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MOVE OVER HOUSEWIVES    

No need to toss the tables at the end of the evening, there’s a more dramatic reality show playing out on the east and west coasts.  No, it’s not Downton Abbey or the new Upstairs, Downstairs.  Wait! Maybe it’s  the new,new Upstairs, Downstairs,  Bravo style:  “Real Housekeepers of the Rich and Famous.”

Casting calls should be a hoot.  “Loyal” maids only need apply.  The frumpier the better.  No need to get permissions from the privileged employers.  Entire seasons can be shot in their homes without the lady of the house ever knowing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Schwarzenegger Fathered A Child With Member Of Household Staff

We live in tough emotional times, for sure.  First on my list of news that has made me genuinely sad, the one prompting this cathartic column, that Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed to the L.A. TImes that his marriage broke up after he told his wife, Maria Shriver, that he fathered a child over a decade  ago with a member of the “household staff” who continued  to work for them until she “retired”  this January.

update: The feeding frenzy has begun.  And at 7:49  this evening Radar Online.com, in a joint investigation with Star magazine, has identified 50-year-old Mildred Baena (seen in their exclusive photo) as the mother of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child,. 

For her part, Maria Shriver released a short statement saying she is heartbroken and said, as a mother, she is concerned for her children.

Today, there’s also been  a warmed-over story from 2003 percolating: a British tabloid alleged that a former stewardess who worked on the family’s private jet, Tammy Faye Tousignant, had Schwarzenegger’s “love” child, a boy who would now be around 18 years old.

That article, along with Tammy Faye, were  widely ignored in America in 2003.  But now, with the L.A. Times revelations, she is being hounded.  She’s denying Schwarzenegger is the father of her son, and has changed her phone number. Her lawyer now says she has a DNA test to prove she’s telling the truth.

For his part,  the boy,  described by an on-line gossip column as having a familiar toothy grin, reportedly told one reporter not to waste his time; this was a politically motivated story invented eight years ago.  Riddle me this: was Tammy Faye an intentional red herring? Read the rest of this entry »

THE ORACLE OF MORNING TV?

After so many years of reading the tea leaves of morning television —  who’s in, who’s out, who’s moving the Nielsen needle, which anchor is bored, who will get fired — I thought it was time to try something more effective.  After all, with so many real changes announced at one, and so many more rumors, I just needed to know what our lives will look like at 7:00 a.m. each morning, once all the pieces and players are in place.

Viera to be sadly missed by colleagues and viewers alike.

First, I will be sad to see Meredith Viera go this June.  She’s a great reporter, wildly popular anchor and, in the best (and rarest) compliment in the television business, she will be as sadly missed by her colleagues as by her loyal viewers.

But before we banish Meredith to Millionaire forever, I share with you my odd sense that she will be back at our breakfast tables before long.  Perhaps the summer of ’13.  More on that in a moment.

I know it sounds crazy, but here’s why I say we may see Meredith again.  I’m certainly not clairvoyant, although I have occasionally served a prophecy of doom.  But as I started to explain, I decided to stop reading the tea leaves, and instead drink them with the rest of the tea.  The first night, I had a fitful, interrupted sleep.  But the second night, as I drifted off, the most interesting visions came to me in a dream which I will now recount.

[Cue the wavy lines]

It is  7:19 a.m. September 19th, 2011, the start of  the network’s new fall season.  On NBC’s Today Show, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry just finished a controversial news report on the discovery of a happiness gene, when sweet Al Roker pops up behind them and announces: “Controversy over.  The genome project just called and they confirmed I’ve got it.”  Business as usual there.

Over at CBS, anchors Harry Smith and Erica Hill sit on the newly designed set for the relaunch of CBS’ 120 Morning News Minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

THE REAL COUNTDOWN IS JUST BEGINNING — AT OWN

While slowly winding down the year-long goodbye as America’s queen of the afternoon, Oprah Winfrey is a now moving at warp speed to get her next house in order. After a disappointing launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, she’s finally said out loud what a few of us were brave to say from the beginning: it’s just not good enough.

I remember writing my first blog about OWN last January 7th. It began:

“When Oprah Winfrey first announced the creation of OWN, she revealed she had once written in her journal “that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold.”

Well, three years and $168 million later, we have now seen the future, and it is — extremely disappointing.”

I couldn’t understand how this happened, given the OWN brain trust, with not just Oprah Winfrey but now the amazing Tom Freston who, despite other claims of paternity, actually is the real father of MTV.

After waiting, then hoping, then watching, I pronounced OWN “a stodgy old bore.”

Read the rest of this entry »