‘Dead’ Brittany Murphy Movie Poster Recalled

brittany-murphy-deadline-movie-poster-photosThis is sad, unfortunate timing. We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of a long-planned magazine cover suddenly becoming inappropriate. But what happens when it’s an entire movie advertising campaign that has to recalled due to unforeseen circumstances?

Sadly, that’s what’s happened with the poster for Brittany Murphy’s film Deadline, which depicts a dead-looking Murphy in a bathtub. Murphy, as you likely know, died earlier this week from cardiac arrest after being discovered unconscious in her shower by her mother.

Redbox, a DVD distribution company, is currently attempting to remove 19,000 outdoor posters for the movie.


President Obama: Change No One Can Believe In Anymore?

2-face-obama(5)So! 2009 is almost over. The health care bill has passed. President Obama has announced his plan for Afghanistan. The midterms are still eleven months away. What will we talk about? If some of the coverage these last few days (from normally stalwart Obama supporters) is any hint, it’s likely the focus between now and the president’s State of the Union address is going to on Obama’s sinking popularity and everything he has done wrong in the last…eleven months.

On Tuesday Time ran a piece by Michael Scherer about why the president should actually be concerned about his dropping poll numbers because it’s not just the economy, stupid. Though that’s a big part. Also a problem is the fact that Congress’ support tends to dwindle with the country’s and “change we can believe in” has become change we can’t be bothered to vote for.

The 2009 elections in New Jersey and Virginia were initially talked about by Obama allies as a test of the President’s organizing power. By the time the votes were counted, however, with Republicans winning two Democratic seats, no one at the White House wanted to claim any responsibility. That’s because the remarkable enthusiasm that greeted Obama’s victory in 2008, with record turnout among independents, blacks and young people, had gone away, along with the minions of Obama organizers…the enthusiasm gap bodes poorly for 2010, when Obama will be trying to minimize losses in the House and the Senate. According to the recent Battleground poll, just under two-thirds of Democrats say they are extremely likely to vote in upcoming elections, compared to 77% of Republicans and Independents.

Wow. Easy come, easy go, I guess? Meanwhile, traditional Obama media stalwarts like HuffPo, which basically built its online dominance on the back of the Obama campaign is now running banner headlines like “Now Obama Gets Involved: President Pledges Hands-On Role Merging Bills.” Snap! Even Chris Matthews, he of the shivering leg, sounded a tad cynical last night about whether and how Obama has been keeping any (all?) of the promises he made during last year’s campaign. And Salon’s Joan Walsh sounded downright skeptical about Obama’s near invisible support of the public option. (Video below).

I’m a pragmatist. I still have to say Obama got both sides mad at him. The left is not happy with him, we’ve heard from lots of diff senators that the president never pushed this, he never twisted any arms.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan, is still knowing Hope. He thinks Obama’s first year was a success:

Change of this magnitude is extremely hard. That it is also frustrating, inadequate, compromised, flawed, and beset with bribes and trade-offs does not, in my mind, undermine it. Obama told us it would be like this – and it is. And those who backed him last year would do better, to my mind, if they appreciated the difficulty of this task and the diligence and civility that Obama has displayed in executing it.

“Inadequate, compromised, flawed, and beset with bribes and trade-offs” also does not make for easy headlines or quick content, neither does an always bad economy, so it may be a while — a long while if circumstances remain unchanged — before we get back to the victorious change you can believe in meme. Matthew’s video below.


Top 20 Christmas Magazine Covers of All Time

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The recent New Yorker Christmas cover, featuring a brilliant Barry Blitt illustration of President Obama bowing deeply to Santa Claus, reminds us of how much we like the long tradition of magazines making bold holiday statements on their covers for the December issue. We went to our local newsstand looking for more of these covers and found… very little. What was once considered essential for any magazine worth its ink and paper has now obviously been banished by an aggressive War on Christmas Magazine Covers by the Forces of Evil.

Once upon a time the December newsstand was filled with angels, Christmas trees and Santas of all shapes and sizes. And this wasn’t just Christian iconography; these were covers that were funny, creative, surprising, provocative, that made political statements, and most of all, that engaged their readers in a visual dialogue. Now, with the notable exception of the New Yorker, the only attempt at Christmas creativity comes on the occasional women’s service magazine, with sad little plates of cookies or fruitcakes. We’re going to get all George Lois here and say that what was once an opportunity for brilliant magazine-making has now become just another set of bland, focus-grouped, by-the-numbers covers, put together by folks who are scared stiff of offending or provoking anyone.

Esquire, Fortune, Playboy, Vanity Fair, New York: it’s time to put the X back into those December covers! End the War on Christmas Magazine Covers. Who knows, magazines might even increase those newsstand sell-through numbers that are all doing so terribly if they just get back into the holiday spirit.

We’ve collected the Top 20 Christmas Magazine Covers of All Time. In the interests of non-sectarianism, we avoided covers that were mere reproductions of classic Christmas religious art. We stuck with Santa Claus, Christmas trees and gifts, and we found a lot of great ones. Who could deny that our world would be a much better place with a return to this fun and soulful style of magazine covers?

01_Esquire Sonny Liston

Esquire, 1963: The classic George Lois-designed December 1963 Esquire cover, featuring world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston.

02_GQ 1974 Streisand cover browser

GQ, 1974: GQ, back in 1974, when it was known as Gentlemen’s Quarterly, featuring Barbara Streisand.

03_New Yorker December 2005

The New Yorker, 2005: We’ve got to give many props to The New Yorker, for maintaining a high quality of holiday covers. This one, by illustrator Anita Kunz in 2005 captured the middle-of-the-Iraq War malaise perfectly.

04_Jet 1968

Jet, 1968: Jet magazine has a long history of putting celebrities in Santa outfits on their covers. Bill Cosby, Marvin Gaye, Sherman Helmsley (twice!) have all graced the cover, but none was better than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, celebrating Black Christmas in the Ghetto in 1968.

05 Baltimore City Paper, November 1999

Baltimore City Paper, 1999: Back in 1999, Shepard Fairey was still a scrappy street artist and poster-maker. He did this cover for alternative weekly newspaper Baltimore City Paper, who ran it just like this, without headlines or even a cover logo.

06_National Lampoon-Dec1970

National Lampoon, 1970: This December 1970 cover of the National Lampoon is a classic, with fighter planes from an unidentified Asian Communist country (North Vietnam? North Korea?) shooting down poor Santa as they yell “Eat death, bloated lackey of the capitalist toy mongers!”

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Fortune, 1938: For many years after its launch in 1930, Fortune ran beautiful, elegant, illustrated holiday covers. We could have filled a whole list of 20 with their brilliant selections, but this one, from 1938, by Antonio Petrucelli, struck us as singularly memorable.

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The Peggy Noonan Problem

History has shown us how easy it is to people the media with Chicken Littles. It’s even easier when the economy isn’t in the best shape. In all cases, it’s much harder to articulate what’s next and why it’s important. It usually takes some very smart people to do that because it involves deep, good thinking. More often, we get fear mongering that is both catchy and contagious. Enter: Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal on December 19th, “The Adam Lambert Problem.”

Ostensibly, Noonan’s main point was about the importance of political issues that don’t have to do with the ubiquitous economic crisis that is also quite apt to pepper a conversation. Besides offering little evidence that the American public is, in fact, more worried about social issues than economics ones (she supports it with: “There are often signs in various polls that those things may dwarf economic concerns”), the article has another major flaw. Make no mistake: this is not a story about an angry liberal attacking a perceived conservative newspaper. I would hope anyone reading Mediaite regularly would realize how foolish it is to brand a newspaper based on its op-ed pages. We’re past that tired debate, aren’t we? This is the story of poor journalism.

Noonan’s problem is that she hinges on homophobia. She uses Adam Lambert as an example of everything that’s going wrong with America and its family values.

I don’t mean to make too much of it. In the great scheme of things a creepy musical act doesn’t matter much. But increasingly people feel at the mercy of the Adam Lamberts, who of course view themselves, when criticized, as victims of prudery and closed-mindedness. America is not prudish or closed-minded, it is exhausted. It cannot be exaggerated, how much Americans feel besieged by the culture of their own country, and to what lengths they have to go to protect their children from it.

Translation from poorly codified indiscretion: Gay people are ruining America. And Ms. Noonan? Saying Adam Lambert felt like he was the victim of bigotry doesn’t refute…um…anything.

Reading Noonan’s article is as unbearable as listening to Carrie Prejean’s infamous pageant response (especially when you read the comments of both). In reviewing both ad nauseum, I can’t ignore disturbing shorthand homophobia. It’s a not-so-subtle way of talking that allows people of like minds to say just about everything except the offensive things they actually want to say. They have an easy circumvention: values. They might even actually convince themselves that values are at stake when the real cause is the fear of change. What’s scarier is that we’ve come to accept the logic that gay people equal bad values. Even as I read Noonan’s article, I disagreed with her pander to the cynic before I disagreed with the way she paints Adam Lambert as antithetical to all that is good. But unlike Noonan, I’ll prove my point: Gay people have values, too.

As I said, though, this is about poor journalism. Good journalism, I think, should rest itself on solid reasoning. Without distrust for the “alternative” lifestyle Adam Lambert now represents, Noonan’s piece comes across as aloof and out of touch. But with it, she rallies the base. Proof? That fact that she didn’t write this article after the Britney and Madonna kiss.

So the question now is, shouldn’t we demand journalism that speaks through ingenuity instead of ignorance?


Washington Post Slammed By DC Paper For Ignoring Snowball Gunplay

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This weekend, when the story of a police officer pulling out a gun at a snowball fight in DC erupted and spread online, the Washington Post was initially dismissive, despite having an eyewitness on the scene who said that the officer did indeed pull out a gun. They didn’t get the story quite right until days later; to dispel all doubt, the officer admitted he pulled a gun. In a scathing blog post, the Washington City Paper surmised as to how the Post slipped up: a snooty attitude towards the Internet.

The City Paper’s Erik Wemple took the Post apart for fetishizing ‘traditional reporting’ as defined by talking to officials, despite the fact that the consensus on the Internet was more than wild rumor:

the reason why the Post screwed this up is that they all have linkophobia. If you link to an outlet—such as, God forbid, the Washington City Paper—you’ve lost. You got scooped and all your colleagues are going to look down on you. Linking is a huge sign of weakness—you just can’t do it. Far better to, like, call a top police official, buy his version of events, and just place it in a post, regardless of the contradicting evidence that’s already posted elsewhere…

What is important is that in one item, Fisher articulated a longstanding WaPo policy:

1) Link to other organizations only when belittling them;

2) Be sure to contrast the inadequacy of the linkees to the great Washington Post;

3) Make sure the link to Washington Post content spans many more words than the links to lesser organizations.

For all of the talk about the demise of print and the crumbling newspaper economy, it’s a fair bet that the Washington Post can whip any blogger at reporting. Right? Maybe not always.

Here’s an ABC 7 segment on the video that sparked the controversy:



(Washington City Paper via The Awl)


The Mediaite 50: Innovators And Influencers Who Shook Up 2009

Mediaite50The year 2009 had many media bright spots, break-out stars, dominating networks and game-changing technologies.  The Mediaite 50 collects the finest, most exemplary innovators and influencers of the year, defining a media moment in time and setting the agenda as we move forward.

There were many significant and ongoing narratives in the mediascape this year. The continued explosion of online media dovetailed with the continued collapse of print — Condé Nast ushered in the McKinsey executors while Gawker Media posted huge profits. Meanwhile, Newsweek tried to reinvent itself, the New York Times suffered another round of layoffs and a host of shuttered papers and magazines stopped cold. Online we saw huge acquisitions and gains, but not without growing pains: the net had its fair share of job cuts, too, as advertising slumped across the board. But as media critic David Carr put it, there’s an underlying wave of youth and optimism.

This year we also saw opinion media dominate traditional journalism in ways that no one would ever have expected. Fox News pulled further ahead of the competition with the continued success of Bill O’Reilly and a breakout year from Glenn Beck, not to mention the network’s similar domination of straight news blocks. The Huffington Post kept momentum from the kickstart of the 2008 election, while the right feasted on a first year president.

Pop culture had its moments, too — not all of them pretty, in fact, most pretty ugly — from Balloon Boy and Kanye “Jackass” West to Rihanna and the death of Michael Jackson. As a result, gossip blogs had another stellar year and TMZ led the pack. Then came MTV’s latest gem.

It often seemed like a rough year — maybe a fitting end to a tough decade — but that doesn’t mean there weren’t bright spots. We saw innovation, redemption and reconciliation, and the tactful and savvy rose to the top of the media heap. The Mediaite 50 collects what our editorial staff saw as the finest, most exemplary innovators and influencers of the year, defining a media moment in time and setting the agenda as we move forward.

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Mediaite Office Hours, Featuring Mark Knoller, A.J. Daulerio And More

mediaitelogoIt’s time for a special edition of Mediaite Office Hours – our final show of 2009 – from Livestream.com’s studio at 3pmET. Joining us today will be Mark Knoller of CBS News, A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin.com and more:

Do you have a question, comment or complaint about anything concerning Mediaite? Well if you do, today is a real chance to make your voice heard. We will be holding our Mediaite Office Hours at 3pmET.

Knoller is CBS News Radio’s White House Correspondent – a job he has held since the Ford administration. We’ll talk to him about the health care bill and what it’s like covering this White House versus those of the past. Follow him on Twitter here. We’ll also talk to Deadspin.com Editor Daulerio about Tiger Woods and more. Follow him on Twitter as well.

Glynnis MacNicol, Steve Krakauer and Rachel Sklar host the live-streamed call-in show, and others in the Mediaite team, like, Colby Hall and our fantastic interns, will appear periodically, as well as special guests.

Our call-in number is (347) 632-8956. Also, we’re using Skype now, so you can video chat in to our username – Mediaite. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Watch us live here on this page at 3pmET, or check it out at www.livestream.com/mediaite.

We’ll talk to Knoller first and Daulerio later.

See you at 3pm for the last Office Hours of 2009!