Thursday, November 30, 2006

DAY 2 OF THE CONVENTION

Welcome to Day 2 of my great (!) (?) coverage of the Liberal convention.

The big news today is this may not be the last Liberal leadership convention ever! They had their big debate today on whether to switch to one-person one-vote and to the surprise of a lot of people in the media, it didn't go through! I guess all these delegates came to the convention in Montreal and suddenly got cold-feet about getting rid of conventions, and all the fun that goes with it.

I happen to hold the view that we should not completely get rid of convention-style events; they're good for party morale and good on television. But the one-person-one-vote process, or some form of it, should be incorporated with it. The Conservatives in Ontario and at the federal level have got it right: they hold traditional speeches on Friday and a direct vote by the membership the next day in the ridings and at the "convention". The ridings are all weighted equally, just like in a traditional convention process, and you need 50% plus 1 to win. Anyone who wants to go to the actual "convention" can do so, you don't need to get elected as a delegate. I have been to three of these things and they have all the excitement and drama as delegated leadership conventions. In fact, the 2002 Ontario PC leadership vote was a really big deal; there was basically no difference between that event and traditional conventions, except for the fact that all the members of the party were voting directly that day all over Ontario.

So I think it can be done, you can hold a direct-vote type of convention with all the hoopla and so on. The main thing missing is the manipulations and machinations behind closed doors. And boy, is that ever happening with the Liberals.

I was watching Kevin Newman on Global and they were talking about how Joe Volpe was about to do a deal with Bob Rae, and how Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion had had talks in the last 24 hours, again. Well, ain't that great eh? A leadership convention decided not on the floor, but by bosses and organizers behind closed doors. That's no way to go.

Anyway the good news is the Liberals have shot down this proposal to get rid of leadership conventions, so we will have fun covering Canadian conventions for the foreseeable future--- or at least until the Libs revisit this issue at their next policy convention two years from now.

That's the thing: these delegated policy conventions aren't going away any time soon. By the way, the Conservatives' next policy convention is slated for next year in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is forever known as the place where the PC party delegates knifed Joe Clark and he called a leadership convention after receiving only a 66.9% endorsement from the delegates.

Tonight, the main item on the agenda is the big tribute to their fallen leader, Paul Martin. That ought to be fun. At the last leadership convention the Liberals held, they were hoping to sweep the country under his leadership and win 200 seats. Now here they are, out of power. That was quick.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

THOUGHTS ON DAY ONE

I have been watching CBC Newsworld coverage of the convention with Don Newman and the panel, and Belinda Stronach is on there with her brunette hair. All I will say is Belinda, your new hairdo looks hideous. Yecch. Belinda was better as a blonde. What's next for that woman, red hair? No doubt.

They did their tribute to Bill Graham and now Frank McKenna has introduced Howard Dean. Oh my G, he's speaking FRENCH!!!!!

"Won't Fox News hate this!" I am not making this up.

CONVENTION LINKS

I am looking around the Net for links to Liberal convention coverage and I've found a few.

www.CTV.ca has live coverage of the Liberal convention on its broadband service. Click the link and watch their great convention coverage, live.

Also go to CPAC.ca for their live coverage with their live stream on the Web.

Global has a leadership convention page. And oh yeah, so does the CBC.

For blogging coverage go to www.liblogs.ca for their Liberal convention coverage and the full list of links. For a Liberal perspective live from the convention, see the blogs of Calgary Grit and Jason Cherniak. Also see Warren Kinsella and his convention blog.

For the "fair and balanced" perspective see www.BloggingTories.ca and the blog of Stephen Taylor.

I'll add more links as I find out about them. That's all for now.

LIBERAL LEADERSHIP CONVENTION IS ON

Well guess what, THE CAIRNS BLOG is back with its coverage of the Liberal Leadership Convention. You got the full coverage from me during the Democratic and Republican conventions, now you get the same coverage from me of the Liberals! This is what I live for, political junk.

Coming up tonight is the big keynote speech at the convention. At the last convention their big star speechmakers were none other than Michael Ignatieff and that singer, Bono. Tonight, they've gone down to the United States to learn some tips about winning elections from none other than Howard Dean.

Howard Dean?! I gotta say, I'm enjoying all the TV coverage of this guy this week. The TV networks are all showing clips of Dean, doing the "scream speech" in Iowa. "Aaaargh!!" My goodness, that was bad beyond belief, certainly one of the worst speeches ever. I remember getting an email the day after that speech was made from one of my American political friends, who went " you gotta see this speech, what a fool."

Well, tonight we will get to see the big speech from the "controversial Howard Dean", as he is described in the press up here. I think this is just hilarious, the press coverage.

We'll see what the Liberals are in for tonight, maybe Dean can top the scream speech. Or make some controversial remark and put his foot in it. I wonder if Dean will say a few words in French; maybe we'll all get a few laughs watching him mangle that language right up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

TV NETWORKS BEG THE CRTC FOR MORE DOUGH

I have nothing to say about the nation's broadcasters begging for more loot from the CRTC and demanding that the cable companies hand over carriage fees, license fees, whatever you want to call it, for the right to show their networks on cable.

So what else is new. The three major networks CBC, CTV and Global all want carriage fees from the cable companies. They say that TSN, MuchMusic and Newsworld are able to extract cable fees; so should they! The problem is that these are supposed to be over-the-air networks that are supposed to provide their signals to the public for free. It's one thing for a cable network to rip the public off. Supposedly you're buying their channels when you buy cable! So of course you pay a fee to watch TSN or CNN or whatever channel is being shown. But you're not buying cable to get CBC, CTV or Global, stations you already get for free with rabbit ears.

These crybaby networks ought to realize the cable companies are doing them a big favor by carrying their cut-rate channels with all their American shows. They also do them a big favor by allowing them to substitute their local signals right over top the American ones! They can substitute the American Idol local signal from CTV over top of the cable signal from the FOX affiliate in Rochester, so that the Canadians who advertised on CTV get the bang for their buck! The cable companies already give these Camadian stations enough breaks already by allowing them the right to do this. Now they want to rip the public off with cable fees, too!

What the cable companies ought to do is tell these networks to go to heck. Boot them off the cable system if they pull a stunt like what they're pulling, demanding 50 cents a month from customers! This is extortion, what they're proposing.

If Global insists on charging 50 cents to show Global TV, the cable companies ought to play hardball and save the public from handing over their hard-earned money, and should boot that station off their systems! Heck, it's not as if Global TV provides any programming that is any different from what everyone else is providing. You can watch Entertainment Tonight, House, Prison Break, Survivor, Deal or No Deal and all those NFL games on any of these other cable channels, like FOX or NBC! Believe me, it's not as if we'll be missing much if the cable company gave Global the boot. Besides, what original programming do they show, anyway? 100 Huntley Street? Debbie Travis?! Infomercials?! Get rid of them if they try a stunt like this, insisting on fees for this junk.

Same for CTV; if we want to watch American Idol, we can watch it on FOX! And if we want to watch Lloyd Robertson or Corner Gas, we can go on the Net! Might as well boot them, too! As for the CBC, they already rip people off with all their tax revenues, and we've seen what they've done with our taxpayers' money as far as programming is concerned. Now, they want cable fees, too? I'm sorry, but Dragon's Den isn't worth 50 cents a month, and neither is Don Cherry.

The networks claim they need this extra money because their ad revenues can't keep up, and they need to spend money on quality Canadian dramatic programming. The usual line of bull. Well, we all know what will happen if they get their rate hike; nothing. They'll conveniently forget to order more Canadian dramas and find a way to manipulate the rules to serve up the same old American junk and the usual cheap reality/ home improvement shows that we have come to expect from Canadian television. Call me cynical, but the Canadian entertainment industry isn't going to win, either, if broadcasters rip the public off. What will happen is that so many parts of Canada will get so fed up with the rate hikes that they will get the courage to boot cable TV and refuse to pay these ridiculous fees anymore. Heck, these networks own most of the specialty cable channels, anyway, and charge fees for all of them. If cable customers revolt and boot cable out, that's a ton of revenue out the window for everyone involved in Canada's TV industry.

In fact in Toronto you can live without cable! In Toronto alone you can get something like 18 channels with an antenna, and in Vancouver and Ottawa you get plenty of stations, too. It's not as if you will be missing much by booting Showcase, MTV Canada, Star!TV,The Life Network, TVtropolis and these other rerun cable channels with all the junk they continue to show. Heck, CTV shows MTV programming on the weekends and late at night on their main network! Citytv runs half the stuff you see on Star!TV anyway. And half the stuff on Newsworld was aired on the main CBC, anyway! You won't be missing much, except maybe the movie channels and the sports.

Word of advice to the networks: don't go to the CRTC demanding fee hikes so you can show the same old, lousy American shows that we can get for free with rabbit ears! Put on shows that people will watch! Then, maybe advertisers will come back and pay you more money. Anyway, it sounds like the CRTC isn't very impressed with the TV networks and their demands to rip off cable customers. Darned right they shouldn't be impressed. Thats it.

PAM SPLITS WITH KID ROCK: BLAME BORAT

Well, as you know by now Pam Anderson has become the latest in a long line of celebrities keeping divorce lawyers busy in Hollywood. She's filing for divorce from Kid Rock, and apparently Mr. Rock filed his own papers, too. So they both want out.

And who is to blame? Why, who else. Borat.

That international troublemaker is getting blamed for this split. Courtesy, the Canadfian Press:

The New York Post reported Tuesday that Canada's own Pamela Anderson is divorcing Kid Rock because of his angry reaction to her scripted part in the film.

The long-haired singer's outburst at a private Hollywood screening of "Borat'' -- he is reported to have publicly called his new bride a "slut'' and a "whore'' for appearing in the film -- is an odd one.


Anderson -- or "Pa-MEL-a!'' as the lovestruck Borat calls her -- simply signs a book for him in the film, and then flees in terror as he attempts to trap her in a traditional Kazakh "wedding sack.'' This was no repeat of the Tommy Lee sex tape, although that infamous video does make a split-second appearance in the "Borat'' film.

So Borat helps split up a famous Hollywood couple. It figures.

Way to go, mister. Just more notoriety for a guy who's facing lawsuits every day from the people he duped into appearing in his silly movie. But look on the bright side: Pam's available now. So now, presumably, Borat can run off with her.

If your name is Borat that's really good news. Not so good for Pam, though.

Monday, November 27, 2006

BACHELOR CHICKENS OUT IN ROME, AGAIN

By the way, that Bachelor "prince" on ABC chickened out again and gave the woman he selected some family ring, and didn't get his courage up to pop the question. So that's your big, dramatic ending to this boring season that I didn't even bother to watch. Who did he pick? Who cares!! If this ends up being a marriage I would be surprised.

And over on Studio 60 the big shocking development on that show is that Jordan McDeere is pregnant. Big deal.

NBC DECLARES CIVIL WAR

Today I am going to talk about Iraq.

I haven't really talked much about the mess in Iraq and what I feel about it and so on. My general feeling about it is that the Americans have botched this war effort there right up. They may have had legitimate reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and I was all for getting rid of that despot. But they really miscalculated big-time when it came to bringing stability to the region afterward.

Me, I'm mad that this effort wasn't thought through well enough by the U.S. government. If they were going to go in there, they should have done it right! They should have known about all the opposition beforehand to their presence there, and been prepared for all of it. But they weren't. They went in thinking they were going to be hailed as heroes by the oppressed people of Iraq, and that it would be easy to put in a democracy. So they went in thinking the job would be over after they crushed Saddam's army and they would be home free, and they wouldn't have to worry about much else. "Mission Accomplished!" Right.

Why the heck they went in there thinking they were going to win this thing with a low-budget war effort, especially when you had all these factions boiling under the surface, I don't know. I think it's clear to me that a lot of these Iraqis don't really care whether or not the Americans are there--- or at worst, don't want them there at all. It was clear right after the fall of Baghdad, when all the looting went on, that too many of these Iraqis didn't care one bit about liberation or democracy. They just saw the fall of Saddam as an opportunity to create havoc for themselves.

The way I see it, if you're going to authorize a war you have to be prepared to be able to go in there full-blast and win it, and have a fighting chance to stabilize the area you are going to "liberate". At the least, people there need to be clamoring and begging you to come in there and boot the despots out! Instead, these folks in the USA didn't prepare for what they ran into in Iraq--- self-interested people interested in power for themselves, terrorist elements, and Saddam loyalists. I sure hope the Americans are able to stabilize things over there, but I'm really pessimistic.

In the past few days we have been hearing correspondents like John Roberts at CNN tell people like Howard Kurtz that television isn't capturing the full extent of the chaos there, it really is a mess beyond what anyone is seeing on the screen. People were dying in front of their eyes, Roberts was saying. It isn't safe to walk in public.

Well, now, NBC News has gone one step further and has now labelled this as a "civil war".

It's basically faction versus faction, with a US-backed and Iraq-government backed factions fighting against al-Qaida elements, Iranian-backed elements, and Saddam's old gang of thugs. So I don't blame NBC News for calling it that, what else do you call it when it is such a mess over there. Reminds me of Lebanon in the 1980s, and they called that a "civil war". So they may as well say the same about this.

I know there will be conservative-type people who will get upset about this. They'll go ahead and say the media is biased, as usual. Well, so what. I don't care what you call this war effort over there, whether it's a civil war or just a war like all the rest of them. Chaos is chaos.

I now wonder what happened to all those conservative media types who were planning to go over there to Iraq to report the so-called "truth" about the war, to report that the Americans were really winning and that the mainstream media were a bunch of liars, reporting on the doom and gloom in Iraq? I guess they went home.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

THE CBC: THE CHANNEL NO ONE WATCHES

Here's yet another Bill Brioux rant in the Sun about the woeful CBC ratings. I gotta say, you would think that the numbers would be better now that these shows have been on a few weeks. But the numbers are worse than ever. To wit:

October 1970: 56,000 viewers.
Rumours: 94,000.
The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos: 82,000.
Intelligence: 247,000.
And the biggest hit (?) (!) (?) of the new CBC season: Dragon's Den, with only 381,000 people watching the season finale.

Now, Dragon's Den has been renewed on the basis of some pretty decent numbers earlier in the season, they actually cracked half a million. But this is the only show on the network even close to doing well, and it's all because Dragon's Den is a populist type of show. People can relate to all these Canadian entrepreneurs, looking for money from these venture capitalists and getting shot down by these uptights. It's interesting television. Whether it is good business remains to be seen, these idiot Dragons can occasionally get it wrong.

But the rest of these shows are getting killed by all the American programming run on CTV and over on Global. Global's having a really good season, running big hits House and Prison Break. And CTV is CTV, they own the country practically. But I don't think those guys are really going to be on a roll until January; that's when American Idol comes back to kill everyone. So they aren't even warmed up yet over there at CTV.

About the only good news for the CBC is that there are still a lot of sports fans in this country. Hockey Night in Canada is still a top-20 show, particular the first game of the doubleheader when Coach's Corner airs with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. The CFL playoff games in the past weeks also had strong ratings in the top 20. I noticed the CBC were promoting Intelligence and Dragon's Den like crazy during those football telecasts. Didn't help them get any more viewers, but they tried, at least.

Now you have the Canadian Heritage department starting the "what to do about the CBC" talks, and of course guess what the politicians are aiming at. They are aiming their knives at the populist programming, the hockey and the football. And the reality shows; they don't want the CBC to do those, either. Of course, there are still plenty of people who want to get rid of the ads, too. Well guess what, you might as well get rid of the ads because no advertiser in its right mind is going to want to put commercials on the CBC with ratings numbers like this.

Rumors are flying about heads rolling, with people aiming at Richard Stursberg and others at the top. There was something in the Toronto Star claiming Stursberg's days were numbered. But there have been stories like this circulating for months. All I will say is if people are going to be replaced, get on with it already and get it over with. The CBC doesn't need uncertainty at the top. They need people leading it who have a mandate to clean up the mess at the CBC.

Unfortunately, replacing the current leadership with people who have a mandate to get rid of the only hit shows the CBC has, like the sports and reality shows, isn't the way to go. I fear, though, that this is what the CBC viewers are in for--- the few remaining, that is.

I've already made my rant about what the CBC needs to do about their programming, I don't need to repeat it again. In the short term, though, what the folks in charge need to do is get rid of these shows that have viewerships that roughly equal the populations of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

Put on there something that will get an audience, fast, even if it's repeats of stuff. Even movies will do better than the current lineup. And enough of George Stroumboulopoulos- what is this now, two flop CBC shows in a row? He may be a good guy, but he's had it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

THE SPY WHO NUKED ME

Isn't it something that in a week when the new James Bond movie comes out and we get all this other Get Smart movie casting news--- that we get this bizarre KGB spy getting poisoned?! Nuked, even?

This whole Alexander Litvinenko business, with him dying from Polonium-210, is going to be made into a movie someday--- you can bet your hat. And it is the biggest story in the world. Now people in London are all freaked out about becoming radioactive if they go to the Itsu sushi restaurant in London. And how does it feel if you are a guest at the Millennium Hotel these days? Another hot spot.

People don't want to do an autopsy of this poor guy because they're scared it's not safe to operate on him! They might get poisoned, too!

This is really bizarre. How this happened, I don't know. And who did this? Wasn't the guy who did this act of murder worried about his own radiation levels? Wow, this is weird stuff.

Anyway, this latest spy incident is one reason why we are all fascinated by spies. Bizarre stuff like this--- what can I say. This doesn't happen in your ordinary line of work. Not even these big foreign correspondent journalists die like this. The best that these journos in Baghdad can hope for is to get shot or blown up, or kidnapped, or have their throat slashed. But this guy... he got NUKED!!!!

Well, that settles it. Spying has reporting all beat for being a dangerous business.

Friday, November 24, 2006

CORNER GAS: SOLD TO WGN

Here's some interesting news. Corner Gas, the situation comedy starring Brent Butt that is a big freaking hit in Canada over on CTV, has been sold to the American market. It was bound to happen, the Americans always want a piece of our hit shows (ie. Trailer Park Boys, SCTV, Kids in the Hall, etc etc).

WGN in Chicago has bought four years worth of reruns. These will be shown nationwide on Superstation WGN starting in 2007. This station is perhaps best known for its coverage of Chicago Cubs games, which are shown pretty much daily during the baseball season.

So get ready for all these Cubbies fans all over America to find out what Saskatchewan is all about. Hey, they might even visit the place. Since when did Saskatchewan become cool?!

MORE ON GET SMART: BUZZ IS NOT GOOD

Well, I did some digging on this Get Smart movie coming up and maybe I shouldn't get too excited. The script is allegedly a piece of junk.

Big spoiler alert: I took a look at this tribute site to Get Smart and there was mention made about the upcoming movie. Unfortunately, the writer firmly believes this movie totally gets Maxwell Smart wrong, misses out a lot of the colorful characters from the original show, and isn't funny. The contention is this is going to be worse than The Pink Panther remake and that this piece of junk is getting made only because Steve Carell is really hot right now.

As for Anne Hathaway as the slinky, sexy 99, he's not as critical of that. There's an alternative view floating around out there to why the Princess Diaries star might be qualified for this role. Supposedly she's all grown up now. Apparently she got naked in a couple of "art" movies, so she's completely gotten rid of her good-girl image. I read that she was topless in Brokeback Mountain, that gay cowboy movie. Definitely not a Disney movie.

So, supposedly, no one will think of the age difference with Steve Carell. They wish. I bet most guys out there never went to see Brokeback Mountain. So they all don't know about Anne Hathaway's sexy new grown-up image. Hoo boy, this sounds shaky. I still think Hathaway would be a good 99 but there are going to be critics out there.

If this is all true about this movie, my reaction is summed up in one word: darnet.

Aren't you sick of bad remakes of good TV shows? That's what that article I linked to was saying; aren't you fed up? There aren't too many good remakes that I can think of. There was the Untouchables movie that came out that was really good, and I liked Harrison Ford in The Fugitive. But those movies were a lot different from the TV series. Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks were in the spoof Dragnet movie that was pretty funny. There were the Star Trek movies but those weren't remakes so much as they were the continuation of the series, on screen. It's rare, but good TV remakes can be done.

But I dunno about this one. From the sounds of it, it looks like everyone involved in the picture is taking the money and running. They're doing the movie because it's another freaking job for them, not because they want to make this movie any good! Heck, there are still folks out there who care about Get Smart; this show had fans! If this story is correct, it looks like the people in charge are making a hash of this project. And it's going to be too bad because it's possible for a really good Get Smart remake to get made. As that article says, they need to get the writers from the original series to go through the script and make big changes. They need a script doctor, and fast.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

AND... LOVING IT! GET SMART COMING

We've seen an awful lot of really bad TV remake movies over the past few years. Plenty of turkeys. Gobble, gobble.

We've had the Dukes of Hazzard, we had I Spy, we had Miami Vice, we had Starsky and Hutch. We had the Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Charlie's Angels 1 and 2, the Brady Bunch movies, even McHale's Navy. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Real junk.

But here's one remake of a TV show coming that I may actually be looking forward to seeing. Get Smart.

It has Steve Carell in the title role and you would think with his involvement that this rehash of the 60s Mel Brooks spy spoof would be a success. He should be able to channel Don Adams, no problem. But then again Will Ferrell was in Bewitched, and that flick was a total clunker. Anyway I think there will be a real appetite to see Get Smart, as long as they channel the 1960s and try and be true to that series' retro appeal. Heck, we've seen the new James Bond, and the Austin Powers movies haven't been shown in a long time, so I think people will want to see something like this. In fact people are comparing this to the Austin Powers movies already and saying that's the standard that they have to live up to, Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley and the rest of them. They need the same catchphrases--- and fortunately there should be plenty of those with Get Smart. "Missed it by that much!" "And... loving it!" "Sorry about that, Chief."

Anyway the good news is that shooting should finally begin on this flick in March, and they have now cast the female lead as Agent 99. It is none other than the fashionably gorgeous Anne Hathaway.

Now, I don't know how she will channel Barbara Feldon, but she seems like a good choice. After all, Ms. Feldon was a fashion model before she was 99 and Hathaway was in the fashion-oriented movie The Devil Wears Prada. Maybe she doesn't have Feldon's natural animal magnetism (Feldon did commercials for Top Brass with a stuffed tiger) but Hathaway seems to be a good fit.

I read the folks at Ain't It Cool News, though, and they wonder about the age difference between the spunky twentysomething Miss Hathaway and Steve Carell, "the 40-Year Old Virgin". They think this is going to raise the "ick" factor to a new level and I don't blame them. This isn't middle-aged Catherine Keener that Carell is seducing, it's that cute girl who played that adorable princess in the Disney movies!

Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. Yecch. Maybe this movie won't be so great after all. Then again, no one could see why 99 was attracted to Agent 86 in the first place on the original show; 86 was a big goofball. So I don't think it matters.

One TV remake I'm glad not to see is Dallas. Apparently that whole project has fallen apart- pretty much everyone quit except John Travolta. So that project has been pushed back. But that's another case where the movie project is not likely to be on the par of the actual show. What are they going to do to top the show, kill off J.R. instead of just shoot him? Or maybe they'll show a final scene where Pam dreams the entire movie up! Who needs it.

Anyway, I don't need to see Dallas again, but I really would like to see what they do with a remake of Get Smart. That show was cool.

DIVORCE, HOLLYWOOD STYLE

Well, the heck with marriage. Look at all these big Hollywood stars getting divorced these days. Of course, the big breakup was this Britney Spears/Kevin Federline split and no doubt all the world is in agony over this.

Anyway the divorce lawyers are getting rich and USA Today has profiled a few of them. Britney has gone to a lawyer Laura Wasser, a Loyola Law School grad who repped Nick Lachey. And the USA Today article mentions a couple of others. Why the heck they didn't mention Raoul Felder, I don't know. Maybe his clients aren't famous enough.

You read stories like this and you automatically think family law is lucrative and so glamorous. The stereotype is that you get rich clients, and the other stereotype is that you meet a lot of women doing this area of law (ha! what a joke). But trust me on this one; this area isn't so great.

In fact, lots of lawyers hate this area of law and avoid it like the plague. The clients tend to be basketcases and there's a lot of hostility on both sides in a divorce proceeding. Family law is notorious for being one of the lowest-paying areas of law, right down there with criminal law and immigration law. If you want to make real money in law, you have to slave away as a corporate lawyer or do PI work--- everyone knows that. But it seems the only rich family law lawyers and criminal lawyers are in Los Angeles.

I have a personal connection to family law. I actually worked in this area for a time, and I was just so miserable doing this. It wasn't that this area was difficult or even boring. The problem was that the subject matter was very depressing. Maybe I would have liked doing family law more if I was living in Los Angeles and representing Britney Spears. In fact, I'm sure I would have, but only because I'd be living in Los Angeles and would be able to brag to girls that I was representing Britney Spears.

Family law stinks, except in California.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

JAMES BOND #2 IN USA

The weekend box office race was a really hot one, but apparently some silly animated penguins with dancing feet beat out the new James Bond. Happy Feet finished Number One in the USA by a narrow margin over Casino Royale.

Yet Daniel Craig's new Bond movie is a huge hit in just about every other country in the world that it opened in, and smashed box office records in the U.K. for a Bond movie.

Why this big disparity? Why is it a huge hit everywhere but only Number 2 in America? One theory from me: Americans only go to movies that are good for the whole family! They don't want to see violent and sexy stuff, they only want to watch bland stuff that's good for kids. Kids dictate Hollywood! That's why these Americans went to Happy Feet.

The other reason is because Americans are too jingoistic and too into themselves to want to bother with some movie filled with foreigners. Have any of you seen Casino Royale?! Heck, this movie is loaded with Brits and British accents! This whole Bond cast is full of foreigners, and the gorgeous Bond girls are from France and Italy! To make things worse, it's set in all these foreign countries like Montenegro, the Bahamas--- places few Americans have ever set foot in. These are places that would freak out the average Amazing Race contestant- they wouldn't be able to find Montenegro on a map, they'd probably think it was in Africa or South America or somewhere like that!

No way Americans want to see that kind of movie, they'd rather see these PENGUINS with their American accents-- even if they are in Antarctica. At least you can find Antarctica on a map.

But I'm sure people in other countries would go see a movie involving the rest of the world. That's what struck me about Casino Royale, you didn't see much of America in that movie. But you did see the Canadian flag flying in one of the scenes in that movie. Nice going, eh?

I think there is a real disconnect evident here. It's clear to me now that American tastes in entertainment are blander and much more family-oriented than the tastes of people in the rest of the world, particularly Europe and Latin America. There, they want to see violence... and sex! That's why they'll go see a James Bond movie, because it delivers this stuff. It explains why Baywatch, a show loaded with buff people in bikinis, was such a huge hit worldwide but not so big in America- because it delivered on this escapist stuff.

But Americans don't care about big international movies; they don't want to see any sex or violence. They just want to watch cartoons all the time! They have to be dragged to the movie theaters by their kids!! What a country. Heck, Americans have made stars out of the blandest entertainers ever, boring goody-goody type people like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears. They made hits out of boring shows like Dancing With the Stars and American Idol. And Happy Feet is just the latest in a long series of hit cartoon movies . These cartoons filled with all these electronic-graphics and special effects are a money train for the studios. An absolute money train.

That's why you get these boring movies served up by Hollywood all the time, it's all the Americans' fault. Blame the USA.

YOU TUBE STUFF: SESAME STREET

Well, I had promised a link to this cool Sesame Street stuff that I saw on You Tube. I also heard there's some new DVD out featuring all the early Sesame Street stuff which is bound to be good for a few laughs. It's supposed to be all the early stuff from 1969-1974 when the show was really new. Maybe this was posted in conjunction with that to stir up some buzz, I dunno. I wouldn't be surprised. But the early days of Sesame Street were something, it was a very different show in a lot of ways.

For one thing, it was a smaller cast- Maria and Luis hadn't shown up yet. There was a different guy playing Gordon, and Mr. Hooper was still alive and kicking. There were a few bizarre clips from the opening season of Sesame Street which were on there on YouTube. For example, there was a very thin and bald-looking Big Bird. Here's another clip featuring Ernie and Bert's first appearance. Plus, Oscar the Grouch was not green; he was orange. Really bizarre stuff that a lot of us TV viewers grew up watching.

I think the early Sesame Street clips are quite something. The early years of this show was really the period when the show was really great. The sketches were really inspired and they had the great Jim Henson with some great Muppets routines and memorable characters; and the songs were memorable as well--- a lot of them done by the legendary Joe Raposo. Personally I think Sesame Street lost a lot when Henson and Raposo passed away; the songs and the Muppets were the real reasons this show was so great.

I think this show has kind of gone downhill in a lot of ways. These days it's all Elmo and all politically correct. They have Cookie Monster hawking fruits and vegetables now, he's gone all health-conscious! I think that is one big joke. These folks in charge ought to lighten up, it won't kill people to eat an occasional cookie. People who run Sesame Street take life way too seriously these days. Anyway that's that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

RACIST MICHAEL RICHARDS RANT CAUGHT ON TAPE

Did you hear about this? Michael Richards the former Seinfeld star, got the full extent of the Seinfeld "curse" in his own face when he went and humiliated himself at the Laugh Factory.

His comedy rant ended up going overboard when he crossed the line and used the "n" word. I guess Richards was trying to use that word to make a point about how much trouble that one word could stir up; the audience didn't like it one bit and started abusing Richards, and his whole routine collapsed. He started yelling at the audience and using the "n" word, and made a complete fool of himself in the process.

TMZ.com has the video of it here. And you can see in the video the audience members getting up out of their seats and walking out on Michael Richards in disgust. Anyway that's what I call a disasterous night on stage. About as total an implosion as you are ever likely to see in standup comedy. You had audience members taunting and insulting Richards, that's how big an egg this guy laid. Warning: the video features racial epithets, so be sure you have a strong stomach if you are going to see what happened.

I just watched the Letterman show and Richards was on there tonight with Jerry Seinfeld, apologizing on the air. Richards looks like a shattered man, and well he should be, for his idiotic, racist comments. Let's face it, on this one evening Michael Richards wasn't funny. Wasn't funny at all. I hope he's learned his lesson for using the "n" word and getting himself into so much trouble. What a fool.

OJ BOOK DEAL AND TV SPECIAL CANCELLED, FINALLY

The backlash has proven to be too much as the folks over at Fox have pulled the plug on O.J. Simpson's hypothetical book and ill-conceived TV special, thanks to all those folks who flooded the Fox Network with complaints.

I will say this about this brouhaha. At least some good has come of this; we've seen O.J.'s true colors emerge in this thing. What a heartless, classless, shameless lowlife he exposed himself to be. So as a result, now we know the truth about him.

"If I did it"? More like "yeah, he did". What other conclusion can you come to after this week?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

WINNERS AND LOSERS OF THE FALL TV SEASON

Well, the fall season has now established some definitive winners and losers among the various series and Aaron Barnhart at TV Barn has a rundown of them. All the usual ones are there in the winners category: Heroes, Ugly Betty, Jericho, Shark, Brothers and Sisters, the usual ones. He calls Men in Trees a winner but I look at that show as more of a "survivor" right now than a real winner. He also mentioned the Tina Fey comedy 30 Rock as a "winner" and I'm surprised to hear that, because from what I hear that show is tanking with the public big-time.

He also notes that if you are a fan of a series that is one of the "losers" that you are likely to tune into a show like Six Degrees and find it pulled at the last minute, to be replaced by Desperate Housewives or some other rerun show. This has got to be one of the pet peeves of the viewing audience: they tune in to a time slot, only to find their favorite new show pulled from the sked. Then they blame these idiot programming executives for yanking their favorite show and not giving it a chance. This has happened to viewers of Smith, Kidnapped, Runaway, The Rich List, and other such shows. And instead you find in its time period some repeat of some hit show that network is pushing, like House or Criminal Minds. Such is life.

There is also a grey area of shows in the middle that aren't "winners" but are not yet "losers" (ie. Studio 60, Friday Night Lights). Standoff is a really good example. Barnhart mentioned there was a recent order for new Standoff episodes and frankly I'm surprised it's still on the air. It seems like every show on FOX has bombed or is sinking fast. Happy Hour was a big flop, Justice got pulled from the schedule twice and got moved to new nights twice (it will now finish its 13-episode run in disgrace on Fridays), and Vanished has just been pulled. 'Til Death got a full season order, but I think the only reason it got an order was because FOX needed to fill air time and was running out of flop shows to put on. So that show got spared the knife.

Things are so bad that even the midseason replacements are starting to tank: FOX put on the air The Rich List, which lasted one glorious episode before getting the boot. Now, in a final desperate attempt at ratings FOX is going to air O.J. Simpson's "confession", If I Did It. They can't do any worse now, can they?!

Now the midseason replacements are starting to go on the air on all the networks. NBC already launched 1 vs. 100, a new game show, while ABC launched a William Shatner-hosted game show effort, Show Me the Money, which looks to me like a total ripoff of Deal or No Deal. What a waste of time that show is. Another show called 3 lbs is on the air and it looks like a ripoff of House. Is this the best the networks can do, serve up ripoffs? No wonder people tune in to cable these days, or watch movies on HBO or on AMC or Turner Classic Movies. If this is the best that TV can do, serve up the same old junk, well, why should we watch?!

TODAY'S BIG NEWS

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married today. Woo hoo! I'm excited.

MILLIONAIRE'S CLUB IN TORONTO

There's a big story out there about the Millionaire's Club. Supposedly this is a matchmaking service for absurdly wealthy guys and they have just arrived in Canada, in Toronto.

They had a story on all these young women being screened for selection on Friday for this matchmaking service- they want to screen out all the gold-diggers apparently. Yeah, right.

I'm sure they've weeded out all the gold-diggers, not. I'm sure that 90% of these women who say they aren't gold-diggers are lying their heads off. But I guess guys with millions of dollars have trouble finding women. And a lot of the ordinary women out there would be out to milk these rich guys for all their money anyway, and be more blatant about doing it. So I guess there's a demand for this service, because some of these millionaires are tired of the low-class women they are meeting in these single's bars who want to rip them off.

Sounds pretty elitist to me. I was watching a story about this silly service on the CBC and the whole tone of the story was how awful it was that the Millionaire's Club was coming to Toronto. The tone was that this whole service was degrading to women. They went and interviewed some feminist and a bunch of uptight law students in Toronto who ranted about how terrible this all was.

But this isn't so bad. Do people not want other people to hook up in this country? Really. There are worse ways I can think of for rich guys to land women--- like these mail-order Russian brides. Stuff like that. But these women signing up with this service are apparently doing this of their own volition. Personally, if these women really want to land a rich guy, this service sounds like an easy way to do it. It's a free country. But I think most women wouldn't bother. And if I were a guy I'd run away from this service. This looks like a good way to get milked.

Actually, there are a lot more reprehensible hookup services than the Millionaire's Club. For instance, there's the Ashley Madison agency. Now that's just awful, they hook married people up with extramarital affairs! Now that is really bad. If your marriage is so bad that you have to resort to using Ashley Madison agency, then you need to see a marriage counsellor. OR a divorce lawyer.

Anyway that's my rant about that.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

GEORGE MICHAEL SPORTS MACHINE: DONE

Sports news on TV has taken a lot of hits in the past few years with the closure of CNNSI, the cancellation of the National Sports Report on Fox Sports, the end of Global's Sportsline in Toronto and the cutback of local sportscasts from coast to coast. Now in another blow for TV sports George Michael has stepped down as sports anchor at WRC in Washington, D.C., effective the end of his contract in March.

And that means the end of his syndicated George Michael Sports Machine, one of the longest running sports highlight shows in North America. Since 1984 it has been a fixture of Sunday weekend programming, along with Ebert and Roeper, Meet the Press, Soul Train, and the rest of them.

I gotta say, I respect the reason for Michael's decision. He says he rejected a really big offer to stay on. But NBC is going through a really big downsizing and Michael is packing it in because he doesn't want any more of his staff members to be laid off. He says that it's his responsibility to bite the bullet as the senior guy, because he's 67 years old and has already had a good run of it. I say, good for him to look out for other people in this big NBC layoff. Good for him to retire at retirement age. You know, if I hit that age 65 I'd feel a responsibility to retire so that others didn't get the knife in a downsizing situation, not stay on forever like all these other old fossils on TV (this means you, Larry King). So long as the retirement package is good- who can say no to sitting at home with your feet up? Besides, it's not like Michael's completely gone, he'll still host a couple of panel shows on weekends.

And at least his exit is dignified; at least Michael can say he chose to leave, as opposed to Warner Wolf who was fired in New York City, and all these other aging sportscasters who've gotten booted or otherwise discarded, or who had to switch to hard news just to stay on the air. It is always good to go out on top.

But it will be sad to see the Sports Machine go. Ironically, one reason for this show's demise may have to do with that new NFL contract NBC has going. Those NFL games are pushing all the Sunday highlight shows way past midnight on these NBC affiliates. I know that the NBC station in Buffalo, channel 2, cancelled their own local Sunday sports highlight show because of football, and decided to give their sports guys more exposure the rest of the week. These games were pushing the Sports Machine on WRC and these other sports shows into the very early morning hours of Monday morning, and everyone knows that the wee hours of Monday have the worst viewing numbers on TV the entire week. Lots of stations run the worst rerun/infomercial programming imaginable at that hour because so many people are asleep. Or they simply run a test pattern. So they might as well shut the show down. It's sad for us fans. But life goes on.

HE DID IT

What other conclusion can you come to about O.J. Simpson now that he's going around hawking his book, If I Did It, about how he theoretically could have killed Nicole Brown Simpson. That is, if he did it.

Well, all I will say about this book and this TV stuff he is doing is this: even if he isn't lying to us with his plea of innocence, even if he really, honestly didn't do it---this is still an absolutely disgusting thing for O.J. Simpson to do to the Brown and the Goldman families. This book all by itself is totally insensitive to the feelings of the families and a total travesty. O.J. has class all right, all of it low. What a complete jerk he's proven himself to be.

Who's gonna buy this book? Fellow murderers?! Wait, wait-- I'd better not libel the guy, O.J. still claims he didn't do it. Well all I gotta say is: if you buy this book and help fill O.J.'s coffers then you are a jerk, too.

And the people at Fox Broadcasting are jerks for running the big "If I Did It" special O.J. has planned for the FOX network. This is low class, people. People over at the Fox News Channel like Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera are denouncing this and trashing their own company for running this piece of junk and promoting good old O.J.; this really is a disgrace.

As for the jury members in LA who let this lowlife go free, I really wonder how they can sleep at night. Especially knowing that this guy is going around cashing in on his infamy and bragging about the murders--- "if" he did them.

The question now is: what can be done about this creep. You can't go after him again because of double jeopardy. You can sue him, but he's been sued before and he's still running around. He's relocating to places where he can escape the creditors, thumb his nose at the victims and play golf! I'm trying to find a bright side to this sad story and there aren't any, really. The only one I can come up with is this: O.J. is DEFINITELY going to hell when he dies.

Would be nice if he went to jail. For something.

THEA ANDREWS ON ET

Was watching Entertainment Tonight again for the millionth time, trying to get caught up on the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes wedding and all that other important news, and found out that hottie Thea Andrews, a Canadian from Toronto, is now on that show.

Andrews has been bouncing around a lot of entertainment news/sports TV-type productions, she did lots of stuff for ESPN and TSN before that, and also hosted Cooking For Love on WTN. How does she keep getting all these gigs all the time? Oh yeah, I forgot: she's an entertainment reporter and entertainment reporters are all the rage. She's also an actress and no doubt gets confused all the time with Dancing With the Stars hostess Samantha Harris, who has pursued similar lines of work.

Thea is not the only Canuck on ET, I believe the totally f**king annoying Steven Cojocaru is still there. Or maybe he left, I haven't seen him for a while. This is the US show that Thea is working for, not the Canadian version, so watch out Cheryl Hickey.

LIBERAL LEADERSHIP RACE IN LAST STAGES

BLOGGERS GOING TO MONTREAL

In only a couple more weeks the Liberals hold their big leadership convention and THE CAIRNS BLOG hopes to once again provide the usual saturation political convention coverage. No, I will not be at the convention, I will be at home watching the TV. I've kind of had enough of attending political conventions, at least for right now.

Some bigshot bloggers will be there, though. There was a story on Global the other day about how Stephen Taylor and Jason Cherniak are heading to the convention to cover it. The difference is that Taylor is going there as an accredited Conservative blogger with full press credentials; he doesn't have to pay a cent. Meanwhile Cherniak is going there not only as a blogger, but as a die-hard Liberal Stephane Dion supporter/delegate. Which means he will have to pay the ridiculous delegate fees. It costs a thousand dollars to go be a delegate for the Liberals!

Now, at past leadership races that I've been to, it did not cost me a thousand bucks to go. Then again, I only went to one federal and two provincial leadership conventions, and all of them were direct-vote-by-the-membership affairs. (There were two other federal leadership races in which I cast a vote directly, but I didn't attend the convention on those occasions.) The biggest ripoff I heard of was the 2002 Ontario PC vote which cost people $195 to get into, but I didn't have to pay my way into that thing as I recall. But even so, we all thought these fees they were asking for were ridiculous and a ripoff. The other two leadership conventions were much more reasonably priced and I paid my own way into those. The federal Tory leadership convention in 2004 cost about $70 to get into, after taxes. Keep in mind these were not delegated conventions; everyone in the party was able to vote for the leader directly. So any die-hard who worked hard on a leadership campaign and who wanted to be in Toronto could go to the convention if they wanted to and even cast their vote there. I gather the Conservative policy convention in Montreal cost quite a bit more money for delegates to go to, and I didn't go to that one.

But this is ridiculous, the Liberals setting a delegate fee of a thousand dollars. Granted, it has both a policy component as well as a leadership component, so it is bound to cost more money than if it were a direct leadership vote. But still!

Cherniak is trying to raise money from people so he can be able to go there and vote, and blog from the floor of the convention. I think this is a very big issue for a lot of campaigns, trying to find a way to get their people to the convention, given these ridiculous delegate fees. So I wouldn't put too much faith in the unofficial "delegate totals" that have been reported. They give a good idea what will happen on the first ballot, but not the whole story. Let's see who actually shows up in Montreal at the convention after paying the thousand dollars! Not too many, I can imagine.

KENNEDY-DION GANGUP RUMORS

Here's a story from The Hill Times on what is going down with the convention and the leadership race, and whether or not it will be an Ignatieff-Rae final runoff. The latest speculation is it may not. Apparently the big fear in the Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae camps is about the possibility of a gangup by Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion. The fear is that Kennedy and Dion will support one another at the convention, depending on who's ahead of who after the second ballot is finally over. Then the fourth-place finisher will move over to the other, who will then vault past Bob Rae and then face Ignatieff on the final ballot.

The other thing that we know about is that the Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae camps both absolutely hate one another. Rae keeps on bragging about his great growth potential, but it won't be so great if Kennedy and Dion do a deal at the convention. And keep in mind Rae's not too far ahead of either of them. He's got something like 20% while these two could have a combined 32-34% at the convention! If these two do a deal, Rae could be finished. What Rae really needs to do is get the lesser contenders Ken Dryden and Scott Brison onside after the first ballot, and it's really questionable whether that will happen. I wouldn't be surprised at all if these two guys go to Ignatieff or someone else. I'm sure Kennedy and Dion will want their votes, too, so they can knock each other out on the second ballot.

Anyway, I could see Rae dropping to third on the third ballot if this Kennedy-Dion alliance thing happens, and then Rae's people could move over to one of those two and make that man leader. I wouldn't be surprised. I think what we are seeing is the possibility of a big stop-Ignatieff effort starting up. There's a lot of anti-Ignatieff sentiment out there right now. There are a bunch of YouTube political videos floating around right now and they look like your typical American negative political ads. They are attacking Iggy's support of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and his various comments in the media, and are calling him a "Republican".

Anyway, there's bound to be a lot of movement at the convention. The thing is that Bob Rae could win this convention or lose completely. It all comes down to this Kennedy-Dion business and I wouldn't be surprised if backroom deals between these two candidates, or even a big deal that falls apart, decides this convention. I think Ignatieff's best hope is for all the opposition to be disorganized in their attempts to stop him. He may be ahead but he can be had, no question about it.

The thing to watch out for is that the first ballot will take place on Friday night during the speeches. People are speculating there will be a whole night of negotiating and smoke-filled rooms before the second ballot begins on Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised. One convention I went to, I walked into the hall on Saturday morning and discovered that the Toronto Star had a big front-page story, reporting that my candidate's backroom people had spent all night at a nearby hotel negotiating to support someone else. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw talks going on. I don't think people will bail out of the race immediately because of those talks. But I do think you'll definitely see stuff happening quickly on the floor of the convention hall as a result of them, and people being organized. This setup frankly helps the stop-Ignatieff people a lot, because they're the ones who really need the time to organize themselves and do deals with other people.

The other thing that is happening is that the Liberals are threatening to tear themselves apart over this whole "recognizing Quebec as a nation" resolution nonsense which will be going on during the policy portion of the convention. Ignatieff was apparently supporting this resolution and getting into hot water over that, not to mention all the other things he was getting into hot water on, whether it's inserting his foot in his mouth over Israel and all the rest of it. See, this is why the Americans settle disputes in committees ahead of time; they know the whole national media and all the bloggers will show up at the convention to make their entire party look like it is in chaos. It's bad for party PR.

That's why leadership conventions in Canada are on their way out, folks. There's a resolution on the table to turn Liberal leadership contests into directly-elected things in the future and it looks like it should pass. And no wonder. This convention is going to be a big PR headache for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Anyway, fun stuff for Canadian political junkheads in a couple of weeks--- and don't forget, there's a byelection in London North Centre and a leadership race with the Alberta PCs going on, too.

FLUNKING THE BAR: NO FUN

Quite often I go over to Above the Law to find out some of the salacious stuff happening in North America's major law firms.

Anyway, noticed a blurb about Emily Pataki, who is the daughter of the governor of New York, George Pataki. Anyway, she was working at this big law firm, but now she's flunked the New York State Bar and wrote an e-mail to her entire firm letting them know. It seems like an odd thing to do, let everyone know you flunked. Most people would crawl under a rock, but I guess she figured she'd face up to this setback and let people know about it and so maybe she won't get fired.

Flunking the bar is bad enough for anyone but it has to be worse if you're already famous or a son or daughter of someone famous. It's embarrassing and your name gets printed up in all the tabloids. We all know that John F. Kennedy Jr. flunked the bar exams in New York State twice, and the whole media reported on it, and JFK Jr. told the press he was clearly not a legal genius, and on and on.

Finally he passed on the third try. But he eventually left the legal field to start a magazine. I'm wondering if Emily Pataki is going to eventually quit, too. I wouldn't be surprised. She also has a journalism background, she worked at Bloomberg TV once.

The New York bar exam is a real monster. It's several hours worth of questions, plus you have a huge failure rate to begin with, something like 40% or so. This is one of those state exams that Canadian law school graduates can write directly after law school; there's New York State and there is Massachussetts, which is apparently a lot easier. The problem is that in order to pass New York State you have to take these privately-run bar courses from people like BarBri. BarBri runs the most popular course, but the reason why people take that course is because they know everyone else is taking it, so they figure they have to do what everyone else is doing. Many people also take another private bar course at the same time just to make sure! Those cost a ton of money, thousands upon thousands of dollars in fact! It's a ripoff, and a real burden for people to take the bar exam in these states, especially if they have no law job offers to begin with and need to pass the Bar in order to improve their chances. Lots of people have to take out bar loans that they have to pay off, just to write the exams. It's a real burden.

Here in Canada, they do things a lot differently.The various provincial law societies run their own bar courses and the exams; in addition, there is a ridiculous articling requirement that the Americans don't have. But you still have to pay for the bar exam and all the material. In New York it doesn't cost too much to actually sign up and write the bar exam; less than in Canada as I understand it. What really kills you are the ridiculous additional fees to take BarBri and these private bar courses, some of which don't help you one bit in passing the bar exams. In fact I heard these private bar courses have been hauled into court to face lawsuits from disgusted bar flunkers who claim they were ripped off and ill-prepared by these folks.

That's the other thing, once you flunk you have to pay to sit the bar again--- all for a career with unbelievably long hours and lots of stress. The whole thing is a ripoff.

By all accounts the worst bar exam is in California; I read somewhere that the pass rate was something like 38%! That's ridiculous. I read that the dean of the law school at Stanford recently wrote the California bar exam and flunked it. This is a true story. The current mayor of Los Angeles wrote the California bar four times and failed every time, so he finally gave up. I actually know someone who actually graduated from the University of Saskatchewan law school and practised law in Canada, but she moved with her husband to California and she passed the bar there, and worked there as a lawyer. I wonder how she was able to do it given all the reports I hear about how bad it is there with the bar exam. The problem isn't so much that the exam is too long or too onerous; it's probably no worse than what you go through in New York. The real problem is that the grading there is ridiculous.

What people really need to do is go find a state that will take you, where passing the bar exam is really easy. I hear that the pass rate in South Dakota is something like 90%. I think Emily Pataki's true problem is that she lives in New York City. If she really wants to pass the bar exam, she should move to South Dakota. Hey, life isn't too bad there, they have casinos and the like.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

THE WINNER OF DANCING WITH THE STARS IS EMMITT SMITH

More people care about this stupid vote than about real elections! Emmitt beats Mario. I guess all those crazy Dallas Cowboys fans out there rang those phones.

Me, I stopped caring once Jerry Springer got the boot. And lots of people say the fix is in, that this show is rigged. Who knows.

Who are they going to get for the next edition? How about Bill O'Reilly? I read in his book that O'Reilly was quite the dancing machine in his day. I'm sure they're scouring the country looking for football stars to appear on this show next year. And they're bound to try and con some big-name ex-Playboy actress beauty into appearing again so they can lure in the guys (a la Kelly Monaco and Shanna Moakler). Has Brande Roderick ever been on this show? Can she dance? Doesn't matter.

Who knows, maybe they'll get really creative. Maybe they'll get Mike Tyson. Or maybe Bill Clinton. How about Greta Van Susteren! Or Charles Gibson, even. Hey, why not cross-promote your evening news show by going on Dancing With the Stars!

This is why the show is a hit folks, they know how to pick 'em.

ON AL JAZEERA

I had a chance to tune into the Al Jazeera English-language TV stream over the Internet.

I hate to admit it, but they did a good job today. No screaming al-Qaeda videos, no pro-terrorist rants. There were the usual first-day glitches, but it wasn't that bad, really.

It reminded me of the stuff put out by these international stations like BBC World and CNN International. Lots of international stories and plenty of familiar faces including North Americans like Dave Marash, Lucia Newman, and a few other names. I didn't expect this: a normal-looking news operation from Al Jazeera.

I think this station will do well in attracting an audience of people interested in coverage of world news. We sure could use another respectable player on the world stage, covering all the exciting stories around the globe, because frankly these North American news operations have abdicated this field, largely.

But you know, this operation has almost no distribution in North America and it's all their own fault, they ran one too many videos from al-Qaeda and associated themselves with one too many evil dictatorial types. This new channel claims to support democracy and freedom. Well, then, they should support it and not give free air time to these terrorists on their main Arabic channel! End of statement. Anyway, they have a long way to go to get away from that terrible reputation. They are off to a good start, but the hole they dug for themselves is very deep.

NICOLE ARBOUR: SEXY COMEDIAN

I was rummaging around the Toronto Sun website, looking for information about whether or not Case Ootes' ward 29 City Council win is going to be upheld on a recount, when I found this neat article about this sexy comedian Nicole Arbour.

Apparently her whole schtick is that she's Canada's sexiest comedian, and there's a picture of her in a really skimpy outfit. Well, whatever works, eh? Anyway, the article on this gorgeous babe is here.
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Speaking of laughs, you want to know what really happened in Toronto's ward 29? Apparently one of the tabulators has his car break down and couldn't deliver the tabulating machine that had all the results from one of the key polling stations. This guy thought it would be okay to hand in the next day. Not when the freaking race is too close to call, with everyone chewing their fingernails!! Anyway, someone tracked this person down and the final results were known. Talk about weird, folks. Now, that is funny.

BOND IS BACK, SOON

Well, the big worldwide release of the new James Bond flick Casino Royale is coming up later this week and from the accounts out there it looks like they may have pulled off the revival of the series with this movie that shows how Bond became Bond. Already, Daniel Craig and the cast have met the Queen, and everyone out there in movieland is buzzing about this new blond Bond and whether he lived up to this role. Many accounts say he's pulled it off, but there's the folks out there at http://www.craignotbond.com/ who are still angry and boycotting the movie. Well, let them boycott it.

I just want to see the movie, which sound gritty and true to the original Ian Fleming novels. It sounds definitely un-cartoon-like. Maybe this "prequel" Bond is exactly what the producers needed to do in order to revive this series; we'll see if it has succeeded. It should be interesting to compare this movie to all those other Bond movies that were made. I also want to see these Bond girls, it sounds like Eva Green is a different style of Bond girl from what we've seen before--- quite the heartbreaker.

Cinematical has out there a special feature, Seven Days of 007, and they have amassed a bunch of James Bond-related blog posts. Among the posts they have on display is every trailer of every James Bond flick ever made, including the original spoof version of Casino Royale that was put out by the people who made What's New Pussycat. That flick had in it Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen. And it was so bad it was a joke. They also have video from the Sean Connery unofficial Bond flick Never Say Never Again.

I'm sure there are other people doing other interesting James Bond stuff out there, so I may link to that eventually.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BIG TV NEWS NEWS

Well, it's a big 24 hours for the TV news business.

Tonight is the triumphant return (?) (!) of Dan Rather with Dan Rather Reports, on HDNet. Last week he spent Election Night doing Ratherisms on Comedy Central. I'll bet he's glad to be back on the air doing serious stuff instead of comedy routines with Jon Stewart.

Another channel that nobody watches goes on the air tomorrow. Al Jazeera.

Their long-delayed English service is FINALLY going to launch after taking forever and ever to launch. The big problem for Al Jazeera is that too many Americans look at this channel and automatically think bin Laden. They think these guys are a bunch of America-haters, which is why this channel can't get distributed in the USA. No one will be able to watch in the USA--- but there is an Internet stream available so apparently people will be able to watch that.

Finally, read in the National Enquirer that Katie Couric has been fired as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Wait a minute-- she's still there! Anyway, the tabloid rag claims that network brass have been meeting behind closed doors and have decided to banish Couric to the mornings if her evening ratings continue to be no good.

I still contend that it's the SHOW that's no good, not Couric herself. It's the producers whose scalps really ought to be on the line. But the producers and executives don't want to be fired either, so better to shift the blame. Besides, it looks like people have stopped grouching about the lousy show now, and are now griping about the ratings, and Couric is all alone there on that one. That was supposed to be what she was there for, to help CBS win. And she isn't doing it.

It is obvious that Couric is no big draw for CBS as far as I'm concerned. The truth hurts, but the truth is maybe a lot of people watched the Today show not because of Katie, but because it was the Today Show. It was the same problem Bryant Gumbel had, he found out the hard way that people tuned into that broadcast to watch the show, not him. Katie Couric was successful there because it was a great fit for her talents and she didn't repel people; it wasn't because she was such a big draw herself. But CBS thought she was such a great ratings draw, that's why they lured her and gave her 15 million dollars! The only reason she's on the CBS Evening News is to try and grab ratings. She's not there because it's so great a fit for her talents. Or because she's a serious newswoman. In fact, she looks uncomfortable and ill at ease up there, trying to be dead serious reading the news. And when she isn't being dead serious, she looks like a fool (ie. this "signoff" business). This is no great fit for her, this job. She's only there to pump up the ratings and, get this, attract younger viewers! Ha ha ha.

My big question is, if these jokers at CBS News really are going to embarrass themselves and fire Katie, well, who will they replace her with? Scott Pelley? Russ Mitchell? Lesley Stahl? Trish Regan!! Or maybe they'll swap Harry Smith with Katie. Who knows. Anyway, it doesn't matter what they do, CBS News is screwed. Let's face it, they have nobody in house--- nobody any better, anyway. Maybe they have big plans to lure Diane Sawyer. Or the royally-browned-off Elizabeth Vargas, who's still mad about leaving the ABC anchor chair to have a baby. As if those folks will really help any.

Hey, how's this for an idea. Instead of firing Katie, bring on board someone who could complement her on the political and international stories that the evening news junkies love. BOB SCHIEFFER!!!! Anyway, they should just fix the broadcast and get rid of Free Speech, and make it newsier and be done with it already. Then maybe the crummy ratings will go back up.

Or maybe what Katie needs to do is recite Howard Beale's "Im mad as hell" speech on the air. Or something.

ON "BORAT"

Well, Borat has been the top movie at the box office the last two weeks- quite an achievement given that it only opened in a limited release to begin with. It was only released in about 800 or so theaters in its first week. And it still ended up Number One. Now it's in wide release and it's bigger than ever.

It has been getting enormous critical buzz and rave reviews. It was hitting 95% at Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty phenomenal. I saw this flick at the Toronto International Film Festival and it was the talk of the festival. And it wasn't even a "gala" production, it was a Midnight Madness screening at the Ryerson, and even that whole screening was a fiasco because the projector broke down and they had to show the thing all over again. But still, that flick dominated the festival. You could tell that it was going to be huge, even then.

But now the backlash has started. I'm noticing there are people out there- few in number, but they are there-putting their necks out and saying hey, this movie wasn't so great. They are repulsed by the offensive humor. Or they were repulsed by that naked wrestling scene. You know, these critics have a point. This may be a brilliant, inspired, memorable movie, but it's not exactly the kind of movie where you go there and say "man, did I ever enjoy that movie." But, man, is it ever funny.

I can understand that reaction, because I kind of had mixed feelings about the movie myself. I mean, I liked the movie, it was highly memorable, and the characters were inspired. But it was really gross in places, and frankly there are lots of other films I enjoyed more. Still, you can't exactly give this movie a thumbs down, or else you'd end up looking like you hate all the movies out there! Maybe it was too early in the day for me to watch that film. If I had seen it at midnight at the Ryerson instead of at a sales and industry screening in Yorkville, maybe I would have been more enthusiastic and thought the whole movie was the most brilliant movie ever.

I can also understand the reactions of these people who got duped by Borat and his fake team of crack journalists, making them look bad in movie theaters all over the world. The bunch of college kids who were caught by Borat on film making boorish remarks and watching that infamous Pam Anderson sex tape are taking their appearance in the film pretty hard. They are suing the production, and that's only the start. Apparently there's a whole line of people disowning themselves from this flick, disowning their involvement in it, and they are all suing or thinking of suing. So this flick is definitely going to end up in court for years to come. Ain't America great, the land of lawyers.

And you know what this means: this movie will be an even bigger hit, and will keep racking up the box office as the buzz about this movie keeps on going. The big problem for Borat now is: how the heck is there going to be a sequel? Everyone out there knows who Borat is now, they won't be duped! Borat will have to go to the darkest reaches of middle America in order to find people to appear in his next project. I don't see how any sequel to this movie can be made--- or be any good.

Anyway. Borat is a big hit and should stay Number One until James Bond shows up. Maybe even after James Bond shows up. It is that big.

SOME FINAL ONTARIO ELECTION STUFF

Well, I am a real political junkhead to be posting this stuff.

Larry O'Brien won the mayor's race in Ottawa very easily as it turned out. Incumbent mayor Bob Chiarelli got buried in third place with 15% of the vote.

In Vaughan Linda Jackson won that nasty mayor's race by a hair.

In Toronto - Danforth, the final tally in the city council race in ward 29 has incumbent Case Ootes winning by only 20 votes. I guess the right-leaning voters were so discouraged by the blowout mayor's race that they gave up and stayed home, and almost cost Ootes his job.

Pretty left-leaning TO City Council. All the usual people got in and just one incumbent councillor was defeated.

I missed not being with my political friends this election night--- we could have ranted and raved about these bad election results and how the people of Toronto are such fools, and on and on.

And finally in Markham Joe Li lost yet again. The poor guy should really give up already.

Uh, that's pretty much it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

THE CITY ABOVE TORONTO

Race of the night is in Vaughan where the mayor's race currently has the two frontrunners separated by 11 votes.

UPDATE: Rundown of Toronto results here: notice City Hall veteran Case Ootes is trailing. Not good news from my standpoint.

MORE RESULTS IN TORONTO

Citytv reporter Adam Vaughan is projected victorious-- City Council is officially in the toilet. And I notice councillor Case Ootes in Toronto-Danforth is really in trouble- he was leading but it's really close, too close for their liking I am sure. At least one incumbent councillor has been defeated. But as for everyone else, well, it's exactly what I thought it would be, the same fools as last time who screwed things up. At least John Sewell got beat.

Another guy I know, Jim Conlon in ward 33, isn't going to be too happy with running fourth in his race. These conservative types are getting killed.

And Carolyn Parrish is leading in Mississauga, trying to get on council. Yecch.

LIVE RESULTS HERE: www.ctv.ca/mar/static/elections/tor2006/TO_results.html

DAVID MILLER RE-ELECTED MAYOR IN TORONTO

Citytv declared Miller the winner as soon as they signed on the air! That was quick.

Hazel McCallion was declared the winner in Mississauga again but heck, you might as well declared her re-elected weeks ago.

POLLS CLOSE IN LESS THAN AN HOUR

I'll be here reporting in from time to time on the Ontario returns. The Ottawa mayor's race is supposed to be very close, and the Vaughan race is really dirty between incumbent Michael Di Biase and Linda Jackson. There was also a guy running in the GTA who impersonated a police officer, and there were threats of intimidation in some races. Talk about wild stuff.

Municipal politics can be dirty, but it's also fun. This is grassroots politics, folks. If you want to get a lot of hands-on political experience, municipal politics is the best place to get it in my book. Particularly in Toronto. These folks really get into it in Toronto and in the GTA, it's a lively scene there and many of the people involved municipally also have provincial or federal experience. I notice John Parker, who sat at Queen's Park, is running for council in Jane Pitfield's old seat. I noticed in York Region that the area's ex-MP, Jim Jones, is running there for re-election to regional council. A guy I've met during the Tony Clement leadership race in 2002, Joe Li, is also running for regional council in the Markham area. He ran for Parliament in Markham before and got hammered. He's lost so many races now that it has become a running joke; he really needs a win, badly.

My own political involvement in the Toronto area in recent years included a lot of contact with people close to the municipal political scene there. I know city councillors and school trustees there, and a number of local political aides who work at City Hall and are actively involved. On these provincial and federal races I ran into plenty of municipal people; I met councillor Rob Ford during the federal votes. Of course I volunteered heavily on the mayor's race three years ago for John Tory, a great experience and good exposure to politics, so I'm up on all the local issues like garbage, transit, the Island Airport and all that from all the emails and correspondence I had to deal with during that vote. Those are the same issues this time! Believe me when I say nothing's changed. What a waste of the last three years at Toronto City Hall, nothing's gotten done.

I'll be watching what happens to people like councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong and Catholic School Board trustee Angela Kennedy quite closely, and of course the mayor's race.

It's odd being a spectator this time around, in fact it's odd to not be in Toronto for this election. But don't worry; I voted in the advance poll and cast my vote disgustedly for Jane Pitfield. Call it my parting shot at Toronto politics. Anyway, election results are coming soon, at 8PM EST. And because the results come in electronically the results will be known, fast. See my post below for links!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

HOT RACES IN THE ONTARIO MUNICIPAL VOTE

Here's a National Post look at the hot races in the municipal vote in and just outside Toronto tomorrow. What to watch out for: whether ex-mayor John Sewell or ex-councillor John Adams can beat incumbent Joe Mihevc in St. Paul's; whether ex-Citytv reporter Adam Vaughan can beat the NDP; the vicious mayor's race in Vaughan, and whether Carolyn Parrish can get a seat on city council in Mississauga. I really see that woman trying to set herself up for a run for mayor later on, her and her big mouth and anti-Americanism. Needless to say, lots of people in Mississauga are hoping Hazel lives a long time, just to keep Parrish out.

Election coverage:
www.citynews.ca
www.cfrb.com
www.680News.com
www.torontosun.com
www.torontostar.com
toronto.ctv.ca

CityNews and CTV Toronto have live video broadband coverage as well. I notice that Citytv is bragging that it will have the only live election coverage on regular TV in Toronto. CTV Toronto, in what I consider a major copout, is shifting most of its election coverage to the Internet this year. They figure the regular viewing audience is only interested in watching situation comedies on TV. CTV are planning to serve up a 2-hour streaming block over the Internet, but are only going to serve up a crummy half-hour special on TV. I know all the political junkies have fled to the Internet to get their political coverage anyway, but that's only because TV is doing such a lousy job covering politics. Besides, a fat lot of use Internet coverage is going to be if you're an election worker, watching a bunch of TV screens at your local victory/defeat party. They are all going to have to tune every TV have in to CityNews. I give CityNews credit, at least they are making an effort, even though this election is going to be boring. Rogers Television also has coverage planned, but that's on cable TV, not rabbit ears.

More links to come.

TORONTO SUN SAYS: VOTE FOR JANE PITFIELD

ONTARIO MUNICIPAL VOTE TOMORROW

The editorial endorsements are out in the press now and the Toronto Sun has come out today with an endorsement of Jane Pitfield for mayor of Toronto. Read it here.

In the endorsement editorial the Sun lambastes the Toronto Star and its tepid editorial endorsement of mediocre Mayor David Miller. The Star says vote for Miller because there's no alternative. Not so, says the Sun, who points to Pitfield's record at City Hall. It's interesting the Sun is calling the Star's endorsement a lukewarm one, because the Sun made a point of saying that Pitfield has run a disappointing campaign.

No surprise there, in fact the whole Toronto campaign has been disappointing. The same group of bums who have run Toronto into the ground are going to get back in tomorrow, that's my wild and crazy prediction. Municipal elections in this country are a lot like US elections. Races aren't run on party lines, in fact the only party really actively involved is the NDP. They actually nominate candidates for Council, but none of these other parties do. It's a case where you don't vote for the party, you vote for the man. Or the woman. So these incumbents have so much name recognition that you can't get these bums out of there. In the last municipal vote in Toronto, hardly any incumbents on Council got booted out. There was one incumbent in Eglinton who got the boot because of an unpopular development she had given her backing to, and I know someone else got beat, too, but that was about it.

Worse yet, so many of these incumbents are so organized that the opposition has no shot. In Mississauga, Hazel McCallion basically has no opposition in every election she has run. She has opponents, but that's the same thing as Muhammad Ali having chump "opponents" to knock out. I know a lot of city councillors in a lot of wards have races that are, let's face it, a joke. The problem isn't that their opponents are no good, it's because these candidates are disorganized and have no viable campaign. They're running against an entrenched "name", so unless they are a big name already or sat on Council or the School Board before, they have no shot. Not all the races are like this. Some incumbent councillors like Case Ootes actually have to run an actual campaign against organized, tough opposition, but they seem to win all the time, too.

The problem for Pitfield is that even though she's been on Council a long time, she's run a lousy, uninspired campaign. She's come off looking like a negative individual in the media; running against panhandlers, against this and that, and that's no way to go. It's not enough to run a campaign completely against an individual; you have to state what you are for. But all you are getting from the Pitfield campaign is that she's not David Miller. Well, that only works if you think, as I do, that anyone other than David Miller would be an improvement, but you can't hope to win an election with such a campaign--- because there's a lot of people in Toronto likely to vote for Miller because they don't think they have a choice.

Well, they do have a choice, and a good one, but this campaign has been a flop. You know, if you are really desperate to waste your vote on an alternative you can cast it for Stephen LeDrew, but if you really want a change for the better in Toronto your best bet is Jane Pitfield. That's my official CAIRNS BLOG endorsement, if you can call it that.

Of course, the most effective alternative of all is to decide to vote with your feet. I hear there are plenty of jobs in Calgary. Montreal's a pretty cool city. In Montreal they have a comedy festival and all these auto races. Even Edmonton has a ChampCar race these days, and their NHL team actually played in the Cup finals and has won Stanley Cups within the past 40 years (unlike Toronto). In Vancouver they have a domed stadium, and you can drive to Seattle to see baseball and film festivals and go up a cool tower! Of course, if you really need to stay in Ontario you can simply move to York Region like everyone else, or move to Mississauga and live under Hazel's rule! At least she tries to actually balance the books! There are other cities, you know.

Anyway, election day is tomorrow and there should be plenty of coverage of the Ontario races tomorrow over the Internet. I'll post a few coverage links tomorrow. Not today; too much important football on TV.

Friday, November 10, 2006

HOLLYWOOD'S NEXT GENERATION

I read Ken Levine's screenwriting/TV blog quite often and I noticed he has an amusing post about the Hollywood Next Generation issue put out by the Hollywood Reporter which spotlights all the young movers and shakers in Hollywood.

The gist of the post is that Levine thinks that all the people on this list seem to be incredibly good-looking and that this seems to be the sole requirement of making it onto this list. Well, I guess I'll need the plastic surgery and the botox and all that, just to get hired in an office job in Hollywood!

I usually try and get a copy of this issue every year but can't seem to find it around here for some reason. Anyway, you can read about these folks online. The film people are here. The TV folks are here. The agents/management types are here, and the legal and New Media folks are here.

MORE POLITICAL JUNK MONDAY

A reminder to those of you out there that Monday is Municipal Election Night in Ontario and THE CAIRNS BLOG will continue its death-defying political coverage with blogging of the election. Not that it looks to be such a close race. The polls have David Miller leading Jane Pitfield by a 2-1 margin in the Toronto mayor's race and that is what I expect the result will be on election night.

Meanwhile the Stephen LeDrew campaign has totally tanked with the public. LeDrew is supposed to be a serious candidate and has been treated as such by the media, and has been included in all the debates, but beyond that he hasn't run much of a campaign. One poll has him at 2%. 2%?! That's pretty awful. But what do you expect, he started late and has no campaign organization as far as anyone can tell. You can't expect to win a race for mayor of Toronto if you don't go full-bore from very early on. And he hasn't done that.

Anyway, coming up later on in a matter of weeks is the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal, plus the PC leadership race in Alberta to replace Ralph Klein. Here's what I just found out today: apparently the PCs in Alberta are scheduled to announce their second ballot at the same time that the Liberals crown their leader. Reminds me of what happened in Ontario in 2002. The Canadian Alliance crowned Stephen Harper the leader over Stockwell Day; that same week the Ontario PCs held their big leadership convention and elected Ernie Eves on the second ballot to become Premier of Ontario. But Harper's win came on a Wednesday night while the PC convention in Ontario actually started on Thursday and crowned the leader on Saturday. Which leads me to this question: will the Liberal leadership contest be decided on a Saturday night, as these things usually are? I think it is; I read the Liberal convention program and it says that the voting for the first ballot will begin on Friday night. Then they start with the second ballot on Saturday and will try and finish all the balloting by afternoon. Smart move to try and avoid all-night leadership conventions. I think they're attempting to get it all over with by the time Hockey Night in Canada comes on, because they know there will be a riot if that show gets interrupted with political convention coverage. In the past they were always pretty successful because the Liberal leadership contests were always blowouts, but this race looks like it will probably go four ballots! Well, there better not be any counting delays or voting problems like the ones that have plagued other political conventions (ie. 2004 Ontario PCs--- we weren't out of there until way past 11PM, and that race only took two ballots!). Otherwise, you'll see lots of squirming CBC people wondering how to appease all the hockey fans and political junkies at the same time!

See, this is why most Canadian political parties try and hold their conventions during the summer, when hockey season is over. You avoid this whole problem. Also, there's an article in the Globe about how this is likely to be the end of an era and the last of the old-style delegated conventions. The Liberals have pretty much decided to scrap these delegated conventions, too, and go to the membership with direct elections for leader. So this really is the end of an era in politics.

Anyway, I'll be enjoying (?) (!) watching more political stuff on Monday and throughout this month.