Friday, December 30, 2005

A New Year's gift: Madonna wears a bikini, eats a raw egg and uses her body as a skillet

Happy New Year!

A final gift for 2005:

Click here

to see a video

of Madonna wearing a bikini

and eating a raw egg

and then using her body as a skillet!

Thanks to WFMU, MOJO and Blow Up Doll.

Click here to read about Tabloid Baby’s 2005 Person of the Year.

And click here to order a copy of the Cloud 9 DVD.

The end of the movies

(Click for Tabloid Baby’s 2005 Person of the Year!)

We’ve gone to the movies here and there over these holidays. And we’re sad to report it’s over. Movies, that is. The whole movie-going, movie theatre experience.

And King Kong proves it.

We don’t get out to the movies very often anymore. This holiday season, there were two movies that looked cinematic enough to warrant a trip to the theatre. Big enough to head beyond the multiplex to one of those new palaces in Hollywood, the ones with assigned seating, crisp focus and good popcorn.

King Kong was one of those movies. But tellingly, when they ran the first teaser trailer on television, the one that outlined the entire plot, it just looked okay. A period piece with Jack Black and Adrien Brody’s nose. It was only after we saw the trailer on the office computer, on the Apple movie trailer site , in its high definition digital glory, that King Kong promised to be something spectacular. The Tabloid Baby staff gathered round the desktop, marveling at the craft, the almost seamless blend of computer animation and real life.

So we saw King Kong at the theatre. It was more than three hours long. Three hours of Jack Black and Adrien Brody’s nose. Dinosaur chases and more dinosaur chases. Lots of goo-goo eyes between the beauty and the beast. Way over-the-top hints of bestiality. It was a lot and too much, with a projectionist providing occasional soft focus and glitches between reels.

In the end, it was only a movie. We can’t wait til it comes out on DVD, so we can see it on the new big flat panel TV with the home entertainment sound system, and dig it in all its meticulous digital glory and be able to freeze it between sections so everyone can get a bathroom break.

The second movie that seemed worth seeing was a tossup between Munich and Syriana. We saw the fat Clooney movie. There were three other people in the theatre. This movie was more than two hours long, and looked and felt like those serious European TV series that make their way over here (like the one they ripped off Traffic from). The movie made a lot of sense after we got home and hit the Internet to read all the reviews and figured out what had happened. And it’s pretty obvious that whether it’s directed by George Clooney or Stephen Gaghan, Steven Soderbergh is pulling the strings.

When we weren’t at the movies, we watched the original King Kong and Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young and hours of documentary footage on DVD on the big flat panel TV with the great sound. Sat up real close so we were enveloped like in the movies in the old days.

Tonight we’ll see Cinderfella, at home, in digital color.

On Tuesday, our movie comes out. Cloud 9. On DVD. Twentieth Century Fox decided to skip the theatres and send it straight to the big flat panel TVs. We hope everyone buys a copy of Cloud 9.

And though King Kong was supposed to be the moviehouse saviour, we think Hollywood realizes that King Kong marks the end of the moviegoing era. Peter Jackson not only made a movie that does away with the need for real locations or real actors, but along the way he created the ultimate $200 million digital masterwork that's suited perfectly for DVD and bigscreen home entertainment.

It’s too bad. There’s nothing like sitting in a theatre for two hours, getting lost in a picture, and then walking out into the evening air, imagining yourself as the star of the movie you just saw. It just doesn’t work that way at home.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Disneyland Babylon: Warm holiday greetings!

(Exclusive! Tabloid Baby’s 2005 Person of the Year!)

Thanks, folks at Disneyland, for offering us up a tidbit so soon after we inaugurated our Disneyland Babylon updates.

Today, a fire! A near-disaster at the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel. It’s a huge, wooden Arts & Crafts style place, like the kind you might see in Yosemite, with a large lobby overlooked by scary, hope-nobody-falls balconies. As the website says, in that lobby, "a stately fireplace combining stone, tile and ironwork takes center stage. The continuously burning fire is the perfect gathering spot." Not this time!

We’ve stayed there. The Grand Californian has an entrance right onto the Downtown Disney shopping plaza, a nice pool out back, and has lots of nice wide polished wooden stairways. Wooden. And oh, what a mighty tragedy it would have been, had that Christmas tree set all that wood ablaze.

Merry Christmas, Mickey!

L.A. Times website
Dec. 28, 2005

Christmas Tree
Catches Fire
at Disneyland Hotel

From Associated Press

A 35-foot Christmas tree caught fire in the lobby of the Disneyland Resort's Grand Californian Hotel early today but nobody suffered serious injury.

The hotel's sprinkler system kept the 3 a.m. blaze in check and firefighters were able to quickly put it out, said Maria Sabol, a spokeswoman for the Anaheim Fire Department. The fire started after employees changed some light bulbs on the tree and turned them back on, Sabol said...

The 745-room hotel in the heart of the California Adventure theme park was at full capacity with about 2,300 guests, said Rob Doughty, the resort's vice president of communications. They were evacuated to three locations in and around the park…

One to two feet of water from firefighters' hoses pooled on the hotel floor, damaging carpet, floor and furniture around the tree, Sabol said...

Guest Lee Crice of Phoenix told KTLA-TV that he saw the top six feet of the tree ablaze as he fled through the hotel lobby after being awakened by the fire alarm. Firefighters sprayed water on the artificial tree and gray smoke wafted through the cavernous lobby… Two guests were treated at the scene for minor injuries and released...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tabloid Baby's Person of The Year for 2005: Anderson Cooper, Brokeback Anchor

Anderson Cooper is Tabloid Baby’s Person of the Year!

It is a year in which the era of the pompous, macho “Network Anchorman” ended in death, disgrace and the takeover of Nightline by Michael Jackson’s Oompaloompalike betrayer.

It’s also a year in which Harvey Fierstein and Rosie O’Donnell played husband and wife in Fiddler On The Roof, Elton John married his boyfriend, the new Superman is reportedly planning to leap out of the closet, and Brokeback Mountain leads the Oscar contenders.

Who better to represent 2005 than America’s first openly gay TV news anchorman?

Okay, Anderson Cooper plays it coy when fellow journalists ask about his sexuality (and they ask all the time), and fellow journalists who know better compromise by referring to him with a wink as “metrosexual” (a bitchslap because of the “sissy” implications, and Coop’s no sissy even though he cries on TV).

But in the offices where he works, in the public spaces in which he plays, Anderson Cooper is known to be gay. That’s not important. There have been, and are, gay network reporters. Even NBC’s wise John Chancellor reportedly had a men’s room arrest in his past (though he popped out of his closet only sporadically in later years, demanding his name be pronounced Chancel-LOR, not CHANCE-eler).

What makes Anderson Cooper different, special and Tabloid Baby's Person of The Year, is that Anderson Cooper reads “gay” on the air. Not “flaming,” like most all of the cloned male correspondents on the ET-Access-Extra infotainment shows, not “screaming,” as he was when he hosted The Mole (back when newsreader kingship seemed as realistic a dream as his mom marrying her consort Bobby Short), but so undeniably that everyone refers to him as “metrosexual.”

It’s revolutionary-- as revolutionary as Maury Povich leading A Current Affair, and points to the future of television news.

Uneasily wearing the crown on CNN, Anderson Cooper is the standard bearer as eternal boy-- a poor little rich boy at that-- fleeing personal tragedy and demons by running toward the world’s danger zones; an inquisitive silver-haired manboy who mixes with the common folk like Truman Capote in Kansas; an otherworldly Little Prince who can be politely indignant when he’s lied to; a youthful visitor who leads with his heart and isn’t afraid to show Earthlings how to cry. He’s Michael Jackson, circa Thriller.

And he’s leading Ted Turner’s old news network! Person of the Year!

It’s fitting that Coop broke out in the coverage of the New Orleans disaster, days before the Southern Decadence weekend.

Ironically, Coop’s cable news nemesis (another man with two last names) was already in place for the festivities, set up in a small hotel in the French Quarter, enjoying breakfast, serenaded by a pianist, when the levees broke and the city began to flood. With other TV reporters cut off from the action, Shepard Smith was blocks from the convention center, where, in a bizarre parallel to Cooper’s performance, he briefly “came out,” unleashing his Blanche DuBois accent, emoting, raging, and even snapping back on air at Sean Hannity.

All Shep got for his trouble was an outing by the editor of the Washington Blade.

Credit due

Credit for the Coop coup goes to Jon Klein, the new president of CNN, who made the bold move of dumping Aaron Brown and replacing the fey with the gay.

Klein has always been known for a sense of humor that’s both wicked and puckish. He even appears in Tabloid Baby, Chapter 20, in a story about the time he recommended a female producer to Hard Copy. She turned out to be a ticking timebomb who exploded all over Elton John, who in turn exploded all over Hard Copy. (For those with an interest in how the news business really works, both story and book are worth the read.)

The future

There is method behind the move. Jon Klein has big plans.

Stay tuned for 2006. There will be a time, soon, when Anderson Cooper will “come out.” It will probably take another big story, a 9/11- or Katrina-sized story that all the honchos will feel the need to stamp with brand personification, and then, Anderson Cooper will drop his guard and let us in on who he is.

By then, America, even those who don’t watch CNN, will be comfortable enough with his presence onscreen and in the media, that no one will care.

That’s the culture shift we’re looking at, those are the barriers he is breaking, and that’s why we salute Anderson Cooper, Tabloid Baby’s Person of the Year for 2005!

Person of The Year: The Runners-Up

Each year since 2001, when NYPD Blue sexpot-turned-CNN anchor Andrea Thompson received the honor, the Tabloid Baby team of journalists, producers, TV viewers and tipsters around the world has come up with the person who best exemplified the spirit of tabloid: the Tabloid Baby Person of The Year.

This year is no different.

The Tabloid Baby Person of the Year for 2005 is about to be announced.

But first… the Runners-Up:

Pat O’Brien: There but for the grace of God go so many of his peers. As Pat’s dirty voicemail messages provided endless hours of entertainment, his shattered career received instant rehabilitation through the most bizarre and humiliating public flogging in network television history. His session with Doctor Phil was 2005’s greatest hour of television. Its producers should be forced to live in the Big Brother house.

Howard Stern: He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.

Beth Twitty: Natalee Holloway’s mother manipulated the media like an expert and dictated the cable news agenda until her story was washed away by Hurricane Katrina. She showed how even ordinary folk can call the shots when it means you can broadcast from Aruba. Sadly, she still hasn’t gotten her daughter back. But who’s been leaving those phone messages?

Dr. Franklin Ruehl: The nuclear physicist turned public access cult hero is television’s most indefatigable and optimistic personality. On the brief and lamented return of A Current Affair, he led a groundbreaking and historic Bigfoot expedition, and brought celebrity coverage to new heights. Dr. Ruehl is one of a kind, and television nabobs will one day realize it.

Bill Hudson: Goldie Hawn’s ex stood up against the Hollywood machine when he called out Goldie for mischaracterizing and demeaning him in her recent autobiography. A veteran musician, performer and producer, he is the Howard Beale of Malibu: Mad as Hell with a sense of humour.

And the Tabloid Baby Person of The Year is…

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cocaine Kate meets Cloud 9

Kate Moss’ advisers know the way to crawl out of a scandal is with a laugh.

Her new Virgin Mobile phone commercial follows the tabloid axiom that when the chips are down, the best defense is making yourself the butt of the joke.

Cocaine Kate looks sexy, wholesome, beautiful-- and even talks in the advert.

An added bonus for Kate Moss fans as the spot is bounced around the Internet: her costar is Ken Garito, who shares the screen with Burt Reynolds in Cloud 9, out on Fox Home Entertainment DVD on January 3rd.

In Cloud 9, Ken plays Tommy Z, the bartender at the Cloud 9 strip club, where Burt recruits the sexiest beach volleyball team in cinematic history.

Cloud 9, written and produced by Brett Hudson and Burt Kearns of Frozen Pictures and Academy Award winner Albert S. Ruddy, goes head-to-head with Wedding Crashers on the DVD racks. It's being touted as the new Dodgeball, though it's also been called "Million Dollar Boobies." Cloud 9 is Ruddy's follow-up to his Oscar winning best Picture of 2004.

Cloud 9 boasts an impressive cast, including D.L. Hughley, Paul Rodriguez, Angie Everhart, Gabrielle Reece, Gary Busey,Tom Arnold, Tony Danza, Kenya Moore, Patricia De Leon, Ric Overton, Pat Finn, Jeff Altman, and Bruce Bruce—among others. (Find out more at the Frozen Pictures blog.)

It’s a cast not unlike Oscar-contender Crash—which also features Ken Garito.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Disneyland Babylon

We love Disneyland.

Its history, mythology and vision are fascinating insights into American pop culture and American dreamers. (The epilogue of Tabloid Baby was written there.)

But most of all, we love the dark side of Disneyland: the alternative history, the secret goings-on--the crimes, the deaths, the disasters and the tragedies. Mostly we like to read about them.

There are lots of great websites like Laughing Place , Mouse Planet and The Unauthorized Anti-Disney Page and books like David Koenig’s Mouse Tales series, dedicated to the place and all the horrors, embarrassments, cover-ups and secrets behind the Mickey mask.

Now, Tabloid Baby joins the fun!

We will keep up with and pass along news from the Happiest Place on Earth.

Because it really is. The Happiest Place, we mean. First up:

Los Angeles Times
Dec. 18, 2005

Chemical Cloud Injures Worker at Disneyland

By Daniel Yi
Times Staff Writer

A Disneyland employee was taken to a hospital Saturday after being exposed to a chemical cloud in the park's maintenance area, an Anaheim fire official said.

The incident came a day after three Disney employees from the adjacent California Adventure park were treated at a hospital and released after one of them inadvertently mixed two chemicals in a water treatment center for one of the park attractions…

A resin mixture unexpectedly produced smoke, said Maria Sabol, a spokeswoman for the Anaheim Fire Department. The resin is used to repair various fiberglass rides at Disneyland, she said. Eight park employees were evaluated by paramedics, she said. One, who suffered from asthma, complained of breathing problems and was taken to a hospital….

On Saturday, fire officials closed the Disneyland Railroad ride, which loops around the park, for three hours because of the chemical smoke.

"It was more of a precaution," Sabol said. "No visitors were affected" by the smoke and the rest of the park remained opened.

Sabol said the investigation into the cause of the accident would be left to Disneyland park officials…

Friday, December 16, 2005

Farewell to radio's Jesus of Cool

Howard Stern’s radio show died for our sins. Hey, we vote in the conservative reactionary demagogues who staff the FCC with crypto-fascist schoolmarm ayatollahs.

So really, we can only blame ourselves for the fact that our best radio personality and show was literally chased off the airwaves.

Howard’s era was a good run.

He talked straight. He broke the rules for radio jocks. And he helped open social discourse under the cloak of smut and toilet jokes.

Not unlike the Tabloid TV era. The rise and fall of both coincided. And Howard appears often throughout Tabloid Baby, the comprehensive and hilarious history of the genre and its movers.

Buy the book for Christmas and read about Stern’s early triumphs and outrages.

And in tribute, a sample from page 196:

“…Our 1991-92 season began with a new presence that would make our transition to a life in the sun a bit more bearable. Howard Stern’s syndicated radio show had come to Los Angeles in July. By that time more people in the country had heard of Stern than actually heard him on the radio; because the FCC was targeting him, the syndication of his show was being slowed. Every time we ran a Howard Stern story, we had to explain who he was, and explain it from a tabloid point of view: as a six-foot-five, hook-nosed toilet mouth cutting a swath of aural mayhem toward your town. We couldn’t say Stern was a great new Lenny Bruce or the Jesus of cool, liberating us all with his honesty, plain talk, and common sense...”

So what will happens now? As Stern entertains his limited audience on satellite, will he still have an impact?

We'll find out in 2006.

Keep in touch via his website .

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pamela Anderson's censored striptease

Yahoo News: "Pamela Anderson and pole dancing proved too hot for NBC, which dropped a number featuring the actress in a sexy big-screen video from an Elton John special. 'Elton John: The Red Piano,' a Las Vegas extravaganza taped at Caesars Palace, aired Monday night without the segment in which John sang 'The Bitch is Back' while an oversized screen behind him displayed a scantily clad Anderson..."

Click here to see the video.

Consider it a holiday gift.

Like this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bobby Newmyer was 49

Another reason we hate obituaries:

Independent movie producer Robert Newmyer died.

He was Eames Yates' best friend.

He believed in movies and he made them well. And he was a very creative, very cool, very generous guy.

His office on the Sunset Strip was a very creative and welcoming place. His company was named Outlaw.

From the L.A. Times:

"Just before he graduated, he saw Spielberg's 'E.T.' and he came out and said, 'That's what I want to do,' " said documentary filmmaker Eames Yates, who had been best friends with Newmyer since the first grade. "We argued about it. I said, 'Wouldn't you rather go into Wall Street and make hundreds of millions?' He said, 'No, I'd rather make movies.' "

Donations can be made to the Bobby Newmyer Memorial Fund, which will be used to further his work with Sudanese refugees, and sent in care of Outlaw Productions, 3599 Beverly Glen Terrace, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.

Bobby Newmyer's producer filmography
Joe's Last Chance (2005) (announced) (producer)
The Lost Boys of the Sudan (2005) (announced) (producer)
Adrenaline (2006) (announced) (producer)
Untitled Phil Dornfeld Project (2006) (announced) (producer)
Heavy Metal Thunder (2006) (announced) (producer)
Jupiter's Mom (2005) (pre-production) (producer)
Breach (2006) (pre-production) (producer)
The Santa Clause 3 (2006) (filming) (producer)
Phat Girlz (2006) (completed) (executive producer) (producer)
The Thing About My Folks (2005) (producer)
Mindhunters (2004) (producer)
If Only (2004) (producer)
National Security (2003) (producer)
The Santa Clause 2 (2002) (producer)
Training Day (2001) (producer)
Gossip (2000/I) (producer)
Ready to Rumble (2000/1) (producer)
Three to Tango (1999) (producer)
Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! (1998) (producer)
How to Be a Player (1997) (executive producer)
Addicted to Love (1997) (producer)
Don Juan DeMarco (1995) (co-executive producer)
The Santa Clause (1994) (producer)
Wagons East (1994) (producer)
Indian Summer (1993) (producer)
The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them (1993) (producer)
Mr. Baseball (1992) (producer)
Crossing the Bridge (1992) (producer)
Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991) (producer)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) (producer)

Took, Took, Tookie, Goodbye

They sure had a lot of media “witnesses” at the Tookie Williams execution.

But they're no help unless they report the truth, without the political spin or company line.

Witness Rita Cosby, that annoying woman from Fox News who for some reason was picked up by MSNBC, got in a last shot, claiming the condemned man gave intimidating glances to the media witnesses. But the warden says she was full of baloney.

So if you know going in that the observers can't be trusted to leave their prejudices outside the execution room, what's the use of having them there?

Steve Lopez in the LA Times is a good reporter. He let it be known where he stood, showed where he stood but stuck to the facts:

'I Watched a Man Die Today'
by Steve Lopez, Times Staff Writer

SAN QUENTIN -- It's just past midnight, and another Crip is on his way to the graveyard.

Stanley Tookie Williams, who shotgunned four people to death a quarter of a century ago and couldn't sell the story of his
redemption to anyone who mattered, took a lethal shot in the arm and closed his eyes for good.

I watched him die from 12 feet away. The execution team struggled to tap a vein, and Williams raised his head as if to question their competence. He also looked at supporters and exchanged final words with them before the drugs kicked in and he was gone.

Nothing I saw made me feel any differently about Williams, the Crip co-founder whose legacy is terrorized neighborhoods and a chorus of weeping mothers.

His anti-violence books and speeches were too little, too late, and the methodologizing of him was as unconvincing as the Nobel nominations.

But his execution was a macabre spectacle in a nation that preaches godly virtue to the world while resisting a global march away from the Medieval practice of capital punishment.

I would have had no problem leaving Williams locked up with his regrets and haunted by his deeds for the rest of his natural life.

I watched a man die today, killed by the state of California with institutional resolve, and wondered what we gained.

Rafael Abramovitz witnessed an execution. You can read about it in Tabloid Baby.

You can read Steve Lopez's columns here.

And meanwhile, let's hope Tookie's ghost comes back and haunts the dreams of John & Ken and Rita and all the other hacks and phonies who used this event as entertainment.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Life after Howard

Howard Stern has five radio shows to go before he possibly disappears from the mainstream public eye and ear (I’ve checked out some of that Sirius equipment at Best Buy and it looks like a lot of work that only a month of bad car radio will force us to look into). Howard's goodbye seemed to peak the week before his Thanksgiving vacation, but this last week of shows will be historic in any case.

We’ll miss him. In the meantime, what’s the future of radio?

The view from LA:


Phil Hendrie: He may be the most brilliant talent in all of show business right now.

And his take on the talk show never gets boring.

The best.

Michael Savage: The most hilarious radio personality out there.

Savage is a lunatic, and his hair-trigger ascents to screaming rants are hysterical.

It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum he’s from.

The fact that his real name is Michael Weiner and that he once ran a flower shop and wrote love letters to Allen Ginsberg only adds to the wackiness.

Johnny Wendell: Punk rocker turned music journalist turned smart liberal radio talk show host.

Johnny works himself up into his own rages on the air, but it’s absurdity and unfairness that gets him going. He’s on the local Air America station, and his audience and scope will grow.

Steve Jones: Punk rocker turned Sunset Strip guitarist turned rock ‘n’ roll deejay. They give him a sidekick to translate his Cockney mumblings, but his snorting, farting, gurgling amateurishness is part of what keeps us tuned in. He plays old music hall & Benny Hill 45s, then picks up an acoustic guitar and bangs out a rock ‘n’ roll parody in the key of the original that follows. Inspired casting.

Stephanie Miller: Nice Sixties-style comedy lady does a funny, smart morning show with a good impressionist.


Mancow: First of all, that name is very disturbing. Man Cow. Supposedly it’s a nickname from college, but it brings to mind a hermaphroditic guy with breasts (which, photos indicate, he does indeed resemble). I don’t get it. And I don’t get the Mancow act. His show reeks of racist, homophobic, jock-sniffing, evangelical Christian right wing creepiness, it’s always got this Nazi heavy metal guitar crunching in the background, he’s got a guy who imitates Lewis Black, prank phone calls that aren’t funny, and when he’s not picking on poor people like New Orleans victims, he’s saying degrading things about his wife. He tries to be Howard, but he’s the anti-Howard. This guy really blows.

John & Ken: These reactionary nitwits play up racism and anti-immigrant hysteria for ratings. We hope Tookie Williams escapes from prison and climbs into their bedroom windows. That would make good radio.

Sean Hannity: I don’t believe this guy is a true conservative. I think he’s a college radio dork who jumped on the conservative bandwagon because he didn’t fit in with the music hipsters and came up with an angle. When he slips in references to his good pals Ollie North, Charlie Daniels and Phyllis Schlafly, this literal lowbrow reveals how out of touch and stupid he is.

Larry Elder: Listen to his show and realize he’s the one major league talk show host who yells at, then hangs up on, his listeners when they make good points that disagree with his. He seems to be afraid of real debate and his bits with his mother are not revealing. Dull.


Conway & Whitman: Tim Conway Jr. and his partner Doug Steckler worked a long time to develop a very dry comedy chemistry that even took the edge off their “What the hell is Jesse Jackson saying?” bit. It worked because Steckler was a weird old guy who’d last touched the big time writing for SCTV more than twenty years ago, and Conway was, well, Tim Conway’s kid who spent his days at the racetrack. Then, weirdly, Steckler quit or was fired and Conway just carried on with a new partner, radio voice man Brian Whitman. They still do the Jesse Jackson bit (and for some reason they use this really heavy compression on their voices, making them sound like they’re caught in Cousin Brucie’s echo chamber). But they're just a dull radio team, two contemporaries teamed arbitrarily like "Frosty, Heidi & Frank" or Peter Tilden and his cohorts on the country station.


At least Tilden is a lesson in how not to lose your dignity or patronize your audience when your situation changes. He made his reputation doing smart talk radio. He became a morning country music jock. And he doesn't sound like a country jock. He sounds like a smart talk radio guy. But he plays it straight. And funny. Too bad most of the music is terrible. But that's a different story and it's coming from a country fan.