Saturday, March 28, 2009

F1 IS HERE AGAIN

Well, it's here -- Formula 1 is back with Lewis Hamilton looking to defend his hard-won title from last year's thrilling finish. The first race of the season is in Australia, in another hour.

As far as North American fans are concerned, though, this promises to be a big "who cares" type of season, with bigshot F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone having scheduled no races anywhere in North America.

Well, how do you expect race fans in the USA and Canada to react?! Ecclestone seems determined to disenfranchise North American race fans and confine F1 to race courses in countries run by tinpot dictators and oil tycoons. You ain't going to win too many fans by sending your sport to Asia and the Middle East.

As for Canada, the IRL and NASCAR are rapidly becoming the races of choice for auto fans -- thanks largely to Montreal getting shafted by the F1 folks. The IRL and NASCAR events here are bound to get big crowds. Sure, auto racing has its troubles on this side of the world, but fans still insist on showing up for the big races.

In fact, there's been some exciting NASCAR news here in frozen Saskatchewan. The NASCAR Canadian Tire series is coming to Saskatoon in July with a nighttime race just one week after their Indy weekend event in Edmonton. I know, it's only the Canadian Tire series -- but it's a decent race event, dammit, and we haven't had too many of those in Saskatchewan in a long time. Familiar names like Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger are expected to be there for the race. Good stuff.

You know, when I moved back to the prairies from Toronto I was worried I'd miss out on all the auto racing I'd usually enjoy during the summer. I needn't have worried, because there's lots of good stuff happening around here -- racing and otherwise.

Friday, March 27, 2009

THE CBC FIRES BART SIMPSON

Wow. As part of the CBC's infamous cuts this week, they are ashcanning The Simpsons reruns.

Well, why not? It seems like you can see that show air on every channel there is in Canada, anyway (Global, FOX, The Comedy Network, OMNI TV, etcetera). Why the CBC was adding to the Simpsons glut in the first place, I don't know.

Maybe it's a good thing the CBC isn't wasting any more taxpayers' money on the series. Heck, the show is already on the air all day and night.

ANOTHER GUYS' MAGAZINES UPDATE: MALIN AKERMAN IN MAXIM, WHILE AT THE MANSION THERE'S HOPE YET

I'm back again with another column on the sorry state of men's magazines in North America, and a sorry state it is right now. Of course, the whole magazine industry is in total turmoil with so many titles going out of business.

The latest title to go under is Blender, a music publication which just so happens to be owned by Alpha Media, the same people who own MAXIM. In fact it was MAXIM that started BLENDER up in the first place. In related news, Joe Levy, who was Blender's editor in chief, is now editor in chief at MAXIM replacing James Kaminsky, who has unceremoniously walked the plank.

I gotta say, based on this month's issue MAXIM is definitely a sinking ship. The issue only has 98 freaking pages! The size of the thing is pretty alarming: it's practically no bigger than a comic book! It's hard to believe this used to be a publication that was thick with ads and features and full of life. All in all, it's sad times over at MAXIM.

At least they had the right idea with the April cover girl. She's gorgeous Malin Akerman, star of Watchmen, and definitely worthy of a spot on the cover. Unfortunately, her movie is sinking like a stone at the box office at the moment, in spite of some pretty good Malin Akerman nudity in the movie. I guess the fans have seen enough of her naked.

Over at the Mansion, things are barely better at PLAYBOY, which is right now in the middle of management turmoil of its own. The issues have been pretty thin, lately, too. And they can't count on The Girls Next Door TV show for any free publicity anymore, because Holly, Bridget and Kendra are all finished with the show and finished with PLAYBOY.

What's more, their big issues with their biggest celebrity pictorials, featuring Carol Alt, Carmen Electra, the Girls Next Door and Aubrey O'Day, are over and done with and they've run out of big celebrities to put in the magazine. As a result, April's issue marks a new low point for PLAYBOY as funnyman Seth Rogen is on the cover. Think about it. Seth Rogen. On the cover of PLAYBOY. No wonder sales are down.

At least the woman Seth shares the cover with is completely smoking-hot. Hope Dworaczyk is her name, and I gotta say this sweet Texan is absolutely gorgeous.

Best of all, of course -- she's naked. Miss Dworaczyk is Playmate of the Month for April, and her centerfold is not to be missed. Hope is definitely going to take a prime spot at or near the top of my list of all-time favorite Playmates.

Hope Dworaczyk actually has a cool Canadian connection. She's the female host on Inside Fashion, a show that airs on Citytv right here in frozen Canada!! I think this is great news. This means Hope is sure to be here in Canada to sign autographs for her fans.

Anyway, the folks at Inside Fashion did a video where they covered Hope's Playmate shoot, and you can see that story here. Have fun, guys.

DYLAN RATIGAN TAKES A HIKE

Well, those few people who tune in to CNBC to see Dylan Ratigan can forget it, because Ratigan has left CNBC all of a sudden. Apparently the Fast Money host's contract was up and he was hoping for bigger and better things, but the folks in charge couldn't come to terms, so he left. Apparently there are other offers on the table for him, although the NY Times is reporting that what Ratigan really wants is to be the next David Letterman -- or something.

Actually, I'm not surprised Ratigan left -- he's not a babe, is he? The financial news babes have really taken over that place.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

DETAILS ON CBC CUTS

Just as I suspected -- the CBC is getting rid of a lot of unpopular shows and the big cutbacks can be blamed directly on the ad revenue shortfall.

As usual, though, the CBC is trying to blame the government for the cuts. Why am I not surprised?

Maybe they should blame the public for not watching their programs. If people were watching the CBC, there might be more ads -- even in this terrible economy!

It's no surprise that the CBC isn't even going near their most popular property -- the Ron and Don show, Coach's Corner. That's because the CBC knows that if they cut that, there will be a riot across Canada and probably moves to slash the CBC's funding.

People are also having a cow over the fact that the CBC won't be carrying the Toronto Blue Jays this season, but that's old news, anyway. Everyone knew the CBC wouldn't be carrying the Blue Jays. I don't think real die-hard sports fans will miss the skiing or the world athletics, either.

CRTC GETS GRILLED BY POLITICIANS

In other news, people are in a lather over the cuts happening at other TV stations in smaller communities. The CRTC is being grilled about it in Ottawa right now. CRTC chief Konrad von Finkenstein told these MPs that fees for carriage weren't the answer (way to go, Konrad!), but some MPs disagreed and said the status quo wasn't an option either.

All I gotta say is these MPs are a big help to the average consumer. If fees-for-carriage gets approved, Canadians will get stuck paying for channels that traditionally have been free and which ought to continue to be free. In fact, I kind of have problems with the whole notion of having to pay to watch television to begin with -- particularly when you have to pay for the same crap on multiple channels on cable. But I don't have too many over-the-air channels out here where I am, so I'm stuck shelling out for cable every month.

The politicians need to stay out of the television business and let TV work out its own problems. For one thing, it would help these Canadian channels tremendously if they did more than simply rebroadcast American shows all the time. Some original programming might go a long way as far as branding is concerned. As for the CRTC, they really ought to grab some backbone and force these conglomerates to live up to the public-service commitments of their licenses. This whole business of conglomerates threatening to cancel local news as a way to impose fees-for-carriage on cable customers just cannot stand.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MEDIA CHANGES: LAYOFFS AT CBC, FORMAT CHANGE AT 1050 CHUM

Well, today was a big day for media in Canada as the CBC gave the chop to 800 jobs.

Honestly, you would have thought that passing up on the exhorbitant Olympic rights fees for 2010 and 2012, giving away the expensive theme song to Hockey Night in Canada, and some improved ratings on the TV side would have helped matters over there. Really, they seemed to have done a few things right as far as their decision-making has been concerned -- the place hasn't been completely run into the ground on the programming side. (Not that giving up the Hockey Theme was a bright idea, but I don't think that move cost them money.)

Yet these folks at the CBC are still managing to find a way to lose money. I think maybe the lack of ad revenues has been a real killer for them this year. Nobody's buying any freaking TV time.

And the CBC's attempt to shake down the government for even more public money has flopped, so now they are going to throw people out the building. They claim the government isn't giving them any money to cover their shortfall. Well, boo hoo -- the government is too busy trying to bail out the auto industry and everyone else. I doubt people will be too sympathetic towards these CBC fat cats not receiving more of their beloved loot, especially with so many other people being thrown out of work.

I don't know, folks -- these cuts kind of look fishy to me. We'll see what these guys plan to do as far as cuts are concerned. They may just cancel a bunch of shows that nobody watched and then turn around and blame the government for it, even though these shows were on their last legs anyway.

Apparently the CBC is threatening to put on more reruns, old movies and other crap on the main network. But that's good, because the only entertainment shows I tend to like on the CBC seem to be their reruns, old movies and other crap.

It's a heck of a lot better than most of their new material, I'll say that right now. If the CBC wants to pull some old Wayne and Shuster tapes out of the vault and run them on TV, that's perfectly fine by me. Heck, they can pull out some old Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup tapes while they are at it.

So long as they also keep showing the sports. Heck, they have to show something new some of the time there.

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

In other news, the greatest and most storied radio station in the history of Canadian rock and roll, 1050 CHUM, is about to kick the bucket and drop its oldies format --- again. The last time they got rid of oldies, they morphed into The TEAM 1050 as part of Canada's first all-sports radio network. Then the network collapsed, and 1050 went back to playing oldies.

Since then, the whole CHUM empire was sold to CTV, who are going to convert the radio format to all-news and simulcast the CP24 cable TV news channel on the radio. It's going to be called CP24 Radio 1050.

I don't know why they think people in Toronto will tune in -- there's already all-news on 680, and lots of news on CFRB, CBC Radio, AM 640 and everywhere else. I guess this is payback to Rogers for getting a license for a competing Toronto cable all-news channel. That channel is going to compete with CP24, so CTV might as well launch a radio competitor to 680 News!

To be honest with you, this won't be any worse a move than what was going on before with the station. 1050 CHUM may have the richest radio history in Canada as the place which introduced Canada to Elvis, and the Beatles, and everyone else -- but lately the station hasn't been up to much. Not much personality or effort seemed to be put into things there -- they simply spun oldies tunes all the time. If you want to hear a station in Toronto that does a decent job of playing old stuff, tune into AM 740. At least that station has some personality.

It's sad to see 1050 CHUM go, but that station has been pretty much dead on its feet for the longest period of time. That's all for now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BAILOUT ANGER BEING SPEWED BY, AND AT, OBAMA

Well, my live continuing Wall Street crisis coverage continues here at the CAIRNS BLOG. Our topic for this week is the outrage over the outrageous AIG bonuses that these corporate executives have given themselves from the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bailout money they got.

And the Democrats who allowed this to happen in Congress are beside themselves! This week, they pushed through a new law where they are taxing 90 percent of the bonuses these bailed-out company executives paid themselves.

Ordinary folks, however, at looking at the Democrats in disbelief for allowing this to happen in the first place. If the government can't get a bailout right and can't track where $165 million of money goes, that doesn't exactly do wonders for people's confidence in their ability to set things right with the economy.

There also are folks criticizing the Democrats for micromanaging the affairs of these corporations. "Why should the government be dictating to companies how they compensate their executives?" they are asking. Companies are also complaining that this kind of thing is going to prevent them from attracting executives who might otherwise be repelled by the prospect of working for these companies. Let's face it, working for AIG really does sound like a barrel of laughs.

All in all, this has turned out to be a big gong show. The bloom is definitely coming off the Barack Obama rose in a hurry. He looks more and more like Jimmy Carter every day.

To make matters worse, the full-of-themselves advisers of President Obama are putting him on TV again to give yet another useless rant about the economy in prime time, pre-empting our favorite television programs.

Well, the good news is that I will be away covering City Hall on Tuesday night, so it's nice to know I won't be missing a darned thing on TV. So thank you very much, President Obama.

Television viewers, though, are outraged. American Idol is on that night, and Idol fans are mad that their favorite show will be pushed aside for yet more of the same old propoganda from the Obama administration.

Well, these Democrats had better not use their TV time to skewer the Republicans for the AIG bonus mess, because this latest screwup is entirely their doing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SXSW COVERAGE

I have been slow to provide the usual links to coverage of the SXSW Film Festival in Austin because, well, I have been too freaking busy and zonked out to bother updating this blog all this week.

So here's a link to the Film School Rejects page for SXSW. Also, here's the Cinematical page . Enjoy.

BROMANTIC COMEDY TAKES ON THE BOX OFFICE

Here's my latest Reject Report where I talk about the movies coming this weekend, including I Love You, Man, which I've been told is actually not too lame a movie.

I know, I know -- I haven't been here all that much this week, but darnet, I've been too busy covering the news. Basically I've had no life this week and it looks like I will have no life next week, either. So this blog will probably go to heck next week, too. Such is life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SAD TIMES IN HOLLYWOOD

Too much bad news from the world of entertainment.

Ron Silver is dead of cancer. Also, Liam Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson is also dead.

Sad times, indeed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

BIG WEEKEND AT WITCH MOUNTAIN

The Rock aims again at box-office glory with Race to Witch Mountain, while the year of the horror movie continues with Last House on the Left. And there's also Miss March which looks like a ripoff of Sex Drive to me.

My rant about the weekend box office is up, and I'm surprised I was even able to bang off a column this week given all the happenings in court yesterday.

I'M BACK

I am back from covering the Curt Dagenais murder trial. He was found guilty on two first-degree murder counts and a third count of attempted murder. The big sentencing was today and the book was absolutely thrown at him: life in prison for all three counts.

I may have some more to say about it later, but I'm kind of beat after a hard last several days covering this thing. More on this subject later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MY DAY IN COURT

Just an update on what went down today at the big murder trial I am covering. Heard the end of the instructions by the judge to the jury today. Deliberations now under way in the double-murder trial of Curt Dagenais. I sat there in the media room with other reporters, many of them hoping the case would be over soon so we could cover all the other important stuff we have to do.

Went back into the courtroom later in the afternoon because the jury had a few questions and wanted some testimony played back.

As it stands, that's not even finished yet, so there's no verdict today. Back tomorrow, 9 AM. Went on the computer and sent off my story on the day this evening.

Instead of wasting my time sitting around tomorrow doing nothing, I plan to spend my down time in the court house trying to figure out what to say in my Reject Report prediction column, which I plan to finish after the day's proceedings are over. And that is my plan for you movie hounds tomorrow.

In other news, it seems ex-Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington is in legal trouble and appeared today in -- you guessed it-- court.

Monday, March 09, 2009

REPORTING THE NEWS IN THE MIDDLE OF COLD NOWHERE

News from Nowhere is back -- I am in Saskatoon again today, still covering the Curt Dagenais murder trial along with every other media organization from around here, and waiting for the jury deliberations to start. Final arguments were today, the charge to the jury starts tomorrow, and the deliberations are due to begin Wednesday.

So I'm looking forward to being here this week, following this thing.

I gotta say, the weather here is western Canada makes me wonder why I ever left sunny Toronto. It was minus-30 here today - and keep in mind, this is March. The weather around here is supposed to be warmer in March! Remind me, again-- why did I leave Ontario?

(Oh, now I remember -- more money and better living than out East. Right!!)

Since I've got some time on my hands in the evenings in the next day or so, I'm thinking I might be able to go see Watchmen finally, soon. My summary of the box office results is now up.

In other news, watched my favorite CNBC hottie Erin Burnett on The Celebrity Apprentice the other night. What the heck she is doing on that piece of junk television show, I don't know. I guess she needed the work in this bad economy.

Scott Hamilton got a well-deserved boot, but Donald Trump really does need to go on a firing spree with that bunch of guys he has. What a freak show that guys' team is (Tom Green, Dennis Rodman, Clint Black, etcetera.)

As for the babes' team -- that gorgeous Brande Roderick woman keeps on looking better and better. She's got poise and polish, and she's smart, too. I found it amusing that in the big business challenge on that show where they had to come up with a new comic book character to promote the product, all these geeky fanboy guys were just drooling over her. Just drooling over getting to meet a Playboy Playmate of the Year. If Trump were smart, Brande would win this whole thing -- she could fit right in with the Trump empire alongside Ivanka and all those gorgeous Miss Universe contestants.

My coverage of the trial and the Watchmen box office has pretty much kept me away from covering the absolutely sinking stock market, which saw the Dow take a big dive below 7,000 last week. This is what happened in the US markets today.

That's about it for now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

MAMAS, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE POLITICIANS

Because this could happen.

John Tory to resign as Ontario PC leader - CTV News story.

I feel for everyone there in that sad room today, having to listen to him resign and give up on politics after being defeated. I gotta say it again -- politics is a rough business.

Also -- the NDP in Ontario are holding a leadership convention this weekend in Hamilton, and this is just a reminder to myself to tune in to that, because otherwise I'll forget all about it.

TODAY THE BIG DAY FOR WATCHMEN

I had to rush off to cover a trial again, so that's why I've been missing from here. Also, I'm under the weather.

Anyway, here's my piece on Watchmen which is opening wide today. Prominent in the cast is the stunningly gorgeous (and frequently naked) movie actress Malin Akerman.

She not only wears a sexy skin-tight latex outfit in this flick - sure to be popular with her male fans - but she's also newly brunette! People are predicting that after a string of flop movies and the famous "threesome" episode of Entourage, Watchmen will finally make Malin Akerman a big star. About time.

Eat your heart out, Megan Fox. I say Malin Akerman rocks.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

THE BACHELOR IS YET ANOTHER TOTAL, FREAKING DEBACLE

I missed what went down on last night's Bachelor finale of the season, and all I gotta say is I wish I tuned in, because this is yet another new low.

I thought it was bad enough when the Bachelorette rejected two guys, and the Bachelor rejected two girls. But this is the first time I recall this idiot Bachelor picking one woman and then immediately dumping her for the runner-up.

(Although I guess it's happened before -- but not right immediately after the show. I think one dude dumped his lady for one of the runnerups several weeks later. But not like this!)

This really was a farce, with Jason Mesnick proposing to Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa (right) in the finale --- only to dump her for brokenhearted Molly not too long after on the After the Final Rose show. And Molly has the nerve to take this two-timer back!!

God! No wonder the fans are booing him and calling him a jackass. In fact, Trista, the famous original Bachelorette, says she is shocked by what happened on the show. Personally, though, I'm not surprised. I've seen it all from this train wreck of a show already -- this is just one more wreck to go along with all the rest of them.

And once again, a Bachelor makes the males of the species look like complete and utter idiots. Jason, you are a loser.

BLOODBATH AT A-CHANNEL

As has been rumored for several weeks, owners CTVglobemedia have lowered the boom on A-Channel stations across Canada and have gone on a firing spree. 118 jobs are out the window including several on-air positions. The evening, weekend, and late news is cancelled in Ottawa. Meanwhile, the morning show is gone in Barrie, Victoria, and London.

That's right folks, London. CFPL-TV. Where I used to live!

Well, look on the bright side. At least these stations didn't get closed down (unlike the A-Channel stations in Windsor and Wingham, which CTV announced they were abandoning last week).

What a sad state of affairs. TV in Canada has turned into nothing but a big gong show. We still don't even know what's going to happen to Canwest (owners of Global TV and the E! stations, among others), though we may know more about that situation soon. That's going to be another big horror show.

Monday, March 02, 2009

LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON

Well, tonight is the big night for Jimmy Fallon as he takes over from Conan O'Brien in the Late Night host's chair.

From the sounds of it, expectations couldn't be lower. Everyone seems to expect the Fallon show to be terrible and for Fallon to be terrible. Maybe this view is based on Fallon's terrible movie career ever since departing Saturday Night Live -- no one has forgiven him yet for that God-awful piece of junk Taxi, with Queen Latifah.

Or maybe it's because late-night TV has a long line of dead bodies associated with it. Some of the more notorious flop shows include: Thicke of the Night, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, The Pat Sajak Show, The Chevy Chase Show, Into the Night with Rick Dees -- and who can forget The Magic Hour?!

Even semi-reputable guys like Dennis Miller and Jon Stewart couldn't make it work when they had their own late night shows -- they were yanked off the air in humiliating fashion. I have said it before and will say it again -- Fallon has a tough chore ahead of him trying to keep viewers from falling fast asleep.

BRANDE RODERICK HIRED FOR YET ANOTHER REALITY TV GIG

Well, last night was a very big night for Hugh Hefner's exes on reality TV shows.

Sunday night was the big teary-eyed final episode of The Girls Next Door -- at least, the last one with our favorite women Holly, Bridget and Kendra. And living in frozen Canada, of course I did not get to see it. Instead, Star!TV, which carries the show in Canada, stuck us with a Girls Next Door rerun instead. Well, that sucks.

Anyway, it sounds as if it wasn't much of a show and that it was all staged and phony, but I would've liked to have drawn my own conclusions about it myself rather than rely on second-hand opinions about what the show was like.

Meanwhile, the usual piece of schlock from Donald Trump, The Celebrity Apprentice, had its first episode of the new season on NBC. Ironically, this show featured another one of Hef's ex-girlfriends --beautiful and bouncy Brande Roderick, former Playmate of the Year (pictured). Of course, she was Holly before there ever was a Holly.

As I have mentioned before, I kind of have a big crush on Brande Roderick. She's so adorable and really seems like the girl next door, but more importantly she seems like a fun individual. Plus, I have a soft spot for former Baywatch babes. So I was cheering for her on last night's show.

Fortunately, she survived and gets to live until next week. I hope she lasts a long time on that show -- she's easy on the eyes. The best thing about Brande is the fact that she has plenty of experience appearing on bad reality TV shows (ie. The Surreal Life), so she should be able to survive this group of idiots.

First to get the gate was that joker Andrew Dice Clay, and I was really happy to see him go. The boardroom was a real farce. Dice goes in and quits, then Trump calls him a loser, Dice retracts his resignation, and then Trump fires him anyway-- but has the gall to say at least Dice isn't a loser because at least he didn't quit.

Yeah, Mr. Trump, but he was the first guy fired! Any way you slice it, Dice ends up a loser. Here's an idea I have for Dice: why not simply refuse to appear on the show? He would have been better off not cluttering up our TV airwaves. The heck with Andrew Dice Clay.

Coming up next: my brief Jimmy Fallon rant.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

JONAS BROTHERS GO DOWN THE TUBES

I look like an idiot. My rant here.