The Mad Men (And Women!) of Morning Joe

mad men sseason 33You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that Mad Men is debuting its third season this Sunday. For the past month fans have been inundated with Mad Men Twitter avatars, Mad Men window-dressings, and Mad Men-themed websites. All this smoke-filled, sexed-up, whiskey-splashed glamour is enough to make one long for the heady days of the early Sixties — who knew advertising could be so compelling? We know who — the folks at Morning Joe, currently representing the most harmonious blend of advertising and editorial on the airwaves. Don Draper himself couldn’t have topped it (and he might even have switched out his whiskey for a Venti Frappucino). From there, the comparisons suddenly seemed obvious. So, in the tradition of merging the media beat with whatever pop culture sensation we’re currently obsessed with (Harry Potter and the Media Muggles, anyone?) we thought it would be fun to cast the Mad Morning Men (and Women) of Morning Joe. Hey, what else are you gonna do until Sunday at 10?

Don Draper – Joe Scarborough

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Just as Don Draper’s voice can dominate a hushed conference room filled with clients, so too does Joe’s voice dominate the show that bears his name, though it’s decidedly not hushed. Scarborough, a former congressman, is certainly no stranger to selling, nor does he lack for Draper-esque confidence. We’ve noticed he’s traded in his zipper sweatshirts for dark suits of late, but that’s not all it is — of any character on Morning Joe, he’s the one we can most easily see sitting in a darkened bar with a glass of something amber at his side. Besides, couldn’t his book on the GOP just as easily been called “Meditations on an Emergency?”

Joan Holloway – Mika Brzezinski

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And what is Don Draper without a beautiful woman nearby? Mika puts the “Joe” in “Joanie,” who keeps things moving at Sterling Cooper with brisk (and bodacious) efficiency. Similarly, Mika keeps the trains running on Morning Joe, as well as being the resident sex symbol (and she’s got the Peggy Noonan-shocking shoes to prove it). No word on what Mika’s college roommate might think.

Pete Campbell – Willie Geist

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Oh, we’re on to you, Willie Geist. You with your affable smile and quickness to joke — we’ve watched your rise through the ranks at MSNBC, always with an eye on the top spot. Like a junior ad executive doing what’s necessary to bring in that Clearasil account, you scored that plum 5:30 anchor spot — just another feather in your cap while you bide your time. Somewhere under your bed, we know there’s a box of photographs that will finish Joe Scarborough once and for all. You don’t fool us.

Peggy Olsen – Erin Burnett

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There she is, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, chipper but professional, girlish but savvy with an eye on the prize. Peggy Olsen? Erin Burnett? Exactly. Both have risen meteorically in their respective workplaces, making the heads of more seasoned types whip around, but they don’t mind the gawking (or whispering); they’ll just work a little harder like they always do. How else can you get ahead in a man’s world?

Duck Phillips – Dylan Ratigan

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Is he in or is he out? That’s what we’re all wondering about Duck Phillips, who secretly switched sides last season as he tried to wheel-deal himself a better place in the larger framework of Sterling Cooper and its parent corporation. Hmm, sounds like Dylan Ratigan, who just a few months ago was out (at CNBC) then in (at MSNBC), wheel-dealing himself a primo slice of the morning pie. Is Morning Meeting a challenger to Morning Joe just as Duck is a challenger to Don? Yeah: Don — and Joe — look pretty worried.

Roger Sterling – Rick Stengel

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These two silver foxes have more in common than just their initials: Roger is the dashing, debonair partner at Sterling Cooper, running the show when he’s not running off to hotel rooms for midday trysts; Rick is the dashing, debonair managing editor at Time, running the show when he’s not running off to host glittering parties with celebrities. Rumor had it that he sometimes goes on the prowl as “The Ricker”; we are totally not sure who started that rumor.

NEXT PAGE: BETTY DRAPER, PAT BUCHANAN, AND MORE

‘Out of My City, Fatties!’ NYT’s Cintra Wilson Goes Schizo on Fat People

155945554_23b2f14565Nobody trashes J.C. Penney’s, and the fat people who shop there, and gets away with it! New York Times “Critical Shopper” columnist Cintra Wilson is learning that the hard way. And she’s using the opportunity to put her inner schizo on display.

On NYTimes.com Tuesday (and in the Thursday Style print edition) Wilson dropped her jaw at the new J.C. Penney store in NYC’s Herald Square and it landed on every overweight person in America:

Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops without even bothering to update its ancient Helvetica Light logo, which for anyone who grew up with the company is encrusted with decades of boring, even traumatically parental, associations?

and then further down …

AND herein lies the genius of J. C. Penney: It has made a point of providing clothing for people of all sizes … To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of Roseanne.

Now Wilson faces a barrage of criticism from the thundering herd of Penney’s-lovers and defensive chunkers. Women’s Wear Daily posted a rundown of the backlash, pointing to Richard Connelly, a writer for the Houston Press. “It’s difficult to take in just all the sneering aimed at us corpulent, tasteless slobs between the coasts, but we’ll try,” he wrote. “Let’s face it: We will never be cool enough to hang out with Dr. Redacto.”

Sounds like somebody has their panties in a knot, am I right, Cintra?! On Wednesday night Wilson laughed at everyone who thought she had been a tad rude. On her personal “Dregublog“:

Frankly, people, I think this has all gotten a bit ridiculous. You know I didn’t mean it that way, so please remove the knot from your panties and when you’re ready, join me for a cigarette and several Pucker martinis at the insouciant end of the pool, and I’ll tell you all about the time I inadvertently alienated my best friend for a year when I wrote an article about her wedding.

And then only two hours after her panty de-knotting exhortation Wilson went schizo and posted again, this time with more heartfelt regard stemming from her “personal beliefs as a Buddhist.”

[I] very much regret that my JC Penney article in the Times caused any wounded feelings whatsoever, particularly to people who already feel they take more than their share of abuse from our very shallow and ridiculous society.

Wait, do Buddhists drink Pucker Martinis and smoke? Or was that just a literary device  á la ‘insulin-based epoxy injections for Penney’s obese mannequins’?

Ultimately, this has become a “teachable moment” for Wilson, because everyone knows that clichés make the best apologies. Wilson explained her change of heart (her chakra realignment if you will) to WWD:

“I made some comments about an oversize mannequin that somewhat erased the fine line between humor and offensiveness — and I had to concede that my tone was too harsh when some very nice people wrote to tell me why they were hurt by these comments,” said Wilson. “This is what compelled me to apologize. It was a teachable moment, so I tried to take responsibility for the fact that I wasn’t sensitive enough to people’s feelings in that passage.”

Ultimately we haven’t moved that far from the ‘insouciant end of the pool’ attitude — we’re just serving a different brand of pucker now; kissing ass seems like a pretty good way out of this one. And maybe this whole episode will help Wilson learn to write lovingly about the fat like fellow Style columnist Guy Trebay.

Photo from Paper Magazine.

Dispatches From Fox Nation: Sean Hannity’s Theater Troupe

foxnation_8-14Dispatches From Fox Nation:

There are a lot of ways to talk about the uproar going on at the town halls, and Fox News has certainly led the charge in finding more and more unique ways to show these angry viral superstars. Last night on Sean Hannity’s 9pmET program, he found a new way: theater! The Fox Nation, naturally, gave it a standing ovation.

With the headline “‘We the People…Silent No More!’” the Fox Nation post is an embedded video from the opening to Hannity. The rousing segment – a guy playing Thomas Paine reciting a monologue about patriotism with an American flag and a copy of the Constitution in the background, while town hall protesters shouted throughout.

Here’s a part:

The long sleep is over. In town hall meetings all over the country…a giant is awakening. A giant who has never been defeated. That giant’s name is ‘We the people, silent no more.’

Who knew Sean Hannity was a theater geek? The Fox Nation responded as only the Fox Nation can. Here’s a comment form Dave34: “‘Comrade Obummer’ has done and will have done SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much damage to this great and beloved country of ours that hopefully by the time WE THE PEOPLE boot his sorry butt out of office (by impeachment or the ballot box) that a Democratic candidate for POTUS could not get elect for the next millenium…!!!!!!!!”

And here’s the clip from last night:

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The REAL Health Care Debate: The Obama Administration Vs Fox News

Picture 28Watching a few hours of Fox News these days amounts to a non-stop infomercial opposing  the Obama Administration’s effort to reform Health Care.  While there is always room for a healthy debate on the issues, please don’t look to Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck for a measured discourse - they  rarely, if ever, present a constructive solution to the current health care problems (though there is the occasional admission that there is need for reform.) No single entity seems more entrenched in the opposition to the health care reform than Fox News.

The political bias of cable news is a time-worn tale, particularly with Fox News. But  it seems like that narrative has made us so numb to blatant subjectivity that we can no longer see clear bias when its right in front of our faces. Does no one care anymore? Or maybe it’s just August and everyone’s on vacation?  Simply put — the amount of propaganda put forth from Fox News is far from fair and balanced — they are very near inciting riots.

Not so? If you watch Glenn Beck or listen to his radio show, you hear a lot of phrases like “waking the sleeping giant” and “we don’t want this country to become Russia.” Cut to the language of protesters confronting their elected officials in the town halls of the past week and one hears the same exact phrases spoken through held back tears and barely restrained emotion.

During Wednesday’s “Talking Points Memo,” O’Reilly made the rather bold claim that the Obama administration is specifically targeting Fox News. How did he make the deduction? Because White House spokesman Robert Gibbs recently said “Well, I think we all have something to lose, Matt, if we let cable television come to town hall meetings and kill health care reform for another year and put the special interests back in charge.

Fox News – particularly O’Reilly – have always been quite savvy at “punching up” – that is, targeting entities that are well above their accepted station (i.e. their current debate with GE). Does claiming to be engaged in a “fight” with the White House serve their purpose? In terms of pleasing their audience it does — just hear the rabble rousers yell to their democratically elected representatives that they want their country back. From a publicity standpoint it’s a genius move – evil genius maybe.

There is  legitimate criticism that the Obama White House has not been able to articulate their new health care agenda in a simple and understandable way. The truth is that it’s currently a very complicated issue. But isn’t that part of the problem — that unnecessarily complex solutions create a multitude of loopholes that allow big corporations to turn a healthy profit? Is that how a free market is supposed to work? Is that the American way, or is it the problem?

The problem is not just with Fox News, nor with cable news in general. We are truly in a nation divided by media consumption, exacerbated by the rise of opinion journalism (at the cost of capital J – journalism). As Kurt Andersen has said, American’s now only consume media the reaffirms their pre-existing opinions.  The vacuum of differing views has been profitable for a number of media outlets, but what cost victory?


Mediaite Mash-up of Glenn Beck’s take on the health care debate:


Best News Ledes: Sports Edition

journalists-300x223News reporters like to catch readers’ attention with a few zingy lines at the start of an article. Sometimes, these so-called “ledes” go horribly wrong. But sometimes, they’re great! In Today’s Best News Ledes, we highlight the cream of the crop:

3. From Deadspin, “Our Man in Boy Clothes Is Not Feeling Generous Today”:

Mike Lupica’s ego is to sportswriting what Milton Berle’s c*ck is to comedy. It is an occupational totem, around which colleagues spin fantastical-seeming yarns that just so happen to be true. Here are a few such tales.

Thanks for reading down this far! This lede is a total one-percenter, but it shows that Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs has got it got it. Also, it subtly conveys the homoeroticism latent in the sports world. I mean, [something about guys patting each other on the butts or something]? Come on.

2. From The Miami Herald, “Line of Scrimmage: Vick Signing Brings More Questions Than Answers”:

If your hard-earned money was on Michael Vick wearing the midnight green of the Philadelphia Eagles, well, then you just made yourself a substantial wad of midnight green. (emphasis added)

Do you see what he’s doing there? Although: is money really midnight green?

1. From Times Online, “Women’s boxing merits a place at the Olympics”:

In the autumn of 2006 I went to York Hall in Bethnal Green to watch the British bantamweight title showdown between Cathy Brown and Juliette Winter.

It was the first women’s title bout sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control and proved to be a curious, at times disconcerting, but ultimately revelatory experience.

The women entered the ring — like their male counterparts who had dominated the rest of the card — toned and lithe. They exuded a combination of anticipation and aggression. Both offered a flurry of shadow punches and a pumped fist to the skies as they were introduced by the master of ceremonies.

The audience — a pretty even split between men and women — responded with a passable ovation, but there was no mistaking a pervading sense of ambivalence.

The action was unrelentingly brutal. Brown was instantly revealed as the superior prizefighter, emitting a distinctive, guttural grunt as she unleashed impressively timed left hooks and right crosses, her muscles flexing in the flashbulb light. Her opponent was spirited, but it was not long before her body began to sag with each new assault on her torso, Brown working the body before redirecting her fistic assault towards the jaw.

Blemishless when she first strode across the canvas, it was as early as the third round that bruising became visible on Winter’s face and blood began to dribble out of her mouth, by now gaping with exertion. Even Brown shipped enough punishment that her gum-shield, particularly visible when she flexed her jaw muscles while executing her punches, became crimson. It had become, as with all bona fide prizefights, a battle of wills and a mutual refusal to accept defeat.

By the final bell there was little doubt as to the identity of the victor. Brown, drenched in sweat, limp with exertion and smudged with her opponent’s blood, reached to the skies as the MC announced the judge’s decision, before slipping through the ropes in search of the dressing room and medical attention. She had become the first woman to win an English boxing title, a pioneer as well as a pugilist.

Tomorrow, Olympic chiefs will meet to decide whether to include women’s boxing as part of the programme for London 2012.

Maybe British readers have longer attention spans (News of the World aside), but this sure is a long way to say it’s a mixed bag that women’s boxing will be in the Olympics. Then again, Matthew Syed, the guy who wrote this, is apparently the Sports Journalist of the Year, so this should probably be read as “riveting” rather than “way, way too long.” The end of the article, in which he talks about how you can still be beautiful when you have a “haematoma” on your face (from being punched in your face), is not to be missed.

Bravo TV: The Trashiest Class, or Classiest Trash on Television?

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It’s downright ballsy (tacky?) for a cable development exec to give himself a talk show on his own network, but Bravo development exec Andy Cohen doesn’t mind one bit, he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

His talk show, Watch What Happens (which also happens to be Bravo’s tagline), is just another ingredient in Bravo secret programming recipe — a line-up that is equal parts despicable and magnetic (especially if you’re rich) — an advertiser’s dream come true.

“We have the most educated audience in all of cable and the most upscale audience in all of cable — meaning the richest,” Andy Cohen, Bravo’s SVP of original programming and development, told Madeline Brand on NPR’s All Things Considered earlier this week (audio below).

Right around the time of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, something weird started happening on Bravo: Ludicrous reality shows began to draw sizable followings of well-educated, cosmopolitan viewers. Bravo reinvented low-brow programming for high-brow people and has been riding the ratings wave ever since.

“We have the most educated audience in all of cable and the most upscale audience in all of cable — meaning the richest,” Andy Cohen, Bravo’s SVP of original programming and development, told Madeline Brand on NPR’s All Things Considered earlier this week (audio below).

We can’t be sure how series like Queer EyeWork Out (remember that one about a muscular lesbian’s love life and fitness business),  NYC Prep (aka Hitler-Jugend)and the Real Housewives family have attracted such an affluent audience, but they have.

This lede from a Wall Street Journal “Speakeasy” column about NYC Prep explains the draw that Bravo’s brand of trashy reality has on rich people:

NYC Prep, Bravo’s reality series about a group of wealthy Manhattan teens who are too blasé for their own good, is finally over. To mark the occasion, I decided to throw a viewing party last night with my cousin at his chic downtown loft. We invited some of our friends and colleagues who, like us, are irrationally obsessed with this fakakta show.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense — sneering at people who might be just as wealthy as you, albeit more ridiculous — but it’s precisely what makes Bravo’s television a hit. Well, the sneer factor, but also what Cohen calls the Bravo wink: “We do something with the editing that’s called the “Bravo wink” … [a character might say] ‘I’m the healthiest person in the world’ and then you see them ashing their cigarette.” It’s as simple as that, I guess.

In Cohen’s mind, there are two main groups of people who get really into these shows: What he calls “Will and Gracers,” basically cosmopolitan, single (rich!) women and their gay best friends (so-called GBFs); and “PTA Trend-Setters,” moms who pick up their kids from school wearing trendy clothing.

And rumor has it that one of the production companies behind some of Bravo’s past successful lunacy, True Entertainment, is now looking to do a reality series about gay men in New York — ” hottest young, fabulous gay men,” preferably those in relationships with older men — as reported by Gawker. Wills and their Graces will definitely gobble that up.

<em>The Real Housewives of Orange Country</em>.

The Real Housewives of Orange Country.

Cohen divides Bravo’s reality programming into two categories: “competitive reality” and “docu-series” (although sometimes we can’t tell the difference when the Real Housewives compete to see who can embarrass herself more than the others ). And then there’s Cohen’s own show, Watch What Happens — which Brand said was “sort of like a gay Dick Cavett show,” on ATC.

Originally just an online series largely aimed at promoting Bravo’s reality shows, Watch What Happens now has its own live slot on Thursday nights. There you can watch Cohen schmooze it up with guests from Bravo’s reality shows and maybe a celeb or two, often with with a drink in hand on-air.

And there you have it, for all those Grace’s out there with no Will, Cohen will be your GBF on Thursday nights; Cohen is happy to kick back and gab it up about the reality shows you’ve been watching all week. But only if you tune in.


Hey Perez, What would Coco Think?

Yesterday marked the launch of Perez Hilton’s new site, CocoPerez.com, Perez’s new fashion blog, “integrating content, shopping, and celebrities to create a unique community for trendsetters, fashion industry influencers, and celebrities to go for inspiration.”

The first post features Perez in a fuscia silk blazer, in his zebra wallpapered closet, dancing to Lady Gaga’s song, “Fashion,” in true Perez spirit. The site is set up much like his regualar stomping grounds with videos, photos of celebrities and ad campaigns, and brief news clips.

Despite the online juggernaut that is PerezHilton.com, from a fashion perspective, this site’s content is, to put it lightly, a yawn: We are few too many days past interest in Agyness Deyn’s Michael Jackson shoot in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, and the Lily Allen Chanel ad campaign has been covered since the middle of July.

While Perez’s playful approach to both style and celebrity is refreshing — one must wonder, can a blog exist on Anna Wintour hatred and Gossip Girl obsession alone? I think not. Step it up Perez.