Thursday, May 31, 2007

To catch a bad tabloid journo...

So we got an email yesterday from our pals at Fishbowl LA asking what we thought of that lawsuit from a producer who claims she was fired from NBC's Dateline because she complained about ethical violations in the production of their To Catch A Predator comedy serial, in which they lure perverts and losers to a house where they expect to meet a teenage girl or an older woman posing as one online (at least she didn't sue for sex harassment like some other female producers who haven't quite made it).

We emailed some thoughts and most of them showed up in the Fishbowl:
There's always the pain-in-the-ass producer who thinks ethics is something other than a county outside London and points out all the horrible lapses in morality and judgment the show thrives on.

In the case of Dateline, which is bad tabloid television, meaning tabloid television done by people who are schooled and indoctrinated in the constipated world of elitist network news and take all the wrong surface traits of tabloid, make it all look and sound respectable while presenting really shady product, the producer has a point...

The fact that they actually get people arrested for committing crimes that exist only in their minds, humiliate them and use it for strictly entertainment purposes-- Dateline is only entertainment, just as Brian Williams is a newsreader who's been playing dress-up anchorman in daddy's Burberry coat and bespoke suits since he was in college, make no mistake-- and work with vigilante groups to get people imprisoned-- is as shameful as the alleged acts in the minds of the perverts they exploit.
We'd added a line saying that the history of Dateline, its co-opting of the tabloid television genre, with names and dates included, can be found in the book Tabloid Baby.

They didn't print that one (but they linked to the booksite)!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Coroner: Lana was no suicide

"This is a homicide."

The coroner who examined the body of Lana Clarkson repeated that sentence more than once while testifying today in the Phil Spector murder trial.

Dr. Louis Pena said he based his decision on several factors, including physical evidence and circumstantial conditions that ruled out suicide.

The circumstantial evidence includes Spector's statement to his chauffeur, "I think I killed somebody."

Pena said the scene was not typical of a suicide. "I've never seen a case reported" in which someone goes to a stranger's home "and magically comes up with a gun and shoots herself."

He said there was no evidence to indicate that there had been a search for the gun. "How would she have known where the gun is?" Pena said.

He said the lack of blood in the recesses of the gun indicated the weapon had been wiped. He also said the left front pocket of Spector's trousers was stained, indicating that bloody hands or a bloody weapon may have been put into the pocket. He said all of the blood matched Lana Clarkson's.

Pena said he ruled out suicide because there is no indication that Lana was depressed or suffered from a psychiatric disorder.

Clarkson had been taking two drugs, often given for psychiatric problems, but Pena said medical records showed that the medication was authorized by a neurologist who was treating her for headaches.

Pena said the records showed Lana was a hopeful person, with no history of past suicide attempts.

He also testified that Lana's tongue was bruised, indicating that a gun was forced into her mouth. That testimony undercut the defense claim that Clarkson put the gun in her own mouth.

The defense cites a relative lack of blood spatter and the location of the broken teeth to support their claim that Lana killed herself accidentally.

Pena described how the gun was in Clarkson's mouth and the recoil shattered her top front teeth, blowing them out of her mouth. Because death was instantaeous as the bullet went through her head and severed her spine, Lana was unable to exhale or cough, so blood could not be forced out.

Source: LA TIMES

Pop princesses racing to meet Diana?

Ten years since the death of Princess Diana, hours after the Lindsay Lohan car crash and days before Paris Hilton is set to head off to jail, former pop star and reality TV participant Britney Spears has managed to wedge herself back into the headlines with a bizarre message to her fans that reads half like an explanation and half like a suicide note.

Maybe Brit’s feeling the heat that she’ll soon lose custody of her two kids, because she says she feels “truly blessed” for the two baby boys in her life, while contending that neither alcohol nor depression was the reason she wound up at the Promises rehab center (the same Malibu dayspa that Lindsay is supposedly being scraped up and trundled off to). The former pop music star and reality TV participant says she was forced into treatment because she was “like a bad kid running around with ADD.”

And it’s blah blah blah from there—including a mention of the “huge learning lesson” of being “taken to dinners and parties with friends and finding out later you paid for everything”—don’t we all know that feeling!)— until a disturbing note at the end that could signal that the celbutard popgirls who fill up so much space on TV infotainment, reality and news with their drinking drugging, crashing, fighting, paparazzi-teasing— and in the case of Nicole Richie (right), not eating— could be working their way up to a tenth anniversary Diana-style tragedy to liven up a boring summer after all:

Britney says she “can’t wait to meet” God:

“…Recently, I was sent to a very humbling place called rehab. I truly hit rock bottom. Till this day I don't think that it was alcohol or depression. I was like a bad kid running around with ADD. I had a manager from a long time ago come in and try to direct me and my life after I got my divorce. I was so overwhelmed I think that I was in a little shock too. I didn't know who to go to. I realized how much energy and love I had put into my past relationship when it was gone because I genuinely did not know what to do with myself, and it made me so sad. I confess, I was so lost…

“I know everyone thinks that I am playing the victim, but I am not and I hate what is going on right now so much. Maybe this is the reason for this letter...to maybe allow people to look at me differently. It is like when you are a real woman and say what you feel and how you think things are supposed to be, that people just say you are a "bitch"…

“I am 25 and I do still have a lot to learn, and I am going to make mistakes everyday, and I am sure every mistake I make will probably be on CNN or Good Morning America. I am only human people and I love you for still loving me…

“It is so weird how stories are told. There is your side, my side, and the truth. Somebody has to figure it out. I guess we will never really understand or figure out life completely. That's God's job. I can't wait to meet him...or her.

Britney Spears’ “Dear Fans” message can be found here.

(Lohan photo: X17)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wyler's Genesis Awards honored Tabloid Baby

Gretchen Wyler has died at 75 (just like Charles Nelson Reilly-- who's next?). She was an actress who left a grand Broadway musical career for a life dedicated to protecting animals and eventually became an outspoken critic of the Los Angeles Zoo.

The first female board member of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, she founded the animal rights group the Ark Trust in 1991 as well as the Genesis Awards, which since 1986 have recognized the media and entertainment industries for incorporating animal protection themes into their work.

Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns won a Genesis Award honor in 2000 for Hollywood Animal Crusaders, the documentary special he, Alison Holloway and Brian Wry produced for Animal Planet on a shoestring in 1999, giving the nascent network its most star-studded line-up-- and most controversial material-- to date. The story of animal rights activist Chris DeRose and his Last Chance for Animals group fetaured John Travolta, Cher, Don Johnson, Esai Morales, Rikki Rockett, Bret Michaels and Greg Louganis--among others-- a major, star-studded historic feature that premiered at a gala screening on the Paramount lot and helped launch the successful Frozen Pictures franchise.

(Hollywood Animal Crusaders was the first major TV program narrated by Tony Rodgers, who'd go on to become the most successful voice over anouncer in the business, the boice of countless movie trailers as well as the CBS and Fox networks).

Somebody save Lindsay Lohan!

Think of him what you want, but Lindsay Lohan's father Michael has been shouting from the rafters that his daughter needs help and that the people who surround her and profit from her don't care about her well-being. And as the latest photo collection from X17 Online-- taken this morning, about 48 hours after after Lindsay's supposed wake-up-call of a car crash and cocaine-related DUI arrest-- show, her mama sure ain't looking out for her.

Somebody better move in soon-- before this brilliant young actress--this kid-- winds up dead.

Charles Nelson Reilly dies in ones

He was Paul Lynde without the venom, and out there in as many ways when his Claymore Gregg on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir was up against Lynde's Uncle Arthur on Bewitched. From his wild, double entendre appearances on The Match Game and Hollywood Squares and The Tonight Show in the Seventies to his later roles in The X-Files, The Drew Carey Show and SpongeBob SquarePants-- to Alec Baldwin's great imitation on Saturday Night Live-- Charles Nelson Reilly was one of television's cheerful subversive anarchists-- and a fine actor and director to boot.

Word comes that he died Friday at 76.

It's just too bad that the gossip site TMZ chose to note his passing with the same smirky kissoff they offered Jerry Falwell. Especially since he helped make the world safe for their smarmy double entendre riffs...

X17 makes its mark with Lohan scoops

Congratulations to X17, the celebrity news site that scooped the world on the Lindsay Lohan car crash this weekend while the boys at TMZ were asleep or hiding out in Matthew McConaughey's bushes.

The photo agency that's quickly become the dominant force in Hollywood celebrity journalism broke through the Memorial Day Weekend malaise with word Saturday that the young actress cheated death-- and cheated arrest when she crashed her Mercedes on Sunset Boulevard yards away from Frank Sinatra's old house.

After the photos were broadcast and wired around the world, the site followed up with an exclusive statement from Lohan's father Michael, who's out of prison, licensed as a minister, working with drug addicted youth, desperate to get his family together again-- and the subject of a reality television series produced by our pals at Frozen Pictures:

Lindsay needs to find God, get better, clean house and start all over again with the people who were there for her at the beginning: her family. Too many people are around Lindsay for the wrong reasons. They want to see what they can get from her instead of caring about Lindsay herself. I’m her father. I don’t want anything from her but her love and to be her father first. I’m here for Lindsay as a father and a father only.

And it’s about time that her mother Dina stop building up the walls of division between myself and my children—especially Lindsay. And if Dina really cares about out children--especially Lindsay-- then she should do the right thing so we can both be there as parents. Because what Lindsay needs are both parents. I wish Dina would put things aside and act the way God wants us to: right the wrongs and not
compound the wrongs.

I hope Lindsay finally gets the help that she needs. I want her to know that her Daddy is here for her.

X17 and its website have established themselves as the smart, comprehensive alternative to TMZ, the corporate, porn-pushing and checkbook justice-skirting AOL/Time Warner website that sends kids with video cameras to annoy celebrities outside nightclubs and features distateful headlines like this recent batch:

Lilo-- Pole Patrol
Trunks or Speedos?
Katie Holmes' Tasty Treats
Kevin Spacey is a Baller!
Rodriguez Cans in Cannes
"Idol" TiVo Fans Got Screwed
Clooney Turns Tricks in Cannes
Real Ari Really Was an A**Hole
Jacko Gets Male Escort in London
Rosie's Rearview -- Creating a Stink
John Travolta & Kelly Preston Finally Get Lei'd Together!
Lindsay -- Move Bitch, Get Out the Way!
Fan to Jessica: "Once You Go Black ..."
Mouth-to-Mouth McConaughation?
Play "Lost" -- Get Jack Off (The Island)
Duchovny Mooseknuckles Around Venice Beach
Matt: Come on Baby, Light My Fire!
Melinda Doolittle -- Before She Got Screwed

TMZ has been playing catch-up the last 24 hours, but the damage is done. After getting much hype for buying the Mel Gibson arrest report and other scoops handed to the site from Time/Warner's more legitimate operations, TMZ is headed to television. But unless the show is hosted by a shirtless Harvey Levin, the TV show won't come close to reflecting the mucky reality of the website, and with reports that the operation is getting off on the wrong foot with staffing with "straight" news people and syndicated television producers instead of smart, experienced tabloid veterans, TMZ TV seems destined to last as long as the National Enquirer TV show-- which is not long.
While X17 got the Lindsay scoop, TMZ's editor was having this dream:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A rotten weekend for Howard Stern

Despite his model girlfriend, bags of money and Hamptons estate, it's got to be a depressing Memorial Day Weekend for Howard Stern. Forgotten and indeed hiding out amid the First Amendment battles fought over Imus, Opie & Anthony and other radio jocks whose slide into offensiveness he'd greased in his glory days, he loses his schlubadub radio sidekick, and like Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, it takes days, and possibly weeks, for word to spread across the country.

And the very fact that the obese heroin-addicted and out-of-control Artie Lange would leave his six-year steady gig as comic foil because of guest role on a little-watched (though tres cool) Fx series, reveals how irrelevant the once-powerful Stern has become since moving his morning show to the subscribers-only Sirius satellite system-- while betraying Stern's sadistic complicity in Lange's decline and certain demise.

You probably didn't hear about it, but Artie Lange announced on Thursday that he's quitting the Stern show because he has a recurring role on Denis Leary's Rescue Me and a potential maybe possibly talk show on Fox.

In his years on the Stern show, Artie has battled heroin addiction, ballooned to more than three hundred pounds and kept up a grueling stand-up comedy schedule-- all to the amusement and encouragement of his boss, who's used Artie's troubles as comic and soap opera fodder. Artie says a doctor recently told him that if he doesn't change his lifestyle, Tabloid Baby's prediction of his Farley-Belushi-Anna Nicole-style death is imminent.

"I just feel burned out," Artie said. "Nothing is set in stone, but it's something I'm seriously thinking about. The schedule is destroying me. I love the show, and I love the people. I'm just really concerned about my health.

"I have to find a happy balance . . . none of this is going to be worth it if I drop dead at a Best Western in Milwaukee."

Even so, this incredible diss by a drunken comedian whose career, if not his life, was saved by Stern, is the latest step on the inevitable return of Stern's show --in some form--to free radio (not even Stern's "confession" this week that he'd considered suicide and had put one of his much-publicized guns in his mouth got him into the headlines).

Meanwhile, Howard has even more to worry about... as an amazing phenomenon is occurring on several West Coast stations on which monotonal lunkhead Adam Carolla has inherited-- and maintained (thanks to his business partner Jimmy Kimmel's consulting role with the station group)-- Stern's former morning slot. Forced to take on the volatile Seventies leftover and reality TV star Danny Bonaduce as a third wheel, Carolla has seen Bonaduce take over the show in the past month, as Bonaduce's revelations and confessions regarding his failed marriage have pushed the show to Sternian levels of honesty and compelling listenability. Bonaduce has interrupted Carolla's rants, injects his personal stories into every discussion and celebrity interview, and even angrily challenged token female Theresa Strasser to reveal more of her feelings about her own love life. Carolla reacted last week by stacking the show with comedian guests like the surprisingly obnoxious David Alan Grier to sideline Bonaduce as often as possible.

But with Strasser playing up the good-girl-bad-boy attraction to Bonaduce and Carolla finding his fratjerk humour increasingly beside the point alongside Bonaduce's in-your-face realness, the "Ace" is getting aced out of his own show.

Strange but true and you read it here first: Danny Bonaduce is on the verge of becoming the new Howard Stern.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

America gets its Right-To-Life Idol

Jordin Sparks is the new American Idol.

After a bloated two-hour show whose highlights included a performance by an 80-year-old man, a human beatbox duet, the indelible memory of Ruben Studdard singing "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds," and the lower half of Kelly Clarkson's body, the questions this morning are whether Jordin, a 17-year-old Christian and anti-abortion crusader, will use her new role to spread her controversial agenda-- and whether Idol producers played a little in-joke by having Jordin sing background on the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home"-- a song about a girl sneaking out of the house to have an abortion.

And there will be debate today about whether Jordin's victory was in the cards from the beginning, even before judge Randy Jackson predicted that the winner would have "curly hair." We direct you to an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that followed the Seattle audition episode-- Jordin's first appearance on Idol:
Seattle Post Intelligencer
January 19, 2007
On TV: Seattle's 'Idol' auditions: Hurt so good

..."Idol," in turn, gave us a young, bright, charismatic, pretty contestant who looks so much like the show's idea of the total package that she could be a ringer....

...One shining star stood out: 16-year-old Jordin Sparks from Glendale, Ariz. She's beautiful, has a smile that can light up L.A., and tore apart Celine Dion's "Because You Love Me."

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

Seeing her is supposed to drive home the reason we keep running back to "Idol." Young, ambitious and undiscovered, she embodies the dream of "Idol," the idea that someone with small but bright embers of talent can, within the space of a few months, shoot from obscurity to superstardom.

Except that's not exactly the case with this young woman.

Out of nowhere, Abdul says she recognizes Sparks' name-- and Sparks reveals she is the daughter of former New York Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks. What a coinky-dink!

And that's not all! Jordin Sparks has an exhaustive Wikipedia page, where you can find out interesting facts such as: She was the Coca-Cola Rising Star in 2002. Coca-Cola, of course, being "Idol's" major sponsor. She also appeared in "America's Most Talented Kids" in 2004, toured with Michael W. Smith and sang in Alice Cooper's Christmas show. Winning "Arizona Idol" netted her a Ford Fusion and a trip to Seattle. Wonder if she had to wait in line?

Our Man Elli thinks in threes

Our Man Elli in Israel, our correspondent in Jerusalem and too-occasional contributor, drops us this thought about our They Die In Threes obsession:

This struck me - we say 'they die in threes' if it happens in close proximity to each other; but can we also say it if they die in close proximity to the same date? Here's three within 8 dates of each other in May:

Marlene Dietrich, Symbol of Glamour, Dies at 90 (May 6, 1992)

Joan Crawford, Screen Star, Dies at 69 (May 10, 1977)

Rita Hayworth, Movie Legend, Dies at 68 (May 14, 1987)

Which leads to the questions: What is it with Our Man Elli and old movie queens? And what are they smoking in Israel?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Idol finale: Another Spector tribute from Sanjaya?

Back in March, we made some headlines when we showed you evidence that American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar was emulating the hairstyles of Phil Spector.

Now, amid word about who's going to show on tonight's Idol finale, is the report that Sanjaya will reprise his crying-girl number, "You Really Got Me" with Steve Perry of Journey-- or Joe Perry of Aerosmith, depending on who's doing the reporting-- sporting short, platinum hair.

Spector, the legendary crackpot music producer and murder trial defendant, raised more than a few eyebrows when he traded his collection of brunette toupees for the platinum Beatles bob when his trial got underway. Sanjaya is bound to raise some eyebrows tonight.

Tabloid Baby spawns Tabloid Prodigy

We realize the good name was taken, but couldn't she have at least gone with Tabloid Babe? We've never heard of Marlise Elizabeth Kast, whose new book, a memoir of her days in the tabloid business, hit stores this month. She worked for the Globe and the book is about print tabloid world. Ours focuses on television. Hers seems to be about making up stories. Ours is about telling the truth. Yet the promo copy sounds strikingly similar to our original:

"This riveting and entertaining memoir is full of... outrageous-but-true tabloid experiences... behind-the-scenes deals, manipulations, and deceptions used to break the big stories. In an industry where turnover is high, and loyalty low... multiple bosses, a rotating roster... professional shenanigans, terrifying situations, and comical predicaments, as well as legal threats from some of the celebrities and 'personalities'...

"... As this riveting memoir reveals... redemption is more honest and personal than any celebrity news... ever reported..."

So get out there, buy it and read it! Tabloid Baby, we mean.

Note to Marlise's publisher or PR team: Send us a copy and we'll give it a review...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lana Clarkson death photo

The image has been in our imaginations for four years now. The police photo of actress Lana Clarkson sprawled dead in a chair was shown to jury members in the Phil Spector trial by defense attorney Bradley Brunson.

(UPDATE: More crime scene photos here. WARNING! EXPLICIT! GRAPHIC! NSFW!)

* * May 29, 2009 UPDATE

Monday, May 21, 2007

Exclusive! Inside The Spectacles recording session

Tabloid Baby had exclusive access this weekend as Hollywood's premier indie rock band The Spectacles got to work on their third album. Recording was moved from their hometown and the band shuttled to a secret location in Hawthorne, California, just a stone’s throw from the house where Brian Wilson and his brothers were raised and the Beach Boys began, for the sessions with legendary producer and canuck cowboy singer Brian Irwin.

“In the first session, we recorded the single from the new EP. It’s called Waste Heap. Some of the hardcore Spectacles fans may find it somewhat of a departure from our normal stuff. You might even call it a ‘pop masterpiece,’” said bassist Travis Fields, who made international news last week with his song about the death of Jerry Falwell. (He denies a report by tabloid television veteran Doug Bruckner that the group plans to record a cover of "You All Everybody," the song by Driveshaft, the fictional band from the TV show Lost.)

The Spectacles have been building a following in LA for the past decade since Fields and charismatic frontman Brent Crowe (right) recorded their debut album seven years ago.

Rounding out the band is guitarist Chris ‘C-Duck’ Anderson (below left, with Fields)-- late of C-Duck & Nate (Nate played Harvey on Sabrina The Teenage Witch)-- and the filmmaker Steve Oliver on drums.

Find their music on iTunes.

Photos © Travis Fields

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Howard Stern admits he's talking to himself

"If you want free speech, walk in a closet and talk to yourself."

Howard Stern and his fans have insisted for months now that the former radio personality, taste-maker and commentator left “terrestrial” radio for a private satellite service simply because he was fed up with censorship and would be able what he wanted.

We’ve been saying for months now that portions of his show will return to free radio in one form or another, and soon, because his influence and audience have vanished.

This week, as Howard sidestepped the issue of rival XM Satellite’s suspension of competing shock jocks Opie & Anthony for taking free speech “too far,” he essentially agreed with us, admitting that for all the effect he now has on popular culture, he may as well be talking to himself.

"If you want free speech,” he said on yesterday’s show, “walk in a closet and talk to yourself."

Sources: Marks Friggin’ Howard Stern Stuff and the Los Angeles Times.

You might be a Redneck if...

...you're shooting your big time network TV promos and Lewis Bailey is behind the camera!

Melinda: What happened?

The conspiracy theorists are in overdrive this morning after Melinda Doolittle's surprise ouster from American Idol. Though Melinda has been the front-runner in the competition from the start, though she went into the semi-final vote a clear favorite-- and despite all indicators pointing otherwise-- the season's best singer was sent home in an Idol stunner not seen since... well, not since last season when Chris Daughtry was eliminated in a jaw-dropping (it was his jaw that dropped, but hey...) shocker.

While Melinda's ejection has bolstered claims that controversial sponsor-fave Jordin Sparks has been the producers' designated winner from the start, there's also the possibility that Jordin and Melinda split the powerful Southern-based "Christian" voting block. Both are "Christian" artists who have gotten the support of a campaign from the Gospel Music Association, but Jordin's profile has increased due to her prominent role as a teenage anti-abortion crusader.

Even so, there are more than a few reasons that last night's result is a chin-scratcher:

* With a clear generational difference separating them from Melinda, Jordin and Blake Lewis were expected to split the "youth vote," while Melinda was going to pick up the older, LaKisha Jones fans;

* The lead-off singer in the semi-final round has been sent home in every Idol season (that would have been Jordin);

* A contestant from the South has won the prize each time. Melinda's from Nashville-- Blake's from the Northwest and Jordin's from Arizona;

* Jordin had a bad night on Wednesday. Melinda knocked each song out of the park;

* Prognosticator DialIdol had Melinda ahead in votes all day yesterday, with Blake & Jordin neck-and-neck...

Then again, it could have been Melinda's decision to repeat her rendition of "I'm A Woman," which only reminded young voters that, pushing 30, she's a professional who's better suited for the role of American Adult.

Meanwhile, we're split on our favorite moment from last night. It's a toss-up between Ryan Seacrest kicking Blake's father off the stage and Elliott Yamin, with his face-altering new teeth, plugging Porsche on a show that wouldn't let poor Sanjaya sing "Mercedes Benz" because of sponsorship by Ford.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That's no way to treat an Idol!

A big Tabloid Baby razz to radio station KISS 106.1 in Seattle, for trying to humilate the hometown teenager who's been the brightest light of this American Idol season (and we don't mean Jordin).

The station invited good-natured and charismatic Sanjaya Malakar to appear at a promotional concert over the weekend, featuring the busty Idol also-ran Katharine McPhee, Fergie, Lily Allen and Hillary Duff-- but when he got onstage, he was blindsided by a bunch of drag queens-- and the song "It's Raining Men"-- apparently in a bid to to turn him into a "gay" joke.

Sanjaya, who's only 17, has already been forced to "declare" himself straight in an interview with People magazine. But even if hedid happen to be gay, so what? And why make fun of anyone for that reason?

Radio stations are big these days on suspending and firing jocks for offensive behaviour on the air. How about suspending or firing these homophobic clowns? Oh, right. They can't-- because management was obviously in on it.

Lucky for Sanjaya, he's bigger than Seattle.

Complain to KISS 106.1 here. Like Ryan says, do it often.

LA rocker pens Falwell tribute tune

Republican presidential candidate John McCain may be leading the Beltway hosannas for Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, but on the left Coast, it's musician Travis Fields from the popular indie rock band The Spectacles, who's first out of the gate, emailing us with the first Falwell elegy.

Here's the first verse:

Tammy Faye, wasting away
Fallwell dead, tabloid baby said
The religious right, losing all their might
Pat Robertson? Amen.

Look for the song on The Spectacles' new album (their third) which they begin recording this weekend in Hollywood. Check out their album Hey Ice Cream and more Spectacles tunes on iTunes. And if you have a chance to see them live, don't pass it up. These guys are the Meat Puppets of the 21st Century.

Did God take Falwell instead of Tammy Faye?

Did God spare Tammy Faye Bakker and smite Jerry Falwell instead? Cheerful televangelist Tammy Faye (by whom we were counseled in a Caesars Palace elevator at four am more than a decade ago, after she'd told us how excited she was to have a limozeen waiting to take her to be interviewed about her talk show with Jim J Bullock) announced last week that she's at death's door with cancer, so the world had expected her to be the next televangelist to go straight to He- (you can fill in the remaining letters).

And should Tammy Fae pass in the next couple of days, you know They Die in Threes-- so Jimmy Swaggart, call your doctor!

BBC journo goes nuts for Scientology

No, it's not another segment of The O'Reilly Factor. No, it's not Katie Couric yelling at her assistant because the latte isn't non-fat. It's a BBC reporter, losing his cool while speaking to a Scientology member while filming a documentary special on the religion. The Scientologists claimed the BBC was out to smear them, so they followed the BBC crew with their own cameras and created their own documentary.

Remember, the guy doing the screaming is the reporter.

The BBC piece aired last night on the Panorama show. John Sweeney is the reporter. He told the London Daily Telegraph: "What I did was wrong and stupid, and I am embarrassed about it."

Hey, no worries! Keep 'em coming! We're just waiting for Anderson Cooper outtakes.

(FUN FACT: John Travolta, who's leading the criticism of the BBC report, is a really nice guy and he loves animals.)


The fundamentalist and televangelist was found unresponsive in his office this morning. The last celebrity to be found unresponsive was Anna Nicole, so we figure we'll get the jump on the pack.

UPDATE: 10:35 am Pacific Time: The AP confirms Falwell's death at 73.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Idol rocked by Jordin Sparks controversies!

Now that Jordin Sparks has moved into the forefront of the American Idol race, the backlash is underway, with conspiracy theories in full swing-- and a political hot potato that's jumped from the back burner to center stage.

We told you about the initial controversy over Jordin's entry into this season's contest (aided by Idol sponsor Coca Cola), and suspicion that her victory has been in the cards all along. Now, photos showing Jordin with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, supposedly taken three years ago, have led to speculation that the judges may have pretended not to know her when she auditioned-- and that she's indeed been groomed for Idoldom in some secret lab.

And now add the Christian Right to mix!

Jordin's never been shy about her Christian faith. She recorded a CD with "Jesus music" pioneer Matthew Ward, toured with Christian singer Michael W. Smith, placed second in 2004 at the Gospel Music Association's Music in the Rockies national competition for aspiring Contemporary Christian Music artists (the same one that Chris Sligh competed in two years earlier). And the GMA says it recognizes Jordin and fellow finalist Melinda Doolittle as Christian artists who are "keeping the faith."

Not that there's anything wrong with a big organized Christian Idol voting bloc (remember those phone centers in India?), but the controversy gets down to politics, in the form of abortion.

Though she's only seventeen and probably won't have to think seriously about the issue until she goes on the Idol tour and finds out she's been knocked up by Sanjaya, Jordan is well-known in her home state of Arizona and among the Christian crowd as a "pro-life"-- or anti-abortion-- crusader. And until recently, she apparently had this picture on her MySpace page:

Photos of Jordin at anti-abortion events and stories about her activism have been on line for months, but only reaching mainstream attention now that she has the best chance of taking the American Idol title.

The stir that's brewing is similar to last year's storm over contestant Mandisa and her connection to the "ex-gay" movement. And with some expressing concern that Jordin will use her American Idol platform to preach against abortion, this sort of fight is one that will bring out votes on both sides.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"The next big thing outta Nashville"

Lewis Bailey of Bailey Mountain, Georgia is not only the best videographer and news cameraman east of the Great Wall of China, he's Tabloid Baby's lifeline to the heartbeat of the South, so when he points us in the direction of a country western singer, you know we're gonna be right on the scent. And hot damn, if he isn't right about Elizabeth Cook.

Her new album is called Balls-- and how's that for a title? It's produced by Rodney Crowell and dropped last week, while her new single "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman" is country music the way we demand it: straight up, no frills, and without hats, and stands alongside Loretta, Randy, the Georges (Jones and Strait) and at first listen gave us a countrified jolt we haven't been stuck with since the first time we heard The Dixie Chicks' "Tonight The Heartache's on Me" or "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino" by David Frizell. See the video above.

And thanks, Lewis!

Jordin Sparks: Idol's stealth contestant?

The big question from last night’s American Idol isn’t when Barry Gibb started talking like Sean Connery (well, okay, that is a big question), but whether an eventual win by 17-year-old Jordin Sparks has been in the cards from the start.

A month ago. Idol was shaping into a clash of the divas Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones, but in recent weeks, thanks to some overpraising of pleasant performances (and criticism of the frontrunners) from the judges and unfortunate song choices by the competition, it’s looking more and more like the next American Idol will be the seventeen-year-old football player’s daughter who's big enough to play linebacker herself.

Which is what brings us back to January, before the season launched (but months after the auditions), when Entertainment Weekly quoted judge Randy Jackson “cryptically” predicting the winner will be ''someone with curly hair."

And then there were the auditions in Seattle, where Jordin’s inclusion, how she arrived there-- and the reception from judges-- raised a red flag when the auditions aired.

Until now, the Seattle auditions— the last ones for the season-- were memorable for Blake Lewis, Sanjaya Malakar, the Bush Baby— and the accusation that a “ringer”— a professional— was planted among the contestants.

That was Tom Lowe, a flamboyant British boy band singer who was once signed to a label that employed Simon Cowell, and profiled in the version of Idol that was shown only in the UK.

But the real ringer of the Seattle auditions may have turned out to be Jordin Sparks. In fact, the morning after the Seattle episode aired, TV critic Melanie McFarland wrote about it, indignantly, in the Seattle-Post Intelligencer:

“… one shining star stood out: 16-year-old Jordin Sparks from Glendale, Ariz. She's beautiful, has a smile that can light up L.A., and tore apart Celine Dion's ‘Because You Love Me.’

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

“Seeing her is supposed to drive home the reason we keep running back to Idol. Young, ambitious and undiscovered, she embodies the dream of Idol, the idea that someone with small but bright embers of talent can, within the space of a few months, shoot from obscurity to superstardom.

“Except that's not exactly the case with this young woman.

“Out of nowhere, Abdul says she recognizes Sparks' name -- and Sparks reveals she is the daughter of former New York Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks. What a coinky-dink!

“And that's not all! Jordin Sparks has an exhaustive Wikipedia page, where you can find out interesting facts such as: She was the Coca-Cola Rising Star in 2002. Coca-Cola, of course, being Idol's major sponsor. She also appeared in America's Most Talented Kids in 2004, toured with Michael W. Smith and sang in Alice Cooper's Christmas show. Winning Arizona Idol netted her a Ford Fusion and a trip to Seattle. Wonder if she had to wait in line?”

So... the sponsor’s favorite gets a trip from Arizona to Seattle for an eleventh-hour spot in the final, controversial audition session. Randy predicts a winner with “curly hair” (a clue that many mistook as pointing to Chris Sligh)— just as his executive producer promises (accurately) Entertainment Weekly that Sanjaya Malakar won’t make it through. The judges begin to heap extravagant praise on the young girl with the beauty pageant-High School Musical talent. She begins to overshadow her more gifted opponents.

Was her victory in the cards from the start?

Then again, Jordan could be eliminated tonight. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Avril Lavigne's motherf*cking pop song

You wouldn't know it from her lame and listless performance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back, but Avril Lavigne has come up with the catchiest rock 'n' roll single and best summer pop anthem since Hoku's Perfect Day. Girlfriend is sitting at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100, and its cheerleader rhythms and catchy phrases have got our six-year-old singing it in the backseat because she's a little girl-- and that's Avril's target audience, right? Little girls and teenage boys who respond to her pop tunes and squeaky prefab punk princess image.

So why does she have the word "motherfucking" in the first verse?

Don't pretend I think you know
I'm damn precious
Hell yeah
I'm the motherfucking princess
I can tell you like me too
and you know I'm right
(I'm right I'm right I'm right)

And why, after nine weeks on the charts, has no one complained about-- or even mentioned-- "I'm the motherfucking princess"?

Let us be the first. The folks who rant on about Imus or rap music are missing something. Here we've got pure preteen pop, marketed by big old RCA with a Scooby Doo style video (see it here) and lots of airplay--with the word "motherfucking' thrown in.

This shit is bananas.

The Queen's visit evokes memories...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Presidential candidates reveal reality TV faves

President Bush may be out of step with the American people when it comes to Iraq, but his handlers were smart enough to get him to follow up his veto by showing up with his wife and saying the name "Bono" on American Idol. Unfortunate though, that he could have been talking about Sonny Bono, because with their bad makeup, stilted reading and awkward comedy, the Bushes come off like a couple out of the Sixties.

So when it comes to voting on his successor, we know what we're basing our decision on:

The Candidate's favorite reality TV show.

The Associated Press asks:

What is your favorite reality TV program?


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: "Don't have one."

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: "American Idol."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: "American Idol, which I say often reminds me of running for president sometimes."

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: College basketball.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: C-SPAN coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives. No time for other TV.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: "Other than the U.S. Senate on C-SPAN? I don't watch them too often."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: "Fox News."


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback: "None this season; too busy. Last season it was The Amazing Race."

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: Baseball.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: Nashville Star.

California Rep. Duncan Hunter: Watches Versus, previously called the Outdoor Life Network.

Arizona Sen. John McCain: Arizona Diamondbacks baseball.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: American Idol.

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo: "None."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

They Die in 3s: Two TV Toms down, one to go?

Today we learn of the deaths of two classic TV sidekicks named Tom:

Tom Poston, who goes back to the Golden Era but is best remembered from Newhart, at 85, and Tommy Newsom, Johnny Carson's backup bandleader and comedy foil from the heyday of the Tonight show, who made it to 78.

Sadder still:

They Die in Threes.

Which TV Tom will complete the deadly trifecta?

Wanted: Somebody who knows journalism. Television experience not required.

THIS JUST IN: Hot on the heels of his decisions regarding Don Imus and Virginia Tech, NBC News president Steve Capus has hired a veteran journalist to act as his Jiminy Cricket... and help get those mass murderer photos on line even quicker.

And, to put it bluntly, if crassly: Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson should be pleased, as well...
From: Capus, Steve (NBC Universal)
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 1:22 PM
Subject: NBC News announcement

I'm please (sic) to make an exciting new announcement today about the future of NBC News. Veteran journalist Mark Whitaker is joining NBC News later this month in an extremely important role. I'm enclosing the press release announcing Mark's appointment. With this announcement we have, beyond a doubt, the strongest management team in the industry. Congratulations to Mark.

- Steve

Mark Whitaker, former Editor of Newsweek and veteran journalist of nearly three decades, will join NBC News as Senior Vice President. The announcement was made today by NBC News President Steve Capus. Whitaker will join NBC News on May 21, and will report to Capus.

"This is yet another terrific announcement for NBC News and our front office team," said Capus. "Mark's talents as a journalist are unparalleled virtually anywhere in the business. He brings not only a keen sensibility for the news, but also a real expertise in digital and online ventures. He's exactly the type of person I've been looking for to bolster our executive ranks."

Whitaker will serve as the second-in-command within NBC News and have oversight of NBC News' daily editorial and newsgathering efforts worldwide. He will provide continuity between newsgathering operations and individual broadcasts and new media. He will also be responsible for NBC News division-wide editorial specials and will help develop online content for MSNBC.com.

Prior to joining NBC News, Whitaker served as Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of New Ventures at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive...

Whitaker served as Editor at Newsweek from 1998-2006, and remained as Corporate Editor upon his departure..

Whitaker graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1979 and studied International Relations at Oxford University's Balliol College as a Marshall Scholar. He is married to Alexis Gelber, Newsweek's director of special projects...