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Monday, August 8, 2011

Jerry Lewis fired as host of telethon and head of MDA

We gave them the power, now they turn on the US

In the beginning, the rating agencies were all about trains.
William England/Getty Images
In the beginning, the rating agencies were all about trains.

How The U.S. Gave S&P Its Power

Categories: RadioDebt

Who gave S&P the power to kick sand in the face of the U.S. government?
Oh, right. It was the U.S. government.

"There's some ironies, shall we say, in all of this," says Lawrence J. White, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Buisness.
The story goes back to the rise of the railroads in the 19th century.
Before then, most loans were pretty simple. You loaned money to a business and, at least, you knew where the store or factory was. But putting railroads across the continent required the kind of capital that was unheard of at the time. They needed investors who were literally sending your money out into the wilderness.

"There were a lot of railroads out there," White says. "And investors wanted to know , who are the guys who are likely to pay me back?"
Click on "read more" below to find out more on this story and ask the questions, do ratings really matter?

FAT, Obese, Large, Overweight and a Loser?

Big, Fat Stereotypes Play Out On The Small Screen

Jackie Gleason (right) played Ralph Kramden — a bumbling but loveable overweight husband — in the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners. Audrey Meadows co-starred as his wife, Alice.
EnlargeParamount Pictures/Getty Images
Jackie Gleason (right) played Ralph Kramden — a bumbling but loveable overweight husband — in the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners. Audrey Meadows co-starred as his wife, Alice.

Part of an ongoing series on obesity in America.
About the only thing all real fat people have in common is that they weigh more. Beyond that, they are as diverse in style, background and personality as people who aren't overweight. But on the small screen, fat people get shrunk into the same stereotypes.
Activist Lesley Kinzel — who blogs at Two Whole Cakes — describes the common but inaccurate mold: "Fat people are lazy, fat people eat too much. Fat people never, ever exercise, fat people are filled with self-loathing and fat people are desperate to be loved."
Exhibit A: Homer Simpson. Homer's been downing donuts for more than two decades. But according psychotherapist and pop culture analyst Beth Bernstein, the archetype of the "fat foolish guy" dates all the way back to the 1950s with The Honeymooners.
"Ralph Kramden really started the formula of the fat bumbling man with the thin, capable, long-suffering wife that's been repeated ... fromAll in the Family to King of Queens and The Simpsons and Family Guy and all those kinds of shows," Bernstein says.
But at least hefty guys get main roles on TV — weighty women seldom do. Take it from Kirstie Alley who played herself six years ago on Showtime's Fat Actress — furious that a bigger waistline kept her from bigger parts.
In the premiere episode, she complains to an executive about Hollywood's double standards. "I mean look John Goodman's got his own show, and Jason Alexander looks like a freaking bowling ball, and how about James Gandolfino [sic], he's like the size of a whale ... he's way, way, way fatter than I am!"
Mike (Billy Gardell) and Molly (Melissa McCarthy) meet at Overeaters Anonymous in the CBS comedy Mike & Molly.
EnlargeAdam Rose/CBS
Mike (Billy Gardell) and Molly (Melissa McCarthy) meet at Overeaters Anonymous in the CBS comedy Mike & Molly.
Playing For Cheap Laughs
Like the fat fellas, plus-sized women tend to fall into certain stereotypes. Bernstein says they're usually the "fat, funny best friend."
"[She] never has a boyfriend, is never the focus of a story, but is kind of endearing," Bernstein says. "If it's a woman of color, you have what we kind of call as shorthand ... the sassy black woman."
Bernstein says that, during the '70s and '80s, bigger black actresses usually played sassy, maternal types, from the moms on What's Happening! and Good Times to Nell Carter as the feisty housekeeper on Gimme a Break.
Lesley Kinzel claims TV has gotten a bit better in recent years. At least some overweight women now have romantic plot lines — like the lead character who finds love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting on CBS' Mike & Molly.
"It's a show that's trying, I think, to be a little more normalizing of fatness," Kinzel says. "But at the same time, because it's a sitcom and because it sort of depends on these short quick jokes that a huge number of people will get, one of the easiest things to joke about is someone being fat."
Kinzel clarifies that she doesn't have a problem with fat jokes that are funny. "The problem is that very few of them are," she says.
Actress Ashley Fink arrives at a Glee screening in Hollywood, Calif. Fink previously starred in ABC Family's Huge and the film Fat Girls.
Kristian Dowling/Picture Group for FOX
Actress Ashley Fink arrives at a Gleescreening in Hollywood, Calif. Fink previously starred in ABC Family's Hugeand the film Fat Girls.
A 'Huge' Star Takes The Stage In 'Glee'
Every TV show mentioned in this story has been a sitcom. According to Kinzel, that's no coincidence. While it's easy to treat weight as a joke, most dramas tend to shy away from the subject. Those that approach it don't always fare well.
Kinzel points to the ABC Family drama Huge about teens at a weight loss camp. It was a huge hit with overweight viewers — but didn't rate as well with the rest of the country. The network canceled it after just 10 episodes.
One actress from Huge has come back on one of TV's most popular programs.
The character of Lauren Zizes is a snarky wrestler and the newest member of the singing club on Fox's Glee. Viewers were recently shocked when one of the show's hottest hunks tried to woo her with a song ... and failed.
Actress Ashley Fink plays Lauren Zizes. She thinks Hollywood has gotten better at portraying fat people. But she admits she almost never comes across characters on TV that mirror her real experience as an overweight person.
"I dance, I have a great time, I sing, I have great friends, I don't hide in my house because I'm large," Fink says. "I think it's unfair that that's not represented on TV."
But, Fink adds, she finds sitcoms and dramas way more acceptable than reality shows like The Biggest Loser, where contestants are weighed in weekly wearing next to nothing.
"Why do they have to be in sports bras and tiny shorts?" Fink asks. "It's so people at home will be like, 'Oh they're so fat, that's so gross!' You wouldn't treat animals on television the way they treat some of these people!"
Aspiring contestants fill out applications during an open audition for The Biggest Loser, Season 10. More than 500 people showed up at the D.C. audition, with thousands more applying around the country.
EnlargePaul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Aspiring contestants fill out applications during an open audition for The Biggest Loser, Season 10. More than 500 people showed up at the D.C. audition, with thousands more applying around the country.
Changing Lives, Or Fueling Judgment?
Pyschotherapist Beth Bernstein likens The Biggest Loser to a tent revival — where contestants repent their former, miserable fat lives and only gain redemption once they've lost weight.
Take, for example, a contestant named Don who initially weighed in at 309 pounds. During an interview on the show, he expresses fear that his weight will stop him from ever having a normal life, or from being close to his son.
Bernstein says TV like that can fuel the terror that people, especially those with eating disorders, have of being fat.
"Who wants to be a member of a population where you are mocked and made fun of and criticized and judged?" Bernstein asks.
Former Biggest Loser contestant Danny Cahill sees things differently. He says being a fat guy on TV was the best thing that ever happened to him. He's since become a motivational speaker, and he's resurrected a former career in music.
Cahill says his second chance came when he appeared on season eight of The Biggest Loser and lost more than half his body weight. He says chronicling that experience on national TV sent a tremendously positive message.
"In 11 months if you can go from 430 pounds to running the Boston Marathon, there's nothing you can't do," Cahill says. "That's what I want people to know — it's never too late to make a change and change your life."
It's hard to dispute that The Biggest Loser has inspired Americans, says the show's creator J.D. Roth. People now pay thousands of dollars to go on Biggest Loser weight loss cruises. Each year the show is inundated with audition videos.
"After Season 1, we were getting 250,000 tapes a year," Roth says.
Roth is now working on the latest addition of ABC's Extreme Makeover franchise — the Weight Loss edition. The show will be Roth's fourth weight-loss reality show currently airing. He says as long as there are overweight people in America, you can bet there will be even more of these shows on TV.

Cell phones bring literacy?

The New York Times online has a very interesting recent story on the spread of cell phone use in rural Africa. It does seem like cell phones are the technology with the greatest promise for rapid diffusion. If so, increasing the range of cellphone coverage would be the best infrastructure move for governments to make, especially because a cellphone does not necessarily depend on a pre-existing literacy and can be shared among a group of people. The NYTimes online site is free, but you have to register with a login and password for full access to the site:

Paul Turpin
American Communication ssociation
First posted 10-20-09

Las Vegas #12 in iPad Friendlly Cities

Las Vegas isn’t typically thought of as a high-tech city, but according to a new ranking by a men’s magazine, the city is one of the top adopters of tablet computers.
In a “Metrograde” ranking by Men’s Health last week, Las Vegas came in at No. 12 on the list of the top American cities for iPads.
The ranking is based on tablet use and ad impressions from data analytics company Chitika along with the number of Apple and Best Buy stores per-capita, and the percentage of households that own tablets, notebooks or laptops.
Las Vegas got a B rating on the list.
Plano, Texas, came in at No. 1 with the only A+ grade. Silicon Valley’s San Jose, Calif., came in second, followed by San Francisco; Boise; Austin, Texas; Oakland, Calif.; San Diego; Durham, N.C.; Chesapeake, Va.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Charlotte, N.C.
At the bottom of the 100-city list were Toledo, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Detroit; Baltimore; and Cincinnati.

Time off for the baby...US is far behind other industrialized nations

Parental Leave: The Swedes Are The Most Generous

Categories: Up For Discussion
Besides what the sex of the baby is, one thing that I'm constantly asked is how much time I'm taking off when I give birth to my baby. I'm due at the end of November.
In the U.S., federal law allows men and women to take three months. Some work places will allow for more, unpaid. But the law doesn't mandate that companies pay anyone time to spend with their babies — and many people simply can't afford to take time off.
So I was surprised to find out that almost every other country in the world — except for a few like Papua New Guinea and Lesotho — pays for either full maternity leave or a portion of it. It's either mandated that companies pay, or social security will dish it out (or it's a combination of both). Of course, the time allotted varies country to country. Some places, like the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, give new moms 45 days or fewer.
As NPR's Phil Reeves reports tonight on All Things Considered, Sweden has some of the most generous parental leave laws in the world — and the government not only considers the mother, but also the father.
Parents are allocated a total of 480 days per child, which they can take any time until the child is 8 years old. They can share these days, although 60 are allocated specifically to the father. And they are entitled to receive 80 percent of their wages, although this is capped at a certain level.
Paternity leave around the world is harder to chart than maternity leave. In some cases, fathers can tap into the same benefits that mothers get. In other cases — such as Sweden, Norway and Iceland — they have time specifically dedicated to them. Yet in many countries, fathers don't have any time allotted to them at all. A few examples of paternity policies are listed by the International Labour Organization (see page 46).
In Sweden, Reeves reports that dads seem happy. He spoke to men who say the law has really helped them bond with their kids.
One of the benefits, Reeves reports, is that either parent can take the time off. Therefore, employers have little reason to worry about hiring women who will have lots of kids and take lots of time off. In some families, it is the man who takes the majority of the days off.
But the system is not perfect. Swedish men still tend to be better paid than women, Reeves reports. This means the family loses more income if fathers take the leave. And it helps explain why, according to Swedish government figures, women still take 75 percent of the allocation.
To see how various countries stack up, take a look at our map.

Hear Phil Reeves' full story on All Things Considered, or click on the audio link above.

Thank you to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday! August 7 was Great This Year!

Rise of the Apes, BBC America, Osacar's New Take, Football Fight, and Lucy at 100

Strong apes. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" climbed to the top of the box office, taking in $54 million, according to 20th Century Fox, which distributed the movie from Hollywood big shot Peter Chernin's media company. Coming in second was "The Smurfs" with $21 million, followed by "Cowboys & Aliens," which took in $15.7 million. The big disappointment of the weekend was Universal's "The Change-Up" starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, which took in only $13.5 million. Box-office coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.
Wisteria Lane being closed. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC met the media on Sunday to preview its new schedule and say goodbye to one of its staples as the upcoming season will mark the last for its long-running prime-time soap "Desperate Housewives." More from USA TodayVariety and the Hollywood Reporter.
Care for a spot of tea? BBC signs co-production deals. Starz, the Liberty Media-owned pay-TV channel that is usually an afterthought to Time Warner's HBO and CBS' Showtime, is hoping it can class up the joint with a co-production deal with the British Broadcasting Corp. The two have agreed to pursue co-productions, with the BBC contributing between 30% and 40% of the budget and getting international rights. More on the partnership from the Wall Street Journal.

Gym, tan, profits. Viacom Inc., parent of MTV and Paramount Pictures, released its third-quarter results Friday morning and reported a 37% jump in profits. The engine, as usual, was the company's cable networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Paramount Pictures didn't do so bad either, thanks to "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Every time I type that title I want to add the word "side." More on Viacom's numbers from Bloomberg.
Another casualty of the Internet. Guys no longer have to hide the cable bill from their wives and girlfriends. The Wall Street Journal reports that revenue from adult entertainment, one of the more dependable sources of money for cable and satellite operators, has been trending down. No surprise there. Why would someone spend north of $10 for a movie they likely won't watch all of when they can find material free on the Web.
Different direction. Brett Ratner, the director of action flicks "Rush Hour" and producer of this summer's comedy success "Horrible Bosses," will produce next year's Oscar broadcast with Don Mischer. "This went beyond my wildest dreams," Ratner told the Los Angeles Times. More on the unusual choice from VarietyHollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.

Rupert's tormentor. Deadline Hollywood chats up Nick Davies, the reporter for Britain's Guardian who has broken the bulk of the big stories regarding phone hacking that went on at the News of the World, the tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Separately, Liz Murdoch, daughter of the mogul and a prominent media executive in her own right, will not be joining the board of News Corp. as expected after all. There is a News Corp. board meeting Tuesday in Los Angeles. I'm working on infiltrating the catering staff to gain access. More water, Mr. Murdoch?
Imitation is the sincerest form of television. Advertising Age tries to explain why we have so many reality shows about pawn shops. One word: Lazy!
Taking more than his 10%. United Talent and one of its top agents, Michael Camacho, are targets of an ugly lawsuit from producer Scott Einziger. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Einziger has sued UTA alleging that Camacho steered him away from good deals and into ones that would favor another client -- Ellen Rakieten -- because of a personal relationship he had with her.
Maybe his audience will be bigger. CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who used to be an editor at a couple of British tabloids, is under pressure to appear before Parliament to talk about phone hacking. Britain and the world have been rocked over the last month at the extent of phone hacking done by the tabloids there, particularly News Corp.'s News of the World. The latest from the New York Times. Separately, even cute Beatle Paul McCartney told TV critics Friday that he's been told he's been hacked. More on that from the Los Angeles Times.
Read the fine print. Cable giant Comcast Corp. is taking issue with the newest marketing campaign from rival distributor DirecTV. The satellite broadcaster's new sales pitch promising people who sign up with the service free access to the NFL is misleading, Comcast claimed in a lawsuit it filed Thursday. Legal spats between distributors are nothing new, but DirecTV and Comcast seem to always be fighting over something. Of course, in this case the NFL could make it easier by ending its exclusive deal with DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket package that allows viewers to see any game they want. More on the suit from Reuters.
Epix exit. The head of original programming at pay-TV channel Epix, Lavernne McKinnon, has left the channel after just a couple of years in the job. After making lots of noise about making original shows, Epix has gone quiet on that front. More on the departure from Deadline Hollywood.
Recent. Warner Bros. wants to organize your online library of content with its new Flixster Collections application. Kenneth Turan goes bananas for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
Inside the Los Angeles Times: An appreciation of Lucille Ball, who would have been 100 this month. The television industry has a new love for Texas. 
-- Joe Flint and others....
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From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest from the LA Times.

Teenage Girls And Social Media

Nearly 10 years ago, author Rachel Simmons wrote a best-selling book called Odd Girl OutThe Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Now she has updated her book to include the role of social media and technology.
These days, with frantic Facebook stalking, girls sending thousands of text messages a month and sometimes sleeping with their cell phones under their pillows, bullies have new ways to reach into girls' worlds.
"You can't really talk about girls anymore without talking about the role of social media in their lives," Simmons tells All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris. "For many girls, technology is not just what connects them, but it's part of their relationships. So many girls will say, 'I don't exist if I'm not on Facebook.' It's a huge part of how they navigate their lives."

Simmons, who also helps run the Girls Leadership Institutesummer camp, says that girls don't have a lot of communications skills when they're teenagers, so they lean on social media to navigate their conflicts.
"If I'm upset with you and we're both in eighth grade and I don't have the tools to tell you that, I'm going to get on my cell phone. And because I'm not looking you in the eye, I'm going to say terrible things to you," she says. "And if I go on Facebook and I say nasty things on your public page, other girls start to see it — and if they want to get involved, they can add what they feel. And the target begins then to feel that not only does everyone hate me, but I can see that. Everyone can see it. And I can't go home, I can't hide."
Here are some tips that Simmons offers to parents of teenage girls (you can read these in fuller detail on the excerpt):
  • Be a good example and don't spend all of your own time on your cell phone or social media. Also, it's important to start saying, "No."
  • Don't let your child sleep with her cell phone. "Give her a stuffed animal," Simmons says.
  • Have a cell-phone parking area, where all cell phones go at meal time, homework time and at the end of the day.
  • And tell girls not to share their passwords with their best friends. "You can tell your daughter, 'If worst comes to worst, blame it on me. Tell your friend I made you change your password and keep it private,'" Simmons says.