Monday, February 27, 2006

BRENT FROM "THE APPRENTICE"

Get a load of this: one of these Apprentice candidates is a Canadian from Toronto. Brent went to York University and then went on to law school in the United States. He now practises law down in Florida. He has his green card, so that means he can go and work for Trump, no problems, if he winds up winning.

I dunno if he's the kind of guy Donald Trump is gonna want in the end, though- he looks kinda funny, doesn't have those chiseled good looks the Donald wants. And boy did he ever get the "loser edit" tonight from the producers. I get the impression he feels like he's a bit of an oddball with this group. About time, though, that we saw a Canadian on one of these shows.

Oh, and by the way, he didn't get fired tonight, so you can see him next week, if you want.

BIG NIGHT OF REALITY TV

It is a huge night of reality TV tonight. Heck, it's a huge week, period. Last night was the finale for Dancing with the Stars and tonight there are two reality finales, plus two big premieres of new shows. Of course The Apprentice 5 debuts tonight and they are going to need to do something dramatic to keep up with the competition (ie. fire multiple people on the opening night) because the reality competition is STIFF.

Over on Fox is the finale for Skating with Celebrities, in which a bunch of star figure skaters compete along with B-list celebrities like Bruce Jenner and Todd Bridges. Interesting that one of the favorites in the final, the team of Lloyd Eisler and Kristy Swanson- are rumored to be having an affair! Apparently Eisler dumped his woman to run off with Kristy!!! So obviously people are going to tune in. The other thing is that Jillian Barberie is in the finals, but you know, she was actually a competitive figure skater before she went on TV.

Over on Citytv is another edition of the MuchMusic VJ Search and I gotta say, as reality shows go, this one is GOOD. I really enjoy seeing these potential VJs struggle with these stupid rules, trying to do a good job on TV. I can definitely relate to their on-air struggles. I've been there, darnet. It's hard work, being on the air, and it's hard to get good at it. All I will say is these folks need a lot of practice. Man, they suck at this. And the judges really trash these folks. Man, what a bunch of arrogant jerks these VJ judges are, all attitude and full of themselves. They think they're so great.

Then it's the BACHELOR and THE APPRENTICE 5 next, and I expect to be flipping channels between both these two. All I will say about The Bachelor is that I'm pulling for Moana, for no other reason than she is truly the black sheep of that Bachelorette pad and has faced long odds from these girls who all hate her, and from her own parents who have done nothing to endear themselves to the Bachelor, and so on and so forth. This show is setting itself up for Sarah to get the big rose, and it stinks for Moana, because she seems to have better chemistry with this guy. Personally, I think the guys at home are more likely to lust for Moana! I think most guys out there go for her air of mystery and her penchant for using her Italian-language skills in public. I think most guys love her act, if it is an act, and think she is one hot babe. But she is a babe with skeletons in the closet to be sure. The fact that people hate her so much raises a lot of red flags.

I gotta say the format of this lousy show has not worked in Moana's favor one bit, with all this meet-the-parents stuff going on. Of COURSE Sarah is going to get a big endorsement from Mom and Dad because she's this big kindergarten teacher who's so good with kids. That's what I predict will happen! You can see Sarah as the mother of your children, while Moana is--- well, the woman you'll end up running off with after you get married to Sarah! I've heard people say that you could see Moana as a potential mistress, not a wife. A potential homewrecker. Anyway, Moana's the most interesting Bachelor candidate that's come along in a long time, that's for sure. That's tonight's Bachelor finals for you.

Someone gets fired from THE APPRENTICE tonight as well, and I have ranted and raved about this show too much. This opening show had better be good. This show is getting hosed with its timeslot, as I have said over and over again. It is getting served up directly against 24, and 24 gets a lead-in from Skating with Celebrities. All the skating fans from the Olympics will tune into that, and then they'll tune into 24. Meanwhile the lead-in for the Donald is the pathetic game show Deal or No Deal with Howie Mandel.

Who set the scheduling? Someone at NBC should be fired for this.

BLOG AND GET RICH

THE CAIRNS BLOG IS A JOKE

Well, I want to once again welcome all of you friends and relatives to THE CAIRNS BLOG, with readership in the 0s. I ought to do something about my crummy web site to get some more traffic so I can get rich. The people at Blogger keep on saying you can make money and get rich with your blog sites. Well, I sure ain't! The last time I had advertising on here, the traffic was so low that Google was running public service announcements to save the wildlife and things like that. So I took them down.

It's my fault. All I need to do, really, is join the Blogging Tories and my traffic will go through the roof. But the problem is that my blog doesn't talk about politics all the time, it's more about media and TV these days. My main worry is that by joining the Blogging Tories I'd be turning this blog into a partisan-hack website, when I really don't feel like being a partisan hack all the time. There's more to life than sitting in front of a computer, bashing the Liberals.

Besides, I spent the entire last federal election using THE CAIRNS BLOG to bash the Liberals, and it got me no buzz whatsoever. Instead, the National Post and the Globe and these other places monitoring the "blog beat" were talking about what the bigshot bloggers like Angry in the Great White North, Political Staples and Captain's Quarters had to say. No one cared about the rest of us bloggers who aren't part of the blogging "establishment". It's fair to say that political blogging is a crowded field with a big pecking order. There are just too many of these fools. Arguably I run a better blog than imposters like Jason Cherniak who waste their time with their own boring partisan rants; but that doesn't make my own site a hit or necessarily any good.

What I ought to do is go a different direction with this blog if I'm serious about making money. I could turn this thing into a TV news blog; I write about that all the time. I could turn it into a screenwriting blog, too, I guess, but there's only one problem; I'm not a screenwriter. Maybe I should try adding photos to the site, that would drive traffic up. Anyway, bottom line is I'm not getting rich off my blog.

FAMOUS BLOGGERS

Some people are, though, like these people. Noticed that some of these people, like Rachel Sklar, Melissa Lafsky etcetera- are getting famous thanks to their blogs. Not coincidentally, these latter two- not to mention female-impersonator David Lat, now at Wonkette- are ex-lawyers. Think about it.

I think the way to make it big in blogging is you need to go to one of these blog sites like Gawker or FishBowlNY or somewhere like that, get on there as a blogger, then quit and start your own blog and get rich from all the name recognition from your previous work. You can get famous and keep all your dough, meanwhile your previous blog site goes straight to hell without you and winds up belly-up. Look at Ana Marie Cox; she left Wonkette, sort of. Now she has her own blog and a book deal, too, and still writes the occasional post for Wonkette.

Another option is to keep working at a big law firm or somewhere and blog about it incognito. That's bound to work, because people will want to read your blog to find out if you get "outed." People will want to see whether your bosses will freak out and fire you for writing incendiary things about them and their profession. That's why Opinionistas made it so big. Melissa Lafsky finally couldn't go on like this and finally quit and outed herself, and now is trying to cash in on her fame. Problem is, what point is there to reading her rants now? She's outed herself, she quit her job! Takes the fun right out of reading her blog- you're no longer guessing who she is or what will happen to her if the firm finds out about her.

Her assessments of the legal profession, though, are quite true. Who wants to be a lawyer in New York City these days, the hours absolutely are the worst ever. In fact, the hours are bad everywhere in the profession. If you are someone who likes the simple pleasures of life (like watching TV shows, going to movies, even going out on dates!), this is no place for you. I gotta say, it's a really sad state of affairs for the legal profession to be in when lawyers are quitting to go into blogging. That ought to send up a lot of red flags to people applying to law school. It's bad enough when these lawyers quit to become TV reporters (ie. Bob Woodruff) , or screenwriters in Hollywood (David E. Kelley), or magazine or book writers (John Grisham). But to become a full-time blogger--- now, that is sad.

Anyway, here's an excellent article from New York magazine about bloggers and blogs, and people who've struck it rich doing these things. It sort of gives you a good clue as to who is doing well in the blogging world. I'm getting some good tips on what I may want to do to be a hit blog site. All you need is for some other big mainstream blogger to say something good about your blog in print and direct traffic to your site, and you have it made. At least, that's the impression these New York magazine people give you.

If nothing else works, have those two "blogger babes" over on CNN say something about your site on The Situation Room. Your traffic is bound to go up and you'll be able to charge for ad space in no time.

Become a blogger and drive a Cadillac! Right.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

CONVICTION: DICK WOLF'S LATEST

As a confirmed Law and Order addict, I should mention that this Friday at 10 PM EST Conviction airs on NBC, and also on Global. It's the latest attempt by Dick Wolf to get a hit after a recent string of flops, particularly Law and Order: Trial by Jury. This new series is about young prosecutors in the D.A.'s office. Here's a Newsweek story about it.

Oh yeah, and if you can't wait until Friday this new show is available on iTunes for free. Conviction figures to generate a lot of buzz that way, plus they're banking on all the promotion by NBC during the Olympics. That's why networks get the rights to the Olympic Games; they know people will tune in, so they can lure you to watch Conviction and the rest of their shows when they come back.

That Newsweek article, by the way, goes on about the Law and Order franchise in general and about Dick Wolf's desire to see this show break Gunsmoke's record, etcetera. There's supposed to be another big cast change coming next season.

And I was wrong speculating that the reason The Apprentice moved to Monday was to maybe avoid Dancing with the Stars, because the finale for that show was TONIGHT. I just happened to see the ending; Drew Lachey won. So the question I have now is: why the heck did these NBC guys move this Apprentice show?! I don't see how it can do well against 24 on Mondays. Who knows.

Friday, February 24, 2006

TRUMP'S TV WOES

Here's a link to yet another stupid NY Daily News story about the silly feud between Donald Trump and Martha Stewart over Martha's flop Apprentice show. Donald was trashing Martha because her Apprentice show was such a flop. Well, maybe Trump ought to fire himself for the debacle that is his own show.

As you all know by now The Apprentice returns Monday at 9PM right after Deal or No Deal. The problem is that this show is sinking fast and everyone knows it. They've only been in the offseason from the last train wreck of a series for a couple of months now, and it still feels like too short a period of time. People are fed up watching good people getting hosed while undeserving jerks get ahead for no reason. But more than that, people are fed up with all of the other ridiculous nonsense on and off the show, like this stupid feud that's going on.

Enough already. Everyone knows Martha's show was a boring train wreck. But that doesn't mean that the Donald's show is so great. If it were so great, it would still be on Thursday nights! Instead, NBC is moving the Trump show to Mondays so the show can stop getting slaughtered by CSI every night. NBC is moving Trump, and will fill his former Thursday night time slot with My Name is Earl and The Office. The few die-hard fans remaining aren't happy about this move; we all loved watching Survivor at 8PM and The Apprentice at 9PM on Thursdays. Global TV in Canada ran both these shows on the same night and were cleaning up, so they can't be too happy about this, either. But frankly, NBC had to do something drastic to turn things around on Thursdays. And they aren't dumb, these network executives, they have taste! They know they're better off in the long run putting shows on the air that show signs of actually being good. My Name is Earl and The Office are good shows on their way up, while The Apprentice is on its way down--- to the cab.

Another factor is that Dancing with the Stars is also airing on Thursdays lately, and FOX is airing the American Idol results show lately on the same night, which creams everybody. I think NBC was afraid of how it would look if The Apprentice got beat by some second-rate reality show on the same night. Not a way to start a season. I think they know this series is in big trouble, and are looking for some way to save it and keep all the high-end viewers and advertising money flowing in. This show gets a ton of money from product placements and has an ultra-high-end viewership of MBAs and other rich people who tune in to get ideas about how business ought to be conducted. God help us if they actually use some of the ideas from this series, but I do think NBC still has a vested interest in trying to figure out a way to keep this piece of junk on the air and make it a hit again, because the audience is so desirable.

Unfortunately, Trump's show now has to face 24 on Monday nights on a regular basis; plus, ABC is running the finals of The Bachelor next week, with the doctor guy choosing his bride. What irony: these two reality series are both in real trouble with their declining audiences, and here they are facing off against each other. I wouldn't be surprised if The Donald's show utterly crashes into third place on Monday, given the competition.

What a choice! What would you rather see: someone getting fired by Trump, or someone getting dumped by The Bachelor?! I'd say the freak-show and rubbernecking factors alone make The Bachelor required viewing, because that show is truly so bad that you have to watch to see how low it can go. And besides, I'd much rather see what happens to poor Sarah or Moana than see what becomes of the arrogant jerks who are Trump's contestants. These two suitors are people you might actually feel sorry for, unlike these Trump candidates! With these Apprentice candidates you're actually rooting for them to be defeated, some of them! These type-A jerks get on my nerves. It used to be this show had some people on it with class, people you wanted to root for. But the last three seasons have been loaded with idiots.

Why is this show seemingly in a death spiral right now? Well, let's put it this way, this show has spent the last three seasons jumping back and forth from the shark. Let us count the ways this show has sucked:

(1) The first sign of trouble is the tension involving the resident idiots of the first season Sam and Omarosa, and the idiot decision of the Donald to keep these two lunatics around and spare them from the knife. Network people and producers get the impression that the reason the show is a hit is because of these two idiots, so they heavily promote the next season by saying "who will be the next Omarosa?" Producers add more idiots to the cast to liven things up.
(2) Fans are upset when the popular, hard-working Troy is fired, for no other reason than because he didn't have a college education. It was a chintzy reason to fire this guy and everyone knew it, wondering why he was even on the show if he didn't have a degree.
(3) The women's team sexes it up in order to win. They win all the time, and then Carolyn shows up to ream them out for using their sex appeal to get ahead. It's the beginning of the end for the girls: all the women are fired by the time the finals roll around. Amy, who hardly ever lost during Season One and was a heavy favorite, is the last to go when she surprisingly bombs her interviews with Trump executives.

Now, despite these issues the first season of the show was very successful. The two finalists, Bill and Kwame, were first-class individuals and the feeling was that the contestants, most of them, were class acts that viewers wanted to root for. But then came Season Two: the Year of Incompetence.

(4) Bradford impresses early, wins as project manager and gets an exemption from dismissal in the next week's boardroom. Despite his solid efforts, his team is a train wreck and loses. Bradford then waives his exemption in the boardroom to show Trump that he didn't slack off during his team's losing task, even though he had an exemption, and implores the Donald to judge him on what he did. Trump ridicules his show of guts, ignores his strong performance on the job, and fires him.
(5) Stacie J. is singled out by her squabbling female team for being crazy, and is fired for that.
(6) Trump transfers the capable Pamela from her winning almost-all-male team to the squabbling, train wreck all-female team and almost leads that group of utter losers to a victory after weeks of defeat. The board blames Pamela for the loss, though, and she is fired--- not to mention HOSED.
(7) Jennifer Crisafulli insults those two "Jewish old bags" as project manager and not only is fired on TV, but loses her real job in real life for her comments.
(8) John is fired, essentially, for not knowing anything about women's fashions. And let's not even discuss skirt-chasing Raj.
(9) The mutiny. Elizabeth is humilated by her own team over her inept "leadership" (?) (!) and is the first person to be fired on the spot in Apprentice history.
(10) On the eve of the finals, Kevin is fired after his interviews for supposedly not having any clear career direction, in spite of his solid performance all year during a season of incompetence from the rest of the cast. Black leaders criticize the firing, say the real reason he was fired was because he's black.
(11) The three-hour train wreck Season Two finale starring Regis Philbin features a battle between the less-than-inspiring Kelly and the even worse Jennifer M., who only gets to the final because she's the only woman on the women's team who rose above all the catfighting. Trump asks for opinions on who to hire during the live show and that leads to Jennifer getting humiliatingly trashed on live TV. Most embarrassing is the Trump executive who freezes up on national TV while bashing Jennifer. She's fired, and the show jumps the shark.

Might I also add that the whole season was Product Placement Hell. This aspect of the show got really bad in Season Two and has been dragging the show down ever since.

By this point the show was clearly treading water. The finale was a big letdown, many of the contestants were quite unimpressive, and many of the boardroom decisions made no sense. Capable project managers were falling victim to predictable, week-after-week firings. This led to the series low point: Season Three.

(12) "Book Smarts versus Street Smarts" features embarrassing tasks and absolute idiot contestants. ( Danny, that dude who strummed the guitar all the time, was an absolute classic.) Even the Donald isn't into it, and it shows.
(13) Verna, that contestant who walked out on her task and then quit the show made all the contestants look like second-rate, wannabe actors.
(14) The notorious Donny Deutsch advertising task, in which both teams tank in humiliating fashion, sends both teams into the boardroom and makes everyone in the audience wonder why the Donald didn't fire everyone on every team on the spot.
(15) The tobacco-chewing Chris is an embarrassment all season, has anger management problems, tells Trump in the boardroom "I am not a homosexual". Cries in the boardroom after he's fired. After the season is over he's arrested for disorderly conduct; charges are dropped.
(16) The boring and predictable one-hour final show is won by the boring, under-the-radar Kendra.

In spite of the lacklustre season, NBC ups for Season Four and a season of Apprentice overexposure with the pathetic Martha show on Wednesdays and the Donald on Thursdays. These two immediately start feuding, and Martha's show is a boring train wreck from the start. But it isn't all bad; the Donald personally selects the cast for The Apprentice 4 and initially it looks like a great start to their season. There were some tense moments in the boardroom on the Donald's show with some exciting and unpredictable mass firings during the early episodes of Season 4.

(17) Exciting or no, the infamous Dick's Sporting Goods debacle was the beginning of the end for this season's show. The show went straight downhill after that. Trump's decision to go nuts and fire four people, almost wiping out a whole team, was great television and the high point of the year. But I'd say at least two of these guys got hosed simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time; they had been part of winning teams, but being part of one big loss is enough to get them fired. Trump then went overboard by going on a multiple-firing spree all season, which sort of reduced the shock value of this sort of thing for the rest of the year.
Of the people remaining from the Dick's Sporting Goods debacle, some, like the inept Markus, were utterly useless. And some of them were complete jerks. But they got a free pass for being on the winning team. You had to wonder why they were still around while these four decent hard-working people were on the street.
(18) It's men versus women, and the women's team is an embarrassment to women again, as usual. The women catfight and hate one another, but the Donald doesn't bother to mass-fire any of THEM. Rebecca breaks her ankle, and then she defends the useless Toral and saves her from firing in the boardroom when the rest of the team is rightfully screaming for her head. Rebecca gets to keep her job when such a tactic never worked for anyone else on the show. Toral bombs again the following week and is fired.
(19) The obnoxious Clay, who sulks and can't work with anyone, period, is an embarrassment to gay people everywhere.
(20) The Donald tells Adam in the boardroom that one of these days he'll find out how great it is to have sex. Another new low.
(21) Alla, another sunny personality who can't work with anyone and who's still bitter after being fired, proves to world what a diva she is: trashes Rebecca in the finale.
(22) Rebecca's event is a train wreck that embarrasses the sponsor! She is basically told by Yahoo! to make her charity event a Yahoo! event. Instead, the event raises no money and an embarrassed Yahoo! has to cut a cheque to charity on national television.
(23) Randal, how would you feel if we hired Rebecca, also?
(24) Jim, you played by your rules, now you're playing by my rules. You just don't fit in. Sincerely, Martha Stewart.

The misfires of this show are so legendary by this point it's hard for anyone to take this show seriously anymore. Maybe it used to be a window on how companies worked at one point in time but if this is how the business world really operates, boy, you'd have to want to run like heck. Who talks about sex (?) in the middle of a meeting in which someone's job is on the line--- that's a lawsuit waiting to happen. I mean, how low does it get.

Maybe the joke's on us, the regular viewers of this show. Maybe this show never was any good to begin with. Maybe we're only now starting to clue in and figure that out for ourselves. It sure looks like this show is running out of ideas, fast, and finding new and creative ways to wear out its welcome with the public. If this keeps up this series will succeed in getting itself, uh, fired.

Here's some future shark-jumping plans for the show to look forward to for the very few of you who still care about this series:
(25) The show is moving to Mondays, opposite 24. Who's gonna watch? Big Thursday reality-TV night is ruined for the fans.
(26) NBC asks the audience to vote on-line for one of 6 US Olympians; winner with most votes makes the cast of season 6 of The Apprentice. People are actually calling this a blatant "shark-jump" moment.
(27) Donald Trump's business is in New York, home of Wall Street--- but season 6 is slated for Los Angeles. WHY????!!!

Um, that's it for now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CART-IRL SPLIT ENDING, I HOPE

If you are a racing fan life is good. NASCAR is back, finally, and Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500. Now comes word that the CART-IRL feud may be thawing.

This would be great news for the sport. IRL owner Tony George and ChampCar owner Kevin Kalkhoven are talking about merging the IRL and ChampCar series after a decade-long split.

About time, I hope. This current situation cannot go on for much longer. These two racing series were getting killed by NASCAR, and this split ruined the Indianapolis 500. In fact, it ruined open-wheel racing in North America, period. Even if they get back together it's going to take years to rebuild from the carnage of this split, but at least they'll be able to do it.

I wonder if the current television situation has something to do with these talks. ABC just signed a big contract with NASCAR to take over the "Chase", and I don't think that was good news for either the IRL or ChampCar. ChampCar already had been kicked off of ABC and had a pathetic TV deal as it is- I think they had to buy time to get their races on the air. The IRL were still on ABC and ESPN already, but I think their contract there was going to be threatened with this NASCAR news and they were probably going to have to move to CBS or NBC for less money-- and possibly knock ChampCar off the air. These two series are basically battling to a draw: IRL has more marquee names and has the Indy 500, but most of their other race dates are terrible and attendance is in the toilet everywhere. I doubt ABC or any other networks are too interested in continuing to show a race series in which people care about only one race. ChampCar, on the other had, still has better race venues overall despite a few defections, and good attendance in a lot of places. But fewer marquee names are willing to be part of this series anymore, their TV deals are a joke--- and of course, they don't have the 500.

Meanwhile, interest in both race series has basically evaporated. Major sponsors have bailed out. Star drivers are thinking of bolting to the big money in NASCAR, or to Formula 1. This whole sport is a mess, ladies and gentlemen. So they need a merger.

I know there's some people who are in Toronto who still say ChampCar should go it alone and think Tony George should go to hell, and they say George split up the sport before and might do it again. They want to keep ChampCar the way it is and still harbour hopes of putting Tony George out of business completely. I think these guys are dreaming. ChampCar still has a lot of problems and it's all due to the infamous split. I'd say that if both series continue fighting with each other they'll BOTH go under; this situation cannot be allowed to continue. The other problem is that sooner or later Paul Tracy is going to retire. Then what do these Toronto and Edmonton races do? They would be left with a bunch of bums and no-names are part of their races.

I hope this situation gets resolved in time for 2007. Imagine: Danica Patrick in Toronto at the-- wait, what is it called again?

That's the other thing, it's not called the Molson Indy anymore now, they're calling it something else this year, thanks to this awful split. This is yet one more reason why this split has to END.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BLOND BOND UNDER FIRE

EARLY BUZZ: CASINO ROYALE, NEW BOND ARE A TRAIN WRECK

I am not encouraged by what I keep hearing about Casino Royale. As you know I'm a James Bond fan and I worry when I hear the stories I hear about this movie.

The latest news is that fans are still upset over Daniel Craig being cast as Bond. A group of concerned citizens have put up a web site called www.CraigNotBond.com in order to stop Craig from playing the role of James Bond. They claim he's too short, and they hate his blond hair! They want Pierce Brosnan reinstated and are threatening to boycott the movie when it comes out! Boy oh boy, is this ever not good news for this franchise. Guys like Roger Moore are now being paraded in front of the press to tell the fans to give Craig a chance. It's a debacle.

To top it all off Craig got his two front teeth knocked out in a fight scene in the movie, so apparently things are really not going well for him at all on or off the set.

NEW BOND GIRL NEEDS CLOTHES TO WEAR

They also had a lot of trouble casting a leading lady in this movie. They approached everyone from Charlize Theron to Angelina Jolie and all these A-listers turned them down. Frankly, I think the producers had the right idea going after Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie! They'd be great in a Bond film, but maybe they know something about this one that we don't. Instead the role goes to the little-known but very hot French actress Eva Green, whose previous motion picture experience includes a steamy role in the film The Dreamers, in which she appears -- well, let's put it this way. Far from having a wardrobe malfunction in her movies, her entire wardrobe has gone MISSING. Completely.

Needless to say a lot of male fans are quite thrilled to hear this. But of course, this revelation has a lot of people in the United States upset because, well, they're pretty uptight about things like this compared to those liberated Europeans. I don't see what the controversy is all about, but then again, I'm a Canadian. I think it's just Americans being their usual selves, being nuts about this stuff. There's actually quite a long history of Bond girls having wardrobe malfunctions in movies--- Ursula Andress in particular was notorious for this sort of thing, and actresses like Maryam D'Abo appeared in PLAYBOY. But they kept their clothes on in the actual Bond movies.

In fact, I saw Maryam D'Abo on Citytv this week, on some story about Bond girls. She's written a book about it and basically is an expert on Bond leading ladies these days. I have to say D'Abo has to rank up there as one of the great Bond girls of all time because her role was so groundbreaking- this was in that movie with Timothy Dalton where Bond was trying to be a one-woman man and so on.

Anyway, this controversy about Eva Green is good news as far as I'm concerned, it'll get people talking about how hot the Bond girl is in this movie, which will more than make up for the fact that she's a B-lister. So this Bond role is bound to make her famous. Unfortunately, that is the only good news about the movie so far.

THE BOND FRANCHISE: COULD GO THE WAY OF THE PINK PANTHER

I keep reading the folks at Ain't It Cool News and they keep trashing the Bond franchise and how it has gone downhill in recent years, and they're all worried that this movie will either launch Bond into a new era or kill the whole franchise for the next 20 years. They're saying the initial script for this movie is garbage!!! I sure hope they're wrong. But I'm very worried this next movie is going to be a flop and break the series. You know, there used to be a very successful Pink Panther movie series for a long time, and it died out because Peter Sellers passed away and they couldn't replace him. Last week, they finally rolled out the revival starring Steve Martin and it has been trashed in print as not living up to the original. They're saying Steve Martin is no Peter Sellers! Well, the worry is Daniel Craig is no Pierce Brosnan, let along Sean Connery or Roger Moore.

I'm worried this James Bond series will bite the dust the way the Pink Panther did, and that we won't see another Bond movie again for 20 years, and when we do it'll be some revival of Dr. No. The sense is this next movie is truly make or break given the recent history of supposed mediocre Bond movies. The problem with Bond is that they aren't keeping with the times; they can't find a suitable villain now that the Cold War is over. If they wanted to be realistic they could have Bond fighting these al-Qaeda types or something, but probably that would be too politically incorrect and might offend people. Just as Bond's constant running around with women all the time was offending people.

I dunno, it just seems this series is on the brink to me. This series looks like it is in big trouble.

CANADA LOSES IN HOCKEY

Well, no one in Canada cares about any of those other sports we did so well in today at the Olympic Games, because in Canada's official sport we LOST, 2-0 to Russia!

So we can start the government inquiries and the hearings and so on, and start investigating why we can't win at our own sport; the Olympics are officially a failure for Canada because we lost at men's hockey.

Many are blaming Todd Bertuzzi for being a bum at this tournament. People are saying they picked the wrong players for this team. I blame the whole offence for not scoring any goals again today. If I were them I'd spend a few days in Italy in hiding.

Anyway, it served this team right. People here in Canada were so arrogant, thinking Canada was going to cream everyone again. I just don't think people took these games seriously enough. The fact that we lost to the Swiss!!!!! says it all. And the fans are in shock, they're calling in the radio shows to voice their disbelief and expert analysis. It's a national crisis. This has to be the worst men's hockey showing Canada has had at the Games in, well, years.

As for the CBC and all their guarantees that they made to advertisers about how big their audience numbers were going to be, well, I guess they can forget about viewers now. Nobody cares anymore about the Olympic Games or hockey, or any of the teams remaining. Don Cherry was on CBC tonight and he's telling viewers he wouldn't even bother tuning in Friday for the semifinals. His reaction sums it right up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

BLA BLA BLA

Here's a hilarious story on a testy exchange of e-mails between a prospective employee at a criminal law firm and the firm's partner. The woman who had accepted the offer, a Suffolk Law grad, apparently got cold feet about accepting an offer from this criminal law firm, and sent an e-mail turning down the job, saying it wouldn't allow her to uphold her lifestyle and so on. This led to some testy e-mails between these two where she was accused of immaturity and the like, and with this senior lawyer threatening her with talk about how she couldn't afford to tick off a small legal community and the like, and she responded with an e-mail with the words "bla bla bla."

This led eventually to this e-mail being circulated around the world and eventually making its way to, well, the CAIRNS BLOG of frozen Toronto, Canada.

Anyway, I thought these two showed a real lack of class. This woman's response was really embarrassing to say the least. If you turn down a job, at least do it in person! Show some class! But then, who'd want to work for this clown anyway. He should have held his fire about blasting this woman's "immaturity" and the like. At the very least, he could have called her into his office and tried to persuade her to stay, if he was truly interested in having her work there. That's what lots of real firms do in this situation! But instead he just chose to berate this woman and tell her she was going to be frozen out of the profession. And to send this e-mail out to all of Cyberspace to see, to try and embarrass her---- what a lack of class. No wonder she quit.

Both these people could use a few lessons at the local charm school. Bla bla bla!

HEADS ROLL IN OTTAWA

William Stairs is out as director of communications for Stephen Harper, all because of the David Emerson flap and the failures of the spinmeisters to put the fire out. But then again, what do you expect from communications. There's only so much they can do; besides, it's not their fault the fire started. That was the PMO's fault for urging Emerson to switch in the first place! So the communications people get the blame and the knife. Life is not fair.

If it's the PMO that makes a hash of things to begin with, by going against your own messaging by poaching opposition parties, you can't expect the communications team to be able to do very much to bail you out. By poaching Emerson to begin with and hosing the people who expected Emerson to serve under the Liberal banner, the Harper gang made short work of their own line of bull about providing more accountable government to the people, especially after they yelled and screamed about the poachings last year. The essential consistency of their message was lost. There's not much the communications team can do to paper this problem over in a short period of time.

I get the impression some of these leaders, especially in the business world, feel they can get away with doing whatever they want, and that if they get bad press the PR team is entirely to blame for it. Well, the PR team could use a little help from on high sometimes.

I had said before that the communications had to be stronger from the PMO over this Emerson business; they could have made a stronger case that this poaching of Emerson was done for principled reasons to strengthen representation in the cities, to ensure that Vancouver and British Columbia had a voice in cabinet. Anyway, seems Stairs tried to tell the folks in charge that this was a debacle that needed to be addressed, but Harper and everyone went into hiding. Wrong move. They needed to take the heat and go into the kitchen, and face the controversy head on with their own line of bull about how all this was principled. But they didn't do it.

Courtesy of the Globe and Mail:

The sources said Mr. Stairs departed after arguing 10 days ago that the PMO and the Prime Minister needed to deal more forcefully with the Emerson problem. The Prime Minister had kept mostly silent on the difficulties surrounding Mr. Emerson despite the urgings of Mr. Stairs and a number of other individuals within the government.

Anyway, let this be a lesson to the Harper gang. It makes it a lot easier on the communications team if you actually do things that are true to your principles. Like not poaching opposition parties! If you run a campaign saying you're going to do better than the incumbent government and do things differently, well, then, do it! Then you're bound to get good press- or better press than the crummy clippings you're getting right now. This sort of thing is exactly what got Paul Martin in trouble: he said one line of bull and then didn't do it. He was going to end the Democratic Deficit and clean up the mess left by Chretien and well, he didn't. Now look where he is today, him with all his hot-air PR help. On the street.

Now this new government is turning around and seemingly doing nothing about the Democratic Deficit either. You can't blame the PR team if the government says it's going to improve things and then doesn't, and then ignores all your crisis-management good advice.

So much for changing things in Ottawa. We are the @#$% Liberals.

Monday, February 20, 2006

OLYMPICS RATINGS ARE TERRIBLE

If I were CTV I'd be worried about all the money I spent to get the rights to the Olympic Games. Millions upon millions of dollars spent on the games in Vancouver and London.

Apparently CBC, still stuck with the rights to this year's Olympics and the next one, too, is missing the targets it promised advertisers. It promised something like 1.7 million viewers and it's only delivering 1.4 mil. A combination of Euro time zones, competition from the Internet and elsewhere, and stiff TV competition from American Idol is largely to blame. American Idol is beating the Olympics every night, to the amusement of the media who can't believe that a show this bad can be so popular.

NBC has the same problems the CBC has to face right now, and Ken Levine says it all in his blog:

I wonder if NBC would’ve paid its four trillion dollars and sacrificed having the NFL for years if it knew the Olympics would finish behind both SURVIVOR and DANCING WITH THE STARS? But it does kick VERONICA MARS ass.

I simply think nonstop figure skating coverage doesn't cut it with the public anymore; otherwise, they'll just watch reality crap, which is equally as phony in the eyes of the public. There's all these phony skating shows with celebrities on FOX and phony dance competitions over on ABC, and the dumbbells at home can't tell the difference.

There's also the competition from thje phony reality hookup shows. Tonight, over on ABC, people will tune in to see Moana try and get her man on The Bachelor. I think this is the night when all the women show up to tell all to Chris Harrison and bitch about the show and how badly they got edited. Of course, the appeal of The Bachelor is the fact that this show is a train wreck in progress. That's why I watch it! The contestants are mainly phony actress wannabes, and some of them are complete freaks and borderline psychotics. The guys on The Bachelorette are even worse. The families of these contestants are a piece of work, and so many of the relationships end in breakups! Last year, the Bachelorette rejected both her suitors on national television and went home! You never know what will happen, it really is so bad it's good.

Bottom line is that this is more bad news for the Olympic telecasts and their ratings. People would rather tune into some phony reality show, watching people catfight and whine and complain, than watch a real live sporting event where real athletes get medals. I guess people could tune in the Olympics to watch people wipe out, but that happens every week on The Bachelor when these women get dumped. If you want to see a sure wipeout, you're better off watching reality TV. No wonder Olympic ratings are so bad.

HOCKEY MISERY

The ratings are bound to get worse for the CBC if Canada's national hockey team doesn't get any better on the ice. The Men's Team lost again to Finland, 2-0. That's two games in a row in which "our boys" failed to put the puck in the net.

The latest excuse is that the team knows these games don't count; it's not the medal round, so these are just glorified exhibition games to them. They'll simply show up during the medal round, when it counts. Sure. But everyone else is in the same freaking boat, they all have to play these crappy teams from Italy and Kazakhstan, too.

But I believe Kelly Hrudey's comments on CBC the other day about how these guys are playing as a bunch of individuals, not as a team. And a lot of these guys are being roasted for not seeming to care. Too many of the players have issues outside the Olympic Games that are quite frankly more important. But the main problem facing this team is that they're getting stonewalled by The Trap. I thought The Trap had been outlawed: I guess not. I forgot, this isn't the NHL, it's the Olympics.

Anyway, the men's hockey squad are all bums unless they prove otherwise. If they don't win gold the Olympics will be considered a failure by Canadians. That';s just the way it is in this country.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

AND SPEAKING OF THE MEN'S TEAM...

... how the heck could they lose 2-0 to Switzerland?

The SWISS?! This isn't Sweden or Finland they lost to, ladies and gentlemen.

I guess these biased pro-Canadian prognosticators have to do a bit of re-thinking. So much for our great goaltending, doesn't help much if the rest of the team doesn't score. WHERE'S OUR OFFENCE?!

Friday, February 17, 2006

CANADA'S WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM IS, AHEM, GOOD

It has been a big week of controversy for the Canadian women's hockey team, which I've followed with some interest because of all the women's hockey stories I've covered over the years. I covered some National Women's Hockey League games on cable TV and actually worked on live broadcasts with Kylie Richardson, who is doing the color commentary for the Olympic Games on CBC.

Anyway the Canadian ice hockey women are all mad at Don Cherry who criticized the Canadian team for running up the score and disrespecting their opponents by doing so. They've outscored the opposition something like 44 to 1. Today they slaughtered Finland 6-0 in their game, which was actually the closest game all tournament for them. Richardson was on fire at the end of the telecast, blasting Don Cherry. She was saying "I wonder if Don Cherry has any more comments about the female coaching staff" in the tournament, because the female coach for Canada was doing a great job, or words to that effect. Richardson was FURIOUS! Cassie Campbell was on CBC at the end of the game saying how they respected their opponents and so on.

Anyway, I think the women are genuinely upset. Here they are playing hard for their country, and all they get in return is criticism for it! I don't blame the players for being angry and completely ticked off. Frankly, Team Canada is showing a lot of respect for the opposition and for the entire tournament. Heck they should be commended for taking this tournament seriously, as they ought to! If anyone should be criticized, it's these other teams for not showing up! Canada beat Italy 16-0 in the first game. If you're going to criticize anyone, blast away at the Italians, because they were TERRIBLE. THEY DIDN'T EVEN SHOW UP! But what do you expect from a country where the fans prefer to watch a sport that involves kicking a ball around a field. That's not Canada's fault! Canada's shown up, they've played hard! That's what you expect them to do, to play hard. They shouldn't slack off just to keep the score close.

And what the heck was the deal in the other semi-final today with Sweden and the USA? Sweden upset the Americans 3-2 in a shootout, a big embarrassment for the United States. They sure didn't show up at this tournament, either. So Canada's opposition for the Gold Medal will be a team they already slaughtered in the round robin 8-to-1, the Swedes, although the Swedish goalie is said to be pretty good and held Canada to only a 2-0 win with 40 shots on goal two weeks ago.

I will say, though, that these 16-0 and 8-to-1 blowouts pose a problem for women's hockey. It's this: you can't have a situation where the games are all blowouts all the time. You need some geniune competition at these games, or else these Olympic officials might be ruthless enough to pull the rug out from underneath the sport and kick it out of the Olympics! They did it with baseball, after all. They could easily do the same to women's hockey if the same teams keep winning all the time. I'm not saying this is right, but these officials have done this before.

But again, that's not Canada's fault; it's the fault of other nations for not developing their players! Canada's success at women's hockey is a double-edged sword; if they do too well, it could be bad for the sport. But on the other had, they can't lay off or slack off in games, that does nothing for the sport either! There are no easy solutions here. You just have to hope these other countries get their act together and start winning at the sport. It helps that Sweden got to the finals this year, but it won't help if they get slaughtered by Canada on Monday. Anyway, we'll see what will happen.

EDDIE HAYES HAS A BIG MOUTH

Found out that Eddie Hayes, bigshot New York attorney and frequent contributor to Court TV, has a new book out, called Mouthpiece. NY Observer has a book review about it here. This is one book I'd like to try and get a hold of. Of course, I have a couple of these bios of these other bigshot trial attorneys and it sounds like a hard life for some of them. Rikki Klieman said being a trial lawyer almost killed her. Hayes has had a motley crew for clients- gangsters, etcetera- but he's managed to get rich from his practice and has lots of society friends, a really charmed life. Which is weird because I keep hearing how there's no money to be made at criminal law, the money is all in PI.

I guess I'm still interested in the criminal justice system after all this time. Especially tonight; I'm watching Law and Order again. I'm just a crime show junkie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

NETWORK TV NEWS: STILL A MESS

Okay, it is now February and here is the situation with the TV news networks in the United States:

Over at NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams is still the anchor over there. But CBS is still helmed by the interim-anchor Bob Schieffer, who ought to change his title to Substitute-in-Chief because he's anchored a lot longer than expected. And over at ABC it is total chaos with Elizabeth Vargas and a revolving door of substitutes. And here's the good part: Vargas is going to be off the air herself pretty soon.

Yes, it turns out Elizabeth Vargas is preggers and is going to eventually have to go on maternity leave. Given what has gone on with that newscast, with anchors dying or getting blown up, this is a rare piece of good news... I guess.

Anyway, sounds as if Vargas is in shock. She should be in shock--- she's having kids and she's 43 years old! So much for the biological clock. Anyway, the era of permanent substitute anchors continues over there at World News Tonight Without Peter Jennings. What else can you call that show these days. What a sad situation. That broadcast seems like it's cursed.

It's not just the nightly newscasts that are a mess, it's the Today Show not knowing if Katie Couric is sticking around, it's Nightline and the changes over there, it's all these things. Here's an article from the NY Observer about the situation at ABC News. Basically there's big exodus from that place to NPR and to Al-Jazeera International! Dave Marash, ex-Nightline correspondent, is going to Al-Jazeera, and they're poaching the ex-Nightline staffers by promising plenty of freedom to do long-form documentaries and other stuff that is no longer welcome at the new ABC News. So maybe Al-Jazeera International will turn out to be okay after all. Should be a welcome change from their usual coverage of terror videos and people rioting over Danish cartoons and the like.

NPR is also on a hiring spree. That article talks about how NPR is poaching ex-Nightline staffers, including Ted Koppel! If I were at ABC News I'd quit and go to NPR. Like I say, radio has its attractions these days. I have a lot of respect for NPR and that's another place where the reporters get a lot more freedom to report good stories. You're more likely to cover political or international stuff if you go over there. If you stay at ABC you're more likely to cover--- Jennifer Aniston! I mean really, can you imagine any of the current crop of people over at ABC News holding fort over the political conventions?! Martin Bashir?!

But you know for darned sure that the folks over at NPR will cover them.

WAITING FOR KATIE

The NY Observer article also mentions the changes at the Today Show and that Alexis Glick was ashcanned from that show, and that they're going to bring Natalie Morales in from MSNBC, so that affects the whole Katie Couric succession crisis over there at that soap opera of a show. I find it hard to keep a straight face reading about the stuff that goes on with the Today Show, it seems like the office politics runs rampant over there. The rampant speculation now is that Katie is as good as gone from the place. The tabloids reported that NBC had offered her an unbelieveable amount of money to stay, millions upon millions of dollars. You would think she would have signed on the dotted line quickly to a deal like that, but she hasn't said a darned thing. Which is a sure sign that she's thinking of leaving.

Also, NBC began its Winter Olympic coverage and they sent Brian Williams to anchor the opening ceremonies, with Katie nowhere to be found. So the speculation is that NBC is sending the world, and her, a message with this move. But we don't know what is going to happen yet.

CBS has sent a message of its own, too, with the news of John Roberts' departure to CNN and the promotions of Jim Axelrod, Byron Pitts, Sharyl Attkisson and the rest of them. They are clearly getting ready to make a decision on an anchor and getting everyone in place. Roberts, in particular, wouldn't walk out of CBS News without knowing for darned sure his fate there was sealed. Maybe he knows something about what Katie Couric is up to that the rest of America doesn't know. Maybe his agent knows.

Right now, it's all Kremlinology... or Katieology, whichever way you read the situation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

GRETZKY RUNS FROM THE PRESS

It's days like yesterday that make me wish I was back doing sports on TV in Mississauga. Well, maybe not. I might have had to bury the Wayne Gretzky press conference story in favor of Brampton Battalion highlights.

Did you hear what happened?! Gretzky has this five minute press conference at the arena in Mississauga and the whole national media shows up, and TSN is there, and Citytv and also CBC News, and everyone is there, and he wants to talk about the Olympics but there he is answering gambling questions for five minutes! And he's telling the media there's no story! Finally some guy asked him about the story in the Las Vegas paper about how the Gretzkys dropped 2 million in Vegas casinos and that was enough for the the PR guy, he said okay that's it! End of press conference.

Now he's off to Italy. He must be going thank G. Get away from these vultures.

People are commenting about the Gretzky gambling stories and getting fed up that he won't answer questions directly. I think part of it is that he doesn't know the full extent of this. I also notice some of these Canadian reporters think we should lay off Gretzky and support our boys in Torino! Who cares if crimes were committed, we've got to support our team!!! But you know what, these questions need to be asked. The issue of gambling is a big concern for people in sports. It goes to the integrity of the game. We can't have people fixing NHL games. Pete Rose got thrown out of baseball because he bet on games. That's why these questions have to be asked: so that this game of hockey stays honest.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that Wayne Gretzky is a bad guy who actually bet on hockey games or any of that. But people do need to hear the truth and the full story from him about what he knows, so that we know who's involved and who isn't involved! So that we know that the integrity of the sport hasn't been tampered with! That is what the story is here, whether Gretzky says so or not.

People do need to hear some direct answers from him about the extent of what he knows about this scandal. And that means answering the tough questions! The media cannot be expected to be satisfied when Gretzky says there is no story, or when press conferences get cut off after five minutes because of gambling questions.

Monday, February 13, 2006

CBC SWINGS AXE

Found out reading on the blogosphere that the CBC cancelled three shows: comedy The Tournament, the legal drama This Is Wonderland, and the new drama Da Vinci's City Hall.

And I'm afraid they don't have government funding cuts to blame for these cancellations, either, just a lack of ratings.

I don't have much of an opinion of these shows because I only watch CBC for the politics and the sports these days. And I think that's part of the problem over there. The last time I ever regularly got my entertainment fix from the CBC was, oh, years ago. Whenever Wayne and Shuster were still on, about that time. Early 80s. About the last entertainment hit show I ever watched on the CBC was The Kids in the Hall. That was about it.

As I have said before: it seems the CBC has gotten out of the business of showing programs that are actually hits. There's no reason for these Canadian-made TV shows like Degrassi and Corner Gas and Canadian Idol to NOT be on the main CBC network--- but there they are over on CTV and kicking CBC's rear end.

Now the CBC is showing wall-to-wall Winter Olympics coverage and even though this kind of thing is something the CBC is supremely good at, the fact is that this is another piece of hit programming that the CBC is soon not going to have. CTV is going to have the rights to the Olympics in a few years, too. I think the new rule is: if it's a hit CBC program the CTV network will steal it. Anyway, this is bad news for the CBC. About the only decent entertainment shows they have left are their comedy shows and people hardly watch that anymore, either.

The CBC needs to do a better job spending its taxpayer-funds on program development. This can't go on. We can't have the CBC being the home of the flops all the time, taxpayers aren't getting the bang for their buck.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

MORE EX-LAWYERS IN TV NEWS

Well I have more news about more lawyers in exile who are now in TV news.

Read on one of these CNN fan websites that Alex Wellen became an Internet Producer for CNN. Anyway I read the blurb and got interested that he was the author of a book about becoming a lawyer and passing the bar, entitled Barman: Ping-pong, Pathos and Passing the Bar. It was about his life as a Tier 2-Temple Law grad struggling to pass the bar exam of the state of New York and survive at his intellectual property law firm. Here's his blog about his book. Anyway I went out and bought the book and have been reading it this weekend.

I got the impression the big selling point of this book was the fact that this was the story of some guy who didn't go to some big law school like Harvard, or Yale, Columbia, Virginia, Michigan etc. etc. This isn't One-L, Scott Turow's famous account of life as a first-year law student at Harvard Law, the most famous law school in the country. It's not The Paper Chase either. No, this was the account of a guy stuck at second-rate Temple Law trying to make his way in the legal profession. This was a guy who had to send out hundreds of letters just to get interviews. A lot of people can relate to that; most law students don't go to Harvard, after all. About time they had a book written by someone from that perspective. Temple Law is considered Tier 2 because of the US News and World Report rankings of law schools that put Temple into that second-tier category.

It's also interesting to read the perspective of someone who fought to make it through the bar exams. One-L basically ended after the first year of law school. You'd think passing the bar would be considered more dramatic since the failure rate is so high. The other interesting thing about this account in Barman is that he actually quit practising law. Nine months after passing the bar Wellen quit and pursued television producing, pitching a show about cyber crime to TechTV, and he moved to San Francisco. He felt the need to do something more creative. ( I must know at least a couple of people who live in the Bay Area now.)

Anyway, the good news is it sounds as if there's jobs in TV news for lawyers who graduate from second-rate, uh, I mean second-tier, law schools. I read Megyn Kendall at Fox News went to Albany Law School, another one of these law schools no one has heard of. And there she is on the air.

I know, I know. I keep on saying guys hate TV news, I keep harping about it being a lousy business and how these reporters get maimed or taken hostage, or even killed. So many of the stories are dreck, but there are SOME good jobs in that business, surely. I think it says a lot more about the sorry state of the legal profession, quite frankly, when people leave law to go into the cut-rate, cut-throat career path that is television news.

EVERYONE IN OTTAWA IS A @#$% HYPOCRITE

The heck is in the drinking water in Ottawa?! It seems the moment people get sworn in there they totally lose their senses.

This should have been a glorious week to be a Conservative, but they flushed it down the drain with this David Emerson floor-crossing nonsense and these questionable cabinet appointments. They didn't need to put Emerson or Michael Fortier in the cabinet, they didn't need to give these cities any representation! They would have been better off if they didn't give these cities ANY representation in cabinet, given the controversy of this week. Harper should have simply said "too bad, but those are the breaks." But then they went ahead with this business of trying to be pragmatic and represent the whole country and so on and so forth.

There is a legitimate case to be made for doing this, too. What's wrong with giving these cities representation in cabinet? NOTHING! The Harper gang should have made that their main message and made no apologies for reaching out to these cities. They should have come out and admitted that these appointments represented a big compromise of their principles on their part, but they were doing it for the greater good of the country! They should have made it clear that they would prefer to put people in Cabinet who are actually elected, but they did this to ensure that the people of these major cities were given a voice in Cabinet in a minority government, because then the government would be responsive to peoples' concerns and that was what accountable government was all about. Then they should have soothed concerns about ethics and accountability by moving quickly with their ethics plans and senate reform.

David Emerson could have held a big press conference where he could have trashed the federal Liberals and all their corruption and stealing and how he couldn't in good conscience be associated with that group of people anymore, and then explained in detail why his move was good for British Columbia. He could have said he did this to ensure mainstream British Columbians were represented. That could have shut a lot of people up.

See, this is why these people need a guy like me advising them on things like communications. This could have been handled a lot better than it was, the message could have been delivered in a much stronger manner. They should have gone on offence, this government. Instead, we see the sight of cabinet ministers ducking reporters and we see Garth Turner, M.P., being treated as a leper in his own party. Harper could have at least thrown these critics a bone, on something. They could have promised senate elections this year or something. But they didn't, so now these MPs are spouting off and embarrassing the party. This is making the government look like control freaks who want to silence their own MPs.

What really bugs me is that the opposition is now rubbing their hands with glee about all this nonsense in Ottawa. The stories are out there now that the Liberals can't wait to defeat this government and force yet another election on the people of Canada. You see Liberals in Vancouver-Kingsway picketing Emerson and demanding he be recalled (even though there's no federal law for recall). The Liberals are all calling this treachery.

THE OPPOSITION: TOTAL HYPOCRACY

But wait: where were these Liberals last year?

Why, they were cheering this floor-jumping on! They didn't have a problem when Belinda jumped ship, or with these offers being floated in front of Gurmant Grewal or these other people to lure them over! They didn't care about senate reform or accountability; these Liberals were busy appointing unelected people like Stephane Dion to cabinet for years, and nobody in that party thought twice about it! These voters in Vancouver-Kingsway knew full well that this was the sort of thing they were endorsing when they were voting Liberal. They were all okay with voting for a party that regularly poached other parties and appointed people all the time.

Now they're all of a sudden upset because it's their party that's gotten poached. What hypocrites! They're just upset because it's happened to them, for a change.

To top it all off we see stories of these Liberals getting ready to support the Belinda or Scott Brison leadership campaigns, or Dipper floor-crosser Bob Rae, or parachute-jumper Michael Ignatieff and appointed candidate Ken Dryden, and all these other hacks whose democratic credentials and Liberal credenitals are lacking. Crossing the floor or getting yourself appointed or parachuted into a seat is seen as a mark of real leadership by these rank-and-file Liberals these days. Yet they say they now have a problem with what the Tories are doing. What garbage. These Liberals are total hypocrites.

And same with the NDP who kept propping up the Liberals even after Belinda jumped. Everyone in freaking Ottawa is a freaking hypocrite, in every political party. It's a disgrace. It's sad the Conservative government is doing the same, but they figure they might as well keep up with the opposition parties because that's what pragmatic politics is all about. Since when have we become the @#$% Liberals?! And for that matter, since when have the Liberals become the @#$% Conservatives?!

I think the thing that worries rank and file Conservatives is that these controversial cabinet appointments are so bad for optics that they might get the government defeated before they get their real accountability proposals adopted, and that will put the filthy Liberals right back in again to run the country into the ground for the next twenty years and steal the public's money. Then we'll never get any changes in Ottawa! Personally, I think the Tories need to do damage control and send Emerson back to the people in a by-election- at least it will show the government cares about things such as accountability.

And guys like Garth Turner need to shut up. If Conservatives don't stop tearing each other apart, Canada will be back living under Liberal rule in no time. And we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

MUST-FLEE TV

Well, the Winter Olympics are on and now we're getting all the usual stories bashing NBC again.

You know, there must be a bunch of stock stories these reporters have prepared months in advance, bashing NBC's Olympic coverage. Either they can't stand Bob Costas or Katie Couric, or they're bashing the continual non-live nature of the telecasts in prime time. They love to bash the rah-rah cheering of the Americans and the over-the-top, emotional tone of the coverage, and I can't say I blame them.

These are all legitimate criticisms of NBC's generally second-rate coverage of the Olympics. But I think it goes a little too far when critics like this guy criticize the excessive Olympic coverage.... for wiping our their favorite prime-time shows like Fear Factor and Las Vegas.

So you don't like the Olympics wiping out your favorite shows. Come on. This guy is obviously not a sports fan. You can criticize NBC all you want for its coverage, but don't criticize them for excess. This is the Olympic Games, Dog freaking gonnit!!! The networks should be covering it wall-to-wall, and LIVE, too! The last thing I want to see on NBC during the Olympic Games is Will and Grace reruns or My Name is Earl, or Crossing Jordan, or any of that nonsense. You can wait a couple of weeks to see this stuff after the Olympics are over.

The fact that we're getting wall-to-wall Olympic coverage is something us NFL fans ought to rejoice! This is typically the worst part of the sports year, the black hole between football season and baseball season. Wall-to-wall Olympics is exactly what sports fans want to see, especially for the next two weeks! It'll keep us going until March Madness, or until NASCAR comes back. It'll prevent sports fans from going completely crazy. So the more Olympic coverage, the better. I want to see Olympic coverage!

But yes, wall-to-wall figure skating can be a bit tiresome. They have to show more hockey games.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

CONVENTION MEMORIES

I've been watching CPAC's coverage of the Nova Scotia PC party's leadership convention to choose the replacement for Premier John Hamm. Reporters are calling it a boring, humdrum race. Well, their idea of an exciting race is when you have total party disunity and backstabbings and stuff, so of course they're disappointed. I think that if they actually bother to cover these things properly they'd find these leadership races to be quite interesting. But yeah, this race is pretty civil from the looks of it.

Reminds me of the times when I would attend political conventions. I've attended three political conventions: one at the national level and two provincial ones. The most exciting one I was at was the 2002 Ontario provincial leadership convention that was won by Ernie Eves. I was there as a Tony Clement supporter and it was clear all week that the Clement campaign was going off the rails. The night of the candidate speeches, we failed to even fill our section of the hall with Clement supporters- ours was two-thirds empty! Everyone else had a full section of people cheering and waving signs, even dead-last Chris Stockwell! That was a sure sign we were sunk. Our people had been going around trying to convince the media that we were still in second place but that convention was the moment of truth for the campaign about how badly we were doing.

Anyway the next day at the convention I arrived to find screaming Toronto Star headlines that Clement was about to do a deal with Ernie Eves. And I was furious. I was furious because I hadn't been told about this, and had been given marching orders to go out into the convention hall and round up the few people we had in there for Tony Clement. Besides, our people had gone around bashing Eves all campaign and saying we needed a younger, more vigorous leader who had ideas, because that's what won elections. Yet here we were about to turn around and do a deal to put him in!

Anyway, sure enough, Clement comes in third on the first ballot. His main advisors then went and huddled in private while I stood in line to vote for Clement on the second ballot. As the line was going in to vote we got the word that Clement had kicked the bucket and had gone over to Eves! I immediately put on a Jim Flaherty badge and disgustedly cast my second-ballot vote for Flaherty, then I walked into the convention hall and shook Flaherty's hand on national television. I was ticked off mainly because people had assured me no deals were being done and that the rumors were all a pack of lies. But I was also mad because I felt we weren't being true to our own line of bull by supporting Eves. I felt Flaherty was the only candidate other than Clement who had put out some actual ideas during the campaign. Clement's slogan was "Ideas Win". So I felt the only way I could be true to the line of bull we had been putting out during the campaign was to go vote for Flaherty in the runoff, even though I didn't agree with all his policies. So that's what happened. In fact, I wasn't the only one who went over to Flaherty- a ton of people from our campaign team actually refused to go to Eves and went over to endorse Flaherty instead.

Interesting what ultimately happened. The Eves government went on to be defeated, and eventually that forced both Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty to leave provincial politics, and here they are federal cabinet ministers! So my votes that day went to two guys who eventually ended up in the federal government! You never know what will happen in politics or at these conventions.

Friday, February 10, 2006

THE GREAT SCANDAL: DENY, DENY, DENY

The question is now what does Wayne Gretzky know and when did he know it. How deep is his involvement in this cover-up. People are treating this like a Presidential scandal- except in this case it involves hockey royalty. Stories like this one in the New York Post are typical of the grilling Gretzky is getting, especially in the United States.

Lemme tell you, this is a huge story in the United States. Hockey interest is big right now anyway because the Olympics are coming up and football season has just ended, and so the lines have lit up on the sports call-in shows about this gambling business. I tuned into WFAN from New York and they were talking about this story all night on the radio. And the local press is just killing Gretzky down there. Even the Imus in the Morning Show mentioned it and were basically calling Gretzky a liar. When even Don Imus is talking about hockey and Gretzky, that says a lot. They were saying on that show that Gretzky should probably not even go to the Olympics in Turin, and of course Canadians are going to be ticked off to hear that, especially since people down there are cheering for the USA to win. But I don't think that matters to these folks down there; I don't think they're rooting to see Gretzky punted from the Games. I think they think this is a black eye for hockey, this mess, and they are right.

I notice a big difference in the press attitudes down there as opposed to up here. Here, people still see Gretzky as a hero and are treating him with kid gloves. The villain up here is Rick Tocchet, or that evil wife of his Janet Gretzky. People up here have basically hated Janet ever since she married Wayne and then got him traded to Los Angeles. They think she's gone and corrupted our innocent Wayne Gretzky with her Hollywood values and so on. So Wayne must have nothing to do with this gambling stuff, the papers here seem to be suggesting. It must be Janet's fault, "Janet Gretzky is a Shrew", etc. etc.

So in Canada Wayne is still getting off scott-free. But the press down there in the USA is suspicious. They think Gretzky's lying his head off and knows more than he's letting on, and demanding he come clean. The sportswriters down there are angry and jaded, so that's why these stories are popping up in papers down there around New York and New Jersey. Keep in mind New York is still a huge baseball town, so they are quite familiar with athletes lying to them and stomping on them all the time. They know all about players like Rafael Palmeiro saying one thing in public and getting caught doing something else in private. And they know all about Pete Rose, and they've seen big heroes from other sports, revered figures like NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who have gotten taken down a notch by their involvement in gambling.

So when they see Wayne Gretzky go on and on with his "deny deny deny" routine, and tell reporters this line of bull about how he'll never do anything to embarrass the sport of hockey or any of that, people are right to be cynical and think the worst. Heck, he got caught on wiretaps discussing these allegations with Rick Tocchet! Clearly he knows SOMETHING's up. So I don't blame these sportswriters for going nuts over this and demanding some answers from Wayne Gretzky. They're thinking he used his wife to place bets on sporting events and want direct answers instead of the usual line of bull they are getting. It wouldn't surprise me if Janet's a big sports gambler, for all I know. I don't blame the New York press for going nuts, they're doing their jobs as journalists. They really do have a right to some answers, hard answers, and Wayne Gretzky and crew sure aren't helping at the moment.

I know there are probably Canadians who think the Americans are being too tough. But keep this in mind: these people aren't anti-hockey or anti-Gretzky. Gretzky is revered in New York City. He played there as a Ranger and retired there in 1999. The fans love him, but you know, they are simply giving him the same treatment as all the other big athletes down there, the same equal treatment.

For Gretzky's sake he's got to come clean with what he knows, and his wife has got to come clean. Then maybe people can get to the bottom of this mess. Enough with the denials and the "I don't knows" already.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

SAY IT AIN'T SO, WAYNE GRETZKY!!!!!!! ! ! !

Who cares about Canadian politics today. The top story in Canada is this gambling ring that involves Phoenix Coyotes' assistant coach Rick Tocchet, that apparently Janet Gretzky got caught up in.

And Wayne Gretzky knows about this ring which supposedly bet on football games and other sporting events, and has links to organized crime. He was wire-tapped discussing this ring with Tocchet, because he wants nothing to do with it and doesn't want Janet in trouble over it! Well, this is big trouble, folks. The last thing Gretzky needs, even if he himself didn't place any bets, is for his family to be wrapped up in this thing and investigated. Yikes.

This is not good news for hockey fans. My concern is possible disruption to the 2006 Canadian national hockey team heading to Turin, Italy. And it's another black eye for this sport and for all sports. Hockey is still attempting to recover from the beating it took last year from the big season cancellation. The Winter Olympics are the prime showcase for hockey, particularly in the United States. If we have people talking about gambling rings and saying bad things about the sport of hockey at a time when it's supposed to be showcased, this sport is going to have a very hard time getting itself back off the canvas.

And more and more, the sport of hockey is acting more and more like baseball, what with all these gambling allegations and these strikes and lockouts. Just tonight, Habs' star Jose Theodore got suspended for using a banned substance! So much for Canada's "official" sport. It used to be people in Canada were attracted to hockey because this was "our game" and these were "our boys", as if these players were a cut above the drug addicts, criminals and jerks who populate all the other sports.

Well, if they are a cut above, more of these players had better start acting like it. Because these scandals give all hockey players a bad name.

UPDATE: Guess what, this was the top story from both Lloyd Robertson and Peter Mansbridge tonight on the news! Who cares about politics!!!!

NEWS ABOUT LAWYERS IN TV NEWS

Well, just two brief items about ex-lawyers who fled to go work in TV news.

Kimberly Guilfoyle has moved to Fox News Channel and will be hosting The Lineup starting this weekend. All the details here. She used to be at Court TV and before that was the First Lady of San Francisco. She has since been linked romantically in print to everyone from Bill Hemmer to Dan Abrams. (Interesting that Hemmer is now at Fox News as well.) She will also be doing legal analyst-type work for the network which, as Greta Van Susteren once stated, isn't considered a real job. Anyway, that's the news on Ms. Guilfoyle, hardened newswoman. Strange to see her at Fox News, I thought she was a big liberal.

In other, more sad news, Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer are now sharing the anchor desk with Elizabeth Vargas at World News Tonight while Bob Woodruff recuperates- and from what I gather Woodruff is still in bad shape. He's still under sedation and won't be back at any anchor desk for at least several months. ABC News is also putting a lid on the Bob Woodruff stories--- presumably until they have something new to report. What a depressing situation.

More news about lawyers in TV news later.

BONNIE BERNSTEIN

In addition to all the other changes with the NFL coverage, Bonnie Bernstein has left CBS Sports. Why? I have no idea. I read that CBS was phasing out sideline reporters, but Bernstein says she left CBS Sports of her own accord, that she was definitely not "fired" as some people have suggested, and that she just outgrew sideline reporting. She had signed a four-year contract just in the past year or so, too--- just like Al Michaels did with ABC/ESPN. I didn't realize how easy it was for people to simply tear up contracts in TV sports. Anyway, I dunno what the heck is going on with Bonnie Bernstein. Maybe she's going to NBC, too.

She has some consulting/tape critiquing service going now for aspiring sportscasters but she's charging an arm and a leg for it, over a thousand bucks. There's a need for a service like that, but there's no way I would pay the kind of money she's charging. I don't care if she's Bonnie Bernstein! I could probably just take my tapes to Elliotte Friedman or somebody like that, and they can yell at me about what I'm doing wrong for free. I think you're better off just getting on the air, anywhere, and finding out for yourself what works. Besides, the good advice you get may turn out to be useless anyway. I read that when he was just starting at some small station in California, Craig Kilborn meditated or something during his sportscast. He meditated on the air, and he eventually got hired at ESPN. I wonder what Bonnie Bernstein would say about that. She'd probably say don't do it, and frankly, so would I! But these hiring people went and hired him anyway. So the bottom line is that if you want to be a sportscaster you're better off practising your on-air meditation skills. Or something.

So, first Jill Arrington leaves, now this. We're losing all the great sideline reporters! It's too bad, I really liked Bernstein on CBS. She seemed to carry herself with a lot of class, sort of a younger Lesley Visser. And she's never been in the same "hot babe" territory of other, more notorious sideline reporters (Lisa Guerrero). She's basically your girl next door. Bernstein would be the perfect catch for this Bachelor guy who's looking for a wife right now over on ABC- she knows football, and you can take her home to mom and not be embarrassed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

AL MICHAELS LEAVES ABC

Well, it's official. Al Michaels is out at Monday Night Football. It's going to be Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and Joe Theismann doing the games over at ESPN next year, with Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya on the sidelines. And Michaels is now free and clear to join NBC and his good buddy John Madden on the Sunday Night football telecasts.

I thought it was interesting that Michaels and Madden didn't make a big production out of the Super Bowl being their last game together or any of that, even though Michaels had said before he was going to do the games for ESPN. That was as big an indication as any that something was brewing. The reason Michaels is leaving is said to be that he didn't like the direction Monday Night Football was going, or something to that effect. It looked like ESPN was going to turn the former ABC production into something second-rate--- like what the Sunday games used to be for years on ESPN. You were guaranteed to see every crappy team in the NFL play football on Sunday nights for years on ESPN and it looked like the NFL was going to turn Mondays into a similar wasteland.

And I was wrong when I said Super Bowl XL was the last game of the current TV deal. The actual last game is next week: the Pro Bowl in Honolulu on ESPN. But who cares about the Pro Bowl.

Incidentally, those of you who missed the big Super Bowl commercials that were shown in the United States--- those ads which, unfortunately, were edited out in Canada by Global TV to make room for Cheryl Hickey ET Canada promos--- can see them here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

MORE ON EMERSON

Get ready for a big rant from me today.

All I will say is I've seen it all now from these fools in federal politics with this David Emerson floor-crossing. Anyway, here's the story on how this deal went down.

Needless to say the bloggers are having a big cow over this. People are going nuts comparing this move to what happened with Belinda. I'm even comparing this move to what went down with Belinda. Frankly, this is in the same league of political hijinx. A power-hungry politician decided to cross the floor for political gain, again. Nothing has changed in freaking Ottawa. Nothing.

I am amused by the people who find this move to be different from what went down with Belinda, these bloggers like Angry in the Great White North who think this move is somehow morally superior. The arguments Angry and the rest are making are summed up as follows:

(1) Belinda's defection was an outright Liberal attempt to use cabinet seats as bait to get people to switch over to vote for the government and allow it to survive a non-confidence vote; the Emerson defection had no such dramatic consequences for the government's survival.

(2) Stephen Harper was looking for the best and the brightest people in his cabinet regardless
of political affiliation and the highly-educated Emerson was best suited to give British Columbia a voice at the cabinet table on the important softwood lumber issue, plus it redressed the lack of urban representation in the cabinet that people were screaming about. So luring Emerson is schrewd, while Belinda's switch was crass opportunism because everyone knows Belinda is a complete idiot. (Or words to that effect.)

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Sure, Emerson may be great, and sure, Belinda may be an complete idiot. But the bottom line is that someone elected under one party banner was still enticed to cross the floor with a cabinet post. The electors in Vancouver-Kingsway, most of whom strongly rejected the Conservatives in favor of the Liberals and NDP, all got hosed. So we get the same hijinx as before.

And supposedly there's a long history of people crossing the floor, and Liberal Larry Desjardins did it in Manitoba to prop up the NDP, and Jim Melenchuk did it in Saskatchewan, and all those Liberals in BC crossed the floor to join the Social Credit Party in the 70s to stop the NDP. So suddenly we're saying that it's accepted practise to lure people over when we were screaming and yelling last spring about all the Conservative voters in Newmarket-Aurora who were disenfranchised when Belinda walked over to the Liberals? I'm sorry, I just don't accept it.

What happened to our principles?! Darnet, this isn't what I voted for, this isn't what I campaigned for on all those cold days in January when I was out there with candidate Eugene McDermott in my local riding. I thought I was Standing Up for Canada, I thought I was supporting more accountable government. I sure look like a fool.

I don't deny this was a brilliant move on Harper's part. He's given British Columbia a lot of clout in the new government with this move and made the Liberals look like they are in chaos. He's making sure the cities are getting represented and ensuring the best and the brightest are attracted to his government, all in an attempt to build the party and help it win more seats next time. And Emerson probably can do more as a member of the government than wasting his time on the backbenches. Sure, this is a brilliant move by Harper. But it doesn't make what happened right. The people of Vancouver-Kingsway voted Liberal and now are represented by a floor-jumping Conservative. So much for all that BS about "accountability," so much for our principles. So much for all our rants about Belinda's switch.

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Then again, maybe this is exactly what the people of Canada deserve. The people of Canada have passed judgement on this sort of floor-jumping time and again with their votes. The Liberals lured people to cross the floor all the time, and they kept on getting re-elected. Heck, not only did Belinda cross the floor, but so did Scott Brison, Keith Martin, and these other turncoats. And these people not only got re-elected, they won by bigger margins than the last time! Belinda won by an increased majority! Big, freaking victory for that woman!

The people of Canada have also repeatedly rejected recall and these other measures that could have held these politicians in check. You would bet David Emerson would have thought twice had the threat of a recall been hanging over his head. But Canadians from coast to coast have repeatedly screamed and yelled "we don't want recall, or direct democracy! We do not want to be California!" Maybe people in BC support recall movements and the like, but the rest of Canada sure doesn't. They don't want the chaos you get from recalling your elected officials all the time; they'd rather see them go rule by decree.

Well, this is what you get in a country that doesn't want to be like California: you get people crossing the floor to be in Cabinet, who then get re-elected. Like I say, Canada, you endorsed this nonsense. You say you don't like it when politicians hose their partisans by switching parties. But then you fools all go ahead and vote for it!!

This Emerson defection may be political hijinx, but it's political hijinx endorsed at the ballot box by the people of Canada. Controversial as this floor-crossing-for-a-cabinet-seat is, Canadians have had their say; it doesn't bother them. If it didn't matter when Belinda crossed to the Liberals, why should it matter now? If such concerns had ever mattered to people in this country, the Reform Party would still be in business.

Stephen Harper simply is doing what the people want- or more accurately, doing what he thinks he can get away with doing. His gang felt he had carte blanche from the voters to lure Emerson over. Guess what, folks, he's got it! The Liberals are running around in circles trying to decry a practice that they've been doing for years, poaching the opposition parties. It's obvious the Conservatives felt they could get away with their arguments about how Emerson's talents were better put to use in government than in the opposition, and how there were high-minded reasons why Vancouver needed to be represented in the cabinet, and so on and so forth. They lured Emerson over because they knew they could do it and get away with it, because the people of Canada have shown time and again that they will do nothing to stop it from happening.

It's cynical politics. And it's SAD.

Monday, February 06, 2006

DAVID EMERSON DOES A BELINDA, DEFECTS TO THE CONSERVATIVES!!!!

Well. I knew there might be surprises in the swearing in of the new Conservative government but I didn't expect this. Former Liberal industry minister David Emerson has defected to the Conservatives for a cabinet post! He's minister for international trade and minister for the Pacific gateway and the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics.

Well, well. I wonder what the Liberals think of this. Emerson does a Belinda!

What a blow to that party today. But it serves them right, really, these Liberals. They were the masters of this sort of practice and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine today with this move. And so are the voters- the ones who approved of this kind of thing when they re-elected Belinda in the last election. If people don't care about it at election time and go re-elect these bandwagon-jumpers, they can't complain about it happening again to them.

Personally, though, I don't know what the heck to make of this. The Harper gang and the Conservatives in general were all high-minded about people crossing the floor and this sort of stuff, saying they ought to resign and so on. I'm not sure I'm happy about the Tories turning their backs on this sort of thing. I mean, this is cynical politics! Politics as usual!!!

In other shocks Diane Ablonczy, James Moore and even Jason Kenney didn't make it into the cabinet, from what I gather. It's Peter MacKay to foreign affairs, Monte to immigration, Lawrence Cannon to transport, Jim Flaherty to finance, Vic Toews to justice, and Tony Clement to health, among others. They are naming Michael Fortier to cabinet even though he has no seat, and what I hear is he's going to be appointed to the Senate. They also are scrapping the Deputy Prime Minister title.

Interesting to say the least.

UPDATE: Holy smokes! You know what this means, folks, with this defection the Conservatives have just handed the balance of power to the NDP. Conservatives 125 plus NDP 29= 154, and if the elected Speaker is a Liberal that gives the NDP the balance of power in a minority parliament instead of the hated separatist Bloc. So power has shifted DRAMATICALLY in the House with this move.