Reality Check: Life Is Not Fair. Nowhere Is That More True Than in Hollywood, Where Values Depend Upon Your Value to Hollywood
So let me get this straight.
Charlie Sheen, model citizen that he is, threatens his wife with a knife one Christmas Day. On probation for that nicety, most recently he allegedly picks up a porn star after boozing and doing coke. He brings her to his room at the Plaza Hotel in New York, while his ex-wife and two daughters are in another room across the hall. A naked Sheen then allegedly goes ballistic and starts tearing the room apart over either a watch he can’t find or his missing wallet. The porn star locks herself in the bathroom, cowering, and on her cell phone she tries to reach a girlfriend of hers who is also “working” in the hotel.
CBS and Warner Bros., for whom Sheen works, don’t really say anything about all this. In his hit sitcom, “Two and a Half Men,” Sheen “plays a jerk,” as L.A. Times staffer Scott Collins writes, also noting that the series made $155 million in ad revenues last season and so far no advertiser is pulling out of Sheen’s show.
And oh yes, “Two and a Half Men” has made a fortune in syndication.
Wait, I misspoke about Sheen’s employers. They have indeed made a statement. They gave Sheen a hefty raise.
Meanwhile, Juan Williams, one of the most thoughtful of news analysts, gets fired by NPR the other day for saying that since 9/11 he gets nervous when he’s at an airport and sees people in traditional Muslin attire waiting to get on the plane. In context, Williams, who is African American, also spoke about bigotry and that one should not regard all Muslims with suspicion.
I’m guessing that if Williams had said the remarks while naked, out of his head on booze and coke, with a naked porn star in the vicinity, and if, at the same time, Williams had an insanely popular TV show that he starred in—oh, let’s call it “All in the Family” where he played a loon racist—not only would Williams not have been fired, but he would have received a huge raise.
Ah, Hollywood …
Leo Burnett, One of the Great Ad Men, Said, 'Make It Simple. Make It Memorable. Make It Inviting to Look At. Make It Fun to Read.' Burnett Would Have Been In Love With This Season's Startling, Surprising 'Mad Men.' An Appreciation
The shock waves are still reverberating from the turn of events in the life of Don Draper that left viewers of “Mad Men" literally gasping during the stunning finale episode of Season 4.
Fans of the highly-awarded show will have months to debate whether Draper’s surprise proposal to his secretary Megan was as crazy as it seemed—or if it will make perfect sense in the world of the mid 1960s that’s spinning out of control of the established order.
(We should have warned you about the spoiler, but if you haven’t heard by now about the startling development, the movements within and outside Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are clearly not your scotch on the rocks.)
Seeing the show with creator Matthew Weiner and cast members Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss and Cara Cuomo at New York's famed 21 Club added a resonance you just don't get in the living room—not to mention the excitement, laughter and other audible reaction the plot twists drew from the crowd.
In the old-school environment of the 80-year-old 21 Club, with its white-jacketed waiters and red rose centerpieces, you half expected to see a toasted Roger Sterling make a scene before stumbling out into the night.
Buoyed by the free-flowing champagne, the mood was one of celebration for a show that pumped new life into drama on cable, immediately captured the attention of critics and a devoted audience and re-branded its network as a place for stellar original programming. Although there was no talk of Season 5 and there is no official pickup yet, it’s going to be a long haul without “Men.”
We’re left to ponder Don’s seemingly spontaneous proposal, coming as it did right after Sally’s spilled milkshake incident that would have sent former wife Betty over the edge, or made current girlfriend Faye even more uncomfortable with the children.
Perhaps Don is becoming more like his real self, Dick Whitman, a character we don’t yet know, but one who’s come briefly to life every time he escapes to California. Don/Dick even used the engagement ring conveniently willed to him by Anna, a woman he could truly be “himself” with, whose death shook him earlier in the season.
The confluence of events—California trip, no nanny, Megan ready, willing and available to help—it all came together as fast as you could say “Tomorrowland,” seemingly just moments after he’d told Faye he’d miss her while he was away.
It was Peggy Olson, on screen, who dramatized the audience reaction to Don’s choosing the previously little-seen Megan as his wife, even as she was helping landing an account that would keep the agency afloat—and naturally, not getting enough credit for it. Just a few weeks back it seemed like her relationship with Don was charting into new, romantic territory, in an episode called “The Suitcase” that has Emmy written all over it.
Peggy, a woman who seems to understand and accept Don almost as much as Anna did, could barely control her shock at his actions. Marrying a secretary, typical, she and Joan agreed in a scene that’s already become a girls bonding at the office classic, but one he barely knew in just the few short weeks since Miss Blankenship keeled over at her desk? And when he was enmeshed in what appeared to be a challenging, fulfilling relationship with Faye?
“You only like the beginnings of things,” Faye told him in his break-up phone call. And the beginning of Megan-Don as an official couple was ominous, with her sleeping contentedly at his side and him, sleepless, staring at the wall, as the season finale faded to black.
He may have instinctively and impulsively thought Megan was the woman he should marry—perhaps because of her smoothly moderated mothering skills, her beauty and the fact that she’s been an overall sport, but Faye has a track record of being right. And so does (the now-pregnant-with-Roger’s-child?) Joan.
But the rest of us—we’ll just be kept in delicious suspense until the story unfolds. Waiting, and wondering, how it will all turn out, while this we know: Don Draper has cemented his place as one of the most enigmatic characters in television history.
After spending a day in front of the LiveCocoCam, the interns and other staff at Conan O’Brien’s latest world headquarters — conveniently located above Stage 15 on the Warner lot, where “Conan” begins taping Nov. 8 — must have realized how Jack Bauer felt.
From the opening time-killer (La Bamba spending an hour trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle) to the very last (two puppets answering questions submitted by Twitter), the LiveCocoCam was undeniably, logic-defyingly brilliant: a complete waste of time that I and many others had a hard time shutting off. (Well, I kept it on in the background.)
The webcast video was smooth and sharp, except for when it went down for a while at about 5 a.m. Pacific time. By the end, though, everyone looked a little ragged as they danced their asses off for the webcast’s final 28 minutes.
Below, you’ll see a few pictures, including the Masturbating Bear sans diaper (hey, this is basic cable!), the Jersey Shore guy (aka show P.A. Chris Ultimo, who I’m reliably told is not doing a “character”), and of course, the Dancing Taco (played by someone who chooses to remain anonymous until he’s outed on Twitter). [To see more picture please click here.]
Big Red walked through a couple of times yesterday, but it was left to Andy Richter, playing the part of the cranky old man, who shut things down. “Knock off this bullshit! Get back to work!” he said to the dancers, who obediently scattered. And then to the camera: “You too! Get back to work!”
The ending seemed improvised. A few moments earlier, you could hear Andy calling up the stairs for Aaron Bleyaert, the guy in the Detroit shirt, who does the show’s web videos and who was the emcee for various segments during the live cam and who closed the webcast with his thumbs-up salute.
The LCC attracted 660,000 unique visitors during its 24 hours on the air, and averaged
13,000 viewers at any one time.
If you missed the CocoCam, or just miss it, there are highlights posted to the TeamCoco YouTube page.
The annual summit put on by Char Beales and her team at CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, is, year-in and year-out, the smartest event we attend.
As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a big believer in the dictum of Ray Kroc, the late genius behind McDonald’s: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Here’s CTAM’s mission statement: "Optimize cable marketing impact." That’s simple and clear.
And each year CTAM gets down to the nitty gritty with a useful, no-nonsense program of sessions at its summit that speak directly to its mission statement.
This year’s summit, which concludes today, Oct. 20, 2010, in New Orleans, is a good example. The theme, or tagline, if you will, of the summit is “Connect. Innovate. Succeed,” which plays perfectly off CTAM’s mission statement.
And with CTAM, its mission statement and theme of its summits isn’t PR BS. It’s real and it’s smart.
Take Tuesday morning’s general session. It featured a popular Harvard Business School professor, Youngme Moon, who gave one of the most engaging presentations I’ve ever seen, based on a book she’s recently published called “Different,” with the subtitle “Escaping the competitive herd.”
Here’s the question she asked: How different are you really from your competitors, in a meaningful way? Are your customers passionate about your brand, or do they just shrug?
In a world where there are 50 brands of bottled water or 24 kinds of toothpaste in your local supermarket, as Moon noted, these are relevant questions.
When there were only two brands of bottled water, let’s say Perrier and Evian, it wasn’t that hard to differentiate between the two. But, for most of us, differentiation is far more difficult when there are 50 choices of bottled water.
True differentiation is actually rare, Moon posited.
Then she gave an anti-intuitive spin on some generally accepted notions of how to run a good business.
Many good businesses are obsessed with differentiation, Moon explained. But some of the accepted best practices surrounding this obsession backfire. For example, in companies’ efforts to be competitively vigilant, they will match competitive offers.
Furthermore, another accepted best practice is to always listen to your customer.
But, ultimately, both of these notions usually lead to herd behavior and discourage companies from really becoming different than their competitors in a meaningful way, Moon said.
Take listening to your customers. They will always tell you how to improve, Moon explained, but will never to able to tell you how to be different. And usually what they will tell you about how to improve will be in ways your competitors behave that your customers claim they like.
But what you really need to do to stand out from the crowd—as anti-intuitive as it sounds—is don’t give your customers exactly what they say they want.
More generally, Moon said, in most companies’ attempts to focus on excellence, they are afraid NOT to be excellent in some aspects of their business. But, in fact, to stand out from the crowd, it’s actually preferable to double down on your strengths and not try and be excellent in all areas of your business.
Then Moon gave a specific example: Ikea.
Moon ran off a list of how most furniture stores operate—how they try and eliminate all the negatives we have about furniture shopping. They give us lots of choices and furniture that will last a lifetime and free delivery and assembled furniture, etc. etc.
Ikea, of course, spits in the eye of most of that. And it’s the only furniture store that is truly differentiated in the marketplace, Moon said. And Ikea is rewarded for its true differentiation by incredibly loyal customers who repeatedly shop there.
Another example Moon gave was the U.S. introduction of the Mini Cooper car, with a campaign that flew in the face of what American habits were at the time, which was for bigger and bigger cars.
Lessons learned from the truly differentiated brands is that they often embrace their negatives. Thus, if you want to be different, Moon says, you often have to ignore your critics as well as some of the critical things your customers say.
Another successful company along these lines, she noted, is Apple. Has there ever been a company accused of being more arrogant? Has there ever been a company more successful in being differentiated?
Moon ended her presentation with one of her most provocative ideas: that if you want to be different you need an idea to be different. OK, that’s a no brainer. But, she added, ideas that lead to differentiation are hard to distinguish from ideas that might seem crazy or stupid or both.
Wow. What a rub. She didn’t say what happens then, or how to figure out which is which. All I could think about is if you guess wrong you get New Coke, and risk killing the company.
But what a challenging and stimulating way to kick-off yesterday’s CTAM summit, and how clearly it fit with CTAM’s idea for the conference, that you must innovate to really connect with your customers in order to succeed.#
A childhood friend's mom died last month and when he called to tell me, I felt a real sense of loss because she had made such an indelible impression on me as a child. She was intelligent, caring and sincere, ever wise to the ways of little boys (she had three), but utterly feminine and always well turned out and wonderfully fragrant .
The first time I slept over at my friend's house, at age 9, his mom came into his room at bedtime to tuck us in. As I lay in bed, she knelt beside me to kiss me goodnight, making sure I was OK to be away from home overnight and basically giving me the same degree of attention she had given her own son seconds earlier. By kneeling the way she did, I felt like she was my friend, someone who wanted -- or at least knew how -- to be on my level.
I experienced a similar sense of loss when I learned of Barbara Billingsley's death over the weekend. She was a friend's mom, too, in a way, one I'd come to know well over countless years of watching "Leave It to Beaver" reruns. I always liked her as a child, and in my fantasies knew that if I ever was invited over to the Cleavers' house, I would rather hang out in the kitchen and talk to June than play in the yard with Wally and the Beav.
A lot of ridicule has been made over the years about the unrealistic idealism reflected in Billingsley's June Cleaver character, particularly the fact that she wore pearls and high heels to do her housework. But there is something to be said for making the extra effort it takes to maintain a high standard, both in deed and in appearance. A little glamour can be a good thing when it comes to mothers. My friend's mom had it in spades; there was always an air about her that commanded respect and inspired admiration. Same for June.
Billingsley brought an intelligence to the role that gave June a more serious edge than she might have otherwise had. Some may think of June as a mere helpmate to husband Ward, but she nonetheless navigated the storms, ferreted out her boys' problems, gave considered advice at every opportunity and consistently orchestrated happy endings. You knew she had the goods to handle everything by herself if need be.
And while she may have been too sweet for some, at least June wasn't a ditz or a cardboard cutout like some of the other TV mothers of her time. The key difference that set her apart was that aside from being a mother, she was also a friend to her children. And that, I think, was why I liked her so much.
I bet she smelled great, too.
For any of us who have enjoyed TV since the 1970s, part of what we enjoyed was the work of Stephen J. Cannell, who died on Sept. 30--much too young at 69--of complications from melanoma.
He wrote more than 1,000 episodes of TV shows, and created or co-created some 20 TV series.
The list of shows he was responsible for, from “The Rockford Files" to “Baretta” to “The A-Team” to “The Commish,” is astonishing in its breadth.
With the sunset of the fin-syn rules, Cannell sold his production company, basically leaving the creation of TV shows to write novels, and he had a very successful second career doing so.
As The New York Times’ Bill Carter noted in his obituary for Cannell, “The Rockford Files,” which “was a hit for seven seasons, has since been credited with helping to signal a cultural shift away from the perfect physical and moral specimens of the movies and early television and toward more realistic heroes, the kind viewers had come to expect, given the harder-edged reality they saw on the evening news.”
Part of what made “Rockford” so popular was star James Garner’s easy-going wisecrack manner that the actor had perfected playing “Maverick” on TV years earlier, as well as the interaction Rockford had with the show’s great supporting players, including Noah Beery Jr. as Rockford’s dad, Stuart Margolin as the shady Angel, Gretchen Corbett as lawyer Beth Davenport, and Joe Santos as police detective Dennis Becker.
No doubt part of the sensibility we loved on “Rockford” stemmed from the show’s co-creator, Roy Huggins, who also created “Maverick,” “The Fugitive” and “77 Sunset Strip,” the latter being one of the shows that defined the word “cool” back in the late 1950s.
But I think Cannell’s greatest achievement was another show, whose concept was his alone. And it was a show that almost never made it on-air. And once it did finally get on-air, everyone wanted to keep Cannell’s vision of it from seeing the light of day.
The best person to tell this story is Cannell himself. The following is from the wonderful website that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has, its Archive of American Television that contains interviews of many TV luminaries, including Cannell. They interviewed Cannell in June 2004.
To begin his story, Cannell talks about a show he did not create, but for which he did write three episodes. It was back in 1980. The show was called “Stone,” starring Dennis Weaver as detective sergeant Dan Stone.
[It] was back when I was at Universal. I had written an episode of 'Stone' called 'The Deep Sleeper.' And what this episode was about was an undercover agent in the LAPD who had been put into deep cover in the L.A. criminal underworld.
And the idea was he was going to stay down for five to seven years with no contact and then come back and they were going to crash the whole underworld.
Well, he gets into the underworld and he ends up with a [Rolls-Royce] Cornish convertible, his children are at John Dye or Crossroads, he’s living in a mansion in Bel Air. But he’s really a $35,000-a-year guy, and all of a sudden he’s living like a prince. And it’s time for him to come home, and he doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t want to give up the lifestyle.
So that was the premise of this 'Deep Sleeper' episode of 'Stone.' And there were three people who knew he was undercover. One of them had died of natural causes. Stone was one of them. And the chief of police knew. So this guy has a job and he has to kill both Stone and the chief of police so he can remain undercover. And Stone manages to bust him at the end of the hour.
But I remember thinking at the time, what an interesting dilemma—to be a $35,000-a-year cop and to go undercover and being given all those things that the world says you should have—Ferraris, and Armani clothing and the right watches and rings and houses in the right neighborhoods—but you’re still really just a $35,000-a-year guy. What would that do to your sense of values and your moral compass?
It just intrigued me as a writer. So I came up with the idea of 'Wiseguy.'
I would go and pitch it to the networks, and I’d say that I need 6 hours at least to tell one story [on the show]. Because as important as the plot is the seduction of [this cop who goes underground] Vinnie Terranova. That means the adversary has to be as important to the storytelling as the hero. And I need time. I just can’t have two scenes [with] the adversary I need time to put the [adversary] face to face with the hero and have him seduce my hero, because that’s what this is about.
Well, the minute I would say I need five or six hours [to tell a story arc, the networks] would say, 'Have you got anything else?' And I’d then sell 'Stingray,’ or I’d sell 'Hunter,' or I’d sell whatever else I had.
And I’d go to the next network and the same thing. I pitched it all over town. Five years I pitched that show. I’d pitch it at every place, and then I’d wait until somebody would get fired, and then I’d go pitch it to their replacement. Then somebody else would get fired, and I’d pitch to that replacement. And I couldn’t sell it.
Finally, Kim LeMasters showed up at CBS as head of programming, and he’d been an old friend of mine—I had done work with him in the past—and I went over and pitched it to him and he said, 'That’s the best damn idea I’ve ever heard for a show.' And that’s how I got it on CBS. I just found the right buyer. I found somebody who saw what I saw.
It was definitely different, and nobody wanted it for that reason.
So the show debuts on Sept. 16, 1987, with the first arc. In it, Terranova, played luminously by Ken Wahl, has to infiltrate and bring down a crime organization run by a character named Sonny Steelgrave, played, in a bravura performance, by Ray Sharkey. Cannell was asked if anyone had trepidation about ending the first arc. Again, Cannell:
Everybody but me. Ken Wahl didn’t want to lose Ray Sharkey. He loved acting with Ray. He’d call me up and say, ‘You’re ruining the show, man. You’re crashing the show. You drop Ray and we’re done.’
And Ray was working that on the other end. He wanted to stay aboard, so he was getting everyone to [call me]. The network was concerned, my other writer producers on the show were concerned. Everybody was telling me I was nuts. And I kept saying, this is my vision. I came up with this. None of you came up with this. I wrote the pilot. Actually I co-wrote the pilot with Frank Lupo. But it was from my concept, my story. [So I told everyone] I am going to do this [and end the arc].
And I was already writing the [next] arc. I had already written the first episode, which was called 'The Independent Operator.'
And people were so angry with me for getting rid of Ray. And it wasn’t that I wanted to get rid of Ray. I could see what he was doing. But the fun of the show, at least to me, was to try and redevelop it every six weeks. That’s what made it challenging. Not to lock it in just to a crime story, which was the same heavy for a year. I didn’t think that worked, because after awhile you start saying, why don’t they catch this guy. But people didn’t want to let go of Ray.
So I sent in the first draft of 'The Independent Operator,' which was the first [episode] of the Kevin Spacey arc. We didn’t have Kevin yet, but it was the first hour of the Profitt arc. [Spacey plays drug smuggler Mel Profitt.]
I was at the beach. My writers and producers hated the script. They got in a car and came down [to the beach] to tell me that I was writing 'Batman,' because I had a scene in this thing where [a hood] Roger LoCocco who calls everyone ‘Buckwheat.’ They thought that was horrible.
There’s a scene where [LoCocco] takes Vinnie out and shows him a car. [LoCocco’s] sorta a hit man and no one knows who he belongs to and Vinnie is supposed to find out who this guy’s attached to. And the guy takes Vinnie out to this garage, and he’s got this old Dodge Charger and he’d put armor plating on the car, and he’s got submachine guns in the front lights, and he’d got a big Gatling gun in the trunk, so if cops are chasing him he can literally start firing the Gatling gun from the trunk and start taking out the grills of cop [cars].
I had gotten it from research. It’s called a work car. They had these things in New York. And they were used for bank holdups and stuff like that. And they had armor plating on the doors.
And [my] guys are reading this and saying this is like bad James Bond. And I said, no this isn’t an Aston, it’s an old primer painted Charger that looks like it belongs in a junkyard.
But we didn’t have any other script, and I was even halfway through the second script for the arc. We had to start shooting and I was really concerned because these were talented men and I thought if they hate this so much maybe I’m off the road here. But we cast it and shot it.
[Afterward] to their credit [all the guys] came in and said we apologize and said they we were so wrong and this is so bitchin’.
I think a lot of it had to do with trepidation over losing Ray, and I felt bad about that too, because I loved him, but this is what I wanted to do. This is what I had sold [to CBS].
Spacey was dazzling as Mel Profitt in the arc.
Cannell was right—the arcs are what made the show. Jerry Lewis, Paul Winfield, Patti D'Arbanville, Ron Silver; a whole host of talented performers in arcs that, for the most part, were smart and satisfying.
And while the ratings weren’t spectacular, it certainly proved that there was an appetite for what evolved into the limited series that’s been so successful on cable.
If you want to check out the first season of "Wiseguy," which I highly recommend, you can find all the episodes, for free, on Hulu, if you click here.
At the end of the ATAS interview Cannell, who was 63 at the time, is asked what he thinks his legacy will be. Here’s what he said:
Oh, I don’t care. (repeats) I don’t care. You know what, I’m not about legacies and how people think about me when I’m gone. When I’m gone, I’m gone. I would hope that people would still read my books or look at my television, but if they don’t, (shrugs) that’s a choice.
I just don’t take myself that seriously. For me, all of those kinds of things tend to make you different than the person I am. I think when you start worrying about legacies, and how you are going to be remembered, it’s all about pretension, it’s all about how will they kneel at my altar when I’m gone. Who cares? That’s the way I look at it.
I’m just trying to do the best job that I know how to do every day, and I’m going to try and treat people in the most decent way I can. I’m going to try and live the Golden Rule. I’m going to try and treat other people the way I want to be treated, and when I fail to do that I’m going to apologize, and I do fail.
How it all comes out at the end?—you can’t force a legacy anyway, no matter how hard you try. If they don’t want to remember you, they won’t.
On that score, I don’t think Cannell has much to worry about. If you like TV, and care about great storytelling, you’re not likely to forget him.#
UPDATE, 8 PM, PT on Oct. 12, 2010...We found on YouTube the classy tribute to Cannell the folks at "Castle" ran at the end of their show on Monday, Oct. 11th:
Has There Ever Been a More Beloved Show on TV? 'The Andy Griffith Show' Turns 50, And the Crowds Still Turn Out For 'Mayberry Days'
“The Andy Griffith Show” signed on Oct. 3, 1960. It went on to become one of TV’s all-time successes and a career changer for Griffith (who was trying to live down his all-too-memorable performance as a drunken, angry broadcaster in “A Face in the Crowd”). Ted Turner showed it constantly on TBS, and the Griffith mojo blessed many a television manager in decades of reruns. The theme song [which was filmed by a pond in Franklin Canyon near Beverly Hills] was especially memorable, and has inspired a lot of love since [including this fun contemporary mash-up]…
The show also immortalized Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., on which the mythic town of Mayberry was modeled.
Neil Engle is a pastor in Overland Park, Kansas, who has been traveling to Mount Airy for the annual Mayberry Days for the past 15 years. I first heard from him in 2006 after he won an auction for a squad car sold by a local resident, Tom Hellebrand, who wanted to build a Barney Fife statue in honor of Don Knotts, who had died earlier that year. The statue became a bit of a fiasco — the Knotts widow said she wouldn’t mind a statue, but one of Don, not Barney — and so did the car, which broke down on the way home. Engle got the car towed back to Kansas and subsequently restored it with help from church members.
Thousands of visitors attend Mayberry Days every year and crowd into the stores with the very familiar names, pose with actors who played characters on the show, and rub elbows with people who kinda look like the original stars. “Much of the time is spent just walking the streets of Mt. Airy-seeing other fans, and enjoying the tribute artists that dress up as TAGS characters,” writes Engle.
“A Mayberry Days ‘must’ is having a fried porked chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch-the restaurant where Andy ate baloney sandwiches as a kid, and the only original Mt. Airy restaurant mentioned in an episode. People wait up to two hours to get in and have one! I only had to wait 45 minutes for mine on Friday. It’s also customary to poke your head in at Floyd’s Barbershop. At the local movie theater, episodes of TAGS are shown and then a cast member involved in those episodes do a Q and A.
“I also toured the new Andy Griffith museum. Andy’s friend Emmett Forest has over the years received items/memorabilia from Andy and others, and has brought it together into a new museum.”
(Thank you Mr. Naidus for the YouTube)
In Truth, Jon Stewart Was No Harder on Rick Sanchez Than on Any Other News Anchor That Stewart Uses As Daily Fodder (And Stewart Was a Lot Easier on Sanchez Than He Was on Jim Cramer)
Without intending to, Jon Stewart has become quite influential over CNN’s personnel decisions.
Before Rick Sanchez, people may forget there was Tucker Carlson, whom Stewart made mincemeat of after a disastrous guest spot on “Crossfire”—a show that was canceled after Stewart lambasted its journalistic ethics.
Stewart actually went a bit easy on Sanchez in a 10-minute opening segment on “The Daily Show” Monday night, Oct. 4, 2010, even suggesting Sanchez could be a replacement for the soon-to-be-open Steve Carell slot on “The Office” now that Sanchez is out of a job.
CNN rapid-fired Sanchez in the wake of his controversial comments on a Sirius XM radio show last week in which he called Stewart a “bigot” and said the people at CNN and other networks are like Stewart—Jewish.
In Monday's segment, Stewart went through the whole timeline of how he heard Sanchez’ comments, feigning excitement that the former host of “Rick’s List” knew his name, and then launching into playing the first of several Sanchez sound bites.
Stewart said he was most angry that he had to wait from Thursday until Monday to actually respond—but skewered the media response to a couple of comments he made about the elephant in the room at a charity dinner in New York Saturday night.
The comedian marveled at headlines that said he “ripped” and “destroyed” Sanchez for his remarks about Jews running the TV networks. "Any headline from that benefit should have read, 'Comedians raise $3 million for autism while demonstrating incredible restraint about Rick Sanchez'," he said.
On “Rick’s List,” Sanchez was known for theatrical stunts like falling off a cruise ship, getting Tasered and being trapped in a sinking car, while making what many considered goofy comments in a serious tone of voice and setting himself up for ridicule as a pompous blowhard.
Stewart had recently skewered Sanchez for excitedly reporting he’d gotten a tweet from House Republican leader John Boehner, calling it a case of “send a twit a tweet”—to much laughter from his studio audience.
But Stewart didn’t necessarily seem to have it in for Sanchez, and wasn’t fixated on him any more than any of the other news anchors he uses as daily fodder on “The Daily Show.” It wasn’t anything like the long-running tiff he played out with Jim Cramer a couple of years ago.
It was such an uneven battle that Stewart was actually charitable toward Sanchez, who had said on the "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick" radio show, “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart. And a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”
Stewart’s response on Monday: "If CNN got rid of Rick Sanchez 'cause they didn't like his show, fine. We weren't that crazy about it either. But if they fired him for making some intemperate statement and some banal Jew-baiting, I'm not even sure Sanchez believed what he was saying. 'Cause I know, when Rick Sanchez has time to think things through, and doesn't necessarily think he's about to get fired anyway, he has a slightly different take on the topic. Perhaps the silver lining of this situation is it's a chance for all of us to get in touch with not our dirtier, but our better, Sanchezes. Words to live by."
By these standards, Jon was really showing Rick a little love and compassion.
But Stewart's tangling with CNN talent is now entering a new phase. “Jonny hungry,” he said about the new “Parker Spitzer” show, whipping out a knife and fork.
This "TDS" viewer can hardly wait.
OMG: We Share With You the Latest, Hottest Social Networking Site. We Wish You'd Keep It on the Down Low, But We Realize Most of You Won't
We are giddy with excitement today. We just saw a movie and think that, with your help, we’ve come up with something that might strike a chord with you. At least we think so.
We rarely come up with something, quite frankly, this clever. We feel that this is stronger than dirt and allows you to have it YOUR way.
This idea really is a silly millimeter longer. It’s good to the last drop. It’s ready when you are.
Once you hear it, it’ll be like plop, plop, fizz, fizz, and you’ll be feeling better. It’s the breakfast of champions.
OK, OK, enough with the hype already. Here goes:
The movie we just saw was “Social Network.” And, within the first five minutes of watching the movie—which we really liked by the way—this idea occurred to us—so we’re not spoiling anything here.
You know the way most of us tried a bunch of different search engines until Google came along, and how most us stopped after that and now Google is the de facto standard in search engines? (Sorry, Bing.)
Similarly, we all tried Friendster and My Space as our social networks, but then along came Facebook, and now, like Google, it’s the one most of us use.
Well, after seeing “Social Network,” we are adding a tagline to TVWeek.com that we think will resonate with a lot of you. It follows one of our basic rules—the Ray Kroc idea of KISS—Keep It Simple Stupid.
TVWeek: The social network NOT founded by an asshole.
TVWeek: The social network NOT founded by an asshole.
Are you lovin’ it yet?
Come on. You know how liberating it is. Yes, you CAN have a social network your way. This allows you to work hard AND fly right. Live better. Expect more. Be all you can be.
TVWeek: The social network NOT founded by an asshole.
Does this say it all or what?
We’re guessing that more than a few of you will want to share this with your family and friends and within a short period of time a number of you will be leaving Facebook for TVWeek.com.
However, others of you may have a moment’s hesitation as you say to yourself: Hmm. That’s nice, but TVWeek isn’t a social networking site.
My boss also mentioned this to me, and yes, even I was flummoxed for a few moments.
But then I figured it out. Take this example. We ran a terrific story not too long ago linking to a piece about some of the intricacies of the Comcast-NBCU deal. And one of the comments was (this is a direct quote): “Awesome, Good list ans stuff. Look here for false Breitlings.”
Seems to me, once this commenter knew about our new slogan and realized that we were a social network site as well—and, importantly, not one founded by an asshole—he or she probably would have easily added, “Ans if your going out, we have Viagra.”
Or the time someone wrote the following comment about one of my blog entries:
“What a waste of time. Always knew you wouldn’t amount to much, but do you have to prove it to everybody in public and waste their time as well?”
It was signed “Mother (and if you don’t believe I’m really your Mother, remember when your cousin Markie accidently stuck his foot into your birthday cake when you were eight-years-old?).”
Yeah, right, like a lot of other people couldn’t have found that out as well. Whoever you really are, if you had realized at the time that this was really a social network site—and one, importantly, not founded by an asshole—you could have added, “I’ll be at Aunt Marge’s later, playing mahjong—call me.”
We think the possibilities are endless. Sure, on one hand we realize that this new tagline makes us so kool that we wish you'd keep it on the down low, but we can't stop you from tweeting your friends this news.
So if our site’s down later today, we thank you in advance as it’ll be because we’ll be overwhelmed by the traffic you and your friends are generating to us as you make us the latest word in social media.
What more can we say? We know we're TVWeek. That we're between love and madness. The pause that refreshes.
Just do it, with glee.#