Posts from September 3, 2004

Clinton’s heart

Clinton’s heart

: I think I just heard on TV that Bill Clinton’s getting quad bypass surgery.

: UPDATE: Confirmed. Emergency surgery today. CBS details here.

A source close to Mr. Clinton tells CBS News that Mr. Clinton complained of chest pains Thursday night and was taken to a hospital near his home in Chappaqua, N.Y. Doctors, according to our source, found a blockage. Mr. Clinton is now in the New York Presbyterian hospital.

The NY Times has an alert saying he had a heart attack; no further details.

The newest blogger on the block: Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott!

wolcott2.jpgThe newest blogger on the block: Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott!

: I am proud to be the first to announce that my favorite critic and social commentator, Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott, is now blogging.

Here’s a sample of his first post on Zell Miller’s speech.

The blue eyes of wrath. The gnarled hands gripping the air as if clutching a liberal in a lethal chokehold.

Zell Miller did not disappoint millions of disenfranchised Americans with Confederate flags decorating their basements when he delivered his rousing speech to the Republican National Convention last night.

His inner Bunsen burner was still ablaze when he hit the cable news shows afterwards to unlease additional Zellfire. There he met resistance. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer, in an apparent research mixup, asked actual reportorial questions regarding Miller’s contradictory statements over the years regarding Kerry etc, and the old boy began babbling like Lionel Barrymore….

Inviting Zell Miller to the Republican convention to give voice to lynch mobs who feel neglected by the Democratic Party will prove to be a prehistoric bonehead mistake and an early Christmas present of Schadenfreude to his former colleagues. I picture certain Democratic bigwigs reacting the way Brian Dennehy did in that wonderful made-for-TV docudrama about Three’s Company as ABC chief Fred Silverman. Hearing the news of Suzanne Somers’ latest contract tantrum, Dennehy’s Freddie takes a rich puff on his cigar, smiles, and croons with satisfaction, “Not my problem anymore.”

Zell Miller: Not our problem anymore.

And this:

Just now on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough described Miller’s speech as a “barnburner,” presumably intending a compliment. But any reader of Faulkner knows that there’s few souls rottener than that of a barnburner, who leaves nothing in his wake than rage and destruction. In Faulkner Country, a barnburner is driven out of the county. In Bush Country, he’s given a privileged timeslot.

Whether you love or hate what he says — and I know you will — you have to love the way Wolcott says it. And now you can link to it and admire or argue with it, as you please. Wolcott is joining the conversation.

Wolcott will do much more than write about politics. He’s a critic, so he’ll criticize. He recommends books, movies, and blogs.

: There’s a bit of back story to this:

Wolcott has been reading and writing about blogs for sometime (see this post quoting his April column on the political blogs). He was on my list of people who should be blogging (who’s on yours?). But Vanity Fair wasn’t online (some tried to blame me for that, since I am a corporate cousin but it’s not my fault… well, not completely) and so Wolcott was not online.

Now VF is coming online (very soon) and so when I saw the man in charge of the venture, editor David Friend (one of the nicest guys in the Conde Nast building — and I don’t mean to damn him with faint praise saying that) I quietly cajoled: You have to include blogs. Oh, he said, we want to, but you know how it works in the world of corporate technology: Major studies of blogging software will ensue; months will drag on; posts will go unposted.

Who would blog? I asked.

Wolcott wants to, he said.

This became a holy cause. I’m a great admirer of Wolcott’s. He is the critic’s critic. I wanted to help. I said that since I was once a critic myself, this would be like a lowly Vegas lounge crooner finding Frank Sinatra stranded on the side of the road with a flat and stopping to give him a lift.

So we conspired. Getting a blog up is easy, I said. Jim can just do it on his own (in time to promote his new book). I showed Jim how to blog on Movable Type and he was amazed: No editors, no layouts, no copy editors, no production hassles, no delays: Push and publish. Stacey Sekimori designed the blog and set it up on Hosting Matters and, voila, Wolcott is blogging. That’s the precisely the beauty of this new publishing world: It is that easy. Even the pros can do it.

So enjoy. Give Wolcott link love.

: Update: Jim gets an authentic bloggy welcome: sniping and snarks. See the comments.

: Gawker’s Jessica Coen says:

While VF has largely ignored the internet, Wolcott’s new venture perhaps signifies the invasion of editor Graydon Carter’s foot soldiers into our precious haven.

Blogging is officially over.

: Vox says

And Joan Rivers does the RNC red carpet

And Joan Rivers does the RNC red carpet

: Jay Rosen wonders whether convention coverage could (not necessarily should) change radically next time around so that a party sells exclusive rights to cover its show to one network, as happens with the Oscars and the Super Bowl.

Blogger Rex Hammock (the guy who blogged meeting Bush a few months ago) attended the convention and saw them trying to turn it into the Oscars.

Well, it’s not exactly as if the convention is half as entertaining as even the dullest Oscars (and it’s even longer). And there is that matter of the public’s right to know and all that. But don’t get caught up in the details. We’re talking TV. We’re talking high concept.

If you want a network to give the convention more than an hour of coverage, then don’t give it to everyone; don’t turn it into a dull commodity.

In a audio interview with Chris Lydon, Rosen said the relationship of TV to conventions is one of unrequited love. The conventions tried to make TV love them. They turned the stages into sets, they put stars on stage, they produced soundbites. Didn’t work.

But now we see that FoxNews beat all the big boys with its coverage of the RNC. It’d be even bigger if it were exclusive; they’d put more resources and coverage and promotion into it; more people would watch. What’s not to love?

Tom Biro doesn’t love the idea because there’d be even less balance. OK. But this assumes that there is balance and that the networks do more than pontificate. Maybe if they actually reported and fact-checked the speeches and found news, that’d be worthwhile. But they don’t. And anyway, there is no news at conventions.

The conventions are just commercials anyway, so maybe we should just admit it and turn them into infomercials.



: Al Gore’s TV network, Indtv, is going public with a web page that describes the network and gets it half right:

TV can be better. Much better.

Want to see more than just reality television? Tired of news outlets that cover celebrity trials instead of tackling critical questions? Bored with shows that don’t challenge or engage you? So are we.

The sad reality of TV is that young adult viewers are coveted, but not really asked to participate. You can be characters, but rarely creators. We want to change all that. And with your help, we will create shows that are bold, irreverent, intelligent and relevant to the passions and experiences of our audience.

I say they got it half right because if they really wanted to be ballsy about this new network and how they present it, then the people (formerly known as the audience) wouldn’t just help create shows, they would create them.

Become the first network that hands over the network to the people: You create the shows and we watch, you speak and we listen. That should be what the net execs of the future say.

Or better yet, get rid of the first-second-third person separations altogether: This is our network. To paraphrase Jay Rosen: The people are the programmers and the network executives are the audience. The people don’t help the executives make TV; it’s the other way around: The executives help the people make TV. Now that would be new. That would be TV worth watching.

Also, I suggest they stop talking about “young adults;” that turns people into a demographic rather than democratic equals. Programming to a demographic nearly always ends up smelling like condescension or pandering. You don’t hear MTV speaking to young people; they simply air the music and programming young people like.

Full disclosure: Someone I know sent an email intro between me and Gore’s partner in this venture, Joel Hyatt. I sent him email offering to talk and share experience about citizens’ media and exploding TV and interactivity, just because I find this interesting and I really do hope they invent something new, media of the people. He never responded. OK, so I’ll do what bloggers do: I’ll share my advice, whatever it’s worth, right here, in public, and solicit yours, too. [via Lost Remote]