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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Michael Jackson was the most famous guest star on 'The Simpsons' -- and also the strangest, even 16 years ago, says former Vanity Fair staffer John Ortved in his book on the much-beloved Fox cartoon series. In 'The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History,' the show's writers and producers detail just how bizarre it was working with the former King of Pop, who appeared on the 1991-1992 season as a bald, 400-pound mental patient who believes he's Michael Jackson while sharing a hospital room with Homer .. When it came time for Jackson to come into the studio, editor Brian Roberts recalls, 'I literally didn't want to look at him. So I get my head buried in the script, and then at one point in the script he sang, Man in the Mirror, and I said, 'All right. How many times in your life are you sitting next to Michael Jackson and he's singing Man in the Mirror? I just gotta look.' So I look over to Michael Jackson, and he wasn't singing! He had a sing-along guy next to him who was actually singing for him. I couldn't believe it. I was like, What kinda weird [expletive] is this?'" (PageSix)



"The Oscar fate of Spike Jonze's version of the Maurice Sendak classic "Where the Wild Things Are" is still up in the air, but even if it's a flop the director could end up on the Kodak stage next March. 'Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak,' a short documentary about the author co-directed by Jonze, is on the shortlist of doc shorts released today by the Academy's documentary branch. The film will air on HBO beginning October 14, though it had a quiet, brief theatrical run to qualify it for the Oscar. The list, the first of many shortlists the Academy will announce over the next couple of months, narrowed down the documentary shorts category from 37 submissions to eight finalists. As usual, most of the finalists deal with serious subjects, including female soldiers in Nepal, the aftermath of an earthquake in China, the closing of a General Motors plant in Ohio, the assisted-suicide campaign of a Washington governor, and an army lieutenant who refused to go to Iraq in 2006." (TheWrap)



"Thank goodness for TiVo. If it wasn't for its time-shifting abilities -- and that of its DVR clones -- audiences might not have been able to revisit David Letterman's alleged blackmail-induced confession, or his apology about said confession four days later. TiVo said time-shifted ratings among its users spiked 75% during the 10 minutes Letterman confessed his sexual dalliances during his Oct. 1 show. That compares to a lift of only 20% among live viewers. TiVo uses its own Stop//Watch system of audience measurement, as opposed to the industry-standard Nielsen ratings. TiVo's numbers make a couple of points: Some folks who record 'Late Show With David Letterman' nightly but don't necessarily watch it consistently made sure to watch that night's recorded version of the show. Also, the fact that CBS, a few hours earlier, had telegraphed what Letterman had in store that night probably prompted lots of TiVo users to record the show." (TheHollywoodReporter)



"Michelle Obama may not have made an appearance at American Ballet Theatre's Fall Gala (the First Lady was the guest of honor at ABT's spring fĂȘte), but there was still plenty of pomp and circumstance--and a serious dose of chic--at Wednesday evening's event. With honorary chairs Veronica Webb and Iman ('We were both present for the historic and stirring event,' shared Iman of Obama's appearance in May), ABT presented its first appearance at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, complete with brand-new choreography from the likes of Alexei Ratmansky, Aszure Barton, Michel Fokine, and Benjamin Millepied ... Natalie Portman, Emmy Rossum, Rufus Wainwright, and Mila Kunis all lent their star power to the ballet, arriving at Lincoln Center in full glamorous regalia." (Fashionweekdaily)



"As the champions of the Pakistan aid bill scramble to put out fires and stem the bleeding caused by the negative media-fueled reactions to the package in Islamabad, behind the scenes, the blame game is underway, and all sides are trying to assess who was responsible for the public-relations failure surrounding the rollout of the bill. One school of thought points the finger at the bill's sponsors, Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads John Kerry, D-MA, (who may travel to Pakistan shortly), Richard Lugar, R-IN, and former sponsor Vice President Joseph Biden. These critics, many of them on Capitol Hill, lament that the lawmakers may have failed to do the spade work necessary to ensure the package received smooth reception in Islamabad. They also point to the White House, which rushed the Senate into passing the measure in order to announce it at a donor's conference in September." (ForeignPolicy)



"Mr. Garrett had found the room because he knew Keith Alberstadt, an Astoria resident and comedian who writes for Jimmy Fallon. The two had met at the Funny Bone club in South Bend, Ind. Mr. Alberstadt, in turn, knew Dan Allen, a comedian who is known for knowing everyone in New York’s comedy world. In Astoria, Mr. Allen is the self-appointed commissioner of a basketball league that counts about 50 comedians as members. He hooked Mr. Garrett up with the room. 'Whenever a new kid comes in, we definitely give him a place to stay,' said Mr. Allen, 36. 'We look around, start e-mailing, start calling. We make sure it’s an easy entry into New York City.' An unlikely ecosystem has developed in the northwest corner of Queens. Just as there are some creatures that flourish at certain warm depths of a coral reef but not a foot deeper where the water is colder, a thriving hive of comedians has affixed itself to Astoria, perfectly suited to the particular microclimate there." (NYTimes)



"For six months, I was sequestered with 11 other jurors to decide the fate of Brooke Astor's son, Anthony Marshall. Now that I'm out, I can see everything the press got wrong. By October 6, just past the six-month anniversary of my jury service in the case of People of the State of New York vs. Anthony Marshall and Francis Morrissey (or, in general parlance, the Astor Trial), I could safely say that I believed Brooke Astor’s son, Tony Marshall, had the right to give himself a raise as the manager of his mother’s estate — in other words, that he had not committed grand larceny as defined by the State. It was our third week of deliberations, and we the jury had already found the defendants guilty on a number of charges, including that they schemed to defraud the ailing and addled Mrs. Astor. Only a handful of counts remained on which to reach a verdict, including the one of grand larceny." (TheDailyBeast)

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