Saturday, November 29, 2003

Is This The End of Dan Rather?

Today's Drudge Report has as it's headline, "DAN RATHER MAY END ANCHOR RUN NEXT YEAR." It goes on to say, "Executives plot late '04 departure of CBS star... 'After the election, we are looking at changes,' a top network source tells DRUDGE... "


Now, The Corsair has to take this with a pinch of salt as Drudge is well known for dropping the ball on big exclusives (remember the "exclusive" that Eisner and Disney were going to buy Apple Computer?) What a howler in bad reporting. But this could be true, as Drudge has conservative informants high up in the media Establishment, and Rather's retirement would be major news.

Let The Corsair count the ways in which this is a significant development. For one, In 1986, Dan Rather was stalked, pummeled and kicked on a Manhattan sidewalk by a well-dressed man who kept asking "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" On REM's 1994's Monster album, they viciously (deliciously) parodied the line in their single hit of the same name.This bit of trivia, by the way, is a propos of nothing, The Corsair just wanted to find a use for that bit of odd arcana.

Rather has been the most hated man in television news-- the antichrist, if you will, embodying the establishment left. His softball rebuttal-free interview with Sadaam Hussein, a tryant, did not help reconstruct his image in my book.

And Conservatives have some cause for this animus. In April 2001, Dan Rather helped raise $20,000 for the Travis County Democratic Party in Austin, Texas. Howie Kurtz of The Washington Post did a front page story, confronting Rather.

The newsman replied to criticism of his journalistic objectivity (ABC's Jeff Greenfield, for example, once a Democrat, has renounced all partisan activity in the name of journalistic integrity), said he "wouldn't be surprised" if critics use the incident to call him a secret Democrat. "I'm going to get that criticism whether I deserve it or not."

If conservatives are not fans of Rather, I don't see the left coming to his defense. And lefties are very good about aiding people who are defenseless, even after a roughing up by that well dressed man. But in fact they, too, find him unpalatable.
All of this begs the question: if neither the left nor the right feels comfortable in Dan Rather's objectivity, then why is he a Wise Man? The Corsair always thought it had to be the hair ... that, or the nervous beady eyed creepy-unstable look that he pulls off so well.

UPDATE: Dan Rather, responding to the Drudge rumors, says "Hell no, I won't go!"

Jackson Victim's Story

Truly it is a day steeped in Kierkegaardian irony (I know what you're thinking: with a beginning like that, where is The Corsair going with this?) that sources like The National Enquirer are regularly scooping the mainstream media on the celebrity gossip trial beat that ultimately fuels viewer interest in lowest common denominator fare-- especially in these dog days of Thanksgiving. Every damned cable talk show worth their salt is chatting about Michael Jackson, delivering hot air, contributing mightily to global warming; you just know Geraldo is going to cover the legal angle of this even if you never turn him on. (Incidentally, does watching Geraldo's show, much like E! Celebrity Uncensored make you just want to take a shower? No? That's just me again? Great.)

It is culturally significant that Bonnie Fuller -- a media persona well ahead of the curve -- has abandoned traditional status filled glossy publications to pursue the redemption of the low market tabloid.

But then again, we have been angling towards this candy colored culture of shadenfreude for some time now. Any society that allows a a romantic song with the chestnut lyrics "You remind me of my Jeep" to top the Billboard charts is sick, sick, sick and deserves what's coming to it. And then some.

Anyhoo: Who doesn't like a celebrity trial is what The Corsair says-- it's just that, well, with Phil Specter's murder allegations and Jackos kid sex allegations buzzing about the ethers, things are almost a bit too ... seedy ... to excavate the snark from out of; do you know what I mean?

The media landscape is cluttered with high grade humorless celebrity felonies (see today's Page Six cartoon), it reminds me of New York City under Mayor Ed Koch. Think: Streethawks, starring Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams. Seedy! It's almost too sad to comment upon.

Almost! Alexis de Tocqueville hinted that democratic levelling may lead us to this 'culture of ogling cosmetically-altered criminally minded freaks straight out of central casting for Fellini's Satyricon,' only he didn't use that particular phrasing. If anything, The Corsair loves to translate the classics into today's language. And if Howie Kurtz is talking to James Wolcott about Michael and Majestik, well, then, it cannot be completely taboo.

Perhaps "celebrity justice" is a natural byproduct of democracy in this sense: the public joy, or at least, the public fascination with the ridicule of the famous provides a release valve for resentments over the natural differences in wealth and excellence. As a very public act, almost a holy excorcism of resentment, the celebrity trial affirms that we are indeed all equal before the eyes of the law, and riches don't really make you happy, right? Suuure.

The National Enquirer now has the story (or, "the SHOCKING story," as they describe it after the tabloidian manner) of Jackson's alleged victim. Apparently, nude photos of the boy were taken. The Enquirer describes their particular brand of journalism in this way:

"The issue that goes on sale Friday discloses how the boy's 'hostage' mom escaped from Michael's Neverland ranch, chronicles Michael's non-stop Las Vegas partying with young boys in the days before his arrest ... and much, much more."

Not just much, says the noble Enquirer, but "much, much": Joy to the world.

That Grimy Grotto

Krista Allen, the very sexy pin up girl for the December 2003 Christmas issue of Stuff Magazine (hey, The Corsair only buys it for the interviews) has an interesting story about the perils of doing a swimsuit scene in the infamous Playboy masion Grotto:

"We shot (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) at the Grotto at the Playboy mansion. I was nervous to get in the water because, I mean, this is the Playboy grotto -- who knows what goes on in those pools. Afterwards I took a lot of antibiotics and prayed for the best."
Madonna and Time Warner Culture

"At the party to introduce Sex, (then Time Warner CEO) Jerry Levin arrived dressed for the occasion in a (Warner Brothers) baseball jacket. Entering he saw an actress bent over to receive a tattoo on her butt. He saw transvestites gyrating upon pedestals in leather corsets. He saw Madonna herself, led around on a leash till she bumped into Jerry, one bewildered looking executive. Others from the Time background, who had seen their careers reporting on world catastrophes, had seen it all, from Crimean mass rape to the Salk vaccine, seen it all then been able to golf a round on Sunday, felt disgust. 'Sex was a low point in publishing,' Marty Payson opined. 'Everyone associated with the company was embarassed about that.' Her book stiffled. Madonna's companion album, Erotica, became the most returned in WEA memory."

Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group by Stan Cornyn and Paul Scanlon.

Tucker Carlson On Fame

"Hardest of all to get used to, though, was the loss of anonymity in public. Working in television is like having your picture in the Post office. People you've never seen before know what you look like.

"I didn't fully comprehend the consequences of this until I flew to Italy for a friends wedding. Thanks to bad weather I wound up spending quite a bit of time in the Paris airport. One beer led to another, and by the time I boarded the flight to Florence, I'd definitely been drinking. I wasn't embarrassingly wino drunk, though I was dirty and unshaven. I was, however, impared enough not to notice that there was a large Moroccan man seated between me and the aisle.

"Not long after takeoff, I had to go to the bathroom fairly desperately. (Savvy travellers, I've since learned, don't drink four liters of beer before getting on airplanes). By this time, the Moroccan guy was asleep, completely passed out and snoring. Rather than wake him I decided to climb over his seat. Stepping from one armrest to the other, I made it successfully.

"I had no such luck on my way back. Years later I convinced myself that the plane had turbulence just as I was standing over the sleeping man. I'll never know for sure. I do know that somehow I lost my balance and wound up falling knees-first into his lap.

"He woke up screaming. I didn't understand the precise meaning of his words, but I got the general point. He yelled in the intercontinental language of pain, fear and confusion. I tried to apologize, but this seemed to make him more agitated.

"He didn't stop shouting until I got off his lap, which wasn't easy. It was a loud moment.

"But not so loud I couldn't hear my own name spoken in a stage whisper from three rows back. It was a group of American tourists. They were staring at me. "That's definitely him," said one. "I saw him on CNN last week."

Tucker Carlson, Politics, Partisans and Parasites.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Janice Dickinson: Sexing the Stars

No, dear readers: The Corsair is not way behind the curve on this one; he is fully aware that Janice Dickinson's smouldering autobiography No Lifeguard on Duty has been out for a while -- but since the holidays -- the slow days -- are here: let's recap the juicy bits.

Before we begin, The Corsair ran into Dickinson midtown two summers ago. She is very beautiful in a scary, dark and highly aggressive older woman way. The Corsair checked out her, uhm, assets, as she passed, and, within moments, Dickinson turned as well and returned and met this noble chronicler with a ferocious stare. This woman is not to be trifled with! Grrr...

So, briefly, here is what we learn. Bill Cosby flies a fluffy supermodel out to Vegas to open up for him as a singer (yes, that is sketchy). The married Cosby comes to her room and hits on her -- she turns him down -- and he yells at her saying, angrily: "After all I've done for you, that's what I get?"

Dickinson renders Warren Beatty in the sad reflection of the mirror of his vanity. Trapped in the reflection, Beatty stares at himself; plays with his hair -- for an hour or so -- after coitus with Dickinson (He's so vain; I bet he thinks this blog is about him):

"I woke up a few hours later, at around three in the morning, Warren wasn't in bed. I looked across the room and found him admiring himself in the mirror.

"'What are you doing,' I asked in a sleepy voice.'

"'Nothing,' he said, but he couldn't take his eyes off himself. He ran his hands through his hair, staring at his own reflection in the mirror, . I went back to sleep, in the morning, when I woke up, he was standing there again, playing with his hair, mussing it; trying to get it just right -- going for that just-been-fucked look. I guess he thought he was pretty too."

Helmut Newton approached her at a pool one time and asked her to "take off her clothes." To which she responded, "fuck you, you dirty old perv."

Calvin Klein fires her for taking Qualudes before a fashion show, saying, "you will never work with me again, Janice, you have my solemn promise on that."

Janice slept (if that is the right word) with Mick Jagger all night long: " The man was indefatigable ... He was pure energy -- kind of spooky., to tell you the truth. I woke up the next morning feeling like I'd been through a war."

Sylvester Stallone, who Janice has sex with, likes to refer to the act as "bam ham slam" thinking -- sadly -- that this is witty.

If you never got the book, it makes for a great Christmas present.

If this is old news, hey, just remember, good gossip is forever.
How Bush Made His Secret Iraq Trip Happen

Democrats and Republicans and even Greens can all, I hope, appreciate that our President made his top secret trip to visit our demoralized troops in Iraq yesterday at high risk, for that special Thanksgiving meal.

Matt Drudge, who is becoming increasingly influential among media types, what with his web exclusives and that infamous K Street "non appearance (James Carville threatening to kick his invisible ass via his answering machine for naming Mary Matalin, his very dark wife, as a possible White House leaker to uber-grouch Washingtonian beltway insider Robert Novack)" -- anyway, Drudge gives us the meaty scoop with the help of the raw press pool notes of Washington Post reporter Mike Allen's on his site.

Drudge described the event, thus:

" General Sanchez said, 'God bless you for all of your sacrifices,' and hurriedly introduced Ambassador Bremer. Bremer said he had Thanksgiving greetings from the President. But then Bremer, hamming it up, looked toward stage left and said, 'Let's see if we've got anyone more senior here.' Then the President came out and the room erupted even before he reached the stage ..."

The account is very interesting. One of the most interesting passages from the notes comes from a quote from Communications Director Dan Bartlett , who told the Press on Air Force One:

"It is absolutely critical, when we land, that you do not open your windows. Particularly as we land and when we're on the ground, we want no light emanating from the plane. We will not be pulling up to a terminal ... We will be stopping at the end of the runway. It's just important that we move quickly, do not open up the windows to illuminate any light."

Lawrence Taylor Turned Tricks

The Corsair is in Boston now, don't ask us why. After the turkey, the triptophan and the family, he is in full pundit mode (or as the cool Michael Hirschorn might say, talent-mode), pondering deeply the issue of Lawrence Taylor, who has admitted to sending call girls to the hotel rooms of opposing team players to wipe them out before the big game.

Apparently, contingent upon payment, said ladies of the evening were ordered to give the poor saps a "full night" of, um, athleticism. Holey moley, thinks The Corsair, jaded, with only the faintest whiffs of snark implied: And this nugget is airing on the prestigious 60 Minutes, of all venues. What is the media coming to?

"You know what they like and what type of women they like and you just call the service," Taylor tells the ancient, pharaonic Mike Wallace.

The Corsair believes that this is a stroke of evil genius right out of Sun Tsu and cannot decide whether this story is a worthy object of opprobrium or mirth.

Alls fair in love and football.

Madonna Loses Her Accent!

It's official: Madonna has lost her faux British accent. Wednesday night, as The Corsair sat among family preparing for a big turkey feast, he got a pleasant surprise. On Jay Leno's late night show, Madonna dicussed her career not like a 50s movies star, but in a sort of Los Angeles Valley girl hipster accent. What's up with that?

"This is a job," Madonna told Jay she advised Britney Spears , "this is not your life."

But the Material girl, with her red Kabbala string firmly affixed to her well toned wrist, seemed to slip in and out of her accent. Whenever The Material One was asked, for example, to deliver pronouncements on the state of celebrity or the like ... slowly ... very slowly ... the accent veered back into Oxbridge via the Paramount lot, circa The Rat Pack days. Hmm.

The Corsair can understand. Madonna, as a "pop artist" and, more specifically, a singer is a sort of amorphous self (The Corsair has dated enough "actresses" to know the drama involved in the craft).

Maddy began as a NY downtown hipster by way of the University of Michigan (dance) and spoke accordingly in that familiar urban cool patois; then she was Mrs. Penn and hid from the paparazzi, demurely, as her id-driven Marlon Brando wannabe husband issued unpredictable beat downs accompanied by thuglike Quest For Fire grunts; then she was reinvented in the Latina phase (The Lost Years), where La Madonna provocatively hung around attractive gay dancers, played Truth or Dare, and engaged in epater le bourgoisie against our outmoded Victorian sexual mores (excuse us!);

Now, stroll with me through the gallery of Madonna's hip hop mogul Maverick record era( "Music makes the bourgoisie and the rebel ...") , replete with the overflowing Cristal, Guy Oseary and Ingrid Cesares
rubbing up against her on the aquarium dancefloor as sharks and tropical fish frolic underneath unawares, baskeball players undressing, Jose Canseco leaving her house at 6am, ah those "bling bling" days in Miami --the blessed excess... back, when the Clinton economy was huuge.

Things have gotten more domestic. Now, Madonna does dinner with Prince Charles, has a mansion and her British babies with overrated underground director Guy Ritchie.

Is this where the great adventuress Madonna ends her days: shipwrecked on the somewhat ordinary shores of la Isla Bonita? In Britain, with babies, a moderately successful Britisher husband, eating boiled food and practicing the Kabbala in a draughty old mansion?

The Corsair cannot help but wonder if Madge is fed up with Britain. I mean, if she is no longer speaking in the accent, how much longer can the nation itself fare in her restless artistic consciousness?

So what will be the next Madonna Period? Will it be a melancholic Blue Period, like Picasso? Will she have a polo playing period, like the hapless pump-wielding Sylvester Stallone? She never really did have a hip hop period -- I mean, she did "date" Tupac Shakur and all, but she was never really immersed. How about a younger guy, Madge, like Demi's Ashton or Cameron Diaz's Justin?

Who knows with the unpredictable Ms. Ciccone. Who knows, indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

E! Celebrity Uncensored

Is it just me or do you feel like you need to take a shower after watching the very sleazy Celebrity Uncensored on E! Television, which is also pretty slutty as far as stations go.

Oh, it is just me? Swell.
Val Kilmer: Uber-Creepy

Oh, and a propos of nothing: How creepy is Val Kilmer? I don't know why this thought came to me but let's lay it on the table and deal with it, shall we?

It's not his quirky roles, like Batman, Jim Morrison or porn "star" John Holmes, although it contributes to his general oddness.

No, that's not it. By Hollywood standards Val isn't that freaky, either: I mean, he didn't seduce Cher when she was 16, like Warren Beatty did.

It's just a general impression Val gives off; you know, psycho vibes. Even supermodel airhead Cindy Crawford, his ex-girlfriend, hinted at it when she described him as "intense" (which, translated by The Corsair means nuttier than Martin Lawrence wearing several jump suits and jogging in LA during several summers ago, to lose weight for a movie role).

Mark my words, Val Kilmer is very, very strange.

Russell Crowe at Strip Club

Testosterone feuled A Lister Russell Crowe was spotted at a well named strip club called the Dollhouse according to Jeanette Walls of MSNBC. His pregnant wife Danielle Spencer wasn't in attendance. Now, such things are not felonies, Uma used to let Ethan go to Scores all the time (and look how that worked out). Crowe and his entourage, however, freaked out when they saw cameras. Feeling a little -- how does one say this?-- guilty? Call The Corsair cynical, but I do not think Crowe was built for monogamy.

Okay, I'll say out loud what you're all thinking: it must be a slow newsday for Ol' Corsair.

Celebrity Mug Shots

While we are on The Smoking Gun, The Corsair particularly like their page devoted to Celebrity Mug Shots.

Noelle Bush is a heinous one (then again what do you expect from such an .. intrusive ... "impromptu photo shoot"). And disgraced Congressman James Trafficant, with his toupee all aloft, may answer the very cool Elzabeth Spier's question as to whether or not Michael Jackson will be allowed to keep his prosthetic nose in the clink.

Dana Plato's mugshot made me sad. Wynona Judd's Kinda freaked me out; it definitely harshed my mellow. But then I gazed at Carmen Electra's mugshot and everything was right in the world again.
Kabbala Red String Theory

Those cats at The Smoking Gun are at it again! Scooping the mainstream press, they give us the goods on Paris Hilton, who, when she is not wearing a black wig and keeping it on the down low, is wearing Kabbala red string to ward off bad mojo.

Now I know what I want for Christmas: some Kabbala red string!

The Observer's Simon Doonan was a precog on the Kabbala thing, but he has another plan for Partis' image rehabilitation:

"FINAL DAY: First outing. No, not the Ivy or the Kabbalah Centre (The Corsair is shiverring now, because Doonan wrote this days before the fact) or some other tragically trendy, paparazzi�d destination: I�m talking about lunch at Le Deli Grandeville, a public eatery located in the basement of 450 West 33rd Street. This inappropriately monikered, unglamorous canteen feeds a wide spectrum of earnest hard-working New Yorkers, including the employees of Lerners, Channel 13 and Doubleclick. Le Deli Grandeville will be Ms. Hilton�s big opportunity to find out, via supervised conversations, how the other half live."

Hey, Doonan, can you gaze into your crystal ball and tell me if you see The Corsair hooking up with the BBC's sexy Washington Correspondent Katty Kay?

Happy Thanksgiving

I've only been at this daily for about a month or so, but I'd like to take the time for those of you who have been following this daily. Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I'll be off tommorrow, but back on Friday.

Ron Mwangaguhunga
Page Six Rocks!

The Corsair has always been a fan of Page Six. In fact, if he does not get his daily Page Six fix for whatever reason, he gets cranky. But to my surpise, today's Page Six is particularly juicy. We read about P Diddy declaring himself the Big Maverick Award at VH1, a drunken Farah Fawcett (which remind The Corsair about the Joe Esterhaus tale of Farah peeing against a tree in Hollywood; Farah is very strange even for an Aquarius) and Queen Elizabeth is furious at President Bush. Thank you God, for allowing there to be a Page Six.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Are Corporate Magazines the New Black?

Hey, what's up with corporate magazines? They are attracting some top drawer talent these days. First, the Elder Brother of the New York media elite Kurt Andersen went to Colors, which, admittedly, is not your typical corporate magazine; and, for that matter, neither is Bergdorf Goodman, which is where, among other places, the very cool Michael Gross is nesting.

Magazines sponsored by a corporation allow their editors more freedom, The Corsair imagines. Then, of course, there is that persnikety question of moolah, cheddar, cash. In this media environment magazines are losing dollars by the fistful and advertisers aren't what they used to be in those glossy, glossy cyber 90s, or even the razzle dazzle Reagan years.

One doesn't have to worry about that when you've got a single cash infused entity writing the checks and asking only for the prestige, the face of a top notch editor. It's a good move on all sides, The Corsair thinks: iconic brands with great editors. It is a sort of Medici-like interlocking structure of artist and patron where everyone involved gets a piece of the action.

So, who is next? Michael Kinsley at Apple Magazine? Tina Brown at The Manolo Blahnik Quarterly? Richard Johnson at Jaguar?

The possibilities are endless.
Graydon Carter: Libertarian Chic

I know, the shrill preachiness of Ayn Rand gave them a bad name. A geeky name. But now, several decades after the fact, Graydon Carter, arbiter of DC-LA urbane, the "daddio of cool" (sorry, Tina) is here to resurrect our favorite third party from obscurity. Atlas be Shrugged: La Graydon is a Libertarian! Get Carter.

And here I always thought of Libertarians as your prototypical milk dud munching, pocket protector wearing, Cato Institute joining, economics majoring Ludwid Von Mises quote machines. Noooo: that image is so Night of January the 16th; the new libertarian is John Gault with Saville Row suits and an architectonic haircut; de groovy. The new libertarian edits a Conde Nast glossy. Hey, even businessmen need a defender.

While We the Living go on with our silly Anthems about smokers rights and the rightness of the war in Iraq, capitalist libertines everywhere can cheer, because Graydon Carter, The Voice of Reason, is looking out for captains of industry and Hollywood stars from the Editor's Letter page at VF. Basta!

(PS: You know we only kid you, Graydon, because we are fond of you)
Jack Be Nimble

Jack Nicholson, the star of the upcoming Somethings Gotta Give, makes an interesting comment in the 50th Anniversary Playboy Magazine (hey, The Corsair thinks it may be a collectors item) on male nudity in American films:

"In a less romantic film I would have no problem letting my tits and guts and everything else spill all over the neighborhood."

Gee, thanks for sharing, Jack.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Apologia Pro Lauren Zalaznick

Lauren Zalaznick, prexy of Trio TV is becoming quite the celebrity in here. Anyway, if you weren't logging in earlier, there was a confusing little contretemps that is now over and I must set the record straight.

The Corsair wishes to apologize from the bottom of his healthily ironic heart and feverish mind for raking the very cool Laura Zalaznick over the coals in a blog, since edited out, that accused her and Trio of pilfering my 70s miniseries idea without giving me any props.

Karen Reynolds, the PR person for Universal Studios sent us a very gentle email explaining that the 70s mini series project had been in development for over a year. Oops. Maybe we are not the experts on the television side of the business as we thought we were? Then again, we all make mistakes.

Anyway, I posted the idea --in rough form -- on August 2003 on's boards. I also emailed the idea to their programming department at Then, one month later, Trio TV issued a press release touting basically the exact same films that I posted for a 70s mini series film series -- how wierd is that?

Anyway, I just read about the whole thing in TV Guide and said to myself: Okay, they took my idea and ran with it -- I did post it in cyberspace, the public domain, but couldn't they at least email me a heads up? Yo What's up with that?

So, in an addled mood I posted a harsh open letter to Zalaznick and Trio but I was wrong. I swear to God, the whole thing was so meta: it was like that What's Happening episode where Raj thinks his episode of the kids finding the bag of money is stolen by the tv executives, but he finds out that it wasn't.

Anyway, The Corsair still loves his Trio.

And I guess if I was spinning this I would say The Corsair was ahead of the curve and anticipated programming at Trio. If I were spinning.

Everyone watch Trios Top Ten Miniseries Countdown over the Holiday weekend.
Whatever Happened to AJ Benza?

Remember former NY Daily News gossip columnist AJ Benza, who got a movie deal with Miramax for his book Fame: Aint It A Bitch? What happened to him?

First Chuck Zito punched him out. Then, he threatened a New York Magazine reporter (or was that before Zito, angered by the profile, punched out AJ? Who knows).

Then there is the image of him hanging out with Tupac Shakur, "dating" Camille, the current wife of Kelsey Grammar, feuding with short fingered vulgarian Donald Trump ... ahh, that AJ, what a pip!

Anyone knows what happened to him?

UPDATE: Matt Haber of writes: "To answer your question: Benza's been doing voice over for the F/X Network.

"You can hear him almost any hour of the day promoting F/X shows on air."

Sleazy Celebrity Private Investigators

What is it about celebrities who use their resources and contacts to spy on one another? I mean, is there some secret espionage drive in stars? First we had the story of infamous sleaze, the mobbed up Anthony Pellicano and Cindy Adams' pal, who spied on celebrities for other celebrities.

In AJ Benza's unreadable bio Fame: Aint It A Bitch(hey Harvey, when is Miramax going to make the film version?) he notes that Tommy Motola spied on messages left on his then-wife Mariah Carey's beeper.

Now, Page Six reports that J Lo may have "found out" Ben Affleck's password and read his emails to Jennifer Garner.

Who knew that Hollywood was such fertile ground for spies?
James Wolcott Loves Majestik Magnificent

Ah, Sunday afternoon with The Corsair: a strong Kenyan coffee (bold ... yet unpretentious ...), the monsterous New York Times Sunday edition sprawled across the apartment, blueberry muffins half munched ... and the piece de la resistance: CNN's Reliable Sources with Howie Kurtz.

We fess up to our media geekiness.

This Sunday, Vanity Fair's James Wolcott, easily one of the best essayists in the english language (we love you, Wolcott, we even find that anti-Soprano stance groovy), professed a secret love.

Now, you ask, what could an esteemed writer like Wolcott find to love? Brian De Palma(okay, The Corsair did think that Wolcott was a bit wacky for claiming that B-movie schlock king Di Palma was the best living filmmaker; we reserve that for Ingmar Bergman) ? No, no, no: Wolcott said that he loved Michael Jackson's eccentric personal clown, Magestik Magnificent . Think: P Diddy's Farnsworth Bentley, but even more loyal and odd.

Howie Kurtz's eyes glazed over in a "nobody's home" kind of way when Wolcott layed out his pop culture street cred. What the fuck is a Magestik Magnificent, Howie seemed to be pleading out at us across the ethers before he sped along with another question.

But we at The Corsair know, James Wolcott, we too cannot get enough.
What Happened to Eduard Shevardnadze?

Back in the day Crazy Eddie Shevardnadze was our boy -- remember that? He was down with James Baker and George Bush the Elder and even Ambassador Vernon Walters, who used to quip that he could speak eight languages and think in none (too true, Vernon; too true).

Now, after two dozen years in power, Shevardnadze fell in for the old autocratic desire for unlimited power. Tant pis. But how did Shevardnadze go from being down with those Fabulous Baker boys, all presiding over the fall of the Soviet Union into being a petty tyrant from a tiny backwater?

As a rule of thumb, The Corsair believes that no head of state, no matter how good, should stay beyond ten years in power.

Now, if The Corair could be a benevolent autocrat he would make a modified Great Books education mandatory for all public school kids : Archimedes and Euclid and Ptolemy Math labs; piano keyboard lessons with music appreciation featuring Monteverdi and Bach and Beethoven and Coltrane; intensive biology labs with Harvey and Gray's Anatomy, supplemented by freehand drawing and painting of the torso and organs; African dance to get the blood flowing; kindergarteners can imitate and learn of cave drawings with charcoal; comparative world religions and myths for the kids' curiositas; and readings of the Analects of Confucius and Sun Tzu's Art of War and Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy and Clausewitz' On War for political science as well as reading of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the US Consitution.

Nah, who are we kidding, The Corsair could never be autocratic; the PC lobby and the teacher's unions would run me out of town faster than Calvin Klein can pitch woo at Latrell Sprewell during a Knicks game.

Oh well ....

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Samantha Gets Breast Cancer

Beloved Sex and the City's Samantha is going to get breast cancer this season, reports the Star Magazine.

Kim Catrall's sex obsessed character gets the bad news after returning home with her gal pals from a vacation in France.

Even The Corsair is a little misty about this news about a fictional character; Samantha was the one we liked the best. Who would you kill on SATC, bTW? Hmm?

White Lights! Vivid Dreams of Sharon

Former A-Lister and current wacky Hollywood femme fatale Sharon Stone dicusses her 2001 brain aneurysm with ... the British press. Ah, well: who else to discuss personal health issues? Sheesh: celebrity. From Hello! Magazine, November 25, 2003:

"I really changed after the aneurysm ... I saw the white light. It was a very beautiful and illuminating experience."

Riight. And speaking of crazy celebrities, there is a Michael Jackson joke a thon going on at Velvet Rope. For example: How does Michael Jackson pick his nose? From a catalogue. Oh well, they have better ones at Velvet Rope.

That was Steven Brill All Over

From James Cramer's autobiographical Confessions of a Street Addict, on mini mogul Steven Brill:

"(Brill) never did know when to quit, though, and could not bear to lose at anything. At the firm's summer outing at Brill's Westchester mansion, he divided us into teams, placing us in his pool, and insisted we play a vicious game of water polo where dunking was encouraged and expected. He relished the contact, being a head taller than just about anyone else on the opposing squad, including me. Just as I was about to score what would have been the tying goal for my team, Brill sank his teeth into my throwing arm, spouting blood into the clear water in a steady stream. As everyone looked on in horror, I could only laugh. That was Steve all over."

The Corsair is currently in the fetal position, knees touching his pronounced cheekbones, rocking himself back and forth, mumbling over and over again, "the New York media will be the end of me..."

Kobe Accuser Checks Into Rehab

The National Enquirer is reporting that Kobe's accuser has checked into a rehab clinic. The Corsair has always maintained -- okay, not always -- that either Kobe Bryant is a sociopath and liar or the accuser is: someone is lying. The fact that the accuser has entered rehab could have a great impact on the case -- or, to play devils advocate, it could indicate that the stress of the incident is getting to her.

Anyway, a little birdie says Kobe's cell number is 310-946-6046
Is Castro a Pimp?

Well, he certainly is pimpy, if not a pimp proper. What, with all that hair and the imperial manner and so forth. Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave, who knows a thing or two about abusive relationships, gives her jewelers eye to the situation in Cuba. Does Castro horrible mismanagement of this socialist country mean that he is enabling the massive prositution industry?

And while we're on a porny topic, the court documents on the Paris Hilton tape are in and they are complicated.

Here goes: Marvad made a deal with a man named Thrasher, who represented himself as selling the tapes with the permission of Rick Solomon, who now says that that is not the case. And, apparently, Paris was ostensibly okay with the tape being sold. Riiight. Who says porn companies aren't sleazy?

Anyhoo: This Thrasher guy said he already split the $50,000 with Solomon and plans to do the same with the 30 percent profits from the tape.

And Jennifer Anniston reached a $550,000 settlement for topless pics of her making the rounds.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Gary Wills on Gore Vidal

"I no longer read Vidal ... there are too many inaccuracies (in his work)."

On a public radio interview.
Why George Stephanopoulos will Fail at ABC

Not since Attilla the Hun's aggressive campaign against the Roman Empire has anyone been so audacious and bold as George Stephaopoulos' very public transformation from the creepy giggling elf behind James Carville's Cajun strategist routine in The War Room into a respected network news correspondent, or, as they say in the biz a "Wise Man." Imagine the thumos involved (George would appreciate the Greek philosophical reference) to think that you can go from the "the mouthpiece that turned" of the Clinton Years to Cronkite or Eric Sevareid, if you will, without paying the requisite dues. One wonders whether the appropriate response is to applaud or to be appalled at the cheek displayed.

ABC TV was driven by a felt need to make a sexier broadcast -- they just were; they saw their line up of Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts -- a conservative tea party with no breaking scoops and little eye candy -- and thought, this is the formula for perpetual third place.

ABC needed to bring a bull into the proverbial China Shop. In third place there is little room for failure. So: here comes velvety voiced squeaky clean metrosexual George Stephanopoulos, a yummy treat for the 20 and 30something Manolo Blahnik set, but, like Phil Donahue, not very popular with men.

But Young Stephanopoulos is smart and certainly charming in a Conte Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier kind of way, not unlike Daniel Patrick Moynihan and H. Carl McCall a generation or two previous -- smart attractive men with a bold future ahead, and all that. Soon Cokie and Sam were exiting stage center, George Will's air time was curtailed, and that creepy looking reptilian Fareed Zakaria was given a short segment as counterpoint to Young Stephanopoulos.

So George is alone in an ideal situation with utmost control on Sunday Morning. Yet he is still in third. George Stephanopoulos is behing Bob Schieffer, and, to be frank here, to get your ass kicked by Bob Schieffer is quite a feat. Why is this thus?

The answer is so simple it is plainly in the face of the suits, but because of their training they can not and will not see it. The answer is idealistic rather than the pragmatic and bottom line orientation of the typical ABC News suit: George Steph can not be accepted as a "Wise Man," at least not for a while, because he is too protean, too untrustworty, too "European" in character. Stephanopoulos may indeed be Conte Baldassare Castiglione's ideal courtier, able to charm Clinton and Taki Theodocrapolos as well as the buxom Bebe Newirth, but the American viewer will not tune in to a Wise Man lacking in gravitas and solid character.

If we were an ancient culture like, say, France, George Stephanopoulos would be accepted as an eminent talking head and intellectual, he might even be President. France is a pragmatic and ancient culture: they go in for the realities of ambition and Machiavelli; we, however, are different: America is a young nation of idealists. Naked ambition on a Stephanopoulan scale is messy, and counteractive to building public trust, i.e. ratings.

We are America, not France, and, not to sound too much like Chris Matthews, a man who has his finger on the pulse of America, we like straightforward and natural people with the gravitas of conviction and loyalty. George Stephanopoulos has exhibited little or none of that in his adult life.

George Stephanopoulos may one day pay his dues and become a man of gravitas like Tim Russert (think: Moynihan, Buffallo, NY rustic principles, family man, Roman Catholic, "working class") or Chris Matthews (Peace Corps in Africa, behind the scenes opeator for Tip O'Neill, practicing Catholic, "working class", centrist, appalled by Clinton's moral failings, family man). But to paraphrase Rose Tremain's glorious refrain in Restoration for her mercurial character Sir Merivel, "(George Stephaopoulos) is not yet the man he will become." And, whe he finally does complete that process, what an interesting person -- in politics and as a world commentator -- will be the man in full George Stephanopoulos.

Until then we get to see George in a spiffy new studio (why do network suits always construct elaborate new studios when a show is tanking? What is that about? Remember Bryant Gumbell's new studio? And Dianne Sawyer's at the beginning of her GMA run?) pressing buttoons and getting no public trust.
New Archaeological Find

The Corsair loves new archaeological finds. A New Testament verse inscribed on an ancient shrine. And, speaking of things antiquated: when will Morley Safer retire and let a young and hungry investigative journo get a break on 60 Minutes?

And speaking about antiquities what is it about Ambassador L.Paul Bremer's chair? It is just too imperial -- you know what I mean fellow media watchers? It's like he should be slurping a mint julep on that antique chair, inspecting his plantation or something. It is a very wierd looking chair: all elevated and throne-like.

That chair is not helping post-Persian Gulf War relief efforts.
Whatever Happened To Vladimir Posner?

Remember that communist guy, Vladimir Posner, that used to hang with Donahue and defend the Soviet Union pre-Perestoika? He was Gary Coleman to Phil Donahue's Conrad Bain. It was cool in the early 90s to have a pet Communist, I suppose. Whatever happened to that guy?

I mean, America won the Cold War, but we won't gloat. I mean, we even found work for Yakov Smirnoff.
Eminem Petition

A petition is circulating to get Eminem off of Interscope as a result of his racist comments in a rap song.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

So You Wanna Be A Neoconservative?

Years after pathbreaking philosopher Leo Strauss shuffled off the mortal coil and was welcomed into the Isle of the Blessed, where he and Plato and Aristotle discuss the Great Issues, things aren't going so well for neoconservatives.

For one, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld are on the outs with President George Bush. For the moment, at least, Colin Powell and the State Department and Condi Rice and the NSC are making the big calls on foreign policy. And second, the sugardaddy of the neocon movement, Lord Conrad Black is no longer at the helm of Hollinger.

THe Forward writes: "Given Hollinger's $730 million of debt, observers see no way for the company to survive without selling at least some of its assets."

There goes The Sun? And is that in The National Interest?
Michael Jackson Legal Documents

The folks at are on the money. They have posted legal documents regarding the 1993 case against Jacko. The case was settled out of court.

Chilling stuff.
Mary Louise Parker

I don't really have much to say about this except that I am sorry that such a pretty women would hook up with such a geek like Billy Crudup who dumps his women when they are 7 1/2 months pregnant.
Francis Ford Coppolla Wants The Money Honey

It's just for a part. Honestly. No, really. Francis Ford Coppolla wants CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, for a "part." Oh, Is that what enterprising people call it now--a part? A "piece" was what The Corsair called it back in the day, thank you very much. Surprisingly, Lloyd Grove of the Daily News actually came up with this chesnut, meaning he is actually stretching his legs, singing for his supper, and hunting for some New York snark.

"He's doing it in his own time, according to nobody else's schedule but his," a Coppola spokeswoman told Grove.

Of course Coppolla is thinking about the best thing for his picture and not basing his casting decisions on Bartiromo's luscious lips, her expressive Neapolitain eyes, that honeyed voice ... ahem. The Corsair needs to get some air.
Child Stars: Unsafe at Any Speed

With a little less snark than usual I submit to you this post. Why do we have child stars? I mean, in the bigger picture, isn't there something creepy about parents who parade prancing and emoting children in front of us for financial gain? Or maybe parading their kids around fulfills some sense of unfulfilled potential on their part. Whatever the case: child stardom from a standpoint of labor and psychological well being is wrong.

Think of all those creepy commercials that feed off of our natural affection for innocent children to part us from our pocketbooks. Think of "Mikey" on the cereal commercials. Think of the Oscar Meyer kid. Effective, no? I'll bet you're humming that tune right now at the keyboard. We certainly do not need children pitching cold cuts on tv.

But what about acting? That is harder, I think, to pull off such a ban in a modern democracy. I think that children on tv or in film should be restricted in some manner. I know what you're thinking: The Corsair has finally let his totalitarian roots show. But taken from the standpoint that 7 year old kids do not work in mines, maybe we can do something about this.

I don't mean ban kids from the movies altogether: I just mean set it up so that a kid under, say, 14 has to justify the labor, perhaps in front of a judge in family court even. If the director or central casting can argue to the judge that the role is a learning experience that will benefit the child even as it benefits the box office, then, fine.

Why is The Corsair bringing this up now? Two words and one name: Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was a child star who gave up his childhood to enrich his freaky parents. Somewhere along the line his whole mindset got haywired and we are in the mess we are in now.

And it's not just Michael Jackson. Child stars are menaces to society. For every relatively successful person like Danny Bonaduce (who has his issues) there are tragedies like Dana Plato, Todd Bridges and the rest of them. In fact, the only people whom I have ever seen defending child actors are their whacked out parents on, say, Maury Pauvich or Oprah. We all are averse to child stars -- whether the freaky mousekateers who evolve into plastic life forms, or the sitcom cuties who evolve into Scott Baio's.

Don't even mention Halley Joel Osment. After losing his Oscar bid Osment is said to have broken down into uncontrollable tears. So much so that he didn't stop until Harrison Ford offered him a part in his next movie, which ultimately never panned out (hey, it's a tough town). Either Osment was being genuine in his severe dejection at the loss, or he was crazy like a fox and either position is not what we as Americans want for our children.

Let's make it a court issue for people to thrust their children into the entertaionment media.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Who Are You Anyway?

I'm Ron Mwangaguhunga, son of Uganda's former diplomat to Canada, the US, and, finally, the UN, Louis Kayanda Mwangaguhunga. I was born in Kampala, Uganda, educated at the UN School, St. Johns College (Great Books) and Marlboro College (John Dewey). I worked at New York, The Nation, Paper, Silicon Alley Reporter and was Editor in Chief at MacDirectory. Currently I am working to launch an as yet untitled magazine on independent film and technology. I hope to get it off the ground by February 2004. My work has appeared in the NY Press and National Review Online -- I'm not as liberal as most of my friends think --and I can die now happily because Richard Johnson and Chris Wilson mentioned me in Page Six a few years ago. There, now you know.
Sylvester Stallone Investigated

The Drudge Report today reports that Sylvester Stallone has been questioned by the FBI. Apparently, the questioning involves "disgraced celebrity sleuth" Anthony Pellicano. And, of course Cindy Adams -- that friend of Suhuarto and the Marcos dictatorships is buddies with him. Perhaps Homeland Security can investigate his film Driven, because it was a bomb. Or maybe the agricultural department because it was a rotten tomato. Okay, I'll stop now.
Why Is Eisner Still At Disney?

Wasn't November supposed to be the month that Eisner either showed some miraculous growth numbers for Disney or he was to be shown the door? Sheesh. Will someone fire Michael Eisner already!

We all know that he is antagonizing Steve Jobs and the guys at Pixar who are singlehandedly saving Disney's bacon.

Michael Wolff made an interesting comment on Eisner a while ago in his column in New York.

Eisner has made himself indispensible at Disney. He has a large amount of shares and, like an African dictator, he has never groomed a succesor. So it would be hard to fire Eisner without greatly affecting the already bad stock price.

Sad that a public company has to be held hostage to the Hollywood tactics of a real punk like Michael Eisner. Will the Board of Directors react? only time will tell.

Jay McInerney Slurps

I have two recurring dream-reality issues. One, I believe that there was a cartoon in which Laverne and Shirley are trapped on an island with a pig as a marine sargeant. Everyone tells me there was no such thing, but I am sure it is not a dream, this was an actual cartoon. Am I going crazy?

Anyhoo: the second issue is that Jay McInerney was actually a wine columnist for House and Garden. This book of his is a collection of his columns and is surprisingly bad.

Like his mentor, Norman Mailer, McInerney thinks that because he can write he has the authority to write about anything .... even subject matter of which he clearly has no grasp. He goes on for 278 pages and expects us to fork over $24.95 so that he can associate himself with fine wine in gassy verbiage.

To know the meaning of a good belly laugh, The Corsair suggests you read McInerney's chapter on port.

Jay, why don't you just admit you don't know what the fuck you're talking about?
Gurley's Figured Our David Brooks

I like George Gurley. He writes these somewhat pronographic little asides in the Observer. Well, now he takes on David Brooks.

I can't figure this guy out. He is a great writer with a keen eye on the materialism and shallowness of urban liberals in Bobos in Paradise, but what is he doing suing the New York Times Op Ed Pages to continue his epater la bourgoisie? It's odd, to say the least.

Well, I'm tired of racking my brains on this, Gurley has a clue.

Harold Bloom Blasts Steven King

Rush and Moloy report that the beloeved superintellectual Harold Bloom is upset that Steven King is getting the National Book Foundation Award (whatever that is).

Bloom, perhaps the greatest living explainer of Shakespeare now living, should take heart. We love Bloom's interpretation of Falstaff and Hamlet. Dear Bloom, nowadays these book thingies, from The Oprah Club to the Kelly Ripa Club (like Oprah and Kelly are depleting Barnes and Noble stocks) are just ways to get people in this country to tear away from the tv sets and read a little, expand the old attention span.

Shakespeare is forever, Dr. Bloom, Steven King is to get people to open a book.
Our Eminem Problem

My sister, the excellent Elizabeth Mwangaguhunga is drawing up a petition against Eminem in light of his revealed racist tape.

It was too good to be true in a way. I mean, how many trailer park lower middle class angry white men are there who harbor no racist feeling? As black radio stations clamour to defend the young Eminem and Dr. Dre seriously reconsiders his street cred, some questions ought to be asked.

One: Why did it take so long for Eminem to admit he made racist rap songs?

Two: What was he thinking? Did he think a racist rap song would get air play on the anti-black radio station?

Three: Why is Eminem playing this off as a "The Source hates me" issue and not tackling it head on?

I cannot say I am a fan of Eminem, but I feel sorry for him as he has a formidable opponent in my sister.
Michael Jackson is Going to Jail

This time Michael Jackson is not going to see The Wiz, no, this time Michael Jackson is going straight to OZ. No amount of moonwalking will get him out of it. Can you imagine Jacko in a moist Oz-like environment? In prison, it is said, child molesters are considered the lowest of the low. Even criminals, it appears, have standards.

So Michael Jackson, who is 90 pounds soaking wet, will eat and sleep with Addebezzi-like characters, with the Chuck Zitos of the world if, of course, he does not just head straight ot Algiers or Morocco. This will not harden the composer of "Ben," it will, quite frankly kill him.

Not that I am a fan of Jacko. He has been a well known child molester for years. In the diaries of his last "conquest", Michael Jackson was said to be obsessed with the young Macauley Culkin . Jesus.

I just question whether having him die in a maximum security prison is the way to solve the societal problem of Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

David Brooks Bitchslaps The "Cognoscenti"

David Brooks is a strange kind of conservative. His Bobos in Paradise was a brilliant sociological skewering of the typical Upper West Side liberal phoney, but now he turns his eye on the cultural elite ... from the Op Ed section of The New York Times. Hmmm.

Note to David: You cannot get more cultural elitist than the NY Times.

Anyhoo: David peppers his column with mentions of Vogue, InStyle, Diana Vreeland, Helmut Lang, Anna Wintour, and even Kate Spade gift bags. So, The Corsair has to ask: who is David speaking to? Every damned week without fail Brooks slaps us around with mentions of the magazines, pop cultural names, brands, of the NY-LA-DC elites as if it is a mortal sin or something to like that sort of thing. David: One does not go to hell for eating arugula!

I mean, is Brooks talking to the Evangelical Republican small businessman in Colorado? Or is he yelling at the Manhattan cultural elite here? The Corsair is confused.

Whatever the case, Brooks' casual references to Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik suggest more than a passing familiarity with the "cognoscenti."
Michael Hirschorn Makes Good On VH1

I have to admit that I don't really remember what VH1 was like before it was cool. I vaguely recollect aging rock star video. Bad videos. Very bad videos.

Don't get me wrong: I love Dylan's Jokerman and Jagger and Midler's Beast of Burden, but on the radio. They do not translate well on celluloid. Remember The Stone's Undercover of the Night? Mick and Keith and the crew go down to some Latin American country for some political intrigue? Yeah, Riiight. What were they thinking? The only way Mick is going to some Latin American country is to knock up some supermodels! Please, baby, please, no aging rock star videos!

Anyhoo: Michael Hirschorn is the man responsible for making VH1 cool and irony laden.

Hirschorn filled the programming with Countdowns and Nostalgia and Irony and Snark: a healthy diet for the Gen Xer. We like Mike here at The Corsair.
My Trio

I guess Joe Klein is an okay guy. I've never met him. He seems to have a bit of a wit, for someone who works at Time Magazine, the world's capitol of gravitas and all that. In the end, there is nothing wrong with Joe Klein that a robust multivitamin couldn't remedy. But what was he thinking when Trio TV gave him the gig of a lifetime? I mean, who wants to watch endless hours of Battle of the Network Stars?
Who even watched Battle of the Network stars back then, when Telly Savalas and Gabe Kaplan had juice? Not me: and I was a hip 6 year old. Who loves ya, baby?

Now, If Laura Zalaznick of Trio Tv called The Corsair (call me, Laura, call ... me ...) and asked: What low budget high quality shows would you program for Trio TV? Remember, we only have a fraction of the network budgets, but we want high quality. I would say: Laura, have you ever read my blog? I am all about low budget high quality.

Anyhoo: These are some of my picks:

Masterpiece Theater: Last of the Mohicans. No, not the cheesy Michael Mann MTV video. This is the real deal. The French and Indian War. The drama. For some bizarre reason the Masterpiece Theater programs made in the 7os -- arguably the best programming of all time -- languish in somneone's vault.

Alice: I've always wondered if this was a comedy or a tragedy or a "dramedy", that significant 70s cultural artifact. A single mom who sings Bradway showtunes working to support her kid in Arizona on diner tips. If you take out the laugh track, this could easily be a David Lynchian show, no? Without the laugh track it could be an American drama drenched in pathos, like Dreiser's Sister Carrie.
Don't even get us started on the great Vic Tayback banging the pick up bell with his spatula like the true character actor he was.

Rich Man Poor Man: Observe Nick Nolte before the fermented grape stole his looks. Then again, there is charm in Nolte's whiskey ravaged grim visage.

Poldark: This cult British tv series is habit forming. Incredible. Just incredible.

Assorted Good Times episodes: Come on, you know you had a crush on Wilona when you were kid, don't you; or, if you were a girl, Bookman the janitor was your long cold drink of water. The one where Michael gets drunk off some "elixir" was a classic. So was the episode when James has hypertension. So was ... hey ... was this a comedy or what?

The Big Blue Marble: My favorite show as a kid, if you must know.

Carl Sagan's Cosmos: Okay, so in the madcap world of astrophysics Sagan's hypotheses are probably all outmoded already. So what? This series was the bomb! Classics do not get outmoded. We want astrophysics!

Fame the TV Series: Why are there not repeats on VH1 already? When you say low budget and high quality I think .. right here's where you start paying for it ... with pain ... and sweat.

Schoolhouse Rock: The Figure Eight. Mysterious, melancholy and mathematically instructional.

The Black Stallion: This Coppolla produced flic is perhaps the most beautiful filmed movie ever.

The Gore Vidal-Bill Buckley Fight It was in the heart of the 60s. The left and the right clash violently on national television. A classic.

Woody Allen's Teleplay: Don't Drink the Water. One of the most interesting experiments ever. Woody Allen directs and writes a teleplay starring Michael J Fox and the kid who played Blossom.

Okay, so those are some of my Trio picks. And you have to admit it is a hell of a lot better than Battle of the Network Stars.

The Real World: Done

Finally, after years of vicariously watching that overdone Bunim and Murray confection where twentysomethings are "hooking up," I can honestly say I'm over The Real World. Gag me with a fork, I am done. Watching plants produce oxygen could easily top The Real World Paris as far as sheer excitement.

I'm not sure why I ever began to watch this show. Possibly peer pressure: the need to chat at the water cooler with the other fact checkers and editors over those crazy Gen Y nudists. I guess in the beginning, before we all became jaded on reality tv shows like a hobo on muscatel, there was something going on .

The Real World was my crystal meth. And it was good while it lasted, I suppose, as tweaks go. But I'm over it. I mean, everyone would like to watch attractive twentysomethings get amorous -- wouldn't that explain the porn boom? It's just that watching these pretty but dim bulbs start "businesses" and compete against each other and get on each others nerves is just a bit of a snooze. Soap operas have better plots.

The Greeks were great with wisdom. Cephalus quotes Sophocles the playwright and poet in The Symposium as follows:

Cephalus: . . . "I was present . . . one time when someone asked the poet Sophocles: "How are you in regard to sex, Sophocles? Can you still make love to a woman?" Hush man, the poet replied, I am very glad to have escaped from this, like a slave who has escaped from a mad and cruel master." I thought then that he was right, and I still think so, for a great peace and freedom from these things come with old age . . . . (329 c)."

Well, at 32 I don't need the viagra yet, but like Sophocles I am free from the tyranny of the cruel master The Real World. Basta!

Monday, November 17, 2003

Michael Wolff: Media Person of the Year

"Today's vast world of media is shaped by many bold and audacious personalities," says I Want Media. "But which individual most deserves to be recognized for his or her impact on the media in 2003? "

The Corsair thinks Michael Wolff was clearly the media person of the year. Audacious? Wolff! Wolff won the National Magazine Award in 2002 for columns and commentary. Then, this year Wolff stunned the world's media by making controversial statements about CENTCOM during the Second Gulf War, asking General Vincent Brooks, "I mean no disrespect, but what is the value proposition of these briefings. Why are we here? Why should we stay? What's the value of what we're learning at this million dollar press centre?"


Wolff also stunned the snarky and highly envious New York Media clique when it was revealed that he makes more than $450,000 a year from his gig at New York Magazine. And, to add salt to our wounded pride, he is currently in the thick of a bid to buy the aforementioned New York, thus transforming us all from fancy free scribblers to Masters of Our Own Fate.

Autumn of the Moguls
, his paean to media moguls, was published in November 2003 to generally good reviews. In fact, Wolff declared the New York Times Book Review dead, and, later they gave Autumn of the Moguls a positive review. And even though he called Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein a "thug," that gangster of New York still attended Michael's book party at -- where else -- Michael's. That's "juice."

He buried the hatchet with Barry Diller and he analyzed Tina Brown's rough year, but in the end Michael Wolff looked down from all of this media hooplah from his Table No. 5 looking pretty solid. In fact, very solid.

Maybe we should all be wanna-be mogul's? Send your nominees to:

Lord Black of Crossharbour to Step Down

Breaking News: Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour has resigned as chief executive of Hollinger Inc after it was found that $32 million in unauthorized payments had been made to Black and other top executives.

See The Corsair's Take on the Conrad Black-Mort Zuckerman battle for the NY Daily News .
The Return of Maer Roshan

Maer Roshan, the editor-in-chief of Radar takes aim at Forbes's false story on the Letters Forum.

"It may disappoint the ghoulish peers who keep predicting Radar's demise, but there's life in the old gal yet," writes Roshan. "Though some of Radar's phone numbers changed when we moved into new offices last month, our main number remains 212 55-RADAR, as Forbes would have discovered if it had bothered to call it."

Hollywood Studio Heads Hijack Indie Oscar Hopes

If anyone hasn't sold out yet it is Eugene Hernandez and the folks at IndieWIRE. But it seems that even the Indie mini-studios are in trouble.

Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) (hasn't he been in power for, like, as long as an African dictator?) has finalized the controversial awards season screener ban which "will only allow tapes for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

In recent years, indie films that might have been overlooked by screeners have recieved nominations. The studio heads of Dreamworks, MGM, New Line, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros have been criticized by indie luminaries, including:

Darren Aronofsky, Todd Field, Richard Kelly, producers Mary Jane Skalski, Jeremy Thomas, Eric Watson, and Eden Wurmfeld, and actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Sissy Spacek. Kevin Iwashina, Peter Levine and Jason Tuchinsky from CAA, John Lesher from Endeavor, Julie Yorn and Adam Schulman from The Firm, and David Schiff from UTA among others.

While Valenti uses the the anti-piracy argument, there is no question that this ruling will all but shut out the smaller independent features for Oscar awards, or even Oscar nominations.

Norman Mailer: That Spooky Fart"

Oh dear Jesus. Norman Mailer, the countercultural literary hero and self proclaimed "heavyweight champion of writing" has suffered a TKO in his latest piece of ... "work" called Modest Gifts: Poems and Drawings.

The Corsair may blast The New York Press from time to time, but Alexander Zaitchik's vivisection of Mailer's new money making scheme is right on the money.

It takes a lot of nerve to expect $14.95 for this crock of shit. It doesn't even appear as if Mailer has ever tried to learn how to draw, or sketch, or whatever it is he is hoisting on us. His poetry is, as usual, uninspired, self indulgent and stupid. Mailer's got a lot of alimony payments and so maybe that's why he is hawking his wares in this untoward manner.

I guess that the venerated writer -- now past 80 years on Earth -- is so great that we should be happy to snatch up the scaps from his table from on high in P-Town. One should marvel in the godlike grandeur of his sloppy scribblings and adolescent, undisciplined poetry, for he is Mailer, he is our great American of Letters.

After publishing That Spooky Art, a weak cut and paste job worthy of anything William Burroughs produced in his last days (and that's not saying much), one should have seen this coming. In his senectitude Mailer has morphed from hipster to hustler, selling us knock of writing for real literature. Do not buy this book, dear readers, The Corsair has spoken.

Norman Mailer's Modest Gifts is not a book to be tossed aside lightly, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, it should be thrown with great force!

How Come Movies on the Media Don't Do Well?

Maybe we are all just navel-gazing at ourselves? It is a possibility. How else to explain why we love movies on the media than nearly everyone else in the Western world does? I was wondering how come movies dealing with the media -- i.e. journos, djs, talking heads, editors -- don't do so hot in their cumulative box office numbers?

Almost Famous, which is perhaps the most beloved journo movie of this age, had a cumulative box office of a measley $31.7 million. Elf made that much on its opening weekend! Even that Steven Glass movie Shatterd Glass has earned only about $269,898, despite tons of media attention, including Hayden Christiansen appearing on Reliable Sources, as well as tons of raves in everything mediacentric from Interview to The Observer.

Veronica Guerin hasn't even earned more than $10 million yet, depite -- tellingly -- critical and media raves. Howard Stern's Private Parts only earned $40 million, despite his being on every cover imaginable (Can you say overexposure? Can you say ultraoverexposure? Then again, exposed private parts and Stern go hand in hand, so to speak).

Woody Allen often spoofs the lives of television writers and we all know of his dismal box office numbers, which fly in the face of his East Coast media acclaim.

Let's face it, my fellow media monkeys we in the media and of the media love ourselves a lot more than the heartland loves us. Don't feel bad, though, cultural elites: I love you, baby. The Corsair will always love you and cover your snarkiness with affection. Now, bookmark us.

Peltz In On New York Mag Contest

It looks like Nelson Peltz, the billionaire stepfather of ABC reporter Perri Peltz is in on the New York Magazine buyers sweepstakes. report Keith J. Kelly and Erica Copulsky of The New York Post today.

So that puts him in league with Mort Zuckerman, Donnie Deutsche and Michael Wolff, Tribune Co., American Media and William Curtis, the CEO of Curtco Media.

Who says it's the Twilight of the Moguls?
Have You Sold Out Yet?

Yes, even Elizabeth Spiers, the patron saint of all bloggers has admitted to selling out. then again, don't we all sell out sooner or later? Or, am I wrong on this? I mean, Johnny Depp lives in France, away from the whole star fucker capitol of the world, raises his child in relative obscurity, does intelligent and edgy films. But for every Depp, there is the John Favreau, king of the independent circuit and host of Dinner For Five, on the Independent Film Channel of all places. Of course Favreau caved at the chance to direct a Bif Fat Silly Hollwood Holiday Film called, Elf.

Then there is Nick Coppola, who was hailed for his quirky indie films, but leaped at the chance to play the alcoholic who falls for a hooker with a heart of gold in Leaving Las Vegas. We won't even mention Gone in 60 Seconds.

The Beatles and The Stones and even Dylan regularly sell their 60s tunes to The Man.

If Spy Magazine were still around -- or even Radar (where are ya Maer Roshan?) -- the cover story would almost certainly be "Have You Sold Out Yet?" It seems that everyone except David Lynch already has ...

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Celebrity Stage Names

In a world where justice is the law of the land a woman named Patricia Andrejewski would have just as much of a chance to be a star as Pat Benetar. Unfortunately we do not live in a world free of xenophobia, of fear of the strange and foreign sounding things, so Patricia Andrejewski changed her name to Pat Benetar and the rest is history. Or herstory. Whatever.

Celebrity Stage Names is a cool site that gives you the real names of stars before they were big. So: Tom Cruise was Thomas Mapother IV ,
Elvis Costello was Declan McManus and Ice T was Tracy Morrow ... hee hee ... Tracy.
It's Official: Cindy Adams Is a Picklehead

Coddler of dictators, purveyor of perfume, dog lover, all around annoying media persona and Park Avenue doyenne Cindy Adams did not get that 40 minute exclusive with Fred Durst. The Daily News' Richard T. Pienciak reports:

"It's bull----, but you know, that's the Post," said an angry Dick DeGuerin. "Those quotes are fabricated."

DeGuerin (who is aptly named and Fred Durst's attorney) claims that his client was tricked into a 45 second conversation by Debrah Charatan, his second wife. But Cindy said she had four ten minute conversations with Durst on the phone from his Galveston, Texas jail cell. Hmmm. There's something fishy going on here. Could it be that like the dictators Cindy Adams favors, she could be going in for the noble lie? Say it aint so, Jazzy ... say it aint so ....
Is Bonnie Fuller Getting a Bum Rap?

Wow. The media is snarky. Whether you are a writer for a newspaper, or a radio DJ, or an editor of a glossy, one thing can be said with certainty: you, madame or sir, are in a snarky business. And there is no better way to see the snark fly than if your career is advancing at Mach 10. Then all the playa hatas come out and hate on you. So you say: don't negetate ... congratulate. Or something along those lines.

Anyhoo: Bonnie Fuller's career is in overdrive. However you may feel about Fuller, it is good to see her dump Jann Wenner, on his ass. My factchecker friend Tracy always said that Wenner's enterprises -- Rolling Stone in particular -- are not very girl friendly, but that's another story altogether.

Bonnie Fuller drew great media ire for the fact that she was going from US Weekly, a glossy, to American media with -- gasp! -- tabloids! There was something, oh, I don't know, louche about the whole enterprise, you know? One wanted to take a shower after reading that Our Bonnie was going the way of The Pecker at American Media. No, not our Bonnie ... she's one of us ... the New York Media Elite!

But Bonnie, who is famous for overworking her employees, is making quite a go at it, what with all the pilfered editors and the new NY offices of American media and what not.

Already controversy has erupted over running the picture of Kobe Bryant's accuser. Of course, the media went after Fuller like a pit bull. The problem is, Bonnie Fuller did not approve or disapprove of the publication of the picture: it was an editorial decision made by Jeffrey Rodack the Managing Editor of The Globe. Rodack wrote an interesting (and very oily) piece for Poynter defending his decision nto run the picture, and The Corsair blasted him for it (See Archive, November 5, The Corsair).

So I don''t see what the fuss is about Bonnie Fuller and all that "selling out her sisterhood" chitchat. The only thing I see Fuller as guilty of is overworking her poor employees: hey, Bonnie, some of your editors and writers and factcheckers have lives that do not involve the Lexis Nexis, my little pomegranate!
Awful Celebrity Plastic Surgery

Okay, we admit, that even for The Corsair this is a very puffy piece. But it's Saturday, and yesterday we did a lot of political conversation (log down for that), so here goes. Those groovy cats at have done up their site with speculations and pictures of celebrity plastic surgery gone awry. Terribly awry. Courtney Love awry.

Check it out yourself. The Corsair's personal favorite is Patrick Swayze at the bottom. "Crazy like Swayze." Remember when -- for like a minute -- he was big in the 80s? And then came Road House. Hoo, boy (covers nose with hand).
Michael Jackson's Dad: Spare The Whip Spoil The Child

Celebrity means never having to say you're sorry. Or even, it appears, censoring your rambling and incriminating thoughts. Intrepid Daily News staff writer Corky Siemaszko
reports that Michael Jackson's bizarre father, Joe Jackson(no relation to the mild and affable adult contemporary singer with the same name) admits to whipping Michael Jackson. Yes, you got that right: whipping. First Johnny Cash gets his sister in law pregnant and now this!

In a BBC interview airing tommorrow, Joe says, "I whipped him with a switch and a belt ... I never beat him. You beat someone with a stick."

Okay, Kuta Kinte!

Also showing up for the BBC chat was Majestik Magnificent, Michael Jackson's "personal magician." No, I'm not kidding here, everything I have written can be verified with a Lexis Nexis search. Although Bonnie Fuller might have one of her slave/employees hogging it.

Majestik told interviewer Paul Theroux that Michael Jackson is "not gay."

When confronted with the fact that the painfully shy Jackson vomits from nerves, his humane father answered, "He regurgitates all the way to the bank."

This interview will explain so very much about the strange man in the mirror who wears one glove and raves about Macauley Culkin's lips, The Corsair believes.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Election 2004

It is probably time that Senator Joe Lieberman dropped out and gave his constituents in Connecticut his full attention. Why do I say this? Well, the other non electables in 2004 -- the foolish Al Sharpton, loony Dennis Kucinich and Carol Mosley Brann -- know they won't win. Brann is running to split the black vote and deny Sharpton the black spokesperson role. Kucinich is pushing Nader ideas. And Al is running to be President of Black America. Lieberman is a serious man and should be taken as such. Every Senator, sitting in that aristocratic club deliberating on geopolitical strategy, thinks they can be President. But Lieberman has no base and is lagging on funds. BTW: Did you know that Senator Kerry had chin reduction cosmetic surgery?
Johnny Cash Got June's Sister Pregnant

Just like the dark country music he sang, Johnny Cash lived the life. The National Enquirer is reporting that he and his sister in law had a baby. The article goes on to say that on her death bed, June's sister begged her forgiveness. This story sounds to The Corsair
like a country music hit in waiting about family trees that look like Christmas wreaths. Ah, America, the incestuous: thank you Jerry Springer.
Is NY1 CBS NY's Farm League?

Duke Castiglione. Andrew Kirtzman. Jay Dow. Kerri Lyon. It reads like a Who's Who of the NY broadcast news biz. All four talented reporters were originally NY1 talent "poached" by CBS NY in only the past year. CBS NY is shanghaing NY1's videojournalists like sailors out of the 19th Century, with one difference, of course: unlike those luckless shanghaied, the NY1 staff is voluntarily leaving the scrappy local 24-hour Time Warner news service. As the hierarchy dictates, CBS trumps NY1, so there is nothing anyone can really do about the loss of familiar faces on the 24 hour channel. This leaves me wondering: Has NY1 become a farm league for CBS NY to pilfer at will?
Mob Goumba Dating Bruce Colley

You remember swordsman Bruce Colley who broke up the marriage of Kerry Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo? Well, now Page Six reports he is dating John Gotti's former mistress Lisa Gastineau.
Who Will Be The Next Secretary of State?

Colin Powell has all but turned in his papers at the end of his term, so the question arises: Who will be the next Secretary of State? Will it even be a Republican? If a Democrat wins, it will open up a chance for some of the most ambitious men in the world. The Secretary of State position carries with it a prestige, a hint of wisdom and internationalism, that is irrestistable to a certain type of person. Richard Holbrooke is one of those people. He wants to be Secretary of State so bad I can feel it over here in cyberspace. His whole life has been maneuvered for the job.

Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote in Spy in May 90:

"To interview Holbrooke is to learn the etiquite of media-government relations as they are observed in Washington. Some statements are on background, some are not for attribution. Some are deep background, others are deeper background, and a few are uttered on a swallow and forget basis." Ahh, Machiavelli and his nasty grandson Kissinger would be proud.

Other contenders are the creepy reptilian Fareed Zakaria and Michael Wolfe's interesting suggestion in his media column some time back of Walter Isaacson.

Warren Beatty Has Released More Bombs Than North Korea

A thought occurred to me: Warren Beatty sure has made a few stinkers. I mean, I know he is the father of the Washington-Hollywood connection, back in the McGovern days when he was a volunteer, and even when he was an informal advisor to Gary Hart in 1984, but it has been quite a while between hits for great swordsman.

Ishtar alone lost $37 million. And who can forget Town and Country, Dick Tracy and the regrettable Bullworth? Maybe he should stop being Halle Barre's advisor and take some advice on keeping a career going? (BTW: What is that creepy Padawan-Jedi Master relationship he has with Barre anyway and does Annette Benning approve) Or maybe he should just finally take the plunge and run for political office. He's obviously wanted to for years and that receding hairline will not help him in looks obsessed Tinseltown.