Monday, January 10, 2011
Last-minute lobbying for and against Comcast-NBC deal as approval nears
From LA Times Company Town Blog:
With the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department gearing up to give their blessing to Comcast Corp.'s proposed deal to take control of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, a slew of last-minute lobbying is being done by both those in favor and those against the marriage of the two media giants.
Last week, Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts met personally with Republican FCC Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell as well as Edward Lazarus, the chief of staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. A few weeks ago, Genachowski's office circulated a draft of conditions it wanted put on Comcast and NBC as part of an approval.
Also last week, 97 members of Congress sent the FCC a letter urging the agency to finish its review of the deal and give it a stamp of approval so that "all Americans can reap the benefits of this transaction as quickly as possible."
The Center for Responsive Politics noted that of the 97 House members who signed the letter, 84 had received donations from Comcast. Of course, it is hardly a headline that politicians often send letters on behalf of companies that coincidentally may have made donations to their political action committees.
And it is also not unusual that many of the House members who signed the letter count Comcast or NBC Universal employees as constituents. Comcast has over 100,000 employees in 39 states.
Comcast competitors also continue to make their case to the FCC. Last week, DirecTV lobbied for conditions on how Comcast negotiates programming agreements with rival distributors. On Monday, the Tennis Channel, one of the more vocal opponents to the deal, once again argued that approval of the marriage of Comcast, the nation's biggest cable and broadband provider, with NBC Universal, a programming giant, would be bad for smaller cable channels. Also continuing to sound warnings about the deal is the American Cable Assn., which represents small cable operators. They fear that Comcast will jack up the prices on its cable networks.
Much has been made aboutthe length of time it has taken the FCC and Justice Department to complete their review of the deal. However, it appears that approval will end up taking just over a year, which is much shorter than the review that the mergers of America Online with Time Warner and satellite radio broadcasters Sirius and XM each endured.
-- Joe Flint
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Cable's fall from Grace
By Tim Rutten
March 4, 2006
ON any given evening, you could give even money on whether Bill
O'Reilly or Nancy Grace best embodies the decline and decadence of
cable television news.
It's tempting to sigh wearily that there isn't really a snarl, a gross
oversimplification or a sneer's worth of difference between them, and
leave it at that — but it's not quite true.
Say what you will about O'Reilly, but he's paid his journalistic dues,
working his way up through a very solid career in local news, network
correspondent assignments in the Falklands and El Salvador and a stint
anchoring a TV magazine show. That kind of experience informs your
work on unspoken levels and probably helps explain the flashes of
independence that keep his show on Fox News from being entirely
Grace, on the other hand, has no journalistic background whatsoever.
Even her employers at the once reliable and now lamentable CNN
Headline News are careful to call her simply the "host" of the rhetorical
free-fire zone they have created for her. (It's the kind of programming
decision that probably would have been forestalled by a slightly more
expansive reading of the pandering statutes.) Grace's standing to
badger, fawn, scold and grimace her way through 60 minutes of Time
Warner's airtime every weeknight rests on just two credentials, which
she endlessly repeats: She once worked as a prosecutor in Atlanta and
she is a "crime victim" whose fiancé was murdered 27 years ago.
As it turns out, both credentials are a little crumbly around the edges.
When it comes to Grace's record as a Fulton County prosecutor, CNN
Headline chooses to overlook the fact that, since she became a
broadcaster, a federal appeals court and the Georgia supreme court
have overturned three of the convictions she obtained as DA and, in
each instance, cited her unethical conduct.
This week, the New York Observer reported that Grace's frequently
repeated account of the tragedy that made her "a crime victim" doesn't
quite comport with the facts. Her version of the event and its legal
aftermath notwithstanding, it turns out that Grace's fiancé, Keith
Griffin, was not the victim of random robbery-murder, but instead was
killed by a "mildly retarded" former co-worker disgruntled over his
recent firing. His defense attorney did not, as Grace frequently has
alleged, put up a wrong-guy-I-wasn't-even-there defense, since the
killer confessed the night he was arrested. He did not, as far as can be
determined, have the long criminal record Grace has said she was told
he had. His jury convicted the killer within hours not days, as Grace has
said. Despite the impression she has given, the prosecutors sought the
death penalty, but the jury gave the defendant life in prison because of
his retardation. He never, as Grace has insisted repeatedly, appealed his
In a statement e-mailed Thursday to The Times, Grace responded,
"Since Keith's murder in 1979, I may have confused details surrounding
the event, and I regret that. His death was so traumatic, to both Keith's
family and to me, that I cannot begin to describe it in words. Much of
that period of my life remains a blur in my mind and heart. Through the
years, the experience of learning more details surrounding Keith's
murder has been painful in itself, and once again I'm reminded of the
pain that crime victims suffer every day."
Fair enough, but nothing about this trauma has prevented Grace from
drawing it like a gun every time there's a chance to gain sympathy or
rhetorical advantage on her program. Moreover, these are hardly the
kinds of details of which a professional prosecutor is likely to allow
themselves to remain unclear. And finally, it's a strikingly fortuitous
coincidence that all the facts Grace has remembered incorrectly tend to
enhance the dramatic effect of her victimization.
It's distasteful to parse somebody else's tragic experience.
Unfortunately, when somebody has tried to transform a personal trauma
into a public credential, there's no way to avoid it. As Grace recently
told USA Today, "If I have an appeal, I think it's that … I'm not
pretending to be anything but a crime victim who went to law school
and tried a lot of cases."
From serious to desperate
For people who think serious journalism is to be valued, this has been a
melancholy week, marked by the passing from the scene of two
authentic visionaries. One was The Times' former publisher, Otis
Chandler — who, along with two equally visionary editors, Nick Williams
Sr. and Bill Thomas — transformed this paper into one of international
standing and showed print journalism the way forward in an era
increasingly saturated with television. The other was CNN founder Ted
Turner, who finally quit Time Warner's board in disgust, severing all ties
to the cable news operations he virtually willed into being in the face of
universal skepticism and outright scorn.
Turner has a loose lip and an unsteady personality, but he never
wavered in his belief that serious news has a place on television. The
same cannot be said of the corporate apparatchiks now running CNN
and CNN Headline and cringing before Fox News' success. They're the
ones who have unleashed Grace on their Headline network and defaced
CNN's regular report with things like Jack Cafferty's bizarre and
incoherently histrionic intrusions into the afternoon news and the
increasingly demagogic Lou Dobbs' second rate imitations of a Howard
These desperate acts have been triggered by CNN's inability to come
even close to matching Fox in the ratings. The commercial genius of
Rupert Murdoch's network, of course, resides in Roger Ailes' intuition
that the talk radio model could be transferred to television, thereby
avoiding the expense of real reporting while cultivating viewers with a
taste for conservative partisanship and, more important, entertainment.
Murdoch and his accomplices clearly understand that one of the more
disturbing characteristics of the current cultural moment is the
insistence of so many people that they have an unalienable right to be
entertained during their every waking moment, no matter what they're
doing. (It's probably only a matter of time until patients require that
their heart surgeons tap dance into the operating room.)
We verge these days on becoming a trivial people.
In a talk to a college audience in Oregon this week, former CNN anchor
Aaron Brown mused that cable news has proceeded from promise to
decadence because "it is only giving consumers what they want."
According to the Ashland Mail Tribune's account of his remarks, Brown
said that "CNN spent a fortune covering the 2004 Indian Ocean
tsunami. After two weeks, ratings fell to normal levels. The Fox news
channel channeled their dollars into a story about American teenager
Natalee Holloway disappearing in Aruba. Fox, of course, cleaned up in
ratings and revenue."
Thus, we have Nancy Grace, indefatigable pursuer of missing white
women and "host" of a show that — over the past year — has boosted
CNN Headline's audience in her time slot by 181% to just over 600,000.
That's still roughly 1.5 million fewer viewers than O'Reilly has for cable
news' top-rated show.
The conventional response to all this is simply to shrug and attribute it
all to the irrepressible venality of frightened corporate executives. The
problem there is that you can't have opportunists without opportunity.
Brown put his finger on the responsibility for creating that opportunity
this week, when he said, "In the perfect democracy that I believe TV
news is, it's not enough to say you want serious news. You have to
Let's do something really entertaining. Let's imagine that the real —
well, really fictional — Howard Beale were presented with Grace, O'Reilly
and the whole wretchedly dispiriting direction of cable news. It's hard to
envision him saying anything, except:
"I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs.
I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it and stick
your head out and yell:
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"
DGA Nominees Announced, Coen Brothers Snubbed
The Directors Guild of America will hand out its awards on Saturday, January 29th, the evening prior to the SAG Awards on January 30th.
Source of the words below, up to DGA banner, click here.
When it comes to awards season, box-office phenom True Grit is thought to have been a gainer over the past few weeks, but was that simply a new narrative pushed by a media that's grown weary of The Social Network's dominance? After all, the Directors Guild of America — which gave its DGA Award to Ethan and Joel Coen just three years ago for No Country for Old Men — didn't even include the Coen brothers among the DGA nominees announced this morning. Instead, The Fighter's David O. Russell will be competing against front-runner David Fincher (The Social Network) and his brothers in whiz-bang technique, Christopher Nolan (Inception) and Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), as well as The King's Speech helmer Tom Hooper.
DGA Announces Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for the year 2010 (January 10, 2011), click here to read full story and nominees from SAGACTOR and the Directors Guild of America.
Slain Arizona 9 Year Old Girl and Iconic American
Greg Segalini held a photo of his niece Christina Green and his sister, Roxanna Green, in Tucson.
Christina Green, who died instantly in Saturday's Arizona shooting, was born on Septemer 11, 2001. She was the 9 year old daughter of a Los Angeles Dodgers scout and granddaughter of a World Series winning Phillidelphia Phillies Manager who went on to become Chicago Cubs General Manager. She was the only girl on her Little League team, and had just been elected to the student council of her elementary school.
The following is a portion of a profile that appears in today's New York Times:
“I allowed her to go, thinking it would be an innocent thing,” said the girl’s mother, Roxanna Green, 45.
It did not turn out that way. A gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords, leaving her in critical condition, and his fusillade killed six people, including Christina, a 9-year-old who loved animals and volunteered at a children’s charity.
She was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and she was proud of it, her mother said, because it lent a grace note of hope to that terrible day.
“It was an emotional time for everyone in the family, but Christina’s birth was a happy event and made the day bittersweet,” her mother said in a telephone interview from their Tucson home.
Christina, who was born when the family was living in West Grove, Pa., was one of the 50 “Faces of Hope” representing children from 50 states who were born on Sept. 11. Their images were printed in a book, with some of the proceeds going to a Sept. 11 charity.
Her mother, who grew up as Roxanna Segalini in the Bronx and Scarsdale, N.Y., is a registered nurse and has been a stay-at-home mother to Christina and her 11-year-old brother, Dallas.
Christina’s father, John Green, is a supervising scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Her grandfather, Dallas Green, managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1980 World Series championship and also managed the Yankees and the Mets.
Christina, an A student, was interested in politics, so her mother accepted the offer by her friend Susan Hileman to take Christina to the congresswoman’s constituent meeting. John Green told The Arizona Star that Christina was such a good speaker that he “could have easily seen her as a politician.”
But Christina also seems to have inherited her family’s baseball genes. She was on a Little League baseball team, its only girl, her mother said.
“She was an athlete, a good dancer, a good gymnast, a good swimmer,” her mother said. “She belonged to Kids Helping Kids charity and tried to help children less fortunate.”
Christina, a slender girl with brownish-blond hair, brown eyes and a gentle smile, also sang in the choir at St. Odilia Roman Catholic Church.
To read more from the New York Times, click here.
Six people were killed in the attack. All but Christina Taylor Green died at the scene of the shooting.
- Christina Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson. Green was accompanied to the meeting by a neighbor. Green died at University Medical Center. Born on September 11, 2001, she had appeared in the book Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11. She was the daughter of Los Angeles Dodgers scout John Green and Roxanna Green, the granddaughter of former Major League Baseball player and manager Dallas Green and second cousin to Sophia Bush. She was in third grade and had recently been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School.
- Dorothy Morris, 76, who, in early articles, was named as "Dorothy Murray".
- John Roll, 63. Roll was the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona. Roll was a native of Pennsylvania and a 1969 graduate of the University of Arizona. He began his legal career as a bailiff in Pima County Superior Court and in 1980 joined the office of the U.S. Attorney. He was appointed to the Arizona Appeals Court in 1987 until he was named to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991. He had served as presiding judge since 2006.
- Phyllis Scheck, 79.
- Dorwan Stoddard, 76. Shot in the head while trying to protect his wife.
- Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, 30. Zimmerman worked on Giffords's staff as a community outreach director. He was engaged to be married.
WoundedThe 14 people wounded include Giffords and two of her staff members, Pam Simon and deputy director Ron Barber. Also injured was Bill Badger, 74, a retired army colonel shot while subduing the suspect.
REcord of Dead and Wounded from Wikipedia, as of 1-10-11 8 AM Pacific
Erik Jendresen ("Band of Brothers") is writing the script; aim is to turn the book that inspired the long-running Broadway tuner into an eight-hour miniseries for the Alphabet.
The mini is based on the 1995 book "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire, which recast the witch as a hero fighting for her homeland. The book was turned into the wildly popular musical "Wicked," which hit Broadway in 2003.
Click here for the full story from Variety.com and for other entertainment industry news. Subscription suggested.