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TV Stations Accept Political Ad Cash — and Leave Viewers in the Dark | Free Press

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Media analysts project that campaigns, Super PACs and “social welfare” groups will spend a record-breaking $3.3 billion on political ads by Election Day.


And let’s consider these stations — are they offering any local news coverage to debunk the lies in these ads? Are they exposing the deep-pocketed interests behind the groups buying ad time?

…Free Press took a deeper look at local news coverage in five of the cities — Charlotte, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Tampa — where ad spending has been highest.

We inspected the political files of stations in these markets, identified the groups most actively placing political ads and pored over hundreds of hours of local news transcripts. In all five of these markets, we found that local newscasts were lacking when it came to covering the ads that dominated their stations.

In other words, they provided no local stories exposing the special interests behind these ads, and only one station among the 20 surveyed devoted eve

Via:
TV Stations Accept Political Ad Cash — and Leave Viewers in the Dark | Free Press

Written by eggplant

September 29th, 2012 at 11:31 am

Poverty Pickets Get Paper-Bag Dousing On Madison Avenue – 1966

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Afternoon reading
Afternoon reading

Mad Men finally began Season 5 after a seventeen month hiatus, and opening the first episode was an incident fairly closely based on fact, and resonating with the current Occupy Wall Street movement. From the New York Times Archive, May, 28, 1966:

More than 300 poor people and antipoverty workers picketed the Madison Avenue headquarters of the Office of Economic Opportunity yesterday, demanding more money for city programs, but they received only a pelting by water bombs apparently thrown by irate office workers.

(click here to continue reading Poverty Pickets Get Paper-Bag Dousing On Madison Avenue – POVERTY PICKETS GET A DOUSING – Front Page – NYTimes.com.)

You have to be a subscriber to read the whole article (or be able to go to a library, how quaint). Here’s a few paragraphs I ran OCR1 on:

Shortly after the demonstration began, a series of handprinted signs were taped to the inside of the second-story windows of 285 Madison Avenue, half a block away. The building is occupied almost entirely by the Young & Rubicam advertising agency.

The signs read: “If’ you want money, get yourself a job”; “You voted for Lindsay, see him”; “Support your local police–no review board,” and “Goldwater ’68.”

A container of water was pitched out of one of the windows of the building, splashing two spectators.

Later, two demonstrators were hit by water-filled paper bags thrown from the building. One of the water bombs struck James Hill, 19 years old, of 224 York Street, Brooklyn, who then slipped and fell to the pavement. He was not hurt. The other struck 9-year old Mike Robinson of 777 Fox Street, the Bronx.

Mrs. Esmé Robinson, the boy’s mother, and several other angry women immediately went up to the sixth-floor offices of Young & Rubicam, from which several onlookers said they had seen the water bombs thrown.

But a secretary in the office said:”That’s ridiculous, they didn’t come from this floor. This is the executive floor. That’s utterly ridiculous.”

“Don’t you call us ridiculous. Is this what Madison Avenue represents?” shouted one of the women.

“And they call us savages,” exclaimed Mrs. Vivian Harris, another of the women.

Manager Apologizes

The women were invited to the second floor to meet with Frank Coppola, the Young & Rubicam office manager, who apologized for the incident. He told them:

“We have 1,600 people in this building, and I can’t control all of them. I’ve ordered all the windows closed and I have men patrolling all the floors to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Pretty much as portrayed on Mad Men…

New York TImes May 28 1966
New York TImes May, 28, 1966.PNG

Footnotes:
  1. Optical Character Recognition []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 26th, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with , , ,

Bill Moyers Returns

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Lonely Zenith
Lonely Zenith

PBS should be ashamed, siding with the Fox News Tea Party Republicans instead their long-time employee, Bill Moyers. Bill Moyers has more credibility in his shoelace than any corporate putz working for PBS.

Bill Moyers says he is returning to public television in January, but he won’t be found on the PBS lineup. His new hourlong weekly show, called “Moyers & Company,” will focus on one-on-one interviews with people not often heard on television, “thinkers who can help us understand the chaos of this time,” Mr. Moyers said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to be concerned with the state of democracy and the state of affairs, but we will leave the daily and weekly story to others and try to do the back story.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Moyers, who retired from PBS in April 2010, said he had received $2 million in financing from the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the new show, but PBS had told him it couldn’t find an appropriate time slot.

(click here to continue reading Bill Moyers Returns to Public Television, but Not PBS – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 23rd, 2011 at 1:42 pm

links for 2011-04-04

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gra_bWinston1.jpg

  • Well, the deal has been closed, and it sounds like there’s not a ton to worry about in the short term, at the very least.  Weiner has signed a deal for two more seasons, which would be the show’s fifth and sixth, and has extended his deal with the Lionsgate studio, so that if AMC decides they want a seventh season, Weiner will be the one running it.  As for the various contentious issues (which I discussed on Tuesday night), here’s what I’ve been told from a source close to the show:
    88.jpg
  • With all the fear of radiation fallout, I thought it might be useful to tell you about a cheap, effective, homemade radiation tester you can easily assemble and rely upon. Follow these simple instructions, IT REALLY WORKS!!
    OPEN A BAG OF  POPCORN

    JUST LEAVE ON YOUR TABLE

    IF IT STARTS POPPING, YOU’RE FUCKED

    (tags: humor)

 

Written by swanksalot

April 4th, 2011 at 7:02 am

Posted in Links

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Prime Suspect Remake

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I agree completely with Matt Zoller Seitz:

“Prime Suspect” wasn’t burdened by such pressures. It wasn’t an American-style network TV show; it was a series of movies, or miniseries, or movie-miniseries. (That I’m having trouble just labeling it says a lot.) Created and overseen by Lynda LaPlante, it debuted in 1991 with a 200-minute, two-part drama. The next 200-minute two-parter aired 17 months later, in December 1992. Another aired in December 1993.  The fourth “Prime Suspect” departed from the template, offering three self-contained 100-minute stories that aired three weeks apart. The final three installments returned to the 200-minute, two-part model, airing in 1996, 2003 and 2006. It is hard to imagine any broadcast network indulging that kind of “whatever works” production schedule — and that’s the first warning sign that this project has an excellent chance of being flat-out bad, or else competent but compromised, like ABC’s short-lived American version of the ITV series “Cracker.”

If an Americanized “Prime Suspect” ends up on the NBC grid, it will likely debut at midseason with a six-episode limited run. If it gets picked up, its producers will have to make 22 episodes a year, each running about 42 minutes. The drama will be stuffed into ad-friendly five- to seven-minute chunks like Spam packed in cans. And although there might be some content that’s considered “edgy” by network standards, I doubt we’ll see anything like the opening act of “Prime Suspect 1,” which showed a group of male cops and a male coroner examining the naked, pasty, hideously hacked-up corpse of a female rape-and-murder victim. Far from being gratuitous, the scene was integral to the program’s unflinching attitude toward the vilest human behavior. It looked at savagery through a cop’s eyes. And the sexualized brutality showcased in that first scene connected to the professional and personal struggle of DCI Tennison, a great detective whose male colleagues treated her as, at best, a female interloper, at worst a piece of meat.

An NBC version of “Prime Suspect” can’t match the first 20 minutes of the first British show, or spend 200 minutes (five regular-length American broadcast TV episodes!) on a story as racially and sexually charged as the one that drove “Prime Suspect 2,” or attempt a muckraking urban epic along the lines of “Prime Suspect 3,” which dealt bluntly with prostitution, child pornography and the death of a “rent boy” without seeming exploitative. Nearly 20 years after the debut of “NYPD Blue,” NBC and its broadcast brethren still aren’t tough enough or wise enough to handle that sort of thing. Commercial cable is only slightly better-equipped. There’s violence galore on FX and AMC and other commercial cable channels, but it’s mostly stylized genre violence (action thriller mayhem, sci-fi gore). They’re still oddly shy about sex, shooting around naughty bits when they show the act at all. And they won’t let characters say “fuck”; when John Slattery’s character said it on “Mad Men” — a series aimed squarely at adults — AMC bleeped him. (And since I mentioned “Cracker,” let’s note that on the original British series, Robbie Coltrane’s Fitz was a chain smoker. ABC didn’t want to air a show with a hero who smoked, so on the U.S. remake starring the late Robert Pastorelli, the hero was an ex-smoker who kept a cigarette tucked behind one ear.)

More important, American TV is averse to letting race, class, politics and other touchy elements drive stories because it might make viewers and sponsors skittish. That’s why the American crime show’s favorite bad guy is the serial killer, a mythologically exaggerated monster whose existence lets filmmakers titillate and terrify while declining to engage with society at large.

Jane Tennison never dealt with effete, wisecracking, Hannibal Lecter-type bogeymen. She lived in reality. Over 15 years,”Prime Suspect” dealt frankly with sex, sexism, race, class and the intrusion of politics into police work. It did so subtly, prizing plausibility and never delivering a jolt without reason. And it treated time as an ally instead of an enemy. One of the pleasures of “Prime Suspect” was the opportunity to re-engage with it after a long break and discover that Tennison had risen in rank or settled into a new job or a new relationship. The gaps between installments enhanced the sense that you were seeing excerpts from a life in progress.

You can’t do any of that on NBC. You can’t re-create or even approximate “Prime Suspect” in a commercial broadcast network series that airs 22 episodes a year. The material can’t breathe in the same way. And forget about being unflinching. What passes for unflinching on NBC is “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” an entertaining but mostly absurd procedural that bears about as much qualitative relation to “Prime Suspect” as “Training Day” does to “Serpico.” And don’t even get me started on TNT’s “The Closer,” a fitfully entertaining series that has wrongheadedly been described as an American answer to “Prime Suspect,” presumably because its main character is a strong-willed female detective. (It’s not a subtle psychological drama, it’s a suck-up-to-the-star spectacle about a mercurial Southern belle following her muse and dazzling the nonbelievers. “Prime Suspect” writes in plain script, “The Closer” in big block letters.) Not many American cop shows, broadcast or cable, have engaged with reality as directly as “Prime Suspect” — and the best of those were produced not in Hollywood, but in Baltimore:  “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “The Corner,” and “The Wire.”

(click here to continue reading The problem with American remakes of British shows – Prime Suspect – Salon.com.)

Coincidentally, Netflixed the entire 7 seasons of Prime Suspect recently, and enjoyed them immensely. I doubt very seriously it will translate into American-style television drama. Maybe if it was on HBO, maybe, but certainly not on NBC. The remake may turn out to be ok, but it will not be anything like the Helen Mirren classic, which you should watch if you haven’t. Or re-watch if it has been a while…

Helen Mirren’s Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, the only female DCI on an old boy’s club London homicide squad, is like a phantom lurking around the edges of the action while the men rush through their latest murder case, joshing and winking in the kind of male camaraderie the cop genre has celebrated for decades. When DCI Shefford dies of a sudden heart attack, Tennison demands to take over. Despite her superintendent’s resistance (“Give her this case and she’ll start expecting more.”), she becomes the squad’s first woman to head a murder investigation. Scrutinized at every moment by her superior officers, Tennison is faced with a case that spirals out from a single murder to a serial spree, a second-in-command who undermines her authority and her investigation at every turn, a team resistant to taking orders from a woman, and a private life unraveling due to her professional diligence. Lynda La Plant’s script is a compelling thriller riddled with ambiguity that turns dead ends, blind alleys, and the mundane legwork of real-life cops into fascinating details. Mirren commands the role of Tennison with authority, intelligence, and a touch of overachieving desperation. Superb performances, excellent writing, and understated direction make this BBC miniseries one of the most involving mysteries in years. Look for future British stars Ralph Fiennes and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Arts,Film,Suggestions

Tagged with ,

A Guide to All 36 Seasons of SNL Streaming on Netflix

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If you have a Netflix account (and you should), and a streaming device (which isn’t that difficult to come by, there are so many options these days), this might be useful to while away winter nights, fighting off insomnia.

With hundreds of episodes from each season of Saturday Night Live finally available on Netflix Instant Watch, we thought we’d put together a few of the highlights to help you get your bearings. Obviously, it’s an overwhelming amount of material that’s available, so this guide will help point you to interesting or historic episodes, notable guest hosts, and where the appearances are of classic characters.

It should be noted that a few of the seasons are still not yet available, specifically seasons 26-30. Netflix will presumably be adding those at some point, and we’ll update this guide when they do. But until then, here’s a somewhat obsessive guide to all of the seasons of SNL currently available to stream on Netflix.

(click to continue reading A Somewhat Obsessive Guide to All 36 Seasons of SNL Streaming on Netflix | Splitsider.)

I notice Splitsider has a link to the infamous Sinead O’Connor episode where she rips up a photo of the Pope. I started watching this episode, but didn’t make it long enough to know if this scene was bleeped out or not. I’m curious because Lorne Michaels had refused this show to ever be broadcast in syndication.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 24th, 2010 at 10:37 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with ,

Deadwood on Blu-Ray

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Deadwood Fan #1

Still lament that Deadwood didn’t finish telling its story. A quality show, ended too soon.

The demise of “Deadwood” is still depressing. The western drama’s abrupt end after just three seasons — following a bullheaded royalties dispute between HBO and co-producer Paramount — was one of the most surprising and bizarre injustices in TV history. Series get canceled all the time — sometimes early in their runs, because they weren’t generating big enough ratings to please the network, and sometimes very late, after years of financial and critical success (and creative wheel-spinning). The case of “Deadwood” was unique, and uniquely depressing. Its plug was pulled when it was one of HBO’s top-rated dramas and a critical darling with a lively, engaged fan base. There was talk that the show might finish out its projected five-year run with a couple of TV movies, but it never amounted to anything. And after a few months, with the show’s immense cast dispersed and the sets torn down, it soon became clear that this was a fantasy that would never come true. “Deadwood” was dead, and it was never coming back.

But with the release of the complete series on Blu-ray, fans can experience the next best thing to new episodes: the chance to see the whole thing again through fresh eyes.

Granted, this is what Blu-ray boosters claim the format does for everything: movies, concerts, sporting events, nature footage, you name it. And to greater or lesser degrees, the boosters are always right; you do see more detail on Blu-ray, along with finer gradations of light, shadow and color. But TV shows with high production values such as “Deadwood” are in a unique, and in many ways more thrilling, class; watching them in high-definition is not like rewatching a feature film that you originally saw on a big screen — a restoration of detail, a return to an ideal, original state. No, this is akin to getting a chance to stand close to a huge, elaborate mural that had previously been seen only in photographs, and admire the texture of the paint and the precision of the brushwork.

This is definitely the case with “Deadwood.” The series was carefully lit, shot on 35mm film, and funded by one of the more generous budgets in TV history. Milch’s set-builders, costumers and set decorators invested the title locale with more detail than the pixelated murk of regular TV could reveal. Blu-ray lets you appreciate tactile nuances of clothing, architecture and skin that once were submerged in electronic broth. The fine brushwork was always there. We just couldn’t see it.

(click to continue reading “Deadwood” rides again – HBO – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 12th, 2010 at 11:07 am

Posted in Film,Suggestions

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Oprah and her nakedly avaricious audience

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Won’t miss Oprah when she ends her show; I’ve never been a fan, and have become less tolerant of her diva-isms as they become more pronounced.

O

It was like “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” but without all those nettlesome questions separating people from their prizes. By now, it’s got to the point where an audience that doesn’t score any booty goes home crestfallen.

Viewed charitably, the car and technology and pajama handouts amount to an immodestly rich and successful woman letting some of the wealth trickle down. But a skeptic might classify them as almost a form of bribery: Keep loving me, baby, and I might buy you that diamond necklace.

And the shows’ nakedly avaricious nature — audience members were virtually quaking with excitement as Winfrey teased out the prize announcement Monday — threatens to overshadow some of the good, and serious, work Winfrey does.

(click to continue reading Steve Johnson: Oprah one-ups herself: Free flights for audience – chicagotribune.com.)

and I loved this

Oprah Winfrey’s…studio audience — stocked with “ultimate” fans the way George W. Bush used to stock his speeches with partisans

Written by Seth Anderson

September 14th, 2010 at 7:54 am

Posted in Business,Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

The Wire – the Dickensian aspects

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The Wire complete
– all five seasons ( I purchased on a whim, and have been quite pleased)

 

I’ve been conducting my annual Wire review1, and am in the fifth season.

Is The Wire Dickensian? David Simon dislikes the comparison. In this recent Vice magazine interview he admits a similarity in the “scope of society through the classes” covered by The Wire and Charles Dickens, but says he feels his treatment of the theme has more in common with Tolstoy and Balzac.

The thing that made me laugh about it with Dickens was that Dickens is famous for being passionate about showing you the fault lines of industrial England and where money and power route themselves away from the poor. He would make the case for a much better social compact than existed in Victorian England, but then his verdict would always be: “But thank God a nice old uncle or this heroic lawyer is going to make things better.” In the end, the guy would punk out.

As such, throughout season five the term “Dickensian” is used in a mocking manner to pour scorn on the journalistic values of senior Baltimore Sun editor James Whiting. As Simon says in the same Vice interview: “There was a little bit of tongue-in-cheek satire on the show directed at people who were using Dickens to praise us.”

(Just to be clear: he’s using the word to mock not his critics – but his supporters! Sometimes Simon seems to embody an inversion of a well-known NME cliche: “I just do what I do, and if nobody else likes it, it’s a bonus.”)

Certainly there are points where The Wire parts ways with Dickens. Despite the links between the various strands of society shown on the programme – drug crews, docks, newspapers, police etc – it largely avoids the sort of outrageous coincidences that Dickens routinely relies on, and sentimentality – another Dickens staple – is in the main absent from The Wire, although it does creep in a bit towards the end, the death of Bodie (“You’re a soldier”) being the most glaring example.

(click to continue reading The Wire re-up: season five, episode eight – the Dickensian aspects | Media | guardian.co.uk.)

 

Footnotes:
  1. there really hasn’t been any better television show []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 10th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Suggestions

Tagged with ,

Reading Around on August 1st

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Some additional reading August 1st from 19:08 to 21:26:

  • The Wire Rewind: Season 3, Episode 3 – Dead Soldiers (Veterans edition) – HitFix.com – Tosha’s sparsely-attended wake, meanwhile, is shown in parallel with the sprawling drunken one the cops hold for the late Ray Cole. As mentioned previously in these reviews, Cole was played by “Wire” executive producer Bob Colesberry, who died unexpectedly before season three began. Cole’s long and impressive film career is alluded to in Jay Landsman’s eulogy (there are specific references to “Mississippi Burning,” “After Hours” and “The Corner,” which is where Simon and the late David Mills first teamed up with Colesberry).o01_23334333.jpg
  • Southwest Says Mechanical Issues Are Beyond Its Control, But It’s Not as Bad as You Might Think – >> The Cranky Flier – Many of you have already heard that in its contract of carriage, Southwest has now decided that mechanical issues are outside the airline’s control. How do I know? Because I’ve received more email from readers on this issue than any other, I believe. It’s amazing how this has grabbed people’s attention. The reality of this, however, is not as dire as many are suggesting.Anti-government-red-shirt-003.jpg
  • Communautarisme: la démocratie contre la République – Jean-Paul Brighelli revient sur les récentes sortie de Nicolas Sarkozy sur les «Roms». Un signe de plus que désormais, sous couvert de diversité, on désigne les citoyens, on les trie, par communautés. Cela revient à pulvériser la République.  (republished photo – swanksalot)

Written by swanksalot

August 1st, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Links

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Arrested Development Movie Is Definitely Happening

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Awesome. Coincidentally, we’ve been watching Arrested Development on DVD, and we have been rolling on the floor with guffaws of laughter. Such a funny show, holds up to a second viewing even though Iraq is not in the news as much as it was in 2003.

Arrested Development

According to GQ, both star Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz, creator of the beloved cult Fox sitcom, have verified that their highly anticipated film adaptation is finally in the works after years of rumors. Of course, there are still some details to be worked out, such as trying to co-ordinate the filming around the schedules of a dozen in-demand stars like Jason Bateman and David Cross, but considering the trials and tribulations the film has faced to get to this point over the last four years, that’s barely a minor hurdle.

So what do we know about the movie? Well, not much, other than these two vital facts: Everyone from the original series, which went off the air in 2006 after three critically acclaimed seasons, has agreed to return for the movie

(click to continue reading ‘Arrested Development’ Movie Is Definitely Happening, Say Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz | Inside Movies.)

and from GQ:

we were talking to Will Arnett. And this is what he said: “Yes, it’s happening.” He went on, but here’s the upshot: there is a script—!!!—but it is not finished; all of the principle cast members are on board, but there is no timetable to actually make the movie. So then we called Mitch Hurwitz to make sure that our ears did not deceive us and that Arnett wasn’t just pulling our leg. They didn’t, and he wasn’t.

“Believe it or not, we have started the script,” Hurwitz told GQ. (And by “we,” he means himself and “Arrested” co-executive producer Jim Vallely.) “We’re taking a little abeyance while we get ['Running Wilde'] up and running. But it is our absolute next priority and we can’t wait to do it.” So, rejoice! Hurwitz also had a bit more to say: “We’re changing some of the Bush references to Obama because we started it awhile ago. And the Bluths may not be vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico anymore. We also might have to recast the part of Uncle Mel, the former action movie star. But other than that we have a clear path.”

(click to continue reading GQ Exclusive: Arnett, Hurwitz Say “Arrested Development” Movie Is On Like Donkey Kong: The Q: GQ.)

Can’t wait, and even though I’d prefer Arrested Development came back and did another three year stretch on television, a movie would be the next best thing.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 16th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Arts,humor,Suggestions

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Dustin Hoffman on new HBO show – Luck

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I’d give Luck1 a chance – even after John From Cincinnati crashed and burned, David Milch still is permanently of interest 2 because of Deadwood. Dustin Hoffman has his moments, as does Nick Nolte. Wonder if it will be done in time for September?

Deadwood Fan #1

HBO announced Wednesday that it has picked up the series “Luck,” which was written by David Milch (“Deadwood,” “NYPD Blue”) and stars Dustin Hoffman. Michael Mann directed the pilot for “Luck,” which also stars Chicagoan Dennis Farina, Nick Nolte, Richard Kind, Jason Gedrick and Jill Hennessy.

“‘Luck’ is a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players,” according to HBO’s press release. The drama “begins shooting this fall at Santa Anita Park and other Los Angeles locations” but no premiere date has been set.

(click to continue reading Dustin Hoffman bets on new HBO show – The Watcher.)


“Deadwood: The Complete Seasons 1-3″ (Michael Almereyda, Timothy Van Patten)

The press release from HBO is below.

LOS ANGELES, July 14, 2010 – HBO has picked up the new drama series LUCK, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. LUCK is a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. LUCK begins shooting this fall at Santa Anita Park and other Los Angeles locations.

“Michael Mann delivered a pilot from David Milch’s brilliant script that took our breath away,” notes Lombardo. “We are truly excited that these two artists, and our extraordinary cast headed by Dustin Hoffman, will be bringing LUCK to life.”

The cast for the pilot stars Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Kevin Dunn, Richard Kind, Jason Gedrick, Ritchie Coster, Ian Hart, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon, Gary Stevens and Nick Nolte. Jill Hennessy guest stars. Pilot credits: executive producers, David Milch, Michael Mann and Carolyn Strauss; co-executive producer, Henry Bronchtein; producer, Dustin Hoffman; written by David Milch; directed by Michael Mann.

Footnotes:
  1. IMDb doesn’t have much info about it either, other than saying it is already in post-production []
  2. to me, which is implied, but might as well state the obvious []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 15th, 2010 at 7:11 am

Posted in Arts

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Alterman on the Retirement of Bill Moyers

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On the topic of the imminent retirement of Bill Moyers, Eric Alterman recounts, in part:

Socios TV Service

Nearly twenty years ago, I spoke to Edward R. Murrow’s top producer, Fred Friendly, who told me he thought of Bill Moyers as “the Murrow of our time…the broadcaster who most upholds his mantle.” But while Murrow remains television journalism’s most admired historical figure, it’s all but inarguable that Moyers long ago surpassed his achievements.

This is no knock on Murrow, who, after all, spent most of his career on radio. His See It Now–the program that helped take down Joe McCarthy in 1954–enjoyed just four years of life in a regular prime-time slot before it gradually disappeared as an occasional series, unable to find a sponsor. Defenestrated at CBS, Murrow gave up on network news entirely and accepted John Kennedy’s offer to head up the USIA in 1961. But when Bill Moyers likewise found his brand of journalism unwelcome on network news, he had another option. He was able to return to PBS, where he had begun his career as a broadcaster fifteen years earlier. With his decision to found his own production company, Public Affairs Television (PAT), together with his wife and executive producer, Judith Davidson Moyers, he assured himself complete editorial independence, and in the quarter-century that followed, he fashioned a body of work without parallel in the medium’s brief history.

Who but Bill Moyers could have devoted so much time to the work of Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly; done television’s most hard-hitting reporting on the Iran/Contra scandal; investigated the media’s failure in Iraq; defined the human impact of economic inequality; examined the ability of corporations to manipulate the “public mind”; evaluated the real-world impact on local communities of corporate-driven “free trade” agreements; devoted hours and hours of TV to a poetry festival, to the Book of Genesis, to the sources of addiction and to the relationship between the environment and religion, etc.? The variety of topics, moreover, is only half the story. Moyers’s methods were unique. Where else but on a Bill Moyers program were Nobel laureates and laid-off steelworkers invited to speak at length to America, without interruption or condescension?

Bill and I have been friends–and frequent professional collaborators–for nearly two decades. But we first met in Managua in 1987, where he and his crew were talking to protesters outside the US Embassy for his landmark PBS special on The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis. Not long afterward, I spent months speaking to his co-workers at CBS and elsewhere for a magazine profile of him. All were eager to talk, as we were in the midst of one of many brief “Draft Moyers for President” movements, though a few were conflicted. Some felt abandoned by his decision to leave CBS and quit fighting the good fight for network news; but most remained grateful for the opportunities his work had offered them. Onetime CBS Morning News producer Jon Katz told me, “When you work with Bill, it ruins you for everyone else.” Yes, Moyers would “drive the executives berserk with his agonizing over everything, and getting him on the morning news was like a three-month Kabuki dance every time. But the end result was the most brilliant stuff we ever had.”

[Click to continue reading Bill Moyers Retires]

Written by Seth Anderson

April 22nd, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Arts

Tagged with , , , ,

I Will Miss Bill Moyers

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The Bill Moyers Journal was one of the few news shows I watched with regularity1. I will miss him as he retires at the end of this month.

Yellow Line Fever

Thanks to all of you who wrote to express your disappointment and dismay at hearing me say last week that the JOURNAL will be coming to an end with the April 30th broadcast. My team and I were touched by your messages, but I want to disabuse those of you who fear that we are being pushed off the air by higher-ups at PBS pointing to the door and demanding that we go. Not so. PBS doesn’t fund the JOURNAL; our support comes from foundations and our sole corporate funder, Mutual of America. Together they’ve given me an independence rare for broadcast journalists. Our reporting and analysis trigger controversy from many quarters, as any strong journalism will, but not one – not one! – of my funders has ever mentioned to me the complaints directed their way. They would continue their support if I were to stick around.

I’m leaving for one reason alone: It’s time to go. I’ll be 76 in a few weeks, and while I don’t consider myself old (my father lived into his 80s, my mother into her 90s) there are some things left to do that the deadlines and demands of a weekly broadcast don’t permit. At 76, it’s now or never. I actually informed my friends at PBS of my decision over a year ago, and planned to leave at the end of last December. But they asked me to continue another four more months while they prepare a new series for Friday night broadcast. I agreed, but said at the time – April 30 and not a week longer.

It wasn’t easy deciding to close the JOURNAL. I like what I do, I cherish my colleagues, and my viewers remain loyal and engaged. I will miss the virtual community that has grown up around the broadcast – kindred spirits across the country whose unseen but felt presence reminds me of why I have kept at this work so long. But it has indeed been a long time (almost 40 years since I launched the original JOURNAL in 1971), and that’s why I can assure you that my departure is entirely voluntary. “Time brings everything,” an ancient wise man said. Including new beginnings.

[Click to continue reading Bill Moyers Journal: Bill Moyers on Retiring from the JOURNAL]

art drama et al

And I guess it’s too late for Bill Moyers to run for President. Oh well.

Footnotes:
  1. probably the only one, if you don’t count Jon Stewart’s Daily Show []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Arts,politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Sarah Palin and TLC

without comments

The rumors are Discovery Communications1 is paying Ms. Palin $1,000,000 an episode for some Alaskan reality-esque show. Nice work if you can get it, no? But will it be worth it to the network? Will the controversy keep blue chip advertisers from sponsoring the show, ala the highly successful boycott of Glenn Beck’s show?

Wrong Bus
[Wrong bus, Juneau, Alaska]

Sarah Palin used to say the only difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom was lipstick, but now she might hope that advertisers didn’t take that line too seriously.

It’s the hockey mom, after all, that would attract more marketers to “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the eight-part documentary series that Discovery Communications has acquired for its TLC channel.

The show will be supervised by Mark Burnett, the force behind such TV hits as CBS’s “Survivor” and NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and will strive to “reveal Alaska’s powerful beauty as it has never been filmed,” as Discovery’s chief operating officer, Peter Liguori, said in a statement today. “The deal was just concluded this week and now we begin the development and production,” a Discovery spokesperson added. “TLC is about strong characters and compelling narratives, and there is absolutely no intention of making a political program whatsoever.”

But Ms. Palin, a figure as polarizing as she is charming, will be the star attraction. Even though the show won’t be political, her central role will have an effect on its audience and ad support.

Ad buyers are already suggesting that the show may not attract advertising from big marketers that need to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Smaller players, on the other hand, may see opportunity.

[Click to continue reading Will Marketers Buy Into 'Sarah Palin's Alaska'? - Advertising Age - MediaWorks]

Testimonial Kodachrome

And as many others have pointed out, Sarah Palin on a science channel? Sarah Palin who doesn’t believe in evolution, as if evolution is just an opinion to agree or disagree with; Sarah Palin who thinks man and dinosaurs walked the earth together, slightly over 6,000 years ago? Sarah Palin the avowed hater of secular liberalism, and presumedly anti-science? She’s the one getting multiple millions of dollars to appear on TLC? Why not just piss your corporate dollars in the ear of a dead moose and film that?

In tough economic times, “a lot of cable networks are walking away from their brands and trying to get ratings,” said Mr. Berger2. “They’ll do anything they can do to get ratings and it’s a short-term fix, but I think it’s really hurting many networks in the long term,” because such stunts often draw broader audiences that don’t stick with the channel.

Critics have already pointed out that Ms. Palin’s track record on the environment doesn’t necessarily pair up with that of Discovery Communications, TLC’s parent. In 2008, the company launched Planet Green, a cable channel devoted to sustainability, and a companion website, TreeHugger.com. Ms. Palin, on the other hand, has come to be associated with the chant “Drill, baby, drill,” for advocating the drilling of natural gas and oil in her home state.

Footnotes:
  1. corporate parent of TLC []
  2. Ira Berger, director-national broadcast, at Dallas independent Richards Group []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 26th, 2010 at 10:01 am