Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Some stars...were embarrassed that critics said it proves nobody cares about their Twitter presence"

Page Six: Alicia Keys, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Seacrest withdrew from "social media until they raised a $1 million for the charity.... But it took longer than expected, and insiders say the celebs became frustrated....the organization expected to raise the $1 million in a week. But by yesterday, after six days, it had taken in only about $450,000. Stars including Kim Kardashian, who can earn about $10,000 a tweet, started getting itchy fingers. One source blamed servers that crashed for 12 hours on the first night for the slow-paced donations. Others blamed lack of promotion and overestimating the participants' Twitter power."

Finally a donor stepped up with $500,000 to meet the goal and restore celebrity power to Twitter.

I cannot stop laughing.

"This simply doesn't happen"

Yesterday, FX canceled Terriers and network president John Landgraf held a conference call to explain. Hitfix's Alan Sepinwall:

I've been covering TV a pretty long time now, and I honestly cannot remember anything like this happening before. Hell, most of the time it's a chore just to get a network to acknowledge that a show's been canceled at all. It's a testament to just how good "Terriers" was - and to how candid and self-reflective Landgraf is - that this thing happened.

Landgraf spent 30-plus minutes on the phone with reporters....Landgraf - who sounded as sad and defeated as many of the reporters on the call (yours truly included) - wanted to give the press, and by proxy, the show's small but passionate fanbase, a glimpse at how the sausage gets made

The numbers were never there -- never even close -- but Landgraf still agonized over the decision. Canceling good shows is evidently not part of culture there at FX. That's remarkable.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fair Park Holiday was fun, pretty

Upon reflection, though, there are many drawbacks to hosting both the White Rock Marathon races and the holiday celebration on the same weekend. I know, they're both sponsored by MetroPCS. The marathon brings money and attention. But all those metal barricades blocked walking paths. Plus the skinny health expo volunteers seemed unnerved by the deep-fried treats and sugary good concessions sold at the holiday event.

Still it's always great to see the Hall of State and the Fair Park fountain is a genuine treasure.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hey! I know! Let's make it difficult for discounters to serve their customers!

Cash-starved cities can, evidently, still afford to pursue lawsuits against discount travel sites in an effort to collect more taxes. The cities lost. But there's always legislative means!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I hope tomorrow night's Terriers finale is not the final finale

It seems like me and about 487,996 of my closest friends are hooked on this show and everyone else thinks it's about dogs. Too bad. Donal Logue's performance as Hank -- the recovering alcoholic divorced ex-cop with a schizophrenic sister and an interesting knack for leading people right to their death -- is amazing. He does bad things! He's still likable! He looks strangely sexy in reading glasses! Like I said: amazing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Coty's buying spree: first Philosophy skincare, now OPI nail products

From Bloomberg: "Coty Inc., the seller of perfumes by Sarah Jessica Parker and Vera Wang, is close to buying nail-care company OPI Products Inc. for about $1 billion in cash." So Coty will own both Sally Hansen and OPI brands, while adding another product line that is not a fragrance.

Quick! What do you think of when someone mentions Coty? If you answered "the iconic Airspun Face Powder box which may or may not have been designed by Rene Lalique obviously," we can be friends!

I guess video of someone calmly looking at a monitor wouldn't make for compelling Black Friday news

Confusing numbers. The "average shopper spent $365.34 -- up more than 6 percent from a year ago," but the increase seems to be overwhelmingly in online purchasing: "Online sales surged 9 percent to $648 million on Black Friday....At the malls, however, another survey by research firm ShopperTrak found that Black Friday sales rose a disappointing 0.3 percent to $10.69 billion." I don't know how that averages out to 6% but it's interesting that TV news cameras still camp out at stores for the fights and stampedes.

All the hype, all the loss-leaders, all those sleep-deprived clerks and no real uptick in business.

UPDATE: Every Black Friday detail you could ever wish for here. Two highlights: "the number of people who began their Black Friday shopping at midnight tripled this year from 3.3 percent last year to 9.5 percent in 2010. In fact, by 4 a.m. nearly one-fourth (24.0%) of Black Friday shoppers were already at the stores" and retailers drove "'traffic early in November and in doing so some might have thinned Black Friday spending a bit.'"

Maybe Budweiser's "Real Men of Genius" spots have finally run out of people to mock

Once, they made lighthearted fun of wrestling costumes and toupees -- things we can all laugh at -- now, with "Mr rolling cooler cooler roller" and "Barbershop," they seem to belittle targets that aren't that deserving of ridicule. Does it all seem meaner to you? Less funny? Or maybe just tired?

LATER: I just heard "Overly loud car stereo player guy" and am now re-thinking this entire post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Selling luxury vs selling status

Profits at Tiffany's are up and it's not because of that shabby little counter they set aside for silver: "Demand has been strongest among Tiffany's wealthiest customers, who drove 'double-digit' percentage gains in sales of items priced above $500, the company said. Meanwhile, sales of lower-priced silver trinkets have been declining -- a signal of 'diverging' patterns of consumer spending." You say "diverging spending patterns," I say "the rich get richer." Tomato, tomahto.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why won't anyone buy Tom Hicks' hockey team?

It really can't improve prospects for a Dallas Stars sale when everyone's still in court re-hashing the bankruptcy of his baseball team: "As a condition of [Major League Baseball's] loaning the Rangers $15 million in June 2009 to meet payroll...Hicks agreed to finalize the sale of the team in order to ensure repayment. And when Hicks asked for another $25 million in November to address an 'additional cash flow shortage,' MLB insisted that Hicks select a winning bid by December 15 because there seemed to be no sense of urgency on his part....'Tom Hicks appeared to use the bidding process merely as an avenue to solicit members of the various bidding groups to provide funding to him so that he might retain control of the club.'"

Then there's the Liverpool soccer team, the sale of which Tom Hicks wrecked so completely that it left his business partner's NASCAR team facing bankruptcy too. Seriously. And fittingly, while team payments were delayed, haulers were stuck in Texas.

Good news, though! Mark Cuban is interested in the Stars. Wait! Didn't he try to bid on the Rangers? But in such a weird, half-assed way, everyone -- or just me? -- wondered afterwards just what the hell he was up to? Related?

Oh I don't know. It's all pretty messed up. Maybe, when everything's taken into account, we need to be very, very thankful for Jerry Jones.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Being part of the festivities meant everything to Hamilton"

Texas Rangers start their victory celebration with ginger ale instead of champagne so teammates Josh Hamilton and CJ Wilson can join in. Video here.

Wilson's tweet -- "#gingeralecelebration because josh and I are both polarized on avoiding alcohol but wanted to be in on the party. Straightedge/drug free fun" -- was touching. Good for them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

$1 reading glasses are back at Target! OMG!

Not as many styles but still cute and now packaged in zip-lock pouches.

For younger shoppers: Although Mulberry bags fail to impress, Christmas lights are on the shelves and the Mickey Mouse Band-Aids box is even better than expected.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Last night's Project Runway was remarkable

And Laura Bennett provides amazingly clear and intelligent commentary. I especially like this: "the work of these artists, despite the anguish, was never morbid. Pain was not romanticized."

Last night may have also been the first time Project Runway has ever aired footage of a gay man kissing his partner. That, along with Mondo's HIV confession followed by the relentlessly upbeat Austin and Santino show -- interesting that it took the allegedly dowdy Lifetime network to present all this. Is Bravo really so gay-friendly after all?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No one likes the fried beer

They were spitting it out. Literally. Taking a bite and spitting it out and warning total strangers not to try it. I've never seen this happen with any food ever at the Texas State Fair. Maybe the Dallas Observer wasn't exaggerating.

Other fair notes: the Tom Landry exhibit at the Texas Hall of State is awesome. Lots of people filed through -- quiet, interested and respectful. It's been 10 years.

The Century In The Making Football Pavilion is also at the Hall of State. I've decided the Texas Hall of State is the perfect venue for any exhibit of military, ranching and football history and should stick exclusively with those themes. Serious about this.

$15 parking, a 50% increase from last year.

Where is the ShamWow booth?!!

Something someone wrote about TV that I think applies to advertising and other things

From a Masked Scheduler post about the now-fired NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker:

You either respect the television audience; they work hard, love their friends and families, struggle to make ends meet and to put food on their table. They look to us to entertain them for a few hours....make them laugh, cry, escape, relate. They are smarter than all of us and know what they want far better than we do.


You hold the audience in contempt, treat them like sheep, think you are smarter than they are, pander to them and believe that they will never hold you responsible for your actions.

Zucker seems to have had a low regard for both the audience and the creative community and the result speaks for itself. Maybe you can't do any effective entertaining, persuading, advising or story-telling if you don't respect the people you're talking to. And if you can't respect people who are very different than you -- who live, eat, think, vote, or work differently -- then your ratings or sphere of influence or sales will be Zuckeresque.

10 random things about Twitter

1. Actually, I don't have 10. But I've realized that tweets that mention numbered lists and link to articles with numbered lists evidently garner a lot of attention.

2. And those articles usually suck. It's always "10 things your masseuse won't tell you," "8 secrets your waiter doesn't want you to know," or "5 people your sex partner thinks of while you're asleep" -- so it's provocative. But rarely informative or helpful.

3. I don't like Twitter the way you like Twitter. I prefer the self-contained tweet to the linky tweet. For one, I happen to care that your cat just rolled over. And two, see 2. Still Guy Kawasaki's techchat was one of the best, most helpful, most interesting things I've ever read about Twitter.

4. The Kaus Theory still intrigues me: "Twitter needs celebrities to promote its service. Celebrities need the publicity, but also they need protection. Deal!" Although it's interesting that Twitter cannot protect celebrities from themselves. Embarrassing, David Price.

5. Really? Can we all stop tweeting about the poor Segway guy? It seems like he was a good and smart man and after about the 58th mention, it seemed cruel.

6. There are a lot of positive, hard-working people to follow. It's genuinely inspiring.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If there's a Kennedy involved, there must be conspiracy theories

From Vulture: Project Runway's Tim Gunn "has been posting episode postmortems to his Facebook page, sharing his unfiltered, uncensored thoughts in ten-minute videos.... His frustration came to a head while recapping last week's challenge, where the designers were challenged to make modern-day sportswear inspired by Jackie Kennedy. Could that be why shortly after the new video was posted to his Facebook page, it suddenly disappeared without a trace?"

Vulture wonders if Lifetime executives, upset at Gunn's criticism of the producers, pulled the video, which of course is still easy to find.

I can't help thinking that the real problem for Lifetime is Gunn's off-hand criticism of the Kennedy estate -- at the 6:00 mark, he complains about being "forbidden" from saying "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," and the crazy "revisionist history" that would have us forget the weird second marriage.

So the estate probably gave the show permission to use the former first lady's image and, evidently, the estate has its demands. They probably have good reasons. Maybe there's a noble cause at stake. Surely, the Kennedy estate is not clinging to the Camelot fantasy and dragging out heart-breaking photographs just to sell us QVC jewelry?

Please, though: don't tell Lifetime executives about Laura Bennett's blog. It's on their own site and it's always excellent but it's doubtful they've read it, especially the part about "Jackie O" being a "bulimic chain-smoker with a cheating husband who married a shipping tycoon for money and then lived with another married man until the end of her life."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

House rates "much higher on the forgiveness scale than Lone Star hero’s cheating on 2 wives and swindling hard-working people"

No one knows why Lone Star failed but I do think there's something to Nellie Andreeva's theory. Dr House spends a great deal of time in obvious physical pain, engendering some measure of sympathy. Lone Star's central character seems tormented by a goofy dad and a conscience -- things an adult can partially control. Important difference.

Maybe? Now that I've watched the latest episode Terriers, I can't be sure. "One of the central pieces of the FX formula that Shawn Ryan helped create with 'The Shield' was the idea of shows with anti-heroes at the center - good guys who are capable of being very, very bad guys." Why are Terriers' anti-heroes so much more appealing than Lone Star's? I think it has something to do with how much suffering an actor can convey without saying anything. A cane helps. A grizzled, weary expression does too.

I don't really want to hate Lone Star. It's just upsetting that, for a show hyped as "outside-the-box programming" and "more nuanced than a soap opera," those first 15 minutes -- look! a cute girl wearing nothin' but a towel! -- were as soapy and cliched as it gets.

Today Nate Berkus might want to make time to read his first design blog

The national scandal that is NateGate: design bloggers "waited and waited and waited and waited, and finally, last week many of us got word that the day had finally come. The blogger show was scheduled for 9/21! We were only given one week's notice (which was kind of annoying), but many bloggers still managed to take time off, make travel arrangements and take time out of their very busy lives to be there....People spent a lot of friggin money to get their asses there, but it was all for Nate! So it was worth it! Only it wasn't! Like not even a little bit!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

About 6 weeks later and we still don't know what the hell was going on at the Rangers auction

Even an explanation from the court-pappointed restructuring officer can't clear up Mark Cuban's role in the Texas Rangers bankruptcy auction: "Snyder said sports commentators got it wrong by asserting that Cuban connived with the banks to pump up the value of Rangers debt, which he had admitted buying some in late 2009."

Well then, what was it? Because Cuban -- rebuffed when he sought to buy the Chicago Cubs -- and his partner Jim Crane -- who had already alienated baseball owners when he backed out of a previous deal to buy the Astros -- were an odd and unlikely ownership duo. Was Cuban doing the banks a solid, not for his own immediate profit, but some future considerations? Is the man going through a rough patch? Also? What is Crane's deal?

By far, though, the most interesting aspect of the August 4th auction was guessing which media members were being played by Cuban. At various times throughout the day, bold claims were made that Cuban was going to blow up baseball's anti-trust standing, that Cuban was buying the team in order to build a new media empire and, about 3 hours before he folded in court, that people close to Cuban insisted he was very, very serious about buying. I now assume this is what Cuban was telling everyone off the record. It must have made them all feel very smart and cool. Until about 12:45am August 5. So it was funny when, after it was all over, Cuban called the media "the dumbest people in the room;" funnier still when he got beaten down while trying to defend himself in a venue less friendly than his own blog.

But does this make you feel a little less bitter about Tom Hicks: "The restructuring officer figured that Hicks took home $60 million of the $525 million when he refinanced in 2006, but had put all of that back into the Rangers plus plowed in another $40 million more by the time he defaulted on the debt in March 2009." No? I understand.

ADDED 9/22: The SEC -- who now enjoys exemption from FOIA requests and is therefore always suspicious -- successfully resuscitates their case against Cuban.

"Caesars Palace gets so many requests for a suite that doesn’t exist from people willing to pay $4,000 a night for the place"

What one movie can do for Las Vegas tourism: "'The Hangover' suite, an amalgamation of three Caesars suites and a little Hollywood magic, existed only on a soundstage in Southern California. But that hasn’t stopped tourists from asking about it and wanting to get a look at some of the places they saw in the movie....Debbie Munch, Harrah’s Entertainment’s vice president of public relations in Las Vegas, said guests from Israel to Australia have made trips just to see the infamous 'Hangover' suite in Caesars Palace."