Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jerks On Parade-Show Biz takes*

I once saw a photgraph of several prominent TV newsmen at a Georgetown party with several prominent senators of both parties. It crystallized for me just about everything that's wrong with news and congress. Both are tools of the elite and have little if anything to do with us except in a marginal and cynical way. Both forces are in fact one. I was glad to see this take on the situation in the Washington Post this morning, This concerns the hiring of Rich Little as "the guest comic" as penance for hiring Stephen Colbert last year:

As for Little's being hired this year by the White House Correspondents' Association, Black said: "It's like going from Jackson Pollock to paint-by-numbers. God love Rich Little, but he's not in this decade. He's in no position to pose any threat to anyone. He makes Bob Hope look like Lenny Bruce. It's sad that we've reached this point" with comedy as political expression.

Another reason to scrap the dinner altogether, suggests Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review. After the Colbert controversy last year, and an earlier one in which Bush joked about not finding weapons of mass destruction, Rieder wrote that such press-politico events reflect the "smugness" and arrogance of the news media, suggesting that they are "part of a wealthy elite, completely out of touch with ordinary Americans."

The hiring of "a controversy-free" Little underscores the point, he says: "Do we really need a neon sign to proclaim the coziness of the White House press corps and the White House's occupant? It's really hard for me to understand making a decision like this, particularly so close to the WMD debacle. The dinner must go."


In a long interview with the New Jersey Ledger, comes a definition of the kind of comedy that makes you squirm:

In addition to the commentary on the perils of modern celebrity, what "The Office" and "Extras" share (along with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the American "Office") is a fondness for the comedy of embarrassment, those moments when a person sticks his foot so far in his mouth that he can taste his socks. As Ricky Gervais notes:

"You've got to write about what you know, really. As a middle-class, Western male, I'm not being shot at, I'm not starving, the worst thing that happens to me is I make a fool of myself. That's it. What's the most interesting thing in a day for a normal person? The bus driver was rude, or you accidentally insulted someone, they took it the wrong way. Everyone can identify with that."

From Ray Richmond and his Past Deadline column: Isiah Washington, Time-Warner,

On Isiah Washington insulting fellow cast member TR Knight by calling him a "faggot"

Again, Washington's intolerance should have been addressed with greater zeal back when the original incident erupted last fall. Instead, it was more or less covered up and deemphasized once the initial storm passed. It opened the door to what happened Monday night, when an actor who clearly was drunk on hubris and conceit seized the microphone from his boss to sneak in a jab at a man whose only sin appears to be a sexual orientation different from Washington's.

The message we're supposed to take from this now is everything has been fixed. It's back to being one big happy dysfunctional family. The fires have been extinguished. Everyone promises to behave. But of course, that's the perception that had to be sold publicly. The truth, however, is no doubt substantially murkier, and it's probably this: we're all making way too much money off of this show to allow for trouble in the ranks, so let's all just shut up, drive down our feelings and get back to work.

Ah, harmony in Hollywood.

(Ed here: I might note that in the past Washinton has allegedly twice had crew members get restraining orders against him. How does this jerk keep getting work?)

The Time-Warner Firings:

The ax fell on Thursday at Time Inc. in New York (and elsewhere), and when the chopping was finished the carnage proved devastating: nearly 300 jobs slashed company-wide at Time magazine, People magazine and Sports Illustrated. The blog Gawker noted that this came despite having just completed a year during which the company notched a profit of about 18%. So what we appear to have here are lambs again being sacrificed at the altar of moolah. What else is new?

The People magazine bureaus in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin and Miami are being shuttered, as are the Time mag bureaus in Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta along with the News Desk. Yes, Time magazine is getting rid of its News Desk. Does that mean the newsweekly is going out of the news business? It seems utterly incomprehensible.


Cap'n Bob said...

When I was in school the word faggot meant creep or punk. Remember what George Carlin said about his youth? "A faggot was a guy who wouldn't go downtown on Saturday night to beat up queers." With apologies to people who don't get it.

Anonymous said...

These news corporations are heading toward more use of stringers. This may actually improve the quality of the news gathering because stringers are highly motivated and competitive. But it also means the companies can duck out of pension funding and medical insurance; the stringers, as independent contractors, will be on their own.