Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey look!

Of the 6 most full of shit professions, advertising isn't even listed!

Oprah and Jay: shoulda taken about 5 minutes

Seemed like Oprah had 3 questions -- why didn't you just retire? why does everyone hate you? what about Conan's feelings? -- and spent the entire hour ever so slightly re-wording then re-asking them. Leno is a guarded kind of guy and probably difficult to interview and still I think Oprah was a little ridiculous. When she presented the results of her website's Jay vs Conan poll as serious proof of overwhelming hostility toward Leno, I sort of shut down.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why haven't they caught the guy who burned down the Texas governor's mansion?

The rebuilding has begun in Austin -- sorta -- but why is the arsonist still so elusive? Remember, the mansion "went up in flames before sunrise on June 8 [2008], lit by a young man captured on grainy surveillance footage hurling a Molotov cocktail at the 152-year-old building's front door."

This happened only a few months before two Austin men were arrested for planning to use Molotov cocktails on Republican National Convention attendees in Minneapolis. Which is probably just coincidental but, honestly, what the hell has happened to Austin?

And what's happening now in East Texas where six churches have been set on fire just this month?

"I am not trying to convince you to buy an Apple iPad, I am trying to explain to you why you probably will anyway"

Seems like Gizmodo has it exactly right: "We can sit here in our geeky little dorkosphere arguing about it all day, but as much as Apple clearly enjoys our participation, the people Jobs wants to sell this to don't read our rants. They can't even understand them. My step-mother refuses to touch computers, but nowadays checks email, reads newspapers and plays Solitaire on an iPod Touch, after basically picking it up by accident one day. That's a future iPad user if I ever saw one."

Here's a thing about the Hall of State

I could read about Fair Park history all day long, I really could, and as you know, my favorite building on the whole fairgrounds is the Hall of State which I once incorrectly attributed to George Dahl but was in fact created by Donald Barthelme, a former student of Paul Cret, the architect who designed, among other things, the backdrop for my youth. Anyway. I was in the Hall of State a few Saturdays ago, just about the only person there, and spent almost two hours noticing things I had overlooked before.

Here's one thing:

Downstairs? In the lobby area right before you go into the auditorium? There are these huge Deco light fixtures on the ceiling. They're frosted glass circles outlined in chrome -- sun symbols, a version of the emblem that's on New Mexico's state flag. At least I think that's right. This photo -- the only one I could find of the lobby -- shows an odd overhead light panel that makes me think there's been a restoration since the photo was taken. Maybe the Deco fixtures are reproductions or the restored originals. They're pretty interesting though. That building is filled with so many symbols from so many cultures, someone really should write a book. Or at least re-print one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The "Pull 'Em Up" billboards

Dwaine Caraway's anti-saggy pants campaign has returned and this time, there's a spokesperson. What do you think of Big Mama/Mother Joe/Irma P. Hall? Does the use of a fictional character, in any way, remind you at all of any other fictional characters used in any other ads from the past? Why use a fictional character? Why not recognize Hall's talent and standing and use her real name?

Actually I think the real controversy here is that Mayor Pro Tem Caraway, enabled by Clear Channel, is so flagrantly ignoring some very good advice: "Any public official that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants."

And then just like that, Target became Walmart

From the WSJ: "Target Corp. is slamming the brakes on store expansion and will pour $1 billion this year into remodeling its existing shops to accelerate a push into groceries....Best known for affordable and fashionable apparel and home furnishings created by big-name designers, the chain more recently has emphasized low prices on household basics and experimented with adding more food, including fresh produce, to its discount stores to entice customers in the door."

And just to clarify who's doing the innovation here: "Target said it plans to test small urban store concepts that would range from 60,000 to 100,000 square feet and feature high volume products....Wal-Mart also has expressed interest in opening smaller stores in urban areas."

"Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where 'fat rednecks try to shove food down my face'"

Most outrageous John Edwards revelation yet? I think so! But maybe someone should ask one of those State Fair rednecks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"'It was clear somebody was selling jewelry this Christmas and it wasn't us'"

Zale CEO: out. His focus on "moderately priced heart-shaped diamond jewelry, fashionable watches and a new line of pricey bridal diamonds" didn't work. Signet's Kay -- with Jane Seymour's Open Hearts -- and Jared -- with, I don't know, an annoying campaign? -- did better: "mid-tier mall-based chains suffered, while lower and higher-end retailers remained strong."

Was Absolutely Fabulous a comedy or a prophecy?

Kelly Cutrone's show starts Feb 1.

Friday, January 15, 2010

NBC has never really known how to handle the Tonight Show, have they?

It's fun now to go back and read "Behind The Headlines in the Leno-Letterman War." Quick example: "David Letterman had officially been offered the job as host of 'The Tonight Show.' But the terms, as explained by Ovitz, were more than a little maddening....The deal would not go into effect until May 1994. NBC was offering David Letterman 'The Tonight Show' after a 17-month waiting period. The May date, as everyone knew, coincided with the end of Jay Leno's current contract. So the implication was clear: NBC wanted to avoid paying off Jay."

But there was melodrama long before that: "On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar walked off his show....As he left his desk, he said, 'I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this.' Paar's abrupt departure left his startled announcer, Hugh Downs, to finish the broadcast himself." He came back a month later. But still.

And before that in 1957: "NBC changed the show's format to a news and features show, similar to that of the network's popular morning program Today....This new version of the show was not popular, resulting in a significant number of NBC affiliates dropping the show."

It's kind of like the history of a European monarchy, where chaos, screw-ups and intrigue are the normal state of things and are interrupted only occasionally by a long, peaceful, fruitful reign.

"The biggest disco ball the world has ever seen"

In Paris.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I for one would like to see Steve Allen return as the Tonight Show host

"This program is going to go on forever."

You know, I was feeling bad for Conan O'Brien right up until the minute he went and wrote that letter which, honestly, took forever to get to the point (will he stay or go?) and put forth a series of fairly weak arguments -- he's been a faithful employee who "worked long and hard" (hasn't Jay Leno been at NBC just as long?), his show had only been given 7 months to work (didn't he have, by virtue of that famous 2004 contract, 5 years to prepare for the job?), and he had a weak prime-time lead-in (were there never bad prime-time ratings during the Carson years?).

Anyway, yeah: I'm out of the habit of watching any post-nightly news talk show. I feel like with SportsCenter, The Daily Show, TMZ, or whatever, everyone's been out of that habit for a long time and there must be some other reason people care about this conflict. I don't know exactly what it is though.

UPDATE: Nikki Finke: "NBC Universal, faced with Conan O'Brien's defiance, is taking what insiders tell me is 'a super tough threatening position.'" Super tough? Do these insiders happen to be 15-year old girls? And this isn't at all overwrought: "It's dastardly, it's cowardly, and it could be damn effective."

A TV series about a Dallas cop who lives "in a trailer in the shadow of the Texas Star?" I am so in.

Code 58, I love you.

Yes I know such a residence is impossible -- unless the Cotton Bowl or old Aquarium has undergone some kind of zoning change-- but, look, it's the Texas Star! It's magic. Of course you'd live there if you could.

Being on Lifetime has already damaged Project Runway

Last season's ratings were down slightly and this note from the NYPost doesn't inspire confidence: Michael Kors and Nina Garcia "offered their snarky-but-sage runway-side commentaries only occasionally last season. 'That's probably one of the biggest criticisms we had,' said executive producer Sara Rea, who justified their absence as a scheduling conflict with the European runway show....But when The Post asked if it had actually been because Lifetime couldn't keep flying the pair out to Los Angeles from New York, exec producer Barbara Schneeweiss conceded, 'Well, yeah, that, too.'"

Kors and Garcia are integral to the show, aren't they? And Lifetime didn't realize that? Answer: Nicole Richie.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The spirit of old Elaine Benes with a little J Peterman panache

Why does this innocuous little Luxist post just make me snort-laugh: "The Nancy Gonzalez Croc Savvy Hobo is a cheerful and striking purse with a subtle modernity everyone will surely be imitating soon." I think it's the "surely" that gets to me. Also, the red purse has "a cream lining. Looking into this bag is like peering into the delicious center of a slice of red velvet cake." Except a red velvet cake is creamy white only on the outside.

Oh well. You know how it goes -- "stupid story, a huge markup." Anyone can do that.

"Peter Arnell is so much fun to travel with"

Martha Stewart visits Thailand and America's favorite branding guru/performance artist tags along. There are pictures! Martha looks relaxed and sunburned -- she is remarkably beautiful -- and Arnell looks same as always. Because that's his branding!

But it's good to see Martha Stewart still likes to take a day-after-Christmas trip. In the past, that hasn't always worked out so well.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Downside: the final score

That sucked.

Upside: now that the bowl games are finally over, we might not have to watch that Allstate spot ever again. My God! "The recession that made us great?" What? Why does Allstate, for two years in a row now, feel the need to interrupt fun, happy college football games with such downbeat messages? It's not empathetic! Not helpful! It's slightly smug. It's certainly filled with cliched imagery. It might even piss people off.

ADDED: I think Allstate's spot might piss people off because the words and images seem not at all inspired by real life experiences but, instead, ripped straight from a Faith Popcorn press release.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

"'This was one of the foremost historic diamonds, a state diamond, worn not just by women but also men and by the sovereign.'"

Funny how a gem, in this case the Wittelsbach Diamond, cannot be esteemed -- is honestly only a bauble -- until a man wears it.

It would be unkind to dwell on this George Steel news

Bloomberg News has the latest on the man who jilted Dallas for the New York City Opera: "Yesterday the opera, in precarious financial shape and still reeling from management fiascos, announced that it had ceded to the [New York City] ballet four precious weeks in future fall seasons....The scheduling drama, first published on the website of the New York Times yesterday, suggests that City Opera remains in trouble under George R. Steel, who was handed the reins a year ago, and continues to bleed money while downsizing its seasons."

Interestingly, the Bloomberg piece doesn't link to the NYTimes article but here it is and here is a funny little bit: "Mr. Steel suggested that the new schedule was another step toward running a tighter ship. 'We still have some big challenges,' he said. 'If one performs less in the theater, we will see savings.'" Well! Think of the savings, then, if one cancels an entire season.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Bay Guardian asked for a stake in all property belonging to the rival SF Weekly and its parent company, the 14-paper Village Voice Media"

While San Francisco's two alt weeklies continue their court fight, has anyone speculated on what it might mean for the Dallas Observer? They're owned by Village Voice Media, right? Without the Observer, we will be left with only the Morning News and D Magazine's list of best doctors. Heaven help us. And please please please don't let anything happen to Wilonsky or Schutze.