Monday, October 31, 2011

Harassment Not on the Menu at National Restaurant Association

Bad Day to be Flack as Dining Lobby Takes Flak from Cain Harassment Allegations

So, Herman Cain fessed up to being accused of sexual harassment, just not having harasssed anyone.
In fact, he says he's been "falsely accused," following the weekend bombshell report from Politico, citing two women who accused Cain of inappropriate behavior when he was CEO of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
Politico said the women received "five-figure payouts" in return for their silence. What say, you Herman?
“If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much. If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association."
You might wonder what the restaurant association (sorry, can't say NRA) has to say about all this. Keep wondering. If you go to its online press room, the lead story is Restaurant Performance Index Rose Above 100 in September, as Sales and Traffic Levels Improved. In other words, the type of story they'd rather be commenting about, not the one people want to know about.
Fun fact: Three of the top four leadership positions at the association, chair, vice chair and president/CEO are filled by women. Who must really be loving this story now.

Another Morning Reboot at CNN

Maybe They Should Call the Show "America Yawning"

Had a bit of a chuckle reading today's report in The New York Times about how CNN is going back to the drawing board yet again to figure out how to get someone, anyone, to watch its morning programming.

Again? Yes, again.

Not that the current offering "American Morning," is bad. It's not, but it's never been a category killer. And with the 800-pound Lauer and Co. keeping NBC solvent, the Fox & Friends comedy show and other comers, well, it's just too damn hard for Nielsen to give you a hug that time of day.

But CNN soldiers on. "American Morning" will apparently be sacrificed on the "we tried" altar. And now for something new or, at least, newish. From 5-7 a.m., Ashleigh (I'm Still Here) Banfield and Chicago import Zoraida Sambolin will anchor a block for the bleary-eyed, followed by a 7-9 a.m. program headed by American Morning alumna Soledad O'Brien (above) and "an ensemble," as Broadcasting & Cable puts it. O'Brien will also continue doing her well-received documentaries, her primary role since being kicked offf the dawn patrol in 2006.

So, I'll ask the $64 question: how will these shows be markedly different from American Morning? I know, damn good question. CNN isn't answering, at least not yet. But I wouldn't get tied up in a knot contemplating the possibilities. Granted, I don't have the answers either to what may be an unsolvable riddle.

When there are only so many eyeballs to go around that time of day, many of whom are tuned to top-rated local shows, CNN, without a defining personality to create destination viewing, is destined to be an also-ran when there is no breaking news.

It's a question I'll no doubt have to think about more, while I have a cup of Morning Joe.

Don't Fear the Reaper at CVS

Hopefully, Just the Spirit of Halloween and Not Reinforcement of Warning Labels

Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County, N.Y., like to think of themselves as Halloween Central. With good reason.

After all, T-town is where Washington Irving resided and drew his inspiration for "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," where the saga is retold in The Old Dutch Church--which figures in the story--by master storyteller Jonathan Kruk.

Phillipsburg Manor--a local historic restoration--has a scare fest called Haunted Hollow, which got greedy and supplanted a more sedate affair that included a headless horseman riding around on a big-boy black horse. Kruk used to tell his story as part of the festivities there. But now he's a separate admission, and Phillipsburg Manor is no longer a place for kids, you know, the ones for whom Halloween matters the most, to go this time of year. But that's for another rant.

It doesn't take much for other locals to get into the holiday spirit, including the local CVS. I did find it a bit disconcerting, though, that when you walk in the door, greeting you is a full-sized grim reaper. Enter if you dare. Actually, it was a bit of foreshadowing, as I had a nightmare of a time trying to get a prescription filled there because of computer glitches and clerical incompetence.

Fortunately, the guy with the scythe should be gone by tomorrow, replaced by more optimistic signs of the times, namely the ones offering 50 percent off bags of Halloween candy. Three Musketeers to the rescue in the nick of time.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Financial Times Not on the Job with Jobs Death

What Happens When a Paper Goes to Bed in London and Nobody in New York Can Wake it Up

I don't know when the edition of the Financial Times that shows up at my door six mornings a week goes to bed.
Actually, now I have a pretty good idea. It's way before the first bulletin about the death of Steve Jobs first started clearing the wires around 7:30 p.m. ET.
Not to worry, dear chaps, I understand the FT is a British enterprise even if it is printed in 23 cities across the globe. It appears the basic guts of the paper remain the same, at least in print whenever they wrap up for the day in London.
Ordinarily, that would not be a problem, except when it is, like when breaking news hits relatively late in the U.S.
To be sure, the FT has a sizable editorial operation on this side of the pond and an outsize influence and presence in relation to its circulation. But there apparently is no way for anyone here to remake a front page before the U.S. press run.
Yes, the FT is playing catch-up online as we write. However, major events like the Jobs death point toward the need for a more-nimble print product as well. When you charge $2.50 at the newsstand, readers are entitled to more than what you were able to get into the paper before the editors in London called it a night.

Monday, October 03, 2011

From NPR News in Washington, I'm Cookie Monster

Good Pickup by Network to Nab the Big Bird, er, Cheese at Sesame Workshop

The NPR board of directors showed it was adept at swimming against the tide when it scooped up Sesame Workshop CEO Gary Knell to lead the network.

Knell is cut from the mold of former ABC News prexy David Westin, a lawyer without news experience, but who, as one NPR board member said could "gain the respect of journalists."

We'll see about that, but Knell could be a propitious choice at a perilous time for NPR, what with the Republican sharks on Capitol Hill smelling blood where NPR's funding still resides safely in the federal budget.

As someone well-schooled in non-profit broadcasting, Knell necessarily blends the pragmatism and often tight-fisted fiscal management that such a job requires, while having a deft hand schmoozing deep-pocketed foundations and left-leaning trust-fund babies for checks with many zeros tacked on for good measure.

Having been at Sesame Workshop for two decades, Knell knows that the product must be the last thing sacrificed when times are tough. Sure, there aren't nearly as many original "Sesame Street" episodes produced as in years past (just 26 a year, compared to north of 100 in the show's early days). And its unholy alliance with the PBS Kids Sprout channel, laden with inapproprite commercials (Gerbers insurance for children, anyone?) is regrettable if potentially lucrative.

But overall, Sesame Workshop remains a solid, laudable enterprise whose good intentions are usually matched by its output. That NPR can say the same should make at least one aspect of Knell's job easier.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I Know It's a TV Show, But...

"Person of Interest" Has a Disinterest in New York Geography

I finally caught up tonight to the pilot for "Person of Interest."
I'll be back, and not just to see what other alumni from "Lost" besides Michael Emerson might show up (CBS has become quite the resting place for "Lost" alumni, with Daniel Dae-Kim and now Terry O'Quinn hanging ten on "Hawaii Five-O").
The show hummed along, even taking into account my lightning touch with the FF button on the DVR. Having the likes of J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan at the reins will do that for you. And having Jim Caviezel and Taraji P. Henson in the cast doesn't hurt either.
My beef: the show has the budget to flaunt the fact that it's filming in New York. And with so much of the plot depending on tiny details, you'd think the producers would at least attempt some verisimilitude, even if the premise of the show--a billionaire hires a former special forces op to stop murders he knows will happen--is incapable of same.
That's why we don't want to see a Manhattan D.A. getting out of the subway at Rockefeller Center to go to her office, when the real office is downtown. That's why we don't want to hear about a prison inmate in "county lockup."
County lockup in Manhattan? Fuhgeddabout it.
And when we see Caviezel's character riding the 6 train and is menaced by a bunch of hoodlums, anyone in the Big Apple knows that it's virtually impossible to be alone in a car at virtually any hour. But at least there was a Death Wish-esque payoff to the scene.
I know. It's a TV show, get over it. Well, at least it's not like "Law and Order" habitually giving addresses that would actually be in the Hudson River. At least not yet.
At least try to keep it real, though I'll give them a pass if the Dharma Project shows up in a future episode.

South Park Creators Split on Which Episodes Were the Crappiest

They Hate The First Three Seasons, But With an Exception

The current issue of Entertainment Weekly has a take-out on the 15-year anniversary of South Park, which cleverly includes creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone rating their favorite episodes and those they say had the biggest sucking sound.
In the latter category are 53, count 'em, 53 episodes, at least in the eyes of Parker. That's the sum total of the first three seasons.
"Okay, we were like 26, 27. But it's like Really? We thought that was funny? We thought that was well-written? Oh my God, this is terrible."
On the other hand, in rating the 15 best episodes, Stone cites the first episode of season two, the classic "Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus."
"I love that episode. It's so weird, and it's so different, and the fact that nobody else really liked it makes me like it more."
For those who need their Stone-Parker fix, the pair have said there will definitely be a "Book of Mormon" movie. In the meantime, I'll settle for the show, though my tickets won't get me in until April.