Friday, April 28, 2006

May Day!

Monday is bound to be a very lively day in Los Angeles. When a half million people gathered in support of immigration reform a month ago, folks who don't listen to Spanish-language radio didn't hear about it until the following day-- because the rally was on a Sunday-- and in deserted downtown L.A.

Monday, they're taking to the streets on the way to the Beverly Center in the middle of a workday. If all goes according to plan and the weather is fine, the turnout will be bigger, no one will be working the valet parking stands, restaurant kitchens or residential yards, all Hell will be breaking loose and a lot of people will have found an excuse to stay home from work.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Canadian makes USA's first Bush protest album

Listen to Neil Young's latest here.

So why now, after his Grammy for "Devils & Dust," his failed Kerry push and his Sopranos-success-by-association, does everyone's hero Bruce Springsteen leave the "protest" out of his Pete Seeger tribute album, making it as ambiguous as "Born in the USA"-- and, New Orleans nods aside, even more dated?

Young's “Ohio” was written following the Kent State massacre on May 4, 1970, and was a staple of anti-war rallies in the 1970s. Young was still performing it 20 years later, by which time he often dedicated it to the Chinese students who had been killed at Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Tabloid Baby poll: Was Bruce pissing on the flag on the Born in the USA cover?

Phil Hendrie sells out

Now it’s safe to kill your radio.

First Howard. Now this.

Phil Hendrie, radio’s one true mad genius, is giving up the greatest show on the airwaves for a crummy sitcom career.

He's quitting radio to pursue acting.

For more than fifteen years, Phil Hendrie has run the wildest, most creative, most satiric show in any medium, creating and voicing characters that call in as if they’re listeners, debating himself and morons who think the characters are real (hey, we thought it was real the first night we tuned in, driving through the Valley, trying to figure out what he was doing and how he was doing it) and pulling off real comedy and comment in the process. Unique. Twisted. Totally gone. And totally suited to radio.

But Hendrie wants more. All radio stars do. Ask Bob Crane. And now that he’s getting a taste of the TV business with the middling NBC show, Teachers, we'll be getting more of him, and less--seeing him, and losing him.

We understand the radio industry can be a frustrating box for an artist and that the numbskulls who run it don't know what to do with a cranky treasure like Hendrie. We also understand that money talks. But we don't watch sitcoms. And we look forward to finding him and his characters on the radio. Bad news. Last show: June 23rd.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So what's the story behind the Maury suit?

Maury Povich today says, "We will defend this lawsuit vigorously!"

We know Maury to be a stand-up guy, and though we don't know the 28-year-old female producer who's hit him and his syndicated talk show with an embarrassing $100 million sexual harassment suit, we do know that she has more than a few problems that $100 million would surely help ease.

Bianca Nardi’s own lawsuit states that she’s in psychiatric treatment (allegedly because of the harassment) and has gained fifty pounds (because of the stress, not the Haagan Daas).

It's also been reported that the woman’s mother died from necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria, which could have added to her personal traumas.

Nardi's mother, Robin Miller, was the Republican registrar of voters in Stonington, Connecticut, and 52 years old when she died in 2003.

(What will she look like when
she's crying on the stand?
Click here to see video
of Bianca's tearful interview
after her mother's death.)

Hey, we don’t stick up for sex harassers, nor do we go after the victims. But we know that Maury Povich is no Bill O’Reilly (interesting that they were once competing tabloid television hosts, when Maury starred in A Current Affair and pre-pompous O’Reilly fronted a competing show). Before O'Reilly was sued for sex harassment, there had been gossip about his phone sex predilection and knowledge of his bullying manner. When the charges were made public, there was shock but no surprise.

Despite its salacious onscreen content, there’s been no scuttlebutt about the Maury show. Our own Doug Bruckner was a guest on the show twice this year and reports only on the professionalism of Maury Povich and his production staff.

Of course, sexual sparks fly behind the scenes in the high-pressure business of television series production, especially on a daily television show, like Maury’s, that runs and succeeds with sexual topics from porn to phone sex to hookers. And on shows like these, young female producers are often given the chance to jump ahead in the game by bringing hidden cameras into sex clubs or other volatile situations. And they jump at the chance. Or they don’t. Or they quit.

Or, thanks to Bill O’Reilly and his quick quiet payoff, they sue because they realize they’re getting older and won’t be moving up much higher than they are— and could resent that gal who’s producing the show because she must be screwing the host or she wouldn’t have gotten the job.

Anyway, Maury and his wife Connie Chung are good people. They even showed up, as planned, for a live interview in Washington D.C. today to face the music and the kind of tabloid baby frenzy that Maury himself helped invent.

Maury said he’d fight. And Connie was right by him.

So as the suit sorts itself out, we at Tabloid Baby repeat what we wrote on January 4th:

Maury and Connie are two of the coolest people in the business, real straightforward, and very fun on television. They are the tops.

(...and read Maury's story here.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thumb Guy reports from Lost set in Hawaii!

Tabloid Baby has received a message in a bottle from our 'Lost' correspondent, Doug "The Thumb Guy" Bruckner, who's surfaced in Hawaii with news that Lost star Michelle Rodriguez opted for jail time over community service on a drunk driving rap:

Greetings from sunny Hawaii!

Yes, the Thumb Guy is here on “Police Beach” on the North Shore of Oahu, where the Lost crew is setting up a location.

Everyone here gave us the “Thumbs up!” and sends their greetings to fans in America, the UK, France and around the world!

As for scoops?

Our girl Evangeline Lilly has reportedly moved in to Hobbit Dominic Monaghan’s house in Kaneoke, where Michelle Rodriguez went to court... and where today Michelle opted for jail time--five days!-- over community service on that DUI charge!

Hang in there, Michelle. No confirmation on reports they’re writing you out of the show!

See you on the Mainland soon!

Wish you were here!

The Thumb Guy!

Police Beach-- so named because it once had a locked gate and gave access only to current and retired cops!

On the set-- The Thumb stays in the picture!

Mr. Eko's Trailer!

Chris was hard as a Rock, but scandal is simple

So now Chris Rock is caught in the Anthony Pellicano scandal, accused of using the defrocked private eye to dig up dirt on a beautiful Hungarian model who'd claimed he was her baby daddy. It’s nice to see that this hardcore Afrocentric comedian is an equal opportunity inseminator, and not so different from the folks he scandalized at the Oscars.

Or Bill Cosby.

The uproar and outrage over the Pellicano case is about as transparent as the surprises over the Page Six scandal on the East Coast. Students of Tabloid Baby-- and there are more than a few out there—know that just as gossip plays by different rules, so do the people in Hollywood.

Out here, people use private eyes, and if they don't give much thought about how the job's done, they've seen enough Hollywood shamus movies to have an idea. It’s part of the tradition. It’s part of the mystique. It’s part of the summer replacement TV schedule. It’s a key component of a paranoid business in which the real secret is that no one knows what they’re doing, no one’s more talented than anyone else and there’s a lot of money going around for projects like Head of State.

More boldfaced names will be featured in the Pellicano case.

Meanwhile, we've found a nice gallery of Monika Zsibrita photos which give you a Chris Rock-eye view of what Chris Rock was holding on to and burying his face in during he time he’d left his lovely wife back in Brooklyn-- and later thanked by investigating.

And if you want some history on Hollywood private eyes, dirty dealing, drunk driving and the roots of Entertainment Tonight, you really should check out this, ahem, seminal book.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Exclusive! We and Tom Hanks end world hunger

We at Tabloid Baby are a regular bunch of Bonos, spending part of our precious Sunday afternoon walking to stamp out world hunger with our neighbors, the Hankses.

Tom Hanks had his Da Vinci Code hair, and his personal assistant had equipped him with a backpack and brand new umbrella, but otherwise he and wife Rita Wilson were just plain folks as they, one of their kids and two dogs led the 31st Annual CROP Hunger Walk through downtown Pacific Palisades. Hanks’ Playtone Productions, which promotes family values with its HBO polygamy series, Big Love, was main sponsor of the surprisingly sparsely-attended event (the inconvenient start time, one p.m., was probably set so the walk route wouldn't conflict with the pricey Sunday Farmer's Market, which would be in the way of the walkers as it fed the wealthy locals).

The walk was warmed up and kicked off behind the library by Gavin MacLeod, who replaces Steve Guttenberg as our honorary mayor in July.

The former Murray Slaughter expressed disappointment that most of the kids in attendance didn’t remember his ten years as captain of The Love Boat. Then again, they don’t know about his more recent TV career as a scary evangelical Born Again Marriage crusader, either. He led the kids in warm-up exercises and led the walk for a few blocks before dropping out.

We and the Hanks crew went the distance.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Howard Stern will return to free radio

Prediction: Howard Stern will be back on terrestrial radio. And soon. He'll continue doing his pay-radio show, but simulcast the first three hours, with necessary bleeps, on free FM radio, and he'll make even more money doing so. Just wait. It was in the cards from the start.

Since he left the airwaves for pay-radio in January, radio hasn’t been the same and Stern has become instantly irrelevant. He'll pop up in a magazine to complain about lost listeners or in the papers to claim he’d fended off a deranged mugger, but as far as American culture and the everyday agenda is concerned, he’s dead. Gone.

But as his girlfriend's fame begins to eclipse his own hard-fought glory, Stern continues to do the same old radio show. Take a look at Stern’s website and see that with the exception of a smattering of f-words and heavier sexual and gross-out content, it’s basically the same show, without the listeners. Howard has become Rupert Pupkin, doing a show in his basement.

Meanwhile, his free-radio replacements have bombed, big time. Adam Carolla has the worst, most amateurish, self-indulgent, boring, dunderheaded morning radio show in Los Angeles (the way he talked over Dick Cavett with his motormouth, memorized observational bits Thursday morning was grounds for immediate dismissal), and finally lays bare the Kimmel-Carolla comic genius scam (the bosses should give talk radio hotshot Johnny Wendell a go. He has ideas for the morning). And in New York City, poor David Lee Roth was finally fired yesterday.

Roth’s spot in New York and several other major CBS stations will be filled by Opie and Anthony, who currently do a morning show on XM Satellite Radio— Stern’s rival. Starting as early as next week, they’ll reportedly do a 6-9 a.m. simulcast on XM and WFNY, then additional hours only for XM, where the lack of FCC content guidelines permits much more explicit language and graphic content.

That’s what Stern will be doing soon: simulcasting his Sirius show on free radio, then carrying on satellite the rest of the morning.

Stern once kvetched about radio restraints. Opie & Anthony were actually kicked off radio for a sex-in-St.Patrick’s-Cathedral stunt, and went to satellite long before Howard. They’ve experienced the frustration of being forgotten. Now they've set the stage for Stern's return.

By the way, the experts have said that Howard lost ten million listeners and no one can figure out where they went. After four months of surfing the AM and FM dials, through Stephanie Miller (good) and Mancow (very bad) and even Mark & Brian (weird—they spend hours in the morning simply playing Pop Quiz—like they’re killing time on a bus) while waiting for five minutes of Paul Harvey, this listener got an iPod.

(See Stern's gal Beth O here)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Naomi who?

Naomi Campbell, meet Danish supermodel May Andersen, arrested for hitting a flight attendant on a flight from Amsterdam to Miami.

The 23-year-old bombshell was aboard Martinair Flight 643 yesterday. She was ''loud and disruptive all throughout the flight,'' according to a Miami-Dade police spokeswoman. She's charged with simple battery, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly intoxication.

The leggy model has worked in advertising for J. Crew and Victoria's Secret, and has posed in Sports Illustrated's famed swimsuit edition.

Unfortunately, the photo above shows May as too many lads would love to see her. What's next? Those "before and after" meth ads?

(We found a website offering a cache of saucy May photos.)

F--- McDonald's and those BK motherbuckers

Now McDonald's is going the obscenity route to promote its obscene products.

First it was Burger King and its Big Buckin’ Chicken commercials-- “Big Buckin Chicken” as in “Big f---in’ Chicken” -- a smutty joke for impressionable kids only accentuated by the “The only way to beat it is to eat it” tagline.

Last month's Brokeback Mountain chic aside (big cowboys riding "chickens"), we didn't like the Burger King ad. We don’t think it’s good idea for the fast food companies to ease the kids in to f-word and masturbation jokes the way the liquor companies eased us in with apple wine and alco-pop.

We’d figured McDonald's would take the high road-- or at least cash in on the outrage.

Yeah, right.

McDonald's, with their sugar-soaked fries, is now running a spot touting free items customers can receive off the dollar menu. In the ad, two young guys are bleeped every time the "F"-word, or "free," comes up in their discussion. The narrator explains that the deal is "so good, it's obscene."

Chris Edwards, the creative director at Boston agency Arnold Worldwide, came up with the idea, helping poison our kids’ minds as well as their bodies.

F--- you, McDonalds.

It was twenty years ago today...

On April 21, 1986, a vault in Chicago's Lexington Hotel, former residence and headquarters of mobster Al Capone, was opened during a live TV special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. Geraldo lured viewers with the promise of finding historic artifacts, a cache of treasure or even the bones of gangster.

Aside from a few bottles and a sign, the vault was empty.

The special received the highest ratings in the history of syndicated television.

(A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to Our Man Elli in Israel.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Like a Rolling Stone, again

A long time ago, Rolling Stone was the most important magazine in America. More than thirty years ago. Maybe now it's becoming important again. Only in the old days, they wouldn't have added the question mark.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Origins of Suri

Tom Cruise has a new baby with Katie Holmes tonight. Lots of people are pretending to doubt his paternity or her pregnancy, but we’ve had a couple of contacts with Cruise dating back to the Mimi Rogers years, and a few with fellow Scientologists like John Travolta, and they’ve been all right and downright good folks with us.

And ten years on, we’re still amazed by this whole process of bringing a new one on board this battleship Earth, so congratulations, Tom and Katie-- and what’s up with the weird celebrity name?

Suri? The official word is that the Roman Catholic unwed mother and former potential Roman Catholic priest (imagine those lawsuits) and high-level Scientologist Tom gave the kid a Hebrew-derived name.

We looked it up and all we could find were alpacas and Indians.

According to Surinetwork.org, “Suri alpacas are distinguished in the camelid family by their unique fiber characteristics. The fiber grows parallel to the body while hanging in long, separate, distinctive locks. Its artistic style enhances the graceful appearance of the animal compared to the soft, wooly look of huacaya alpacas.

“Suri fiber locks, made up of high-luster fibers, drape down the sides of the body in a twisted or flat form of various size. Suri fiber has a slick hand and softness with an exquisite luster. Suri fiber is in demand and consistently brings a premium price in the fiber market. Suri alpacas emanate extraordinary vigor, intelligence, ease of breeding, and adaptability to hot and cold climates. These attributes rank high on the list of many reasons for treasuring Suri alpacas.

"Suri Fiber is used for ...
• High fashion fabric for men's and women's designer clothing
• Luxury apparel, coats, sweaters, and unique decorator items
• Specialty interior fabrics and textiles."

Then we found a guy named Suri who has a homepage:

“I am Surendra a.k.a Suri... born on the 4th of March, 1976. Well... that makes me a Piscean. Although I am not that big a follower of Linda Goodman to tell you whether I fit into the same sect of Einsteins, the dream and the effort still is on!”

He made his way from Banglore, India to Texas Instruments.

And Siddharth “Sid” Suri, a PhD student who offers Faulknerian wisdom like “"There is no such thing as bad scotch. Some scotch is just better than others," and coincidentally has an adviser named Michael Kearns, who’s no relation to us, as far as we know, and no relation to Michael Kearns (left), the gay performer, who’s also no relation to us, but which brings us back to Tom Cruise, we guess.

(And forget about Brooke Shields coincidences or Katie-prisoner conjecture. Howzabout Tom’s ex and chief rumour-starter Mimi, forced by Fox to sit front and center in the American Idol audience tonight to promote her new show--co-starring Tom’s Magnolia costar Philip Baker Hall...)

Hello, Dali

We were reading a book last week that said Salvador Dali predicted that in the future, people's thumbnails would be replaced by television screens. Then Sam got us a video iPod and we realized Dali was right.

Tabloid TV pioneers revolutionize the Internet

Twenty years ago, they helped create a phenomenon in television that forever changed television programming, television news, the stories that are covered on television, places in America that are shown on television and what's allowed to be said on television, while leading to the eventual dissolution of world communism and the grip of the Big Three network news elite that’s now led by youngsters and perky Katie Couric.

We’re talking about A Current Affair. (Read all about it here.)

While we at Tabloid Baby have led the tabloid television generation onto the Internet, two of A Current Affair's founders have taken new leaps with a couple of innovative and exciting Web experiences.

Joachim ”JB” Blunck, the man who came up with the distinct A Current Affair design-- including its trademark ”Ka-chung” sound effect-- is in L.A., running digital content at Bunim-Murray Productions, the team behind shows like The Real World and The Simple Life.

JB’s M Theory Entertainment is developing lots of fresh Internet content and half a dozen websites, including the Hams.TV online talent competition. It started as a jokefest. Now it’s expanded to include extreme sports, music videos, pet tricks and more. You send in the clips. You can win prizes.

Once again, JB is on the cutting edge. Check out HAMS.TV.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, VIDOCITY.COM comes from John Tomlin, an original producer of A Current Affair who was in on the show’s creation and helped develop and lead the show’s 2005 revival (the plug of which was unceremoniously and prematurely pulled by interest-conflicted Roger Ailes, who runs Fox News, the Fox Television stations and Geraldo).

Vidocity is an “Internet-based television show” that explores the best destinations in and around New York City. It’s on the Web now, with three brand-new episodes available each morning at nine eastern time, Monday through Friday, giving instant access to the NYC entertainment and pop culture, covering nightclubs, restaurants, theater, boutiques and music venues. And some very pretty young people are your reporters and guides.

Check out these groundbreaking projects that once again point the way to the future. And stay tuned for Tabloid Baby’s expansion of its Goodstory web group into a full-fledged Internet broadcast. Coming soon…

The man who midwifed the Tabloid Baby bloggers

Don Fitzpatrick has died. Fitz was a good guy in the TV news business-- and an influential guy, to boot. He was the TV industry’s first blogger, founder of TVSpy.com, whose Shoptalk forum was the first place Tabloid Baby spouted off and raised hackles on the Web.

Shoptalk was a must-read among TV folks before all the other sites and email services came along: industry news, PR releases, and a letters section to have your say. We had ours and did our best to stir things up, arguing that Geraldo Rivera was more influential to today’s crop of TV journos than Woodward and Bernstein, offering evidence that Woodstein’s “Deep Throat” was a dramatic device, criticizing sacred cows and anchormen and getting the knickers of superserious local newsies seriously twisted. We even taunted Shoptalk regular John Corcoran to the point where he actually quit writing his corny letters!

And Fitz got a great kick out of it.

Fitz was blogging about TV before there was a World Wide Web-- or even the word “blog.” In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Just as TV Tattle and so many others do today, each day he’d digest articles on TV stations from various newspapers and magazines around the country. Later, it morphed to the Web and became TVSpy.com.

Defamer. TV Tattle. Google News. Fitz was there first.

You can also thank him for the type of faces you see on TV news. His primary business was headhunting for local TV news talent. The San Francisco-based Don Fitzpatrick Associates helped TV journos land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks.

A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to Don Fitzpatrick!