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THE PENDULUM HAS STARTED TO SWING, BUT WILL IT SWING ENOUGH?

Greg Mortenson: he needs to come out of hiding

It’s official, I’m now obsessed with Greg Mortenson and desperately want to know everything about who he is, what makes him tick and most important of all, why he hasn’t defended himself after the scorching 60Minutes expose´ Sunday night on his memoir, “Three Cups of Tea.” The report accused him of fabricating his heroic storie, then squandering millions raised for his charity.

Perhaps my reaction was delayed a day or two after learning the biggest fallout right after the story was that The Early Show had failed to follow up on the CBS exclusive on Monday morning. As a former senior executive producer of that show, I couldn’t help think, “who would I have booked, where does the story go from here?”

I know what star I would have reached for: Greg Mortenson. I would have offered him something Steve Kroft could not: a live, uninterrupted, unedited interview forum in which to defend himself. It is something he still needs to do. Read the rest of this entry »

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PRINTING LAST WEEK’S NIELSEN RATINGS FOR THIS WEEK?  REALLY! YOU’VE SUNK TO A NEW CREDIBILITY LOW

For many months since launching daily Xpress, I haven’t  been able to resist pointing out the many inaccuracies of the weekly ratings reported by TVNewser, the once respectable “must read” during the tenure of the great Brian Stelter who was blogging while still in college and was quickly hired by The  New York Times after graduation.

I miss those days with Brian who was sadly replaced by reporters with fuzzy math, conflicts of interest and reckless disregard for the truth, much of which I’ve detailed in previous posts.

But now, get this error.  Today TVNewser has posted the ratings for the evening news shows for the week of April 11th, beginning their story:

“It was par for the course for the network evening newscasts the week of April 11.”

I guess so.  TVNewser has posted last week’s ratings by mistake! How embarrassing is that! Read the rest of this entry »

STOP THE PRESS: THERE’S MOVIE-MAKING IN HOLLYWOOD

Natalie Portman or body double: who cares?

The prima ballerina used as a dance double for Natalie Portman in the movie ‘Black Swan’ is upset and wants the world to know that she did most of the legwork.

So Sarah Lane, a soloist with the American Ballet Theater, went on ABC’s 20/20  Friday night to expose that she was told to keep her mouth shut, that producers were trying to make it seem as if Portman became a ballerina within a year.

“They’re trying to create this image – this facade really – that Natalie had done something extraordinary, something that’s pretty much impossible,” she said in the interview.

It seems she became inflamed when director Darren Aronofsky said publicly that Portman did about 80 percent of the dance shots in the movie.

“I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80 percent Natalie Portman,”  he said in a statement released by Fox Searchlight Studios.

Lane has now blown the lid on Hollywood special effects technology.  OMG: do you think that’s how they might get away with using stuntmen in action movies?  Next, you’re going to tell me  Geoffrey Rush and Adrien Brody didn’t play the piano in every shot in their Oscar-winning roles Shine and The Pianist. Read the rest of this entry »

AS THE RUMORS SWIRL THAT MATT WILL FOLLOW MEREDITH OUT THE DOOR, A BILLION-DOLLAR FRANCHISE HEARS A GASP

Mano y mano: The only muscle Matt Lauer flexes with Tom Cruise is from the nose up.

A Today Show without Matt Lauer? Could this really be true? Could it still thrive?

Those are some of the questions recently posed to me by David Bauder of Associated Press. Where do I even begin?

As someone who’s studied Matt Lauer for many years, not just as a viewer but as a competitor, first as executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America then senior executive producer of CBS’ Early Show, I can genuinely say with authority: there is simply no one like Matt Lauer in all of network news. There never has been, and now given the experience he adds to his broad range of skill sets, there probably never will be again.

So, NBC, what ever Matt wants, Matt should get. He’s certainly earned it.

HOW MATT LAUER BECAME “THE FONZ” OF MORNING TV AND WHY HIS BOSSES GET CREDIT FOR SPOTTING HIM

Most network news executives I have known would never have hired Matt Lauer in the first place. It’s clearly been their loss. You see, once upon a time, he was a young feature reporter for Robin Leach’s “Fame, Fortune and Romance,” a short-lived daytime series that rode the coat tails of the bigger show that brought you champagne wishes and caviar dreams. He then moved to New York and co-hosted a local talk show called 9 Broadway Plaza.

This, plus a few credits short of a degree from Ohio University, was not exactly the winning resume for a network news division, but somewhere within the NBC corporate hierarchy someone saw that Lauer was smart, fun to be around, comfortable in his own skin and likable. Not classically handsome, he was still sexy, appealing, someone who definitely sat at the cool kid’s table of life. Read the rest of this entry »

SO HERE IT IS, MY LINE BY LINE RESPONSE TO TUESDAY’S STORY

“the universal website for corrections to lies, misinformation and misrepresentations.”

Earlier this week, the New York Times and I wrote about my favorite new website, ICorrect.com, which allows members like me to correct “lies, misinformation and misrepresentations” in the media. I received an outpouring of support, and then on Tuesday, lo and behold, the New York Observer ran a “story” that wasn’t even amusingly snarky, it was downright sadistic.

What’s more, it was full of new misrepresentations to correct. Sadly, as you’ll see in my rebuttal below, the paper made no attempt to contact me before publication and instead, appears to have relied on the clairvoyance of a young staff member who somehow knows what I think.

Yesterday the reporter, who we’ll call Kat, acknowledged her poor form in making a “case study” out of me without ever attempting to contact me. In an e-mail at 6:36:05 last night, she offered to run a response from me, which I prepared right away. But Kat has ignored all the e-mails I’ve sent her since. What to do? Sounds like a job for ICorrect and dailyXpress, so here’s what the NY Observer didn’t print.

To make it easy to understand, I have structured this version as dialog: “NYO” is the verbatim copy in full, “SR” is my line by line rebuttal seen here in red. (Of course, you can also link to ICorrect.com.)

Former ‘GMA‘ Producer Shelley Ross Resurfaces, Reminds Us of Her Embarrassments

April 4, 2011 | 12:50 p.m. By Kat Stoeffel

NYO: We hadn’t heard of former Good Morning America executive producer Shelley Ross until yesterday, and she would probably prefer we never did.

SR: As one of only a handful of women executive producers in network news, (there were only 2 of us to exec produce any of the daily network morning shows in the last 25 years) most media reporters know who I am. I would prefer you were more knowledgable about your beat.

NYO: Ms. Ross was featured in a Sunday Times round-up of ICorrect.com, which Ms. Ross pays $1,000 a year for the space to post rebuttals to what she sees as inaccuracies in blog and newspaper items lingering around the infinitely archiving web.

SR: I have posted not just what I “see,” but what I can prove are lies, inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

NYO: Ms. Ross is mostly worried about coverage of her dismissal from CBS,

SR: Since no one ever contacted me from the NY Observer, how would anyone know what items worry me most. (Clairvoyance?)

NYO: …which was documented with audible snickering by the Post, New York Magazine, and even the Times.

SR: “documented with audible snickering?” Well that one’s just too darn hard to answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

“BALLISTIC BOSS” AND “TANTRUM-PRONE” NO MORE

Icorrect: this girls new BFF

For three years I have lived with the collateral damage of a deliberate and continuing cyber smear campaign from a handful of detractors who have hidden behind the time-honored protection given anonymous news sources. They are more school yard bullies than protected sources in the traditions of  great journalism.  But even with school yard bullies, you at least know who they are.

Two old stories in particular (2007 and 2008) were actually manipulated  for years to reappear on the first page of my Google Search. Both articles, highly sexist,  were based on false or twisted information provided by those with apparent malice who choose to  portray me as a workplace wackjob.

At the time the articles first appeared, I made a decision to take the high ground and ignore the bad press.  I now know that decision was wrong; not defending myself against the many lies let them  live on, unchallenged,  in cyberspace, a new world that has a real and measurable impact.

The “anonymouses” were actually “winning.”   But today, in the words of one ESPN anchor, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Today, the New York Times  has an article in the Week In Review section called “Celebrities Set the Record Straight” about  a new website called ICorrect.com where , for a membership fee of $1,000, one can correct a false story and then see your correction posted side by side with the original accusation.  The NYT story today features Stephen Fry, Bianca Jagger, Michael Caine, Tommy Hillfiger, Kevin Spacey and me!

If $1,000 seems like a lot of money, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $65,000 I was quoted by one company  to chase down all the lies that had been ricocheting around the internet. That was just to start; there was no promise to tackle unforeseen problems, such as what turned out to be a cyber “stalker(s)” who, regardless of any accomplishments, will manipulate the headlines with the words “Ballistic Boss” and “Tantrum-Prone” back to the top of my search page.

The most vicious stories were published at the end of my 17-year tenure at ABC News, then at the end of a much shorter one at CBS News where, after 23 weeks as senior executive producer of The Early Show, the bad press was at a fever pitch and I was asked to leave.

March 3, 2008 was my last day at CBS News and, ironically,  also the day I was about to assign the story of Paul Tilley, a 40-year-old creative chief of an ad agency, DDB Chicago. A week and a half earlier Tilly, a husband and father of two, jumped to a violent death from an upper floor of the Fairmont Hotel,  the building next door to his offices.  The talented Mr. Tilley had been the target of vicious, anonymous blogs on two ad industry websites.

At the time, I named this new phenomenon blood blogging, a far more accurate phrase than Sarah Palin’s more recent blood libel, and certainly less incendiary.  To me, blood blogging seems more of a sport than anything else, one designed by those not particularly witty, talented or inspired, but rather  those who are seemingly disgruntled, disenfranchised and not willing to put their own ideas front and center for anyone to notice, let alone judge.

Under the cloak of anonymity, they tear others down, wound with words and when all else fails, make stuff up.

The blood blogging of me began even before I even accepted the CBS job, when it was published that  my secret contract negotiations to become senior executive producer of The Early Show were halted because Katie Couric was mad at me.  Not true, but the lightning round of phone calls from reporters revealed one certainty: someone was working a sabotage story pretty aggressively.  I was hoping this was just a little gossipy speed bump, but not so.  Following my introduction to The Early Show staff, I gave my first talk about the difficult but exciting days ahead as we faced the challenge of moving out of third place.   Soon after that, my old pals at ABC called and repeated back my words, almost verbatim, and even told me their favorite parts of the Q&A session.   When I officially began work at CBS  the next week, I changed the pass code to the telephone conference bridge.

The steady stream of malicious gossip began pretty early. I “melted down,” went “ballistic,” “became enraged” and “threw temper tantrums” in meetings I did not attend, in hallways I didn’t walk in and on phone calls I never placed or received.   In the early days, almost like clockwork each Friday afternoon at about ten to six, my boss and  I would be handed a demeaning anonymous item to confirm or deny for Page Six of the New York Post.  Despite the clear and specific denials from the president of the news division, Page Six eventually ran one big story anyway, telling our publicist, “but our source is so good.”  Perhaps the source had an ulterior motive.

As one website picked up each false and malicious story from the other,  personal threats began, some addressing what should happen to terrible bosses like me.  There was simply no recourse, until now.   Read the rest of this entry »