Thursday, May 31, 2007

Who's getting a show on Fox News?

Because Fox News will only talk about Rosie O'Donnell and because they will only talk about her with Donald Trump, I assume the channel is about to give a new show to one of them. Or both? Hmmm. And look! The Bancrofts will meet with Murdoch.

This is the longest I've gone without Melinda Doolittle

The first time I saw her perform Sway, I couldn't get past the fact she was singing the ultimate Dean Martin seduction song. Didn't seem right. Now, re-watching Melinda, I love her all over again. Kinda Della Reese-y. Exactly what I would like to hear at the Melinda Doolittle Meyerson Center concert, which is scheduled for sometime in late 07. In my dreams.

This wouldn't be happening if I ruled the world

Projects that should never have been funded: "Diane English has a solid cast and an Aug. 6 start date for 'The Women,' the remake of the 1939 classic that she adapted and will direct. Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing and Candice Bergen have either signed or are near committing to star in a contemporized version of the George Cukor-directed film....The project's less-than-$20 million budget has been financed by Inferno Entertainment, Picturehouse and soapmaker Dove, which will make 'The Women' a major cog in a marketing campaign for its female-friendly brand."

Really: Dove and Meg Ryan? I feel very, very, very sick right now. The original film is a perfect movie, something that became obvious the first time someone remade it back in 1956.

Other films currently in the works and that may suck: two Coco Chanel bios. Maybe they'll succeed where Katherine Hepburn failed. Maybe I'm too sentimental about the subject to approve. But the biopic I'd prefer to see would be of Elsa Schiaparelli, the woman who gave us dyed-to-match zippers (think about it), Dali fabrics (for surreal), shocking pink (which begat Barbie pink) and who inspired many of Rosalind Russell's outfits in "The Women" (the perfect original). I know this might be fashion blasphemy -- fashphemy, if you will -- but wasn't Schiaparelli brainier than Chanel? I think so. And, evidently, meaner. Smart, abusive, angry -- c'mon! Who wouldn't want to watch a movie about this woman?

Goes without saying I'd cast Johnny Depp in there somewhere.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Re-examining the Brooke Shields Tupperware party

Make the logo bigger's comment yesterday -- that Brooke Shields is now a mommy blogger -- made me realize exactly why Tupperware's Chain of Confidence is so very worthy of scorn: It's unnecessary. Also: it needs jokes.

Chain of Confidence describes itself as "a place to contribute your experiences" and invites you to "inspire others by sharing stories of how your friends have helped you to be more confident....share your thoughts to help build our network of confident women." So just in case iVillage or blogs or the Oprah message boards seem emotionally unavailable to you, Tupperware is here. At long last.

Since Tupperware is now selling cosmetics as well as bowls, I can only assume this is their attempt at a Mary Kay-ish sisterhood. But Mary Kay Ash was real, with a built-in personal story that's still compelling and loveably quirky. The Chain of Confidence site is a creative brief with photos. It follows the same template -- you know, the 7-point template -- for talking to a woman that says you have to show photos of other women, tie in to nurture-themed social causes and celebrate her friends. Apparently because facts might confuse her. It was a lifeless approach even by the time American Airlines copied it. I'm only offended that no one ever tries to make a girl laugh. Why can't the TV spots during Ugly Betty be as entertaining as the show?

As for Brooke Shields: obviously Tom Cruise's anti-drug rant was the best thing that ever happened to her -- endorsement deals ensued! as did Congressional testimony! -- but it happened to her, she didn't achieve it. Is that confidence-building?

Paper or plastic or your trendy eco-tote made by child labor?

Sometimes? Saving the environment is just so hard: "The 'I'm not a plastic bag' comes with a blue tag which explains the bag offers an alternative to plastic bags which 'have a negative impact on the environment.'" It's also "a must-have fashion item....made by leading designer Anya Hindmarch and they are changing hands on eBay for £225. Today Sainsbury's was accused of hypocrisy after it admitted the bag was made in China and was neither organic nor fair trade."

You'd think that would be a sort of scandal. A high-profile designer, a venerable retailer -- how could they recover from the lies? According to Fashionista, though, no worries: "It's true that the bag is hypocrital [sic, swear], and it's unfortunate that it doesn't follow the standards it wants to set. However, if it's driven hundreds of thousands of women to carry it - or any reusable bag - instead of requesting plastic bags in supermarkets and shoppinging [sic, can you believe it?] centers, isn't that the whole point?" Well, sure. Especially when the $340 is already gone from your PayPal account.

Still, isn't this greenwashing? If so, shouldn't Fashionista readers be more upset? I mean, didn't the Town & Country green issue -- my God, right there on p 177 of the special recylced paper section -- warn everyone about that? When did it become OK to be hypocritical? And is this proof that authenticity does or does not matter?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Be honest. When you read today's Rush & Molloy -- the part where "Brooke Shields, the new spokeswoman for Tupperware's Chain of Confidence campaign (aimed at fostering female friendships), sent a bag of the burping plastic bowls to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes" -- you couldn't go on until you learned more.

Me too!

Strangely, though, the Chain of Confidence site isn't too helpful. There's lots to read but I can't seem to find the part that explains what is actually going on. Tupperware somehow supports Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Somehow, being a Tupperware saleswoman can give you confidence. Somehow, Brooke Shields approves. Other than that, I'm stumped. I don't even know if I should "Purchase a Tupperware Commuter Mug to continue to foster positive connection between young women."

Oh wait -- it's an online community! And Brooke Shields really will throw a Tupperware party. Well, OK then. I already feel more confident just for figuring that out. Now, I can't wait to hear what Katie stores in her new bowls.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sleep with the fishes

By now I've read a lot of Sopranos re-caps and I'm kinda surprised that so few have brought up the Rozerem commercial. It's at the end, when AJ -- who starts the episode at home listening to Chamillionaire and, at the midpoint, gives the episode its title by reading Yeats -- is watching TV in the mental hospital. The spot is shown almost in its entirety along with AJ's reaction to it.

So: what does it mean? In a show defined by symbols -- or loose ends -- David Chase is that brilliant! -- it was funny to see a spot that is itself so filled with symbolism. And Lincoln, who previously appeared via Carm's Lincoln Log sandwiches. And sleep, which is all AJ has done and might ever do. Is it significant that AJ is watching this commercial or that Tony pulls him away from it? I don't know! But I'm pretty sure the important thing is: a commercial made its way into the Sopranos story! Yay!

ADDED: Now that I've watched this episode again, I noticed that it ends with the Italian lullaby Ninna Ninna. I think that means good night AJ.

MORE: Oh my. The song's liner notes (in PDF) are certainly interesting: "The mother sings to her little boy. His father, a brigand, escaped to the mountains....'Little Anton, I'd rather see you dead than a bandit in the mountains.' So that she will not have to disclose her husband's whereabouts, she too will go into the mountains. Her son sings: 'Mama, mama...I won't fall into dishonor.' In the third stanza the ghost-like voice of the father is heard....'all around me it's quiet and I only hear you singing.'"

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finding an acceptable coolness-to-glitch ratio

Panic? "Steve Jobs, already forced to tweak the debut of the much-anticipated iPhone from its expected June 11 launch date to a 'late June' debut, is believed to be cracking the whip and having the super-phone tested and re-tested to make sure it arrives without any bugs....the iPhone could rack up sales of up to 10 million units in its first year. If a bug, however, should appear - say a battery that doesn't deliver the expected staying power - then Jobs and Apple stand to suffer the largest black eye in recent memory."

Relax? "Despite his expectations of some bugs in the iPhone, Jade feels Apple's next wonder gadget will be a super success."

Or worship: "Much like the Western calendar marks time from before and after Jesus Christ...I am certain that the mobile telecoms world will count its time in two Eras. The Era BI: time Before the iPhone, and the ERA AI: time After the iPhone."


Reality worlds do collide!

The very excellent Laura K has the Kelly Clarkson-Jeffrey Sebelia details. Although Jeffrey is my least favorite of all reality show contestants, this -- for Clarkson -- might be a vast improvement.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I don't quite know what the Evergreen executive means when he says, "Tupac was one of the most prolific songwriters that ever lived....We are honored to be working with Afeni Shakur and helping to realize the full potential of this catalog." Maybe "honored" is actually code for "lucky it cost us only $5 million." And "full potential" might mean, well, that's the interesting part, right?

Tupac Shakur last made the Forbes bad-Karma list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2003. He has since been passed by the likes of Ray Charles and George Harrison. No one's gonna catch Elvis. Since Evergreen only bought into the Tupac Shakur song catalog, there may not be any Graceland themepark for activists in the works but Evergreen is a publishing company that buys celebrity catalogs -- MC Hammer's was bought out of bankruptcy! sweet! -- and has "about $150 million in financial backing from Lehman Brothers' private-equity arm." They're into profits. So will there be commercials? Should we start the countdown now for Tupac's Dancing With The Stars moment? And is that better or worse than a duet with Celine?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Melinda Doolittle is a woman, just like Peggy Lee, just like Charles of the Ritz

"I'm A Woman" has never struck me as much of a song but since even bad 70s commercials could not destroy it, there must be some magic to it. Of course Miss Lee knew this.

For that and so many other reasons, I spent 15 minutes voting for Melinda.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Meet AJ Khubani

He's the man who sold you the "mini-stairs that allow old or obese pets to climb onto the sofa ($30 million in sales to date), a credit-card-size magnifier-flashlight for aging eyes ($30 million), a bright-lights-and-goo tooth-whitening system ($40 million), a seamless torso girdle ($20 million), and a whirring implement that promises salon-style manicures at home ($30 million)." And he might be my new hero. Look, any man who can amass millions from canvassing mall kiosks -- and then worry that this new wealth might be damaging his judgment -- is someone worth paying attention to.

The real gold in this story, though, is right there in the beginning. It's Khubani's secret formula for infomercial success and it goes like this: "present the problem, repeat the horrible facts, gross people out, get their attention, and then say here’s a simple solution."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tastemaker, laundress: same thing

I picked up the June House & Garden for its exclusive, exhaustive list of New Tastemakers and was devastated to learn I was not on it. So unfair. But there on page 147 is Roberta Armani, "brand ambassador for her uncle Giorgio's global design empire." How does she define brand ambassador? "'I always say that my main function is to be Armani, wherever I happen to be. At every moment of my life I must be up to the task of representing everything my uncle has created.'" I'm sure she's aided in this by her strong sense of self. Also, I'm kinda glad my uncle's a butcher.

Still, Armani is featured in the category of "Design Marketing" so let's examine her special genius: "'I had the honor of preparing Tom's and Katie's outfits and those of their splendid family,' Armani says with a deference appropriate for her role." Oh. Say, that is a talent. Now she can do the same for Beyonce. And this time, it really will be an honor.

ADDED: As for that enthusiastic little blurb about Pinkberry on page 86? You might want to skip past that.

The thanks he gets

Remember back in February when the JetBlue CEO apologized in front of God, the nation and YouTube for all those canceled flights? Remember? Everyone cheered.

Yeah, well: he's out.

Rita Moreno!

Fresh off her success as Zelda in Singin' In The Rain, Rita Moreno played Aunt Mira in last night's Ugly Betty. It was so sweet. I love Rita Moreno, don't you? Well, don't you? A Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy and a Grammy -- and now a pharma endorsement. It's true: life can be bright in America!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Broadway's painfully awkward phase

An August Wilson play opens on Broadway and to "reach beyond the typical Broadway theatergoer -- who is a 49-year-old white woman, according to a recent Broadway trade association study -- the producers engaged an array of marketing specialists." I would have thought the timely plot, involving a successful African-American man running for political office, and the Wilson name would spell such certain success that ad agency efforts wouldn't be needed. I would have been so wrong. Because what stage productions really need today is a girl theme: "the theater's hot audience of the moment: tween and teen girls....Broadway, long worried about its graying audience, is in hot pursuit. A good deal of the credit for this nascent relationship goes to possibly the least-appreciated breakthrough hit of the past decade: Wicked." Diane DeGarmo in Hairspray? Fantasia in Color Purple? Suddenly it all makes sense. I don't know though. Young girls -- and I speak from experience here -- aren't always so bright. Do we really want to turn Broadway over to the Ashlee Simpson fan base?

Thank God for Vegas. I guess.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

50 Cent's bulletproof vest: a new branding opportunity?

It was minimized by the HBO cameras but last night, when 50 Cent led Floyd Mayweather Jr into the ring, he wore a bulletproof vest color-coordinated to match the fighter's trunks. Of course this gets a girl thinking. Was it a practical reminder that big bouts at the MGM never go well for rappers? (In which case -- just keeping with the theme of the week -- good or bad for boxing?) Was it a tribute? Or is decorative body armor simply the logical next-step for a business empire that includes clothes, virtual clothes, condoms and, uh, more?

On a vaguely related note: could Jim Lampley be any more of an old hen?

Friday, May 04, 2007


Holiday magazine -- you know, in their July 1959 issue -- bestowed a coveted Restaurant Award to Trader Vic's San Francisco for its "wonderful South Seas food and drink" and I've been meaning to go ever since. Good news! Now I don't have to leave my neighborhood because the Dallas Trader Vic's has opened. Or rather, re-opened.

Oddly, tiki is one form of nostalgia that I'm immune to but maybe not for long. I mean, doesn't this look like fun? And if there really are Gilligan's Island re-runs on a loop in the bar, I'm in.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Idol fears

DialIdol is predicting that Chris and LaKisha will be eliminated tonight but I fear for Melinda. I think that's why she got the coveted final slot last night -- the producers wanted desperately to hype her. That's my Idol conspiracy theory for this week anyway. It's 8:05: I now offer up a silent prayer to the spirits of Betty Carter, Anita O'Day and, of course, Sass. Please don't kick Melinda off my TV set just yet.

An effective celebrity endorser, even in death

From today's Rush & Molloy: "Solid Gold, a new strip joint in West Palm Beach owned by former Boston College football star and Miami Dolphins first-round draft pick (in 1997) John Bosa, will host a nude Anna Nicole Smith look-alike contest this month. 'It's a tribute to a great entertainer,' said Bosa, who notes that contestants should hail from Smith's post-Trimspa days."

Tim Gunn's to-do list

This look at Liz Claiborne's horrid first quarter is actually a great overview of the department store world in general: "in recent months department stores, including Macy's and Dillard's, have been putting more demands on apparel makers for increased profitability while at the same time dramatically stepping up their own store label offerings at the expense of their suppliers' brands....private-label brands at Macy's already exceed 80 percent of its sales."

Even those label-store partnerships can be tricky: "a factor behind Macy's cutting back the company's Liz Claiborne brand was its exclusive deal with J.C. Penney Co. for a moderate-price line." Everyone celebrates Target -- because those designers are young! and successful! -- but J.C. Penney has its own share of celebrity labels -- less young maybe -- which manage to sell really, really well.

And I think that means that no department store can go all private label. Like J.C. Penney, they need the mix of big labels, new names and their own lines to stay successful, because it's the mix that allows them to change with the times. Whereas if you're Gap, you're stuck.

All of which brings me back to Tim Gunn's new job at Liz Claiborne. His arrival seems perfectly timed to help right that ship. I hope he does it. And, aw, look: they love him already.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Barbies, boys

This inelegant Barbie Girl hardly seems worthy of Barbara Millicent Roberts -- good bye Bild Lilli, hello anime. Oh well. Let's go for a drive!