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BLOATED FACE AND BELLY,  ACNE ON HIS SHOULDERS AND BACK, HAIR LOSS AND TROUBLE WITH ERECTIONS:  A GREATER SENTENCE THAN ANY JURY CAN DEMAND

Barry Bonds mug shot with new and improved head: does larger+balder = steroid use?

Yesterday in a San Francisco federal courtroom, Kimberly Bell testified under oath about her nine years as the extra-marital girlfriend of baseball legend Barry Bonds, recipient of a record-setting seven Most Valuable Player awards,  14-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove winner who holds numerous Major League Baseball records, including the all-time Major League Baseball home run record with 762 and the single-season Major League record for home runs with 73 (set in 2001.)

Bell is s a witness for the prosecution in Bond’s trial on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by lying to a 2003 grand jury investigating BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative which had been manufacturing tetrahydrogestrinone (“the Clear”), a then-undetected, performance-enhancing steroid.

Back then, Bonds said under oath that he had never knowingly taken steroids.

Bell  has now testified under oath that while she never saw him use steroids, he admitted to her once that he took steroids,  just not every day like some players.  She said she didn’t ask again about it because she was fearful of him.

She said the subject  came up in 1999 when Bonds told her an elbow injury was caused by steroid use, that he said the muscle and tendons were growing faster than the joint and it “blew out.”

ex-girlfriend tells jury how Bonds lost that "swing"

Kimberly Bell, the girlfriend who spanned the years of both of  Bonds’s two marriages, acknowledged taking money from him for a house in Arizona,  and also introduced jurors to the concept of “wife cities” and “girlfriend cities” for those families making summer vacation plans. (Now that’s something big  for the Travel Channel!)

Beyond the tawdry testimony, Bell spoke softly of her growing fear of Bonds and his behavior, the description of which the rest of us have called ‘roid rage.

“More than once,  he threatened to “cut my head off and leave me in a ditch,” she said.

She said he also threatened to “cut out my breast implants because he paid for them. … He was very controlling.”

Predictably, defense attorney Cris Arguedas sparred with Bell on cross-examination trying to portray her to the eight women and four men on the jury as a vindictive, attention-seeking  gold-digger who posed in Playboy, spoke vulgar language on the Howard Stern Show and wants to sell her book.

In redirecting his witness, prosecutor Jeffrey Nedrow asked her, “Is it fun testifying in front of all these people?”  She choked up and answered, “No.”

IN DEFENSE OF SHRINKING TESTICLES

I think its probably less fun for Barry Bonds whose defense team had to attack his ex-girlfriend’s assessment of his shrinking testicles by telling jurors the only accurate measurement of testicular atrophy is from a medical instrument called an “orchidometer.”   According to reports, this left some jurors rolling their eyes, others suppressing giggles.

I’m not on the jury, but I say the woman knows her man’s testicles without a calibrator.

But speaking of measurements, the Giants’ equipment manager, Mike Murphy, also testified yesterday that Bonds’ baseball cap size grew 1/8th of an inch, from 7 1/4 to 7 3/8, something prosecutors say if evidence of human growth hormone use.

Still ahead  this week: results from a positive drug test, and an eye-witness to a steroid injection.  Bonds’  former personal shopper, Kathy Hoskins, is expected tell the jury that she saw Greg Anderson inject Bonds in his navel. Anderson has refused to testify and remains in  jail in Dublin, Calif. Read the rest of this entry »

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Palin vs. Trump for president. Pitching Mark Burnett a reality show for 2012.

Peter Kramer / Getty Images

Dear Mark Burnett,

We’re still fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya where suddenly we’re supporting the rebels who are also supported by Al Qaeda. We’ve got a few ships offshore to aid Japan which is experiencing its worst crisis since WWII, one that could get more frightening, impacting the global economy and world’s environment as well.

Back at home, we’ve reached a record $14T debt, devastating unemployment and a health care crisis. Predictably, Obama’s 2012 contenders are starting to making lots of noise.

Again, it’s not Bloomberg or Huckabee. It’s still Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. These two figures, who are as different as, well, Alaska and New York, have one thing in common:  they both have starred in reality shows produced by you. Coincidence?

Sarah was first of your stars to throw her hat in the ring when she told Barbara Walters she could beat Obama in 2012.  Two days later, Donald went on the same network and told George Stephanopoulos while he didn’t really want to run for president, he might just have to because China is laughing at us.

"Star" Power: Sarah Palin in Israel last week

Everyone was fairly quiet for a while, especially Sarah who had bloodied her own nose a bit during “blood libel” furor.  But this week, she wrapped up her rehab with a whirlwind trip to India, where she was paid for a speech on why we should fear China, and ending with a stop over in Israel where she visited the holy city of Jerusalem and prayed at the Western Wall.  She also visited Benjamin Netanyahu.  Her visit to Israel followed other potential Republican challengers: Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

One wonders if Donald Trump is watching Palin closely.  The same week she was exploring the archeological tunnels of the Western wall, the excavation of which caused Palestinians to riot in ’96,  Donald Trump was on CNN, then “The View” to discuss Obama’s record deficit, his birth certificate and national security, along with his thoughts on a presidential run. “I’m thinking about it very strongly. I think I’d do a really good job. I think I’d protect this country like it’s not being protected,” he said.

And, oh my, he said he’ll decide by June, at the end of Celebrity Apprentice, and that he’d might even use the last show as a “forum.”

As a fellow TV veteran who has produced countless interviews with presidential candidates, I hope you don’t mind some advice on what I see as two major problems. First, coming from Great Britain, you may not know the equal time rule for federal elections and that could wreak havoc with Trump’s final show idea. Second, which candidate is the fan favorite and the one you want the country to support? One solution: a new primetime reality show which pits Palin against Trump. This way you get to be the producer and the judge.

Here are some possible titles: So You Want To Be the PresidentCampaigning With the Stars,Survivor: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or The Really Amazing Race. To save on the budget, rent the old West Wing set from NBC. Then, each week, summon the candidates/contestants into the Oval Office for their latest assignment. The challenges would unfold like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM HOW WE HANDLED THE BIG STORIES OF THE PAST?

A former colleague of mine, someone I consider a real treasure in journalism, posted on my facebook page her reaction to my continuing dialog about Chris Brown’s behavior: “why does anyone care about these people?”  Here’s my fast answer:

Nicole Brown Simpson and Rihanna: battered faces of domestic violence

How O.J. Simpson Tried to Bat Us Back on His Story

In June 1994, the great Roone Arledge, then president of ABC News, put me in charge of O.J. Simpson coverage for all his primetime magazine shows.  At the time, there were four hour-long shows each week: Day One, Turning Point, PrimeTime Live and 20/20.

I had missed the first few days of the Simpson story.  Ironically, I was in Washington, D.C. with Sam Donaldson, working on what, until then, was the biggest story of the year:  an exclusive interview with Paula Corbin Jones who had filed a sexual harassment suit against the President. (Funnily enough, I had to debate an ABC News vice president on “why we should give airtime to this woman and her lawsuit,”  which might be argued today was the first step which led to the President’s impeachment.)

The Paula Jones  interview aired not as the lead but in second position on the show Thursday night, behind the O.J. Simpson updates.  I quickly returned  to Los Angeles early the next morning, on Friday,  the day Simpson was supposed to turn himself in to police but instead led them on that fateful “low-speed white Bronco chase” that turned the story upside down and created a national viewing event that would continue for another year and a half.

Earlier in the week from Washington, D.C., I had quietly asked a freelancer/friend to get me the Simpson divorce papers from the courthouse.  The story was moving so fast, the PrimeTime Live producers on the scene had no time at all to even look at the file.  But late Friday night, as I read page after page, I saw it was all there — the admission of O.J. Simpson’s prior violence against his wife and the details of the domestic violence program he was supposed to complete.

Saturday morning I called my old friend Roy Firestone, the former ESPN sports anchor who I was certain must have interviewed Simpson.  It turned out, Roy had actually interviewed him years before about the wife beating charges.  The tapes were somewhere in storage and he was more than happy to dig them out for me, but he warned me that back then, in more innocent times, he had not pressed O.J. Simpson very hard to account for his behavior.

Later that nght, we aired a one-hour Turning Point, a broadcast that would drive O.J. Simpson into a fury. From behind bars, he insisted that his only lawyer at the time, Bob Shapiro, call me and Barbara Walters on his behalf to demand apologies, retractions and more.  We got it all wrong, Simpson had declared, even though we hadn’t strayed from the exact language in the divorce documents and his own words on tape.

We now know that Nicole Brown kept a diary which noted O.J. Simpson’s first abuse of her in 1977.  She kept the photo of her battered face in a safety deposit box.  She called 911 after Simpson broke the door jam of her condominium while kicking down the door.  Mark Fuhrman answered another 911 call after Simpson shattered the windshield of her Mercedes Benz with a baseball bat. And we also know that on June 12, 1994, O.J. Simpson’s violence escalated to a double murder when he slashed Nicole’s throat from behind, as if slaughtering a farm animal, and stabbed to death a bystander:  her friend, Ron Goldman.

DOES NICOLE’S BATTERED FACE NOT LOOK JUST LIKE RIHANNA’S?

Nicole Simpson’s battered face was once so beautiful, it haunts.  So does Rihanna’s.

The bruises on their foreheads look so similar.   I wonder, is that where blood coagulates when you’re beaten on the top, or side of your head? Read the rest of this entry »

CHRIS BROWN’S VICIOUS CYCLE: THE OUTBURST, THE APOLOGY, THE FALL OUT ***UPDATED WITH NEW VIDEO,  AND REACTIONS

***UPDATED WITH FULL DETAILS OF THE MELTDOWN


I must say, I am confused, very confused.  As we all now know, on Monday  Chris Brown performed on GMA and after went back stage and had, shall we say,  a serious anger management issue — screaming in the face of a segment producer, screaming at his manager and throwing, depending on which report you read or which staffer you talk to, either a cooler or a chair which shattered the dressing room window, sending shards of glass to the sidewalk below.   This extreme behavior because Robin Roberts asked him about the changes in his life since his court-ordered restraining order against Rihanna was “relaxed.”

***THIS JUST IN: Chris Brown threw both a cooler and a chair at different times.  After he left the set, his behavior was described as “batshit.”    He spotted a  cooler by the props department and  threw that towards the office of the executive producer. He then continued the tirade as he walked down to his dressing room.   Once he and his entourage were in the dressing room, the door was closed and  a chair was thrown thrown through the window, presumably by Brown.

Now Brown has explained what happened and apologized, sort of, not on GMA, but on BET. I, for one, think apologies should at least sound more heart-felt than obligatory. And I don’t think they should come with a soundtrack, as this does.

I also feel strongly that this one should have been directed to the GMA segment producer and to Robin Roberts who has chosen to remain publicly friendly to the star. In the BET video, Brown asks fans not to threaten Robin Roberts, as he says he’s learned  of on twitter. (No outrage on his part there, however.)

A sincere apology  should also be given to internet fans for whom he was to perform a second song before storming shirtless out of the studio. And, of course,  the hair and make-up team who were frightened enough to call security.

TMZ first published Rihannas assault photo

Chris Brown also owes an apology to the Superior Court judge who, just weeks ago, modified the court order (questions about which really ticked him off) that barred him from contacting or being near ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Part of the order  is still in effect; he’s still prohibited from  harassing or annoying her.

I wonder if Rihanna found the GMA outburst annoying or harassing.  And I wonder if it triggered any post traumatic stress disorder she might have resulting from the beating he gave her that fateful night before the Grammy Awards.

Last December 21st, Brown tweeted to fans, “‘im done with class” and sent out to fans a copy of his domestic violence course completion certificate.   In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, “i have enough self respect and decency to be proud of accomplishing this DV class.. Boyz run from there (sic) mistakes.. Men learn from them!!!thx”

After pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna,  giving her a bruised face (a photo of which would be leaked to TMZ)  the 21-year-old R&B singer was sentenced to five years probation, 1,400 hours of community service and ordered to complete that one-year domestic violence course. Read the rest of this entry »

WITH FIVE DAYS TO GO, YOU CAN FIND A WHOLE LOT OF “HOW TO” ARTICLES  ON GETTING  AROUND THE TIMES’ PAYWALL

My last blog addressed why I don’t think even the most passionate of news lovers will want to pay for the NY Times online.  Now, it turns out, no one really has to.  And just today, The Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., admitted he created his paywall to be “purposely porous,” saying  he thinks “It’ll be mostly high school kids and people out of work,”  before adding “I can’t believe I said that.”

“Can people go around the system?” Sulzberger asked during an appearance at The Paley Center for Media. “The answer is yes. There are going to be ways.  Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free,” he said.

“We have to accept that, ” Sultzberger went on to say, explaining he doesn’t believe it’s going to be easy to do.

“Is it going to be done by the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times? We don’t think so,” he said.

Perhaps Mr. Sultzberger doesn’t know his readers very well.  Or perhaps he’s too old fashioned to know what’s going on online. I’d like to think I rank among “the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times.”   But everywhere I’ve looked today,  I’ve learned how to jump the wall in quite a few different and imaginative ways.  I’ve read one can “launder” The Times through Google. That’s when you cut and paste the NY Times headline into the Google search window and circumvent the wall.

You can delete the flash cookies from your computer as soon as you approach the article limit. There’s a @FreeNYTimes Twitter feed of all articles, something Forbes is reporting The Times has asked Twitter to take down.  There is also @FreeNYT on Twitter and, I imagine, lots more to come. Read the rest of this entry »

PREDICTION: NO ONE WILL PAY NEW ONLINE ACCESS FEES
The toothpaste is out of the tube.  The public has been getting news online for years now, the most recent Pew Study showing the majority of people 30 and under use online sources as their “go to” for news.  And it’s been free.  So why does the New York Times think anyone will be willing to start paying $15 a month for the same access (after you’ve clicked on 20 times.)
As of March 28th, you’ll have to pay for anything past the home page and section fronts.  The fee for unlimited access to online content will be $195 a year.  Add on iPad access, it’s $260.  Unlimited digital access: $455.
Let’s get real.  I have been a news junkie my entire adult life.  I consume more news than just about anyone I know.  I get ill on vacations where I am removed from the news.  I have worked in the news business for three decades during which time I will take responsibility for destroying too many trees, perhaps forests. I am a heat-seeking missile for the latest coverage, the most in-depth coverage, the most creative or thoughtful coverage.  I have never balked at spending money on subscriptions for newspapers and countless magazines.  But I, for one, am not going to pay for the Times online.

Now, admittedly, I won’t have to:  my daily newspaper subscription entitles me to free access online.  I’m just sayin’, that if I was asked to, I wouldn’t.  The New York Times, and every other publication,  is going to have to figure out a more sensible business model.  Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. is calling it one of the most significant days in the Times’s 159-year history: “Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend.”

I agree it’s a significant day for the New York Times.  Only I think it day that will go down  as the worst miscalculation of consumers in the company’s history.  Sulzberger seems to believe the world is invested in good journalism.   Sadly, they don’t care.

This isn’t a critique of the New York Times and what many see as its mistakes or declining standards over the past few years. This is not about Judith Millers’s war drums before the invasion of Iraq, or Jason Blair, or the embarrassment of the front page John McCain faux mistress story in the middle of the presidential campaign.

I believe the New York Times, on balance, is still an outstanding newspaper, worthy of its many Pulitzer prizes.  Their obituaries of the 9/11 victims, focusing on who they were as people instead of what they did for living, was a defining moment in journalism.  Their science, health and medical reporting is in a league of its own.  Their willingness to take on pharmaceutical companies separates them from network news which has become co-dependent. Tom Friedman, Maureen Down, Paul Krugman, I love them even when I don’t love them.  I will miss Frank Rich.

After all, a brilliant mind, even one with whom you disagree, is a terrible thing to waste.  Which brings me back to the wacky decision to charge for the New York Times online.

WILL CONSUMERS PAY FOR NEWS ONLINE?  JUST ASK RECORD EXECS HOW CHARGING FOR DOWNLOADS IS WORKIN’ FOR THEM? Read the rest of this entry »

DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE:   FEEL FREE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT LADY MACBETH

Today’s NYT Style section has a strange profile of Ben Sherwood that addresses more of what people think of him than how he’s going to move ABC News into the future.  In the profile, the new president of the news division is said to sit in his office,  “at times absently rubbing his hands together as if washing them with soap and water.”

Cue the thunder and lightning, because buried amongst his chosen defenders, the NYT reporter has stumbled on a Shakespearean clue of the tragedy of blind ambition at ABC News.

Ben Sherwood, more than most, has tried his best to write, control and sell his own life narrative to others.  So far, he’s been very successful, convincing key consumers, most recently Anne Sweeney,  of his greatness and perceived destiny.   That’s all fine with me, except when Ben Sherwood’s narrative — the story of “his path,” — infringes upon the true and provable facts of my own.

To draw once more from the wisdom within the pages of  Shakespeare’s Macbeth invoked by the NYT reporter:  “What need we fear who knows (the truth) when none can call our power to account?”

With that inspiration, I shall begin the challenge of setting my own record straight.
First, here is the  full NYT story: Read the rest of this entry »

CHARLIEPALOOZA CONTINUES TO SCORE BIG WITH FANS: HE’S WINNING!


Online TV Shows by Ustream

It was bound to happen. One person in one great shining moment of new technology and brass balls who could give the finger to the network bosses and herald in a new era of really direct tv.

Within three hours, Charlie Sheen’s low-tech, low quality premiere episode of “Sheen’s Korner,” pulled in 631,000 viewers on Ustream.

“Good Evening from Sherman Oaks,” he began, introducing his grand experiment.  “You’re either in Sheen’s Korner or with the trolls!”

He introduced his trusty sidekick, The Rick, and his amazing staff: Jason, Matt, Simon Rex musical director aka Dirt Nasty and one of the goddesses.  There was a photographer: The Steve, The leo,  and the guy he called his fabulous producer, Brad Weiman (no spelling available.)

During his monologue, (he must be using the term loosely), he held up his arm to unveil a new wrist tatoo. But he forgot, there’s no camera to give him a close up.  So he holds his hand up to computer camera where the new tatoo is blocked by lower third banner CHARLIE@charlie sheen.  Somehow, we figure out the tatoo spells out “winning,” after which Sheen borrows a page from “Network” and implores viewers to go to their window, open it and chant with him “Winning! Winning! Winning!”

The next segment in the webcast is a series of random pictures including one that shows cat bites dog.  Lots of farting noises sound effects continue before we’re off to a segment on “winning” news that begins with a  shout out to Zachary, the youngest ever eagle scout who is then  welcomed aboard the winning team.

Sheen is wearing a black t-shirt with a green Warhol dollar sign and a bowler hat, covering exactly what we don’t know as he reads another winning story: a bald eagle who survived a crash into a windshield.

About 9:21 in to the premiere, Sheen lights his first cigarette, and then moves on to the story of Josie Dimples, an 80-year-old woman who tweeted Sheen to say she is now winning, too.  For that, she gets a polaroid of Sheen, freshly snapped by one of the goddesses. He tells us there will be only one given out on each show.

He adlibs: “As the story develops… ” along with the polaroid coming to life and we watch him sign it.

And there’s more!  Howard Schnitzer was kept alive by a chain of neighbors who gave him CPR for over 90 minutes until medical help arrived.  Winning news, indeed.  Just snapshots, he tells us,  of the components of genius you’ll see on Sheen’s Korner.

Frankly, the backyard “let’s put on a show” feel is a lot much more exciting than  many network sitcoms and, other than the distracting farting noises, has tremendous potential.  It’s like a Wayne’s World with more awkward moments and herkier, jerkier audio, if that’s possible.

Someone named Paul calls to interrupt and tell him he’s watching the show.  “Who isn’t?”  Sheen says. Read the rest of this entry »