Friday, March 30, 2007

"We’ve never seen anything like this on any other planet"

Lt Gaeta wouldn't dare phrase anything so ominously but NASA will!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"It's real clothes for real people who shop in real malls"

It's meant to be an insult. I'm not sure but on the fashion condemnation scale, it might rank right down there with "very wearable" and -- the ultimate -- "looks like old navy/gap."

Mrs Rodriguez will not be visiting the multiplex this weekend

I didn't know that Robert Rodriguez dumped his wife for Rose McGowan. Seems like if a woman stands by you after Spy Kids I and II, she might deserve better. Other questions I have about the Grindhouse premiere: Was it scheduled for Monday so Tarantino wouldn't miss his favorite f'in show? Why can't actresses dress themselves? And could you ever in your life believe that stars might be "self-obsessed?"

It's time to pause and reflect on Johnny Depp's intellectual gifts

Photos from the set of Sweeney Todd. The one on the far left affected me in ways I did not quite expect.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


When you work in a high-pressure, competitive atmosphere, it's a constant struggle to keep everyone upbeat and motivated. Hawaiian shirt days, birthday cakes, illicit affairs with co-workers named Sean -- these things only go so far. No, what you want is something that will get long-lasting results. I recommend inspirational speeches. From WWE legends.

There must be some misunderstanding

One year ago when Miller President Norman Adami expressed regret over past campaigns -- "We were promoting sameness and increasingly going lowbrow. It is as if we were promoting beer as the official beverage of the knuckleheads" -- I thought it was his way of getting us all excited for the upcoming Man Laws. I mean, whether you liked Man Laws or not, it was a nice departure from girls wrestling in fountains. Wasn't it?

Now though the AdAge article makes Adami out to be a villain in the CPB departure. Could it really be Adami's idea to sell beer by comparing "Lite's carbs and calories to Bud Light, Heineken Premium Light and, in commercials still in production, wine and cocktails?" Well. Good luck with that.

[via Yonder Ponder]

Was last night the day the music died?

Sanjaya, Sanjaya and Gwen, Gwen -- last night's Idol may have been the worst ever but it's helpful to remember: "Even if we lost 50 percent of our audience, we would still be in the top three shows in the country."

Menu Foods: Dennis Kucinich is gonna solve that thing

Yes, let's have a congressional hearing on the Menu Foods recall so elected representatives can go on record with their very brave opposition to the poisoning of family pets. That won't waste anyone's time. Also, I think a bipartisan committee is in order, so that an anxious nation can get answers -- in three to five years.

The fact is Menu Foods and all the brands involved, including ones owned by Nestle and Procter & Gamble, invite this scrutiny. The recall was announced on a Friday. It took another week to determine it was rat poison. No one at the manufacturer or the brands seems to be acting with any urgency and, in that vacuum, veterinarians are stepping forward with their own death counts.

What's interesting to me is that no one's talking product tampering. No Tylenol killer. No food supply conspiracy theories. Everyone seems certain it was accidental contamination from a Chinese wheat gluten supplier. And in that case: China? The country that maintains a vibrant trade in dog fur and controls rabies by clubbing family pets to death in the streets? Is it really smart for a pet food brand to have business dealings there?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And another thing

Just this: "Why make Tighe and the others Cylons unless the writers have gotten so lazy and self-indulgent that they think yanking the viewers' chains is the same thing as clever writing? much commentary on BSG these days is driven by the burning desire of its fans to discount the possibility that the show hasn't jumped the shark. The logic goes something like this: X can't be happening because if X happened it would mean the show sucks, therefore the explanation must be Y."

Yeah. Lazy and self-indulgent writers ruin everything.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Some of my best friends are cylons

Obviously important things are happening whenever we take time out for Bill Adama's morning shave but I just wasn't prepared for this. Five cylons. Starbuck and Tighe? And Chief! Also shocking: Mr Gaeta is a perjurer! It's a tragedy all around.

But are they truly cylons? Wouldn't Chief's kid be as important as Hera? If the fifth cylon is Starbuck, why does Laura Roslin suddenly see cylon dreams and sense power outages and enemy attacks before they happen? Finally is this proof that -- as I've long suspected -- no good ever comes from listening to Bob Dylan?


ADDED: Cinema Blend's recap: "Anyone who’s watched the season was in no way surprised that Gaeta would knowingly and willfully perjure himself." I completely disagree. Gaeta has always been motivated by idealism and honor. Remember he was the one who exposed the election fraud. So it's surprising he would lie. My problem with that scene -- because it turned the entire trial -- is that he needlessly lied. He knew Baltar signed the execution orders not because he witnessed it but because he later confronted Gauis with the list of names. Oh Mr Gaeta! The quintessential techno nerd! Did they need to make a liar out of such a thoroughly likeable character?

But I agree that this was the most moving line maybe of any episode so far: "My name is Saul Tighe. I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that’s the man I want to be. And if I die today, that’s the man I’ll be."

MORE: Ron D. Moore -- who clearly hates me and wants me to be miserable -- confirms: "Yes they're cylons," and "Yes, Katee will be back with us for season four. We couldn't let her go."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cylon, and thanks for all the fish

Tomorrow night is the big Battlestar Galactica finale and I drew the Helo square in our Who's The Cylon? office pool. I'm worried. Helo is the root cause of all disaster but I don't believe he's a cylon. No. Even though Helo's been a calamity from the get-go, when everyone was so distracted by his blog-worthy good looks that they failed to notice he gave his raptor seat to Gaius Baltar -- the man responsible for the near-annihilation of the human race -- Helo's more sweet fool than cylon. His last name is Agathon.

Is Anders a cylon? Well: all of a sudden, Starbuck's life and death seem a lot more tragic if it's Anders. Almost as if the cylons couldn't kill her in battle so they drove her insane through marriage. And how did she meet Anders? Oh yeah, she was with Helo! Teaming up with Anders led to Starbuck's immediate downward arc of imprisonment, possibly a forced hysterectomy, loss of top gun status, a cylon takeover, a second imprisonment and fatal inflight visions. Well done Anders. Bastard. OH, AND: It was Anders who convinced Tighe to murder Ellen. He drove BOTH of my favorite characters to ruin! Kill him now.

Is Tory a cylon too? She did oversee Laura Roslin's losing and fraudulent campaign. More important: when she failed to get Hera safely off New Caprica, the baby ended up with Three. Now Tory's not even combing her hair! Totally a cylon!

At least, we should hope they're cylons. Otherwise, the humans are being led by complete jackasses.

Additional cylon possibilities: everyone except Callie. Whiny and tired, she doesn't quite fit the requirement -- made so obvious by Lucy Lawless, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park -- that cylon women have to be hot.

But who's the cylon leader, the one Three saw and apologized to?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sharing and caring with knighted British subjects

WPP invests in financiers-to-the-stars Media Rights Capital and at first I thought this meant Martin Sorrell might die of shame after being linked with October Road. But it may be larger than that.

Media Rights' other "key investors include Goldman Sachs and AT&T....This investment further strengthens WPP's capabilities in premium and commercial content, an area of strategic importance in light of the increasing fragmentation of media...It follows recent investments by WPP in The Weinstein Company, Bob and Harvey Weinstein's new film company." Agents, producers, financiers, AT&T and WPP? Throw in the iPhone and -- omigod total world domination!

For now it's simply cozy: "WPP's GroupM did receive an undisclosed amount of ad time for clients across ABC's primetime schedule." The future, though, is a little more ambitious because at Media Rights, "information shared among partners like WPP and AT&T at the formative stages of a project...may increase its marketability later....'We get people comfortable; we get people to give us their information,' said Mr. Wiczyk." Sounds like Rohypnol may be involved but I'm sure the results will be great. If WPP's part of the deal, what could go wrong?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Uncomfortable tournament moments that don't involve UT

Last year it was Applebee's. They were simply annoying and look what happened.

This year? What is Chevrolet thinking?

I'm back on the sauce

Due to neverending dental work -- honestly, it's worthy of an Icelandic edda -- and prescription drugs, I kinda had to swear off the hooch for a while. It wasn't so bad (did I mention the prescription drugs?) but then I also lost the taste for coffee. That's when everything went off the rails. I'm sleeping eight straight hours every night! I don't wake up until 7am. I haven't watched Bloomberg's European Market Countdown in months. This is complete bullshit.

So as of today, it's back to morning coffee and afterhours cocktails. Sober and well-rested is for slackers.

Where are all the reassuring messages from pet food brands?

The Menu Foods story just gets worse. Doesn't it seem like information has been slow in coming and thoroughly confusing? Part of the problem: the food "was sold under 88 brands, including popular labels Iams and Eukanuba and private-label brands sold at large retail chains. Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. and Nutro Products Inc. also recalled some products made by Menu Foods."

That's 88 brands. Has any one of them stepped forward to communicate directly with consumers? I'm asking because I haven't seen anything. Only press releases. It's early I know but if someone's visiting a pet food web site today, there's only one reason. Why isn't a substantial recall message on everyone's home page? At this moment, no word of any recall at all on a Purina site.

Is it because no one wants to address the startling fact that 88 brands -- everything from cheap Ol' Roy to Eukanuba -- come out of the same 2 plants? How do you explain that? Can you? It's a situation that baffles even pet experts: "How can a more expensive and theoretically higher quality food be made side-by-side with lesser products?...where is the quality control or oversight by the companies whose names are on the cans?....If each brand was actually being made according to a separate recipe, then what need would there be to recall every can made for every company during a three month period - unless they all shared common ingredients before being labeled and priced differently?"

Exactly. It's one thing to accept that all sneakers are made in the same factory in China, or that all shampoos are mixed in one facility -- I think we eagerly embrace the fantasy offered up by fashion and beauty advertising -- but pet food nutritional claims are different. Brands know that. For God's sake, PetSmart's advertising actually encourages people to refer to themselves as pet parents. So where's the emotional support now? Where's the openness and accountability? Will anyone change their manufacturing process? Is there a JetBlue in this crowd?

ADDED: Steve Portigal's theory: no one wants to talk about product-testing either. Yes, the common brand message -- "we love pets as much as you do" -- is going to be awfully difficult to maintain now.

And Melinda Doolittle is Sarah Vaughan incarnate

Don't be embarrassed little pre-teen audience girl. I cried too!

Sanjaya rawks!

Such horrid singing. Such great performance art.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Obviously Tighe was trying to tune into the Art Bell show

Well all right now. We have ourselves a finale. There was tension, discomfort, outright tragedy and so many unanswered questions. Whenever the intro -- my favorite opening in all of TV -- is scrapped altogether, you know it's serious. (Another sign of quality: Saul getting hit by a woman).

Are Tory and Anders cylons? (Hope so!) Did the cylons implant a tracking device in Tighe's head? (I'd stay drunk too!) Did Laura actually tell a female staffer to run a comb through her hair? (Bitchy!) Is Mark Sheppard's courtroom performance a little too Pacino-in-Scent of a Woman for you? (Yes! But really no worse than the prosecutor's Katie hands!)

And finally, if kamala extract gives the president hallucinations that are, in fact, loaded with clues for saving mankind, let's keep that prescription filled, OK? OK!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Being around great things makes life a little more pleasant"

Raymond Nasher has passed.

When I first moved to Dallas, NorthPark -- the shopping center he famously developed -- was my favorite place in the city. Then it seemed more like a private garden that just happened to be lined with stores. And a Neiman's! But there was always sculpture on display and Frank Stella paintings right outside Joske's (although maybe that kind of thing is not to everyone's taste).

Clearly, Nasher and his wife Patsy always wanted NorthPart to be more than a mall: "Spaces for art were built into the design, and works by such great names as Jonathan Borofsky, Mark di Suvero, Henry Moore and George Segal have long been staples. Asked why he invested so much time and effort in creating an art-friendly environment, Mr. Nasher said, 'Well, I must satisfy my own desire to contribute to society on a creative level.'"

And there's the wisdom. It's a special man who can blend what he loves to do with what he needs to do. NorhtPark was a commercial venture but I like to think it was also a prototype for downtown's Nasher Sculpture Center. One made the other possible.

I especially liked this bit from today's Morning News article:

"'This is very important as a role model,' former National Gallery of Art director J. Carter Brown said when Mr. Nasher announced his intention to build a downtown garden in 1997. 'I for one have been very disturbed that some of our new fortune-makers have not been in the league with the older ones – the Mellons and Fricks and Carnegies. A sort of "me generation" attitude has seeped in. Ray Nasher has stepped forward on behalf of this generation and taken a leadership position.'

"'Nothing like this exists anywhere in the world,' said Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. 'There's the Henry Moore Foundation in England, but it's only about his work. This is like a return to the Renaissance; it will concern the creative process of everybody, everywhere.'"

Rest in peace.

Friday, March 16, 2007

When you wish upon a tabloid

By now, my love for the New York Post business page is obvious and beyond question. In fact, it was just a few months ago that I raved, "Business writing like that could almost make a Star magazine editor envious."

Today? Damn if they didn't go out and hire an actual Star editor. Yay!

Yeah I had VCU winning that game

I must take this opportunity rightthisminute to brag about my bracket. In only a few hours, it will be shot to hell because I also picked North Texas to beat Memphis. Sentimentality -- there's no room for it in the office pool.

Getting Time to write an adoring story about you is the best revenge

Time profiles Mickey Drexler and, sure enough, it only takes them three paragraphs to stick it to the guy's old employer: "That turnaround is especially sweet for Drexler, who arrived at J. Crew with a down-and-out story of his own, having weathered a two-year slump and ouster at Gap, the company he built into a $14 billion icon over 19 years, most spent as president and ceo. Today, while Gap flails--in January it got rid of Paul Pressler, the CEO brought in to replace Drexler--J. one of few companies in the overdeveloped specialty-apparel arena with the potential for real growth."

C'mon. Can't anyone think of a kind word for Gap? Not even for their competitively priced tees? Or is that part of the problem too? Drexler "has rebranded J. Crew as a store that...also dares to inch up the food chain of craftsmanship (think cashmere sweaters), avoiding the race to the bottom by refusing to woo price-conscious consumers and sell ever cheaper clothes made with ever cheaper labor--a trend driven by discounters like Wal-Mart and Kohl's that has rippled to specialty shops."

Oh. Well, then. Guess this isn't a good time to mention those Old Navy expansion plans.


This story of possible fraud in the wine world is fascinating -- millionaires! Nazis! Playboy centerfolds! Thomas Jefferson! -- but I can't help thinking that New York Post headline writers could have added so much more value. No "CONnoisseur!"? No "Vintage Rip-Off"? It's like Bloomberg News has the personality of a really dull rich guy or something.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not so brilliant!

Guinness sales are on the decline in Ireland. There are many interesting reasons but ultimately, it's just not that popular with the kids. "The big challenge for Guinness is to win over the new generation of drinkers.... 'Without a doubt, a lot of our Guinness drinkers are older people,' said Mackin. 'A lot of our marketing and branding is focused on attracting younger and newer people.'"

Bright side: "Sales are doing well in North America and parts of West Africa -- where the stronger, bottled local version of Guinness has a reputation, perhaps undeserved, for everything from helping prevent malaria to enhancing male sexual prowess." Perhaps undeserved? Perhaps? So you're telling me it could enhance male sexual prowess.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Via con Dios, Stardust

In observance, Swingers will be showing here on a continuous loop throughout the day. Feel free to stop by, Mr Doubledown.

You stay classy Antonella!

The Prettiest Idol Ever speaks out about her pain and anguish: "the pictures that have been released of me, that are actually me, they were very personal. That is not how I intended to portray myself...I'd rather promote myself in a more classy way. That was personal, that was private, that was not for the public eye." Oh very definitely! And we really should understand. Antonella is simply a child of the self-documenting times, an age that officially began with "that primal national drama of the Paris Hilton sex tape, those strange weeks in 2004 when what initially struck me as a genuine and indelible humiliation—the kind of thing that lost former Miss America Vanessa Williams her crown twenty years earlier—transformed, in a matter of days, from a shocker into no big deal, and then into just another piece of publicity, and then into a kind of power."

"Ignore old ideas about privacy and make your private life public," is how Virginia Postrel sums up this mindset. Is that empowering? Not everyone thinks so. But it is the end of shame. I used to think that the only real stigma these days is to be outed as a bigot yet even that's not always true. It's all OK, it seems, as long you're on TV -- "Yes, they post party pictures. Yes, they use 'away messages.' When I ask them why they’d like to appear on a reality show, they explain, 'It’s the fame and the—well, not the fame, just the whole, "Oh, my God, weren’t you on TV?"'" It's all an audition.

Antonella already knows this. "[A]ll the embarrassment that's come with retrospect, I still think it was worth it." And she's right: "Simon believes Antonella's photo scandal will make her more marketable than any of the Top 12, 'She'll make more money than anyone who wins this show. I predict that.'"

This all makes me feel sorry for Katharine McPhee, who's never been photographed with a pack of genital-shaped pasta and so must hawk her new album via movie theater promotions. Now this, I don't approve of one bit. Any and all pre-feature musical entertainment should be provided only by the Fanta dancers. I'm old-fashioned that way.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yes, Fort Worth does cross my mind

Compared to Dallas, Fort Worth is noticeably friendlier and generally filled with more character and culture. (There's a reason.)

But can the same be said about the Fort Worth ad club? All signs point to yes.

I am here to serve

Monday morning Battlestar rantings

I'm trying to go on--to do the job I was sent here to do--but without Starbuck, it's just too difficult. And even though everyone's arguing about who misses her more, I'd have to say the prize goes to Apollo. Jamie Bamber is so low-wattage, he really needs to be on screen with someone as quirky as Katee Sackhoff to seem interesting. Curious now that he's paired with a character whose brogue is only partially understandable and whose eyes are almost always concealed -- this might make Apollo seem expressive by sheer contrast. This week, though, I'm with Jacob: the writing is no longer great. Quick! Reveal the unknown cylon!

ADDED: The kids at BuddyTV feel differently: "the writing for this Battlestar Galactica is fantastic, it always is.... Romo is a fascinating presence and you feel his impact on the people who come in contact with him. His actions would be as effective on any high charged legal drama as they would on Battlestar Galactica.... It would be sad if they did not find a way to bring Romo back after his two-episode stint is complete." I remain unconvinced.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

And sometimes they just fail

Sometimes former ad women make it big and sometimes they become spectacularly unpopular LPGA commissioners.

Remember when Carolyn Bivens left Initiative for what she called "the highest honor" of her professional life? The future of women's golf seemed so promising, so pretty.

And then: eeee.

You gotta scratch your head over this one too. How could a former USAToday executive rise so far at an IPG agency then take a job where she immediately pisses off the media, the sponsors and the only two LPGA golfers anyone can name? How could she waste such good fortune? And don't come at me with your agent of change theories. Even though Bivens "once used a form of the word 'brand' 16 times in a single news conference to define her mission as LPGA commissioner," this is management so odd, even local radio hosts notice.

Looking back now, it's easy to say we should have known. Initiative's reaction to her departure -- remember, she was a COO -- seemed strange: "An Initiative representative said there is no immediate plan to replace Bivens. The New York-based agency will be led by global CEO Alec Gerster and former MTV executive Mark Rosenthal...'We have a very strong management team,' the Initiative rep said, who added that Gerster wishes Bivens well." Oh the well-wishing! Always ominous.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I know he's got that Budweiser thing going but still

I've never understood what Beyonce -- the world's most glamorous woman -- sees in Jay-Z. Unless it's just business. Then I understand. I think.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dallas' happy clap-clap news

Sometimes, the Morning News business coverage reads like a mad-lib; you have to fill in details of your own choosing to make stories complete, interesting and useful. Let's try this Comerica relocation account: "The move will bring Dallas only 200 new jobs....Comerica did not commit to a location....The lion's share of Comerica's employment – about 7,300 staffers – will remain in Michigan." Those are interesting facts. Doesn't it all make you curious? What kind of corporate move leaves most employees behind? How many will move? Is it truly a downtown Dallas victory if the location is TBD? Go ahead: add your own theoretical answers because evidently no one at the newspaper can call Comerica to find out.

Well, at least it's original reporting. Thank goodness they don't leave local business news to a wire service! Oh wait.

What you miss when you office on the Tollway next to a Hooters

The first thing you learn at the ad agency school of interior design is to fill your lobby with your own work. (If the work sucks, substitute client logos -- no one will suspect a thing.) I hadn't realized Think Tank 3 openly flouts this rule with exhibits curated by the creative director. Did you all know about this? Why didn't you tell me? Craziest thing! Better read the review now and go visit -- if Think Tank 3 refuses to use their foyer as a resume, who knows how much longer they can last?

Monday, March 05, 2007

UFC success: the signs were all there

If the porn-star girlfriends aren't evidence enough, you can always check out the revenue from UFC 68: "Couture's likely to net him a seven-figure payday once the pay-per-view buys are tallied." And: "the event in Columbus drew the largest North American crowd in mixed martial arts history. A crowd of 19,049 broke the previous record of 18,265....UFC's showing at Nationwide Arena produced the largest gate in excess of $3 million in the building's six-year history, trumping the likes of music superstars Elton John, Billy Joel and the Rolling Stones."

For me, it officially hit the big time when UFC telecasts were advertised on the marquee at the Million Dollar -- as accurate a cultural gauge as you'll find in Dallas. Right Chuck? Chuck?

Remember, this all started when Helo showed her that photo

From the obligatory recaplet: "So long, Starbuck. I really, really, really hope you turn out to be a Cylon."

I really, really, really don't.

Although I never do get what I ask for from the Battlestar Galactica writing staff, I hope that Kara Thrace simply cracked, finally and profoundly and for the best reasons any human could ask for. Beyond causing her fiance's death, beyond the first and second cylon imprisonment, beyond a confused yet spectacular sex life, beyond the abusive childhood which -- honestly -- seemed a little too Sybil for my tastes, she's a pilot who was literally defending the human race. That's a lot of shit. Wouldn't it get to you? Can't we just let her rest? Why should anyone want to undo her only achievement -- her military career -- with strange wishes that she's actually the enemy? No, I wish for no sci-fi resurrection.

Also, did Tighe really say that she'd be crushed "like a cheap soda can?" Do they have soda in space? And is it sometimes served in expensive cans that resist crushing? I'm curious.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I'm not saying he's not smart

There's something inherently funny, isn't there, about the name Flavio. It's not that it's not English but just that men named Flavio tend to do things like this: "he plans to have as many as 20 outlets worldwide by 2009, each selling what he calls 'Italian Couture' items such as shirts with watches built into the cuffs and ties adorned with crystal buttons. Speaking in a Feb. 27 interview as stocks tumbled around the world, Briatore said his target audience of wealthy males is unlikely to be affected by a drop in asset values....'We are a very small niche,' Briatore said in the Knightsbridge, London, office of his designer, Angelo Galasso. 'If you have a niche, you are quite protected.'...Briatore, wearing a black top, blue jeans and ankle-length boots with a pink flame on the sole, said it makes more business sense to have men as Billionaire's target clientele. 'In the end, the person with the wallet is the man,' said Briatore, who used to date supermodel Heidi Klum."

I've seen Flavio's niche. It IS small. But everyone seems to want one just like it.

Melinda Doolittle restores my faith in the Idol franchise, humanity

Did you see her last night? It gave me a Sarah Vaughan feeling. Serious. I'm ready to buy my Melinda Doolittle at the Meyerson tickets right this very minute.

And Antonella seemed like America's newest sharp-singing home-porno sweetheart until she took that shot at the judges. Now? The spell is broken.