Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Man Elli checks in from Yankee Stadium

Our Man Elli In Israel phones us from Section Eight (how's that for appropriate?), Row H, Seat 7 of Yankee Stadium, where it looks like the Opening Day game against Toronto will be scratched because of rain.

"I got an 80 dollar ticket for 20 bucks," says Elli. "And I did buy a t-shirt that says 'Final season, Opening Day,' since the Yankees are moving across the street next season. I checked it out while I was hustling tickets. It looks fantastic."

As we've told you, Our Man Elli in Israel is now Our Man Elli in Israel in America for a few weeks, as he's timed his return to his homeland and lecture tour to coincide with Opening Day of Major League Baseball. The native New Yorker and veteran print, television and Internet journalist makes his annual tour of the States to speak at universities and synagogue about the political situation in Israel, his home for the past fifteen years or so.

The pictures are from Elli's weekend talk at Purdue University in Indiana. The word on the shirt he's holding in the top photo translates to "Purdue" (but you knew that). He also got a nice note from the organizers, thanking him for "stimulating our minds." Fans of baseball in Israel share the sentiment.

Elli will be in New York the next few days-- for the Yankees makeup game and another on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, it's off to another talk at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Sadly, it looks like he's not coming to Los Angeles to get together with all the Tabloid Baby staffers-- some of whom haven't met him yet. So book him, Skirball Center! We'll keep you posted on his whereabouts.

Israel baseball tryouts find fifty in Florida

At $25 a head per hopeful, Jeffrey Rosen and his would-be Israel Professional Baseball League at least walked away with about $1,250 in pocket money after holding tryouts for a potential 2008 season of baseball in Israel yesterday.

The tryouts took place at Miami Dade College in Florida, and according to one of our spies who's been in touch with Our Man Elli in Israel (who's on a lecture tour in the USA):

"It was really, really good. All fifty guys got to hit, field and HIT-- as opposed to the previous regime. It was a good group of guys from around the USA."

Hmmm. No word on "gals"-- this was advertised as a co-ed tryout, after all-- but it looks like an impossible dream is one step closer to... something.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

By the way, "Rutles" rhymes with "shuttles"

We never expected we’d see a review of a Rutles-related event in which the reviewer has to spell out that “Rutles rhymes with shuttles,” but that’s where we stand when it comes to general knowledge of pop culture and history, and it might as well serve as a reminder as Eric Idle and Neil Innes’ 30th anniversary of their historic (and historically low-rated) All You Need Is Cash Beatles parody TV special wraps its first big bang.

Idle’s Rutlemania! show ended a four-night run in New York City this weekend, after opening with five shows in LA earlier in the month. The multimedia stage production, which featured a Beatles tribute band playing Rutles favorites and acting out scenes under a screen that mashed up the best bits of Idle’s two Rutles mockumentaries, as a great crowd pleaser, and all the more remarkable in that Idle put it all together himself, from idea to onstage introduction in three weeks.

We didn’t see a lot of press about the New York run, despite the involvement of Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels as executive producer with Idle, and the presence of the original Rutles for the kick off of the run in Los Angeles.

But the Washington Post sent along a reviewer-- the guy who explained how "Rutles" is pronounced-- who seemed a bit baffled by the idea of

“…a concert by a band re-creating the music of a fake band that satirized the songs of a real band. Or maybe it's a reenactment by four men of four men farcically reenacting the lives of four other men. Or maybe it's a new genre of rock: heavy meta.”

He was also put off by the fact that the crowd stayed in their seats, while girls in the old Beatlemania days would stand up and scream. He blamed that on the audience being full of “men over 40.

“Including Salman Rushdie. How much leaping and shouting do you think Salman Rushdie does?

“But those facts only partially minimize the weirdness of sitting and listening to a Rutles track like 'Number One,' an imitation of the Beatles circa 1964, and realizing that you're sitting. Because everyone is sitting. Because it would be odd to do anything but sit.”


Rhymes with "hush me."

Oh well, at least we know what a famous author does for fun after he’s survived a fatwah by the Ayatollah, Bono, a knighthood and getting dumped by Padma Lakshmi.

Rutlemania! may be popping up elsewhere. We’ll keep you posted on that, further Rutles tributes in the coming months, and of course the premiere of The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes musical biopic from our pals at Frozen Pictures.

Dr. Ruehl is a sexy trip hop dance music video star

Tabloid Baby pal, contributor and columnist Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. is world-renowned as a television host and expert on all things scientific, paranormal, cosmic and horror movie, but in the past year or so has made major inroads into the field of dramatic acting, in television series like The Ghost Whisperer, Jericho and Mad Men, music videos like Sara Barielle’s Love Song and movies like Nothing But The Truth.

This morning, the good Doctor informs us he’s starring in another hot new music video. And this one’s the sexiest and wildest yet: “Doesn’t Matter” by trip hop trance dance team Hypasonsic. Dr. Ruehl appears two minutes and thirty seven seconds into this underwater pool sex orgy, in a Kids Choice-worthy role as a pool cleaner.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rikki Rockett is no rapist

Rikki Rockett is no rapist.

And we're not even going out on a limb here.

We've known Rikki for more than a decade, and he's always been a principled, disciplined, straight-ahead character who's tried to use his fame for worthy causes and is aware that whether he likes it or not, he's a representative of them. We first worked with him when we filmed his animal activism activities with Chris DeRose and his Last Chance for Animals investigative team for the Genesis Award-winning documentary, Hollywood Animal Crusaders. We've worked and kept in touch with him since, and got to know a guy who came from the most decadent scene rock 'n' roll had to offer, and yet grew to stand for integrity, compassion and trying to do the right thing. (We got to know his Poison bandmate Bret Michaels, too. They're both down-to-Earth guys from the hills of Pennsylvania who know where they come from).

Yeah, Rikki's an outrageous rock 'n' roller whose taken advantage of what that world has offered, but he's also a businessman, filmmaker and martial arts expert who's set world records with his homemade rockets (and was an inspiration for the movie October Sky), and has been accompanied by good women because in the past he's been known to be good to them.

But yeah, he's a rock 'n' roller and he's a character-- ask Gene Simmons about that-- and scandals, like the charges that he may be facing, come with the territory.

And though the undereducated, unsavory rentboys at the corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com (who should have been knocked off the Internet for their smarmy, unclever "Harey Bush" headline the other day) have been getting their usual jollies as they skip indiscriminately from their celebutard regulars and into the lives of grownups who fall into the category of "celebrity," the details that have emerged so far-- a hotel casino in Mississippi, a woman in his room, her trip to the police station three days later-- sound all too familiar, and we'd place an early bet on it being one of those stories in which the charges go away and someone is forced to write a fat check.

So as Rikki enters the tabloid windtunnel, check out this introduction to an interview with the late environmental/veggie magazine Satya:

As the lipstick-wearing kings of LA glam metal, Poison has embodied the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll image for almost 20 years. With a string of smash hits including “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Poison have made a career out of debauchery that’s lasted far longer than most of their fans’ Aqua Net hairspray, or for that matter, hair.

Yet, out of this decadent world comes Poison’s drummer Rikki Rockett, one of the most dedicated animal activists you’ll ever meet. Working with groups such as LA’s Last Chance For Animals, Rikki has used his celebrity to bring the message of compassion and animal rights into the world of rock ‘n’ roll and beyond. In the process he has smashed the stereotype of the narcissistic, self-absorbed rock star who cares little for the world or, for that matter, animals.

As an artist who is involved with music, painting and filmmaking (Rikki is currently producing and directing Hooligan, a documentary on motorcycle “Rocker” culture), Rikki is a virtual renaissance man. Whether he’s pounding his (non-animal) drum skins in Poison or trying to save the animals from being skinned, Rikki Rockett lives his passions as both an artist and an activist.

Our readers say: "Three cheers for Jason Rees!"

There was no joy in TabloidBabyville this week amid word that Australian baseball star Jason Rees, a standout in the first season of the ill-fated Israel Baseball League, was cut from the New York Yankees' Triple A minor league team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Rees' signing, along with veteran catcher Eladio Rodriguez (who'd had a shot with the Boston Red Sox almost a decade ago) with the Yankees at the peak of the IBL's financial troubles, was immediately attacked by critics as a public relations and fundraising stunt, considering that Yankees president Randy Levine, former Yankees PR director Marty Appel, minority owner Marvin Goldklang and the team's doctor were all on the IBL advisory board.

But our readers remind us that Jason Rees is the real deal. And making it to a step away from the Big Game-- let alone from Australia by way of Israel-- is a tremendous accomplishment. The Man from Down Under first made his mark at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas, playing ball for two years and tying the school record of games played (104). He also won conference and regional honors at Fort Hays State University.

The Newcastle native played professional baseball in Australia before he joined the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. hitting .362 with 17 home runs, 50 runs batted in, 14 stolen bases and 47 hits in 42 games-- leading the league in home runs and runs batted in, and helping lead the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox to a championship.

We'll be keeping watch on the career of his very talented 23-year old (and we'll be looking for Eladio, who never showed up at the Yankees' camp!). A few of our readers' comments follow:

Do you have any idea how many players get to play a single day in AAA baseball for any part of there career? If he was 2 years younger he would have been given more of an opportunity. Hats off to Jason!

Jason had the strength of character to get in there and give it his best shot. He should have our respect for doing that in such a public way. I had the honor to get to know Jason while we were in Israel last summer and found him to be a well spoken and responsible young man. He will be a success in life and someone that we all will be proud to know. Good luck Jason in your next effort be it baseball or otherwise.

The fact that Rees got recognized for his achievements and signed by the Yankees speaks volumes for what the IBL accomplished in their 1st season. The number of players that ever get to actually play at AAA let alone the BIGS is incredibly small...

Good Luck Rees! You are a great guy!

Rees is both a tremendously talented ballplayer and a solid citizen. Let's keep in mind that only about 17,000 men have played in the MLB over its history and only a relatively small percentage of guys get any shot at all out of camp. Jason flew half-way around the world and put it all out there. It only takes a couple of miscues to fall down the charts. He will re-surface, whether he joins Big Berg in Bridgeport or ends up going into business back in New South Wales. As Greg Raymundo would say, "So what!"...Jason will be a success with whatever he does.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sorry. This picture has been sitting around all week.

Photo courtesy of Pixaloo. Read the story behind it here. And click the photo to enlarge and fully appreciate it.

IBL's Rees is cut from Yankees farm team

So much for the hoopla over the pride of the Israel Baseball League being signed to the New York Yankees organization.

A day after our Tuesday update on the status of Aussie outfielder Jason Rees from the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox and the Modi'in Miracle's Eladio Rodriguez, the Triple-A Yankees of Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania made their first cuts, releasing six players-- including Jason Rees.

According to Chad Jennings of the Scranton Times-Tribune, Reese "saw regular time in right field and left field but didn’t do much offensively and perhaps made his greatest impression when he was picked off of first base to kill a rally last week."

Catcher Rodriguez never even showed up for Spring Training.

You thought we were joking about the fast food death conspiracy?

With three high-profile passings in the first quarter of 2008, we reported exclusively earlier this week about a possible conspiracy in the deaths of America's fast food founders.

After detailing the recent deaths of Al Copeland of Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken, Fatburger's Lovie Yancey and Carl Karcher, founder of Carl's Jr., we indicated a spike on the conspiracy chart.

And we promised to keep close watch on the April obituaries.

It didn't even take that long.

The LA Times reports this morning:

"Herb Peterson, inventor of the Egg McMuffin, has died, a Southern California official of McDonald's restaurants said Wednesday. He was 89.

"Peterson died peacefully at his Santa Barbara home on Tuesday, said Monte Fraker, vice president of operations for McDonald's restaurants in that city.

"Peterson came up with idea for the signature McDonald's breakfast item in 1972.

"He began his career with McDonald's as vice president of the company's advertising firm, D'Arcy Advertising, in Chicago. He wrote McDonald's first national advertising slogan, 'Where Quality Starts Fresh Every Day.'"

More to come.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bulletin! Our Man Elli's Israel baseball update

"Jeff Rosen has lost a couple of key investors who weren't satisfied with the IPBL business plan... He's close to a deal with the IAB but hasn't finalized playing facilities... The uncertainties have prevented real marketing efforts... Tryout registrations have been slow..."

From his home base in Jerusalem, Our Man Elli in Israel has led every other journo in the world in coverage of professional baseball in Israel, including the first investigative report that exposed the problems of the first season, the collapse of the league and formation of a rival organization, subsequent financial scandals, frantic finaglings behind the scenes and ultimately, the effort by former players, investors and officials to organize play for the Sumemr of '08.

Only problem was most of the action has been taking place in the States, where the moneyed Israel-supporting sports moguls and season ticket-holding businessmen live work and call the shots for a league thousands of miles and worlds away.

So what good fortune that just as the season is once again on the line, Our Man Elli is back in the States for a lecture tour of synagogues and universities (and to be here for Major League Baseball's Opening Day). He's here to talk about political issues in the Middle East (Elli's not only a baseball but but a world-renowned print journalist and television correspondent for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority) but is already fielding baseball questions.

Earlier today, after landing in Chicago, he took a taxi to Wrigley Field and took time from worship at Clark & Addison to bring us the latest on IBL investor and Miami millionaire Magnetix maven Jeffrey Rosen and his Israel Professional Baseball League's last-minute efforts to play ball this summer.

As he heads to a lecture at Purdue University, through the innovations in Internet technology, Elli checks in from the new, still-under construction, Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis with the latest breaking news:

"Sources tell me that Jeff Rosen has lost a couple of key investors who weren't satisfied with the IPBL business plan, but he's pursuing efforts to find additional investors. If he's unsuccessful, he may invest more of his own money himself , but if that's the case, he'd scale back the league from six to four teams to reduce his risk exposure.

"I heard this week that he's 'close to a deal' with the IAB (Israel's baseball governing body) but hasn't finalized arrangements for playing facilities. Not yet. His initial plan, to play in Bat Yam and Ra'anana, appears to have run into obstacles and he's taking a look at the possibility of returning to Gezer and the Baptist Village (which he initially didn't want to do).

"I'm told the uncertainties have prevented the IPBL from commencing real marketing efforts and I'm told that so far, no revenue has come in to support his league. There's a tryout scheduled for this Sunday in Miami, but registrations reportedly have been slow. I don't know whether Jeff has made arrangements with (the IBL's) Dan Duquette for player procurement, but if he hasn't, he may have difficulty replicating the overall calibre of play last year.

"All in all, Rosen and the IPBL have a lot of work to do, and not a great deal of time."

Find all our exclusive, historic coverage of the Israel's professional baseball saga at our Baseball in Israel archive site...

Buff Bagwell partied and lived with Chase Tatum

Chase Tatum, the larger-than-life, hard-partying, drug-troubled former WCW wrestler and budding movie star who was found dead Sunday afternoon at the age of 34, was a former roommate of Buff Bagwell, the wrestling legend who's the subject of a reality series now in production by Tabloid Baby's movie and television producer pal in Atlanta, Keith Walker.

The charismatic Buff, who's been very open about his own hard times, spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his big dead buddy:

"Every wrestler has their own stash of pills," said Bagwell, himself a popular WCW wrestler from 1991-2001. "And everybody partied, all day and all night. I partied with him. It was part of it. You're going to need some help just to make it on the tour."

Bagwell said Congress needs to intervene, as it has with steroids in Major League Baseball.

"It'll kill wrestling, but wrestling is killing people anyways," he said. "It would be a shame if Chase ends up just another number."

Bagwell, who knew Tatum since high school, described his friend as a "God-fearing man." "He'd have a beer, but he also would have his Bible with him," he said. "He had a super heart ... just a great kid."

Tatum, a former Mr. Georgia, was planning to enter a drug rehabilitation facility in Miami, his father said. "He had a bright future," said Bagwell, who now lives in Woodstock. "I had heard that his movie career was really taking off."

Bloodline trailer hits theatres

The trailer for Bloodline arrives in theatres in New York and Los Angeles today.

The documentary film traces a three-year investigation into the relationship between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdelene (and whether they got married and had kids) and culminates in the discovery of a body. How's that for a teaser? British investigator Bruce Burgess and American producer Rene Barnett have worked against all odds in creating this real-life, edge-of-your seat thriller that's even more involving than its cousin, The DaVinci Code.

Because it's real.

The movie is set to open in May in theatres across America. Tabloid Baby pal Daniel Brown (not the DaVinci author but the film editor-- see The Seventh Python) edited the film. And he's among many banging the drum (which he also does in his alt career as a musician).

Close, but no deal yet for Israel summer baseball

The last-ditch, eleventh-hour push to launch a second season of professional baseball in Israel continues as the upstart Israel Professional Baseball League gets closer to the unlikely prospect of an Opening Day this summer of 2008.

IPBL frontman Jeffrey Rosen, the Miami millionaire Magnetix maven and former Israel Baseball League investor who split off from the troubled operation and announced the new league in November, tells Our Man Elli in Israel (who happens to be in the United States now and wasted no time at all in breaking more news in this important and historic saga while standing outside Wrigley Field) that he and the IPBL are "going forward... working away... to create an viable plan." Rosen says he and his team "hope to make a formal announcement soon.

"Rest assured we are working hard to undo the mess of last year."

Rosen ignored Our Man Elli's specific questions:

I understand the IPBL has been certified by the IAB. Is that true?
How many fields are there, and how many teams?
Who and how many different owners are there?
Who are the managers and coaches?
Is the next tryout happening?
Where are the players sleeping and eating?
Is there an agreement with a bus company, an EMS car, a medic, a trainer?
Is there any national advertising?
Merchandising agreement?
Bats and balls?

"Thanks for your continued interest," said Rosen. Not much, but then again, any statement at all from the very tight-lipped IPBL camp is significant, coming days before its Sunday player tryouts and amid rumours that the league has been certified by the Israel Association of Baseball, the country's governing body for sport which canceled the IBL's contract in January (as we reported exclusively).

Sources tell us that no deal has yet been made with the IAB. But the ball is rolling...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Madonna... or Joan Rivers?

iTunes has just posted this ad for Madonna's new album. We did a serious doubletake because the face of the woman in this picture sure doesn't look anything like the Madonna we've tolerated all these years.

We probably won't be complaining or writing about The Adam Carolla Radio Show any more

Not after seeing this. What's the point, right?

Two-headed dinos rule Dr. Ruehl's bizarre news

The Realm Of Bizarre News, Episode XIII

All this and Eva Longoria, too...

One out, one left stranded: What ever happened to the Israel Baseball League players who were signed by the New York Yankees?

So whatever happened to the Israel Baseball League players who were signed by the New York Yankees? Unfortunately, they’re not exactly about to be swatting homers out of the House That Ruth Built. In fact, one never made it near pinstripes, at all.

When catcher Eladio Rodriguez of the Modi’in Miracle and Bet Shemesh outfielder Jason Rees got deals with the New York Yankees organization in the days before the defections of its distinguished commissioner and most of its advisory board over its financial opacity, the flailing Israel Baseball League made great hay over the deal— though the triumph was immediately dismissed by critics as a publicity stunt cooked up by several Yankee honchos on the IBL board.

And as it turns out, there was more smoke than fire to the announcements. Rodriguez and Rees both were assigned to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees AAA farm team in northern Pennsylvania.

But according to Scranton Times-Tribune sportswriter Chad Jennings’ blog:

“Eladio Rodriguez, the catcher who was signed with Jason Rees out of the Israel Baseball League, never reported to the Yankees. (Farm director Mark) Newman said he had some sort of visa problems."

And an article this week in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader shows that Aussie outfielder Jason Rees, the Michael Johns of the IBL, may have taken a strange journey with his stop on the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, but may not be moving much farther up the ladder:

“Rees put up outstanding numbers for the Bet Shermesh Blue Sox. He batted .362 with 50 RBI in 42 games, and led the league with 17 home runs.

“'I went to Israel because I wanted a chance to play every day,’ said Rees. ‘Back home in Australia, the teams only play twice a week, so that makes it difficult to get into a hitting groove.’

“There were two major differences between baseball in Israel compared to the American game, according to Rees.

“'The skill level isn’t as good as it is here, and there’s more diversity,’ said Rees. ‘It was definitely a learning experience.’

“Rees enjoyed taking center stage. He was named the league’s ‘Co-Defensive Outfielder of the Year’ and made the all-star team.

“He made a strong impression on manager Ron Bloomberg, a former New York Yankee who wound up contacting the Yankees on his behalf…”

The article concludes:

“Rees is a long shot to start the season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because the outfield will likely consist of Justin Christian, Brett Gardner and Jason Lane.”

A closer look at the Times Leader article also shows that the writer continues the awkward factoid tradition of misspelling the name of MLB star and former IBL manager Ron Blomberg. This post from Wiki Answers sets the record straight:

Q: Is Ron Blomberg and Ron Bloomberg the same person who played for the Yankees?

A: The baseball player Ron Blomberg has had his name misspelled (Bloomberg) many times. If you see a Ron Bloomberg in a baseball story it would be safe to say that the name is misspelled and the person referred to is really Ron Blomberg.

There is a Ron Bloomberg that was a TV writer from the 1970s to the 1990s. This Ron Bloomberg is not the Ron Blomberg that played for the Yankees.

Meanwhile, what does the future hold for baseball in Israel? Our Man Elli in Israel is in Our Man Elli in The United States this week, in from his adopted home of Jerusalem on a lecture tour and buttonholing the carpetbagging businessmen and players personally.

Stay tuned…

FUN FACT: Eladio Rodriguez was a prospect for the Boston Red Sox eleven seasons ago, and formerly went under the aliases of Ivan Rodriguez and Carlos Aleman. Some sort of visa problems, we'd assume.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Family killer John List was the subject of a landmark tabloid television re-enactment

Family killer John E. List has died at 82. The former Sunday school teacher murdered his wife, mother and three teenage kids in their home on November 9, 1971. He'd planned the murders meticulously, lined up the bodies, left a classical music LP on autoplay and disappeared into the wind. It was a month before the corpses were found in the 18-room mansion and List himself remained on the run for 17 years until he was caught a few days after his story was shown on America's Most Wanted.

The very creepy Mr. List had moved to Virginia, remarried, and under the name Robert P. Clark was working as an accountant when he was caught. He was convicted of the murders in 1990 and sent off to prison. His name came up again some years later when someone suspected he was the aircraft hijacker DB Cooper.

More significantly, his crime and subsequent travels were the subject of a landmark 1989 filmed re-enactment series on A Current Affair, directed by tabloid television pioneer Rafael Abramovitz (above right and below left).

Abramovitz's cinematic telling of the List saga, playing out over several days like a serialized David Lynch movie, was full of religious symbolism and highlighted by the image of the failed List being dropped off at the train station each morning, only pretending he was off to work in the City. The series cracked open the most creative and innovative era in tabloid television, opened the door to new techniques in television news reporting, and was subsequently appropriated by both television movie producers and network news magazine shows.

Abramovitz, one of many forgotten heroes of tabloid television whose contributions and foibles are documented in the book Tabloid Baby, returned to practicing law, was part of the brief revival of A Current Affair in 2005, is now finishing up a nonfiction book, "After Little Michelle Went Missing."

Neil Aspinall was the 5th... or 6th or 7th... Beatle

A tinge of sadness touches the Rutlemania! opening in New York this week, as Neil Aspinall, The Beatles' original road manager and, for forty years, the man who ran their empire, died there last night at 66.

UPDATE: One of the more fascinating segments of Neil Aspinall’s obit is the revelation that he'd become friendly with the Beatles when he was a boarder at the house of their original drummer, Pete Best. Aspinall began a romantic relationship with Best’s mother, legendary club owner Mona Best, and later acknowledged paternity of her son Roag, who was born in 1962.

When we met Pete and Roag in Liverpool some years back, we wondered why Roag seemed to be so much younger than his brother Pete. Now we know.

Corinne Bailey Rae only seemed least likely to be involved in a scandalous, tragic, drug-related death


Looking back, it seems easy enough to figure which of the UK song girls who became big Starbucks stars in the past two years would not wind up with a drug-related death on her biography, let alone in her marriage. From cutting marks to flesh-eating bacteria, scrawny Amy Winehouse has been up front with trouble in the tabloids; chubby party girl Lily Allen has run second with miscarriages and other clubbing-related casualties; while funnyface Corinne Bailey Rae seemed the most settled of the bunch, what with her appearances with John Mayer and on Studio 60 and all. But she's really always been the only one of the group with a true hint of mystery; it’s been said from the start that there was a much darker, deeper triphop core to her sunshiney music; and now she’s the one who winds up with a husband dead from a drug overdose.

It's sort of the like Heath Ledger turning up dead while everyone was watching Lindsay Lohan.

Corinne Bailey, by the way, was the only one of the women who did not record with producer Mark Ronson. Her dead husband, though, did, and he gives some Vanity Fair writer a good hook thirty five years from now when the Brit singers get the same treatment the magazine gave Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King this month.

Tryouts & want ads: Upstart league in last-ditch push for pro baseball in Israel in the Summer of '08

While all may seem quiet on the Israel baseball front, behind the scenes there’s much activity in a well-financed effort to play ball this summer under the aegis of the Israel Professional Baseball League.

The upstart organization, which has looked very good on paper since it was announced in November as an alternative to the Israel Baseball League, which had entertained hundreds in 2007 before imploding in acrimony, unpaid bills and lawsuits, seeking backers and workers, negotiating playing fields in Israel and advertising player tryouts for March 30th in Miami, Florida.

While the IBL was headed by a Boston bagel baron, the IPL’s frontman is Miami millionaire Magnetix maven Jeffrey Rosen (right), under the aegis of his Triangle Financial Services, which staked its claim in Israel sports last summer when it bought the Maccabi Heat Haifa Heat adult basketball team of the Israel National League.

Our Man Elli in Israel was the first to report on the continuing efforts of Rosen and company to continue the Israel professional baseball tradition, despite general consensus that it’s all too little, too late for the summer of 2008.

The IPBL canceled a first round of coed tryouts that had been set for February, but after several rumoured shifts, are advertising 9 a.m. hopeful displays next Sunday, March 30th, at Miami Dade College.

Hopefuls are urged to register online or:

“Please bring $25 (Cash) to the tryouts…”

The IPBL webpage also seeks backers and workers:

If you or your company is interested in becoming an official sponsor, investor, or friend of the (IPBL) please let us know. In the comments field, please indicate how you would like to become involved with the (IPBL).

Job Openings
The (IPBL) will be posting full-time, part-time, internship and volunteer opportunities soon. Please indicate your areas of interest, skill sets, and whether or not you will be in Israel during the summer of 2008.

Our Man Elli touches down in the States tomorrow as he begins his much-anticipated lecture tour. He'll be hitting the ground running, so stay tuned here for the latest.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Who is killing America's fast food founders?

The death today of Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken founder Al Copeland marks him as the third fast food founder to fall victim to the Reaper in the first three months of 2008.

The passing of the flamboyant businessman set off alarm bells this morning in the Tabloid Baby conspiracy unit, which has been tracking necrology trends in the “Die in Threes” and other categories, and because of a sudden spike in the first weeks of the year, had already been watching the fast food industry.

The facts so far:

JANUARY: Carl’s Jr.

Carl Karcher, who parlayed a single hot dog pushcart into a chain of more than 1,000 fast-food restaurants bearing his name, dies on January 11th at the age of 90. The affable, burly entrepreneur was known to millions as the jovial television pitchman for the Carl's Jr. chain.

FEBRUARY: Fatburger

On February 2nd, The Los Angeles Times reports the death a week earlier of Lovie Yancey, who launched what eventually became the popular Fatburger chain of burger-and-fries joints. Her death at 96 in Los Angeles was attributed to pneumonia.

MARCH: Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken

Popeye’s founder Al Copeland dies on March 23rd at a clinic near Munich. He'd been diagnosed shortly before Thanksgiving with a malignant salivary gland tumor. He was 64.

APRIL: ????

We don’t make this stuff up. We just report it.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

US TV show to bend over for Heather Mills

Now that she’s fleeced poor old Paul McCartney, one-legged former porn model and alleged one-time call girl Heather Mills is working once again to use the compliant American media to rake in more millions while legitimizing her deceptions and fantasies to an unwary public.

Days after landing a the of confusing the. Days after landing £24million for a four-year marriage that humiliated poor old Paul McCartney, Heather is still railing against the generous judge who also labeled her a Pornocchio fantasist (we said it first), and now the British tabloids are reporting she’s hired “feminist” lawyer Gloria Allred (who’s really a very sweet person when the cameras are turned off) to broker a million dollar American TV deal in which Heather will hop around the settlement’s confidentiality clause by having her sister Fiona (the portrait to Heather’s Dorian Gray) dish out the dirty details of the Macca-Mucca marriage to a show like 20/20 or Entertainment Tonight.

And you can be assured in advance: Heather's people will write the story. It's the norm in backroom deals like this for the news organization to agree to ground rules, guaranteeing that any reportage will be very "pro Heather," and that certain unsavory issues will not be broached or even circled.

And they'll deny paying for the interview, claiming that any money changing hands was for exclusive video or photos.

They'll be lying.

So if anyone saw humour or irony when Heather hopped onto Dancing with The Stars last year, identified only as a “charity campaigner,” or was puzzled back in November 2006 when the tabloid show Extra paid for a Heather exclusive that avoided all talk of the divorce, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Stay tuned for American news and infotainment TV hypocrisy,where the “truth” goes to the highest bidder.

See Heather Mills’ very NSFW nude photos here.

And while we're at it, a tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to the hacks at the UK Sun, who've had so much fun advancing this story...

Friday, March 21, 2008

New news on The Seventh Python premiere

In the LAist's comprehensive report on Monday night's reunion-- and historic first-time performance-- of The Rutles, there's more information about the premiere of The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes biopic from our pals at Frozen Pictures, thats set for June at very same Mods and Rockers Film Festival that brought together Eric Idle, John Halsey, Ricky Fataar and Seventh subject Neil Innes:

"...There was also a preview for the upcoming documentary on Neil Innes, titled The Seventh Python. The documentary will be premiering at this summer's Mods and Rockers Film Festival. Martin Lewis, co-founder and producer of Mods and Rockers has some serious mojo...

"This may be the first and last time all four Rutles performed together, but this is not the last you will see of The Rutles. Neil Innes told LAist that when he returns in June for the Mods and Rockers Fest to premier his documentary, The Seventh Python, he may form a trio with Ricky Fataar (Martin Lewis - seriously, the guy is magic)..."

Looks like more history-making music could be ahead. We'll be there at the Egyptian Theatre. Stay tuned here for details.

The Seventh Python's executive producer Sean Connors & Martin Lewis
at the Rutles reunion bash

Sean Connors (center) & The Rutlemania! dancers

Israel Baseball: SI thinks the IBL is still alive

With so much of their attention focused on steroid scandals and swimsuits, we can forgive the guys at Sports Illustrated for not keeping up with all the latest international sports news, but some stories, like the fate of the Israel Baseball League, tend to stand out more than others. So eyebrows in the Tabloid Baby office did raise today while perusing the SI.com website's excerpt from the new book, Change Up: An Oral History of 8 Key Events That Shaped Baseball-- and not because sports oral histories are the provenance of Our Man Elli In Israel, the journalist who broke and continues to own the Israel baseball story.

No, it's the description of Ron Blomberg, who's a voice in the new book:

"On the eve of the 2008 baseball season -- the 35th anniversary of the debut of the designated hitter in the American League in 1973 -- SI.com presents an exclusive excerpt from Change Up, in which Ron Blomberg, the first DH, and nine others recount their memories of the new rule, and how it all got started...

"Ron Blomberg: The first DH in 1973 while playing for the Yankees, the left-handed swinger's eight-year career was cut short by shoulder and knee injuries. His autobiography, Designated Hebrew, was published in 2006, and he is currently the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox of the Israel Baseball League."

"Currently the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox of the Israel Baseball League?"

Do they know something we don't know? More likely, as we chase down the latest in what could build into an avalanche of lawsuits against the defunct IBL and its founder Larry Baras, they reproduced already-outdated information from the book, and like the rest of the mainstream sports media, is still playing catch-up.

Speaking of catching up, catch Elli Wohlgelernter on his US speaking tour that kicks off in Chicago next week. The newsman is in the States to talk serious international issues, but he's bound to field more than a few baseball queries along the way...

Michael Lohan sneaks onto Celebrity Apprentice

Michael Lohan made it onto NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice, after all.

We reported exclusively back in October that Lindsay Lohan's controversial evangelist dad was Donald Trump's personal pick to be one of the quasi-celebrities competing for a place at his feet, but that NBC lawyers put the kibosh on the idea because Lohan remains on parole. Lohan's pal, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas actor-turned-skateboard evangelist Stephen Baldwin jumped in to take his place.

Well, the lawyers might not have realized, but Lohan appeared on the episode that aired last night.

In a segment ridiculing Baldwin's inability to attract even the most tangential celebrity to appear at a charity event, the Brylcremed Born Again is seen on his cell phone asking, "Where's Lindsay?"

Lohan's distinctive voice is heard to reply (without skipping a beat):

"She's in L.A."

Lohan's cameo comes amid word that his wild reality series, billed as the counterpart and antidote to his ex-wife Dina's exploitative show, may be back in play.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A dance to Spring

Stop the desecration of "It's A Small World"

Disneyland's "It's A Small World" attraction, which features animatronic children singing the maddening song about global peace, has been closed for months in order to retrofit the boats that carry patrons though the venerable ride to accommodate the wide fat asses of modern Americans (people were less weighty when the ride was launched at the NYC World's Fair in 1964). But now it's been revealed that the inheritors of Walt Disney's dream have hatched an evil plan to add cartoon characters throughout the ride and to replace the Rain Forest section with a tribute called "Up with America"!

The situation is serious enough that the family of the ride's creator has stepped forward in an effort to stop the madness:

Dear Disney Executives,

It has recently been brought to my attention that the Walt Disney Company including WDI has proposed changes to the “It’s a Small World Ride” at the Disneyland Park in Anaheim. As I understand the changes include the addition of the Disney Characters (Mickey, Minnie, Lilo & Stitch, etc.) to the ride in select areas, and the replacement of the “Rainforest” section with Mickey Mouse in a tribute entitled “Up with America”. I also understand that the boats and trough they ride in will be expanded for the safety and comfort of the parks modern day guests.

While I fully understand and support the upgrade to the boats as a necessary safety upgrade, the addition of the Disney Characters and the “Up with America” section I do NOT support as it represents a gross desecration of the ride's original theme and my Mother’s stylized artwork.

The Disney characters of themselves are positive company icons, but they do NOT fit in with the original theme of the ride. They will do nothing except to marginalize the rightful stars of the ride “The Children of the World”. This marginalization will do nothing but infuriate the ride’s international guests and devoted Disney fans.

My Mother and I have always had a strong sense of patriotism for America and I DO support a tribute to America. Disneyland has several venues, which are perfect places for this tribute including “Main Street USA” or “New Orleans Square”; unfortunately the “It’s a Small World” ride is NOT one of them. Once again this will marginalize the children of the world theme and bastardize my Mother’s original art. Furthermore ripping out a rainforest (Imaginary or otherwise) and replacing it with misplaced patriotism is a public relations blunder so big you could run a Monorail through it.

As a former WED employee I am saddened to realize the degradation of the company’s talent and focus and the subsequent decline at the Disneyland Park itself. I cannot believe someone from WDI was paid to come up with such an idiotic plan as this.

As the head of the Blair family I cannot urge you strongly enough to abandon this idiotic plan and instead upgrade the boats and return the ride to it’s original classic form, design and colors. The desecration of Mary’s art is an insult to Mary Blair, her art, and her memory, and to the entire Blair Family itself.


Kevin L. Blair
Kevin Blair, Donovan Blair, Jeanne Chamberlain,
Maggie Richardson, Kevin Allison

The letter is featured on the Re-Imagineering website, "a forum for Pixar and Disney professionals to catalog past Imagineering missteps and debate solutions in hopes that a new wave of creative management can restore some of the magic that has been missing from the parks for decades." While we'd debate whether the magic is missing from Disneyland, we certainly join this effort to preserve this timeless, if annoying, classic attraction that almost always has the shortest lines and quickest wait times in the park.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monty joins The Seventh in Python media blitz

Monty Python’s Flying Circus will make its 21st century U.S. television series debut May 26th on BBC America-- just weeks before the world premiere of The Seventh Python movie.

BBC America picked up all four seasons of the series (the final season, which John Cleese did not appear in, features performances by Neil Innes (above, second from left), as well as Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus, the special edition of the series produced in Germany (two 45 minute episodes were shot entirely on film and in the German language-- though the second was recorded in English and dubbed).

The announcement comes on the heels of Martin Lewis' unexpected and spectacular staging of a Rutles reunion and his confirmation that the Neil Innes musical biopic, the Seventh Python, will premiere in June at the Mods & Rockers Film Festival in Hollywood.

Visit The Seventh Python movie website here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exclusive: You are there at the world premiere of The Seventh Python trailer last night in Hollywood

WORLD PREMIERE: March 17, 2008 7:30 pm. The setting: The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard; a sold out house for the American Cinematheque’s 30th anniversary showing of the Eric Idle’s 1978 mockumentary classic, The Rutles in All You Need Is Cash, and the first-ever reunion of all four Rutles (Eric Idle, Neil Innes, Ricky Fataar and John Halsey). Host and organizer Martin Lewis begins by introducing a special trailer.

SECOND SHOW: 10:30 pm. An enthusiastic late-show crowd. The trailer plays and once again Martin Lewis announces that The Seventh Python will premiere at this theatre in June at his Mods & Rockers Film Festival.

Visit The Seventh Python movie website here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Seventh Python movie to premiere in June at Mods & Rockers Film Festival in Hollywood

The world premiere of The Seventh Python, the Neil Innes biopic produced by our pals at Frozen Pictures, will take place in June at the American Cinematheque's Mods and Rockers Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

The announcement was made tonight by festival founder, host and curator Martin Lewis, as he premiered The Seventh Python trailer (above) before the festival's 30th anniversary screening of The Rutles in All You Need Is Cash at which the four stars of the film, Innes, Eric Idle, Ricky Fataar and John Halsey were united for the first time.

Meet The Rutles:
Martin Lewis (right) introduces John Halsey, Ricky Fataar, Neil Innes & Eric Idle

The trailer can also be viewed here on the new Seventh Python movie website that went into operation tonight.

Lewis said The Seventh Python will open the festival, and that Neil Innes will most likely be on hand for the much-anticipated world premiere.

"I want to see the Neil Innes movie," Eric Idle told the enthusiastic crowd. "Not only is he an untold story, he's an unsold Tory!"

"We're honored to be invited to such a prestigious and acclaimed festival," said Python director Burt Kearns, who wrote and produced the nonfiction musical with Brett Hudson. "Martin Lewis has done tremendous things and made worldwide headlines this week and we're especially grateful that he found the time to be so generous to us and our film. This is the perfect place to introduce this picture and Neil Innes' gifts to the world."

Congratulations, Max Robins!

"Tabloid Baby is a compelling, vodka-laced chronicle that pulls back the curtain on the helter-skelter world of tabloid TV. Celebrities’ bad behavior—illicit sex, substance abuse, betrayal and revenge— are commonplace in the weird world of Tabloid Baby… Some of the incidents in Tabloid Baby are laugh-out-loud funny… I can corroborate how accurately he captures the era… Kearns does his subjective best to show how the tabloid genre stripped away pretensions from the news.

"He demonstrates how a bare-knuckle style of reporting often produced exclusives, while occasionally even bringing insight to the most sensational stories of the decade..."

That early rave review in TV Guide was the first step on Tabloid Baby's rise to legendary status as one of the most acclaimed journalism tomes of all time. The review appeared in the magazine's influential column, The Robins Report, written by former Variety reporter, heavyweight media writer and Tabloid Baby pal, J. Max Robins. Max went on to become editor and chief of Broadcasting & Cable. This week, it's announced he's been appointed vice president and executive director of The Paley Center’s Media Council and International Council effective April 7th.


Impresario Martin Lewis has promised many a surprise at tonight's screenings of the classic Rutles TV special, All You Need Is Cash at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre, and we've found out that one of the biggest will be world premiere of the first trailer for The Seventh Python, the musical documentary film about the Rutles' musical mastermind Neil Innes.

There will also be a major announcement regarding The Seventh Python (produced by our pals at Frozen Pictures), but it's embargoed until tonight-- so we'll have it for you a little later.

Innes will be reunited for the very first time with all three fellow Rutles, Ricky Fataar, John Halsey, and of course, the architect of two Rutlemania phenomena three decades apart (not to mention the best Paul McCartney parodist since Noel Gallagher), Eric Idle.

Tonight's 7:30 show is sold out, but there are probably seats left for the 10:30. Click here for information.

And stay tuned here for first Internet posting of the trailer for The Seventh Python.

Macca divorce settled: All she needs is cash

A judge has awarded Heather Mills a settlement of £24.3 million in her divorce from old Paul McCartney (the LA Times estimates the total at $48.6 million). She said this morning she was happy with the dough (even though she wanted £125 million), but then raged on the courthouse steps that the settlement was made public only to make old Paul look "generous." She added that old Paul had offered her £15.8 million, then attacked the legal establishment, claiming "these people are in a club" and don't want people who show up in court without lawyers, like her, to succeed.

The end to Mills' public career comes on the same day that in a parallel universe, The Rutles are reuniting for a 30th anniversary screening of the TV special and DVD favorite, All You Need Is Cash, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, the timing of which causes us to wonder why the media has not made more out of the incredible coincidences linking the Beatles and their satiric counterparts, not the least of which is the fact that both the Rutles' manager Leggy Mountbatten and former porn model and alleged prostitute Heather each get around on one leg.

(And for old times' sake, find Heather Mills' NSFW --not safe for work or public viewing-- nude photos here.)