Ted Koppel, the impressively-haired former ABC newsman, is parting ways with the Discovery network six months before his contract is up. You may or may not have been aware that he's been working with them since 2006. Not the greatest tragedy in history, but it does point to the sad plight of the former big-time news anchor. There's nowhere to go but down from the heights of the network news desk. Where are all those famous former anchors today?
So it turns out "crazy" old Dan Rather has turned up some actual, you know, evidence for his theory of a vast right-wing conspiracy to take him down at CBS News four years ago: CBS memos show the guy who led the "investigation" into Rather's 60 Minutes story on the president's Air National Guard service was appointed after getting "high marks from the G.O.P." Another Republican was rejected after being deemed not sufficiently right-wing by a CBS lobbyist and executives. Craven CBS News suits even considered having Rather's work reviewed by Ann Coulter and various other terrible right-wing demagogues:
Dan Rather won't be covering the election tonight for a major American network. The longtime CBS News anchor, who remains embroiled in a $70 million lawsuit against his former employer, signed with the French cable network Canal Plus a few weeks ago to provide election commentary to French television viewers. Supposedly he'll be on the air this evening to cover the returns and he'll return tomorrow to offer up some post-election analysis. (It's unclear how his "Ratherisms" will play with audiences on other side of the Atlantic.) But in the meantime, you can take a look at this clip which has been touting his arrival on French TV in recent days. It's in French, but the opening introduction is priceless: "In the United States, he's as well-known as Mickey [Mouse], as popular as Elvis."
Nightlife impresario Scott Sartiano turns 34 today. Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni turns 44. Dan Rather is 71. Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger is turning 52. Architect Zaha Hadid is 58. Novelist Kinky Friedman is 64. Jane Pauley is turning 58. Mega hotel developer Ira Drukier turns 63. Actor Dermot Mulroney is 45. Director Peter Jackson turns 47. Rob Schneider is 45. And Robert Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, is 41.
♦ Last night's debate attracted more viewers than the first, but not as many as last week's debate. [MediaPost]
♦ Dan Rather will be covering the presidential elections for a French TV network. Does he speak French? [Variety]
♦ Fox's 24 will command the highest ad rates this season. [AdAge]
♦ PBS has decided not to air a documentary about Bush administration torture tactics until after the election. [NYT]
♦ Britney Spears is back in print to hype her latest fragrance line. [AdRants]
♦ Steve Carell will play a French soldier in Brigadier Gerard. [THR]
♦ Sean Hannity has signed a new "multi-year" deal with Fox News. [THR]
♦ Cutbacks at the Wall Street Journal: Reporters will only get one laptop now, not two. [Gawker]
♦ Ratings for Meet the Press have dropped since Tim Russert's passing. [NYP]
♦ The New York Times is shutting down the website for the International Herald Tribune. [E&P]
♦ People is rushing to market a 96-page, soft-cover book commemorating Paul Newman. [Folio]
♦ Dan Rather is seeking to expand his suit against CBS. And he's "only" making $1.5 million a year at HDNet, in case you were wondering. [Bloomberg]
♦ Dreamworks is downsizing. [Nikki Finke]
♦ The Natalee Holloway made-for-TV movie is on the way. To Lifetime, naturally. [NYP]
♦ Ryan Seacrest's radio show is coming to New York. And some people wonder why radio is dying. [NYP]
Admit it. You've been wondering what John McCain eats for breakfast. The answer? Coffee, cereal, and fruit. (No, not babies.) Barack Obama gobbles down four to six eggs, potatoes, and wheat toast, and occasionally adds fruit, bacon, and oatmeal to the menu. (How does he stay so thin?) We certainly didn't see this one coming, but Tom Brokaw says he's a granola and yogurt kind-of-guy. Maureen Dowd? "I don't eat breakfast. Just coffee." A few other breakfast choices of media and political types after the jump.
Dan Rather filed that big $70 million lawsuit against CBS last year because, he said, they hung him out to dry like a coonskin on a tree branch when it turned out there were problems with his story about George W. Bush's National Guard Service. CBS said Rather was crazier than a coyote with Mexican jumping beans in his anus. (Okay, that's enough). Some of his suit was thrown out in April, and now two more of his remaining four claims have been dismissed. But he's still alive!
You won't find a big grin on Dan Rather's face today. Yesterday a judge threw out two of the four remaining claims that are part of the newsman's $70 million lawsuit against CBS, including the most serious allegation, that the network committed fraud for "falsely promising to help restore his reputation." Rather still plans to press ahead with the his less-serious charges of of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. And the disappointing development didn't seem to put off his lawyer. He told reporters that the case is "still alive" and the breach-of-contract claim would be a "slam dunk." [NYP]
Dan Rather's contract with Mark Cuban's TV network HDNet should not be up until nearly a year from now, assuming the terms Rather disclosed just before he inked the deal still hold. But would the contract prevent the former CBS Evening News anchor from contributing in some way to Tina Brown's forthcoming news website The Beast? Perhaps that's what Brown and Rather were discussing during a "very long lunch" at The Park on Tenth Avenue, as reported by a Post spy. Though Rather's work at HDNet has garnered some positive recognition, it's not nearly as visible as his work for CBS was. A Web gig or partnership would give Rather a shot at regaining more of the attention he once had — and that any veteran TV newsman would crave. Perhaps the skilled lawyers working for Brown's business partner Barry Diller can work something out on the proud old newshound's behalf. [Post]
Remember when it was sort of a big deal for people to mix up Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and noted terrorist Osama bin Laden? Late last year, it was major news when CNN confused them in two different segments — the network apologized in print, on air and personally via telephone. When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did the same, a Huffington Post blogger wrote, in commentary typical of the moment, that "the fear of terrorism makes the Obama-Osama name mix-up anything but off-color camp." The news media has had seven months to clean up its act, but hardly seems to have learned a thing. The cable news networks tallied three Osama-Obama slip-ups in the past week alone, TVNewser noted, including a third-time offense from MSNBC's Chris Matthews. After the most recent, by Dan Rather on MSNBC Friday morning, none of the four people on camera even bothered to correct the gaffe, even though Rather actually went whole-hog and called Obama "Osama bin Laden." Where's the outrage?
Poor Dan Rather. You step away from the news game for a couple of years and all those skills you developed as an anchor over three decades just seem to go to pot. (Look at Tom Brokaw on MSNBC.) Rather turned up on Morning Joe today to talk about the Jesse Jackson controversy, but he didn't just accidentally switch around Obama and Osama's first names like so many other news personalities recently: He mentioned how Jesse Jackson "paved the way for men like Osama Bin Laden." And just seconds after pointing out to Tiki Barber that if you're in the spotlight, your every word will be endlessly dissected by the media. Dissect for yourself after the jump.
We can say with complete confidence that we have never been more confused, astonished, entertained, and oddly turned on by a music video than we are today, when we witnessed the magic of Willie Nelson’s “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore.” What sounds incredibly boring turns out to be a tasty Southern stew featuring cameos from Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Jessica Simpson, and Dan Rather. The casting kind of makes sense (Luke did that Movie That Shall Not Be Named with Jessica, Willie loves Jessica, Woody loves Owen, and Dan Rather is, well, available these days?), but whoever directed this clusterfuck of pool-hall scenes, lawn mower races and eerily quick flashes of an obese redneck wearing an “I (Heart) Owen” t-shirt has nevertheless managed to surpass Gondry in kookiness, surpass the Coens in suspense, and pretty much serve up the most bizarre clip we’ve seen yet this year. See what we mean after the jump. [People]
Four of the seven counts in the suit brought by Dan Rather against his former employers at CBS have been dismissed. Unfortunately for CBS, among the three remaining counts is the "the $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages Rather is seeking from CBS for breaching his contract." So the vast government conspiracy bit of the lawsuit is apparently without merit, but he'll still get his money (maybe). After the jump, we've embedded the text of the judge's decision. And because that is not very interesting, we've also embedded a rockin music video.
Oh, poor dejected Dan Rather. Dumped by his network, left out of self-congratulatory media parties and solitarily pursuing a vanity lawsuit. Well, at least he has the gab fest of that is the View. Today, he got to pontificate about the election, as well as explain his conspiracy theories about why he was fired from CBS. Joy Behar even called him a "sex god." About four minutes in, Barbara Walters asks Rather about his lawsuit, and Rather gets all Howard Beale-lite. His paranoia got our paranoia going. What personal vendetta is Barbara Walters pursuing by asking Rather about his crazy suit? Did ABC News bigwigs tell her to bring up the case to hurt CBS News? Was 9/11 an inside job? Video after the jump.
Last night was the television news magazine 48 Hours 20 Year anniversary party, or we like to call it, the 175,320 Hours party. Dan Rather, the show's original host, was not invited, which makes sense since he's suing the network for wrongful termination. Seriously, it would have been way more awkward if he went. [NYMag]
"They're toads," Tony Kornheiser recently said about bloggers on a radio show for which he is paid good money. "They're little toads. Actually, they're pimples on the behind of the greater body politic in this country and in this city. And because, because they have access to airwaves and three or four people read them, they think, 'Oh, I'm very important.'" Kind of like radio hosts! But enough of that goofball, there are nine bigger blogger-haters who deserve derision — not because bloggers don't deserve constant mockery, but because insulting an entire class of people always guarantees failure.