You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2011.

He Called the President WHAT!?

I heard it myself.  Today, MSNBC’s senior political analyst, Mark Halperin said President Barack Obama “acted like kind of a dick yesterday” while discussing politics on “Morning Joe.”.

Joe Scarborough seemed genuinely in a panic over Halperin’s language, as he scrunched his face and barked instructions to his control room, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe … I was joking. Don’t do that. Did we delay that? Did that work?”

(Scarborough earned his seven-second delay button, along with a knuckle rap from his bosses, back on November 10, 2008 when he dropped an F-bomb, live on the show. )

Mika Doesn’t Like the “D” Word

As soon as this morning’s “d” word was uttered, Mika Brzezinski recoiled in a full body cringe: her left arm went over her stomach, she turned her head away from Halperin and buried her face in her right hand, all within a split second moment of embarrassment and revulsion. Read the rest of this entry »


This week, ABC News sent out an exciting  press release on the growing success of GMA, contents of which TVNewser ran online today: 

Meanwhile,  #2 “Good Morning America” is attracting its largest audience in four years. The ABC show is still more than 600K Total Viewers behind “Today” but had its smallest Total Viewer gap with the NBC show in four years.

The averages for the week of June 13:

  • Total Viewers: NBC: 5.15M / ABC: 4.53M / CBS: 2.21M
  • A25-54 viewers: NBC: 2.30M / ABC: 1.64M / CBS: 824K

Finally, so it seems,  the Today Show is being challenged after 809 weeks at #1.  And this isn’t the first signal from one of the TV industry’s most visited websites:

TV Newser on  June 6th:  Meanwhile, the No. 2 morning show, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” had its best overall sweeps in five years and best May sweep since 2005, posting the smallest Total Viewer gap with “Today” (780K) in 4 years.

TVNewser’s report for the week of May 30th:  Year over year, “Today” and “GMA” both experienced growth, with “GMA” up the most, +10%. “GMA” is seeing its largest total viewer audience in four years.

But is it really? In a business that has more dirty tricks than a Donald Segretti pizza party, there is a new sleight of hand in the morning show ratings war.

Since the end of April, ABC’s Good Morning America has moved its last network commercial higher up into the broadcast.  To cut through the inside baseball, this stunt officially allows them to report an earlier end to the show, shaving off as many as 15  (lower-rated) minutes when the audience is usually in decline. Without those lower-rated minutes, the  average rating of the show, calculated by the Nielsen company, is obviously going to be higher.  Read the rest of this entry »

When The Bartender Might Be the Jackass

As soon as  Roger Ebert began suffering a scorching backlash for tweeting “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive,”  Facebook shut down his page over the stream of abusive comments.  So it is with keen awareness of the personal risk that I add my own two cents: neither should bartenders.

updated*** We now know many of the details of this tragedy:   Jackass star Ryan Dunn, 34, and his 30-year-old stuntman production assistant, Zachary Hartwell, were killed around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning after Dunn’s Porsche  911 GT3  hit a guard rail on Pennsylvania’s Route 322  before careening off the road and into the woods where the car burst into flames.

Police said Dunn was driving 130 mph, as evidenced by the skid marks on the road.  When they arrived at the scene, the Porsche was already fully engulfed in flames. Toxicology reports confirm Dunn’s blood alcohol level at 1.9, more than twice the legal limit.

The last shot: Dunn seen drinking prior to his fatal crash. Posted on tumblr, the photo has now been taken down.

Prior to the fatal crash, Dunn and Hartwell had spent about four hours with a small group of guy friends in a West Chester, Pa. bar, Barnaby’s of America.  At some point, Dunn tweeted a photo (l) smoking and drinking with two (unidentified) friends, the one on the right, Zachery Hartwell.

Published reports reveal conflicting eyewitness accounts, mostly anonymous, regarding the quantities of alcohol consumed by Dunn. At least one report in TMZ tallied two beers and three “girlie” shots, whatever that means.  Someone else allegedly said Dunn was “wasted.”

The manager of Barnaby’s, Jim O’Brien, confirmed Dunn had been drinking adding, “He didn’t seem to be intoxicated at the time he left,” O’Brien said. “Ryan was not a hardcore drinker, at least not when he was here.”

Spoken more like a lawyer than a barkeep.  I’m not really going out on a limb to say that this treasure of a local bar just outside Philadelphia, called Barnaby’s of America, is currently  at very high risk for getting sued.

Pennsylvania is one of those states that has a dram shop law, named after the English dram, a small unit of whiskey or gin.  Under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop law, a business or individual who gives alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person is legally responsible for any damage that person has caused.  The law is most commonly invoked after car crashes, although fist-fights and vandalism can also be a trigger.

The big question remains: how much alcohol did Dunn consume that night and was he visibly intoxicated?

Who should be held responsible for this fiery crash?

You see, Pennsylvania’s law doesn’t require a toxicology test or even a verification of the number of drinks consumed.  The legal standard is whether someone is  “visibly intoxicated,” showing apparent signs like bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and staggering.

The eyewitness reports could now become more important than ever, determining not the spin cycle of gossip but perhaps a valid court case of who, if anyone, is legally responsible for this tragic crash.

I, for one, will withhold judgment until we hear from witnesses without any conflicts of interest or perhaps placed under oath. In the meantime, don’t kill the messenger if someone else tries to explore who might share moral responsiblity as well.

Goodbye HELLO! Your interview with Arnold’s baby mama/housekeeper has as much ring of truth as Hugh Hefner’s fiance suddenly calling of their wedding because she just discovered she doesn’t like the Playboy lifestyle.
 Shame on the network news reporters I watched this morning who naively played the story from  HELLO!  as if it was a journal of record.

The headline on the magazine’s website reads:

HELLO! exclusive: Mildred Baena, the housekeeper who had a child with Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks out for the first time

HELLO! then says that Baena has come out of weeks of hiding to “set the record straight” because of all the fictitious stories circulating in the media. This, they add, will be her first and only interview exclusively to HELLO! magazine.

My first question is: how much was she paid and why would she choose a British publication over an American one if she needed to separate fact from fiction.

Perhaps those fictitious stories  included the widely published one that she had to pull her son out of school and deprive him of his middle school graduation to protect him from  potential media exploitation. (Imagine those animals lying in wait to grab a photo of the illegitimate Schwarzenegger child and zap it around the world for all to see!)  It turns out the likely reason the boy missed that special rite of passage was because his mother wanted to exploit him herself, selling that exclusive  mother-son photo to HELLO! — presumably the highest bidder.


Photo: © David Schumacher

Read the rest of this entry »


Who Loves 'Ya, Baby? You do!

Well, if this batch of TMZ pictures isn’t the end of the road for NY Rep. Anthony Weiner, we’ll have to re-write the House Rules, the Articles of Impeachment and maybe the U.S. Constitution to offer us  justice, domestic tranquility, and a common defense against exposure to any more narcissistic, self-possessed, self-absorbed, self-snapped photos of Anthony Weiner.   I don’t know which tweet repulses me more: the original  photo of his nipples or of the newest release where the naked congressman is seen using his penis as a towel hook in front of a mirror in the gym in the House of Representatives. If ever there was proof that all men are not created equal, it is an elected official who worships  his own body as if  it had served as Michelango’s model for the statue of David.   Read the rest of this entry »


EWWWWWWWWWW! Now, go away.

Dear Congressman,

You are cordially invited to resign office as one of New York’s representative in Congress.  I think I join a growing chorus of those who are sorry we got to see your nipples and grey underpants.  We hope to forever wash your icky twit pix from our memory.

I’m sorry you turned out to be just another narcissistic buffoon with a zipper problem.   I’m sorry for your constituents, I’m sorry for your great wife. What a great political team you two would have made: the Jew and the Muslim as the new power couple for the ages.

Sadly, that you have no impulse control makes you unfit for office, unfit to be the husband of the fantastic Huma, a woman whose very name means “bird which brings joy.”  How pathetic that her beauty, her grace, her savvy and her joy wasn’t enough to distract you from your obsessive compulsive behavior on the internet.

Wake up Weiner: we’re sick of cads like you.  If you need an engraved invitation to step down, I’ll call you from the printer’s and confirm the time of the announcement. Read the rest of this entry »




Nik Wallenda and his 58-year-old mother, Delilah, on 10-story high wire in San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 4, 2011. Photo by Shelley Ross


I just witnessed the most extraordinary event: not just for its daredevil -“ishness”  or athletic feat of balancing on a wire strung between two hotels ten stories above the ground in the light wind and rain.  I certainly have an excruciating respect for what that takes.

The extraordinary event that took place this weekend, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a mother and son celebrating their lives together and the lives of all their generations past. They were both steeped in  the knowledge  passed down,  with DNA of high performance and courage.

Filmed for Discovery Channel’s “Life on a Wire,”  Nik Wallenda had set out to honor his great grandfather, the Great Karl Wallenda who fell ten stories  to his death in the same location on March 22, 1978 at age 73.  That tragedy, captured back then on live TV, was said to have been caused not by his age, but by winds and bad rigging.

That fatal fall is why Nik, now 32, and his father, Terry design, prepare and construct every inch of rigging themselves.  And why Terry oversees nearly a dozen riggers on the ground who have to pull the wire more taught in places, let it slacken in others.  While those walking on the wire must have a zen-like concentration,  it is quite a different dance on the ground as various members of the support team are instructed to move stabilizing ropes to the left or the right.  The rest of us are left to watch and nurse our white knuckles.  Wallendas never perform with a safety net. Read the rest of this entry »