It's a fun new game and you can play along at home! Just place our president-elect's name in a list of names of shady characters. Then get rich on the teevee!
• Laura Bush either received $1.5 million for her memoir or $3.5-5 million, depending on who you believe. Either way, it's a lot less than Hillary Clinton's $8 million advance for Living History. [NYP, WSJ]
• Chris Matthews is not running for Senate, according to his brother. [P'ticker]
• A new buyer has emerged for TV Guide. The movie studio Lionsgate is picking up the cable network and website for $255 million. [AP]
• Senior Village Voice staffers are taking 10-15 percent pay cuts. [DW]
• Another reason kids can't find Iraq on a map: Foreign-related news coverage by the three major networks fell to a record low during 2008. [IPS]
• Those ads on the front-page of the Times run $75K on weekdays. [NYP]
• Ogilvy & Mather is cutting 10 percent of its staff today. [AdAge]
• CBS's Lara Logan gave birth to a son. [FBDC]
• Conservative radio is expecting a big boost once Obama takes office. Also, Fred Thompson, not Rudy Giuliani, will take over Bill O'Reilly's slot. [NYT]
• Publishers don't seem to be very interested in Laura Bush's memoir. [NYer]
• After a three-day blackout, China has unblocked the Times' website. [NYT]
• Is Chris Matthews running for office or sticking with NBC? [THR]
• The AP's list of top 10 news stories of 2008. [AP]
• Politico's list of the top 10 media blunders of 2008. [Politico]
• A list of the biggest media losers of 2008. [Business Sheet]
Hardball host (and potential political candidate) Chris Matthews is turning 63 today. Model/designer Milla Jovovich is turning 33. Peter Briger, the beleaguered president of Fortress Investment Group, is 45. Actor Eugene Levy turns 62. Giovanni Ribisi is 34. R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills is 50. And Penthouse founder Bob Guccione is turning 78.
Bad news for both of the "Chris Matthews For Senate" enthusiasts: the clear-haired shouting head "is expected to sign a long-term contract to remain as host of MSNBC's 'Hardball,'" Politico reports. After all his hollering about maybe leaving the show to run for the Senate —which was almost surely a negotiating tactic—"It's widely believed inside the network that Matthews will get a pay cut from his $5 million annual take." This man is an expert in the Machiavellian arts. [Politico]
Chris Matthews made some fabulously entertaining television in May when he schooled a right-wing pundit pretending to know who Neville Chamberlain was and why Barack Obama was just as awful. Then he did it again to Michele Bachmann when the Republican Congresswoman tried to slyly say all liberals and entire certain states were anti-American. Now he's just going all GOTCHA! on everyone, constantly, embarrassing himself in the process, like in the attached clip.
♦ Anna Wintour has responded to rumors she's leaving Condé Nast: "I have no plans to leave American Vogue now or in the foreseeable future." [NYO]
♦ Chris Matthews could be seriously considering quitting MSNBC to run for Senate. Or he could be using it as a negotiating tactic. [Politico]
♦ The Grammy noms were announced last night, in case you missed it. [AP]
♦ NBC has halted production of Knight Rider. [THR]
♦ More on the changes afoot at Random House. [NYO]
♦ ABC will air Homeland Security USA, a reality show produced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, in January. Really. [NYT]
Is haggard MSNBC host Chris Matthews actually running for Senate from Pennsylvania? Against five-term senior Republican Arlen Specter? Really? Politico says he's house-shopping in Philadelphia! He's asking insiders whether he should step down from MSNBC before his contract expires! Oh, and about that contract: it expires in June.
Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews are both famous cable news shouty persons, yes, but beyond that how much do they have in common? Both cling to a Northeastern Working-Class Catholicism that colors their broadcast personae even though they've both been rich and famous long enough to leave most of the lessons behind besides the strict moralism. But Matthews is an old Democrat working for liberal-leaning MSNBC, and O'Reilly is a culture war conservative with GOP in-house propaganda machine Fox. One more thing they share: they're not particularly liked by their peers! Matthews is seen as an overenthusiastic, affection-starved dog, at least if last April's devastating Times Magazine profile is to be believed. O'Reilly is just seen as a dick, if Michael Wolff is to be believed.
Chris Matthews is becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of TV news hosts. Even his NBC colleagues at the Tonight Show give him no respect. Host Jay Leno just last week led with dashing Matthews competitor Anderson Cooper of CNN, who was first to sit on Leno's couch and got extra time to chat after a commercial break. Matthews? After flying to LA for the appearance, he came out last night after a segment called "Things We Found On eBay," two turns on the couch by self-styled redneck Larry The Cable Guy AND after a special skit involving Larry. Then
Larry insulted Matthews with a joke about "The Chris Matthews Show," not realizing the program is known as Hardball (UPDATE: Joke's on me — that's an actual show! I guess Matthews looked annoyed at being interrupted so crudely, or somesuch). Leno awkwardly tries to salvage the situation in the clip after the jump.
♦ Although her life looks like it's finally back on track, a new documentary suggests Britney Spears thinks her new life is like prison and lacks "excitement" or "passion." Hopefully she'll be in a better mood in two weeks when she makes an appearance at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony. [The Sun, OK!]
♦ Could Anna Wintour be planning to retire? Page Six says the Vogue editor is thinking about leaving the mag once her contract is up, and she's even been recommending possible replacements to Si Newhouse. [P6]
♦ Kiefer Sutherland may be planning to move to NYC so he can be closer to his girlfriend, Allure style director Siobhan Bonnouvrier. [Daily Star]
♦ Madonna is reportedly making $10 million to appear in her new Louis Vuitton ad campaign. [P6]
♦ Bill O'Reilly has signed a new four-year contract with Fox News worth $10-12 million a year. There is good news, though: His radio show may be coming to an end. [NYDN]
♦ More bad news for Harvey Weinstein: A handful of senior execs at The Weinstein Co. have announced their departures. [THR]
♦ How are monthly business magazines keeping up with the financial crisis? They're not, really. [NYO]
♦ The offices of the New York Times received an envelope this morning containing a "white granular substance." [Radar]
During Friday's taping of Hardball, some audience members felt that this election simply isn't as hysterical as it could be, so they decided to do something about it. Host Chris Matthews was blissfully ignorant that the real show was going on just behind his back, with people in the crowd holding up signs featuring such stirring political rhetoric as "Tire Swings Are Not Toys!" and "Shawshank Redemption Deserved an Award!" Hmm... Wonder why no one in Matthews' crew let him in on the fun? Click through to view the LOLZ.
As we more or less said, before, MSNBC's switch from all-crazy-pundit all-the-time (their two most unbalanced talking heads anchoring convention coverage? what can possibly go wrong!) to the more traditional "boring old guy who'll accept your bullshit with a smile" approach is a cowardly retreat by MSNBC president Phil Griffin, giving in to the outdated old methods of NBC News head Stave Capus and NBC head Jeff Zucker. It's a return to the "beat CNN at their game" idea, only that "game" is boring and they'll never beat them at it. Today's Observer explores the decision to kick Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews back down to their pundit kids table. It's a victory for the "serious" journalists of Washington, DC, and a terrible defeat for people who enjoy television.
Keith Olbermann may have been pushed out of his gig anchoring MSNBC's election coverage, but the Countdown host actually made out pretty well, with the cable news network widely reported to be in the process of extending his contract. Far sadder is the case of Olbermann's fellow shouting head Chris Matthews, also ejected from the election team over his on-air feuds. Matthews' contract is up in 2009, two years sooner than Olbermann's, and yet no one is talking about buttering him up! That's probably because lantern-jawed Olbermann, by far the more overtly partisan of the two, has done more to gin up ratings. But apparently it's also because parent company GE's shareholders — that is, people primarily concerned with making money off a sprawling multinational corporation and with no expertise in running media operations — were unhappy with the network's convention coverage. Report the MSNBC haters at the Post:
So MSNBC going back to more "traditional" election coverage? Looks like that David Gregory ascendancy everyone predicted back before the Rachel Maddow ascendancy is finally happening! All because Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams are embarrassed by those loud shouty people and Jeff Zucker's in serious trouble with the rest of the Illuminati. Well it's a stupid, stupid idea, for many reasons. Reasons which we'll explain below.
It was unthinkable that MSNBC could come out of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions without a major, public shakeup of its political news team. The incessant fighting between the cable network's most opinionated anchors — Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews — marred the chance to retain all those new young viewers Olbermann has attracted over the past year or two. But now that the other shoe has dropped, with the anchor team of Olbermann and Matthews being replaced by comparatively neutral White House correspondent David Gregory, it would be a mistake to think MSNBC has undergone some sort of deep existential crisis that will pull it back from the brink of becoming the Fox News Channel of the left. The network's ratings growth, driven by Olbermann, has been too good and too long coming, and the lefty anchor (according to the Times) is about to re-up his plush contract, which in any case has three of four yeas left on it. And MSNBC will have done plenty if it simply gets its big-name blowhards acting at a high school level of maturity rather than yelling at one another like a bunch of kindergartners. Network executives appear to appreciate this! From the Times: