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CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today. Is the new co-anchor of the 9:00 hour  simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams whose narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

42ecef06022ce3c9b79fe85ef92567e9-2Billy Bush offered a Friday night apology: “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”  He was set to apologize on air Monday morning but instead got an indefinite suspension and the cancellation of his surprise welcoming party.

 

If we’re going to be architects of gender equality and respect in the workplace, we have to find a new way. The old way hasn’t been working very well.

EXACTLY WHAT DID BILLY DO WRONG?

We’ve all seen the tape: a joyful road trip with Trump the Vulgarian and Billy the Wingman that somehow became Pussygate 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

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UPDATE 10/11/16 CNN’s Brian Stelter reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today.

UPDATE: Billy Bush no longer set to apologize on NBC’s Today Monday morning

NBC News is confirming Billy Bush will be off the air Monday Today show’s 9 AM hour, three days after the Washington Post released audio tape of Bush in a lewd, predatory conversation he had with now-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2005 about women, including Bush’s then Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell. 

 

 

UPDATE: CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting  Bush may never return to Today.  Is Billy Bush simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams who’s narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

Sex scandals are as American as apple pie — but when one involves a presidential candidate (Trump the Vulgarian) and a member of the media (Billy the Wingman), you somehow wind up with Pussygate.

On Friday night, Bush—who is married and has three daughters—released a statement of apology:

“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”

Enough? Hardly.  Billy is just as crass as Trump and creates a hostile work environment as he lets Trump demeans his former co-anchor, Nancy O’Dell, because she wouldn’t sleep with him although he went after her like a “bitch” (presumably in heat.)

Bush, anchor of Access Hollywood, was shilling a three-way for NBC… busing  the Apprentice host to the set of an NBC soap opera for a cameo with an actress named Arianna Zucker

When they spot the actress, Bush blurts out, ” “Sheeesh, your girl’s hot as shit! In the purple.”

“Whoa! Whoa!” Trump exclaims.

“Yes! The Donald has scored!” Bush answers. With a raucous laugh, he adds: “Whoa, my man! You gotta look at her…Give her the thumbs-up. You gotta give the thumbs-up….Oh my God!”

Trump then remarks that he’s going to use some Tic Tacs, “just in case I start kissing her,” he explains. “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

“Whatever you want,” Bush agrees.

When the two frat boys get off they bus,  Zucker greets Trump with a handshake.

“How about a little hug for The Donald? He just got off the bus,” Bush pimps for Trump who gives her a quick hug and acknowledges, “This is okay with Melania.

“I just got off the bus,” Bush says, and leans in for his own hug from Zucker. “There we go!” he says when the actress complies.

As an author of a book on of political sex scandals in America going back to 1700s, Fall from Grace: the History of Sex, Scandal and Corruption in American Politics (Ballantine) I have researched them all and never before has such outrage and gag reflexes been triggered by the likes of Trump and Billy

. History shows plenty of leaders who loved and lusted after women with whom they didn’t belong.
Their own words show conscience, a longing for romance, an elevation of sex and romance mixed in with their moral stumbling.  Absent is a predatory sense of entitlement.

In 1786, the widowed Thomas Jefferson penned one of the greatest love letters in history to Mrs. Maria Cosway, who is married. The 12-page-long letter is a dialogue with his conscience titled, “My Head and My Heart,” in which Jefferson longs for a woman who has made him “the most wretched of all earthly beings.” The letter nobly concludes with Jefferson’s integrity winning over his desire for Cosway.

In 1796, Alexander Hamilton self-published his confession of an affair with a married woman rather than fall victim to financial blackmail during his time as the first secretary of the treasury, He detailed the entire event and included his personal struggles to end the relationship:“The intercourse with Mrs.Reynolds in the meantime continued… Her conduct make it difficult to disentangle myself.”

Warren Harding wrote love letters with erotic zeal to Mrs. Carrie Phillips for over a decade: “There is one engulfing, enthralling rule of love, the song of your whole being which is a bit sweeter — Oh Warren! Oh Warren! “ when your body quivers with divine paroxysms and your shoulder hovers for flight with mine.”

Even Lyndon Johnson added some wit to his seduction of a staffer when he climbed into her bed and instructed, “Move over, this is your President.”

Sex talk among politicians has a great range of emotion and a lot of chivalry. Not one person in high level politics is known to have ever uttered words that boasted an entitlement to sexual assault.

Friday night, Jeb Bush tweeted that no apology would be enough to forgive Donald Trump for his boasting that he can grab a woman’s pussy at will because he’s a star. I tweeted him back to ask if he felt the same about his cousin, Billy, who is seen on the tape egging him on, then pimping him off to a soap opera star for a post-Tic Tac hug. (Jeb Bush didn’t respond.)

While the GOP has bunkered in, the leadership at NBC has hunkered down, trying to access the fallout for their future star of the news division. Bush quickly issued an appropriate apology, but as they say in television, sometimes “sorry” isn’t enough.

At best, Billy Bush created a hostile work environment for those on the bus who undoubtedly decided to “go along to get along.” And who is Bush calling “Honey,” on the bus and does he know how belittling that term is for any woman in the work place.

No one thinks the news division chief, who refused to cut ties with the fully damaged Brian Williams, will summarily fire Bush either. But what should they do when the morning show is so heavily tilted with female viewers.

As a veteran network news executive who’s reported extensively on sexual harassment and has personally managed this dirty secret of the workplace as both an executive and a target (see Daily Beast “Roger Ailes Harassed Me, I Thought I Was the First and the Last), I share my final thoughts on Bush. (The voters get to decide the fate of Trump.)

First, I’d send Billy Bush off to Texas to apologize to the family elders and have his ears boxed by his aunt, Barbara Bush. That would be enough to satisfy me, personally, but there’s more to do.

What about something more meaningful for him, for the rest of the country. Why not assign Bush a Today Show series on sexual harassment, rape on campus, gender equality in Hollywood. Team him up with Jenna Bush, if she even would touch this hot mess. Let him help use this as a teachable moment for himself, first, then guide America to a better dialogue between men and women. This round, why not really groom and grow the anchor of the future.

UCLA’s Charles Brunicardi, M.D., Joins the Board
Global Scientists Officially Launch Non-Profit Group

(April 8, 2015 Miami, FL.) Former executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America, Shelley Ross, has been named president of The Cure Alliance it was announced today by Dr. Camillo Ricordi, the group’s founding president and Director and Chief Academic Officer of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center.

“Shelley Ross brings creative innovation and a new energy to our efforts. 2015 will be an important year for The Cure Alliance as bold initiatives are under discussion in Congress and we believe we can finally tear down the many barriers we face moving potential cures from our labs to our patients. ”

Ross, an award-winning network television writer, producer, executive and author, is best known for her 17-year tenure at ABC News.

“I am humbled and proud to be working with this global group of elite scientists who are dedicated to curing the diseases which impact us all,” said Ross, adding, “I am especially happy to work alongside fellow board members, Drs. Ricordi and Brunicardi, who are at the forefront of scientific discovery and know first hand what tools could help the government keep pace with what we know can be an exciting new era in medicine.”

Dr. Charles Brunicardi joins the board of directors of The Cure Alliance as secretary. He is the UCLA Moss Foundation Professor of Gastrointestinal and Personalized Surgery and Chief of General Surgery at the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center plus Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. He has written more than 270 publications and is editor of “Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery” now in its 10th edition. His current research focuses on translational genomic medicine and surgery for diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Camillo Ricordi remains on the board as treasurer and editor-in-chief of CellR4, the official medical journal of The Cure Alliance. Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading scientists in diabetes cure-focused research and cell transplantation, Dr. Ricordi has authored over 700 scientific publications. He has been awarded 11 patents including the Ricordi Chamber which produced the first islet cell transplants. He is currently working on an artificial “biohub” which would amount to a cure for diabetes.

The new board will also unveil a new website http://www.thecurealliance.org with latest news plus an interactive page, Act Now, for supporters to contact individual senators and congressmen about The Cure Alliance priorities.

The Cure Alliance is an invitation-only non-profit group of leading scientists, researchers, medical doctors and innovators, plus those who support their efforts to end suffering by developing cures for chronic, debilitating and fatal diseases. Its #1 goal is to help accelerate potential cures from the laboratory to the bedside.

Bill Cosby: sex offender? Although I have a cynical streak after a few decades of reporting on sex crimes, I still am always resistant to early drum beats of a sex scandal. “Who stands to benefit?” “Is there a pattern of behavior?” “Is there a smoking gun.”

Working backwards, we start with the ironically titled 1969 comedy record, “It’s True! It’s True!” by Bill Cosby. Now that would be just darn silly if it wasn’t for the cringe-making biographical sketch titled “Spanish Fly.”

In this ninth and last comedy record for Warner Brothers, Cosby recalls being a 13-year-old boy and learning from another street kid about the mysterious Spanish fly.

“You know anything about Spanish fly?”
“No, tell me about Spanish fly.”
“Well, there’s this girl called Crazy Mary and you put some (mumble) in her drink and she goes, ‘Uh, (unintelligible freaky noises.)’
“Oh, yeah, that’s groovy. Spanish fly is really groovy,”
“And, any time you see a girl (mumbles), oh yeah, Spanish fly.”
“You see five girls standing alone — okay, if I had a whole jug of Spanish fly I’d light up that whole corner up.”

In the sketch, Cosby fast-forwards to his life as an adult star of I Spy And the
moment he hears the greatest news:

“Bob (Robert Culp) and I are working together on I Spy and Sheldon Leonard comes up to us and says ‘I Spy is going to Spain.’ “

As the audience erupts with laughter, Cosby pauses a beat and proclaims, “A childhood dream come true!”

“I say to Bob, ‘You know what I’m gonna pick up when I get to Spain?’ Bob doesn’t know anything….”
“He says, ‘Spanish fly… There’s a girl in my neighborhood in Berkeley called Crazy Mary…’

And so they plan their trip, sing variations of “Spanish fly, Spanish fly, this is the land of Spanish fly.” They sing in the airport, on the plane, through customs. Finally, in the cab, the driver is excited to meet the two Americans and before they can ask him for Spanish fly, he asks if they have any American fly.

So, is this a smoking gun or an outdated sexist comedy sketch? Is this just a terrible co-inky-dinky that so many accusations from a variety of women match the timeframe and spirit of “Spanish Fly.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Cosby: sex offender? Although I have a cynical streak after a few decades of reporting on sex crimes, I still am always resistant to early drum beats of a sex scandal. “Who stands to benefit?” “Is there a pattern of behavior?” “Is there a smoking gun.”

Working backwards, we start with the ironically titled 1969 comedy record, “It’s True! It’s True!” by Bill Cosby. Now that would be just darn silly if it wasn’t for the cringe-making biographical sketch titled “Spanish Fly.”

In this ninth and last comedy record for Warner Brothers, Cosby recalls being a 13-year-old boy and learning from another street kid about the mysterious Spanish fly.

“You know anything about Spanish fly?”
“No, tell me about Spanish fly.”
“Well, there’s this girl called Crazy Mary and you put some (mumble) in her drink and she goes, ‘Uh, (unintelligible freaky noises.)’
“Oh, yeah, that’s groovy. Spanish fly is really groovy,”
“And, any time you see a girl (mumbles), oh yeah, Spanish fly.”
“You see five girls standing alone — okay, if I had a whole jug of Spanish fly I’d light up that whole corner up.”

In the sketch, Cosby fast-forwards to his life as an adult star of I Spy And the
moment he hears the greatest news:

“Bob (Robert Culp) and I are working together on I Spy and Sheldon Leonard comes up to us and says ‘I Spy is going to Spain.’ “

As the audience erupts with laughter, Cosby pauses a beat and proclaims, “A childhood dream come true!”

“I say to Bob, ‘You know what I’m gonna pick up when I get to Spain?’ Bob doesn’t know anything….”
“He says, ‘Spanish fly… There’s a girl in my neighborhood in Berkeley called Crazy Mary…’

And so they plan their trip, sing variations of “Spanish fly, Spanish fly, this is the land of Spanish fly.” They sing in the airport, on the plane, through customs. Finally, in the cab, the driver is excited to meet the two Americans and before they can ask him for Spanish fly, he asks if they have any American fly.

So, is this a smoking gun or an outdated sexist comedy sketch? Is this just a terrible co-inky-dinky that so many accusations from a variety of women match the timeframe and spirit of “Spanish Fly.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Kim and Khloe Kardashian sit on Piers Morgan's lap for a CNN News promotion

Kim and Khloe Kardashian sit on Piers Morgan’s lap for a CNN News promotion

I remember former CNN president Jon Klein getting mad at me after I was the first to post that Larry King’s replacement would be “PM.” I invited readers to guess and they came up with everyone from Paul McCartney to Peter Marshall. Only Sue Carswell was right in naming Piers Morgan.

It wasn’t a very well-kept secret anyway. It turned out Piers Morgan was out celebrating in London in a big noisy group that included mutual friends. And, well, no one had to hack his phone to hear about the deal Simon Cowell was helping him craft.

Well, here’s my next hint: his replacement should have the initials of JL, and I don’t mean Jerry Lewis.

I hope Jeff Zucker does get as bent out of shape as Jon Klein did, writing to me a terse e-mail, “You’re not helping me here.” I wish I could have.

From the beginning I took special interest in Piers Morgan because, a) we have those mutual friends and acquaintances, b) I thought it was time for Larry King to retire and I was hungry for a fresh voice and c) I am married to a Brit and was curious how this would work.

Yes, American TV viewers had fallen in love with Simon Cowell, the dangerous British bad boy with, secretly, a big heart. But Morgan? He would need a lot of different coaching.

My unique viewpoint comes from my early years with my husband who was born in London, went to Leicester University and became an entertainment lawyer. Soon after, he took top leadership roles at British record labels including Arista, Phonogram and MCA UK.

He reads many papers each day, always has a book or two on hand, keeps his finger on the pulse of not only music, but world politics, fashion, financial crises, sports, history of many world tensions and more. He is a people person and a family man. But when he finally moved to America to launch a new record label for MCA in 1988, there was still a steep cultural learning curve.

Here are some of the simple ways I helped, which could have easily helped Piers Morgan.

First stop was the Kennedy library in Boston. There we watched all the fabulous off-the-cuff verbal sparring between JFK and the White House correspondents, a high watermark for presidential access and candor. Then we watched a JFK documentary followed by one of RFK. Among many reactions, David was devastated to learn the civil rights movement, which he had read about, had happened so recently. It was now much more disturbingly indelible.

We then rented the whole series of Eyes On the Prize and watched the episodes back to back. It was a life-changing immersion, one recommended for every serious foreign journalist or businessman. There are so many nuances in American politics that as we went along over time, I could explain why one politician is forgiven, another is not and more.

For most of my adult life, I have always felt independent of any political party, an observer rather than a joiner. Given that, I was able to explain to my British step-children why no matter what was spoken during the 2008 election, the two rival presidential candidates would most likely take the same action with the same timing in winding down the wars.

I know, Piers Morgan wasn’t doing a Sunday morning show. He just needed to have been steeped in a bit more of the American journey so he could have maybe talked with Oprah about Martin Luther King, Jr. for an interview that would air on the civil rights leader’s birthday.

Maybe someone should have told him his promo pictures shouldn’t have been in front of the make-up mirror.

And someone should have warned him against not only having the Kardashian sisters sit on his lap, but sending out perhaps the creepiest publicity photos in CNN history.

I don’t really know enough to blame Morgan. I’d much rather work with a person on camera that you have to pull back a bit than one you must push forward. But no one was pulling him back.

And who told him his purpose in coming to America was to teach us about gun control all the while fracturing the statistics from the UK and speaking over those who tried to correct him.

The key is this: you can criticize this country on tv only if viewers believe you know this country and love this country… between New York and L.A.

In fact, my husband became the most patriotic person I know and seeing through his eyes made me even more patriotic. He even loves that Americans give second chances to failed politicians…invoking Winston Churchill.

Maybe Piers will have a second chance, too. He has a big personality made for TV, plenty of moxie, ego and mental sharpness. Just look how he made mincemeat of the legal panel investigating his role in the Murdoch newspaper hacking scandal. I watched it all. He made them look like amateurs.

But the damage has been done at CNN.

Zucker is under pressure, having failed to launch a successful new CNN morning show, just as he failed –hands on– launching “Katie” in syndication. (Hello, 1978’s calling, they want their talk show back.)

Zucker needs a great big splashy hit. Maybe if JLen can get over the NBC 10:00 purgatory thing with his old boss, all will be forgiven and it could be Zucker’s biggest booking ever. CNN has the money, now just shake that tree.

And let’s hope Piers Morgan learns to genuinely love America before he rolls in again to teach us right from wrong in politics AND TV.

While I’m working on a new piers morgan column, I thought I’d re-post some of my earlier ones that gave me a foreboding feeling from the start. Sad thing is, it didn’t have to be so bad.

 shelley ross daily Xpress

INTERVIEW IS TOUGHEST, BUT FOR WHOM?

WHEW, WHO ELSE  BUT THE QUEEN OF TALK COULD EVER HANDLE QUESTIONS LIKE THESE…

It began at 9:00 p.m. just like this:  after days of intensive CNN promotion where we see Oprah call it “one of the toughest interviews I’ve had in twenty years,” Piers Morgan opened the door, sat down and asked the first question on his highly anticipated new talk show.  I turned up the volume, shushed my husband and leaned forward.

PIERS: Tell me this, do you ever get surreal moments when, I’m trying to picture what it’s like being you, when you wake up in the morning and you go, ‘Bloody hell, I’m Oprah Winfrey.’

OPRAH:  Well I don’t say, “bloody hell,” but I did have a surreal moment, January 1st, when I launched my new network.

It had been only a matter of seconds before Oprah was pitching her…

View original post 1,246 more words

I really thought I would want to kick the door shut on 2013, a year that came roaring in with a cancer battle, months of chemotherapy treatments followed by a bilateral mastectomy and failed reconstruction.

I blogged about my diagnosis and treatment  last May, just 2 days before I learned the  reconstruction had gone wrong. Instead of winding  down the breast cancer experience, I was now starting anew.

There’s not much public discussion of failed reconstruction.  Surgeons  often like to trash each other: “Oh, I always have to fix his/her mess.” The truth is: breast cancer is a messy  business.  Reconstruction failures are not uncommon. Mine seemed very random.

In my case, my body rejected the internal “slings” that hold the new construction in place after everything else is removed in a 5 1/2 hour surgery.

The “slings” are made of repurposed sterilized cadaver tissue, an inert substance brought back to life by soaking in water. Once placed in the body, a network of newly grown blood vessels integrate the tissue. Occasionally there is a failure to “integrate” with one of the slings.

I failed to integrate both slings, something my two surgeons said “we’ve never seen before.”

Because the slings were literally disintegrating internally they had to be removed, along with everything else that had been put into place for reconstruction. Just four weeks after my double mastectomy, I was back in the OR for 2 1/2 hours, one of which was dedicated to sanitizing my open chest with shower heads.

Over the next weeks, the skin healed, but without any fat or tissue beneath it, internal scar tissue formed causing the skin to adhere to my rib cage.

I was no longer a candidate for reconstruction, but I could certainly channel Mick Jagger with my new androgynous figure, that is,  had it not been for the toll taken on my shoulders.

Two torn rotator cuffs later I decided the cause had to be a combination of chemotherapy, muscles pulling in new directions and a newly degraded posture.

So why would I dare say 2013 was a great year?

First and foremost, I got to make decisions that saved my life.

Secondly, I got to see the music group I discovered online and proposed to my husband and his business partner to manage, explode. ThePianoGuys hit Billboard’s top 20 and now have over 300 million views on YouTube. Along the way, we toured Berlin, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing where  they produced a stunning music video on The Great Wall. The PBS concert I produced and directed for them had over 1900 airings across the network.  Most importantly, I love them personally.

In 2013 I took over management of a book manuscript written by an old friend who was set on self publishing. I redirected a more traditional publishing and marketing plan that put Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Oct 15 2013) on the NYT best seller list for weeks and was listed as #6 on Janet Maslin’s best books of the year. People Magazine also listed it among the best books of the year.

And there’s still more. As part of the executive producing team, I got to help Nik Wallenda realize his dream to walk across the Grand Canyon before a television audience of 20 million viewers, the largest ever live audience for Discovery.

So how can I say I didn’t love 2013, surrounded by so much brilliance  and creativity — especially the gang I ended the year with in Milan where on December 30th I underwent an experimental stem cell treatment to repair both rotator cuffs and prepare the skin on my chest for reconstruction. Ironically, I learned about these new treatments through my work as a founding member of TheCureAlliance, a non-profit group of elite doctors and research scientists who have banded together to share knowledge, break down barriers and find cures for all diseases in the 21st century. After the new year, I’ll be writing about the important research breakthrough that is benefiting me and many others.

Until then, Ciao!

imagesThe curtain has been pulled back and the BRCA gene is out of the closet as are quite a few women who are now revealing they’ve also had the same life-saving double mastectomy as Angelina Jolie.

I now join the sisterhood she created with her bold editorial in the NY Times; I had my double mastectomy just four weeks ago.

Disclosure of something as personal as having had both breasts removed is quite a daunting decision for many reasons, least of which is fear of being seen as “less of a woman,”  as even a world-class sex siren felt obligated to note. Read the rest of this entry »

Louis J. Rosner was my friend, my mentor, my teacher, and occasionally my doctor. And for 20 years, I was privileged to be his co-author.

I always viewed him as the Albert Schweitzer of Southern California, a great medical missionary pioneering a new land populated with Jaguars and Ferraris instead of elephants and giraffes.

Like Schweitzer, he believed the purpose of human life is to show compassion and the will to help others, and I quote, “each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.”
Louis Rosner did a lot.

Although he rarely spoke about his own challenges, a diagnosis of polio at age 21 forced Louis Rosner to trade his dream of a baseball career for a time out in an iron lung. He would never again walk without the aid of leg braces. While those braces could easily identify him, they would never define him. Read the rest of this entry »