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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wizard of Oz-- If I Only Had A Brain

Oprah stumbles, No Olympic Gold for CBS-Time Warner, Lady Gaga stumbles

From the LA Times Company Town (click here for the latest news)

Olympic Card Game: who is showing their cards? CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has ruled out making a bid on the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.
MOOVNESSpeaking Thursday morning at the Nomura Media Summit, Moonves said the Olympics would not be "cost effective" for the network. Although a CBS bid was considered a long shot, there had been whispers that the network could make a surprise run at the Games in partnership with Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting cable unit.
However, this week it became clear that Turner was not seriously looking at the Olympics and, without a partner, CBS seemed unlikely to take the plunge.
Most aggressively pursuing rights to the Games are Comcast's NBCUniversal; Walt Disney Co., parent of ABC and ESPN; and News Corp.'s Fox. Bids will be presented early next week in Switzerland to the International Olympic Committee.

Relative mess. Another day, another drama for Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media and investor Elliott Management. First it was that Kavanaugh was going to sell Elliott's stake in his production company to JPMorgan. Now it's Elliott that is going to control Relativity's fund that is used to co-finance movies at Universal Pictures. It's hard to keep up with everything that is being spun and separating fact from fiction, but it seems safe to say things are not hunky dory between Relativity and Elliott. The latest from Deadline HollywoodHollywood ReporterWrap and the Los Angeles Times.

Piracy foes invade Capitol Hill. The movie industry took the fight against piracy to Congress on Wednesday, pushing the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would make illegal streaming of content a felony.  The cable industry is slightly concerned that as worded now the legislation could cause some potential headaches for their own streaming plans. More from Variety.
Gaga for Gaga. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" had a very strong debut, but will the revenue reflect the popularity? Discount sales may mean less going into Gaga's wardrobe fund. Analysis on what the marketing and sales of "Born This Way" say about the music business from the New York Times andLos Angeles Times.
Two-week wait. News Corp. expects to have a decision on what to do with MySpace in about two weeks, a top executive said Wednesday. The company had hired investment bank Allen & Co. to help look at options for the social networking site, which could include a sale. The latest from Bloomberg
CBS gets aggressive. CBS is playing hardball with advertisers who want to buy commercials on the network this fall. According to Advertising Age, CBS is seeking increases of almost 20% in the rates it charges advertisers. At an investor conference Thursday morning, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said he's been hearing that the audience for the first episode of "Two and a Half Men" featuring Ashton Kutcher could have ratings comparable to the AFC Championship game. I'll take that bet.
Viewers Want the Dirt:  Oprah wants to inspire and educate. Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav acknowledged there have been stumbles in the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network but remains optimistic that the right mix of programming will be found and ratings will follow.
ZASLAVSpeaking at the Nomura investment conference, Zaslav said that to be successful, "we're going to have to fall down a bunch of times" and listen to the viewers.
"We can't say what the OWN brand is, the audience is going to tell us," Zaslav said.
OWN, a joint-venture between Winfrey and Discovery, launched Jan. 1. Initial ratings were very strong, but after the novelty wore off audiences quickly drifted away. Behind the scenes there has been a lot of executive shuffling. Most recently, Christina Norman was pushed out as chief executive of OWN and Discovery Chief Operating Officer Peter Liguori was brought in to oversee the network until a new head can be found.
One of the challenges for OWN has been Winfrey's own level of commitment. She has acknowledged that her focus on the end of her daytime talk show distracted her from the day-to-day operation of OWN. Of course, the flip side is that Winfrey is a forceful presence and now that she will be more engaged it will be interesting to see how she and her partners at Discovery work together.
OWN has said it wants to do inspirational programming, but unfortunately that has proven to be a hard sell to viewers, who have been conditioned to watch tawdry reality fare.
One valuable asset for OWN will be Winfrey's library of old shows, which it will have access to starting in the fall.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey on the surprise success of "Bridesmaids." Randy Lewis on how Prince does it his way.
-- Joe Flint

Weapons and Vets, an KNPR Morning Edition Report

Returned Combat Veteran: 'Anxiety Trumps Logic'

Army National Guard Capt. Benjamin Tupper
Courtesy of Cpl. Radek Polanski
Army National Guard Capt. Benjamin Tupper was embedded with Afghan troops in Paktika, near the Pakistan border.
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June 2, 2011
Like many U.S. veterans, commentator Benjamin Tupper has read Tim O'Brien's famous book about the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried. Tupper's war was in Afghanistan, but he says O'Brien's observations hold true, decades later.
Most of the physical items we soldiers carry are owned by the government, like body armor and weapons and helmets. These are unceremoniously returned to Uncle Sam as we out-process from military service.
But the emotional baggage is ours to keep. The memories are packed deep inside our own private war museums. Sometimes the outside world gets a peek at these painful artifacts when they rise to the surface, manifested by bouts of depression, rage or guilt.
Like most combat veterans, I keep many of my postwar idiosyncrasies private, for fear they might alienate my friends and family. If I aired them, I fear I'd receive an impromptu intervention, and be dragged off to a mental hospital for further evaluation.
A good case in point is the anxiety I still feel at being outside arm's reach of a weapon. I know it's absurd to fear that a squad of Taliban may be laying an ambush in my suburban neighborhood. But when an event or sound or smell recalls a moment at war, my anxiety trumps logic.
So when I came home three years ago, I bought the exact same model of combat shotgun we carried in Afghanistan.
Then I bought the same M4 carbine rifle, complete with a combat reflex site. And an M9 pistol, identical to the one that never left my side over there. Now I keep it in my truck. I stuffed the shotgun under my mattress in case the Taliban attack at night. And the rifle is positioned at the ready in my office.
No one — not even my wife — knew I had woven this security blanket of weapons to cover me from home to work and all points in between. No one knew, that is, until a couple months ago, when I spoke to a group of student veterans and their faculty advisers.
One Iraq war veteran in the classroom confessed he felt alienated and vulnerable back home, unarmed and defenseless. In an attempt to show he wasn't alone, I revealed the secret of my personal arsenal.
Right after I said it, I knew I'd gone too far. I expected the students and professors to lean back in their chairs and nervously eyeball the shortest path to the exit.
Instead, one student stood up and pulled out a large hunting knife he'd concealed on his waist. He said when he turned in his M16, he began carrying this knife. Not a day had gone by since he returned from Iraq that he didn't carry it.
Then a professor reached into his pocket and pulled out a tube of ChapStick.
He said the day he left his job as a police officer, he had to turn in his pistol. He also moved to carrying a concealed knife. After a couple of years, he mustered up the courage to transition from the knife to his lethal tube of ChapStick.
He trained himself to accept the ChapStick as a protective talisman. It provided the peace of mind he'd previously achieved with the knife and gun.
For five cathartic minutes, this conversation among veterans of the military and law enforcement sounded like a chapter from O'Brien's book: the stories warriors never tell, for fear civilians will never understand.
In the end, for better or for worse, we know the things that we carried are now carrying us.
Ben Tupper is a major in the Army National Guard. His latest book is Dudes of War.