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April 8, 2007 - April 14, 2007 Archives

April 8, 2007


Well, that was anticlimactic.

"The Sopranos" returned with an episode that didn't really advance the story line much at all. The main elements that should play out over the rest of the episodes include the feds building their RICO case against Tone (he got picked up on a minor weapons charge, it got dropped, then the feds picked it up again, letting Tony know what everyone knew for years, that the feds were closing in) and Bobby's sloppy first hit on some dude in Montreal, his penance for fighting (and beating) Tony in a drunken brawl at Bobby and Janice's Adirondacks place. Lots of family flashback references, Tony ending up lost in a reverie while watching old home movies of his and Janice's childhood.

And that was basically it. The action will have to resume next week- this was more of a re-establishing episode, a reminder of who's who and what's what. No Dr. Melfi, no Silvio, a little Phil Leotardo, a portrait of Johnny Sack, a few seconds with Christopher, a taste of sullen A.J., that's it. Most of the episode was like a New Jersey Italo-American "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in upstate New York. As episodes largely staged outside the usual North Jersey milieu go, this was no "Pine Barrens."

After that, "Entourage" was, you know, typical. Vince has a new agent- Carla Gugino falling out of her dress- and Ari's trying to win him back. That, and Turtle manages to max out E's credit cards before hitting on a cheap way to throw a lavish birthday party for Vince on the Queen Mary- sponsorship. Anyone who's seen one episode of the show could have written this episode off the top of his or her head in minutes. And can anyone explain why Debi Mazar still gets a credit in the opening sequence but isn't actually seen in the episodes? Either she negotiated a great deal or they don't want to spend the money to recut the credits.

Overall HBO evening: eh. Or meh. I expect next week to redeem the entire network.


April 9, 2007


The one thing that's emerging from the Don Imus debacle is that everyone's gone nuts.

Imus is nuts because his apology tour is an embarrassment. He's apologizing to everyone for his sense of humor- it's not like the "hos" comment was an anomaly. His show deals, for better or worse, in the use of that kind of thing for humorous/satiric effect. It's rarely funny- I haven't found him funny since he was prank-calling fast food places in the early 1970s- but it's what he does. A lot of the reaction is from people who aren't familiar with his show and are hearing the comments completely out of context (not that context makes them funny or perceptive, but there WAS context). He should be saying that. Instead, he's practically weeping and begging for forgiveness and telling everyone he's not a bad guy. For a celebrity whose entire career was built on being a comically bad guy, this is the kind of reversal that's worse than just keeping one's mouth shut. Yeah, it was a mistake. Yeah, it wasn't funny. Just say "I'm sorry" and move on- indulge the critics and it will never end, because they smell blood and they'll peck away until there's nothing left. And your credibility as a fearless, speaks-his-mind, out-on-the-edge kind of guy will be gone, too.

The critics are nuts because they seem to think- I just saw Al Sharpton on CNN telling Paula Zahn this- that the federal government has some sort of law against racist comments on the "federally regulated airwaves." Sorry, Al, but that's not true (and Paula Zahn's so dim, she not only didn't have an answer for that but didn't even object when he said that CNN is regulated by the FCC, which it isn't). There's no law against making racist statements on the radio. It's stupid and wrong to make racist comments on the radio (or anywhere else), it's inadvisable, it's hurtful, but it's not illegal. Sharpton (and, shockingly, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), who, as a Congressperson, ought to have perhaps read the Constitution at some point) seems to be unaware of the First Amendment. (Then again, he's the one who falsely accused a cop of raping Tawana Brawley, so there's part of him that obviously thinks you can say anything) They're also nuts because they think that what some radio fossil with a 1 share says has some sort of effect on society. It doesn't. His audience knows how to take what he says- they probably just shook their heads and thought "oh, there he goes again, can't believe he said that." And it doesn't matter what anyone else thought, because they weren't listening.

What Imus said had no effect on anyone except, maybe, if someone on the Rutgers team heard it and was insulted. The punishments, whether CBS and MSNBC's lame, delayed two-week suspension or Sharpton and Jesse Jackson's preferred firing and public beating, will mean nothing. Within a year- within weeks- this will be pushed right out of everyone's consciousness by the next outrage. But in the meantime, a guy who hasn't been all that entertaining since the disco era and his self-appointed critics will get plenty of face time on CNN and MSNBC and Fox and the network news and on the op-ed pages.

Everyone's gone nuts. I'm going to go listen to something else. Oh, right, I wasn't listening to any of them in the first place.


April 10, 2007


Tonight's entry has been pre-empted. Stay tuned for the following special announcement from 1969:

"Why HIPPIES?" indeed. We're still asking that question in 2007, only they're less a new, exotic subculture than a malodorous bunch of throwbacks following certain jam bands around the country. Why HIPPIES? Don't know, don't particularly care.

Ambassador College, of course, was Herbert Armstrong's thing, affiliated with Herbert's (and, for a time, son Garner Ted's) Worldwide Church of God. The school closed in 1997, but the Pasadena campus' quite impressive auditorium is back in operation. And the answer to "why HIPPIES" is lost to history.


April 11, 2007


Corporate rock, June 1968 style:

Yes, you too could have won a trip (with 25 friends!) to anywhere in the U.S., where you'd see a "knock-out performance by The First Edition," all for matching the notes on youe can or cap to the notes in the ad. But you could also have opted for $10,000.

Hmm. A First Edition concert or ten grand. What shall I take?

No way in hell anyone took the concert. No way.

You remember The First Edition, right? Sure you do. But here's a hint:

That's Kenny Rogers just dropping in to see what condition your condition is in. Check out the groovy jacket. Check out the one-knee rockin'-out.

My favorite thing in the ad is the kids on the shore- I guess they're supposed to look like they're partying and dancing and groovin' to the gently-rockin' sounds of Kenny and the band. SOme of them, however, look panicked or confused, and some on the right appear to have chased the band onto that raft and into the water. Good riddance! That'll show those hippies what for! They'll never darken the lawn of OUR frat house again!

Fun fact: the second, third, and fourth prizes all included "Foil dress and vest," because all the cool kids wore aluminum in 1968.



I'll be talking more about this as the event approaches, but Fran and I are going to be walking in the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women on May 12 in Los Angeles. The event raises funds for breast cancer research, and that, as many of you know, is something that is very important to us.

The event has web pages for donations, and mine is pretty much the boiler plate so far, but you CAN make donations now if you're so inclined: click here to do just that. I'll be mentioning this again and again for the next month, so I'll be wearing you down at some point.

And thank you.


April 12, 2007


There IS an edition of "The Letter" today- it's just late. If it goes out before I go to sleep, I'll post it tonight. Otherwise, it'll be here tomorrow. Included: some last rites for Imus, and yet another plug for the Revlon walk.

The what? This thing. Click, give, feel good about life.

"Letter" later. Maybe.


April 13, 2007


This week's self-explanatory All Access newsletter WENT OUT WITH THE WRONG LINK. I sent the RIGHT link, but when they pasted it into the e-mail template they left out part of the link. Yes, I want to scream, why do you ask?

Here's a correct version of the thing. Read it while I go punch a wall:

Well, I guess there's not much going on in talk radio this week, so...

Frankly, I don't want to talk about the Imus thing, precisely because everyone- EVERYONE- else is talking about it. It's amazing how suddenly everyone's an expert on a show relatively few people listened to and a team about whose existence most people didn't care. Overnight, Imus became Public Enemy Number One, the Rutgers team ascended to sainthood, and a stupid, unfunny, off-hand slur became The End Of Civilization As We Know It and an excuse to indict the entire talk radio culture. And the cable talk shows were overrun with "experts" ready to make their pronouncements on guilt, innocence, virtue, free speech, hip-hop culture, charity, and radio.

I did not market myself as an expert on this one, because I really didn't want to be one of those people. I have my opinions, and I know what I would have done had I been in a position to make a Solomonic decision to solve the "crisis." But it would have been pointless, considering that I'm not in charge, nobody in charge was consulting me, and going on some cable show where the only way to get your point across is to out-shout the guy in the other little box on the screen wasn't going to do anybody any good. I watched and listened to a lot of those discussions this week, and I heard almost nothing that approached sanity or a calm, proportional reaction to the situation. But that's how the other media cover radio- they don't, until something minor and stupid happens, at which point they overreact until it's an international incident.

If there's one instructive thing to take out of the Imus situation, it's something I've told you before: you can get away with a lot, but the one thing your bosses will absolutely not tolerate is when they get "those" phone calls, meaning complaints. In this case, the complaints were bigger than just phone calls, and they went way, way up to the top of the company, to folks who just do not want or need to be bothered with trouble from some radio show right now. When it becomes clear that those complaints aren't going away anytime soon, not until "something is done," you're toast. Does that mean we're all doomed to walk on eggshells and stick to inoffensive material that won't rock any boats or generate any kind of reaction that might displease corporate? Man, I hope not.

All right, enough about Imus. Next subject: you know how every year someone at your office puts up a Girl Scout cookie sign-up sheet in the break room, and everyone kinda has to buy some Thin Mints because, well, you gotta represent? You know how annoying that is?

Sorry, but here it comes, with profuse thanks to Joel and Ria Denver for letting me do this:

See, there's this event coming up on May 12 in Los Angeles, the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women. It's to raise funds for cancer research, and as some of you are aware, my wife Fran and I have a particular vested interest in this area, having been visited by the disease last year. We're going to walk in the event this year to celebrate Fran's courage and survival and to raise money for the cause, and that means I've set up the online equivalent of the break room sign-up sheet so that anyone who feels moved to make a donation may do so. No pressure or guilt-tripping here- I'm not going to be checking who's been naughty or nice- but if you can throw a few bucks toward a good cause, here's the link to click:


You'll also find links to the same donation page at Talk Topics and at pmsimon.com. Thanks, and if you're in L.A. on May 12, come on down to the U.S.C./Coliseum area and look for us.

OK, let's quickly run down the stories you'll find at All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics show prep column this week, in case you don't want to keep talking about Imus or Rutgers or Dannielynn's daddy: there's the comeback of your old-school arcade video games, proof that most people ought not to be playing with nail guns, why 911 is a joke in one town, a particularly disturbing improvisational drama class, why diets don't work, how Kirsten Dunst proposes to bring world peace, the strange case of the streaking swimmers, how much one testicle is worth, and the increasing popularity of the wedding iPod, plus "real news" like the extension of troops' tours of duty in Iraq, the health insurance crisis, and much more, "10 Questions With..." USA Radio Network "Daybreak USA" co-host Scott West, the Talent Toolkit with consumer information sites and material, and the rest of All Access with the industry's first/fastest/best breaking news coverage at Net News, the Industry Direct ory with complete listings of everybody in the business, the best job listings in radio, Mediabase charts, and lots more, all free.

Nest week: Vegas, for NAB2007 and RTNDA@NAB. Possibly the least fun than you can possibly have in Vegas short of incidents involving frearms and Pacman Jones. If you love my writing when I'm irritated and tired, you'll love next week.


April 14, 2007


This is traveling weekend, and I have to work double today because tomorrow is the long drive to Vegas. So nothing here today. Sorry.

At least the Phillies won. It's about time. Are they going to admit, though, that Tom Gordon might be at the end of the line as a closer? Granted, they haven't NEEDED a closer much this season, but a guy who gets into trouble even in innings he escapes is not the kind of closer that inspires confidence, and that HAS to weigh heavily on the pitching staff. Too bad there isn't any other option. Sigh.


About April 2007

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in April 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 1, 2007 - April 7, 2007 is the previous archive.

April 15, 2007 - April 21, 2007 is the next archive.

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