast.

This show has a long way to go to get taken seriously again, folks, and Connie Chung isn't helping any. Katie has got to be muttering in disgust: "thanks for nothing, Connie!!!"