Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from your pals at Tabloid Baby!

On to 2008!

Tabloid Baby's 2007 Person of the Year

He began the year in prison. He ended the year co-starring as Joseph with a plastic Baby Jesus in a live-action nativity display in the middle of Times Square and featured on television and in magazines as an agony aunt dispensing advice to the family of Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears. And those aren't the only reasons we made...



Michael Lohan

When Michael Lohan went off to prison in 2005, no one expected that Lindsay Lohan’s troubled father would emerge two years later as a new man with a new mission, setting out not only to reconcile with his daughter and reconnect with his family, but to save others from falling into the same traps that destroyed his own life. And certainly few would expect that he would remain in the tabloid headlines, day after day, week after week in 2007, with new surprises and outrages, sometimes teetering on the brink of ridiculousness, often falling over the edge, but always with an optimistic message that had us chuckling or shaking our heads.

The year of Michael Lohan was a grown-up parallel story to the chaotic chain of kiddie carwrecks, confrontations and McConaughey-perving rolled out by TMZ. Lohan’s was a story with consequence, with much more at stake than his long-awaited-- and unexpectedly successful-- reunion with his daughter Lindsay. There was his emergence as a mail order minister, his work with the Long Island Teen Challenge youth program, his bitter war with his ex-wife Dina, followed by their unlikely reprochement. His plans to open a celebrity drug rehab center in the Hamptons were matched by his blueprints for a restaurant in Los Angeles, where Lindsay could continue to party under his watchful eye.

And Lohan struggled in public, as well. When the pitch reel for the Michael Lohan Reality Project (above) was leaked to YouTube (receiving more than 100,000 hits within hours), Lohan, in fear of offending Lindsay, denied the show existed. While “working for God,” he was spotted treating his new girlfriend to a posh shoe-shopping spree. And all along, he's been on parole, walking that line uneasily, being fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet, living under curfews and the constant threat that a wrong move could send him back to prison.

Considering all those escapades-- not to mention the Writers Strike that has made unscripted programming so crucial to television networks-- every executive who passed on the idea of the Lohan reality series should be strapping him or herself to an ass-kicking machine.

Lohan's road is a bumpy one and he is the poster boy for taking life one day at a time. But we look forward to new grand schemes and projects, more unexpected headlines, and possibly, his testimony in the lawsuit trial of Frozen Pictures’ Lindsay-related lawsuit against the X-17 paparazzi agency (Scoop: We hear the action is being revised next week to seek damages around the $1 million mark). And with the reality series on the back burner for now, he’s also at the center of a new film documentary on the wages of fame, now in production from our pals at Frozen.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tabloid Baby's 2007 Journalist of the Year

Our awards season moves forward with what's sure to be a controversial decision... not even Our Man Elli in Israel can claim the influence of a short, 57-year-old attorney who ought to know better, Tabloid Baby's 2007...

Harvey Levin

Time Magazine has their Vladimir Putin. We have Harvey Levin, the bronzed, buffed and boy-buffered figurehead and queen of the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com, the most noxious news operation on the Internet and its recent syndicated television spin-off, the whitewashed, inconsequential, soul-sucking, corrupt half hour of daily infotainment built around the phony “newsroom” interaction between Levin’s Mr. Chips and his stable of fawning young pretty boys who run off to do his bidding, which is getting in the faces of Hollywood folk as they go about their daily business, with little regard for consequence or perspective .

As our esteemed pal Ray Richmond at The Hollywood Reporter wrote in August on his essential Past Deadline site:

"TMZ is the Antichrist... toxic and tactless... classless... (an) attack-dog corner of cyberspace... backed by boatloads of AOL/Time Warner corporate cash... so unctuous, sleazy and extreme that it's singlehandedly slicing a dagger through whatever credibility entertainment journalism had remaining. It's ruining things for those who are at least fighting to retain a measure of taste and sensitivity, as boss Harvey Levin and his TMZ possess none."

Despite-- and because of-- his crimes, Harvey Levin deserves the title of Tabloid Baby’s Journalist of The Year, and not only because he’s given us so much to write about these past twelve months. Put it this way: who did more damage to entertainment reporting in 2007 than Harvey Levin? In 2007, he and his gutter operation did indeed wield that dagger and in the process almost singlehandedly transformed Hollywood entertainment reporting into a gutter-level street battle fueled by self-hatred, jealousy and anger, with no concern for what once determined greatness, excellence or fame, and in the process, overwhelming the fine reportage of Nikki Finke and Ray Richmond, while sending the Defamer crowd into hiding.

Some credit for Levin’s “rise” must be given to his former executive producer and BFF, Lisa Gregorish, who at the TelePictures mother show, Extra!, cultivated a brawny camp cult following on camera and behind the scenes and, before their Collins-Evans falling out, allowed Levin to branch off, actually establish an office in West Hollywood upstairs from a gym, and water his own crop of wide-eyed boytoys who are the real stars of a sordid series whose ostensible on-air personalities are a bunch of plug-uglies cut from Levin's pre-fab-makeover mold.

Stripped of any moral compass, fueled by crude, vulgar, witless, often disgusting writing, with no regard for fairplay, history, truth, justice or the American way, the cowardly TMZ operation is the apotheosis of Bush-era Hollywood, run as a division by corporate monoliths and concerned only with the bottom line. And as TMZ distracts America from important issues (like war, the writers strike, studio failures and television's ideas crisis) with its frenzied pursuit of unstable young women, it has the lazy “mainstream” news media to thank for welcoming it as a legitimate news source despite its obvious deceptions and lies about its tactics and practices (hey, Harvey's even got the New York Times on his side!).

Harvey, meanwhile, can thank his lucky stars that in 2007, no one was killed in TMZ’s irresponsible line of duty. Unless, of course, you count David Hans Schmidt, the celebrity porn broker who was TMZ.com’s partner in porn-pushing, until his mysterious “suicide” a couple of weeks after TMZ TV’s premiere.

We're not through yet. Stay tuned for Tabloid Baby's 2007 Person of The Year...

The 2007 Tabloid Baby Awards

The Tabloid Baby Person of The Year award has been about as anticipated as Time magazine's copycat honors, but we make it a habit to not necessarily bestow it every twelve months. For us, it all began in 1999, when Steve Dunleavy and Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. were given the first special Tabloid Baby public service awards, and debate and controversy would follow as honors were handed out in the years to follow. Who could forget the uproar among "serious" journalists when Tabloid Baby alone cited NYPD Blue actress-turned-CNN anchorette Andrea Thompson for her courage and style in the transition from sexy scriptreader to sexy TelePrompter reader and named her Person of The Year in 2001?

And debate still rages after the controversy that erupted when CNN's "anchorman" Anderson Cooper won the honor in 2005 for representing the end of the Hestonian "anchorman" era with his groundbreaking "Brokeback Anchor" style. We saw him as the herald of more than the gay sensibilities of the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com, but the new brand of ironic, unauthoritative newsreaders like Katie Couric and silly, posturing Brian Williams. But neither Katie nor Bri-Bri won the honor for 2007-- not as Tabloid Baby's Person of The Year, nor even its Journalist of The Year for 2007. There are two separate honors this time around. We'll get to them soon enough.

But first... the Tabloid Baby team has come up with others who stood out in the Tabloid Baby universe in 2007 (and notice how we don't make the decisions in November like some people):

Neil Innes

Neil Innes is the greatest musical satirist of the past fifty years. For most of that half century, he's made a monumental, if deliberately subtle, impact on popular culture, music and comedy. Having made his mark on rock 'n' roll, television, art, publishing, children's programming and philosophy, Innes was hard at work this year, overseeing pristine reissues of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Rutles catalogue, recording and releasing the first new Bonzos album in 35 years (earning four stars in MOJO), and completing filming of the musical documentary about his life and work. Innes set the stage this year for what will surely be a time of recognition and appreciation as Frozen Pictures’ film, The Seventh Python, brings the world up to date on this brilliant artist.


Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.

After decades as a cult figure thanks to his fascinating pubic access show Mysteries from Beyond The Other Dominion, Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of Hollywood stardom in a year of mainstream breakout performances on network television, on film, and on the Internet He’s been a regular on The Tom Green Show web phenomenon, done featured acting roles on television series like The Ghost Whisperer, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sunset Tan and Mad Men, appeared in films including Nothing But The Truth and even inspired a character in The Bigfoot Gang, the followup from the creators of Napoleon Dynamite.

The Hudson Brothers

Twenty five years after they went their separate ways, the Hudson Brothers reunited for their first group photos in twenty years and their first group project, albeit behind the scenes, in producing and supervising the music for The Seventh Python. The Hudsons, an influential rock ‘n’ roll group whose career was elevated yet stymied by success as a network television musical comedy team in the Seventies, is the rare act from that decade that has not cashed in on the VH1-TVLand nostalgia market, but individually blazed new trails in music, television and film. With their classic television series about to be released on DVD and talk of an onstage reunion, we look forward to more Hudson Brothers activities in 2008—as well as a potential boycott of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its parent, Rolling Stone magazine, if the contribution continues to be ignored.

Danny Bonaduce

Danny Bonaduce may be best known on the national stage as a tabloid trainwreck, a steroid-fueled angerball whose lack of self-control and past addictions to drugs and alcohol had the former childstar on a balls-out death ride on the Highway to Hell. But radio aficionados others know Bonaduce as an experienced, hard-working professional personality whose career reached a welcome pinnacle after he as hired a year ago as co-host of the failing, flailing Adam Carolla Radio Show that was filling Howard Stern’s timeslot. Bonaduce’s forced entrance into the mix of fawning worship of the dullard Carolla injected an adrenalyn shot of relevance and raw-nerved reality that peaked when his wife, known to millions from their reality TV show, announced her intention to divorce. While Bonaduce reached Sternsian levels of greatness, he was quickly muzzled by a jealous Carolla, and recently cut from the show after a six-month on-air backstabbing campaign by Carolla and his acolytes. KLSX, which treasures Bonaduce, has given him an afternoon slot. Watch that show expand in 2008 as Carolla fades from the dial.


The Israel Baseball League

The story of the first season of the Israel Baseball League may have been a pleasant footnote in sports history if not for what transpired after the final pitch of the season, when Our Man Elli in Israel (Elli Wohlgelernter to those in the journalism world) wrote an article about what really when on during that season in the sun, uncorking a flood of allegations, outrage, whiles setting off a chain events that included a federal fraud lawsuit against the league’s founder, the resignation of the league’s commissioner and much of its advisory board, the creation of a rival league, and announced plans for a second season in 2008. Remarkably, nearly every step in this incredible international saga of mismanagement, betrayal, intrigue and broken dreams was broken exclusively here, on Tabloidbaby.com, while the mainstream media either followed our lead or ignored the story altogether. While the official spin continues this month with the brief arrival of a IBL booster blog, and a na├»ve, inaccurate Bleacher Report story naming the IBL’s feelgood PR report of the first season as “The Best Sports Story in 2007,” the behind-the-scenes soap opera is far from over.

His work on the story made Elli Wohlgelernter a candidate for Tabloid Baby’s Journalist of the Year. But was it enough to grab the honor?

Tabloid Baby's Journalist of the Year and Person of the Year for 2007... are ahead...

NY Times: Israel Baseball League $1 million in debt; Baras and league unlikely to return in 2008; Ex-commish leads talks to form new league

It only took six months, but a paid professional sportswriter is doing his job and finally breaking some news in the soap opera saga of the Israel Baseball League. Murray Chass of the New York Times, last heard from back in November when he ran a column on the resignations of the IBL commissioner and advisers-- three days after Our Man Elli in Israel broke the news here (of course he didn't credit Elli or Tabloid Baby)-- brings us up to date on the future of baseball in Israel, along with the revelations that:

* The IBL is a whopping one million dollars in debt;

* Boston bagel baron Larry Baras will most likely not be running baseball in Israel next summer;

* Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, who quit as IBL commissioner the day after we revealed the federal securities fraud lawsuit against Baras, is working to bring all the sides together to clean up the mess the IBL left behind, and form a new, solid league.

Chass writes:

Seeking Common Ground
It’s an old Jewish joke told by Jews among Jews: Put three Jews on a committee, and they’ll have four different opinions.
That’s where baseball in Israel seems to be right now. There’s last summer’s league, there’s a new league that has been announced, there’s an independent businessman who isn’t thrilled with either one and there’s a group of former advisers to the original league who want to resolve the mess and emerge with one strong, viable league.
The mediators include Dan Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel and commissioner of the Israel Baseball League; Marvin Goldklang, a limited Yankees partner and owner of several minor league teams; and Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economics professor.
They hope to get everyone together for a meeting in New York next month.
“Everybody thought the league was a wonderful concept, but serious divisions developed,” Goldklang said. “We have tried to develop an approach under which those who are interested in continuing the league can come together and support a common approach based on a much sounder business plan.”
The Israel Baseball League is about $1 million in debt. Its founder, Larry Baras, the Boston bagel entrepreneur, isn’t likely to be able to operate the league next summer. Jeffrey Rosen, who was Baras’s first investor, has announced the creation of the Israel Professional Baseball League.
That’s exactly what the Goldklang group wants to avoid, starting a new league without settling the chaos left by the original.
Further muddying matters is the relationship between Rosen and Jeffrey Royer, a Canadian investor in the original league and a general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Royer and Rosen are reluctant to meet for their own reasons.
Along with the Goldklang group, Buddy Lewis, whose Nokona Athletics Goods contributed the league’s equipment last summer, wants to see the problems resolved.
“Everybody believes that the notion of baseball in Israel is fantastic and it can be a reality,” Lewis said. “It only means everybody pulling on one rope.”

Watch this space for more, as Our Man Elli follows up and separates the wheat from the Chass.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Now on video! Dr. Ruehl's Realm of Bizarre News

A tip of the
Tabloid Baby hat to Video Jug, for giving our pal, contributor and columnist Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. the video capability...

Friday, December 28, 2007

At the Santa Monica outdoor ice skating rink

For $10, they give you relatively new skates and you can skate all day.
Through January 6th...

Correction: Brian Stelter, for the record...

Hey, we don't like it when the big "mainstream" news organizations stonewall us with their arrogance when we ask for a correction-- we're not through with you yet, LA Times and all your "readers representatives"!-- so we must take a moment to correct something we wrote about Brian Stelter, the New York Times media writer who we slammed and took more than a couple of cheap shots at for writing favorable stories about the syndicated television series based on the corporate porn-pushing gossip site, TMZ.com.

We wrote that Stelter was a "youthful TV blogger-turned-New York Times special reporter" and a "21-year-old stunt hire" --"special" and "stunt" because he was hired by the Times after the paper profiled his TVNewser blog, as an "8i reporter."

Brian Stelter emails us with an important correction:

"For the record... I'm 22, and an 'intermediate reporter,' not a 'special reporter.'"

More impressive, in the comments section of his TV Decoder "blog" on the Times website (from which we quoted in yesterday's post on his TMZ stroke), he approved and posted our own comment that included a link to our analysis of the sticky TMZ situation, made a little less sticky by Brian Stelter's candor.

Also for the record, the New York Observer explained in October the circumstances and significance of hiring:

"When The New York Times hired 21-year-old Brian Stelter to write about digital media and television for the paper’s Business section, most stories about the hire noted two things: Mr. Stelter’s age, and his success in turning TV Newser, a blog about, mostly, cable TV, into a must-read in the industry.

"Three months later, it seems clear the hire means a lot more than that. It’s a sign that the Times is transforming its oldest institutional prejudices and promoting its reporters as brands in themselves.

"Mr. Stelter was hired under The New York Times’ '8i' program, which for years hired young reporters on a probationary basis, rotating them around usually to several different desks and then opting to make them permanent (union) employees if they proved themselves. No one was expected to start in the program with a specialty already developed (at least, developed to Times specifications). But sources said it seems unlikely, now that his TV Decoder blog has launched (complete with his photo)... that the Times will suddenly decide to switch Mr. Stelter to, say, Metro...

"Mr. Stelter’s rise to one of the most coveted jobs in journalism as a probationary reporter is proof that a bit of conventional wisdom for success on the Web— establish a brand!— is now good career advice at the newspaper of record, too."

After Evel: The next American hero

And the kid's got Bowie's Changes on his MySpace page.

Disneyland sneaks in a new stroller

We know that Disneyland is getting ready to unveil a new monorail car in 2008, but amid the hoopla over that and the general holiday festivities, the park and its sad dim sister California Adventure have quietly ushered in a new era of strollers.

The new model (above, and top left) is taller, with less storage room under the seat, has rubber grips on the handle and forces older children to sit up straighter.

Disneyland, by the way, was sold out yesterday. There were, however, many tickets available for DCA. Imagine driving many miles to get that news!

NOTE TO MAINTENANCE STAFF: We also noticed that the lamp in Uncle Walt's apartment window wasn't burning! Was that so the Christmas tree could be seen?

TV newsgal tries too hard to nip attention

What are they thinking at Good Day LA, the Fox 11 morning news show in Los Angeles? Do they have monitors in the control room? Are there mirrors in the dressing room? For at least the first half hour of this morning's broadcast, they're allowing Elizabeth Espinosa, the gal filling in for Jillian Barberie, to keep her blouse on.

That blouse.

We realize that vacationing Jillian is among TVs raunchiest, sauciest weathergals, and that hers is a hard blouse to fill-- but sequinned nipples?

Sheesh. It's enough to turn Steve Edwards' hair back to black.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

NY Times' kid blogger gives TMZ another handjob

Youthful TV blogger-turned-New York Times special reporter Brian Stelter continues to drag the former “newspaper of record” down the slippery slope of hype and spin with his breathless adulation of the syndicated television series based on the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com.

For the second time in ten weeks, the 21-year-old stunt hire (the recent college graduate ran the TVNewser site, and was hired by the Times to boost its youthful cred when covering that Internets thing) has written a Times puff piece about the middling infotainment show, deceptively painting the camp, giggly TV version of the corporate porn-pushing gossip site as some kind of phenomenon, even while mentioning that the show lags millions of viewers and more than a couple of ratings points behind the more traditionally ass-kissing Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood and the like:

‘The three-month-old television version of ‘TMZ,’ which is based on the popular Web site about the foibles of Britney, J. Lo and the like, continues to rank as the top-rated new show in syndication.

“Harvey Levin, the managing editor of TMZ.com and the host of the series, said he has been thrilled with the popularity of the celebrity gossip show…

“The ‘TMZ’ staff holds a 6:30 a.m. P.T. meeting to plot the day’s coverage. The program is produced at 1 p.m.; a few affiliates broadcast it live and most others show it later in the day.

"The program has drawn an average rating of 2.0 in recent weeks, or roughly 2.2 million viewers, placing it well behind the established entertainment news brands (‘Entertainment Tonight,’ ‘Access Hollywood’) but ahead of the other recent additions to the syndication market (‘The Steve Wilkos Show,’ ‘Crosswords’)...”

So if TMZ TV isn't really a hit, why the drumbeat of praise, which, coming from the Gray Lady's website today, will only be repeated as gospel by the lazy mainstream media? We pointed out back in October, when Stelter wrote the first major TMZ “hit” spin, that the writer’s youth, background and excitement over seeing a website translate to a TV series, may have colored the Times coverage. This basic reprint of the original story in the final days of the year, coming the day after TMZ.com’s very dangerous Will Smith-Hitler-JDL slam, is questionable to say the least.

In any case, the real analysis comes from the ones who are a bit more savvy, experienced and knowledgeable about television. That would be the readers:

A sampling of some of the comments from the The Times’ website:

Never saw it, didn’t know it was on TV, couldn’t care less. If it’s anything like Entertainment Tonight or Access Holywood, I don’t want to see it. Both of them are 30 minutes of irritating jump cuts, stories with no content and adolescent pandering to celebrities who should be ashamed of themselves for the way they act. Whatever happened to dignity?
— Posted by Lloyd Perell

Everytime I hear about these shows, I think of Princess Diana dead in that tunnel in Paris with the paparazzi hovering around taking pics. I don’t see how the American public can condone the behavior that TMZ and other shows cause their paparrazi to do so that they can have an “exclusive”. Last I saw was a person following Julia Roberts to her kids school. That’s irresponsible and can dangerous to her kids.
— Posted by ATL Guy

We need to start asking some larger questions in relation to not only the cultural focus on celebrities, but also the focus on very specific Hollywood women with very specific behavioral patterns.
In an interview with the Arizona Republic, the musician Tori Amos was asked: “Does it trouble you that the obsession of both media and fans with such damaged figures as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith seems to get stronger each year?”
Amos answers: “You have to define what the obsession is, because it’s not about respect. In the old days, when you think about the screen sirens – Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Catherine Deneuve – they were more on a pedestal... Some of these women had really developed an inner sense, and they had great writers. So when you look at some of the people who are (now) getting the obsession, we are obsessed with watching people destroy themselves because it makes us feel better about our lives. And that’s what is a little disconcerting.”
— Posted by Mandy

Well, that’s a shame. Bad enough the bottom feeders found a foothold on the internet, now they’re on tv. It’s a vicious cycle. Let’s find something new, build it up, make it popular, then hunt it down, rip it to shreds and dance on the grave. (Sounds like one of the insipid animations from the show.) Maybe for a sweeps period, they can turn their investigative eyes inward on themselves and show all their own embarassing habits and fetishes. (That would be the snake eating its own tail…)
— Posted by D Loehr

Success, eh? Reminds me of the old saying that, “nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence or good taste of the American public.”
And no one seems to be able to figure out why America is producing a generation of self-absorbed idiots? The “success” of TMZ is just further evidence of our insatiable obsession with lurid human behavior.
No wonder the rest of the world looks on in disgust at this country these days.
— Posted by Playashot

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that if there was ever a Frontline episode where they revealed The Big Truth about ‘Bush’s war for Oil’ and how the corporations helped and are guilty of being all corporationy, most people would would click right pass it looking for American Idol. lm3rs! lol!! OMG! ponieees!!!! Welcome to capitalist America.
— Posted by Geoffe Du Marciand

The dumbing down of America on the web wasn’t complete enough so now it comes to TV.
I liked Harvey when he covered legal issues for local TV in LA. Smart, to the point. I’m sure he still sleeps at night but I hope he asks himself if he’s making society better or worse? Better for him, no doubt, worse for the rest of the world.
He’s one of the reasons we’re reviled — and copied — in the rest of the world.
 A degenerate telling us about other degenerates.
Entertainment? I’d rather have needles stuck in my eyes.
— Posted by Peter A. Lake

2.2 million viewers… that’s about the same number of prisoners being held in US jails. Wake up. This article is just hype. TMZ does not represent mainstream America.
— Posted by John

(UPDATE here!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Heil, Harvey! (Oops. TMZ did it again!)

Leave it to the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com to ruin somebody’s Christmas and reputation, only squirm away from responsibility on its own oily snailtrail. And leave it to frontman Harvey Levin to expose himself by revealing that he and his boys in their West Hollywood garret still have a thing or two to learn about Hollywood, tabloid and Jews.

It all began on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when Harvey's web team blew out the office candles after leaving a smelly package on the Internet doorstep, headlined:

Will Smith -- Hitler, Schmitler;
He Wasn't That Bad

The story (we can't find the exact verbiage—it’s been changed several times in the past day and a half) claimed “a leading Jewish group is kvetching loudly about Will Smith's recent suggestion that Adolf Hitler wasn't all bad.”

The leading Jewish group? The JDL. As in Jewish Defense League, the extreme militant group that in the past has been criticized by the real leading Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League— the ADL-- for presenting a "gross distortion" of the real situation of American Jews. Put it this way: calling the JDL a "a leading Jewish group" is the equivalent of a major news organization citing TMZ as a serious news source.



And of course the JDL statement wouldn’t have gotten much traction or attention if not for TMZ’s exuberance in branding Will Smith the new Mel Gibson. And that's where TMZ went very wrong. They didn’t have Will saying anything about Hitler on tape. One of the TMZ thugs with a home video camera didn’t goad Will into saying something stupid as he stumbled out of a Hollywood nightspot (remember Chelsea Handler).

No, the quote is attributed to “a Scottish paper.”

Harvey, listen up.

First rule of tabloid: Never cite a British— especially not a Scottish (or Irish-- see Tiger Woods) tabloid— as a source when setting out to smear anyone's hardwon reputation (let alone the star of the #1 movie). In this case, the Daily Record article didn’t even make hay out of the the alleged quote. It was buried in the final graphs:

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.

"I wake up every day full of hope, positive that every day is going to be better than yesterday. And I'm looking to infect people with my positivity. I think I can start an epidemic."

That's the quote-- if you believe the quote is accurate. And today, Smith's people are apparently disputing that, but too late, because TMZ's already infected the media and started a TMZ-positive epidemic.

And, as usual, the morning, as TMZ’s corporate overlords awaken from their holiday to see that the weekend crew has gone and done it again, harming clients from other tentacles of the megaconglomerate, Harvey’s cowardly idiots are in full, vulgar, backtrack mode:

Will Smith -- Reporters Just Don't Understand

Will Smith is slamming a Scottish paper -- after one of its reporters twisted a quote he gave about Adolf Hitler in an interview -- and kicked up an unnecessary Internet s**tstorm.

Smith called the The Daily Record's quote "an awful and disgusting lie," and through his rep said he is "incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such a ludicrous misinterpretation. Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on his planet." Men in backtrack!

But the best line is saved for last. After kicking up its own “unnecessary s**tstorm,” TMZ is finally doing its reportorial diligence— picking up the phone to confirm the story before going with it:

TMZ called the Daily Record, and we're trying to reach the reporter, Siobhan Synnot, whose byline is on the offending article, but haven't heard back.

We'll see how this plays out.

In any case, it’s a fitting way to wrap up a year in which TMZ turned Hollywood tabloid into a slimy, ugly and irresponsible attack game that’s played for blood on the Internet and whitewashed into partyboy giggly irrelevance in the TV version that the corporate bosses get to see.

Hard to believe that only a year or so ago, it seemed that Nick Denton’s Defamer site was redefining the form into something witty and smart, with well-written inside dirt from assistants and other disgruntled Hollywood underlings. But in 2007, Defamer slid into laziness (perhaps a result of Denton’s penurious payment policies or pharmaceuticals), devolving into little more than a forum for young gay slackers who sit on their couch all day watching The View, Oprah and Ellen and picking up the laptop during commercials to regurgitate the campest moments.

Oh well. We're still here. And watching. Harvey.

Irv, we hardly knew ye

We found out yesterday that Irv Letofsky died this week at 76.

Irv was a television critic for The Hollywood Reporter, former editor of the LA Times Calendar section and an important collector of film lobby and title cards and other memorabilia.

He also has a unique place in tabloid history.

Irv is among those mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book, Tabloid Baby. Back in early Nineties, he wrote about the tabloid television show Hard Copy for The Hollywood Reporter, and his articles were cited by author Burt Kearns. A decade later, Letofsky and Kearns wound up working together on Frozen Pictures’ documentary series, All The Presidents’ Movies (review here), that ran on Bravo and will one of these days wind up on DVD.

Irv had been the connection to Paul Fischer, the former White House projectionist who was at the center of the acclaimed Presidents project.

Irv was very well-liked by print journos in LA. Over at our pal Ray Richmond’s Past Deadline site, Barry Garron writes: "There will never be another like him… He was a genius. He was a mentor. He was capable of the driest wit and the greatest insight. He was never without a mischievous twinkle in his eye or a half-dozen projects on his agenda…”

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Commenters on Carolla: Ace Man or Ace Hole?

Our coverage of the Adam Carolla radio fiasco has generated the expected debate but also comments on both sides of the issue that are far more eloquent than our own. And with the new Carolla fan message board already censoring or blocking certain users, Tabloid Baby has become, by default, the clearinghouse for debate on the issue:

Is the man who was given Howard Stern's
morning slot in Los Angeles

a shortsighted, petty, insecure fool
for maneuvering the ouster of his co-host,
the brilliant, relevant radio veteran

Danny Bonaduce, whose forced insertion onto the
on-air team pulled the stultifying,
mean-spirited show from failure and guided it
to the high ratings
that were cited by management
as the reason for renewal
(a period in which,
incredibly, a jealous Carolla
muzzled Bonaduce
to regain the spotlight)?


Did Carolla spare his listeners an annoying distraction, freeing himself to grumble uninterrupted through his meandering "bits" (they can't really be called "rants")

about traffic signals, grout and lazy immigrants,

while opening more airtime to "characters"

like David Alan Grier and the Deaf Frat Guy?

In any case, as we head toward 2008, a year which will surely see Carolla's final months as a radio host and Bonaduce and Jonesey's reign as LA's twin pillars of afternoon radio, we offer this point/ counterpoint sampling of Tabloid Baby readers' opinions, taken from our comments section:


Any fan reading this should at least admit that Adam works, with the benefit of an inflated paycheck, BECAUSE OF JIMMY KIMMEL. It's who you know. We can agree to disagree on whether this clown is a misogynist or not.

When I DO listen, I hear the whining self-indulgent, smug, self-entitled, better-than-you ramblings of one very, very lucky guy. Forget those humble beginnings or something? Yeah, figured as much. Ironically, the 5 or so times I tried to listen to Howard's replacement I punched the button mid-rant... before the commercial break.

This jerk's reasoning (bug management to get rid of the person who made the ratings go UP) reminds me of Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin. Both, who were able to keep the comedy going and deal with their differences and incompatibility as best as possible.

In this day and age of downsizing, a mediocre Adam Carolla-type should never be encouraged to spit out tantrums and ultimatums. His ratings (pre-Danny) simply don't warrant it. He just isn't a unique voice or gifted broadcaster. His friends in high places ARE special -- and lucky for this hammer-pounder he's in an air-conditioned studio and not out working some construction project, where verbally gifted A.D.D. dropouts usually end up.

But yeah. Definitely get rid of the guy who made the abysmal ratings go up. Screw Adam's agent; he should send a bonus check straight to Bonaduce... someone who may be frustrating and impossible but at least he's vulnerable... for the benefit of our entertainment.

"Adam spent 12 years doing a show largely dedicated to helping women with issues of sexuality and health in a non-judgemental atmosphere."

Spare us. This show was created and launched by someone else. Filling in on the co-host seat was not difficult.

Let this egotistical buffoon land in the morning show graveyard, the sooner the better.


The person writing this column is a loser's loser!!!!!!! Get a life deadbeat.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Israel Baseball League starts bush league blog

The folks behind the Israel Baseball League have taken their licks these past four months since Our Man Elli In Israel's clear-eyed news report about the first season foibles caused an uproar akin to Osama bin Laden spewing anti-Semitic epiphets while strolling naked down King David Street. There were complaints about bounced paychecks, a federal fraud lawsuit against founder Larry Baras, the resignations of the commissioner and advisory board, the formation of a rival league, and recently, the brazen announcement that the IBL is pushing full speed ahead in 2008.

Through it all, Tabloidbaby.com has become the main source for unbiased news about the IBL plans and scandals, and as a result, the lightning rod for criticism. Many people in power did not like the idea that any negative stories were out there at all.

Now, someone in or around the IBL has taken a Public Relations 101 course and is fighting journalism with fire-- a site that on the surface looks very much like this one-- only dedicated solely to good news about the IBL.

Which is a fine idea. On the surface.

For The Love of The Holyland (sheesh), at the unwieldy "HolyLandesMen.blogspot.com," spins stories like the New York Yankees signing of two IBL players to minor league deals (seen at the time as a publicity stunt engineered by the Yankee brass on the IBL advisory board at the time) into


But there's also a disturbing nasty side to the good news site that popped up on Tuesday. Its very first post is an Apocalyptic, Old Testament-style attack on the characters of the men who saw an alternative to the IBL scandals with a new league:

Wolves. Andrew Wilson, Jeffrey Rosen.
Michael Rollhaus. Alan Gardner

False teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep.
Wolves in Sheep's clothing.
Grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Wolves are attempting to do nothing short of an attempted hostile takeover. It is a time for others to speak. They have tried to smudge the record of a brand new IBL league and people involved, make the chairpersons and affiliated people scamper. Make funding difficult. Start a new league after inflicting damage.

Well it won't work. There are too many people who believe in the goals, the purpose, the sincerity -- and most of all-- the things which could not have gone any more right. The same people who have soiled this league are lightweights compared to the marvelous souls who did everything they could to create this successful first season...

Only egomaniacs-- unbecomingly so-- feel the desire and need to cut the legs off what is around them so that they can do things as they want...

I read about you in the Opening Game program about how baseball and judaisim were like crystals of memory throughout your life. Why didn't you support the IBL rather than assembling troops to oppose and destroy it! Ego and greed...

Puh-leeze. We'd suggest that the Baras Berger boosting baseball boys lighten up. It's only baseball, after all. That kind of rhetoric just clouds debate-- which is probably the purpose. And far from a sacred, holy mission, the idea of baseball in Israel has so far revealed itself to be a business proposition.

Oh yeah-- there's one more sign that "For The Love of The Holyland" is not what it seems... they censor and pre-approve all comments. So for the free flow of ideas, the Knesset of Israel Baseball, you will have to turn here.

Column: Dr. Ruehl's Realm of Bizarre News

Tabloid Baby pal and contributor Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. returns with his roundup of the week's wildest stories:

This Week's
Bizarre News"
Top 13

* Horrible experience! Man got trapped in a restroom for 4 days at a lawn bowling club near Aberdeen, Scotland when the door jammed and the outside handle fell off! A custodian finally freed him. The rescued man said he wished he had been trapped in the club bar instead!

* Smart trout at a fish farm in Hampshire, England have been filmed leaping 3 feet into the air into a metal feed tube, swimming 30 feet against the current in the tube, and escaping into a waterway! They apparently did not want to become someone's dinner.

(Trivia Q: What is a group of trout called? In inverse alphabetical order, is it a shiver, quiver, or hover? Answer below...)

* He bragged too much! An 80-year-old holy man in Chittour, India claimed that his right leg was magical, that anyone touching it would be immediately cured of any illness they have. Last week, two men cut off that leg below the knee with a sickle and made off with it, presumably to avail themselves of its special powers. The yoga survived and is recuperating in a hospital.

* After their pet Dalmatian named Bingo was killed by a car, a couple in Pribislavee, Croatia have painted their home with black and white spots to honor their beloved pooch!

* New hotel in Lishui, China is configured like a mausoleum with the beds shaped like coffins! Appropriately, the building stands adjacent to a graveyard! The female designer wants to give folks a foretaste of death. Heart patients are banned and mental patients must be accompanied by a companion!

* Madonna has announced she is going on a porridge diet, yes, I said a porridge diet, to lose weight! For the record, porridge is meal or cereal boiled in water or milk until it is thick and mushy! Personally, I am staying on my chocolate candy diet.

* Discovered! A dino that had a "vacuum cleaner" mouth with 500 tiny, sharp teeth for eating plants! Incredibly, it had 8 replacement teeth behind each primary tooth in case one broke off! The Nigersaurus fossil was found In Niger in West Africa. The dino, some 30 feet in length, was a smaller cousin of the Brontosaurus (aka Apatosaurus).

* Unfair! Popular doorman at a swank Manhattan apartment building was suspended for a day without pay for heaving halitosis! Couldn't they just have a given him a pack of breath mints? Unfair!

* While touring the Civil War Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Cobb County, Georgia, two history buffs reported seeing a phantom soldier astride a horse which rode right through a fence and dematerialized. Repeated sightings of ghosts at this and other war sites are termed "residual hauntings" because the spirits of those who died traumatic, premature deaths cannot leave!

* In what may become the case of the year, police officers in Tre Arroyos, Argentina, recently observed a UFO and 4 alien beings! Independently, a 12-year-old girl fishing in the area with her family snapped a photo of a possible contingent of extraterrestrial spacecraft!

* UPS drivers avoid left turns, which waste both gas and time, by using special directional software. The company, which has a fleet of approximately 95,000 vehicles, reveals that the policy is saving $millions!

* Meow! Bionic cat Baby, 6, in London now has four bionic legs! Two metal plates were inserted in her rear legs recently after a 21-foot fall, which complements an earlier pair in her front legs, inserted after a similar fall when she was a kitten!

* Please don't do this! A man was decapitated by an airplane propeller in Papua New Guinea when he raced toward the twin-engine plane. It is not clear if he was endeavoring to catch the plane for a flight or intent on suicide. Again, please don't follow suit!
(Trivia answer: It is a "hover" of trout, a "quiver" of cobras, and a "shiver" of sharks!)

Click here to see my demo reel. May the Power of the Cosmos be with You!

-- Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Carolla fans weren't careful what they wished for...

With word that radio droner Adam Carolla has wrested-- and wrestled-- back control of his morning Los Angeles radio show, Carolla's core group of male fans is literally giddy with a homoerotic glee not seen since the N'Sync farewell tour.

Fan boys and dumb jocks alike have been spreading their wet tears and slobber across the new UN-Official Adam Carolla Show Message Board that they quickly set up to swap spit in their private he-man woman hater's club after-- as we reported exclusively-- CBS Radio suits stupidly shut down the official message board earlier this week because of all the negative comments posted by Carolla boytoys who were worried their hero was about to lose his show to Danny Bonaduce, the former child star and radio veteran who was hired to save the show a year ago.

And here's why Carolla's tantrum
and backstage manipulations
against his cohost

Bonaduce's presence in the morning mix is what injected a jolt of real-life vitality that opened it up beyond the small-minded, anti-intellectual, immigrant-hating, woman-fearing, fake macho, blustering blockhead know-it-all hole that Carolla mines-- and did indeed raise ratings and make the show a viable, if tail-dragging morning show.

It was Bonaduce, after all, who was most in demand in 2007, with offers to host a show in Chicago, as well as working more television gigs that will earn him millions.

Carolla's meanspiritness in the past months and his bullying backstabbing of Bonaduce is reflected in the humourless braying of his fanboys, who, as their reaction to these posts can attest, wouldn't know a joke if it bit them on their cottage cheese asses.

It also bodes ill for Carolla's radio future.  While he managed to move his competition to another timeslot, his survival has more to do with his connections to comedy star Jimmy Kimmel and Kimmel's consulting deals with the CBS Radio Group than his own prospects.   Without Bonaduce, and left to his own devices, the Ace Hole is bound to beat the same dead horses morning after morning, to the approving chuckles of his in-studio mopes and his listless, obedient fifties-style "news girl," and be out on his own ass by next December.

Unfortunately, it's looking like the joke is on Carolla's boypen.

The Frankenbite scandal leads to the question: Who do you have to blow to get the Los Angeles Times to admit it made a mistake?

The LA Times embarrassed itself before the entertainment and broadcast journalism communities his week when it gave the wrong definition of the TV term frankenbite. But will they admit they're wrong?


Not that we expected them to. In the past, we've found it near impossible to get a major metropolitan newspaper to admit they've made a mistake. Forget the New York Times. Their corrections lady talked a circle around our pointing out that they'd claimed producrs from A Current Affair were at a Broadway premiere-- six months after the show had been canceled. And they ignored us when we took them to task for deliberately misquoting Robert Chambers in his infamous "doll" video. Never mind the Chicago Tribune. When we tried to get them to admit their reporter plagiarized Our Man Elli in Israel, their ombudsman's head almost exploded in umbrage!

Now we have the LA Times. The smug hometown paper for the entertainment industry, which unfortunately covers much of the industry like a wide-eyed cub reporter from Sandusky, is twisting and spinning and standing by their reporter Scott Collins, who built his piece around the mistaken assumption that a Frankenbite is an "out of context" line used as voiceover in a reality show.

We and everyone who's worked in a news, documentary or reality show edit room knows a Frankenbite is a line that's edited together from unrelated words and phrases-- and usually not to mislead.

Collins ignored our email. So we went to the corrections department. We emailed them out original post and heard back from the "assistant readers representative" Kent Zelas. A nice young man. And quite the tapdancer.

Dig this email exchange. Now its time for our head to explode!

From: Readers Rep Readers.Rep@latimes.com
Subject: correction

Thanks for writing so that I can pass your thoughts on this to others.

I'm certainly no expert on this word, and have no idea about whether there is a generally agreed upon definition of it yet, but just going by the definition you cite from Kevin Arnovitz at Slate-- please see his complete definition below--I'd be interested in getting a clearer picture as to how you are seeing "extracting the salient elements of a lengthy, nuanced interview or exchange into a seemingly blunt, revealing confession or argument" and "manipulating viewer perception of a contestant" as different from using "out-of-context quotes that illustrate points the speakers never intended to make."

Here's the definition by Arnovitz that I'm referring to:

According to--
(Slate)-- "Frankenbite (n): An edited reality show snippet, most often found in contestant testimonials, that splices together several disparate strands of an interview, or even multiple interviews, into a single clip. A frankenbite allows editors to manufacture 'story' (see definition below) efficiently and dramatically by extracting the salient elements of a lengthy, nuanced interview or exchange into a seemingly blunt, revealing confession or argument. While the frankenbite's origins certainly don't reside in reality TV, this is a reality show editor's most potent tool for manipulating viewer perception of a contestant. Usage: 'Man, they amped up that catfight with that vicious frankenbite of Margo.'"

I appreciate your taking a moment to write The Times about this.

Kent Zelas

Asst. Readers' Rep.


To: Readers.Rep@latimes.com
Subject: RE: correction

Hi Kent

Thanks for your swift response.

But it's clear, Scott got the definition wrong.
Using an out-of-context quote in a voiceover situation to make a person appear to be speaking about an issue when he is not is the exact OPPOSITE purpose of a Frankenbite.

As Arnovitz (our new authority, I suppose) explains,it "allows editors to manufacture "story" (see definition below) efficiently and dramatically by extracting the salient elements of a lengthy, nuanced interview or exchange into a seemingly blunt, revealing confession or argument.

A Frankenbite pieces together words from any part of an interview in order that a person can say what he means to say concisely.

Collins wrote: "Editors routinely use 'frankenbites,' out-of-context quotes that illustrate points the speakers never intended to make."

Where is the gray area? That is clearly wrong. It's not a frankenbite and not the purpose for creating one.

We WGA members would like a correction.


Now, hold on to your heads.

From: Readers Rep Readers.Rep@latimes.com
Subject: RE: correction

Thanks for your further thoughts. Your note quotes Arnovitz as writing "Frankenbite pieces together words from any part of an interview in order that a person can say what he means to say concisely" here:

As Arnovitz (our new authority, I suppose) explains, it "allows editors to manufacture "story" (see definition below) efficiently and dramatically by extracting the salient elements of a lengthy, nuanced interview or exchange into a seemingly blunt, revealing confession or argument.

Frankenbite pieces together words from any part of an interview in order
that a person can say what he means to say concisely."

I'm just not seeing that in the Slate article.

Or is that last line actually your take on it?

It occurs to me that there might be a cultural gulf here, though.

In journalism, "manufacturing 'story'" by editing "nuanced" into "blunt, revealing" is the kind of thing that's been called quoting someone "out of context."

Kent Zelas

From: Readers Rep Readers.Rep@latimes.com
Subject: RE: correction


I don't understand what you're missing here.

A Frankenbite is a quote assembled from individual words and phrases from a complete interview to construct a quote that the interview subject did not articulate concisely. It is not an out of context quote, and Scott's mistake made him a laughingstock on the blogosphere and joke among broadcast professionals. How can he cover the strike, they ask, when he doesn't even understand the basic terminology.

The Slate definition is clear. But forget Slate. Call Bunim Murray or Nash Entertainment or NBC News, ask for an editor and ask him or her what a Frankenbite is.

You guys got it wrong.

Thanks again.

Any ideas?

Carolla stunt backfires! Cohost Danny Bonaduce gets his own radio show while Carolla is forced to fend for himself in the mornings...

Pouting radio boremeister Adam Carolla's sickout last week from his morning radio show heard in Los Angeles and other markets on the west coast has backfired as his professional cohost Danny Bonaduce has been cut loose from the second banana role and elevated to own afternoon radio show.

Bonaduce's forced entry onto the Carolla team a year ago led to blossoming ratings, new energy and unprecedented relevance for the struggling monotonous replacement for Howard Stern's broadcast. But despite the intelligence and wit Bonaduce brought to the proceedings, Carolla's jealousy has been evident on air in recent months, especially after Bonaduce began to receive rave reviews for his raw-nerved honesty in wake of his divorce, new television deals and public controversy that only raised his own profile while dragging the show along behind him. Last week, Carolla "called in sick," hoping to force his bosses to return creative control and to boost his salary, as they had rewarded Bonaduce.

As a result, the CBS Radio suits showed they've been watching this space, and have done what we'd asked them to do in October-- they've given Bonaduce his own afternoon show, stealing an hour from the mirthless laughfest of Frosty, Heidi and Frank.

Carolla will get one last chance on his own, along with a subservient female "newsreader" and sexual punching bag who also works for the television show based on the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com. While Carolla's firt season was filled with a cast of lowbrow braying buddies and concocted "characters," we'll bet he will again be saddled with a bright professional radio sidekick.

The news release arrived this morning:

December 21, 2007
Weekday Morning Program Broadcast On Several CBS RADIO Stations Earning Its Best Ratings Ever
Featured Contributor Danny Bonaduce To Host His Own Afternoon Radio Program On KLSX-FM
On the heels of its outstanding summer ratings, CBS RADIO delivered more good news for Adam Carolla. The Company announced today it has signed a multi-year contract extension with Adam that positions the funny-man solidly in the highly competitive Los Angeles market for years to come.
THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW can be heard on its flagship station, 97.1 KLSX-FM, weekday mornings from 6:00-10:00AM, PT, and can also be found on KUFO-FM in Portland and KXTE-FM in Las Vegas. In addition, the show is simulcast on www.adamcarolla.com, as well as the websites of KLSX (www.971freefm.com), KUFO (www.kufo.com), and KXTE (www.xtremeradio.com). THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW is also syndicated through Westwood One in several major markets, including Seattle, Sacramento and Fresno, among others.

“Two years ago morning radio went through a seismic change, one that granted Adam Carolla the opportunity to launch his own unique style of entertainment in a coveted time slot,” said Chris Oliviero, Vice President of Programming, CBS RADIO. “THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW has far exceeded our expectations and proven to be a listener favorite. We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Adam, and anticipate even more success for the program in the years to come.”
“I'm incredibly excited to continue my relationship with the fine folks at CBS RADIO,” said Carolla. “Launching a new show is never an easy task, but I feel like the past two years have laid the cement foundation and I'm now ready to throw the house warming party. I'm looking forward to returning to work on January 2, just not at 5:30 in the morning.”
The Adam Carolla Show began broadcasting in January 2005 and has steadily gained listeners to become one of the top shows among its target demographic of Men 25-54. According to Arbitron’s summer ratings, The Adam Carolla Show had its highest morning drive numbers in Los Angeles since the shows debut, and ranked in the top five with Men 18-34 and Men 25-54 General Market. Additionally, the program has gained a loyal following among female listeners.
In a related announcement, contributing show member Danny Bonaduce will relinquish his role on THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW and begin hosting his own program on KLSX. Positioned between the highly rated Frosty, Heidi & Frank Show (10:00AM-2:00PM) and industry icon Tom Leykis’ program (3:00-8:00PM), BROADCASTING BONADUCE: THE DANNY BONADUCE SHOW will premiere Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 on-air and online from 2:00-3:00PM, PT. Teresa Strasser will continue to contribute to the station’s morning drive program with Adam Carolla.
“This announcement will maximize Danny’s exposure on the station and the web where he has a national following. He has brought much excitement and entertainment to THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW and we expect him to bring the same enthusiasm to the afternoon time slot,” said Jack Silver, Vice President of Programming, KLSX.
* * *